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Realtor Q&A: Old City Goes Beyond Retail and Museums, Becoming Residential Destination

Photo credit: RiverNorthPhotography/iStock

Old City has come a long way in the last half decade. In addition to museums and historical attractions that populate the ‘hood, it’s now home to an impressive array of shops (think: Vagabond and Art in the Age) and restaurants (hello, Fork and High Street on Market). Of course, this commercial surge doesn’t mean there isn’t high demand for residential addresses. In fact, folks are flocking to the neighborhood to nab homes on quaint, tree-lined side streets.

To get the details on moving to Old City, we consulted three local Coldwell Banker Preferred affiliated sales associates. Read on to learn their best home-buying strategies. 

What’s the average price range for residences in Old City?

Rachel Rothbard: According to the MLS (editor’s note: at date of publishing), 142 properties sold in the last 12 months in Old City with the average price of $469,230.

Who is making the move to Old City? What makes the neighborhood attractive?

Frank Altamuro: I think the highest percentage of people moving into Old City is young people (millennials) and empty nesters. [It’s the] best little big city, [also features] local historic attractions, top restaurants, nightlife and shopping.

Rothbard: Everyone, at every stage, for every reason! Young professionals in one-bedroom condos, young families in three-plus bedroom town homes, empty nesters purchasing a combination of condos and townhomes. Old City is known as America’s most historic square mile, so there’s plenty to see and do. History aside, residents are flocking to take advantage of the thriving community of small businesses, coffee shops, restaurants, and retail right outside their door. People also love the proximity to I-95.

Where do families typically send their children to school?

Rothbard: My clients say great things about Book Worms and Old City Day School. Elementary aged children (K-8) attend the McCall School, which is a highly regarded Philadelphia public school—also a huge selling point!

How should potential homebuyers approach the home hunt in Old City?

Joe Herzog: Walk the neighborhood to see where they feel most comfortable. Then call an experienced agent to help them find the right fit, for their budget and lifestyle.

Rothbard:  I always tell my buyers: take as long as you want to look for your home, but as soon as you find “the one,” jump and jump fast! A lot of other people have the same criteria as you. It’s important to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start hunting, as you will know exactly what you’re getting into from a financial standpoint when you start your search.

Old City is known for its sense of community amongst shop owners. Does that extend to residents within the neighborhood?

Rothbard: Absolutely! The strong sense of community is palpable in Old City. Café Ole is always abuzz with locals, so much so that servers begin preparing customer orders as soon as they walk through the door. Race Street Cafe is another local hub. The great thing about Old City is that though old-timey in feel, it’s always welcoming towards and inclusive of a new crop of residents. There’s nothing pretentious about Old City, and that’s why people like it.

Altamuro: Yes I believe there is a strong sense of community. The Old City District office is located at 3rd and Market [streets]. Anyone can stop in and get information about Old City and what the neighborhood has to offer. The staff is very friendly and they can provide awesome information and maps.

Are there pockets/streets beyond the main drags (2nd and 3rd streets) that homebuyers should consider?

Herzog: The north side of Old City is popular because it is quieter and there are grass park areas at Vine Street

Altamuro: Church, Letitia, Strawberry, Quarry, Cherry, New, Bread, Elfreth’s Alley.

It seems like Old City is experiencing a major retail and restaurant boom. Is there a local watering hole or coffee shop where locals congregate?

Altamuro: Plenty! [For coffee, there’s] Starbucks, Old City and Menagerie. Watering holes [include] Mac’s, Race Street Café and Brownies. If you are in the mood for a cigar, [there is] Harry Smoke Shop.

For more information about buying or selling a home in the communities of the Greater Philadelphia area and the Delaware Valley, including southern New Jersey and northern Delaware, visit Coldwell Banker Preferred online at www.ColdwellBankerHomes.com

These interviews have been condensed and edited for length.