Town By Town: So much more than Big Bird

A 'desirable' place | Buyers are willing to pay for access to Neshaminy schools.

One in a continuing series spotlighting real estate markets in the region's communities.

To make sure you know where we are, this is the Middletown with several Levittown neighborhoods in its southern half.

The portion of the township that has Langhorne as its mailing address is home to Oxford Valley Mall and Big Bird, Grover, Elmo, Bert and Ernie, et al, at Sesame Place.

Middletown Township, Bucks County, as opposed to the Middletown Township in Delaware County.

This Middletown "is an interesting township for real estate," says Martin Millner, an agent with Coldwell Banker Hearthside in neighboring Yardley.

There are a significant number of properties available in the Levittown part of town, Millner says, and "the perception of Middletown is that it is a desirable place to live, and buyers are willing to pay for access to the Neshaminy School District."

(Levittown also falls within the borders of Bristol and Falls Townships and Tullytown Borough, and other parts of it are served by the Pennsbury and Bristol Township School Districts.)

But Middletown Township has a lot to offer besides Neshaminy schools. It owns the 18-hole golf course and Middletown Country Club, for instance, as well as Styer Orchard.

A long period of growth began about 1950, when 5,000 people lived here. As of the 2010 census, there were more than 45,000. To serve them, Middletown has more than a dozen parks and recreation areas and a community center on 5.4 acres.

St. Mary Medical Center is the township's largest employer, followed by Woods Services, Sesame Place, and the school district. Interstate 95, Route 1, and SEPTA's West Trenton line provide residents easy access to employers outside Middletown.

Portions of the township border Lower Makefield (which is in the Pennsbury School District), providing Millner with an opportunity to compare prices in the two communities.

"I have a listing in Middletown, an 18-year-old house, that is on the market at $525,000," he says, noting that $500,000 to $600,000 is "a high number" here.

The same house across the line in Lower Makefield would be $600,000 or higher, Millner says.

Though Levittown's neighborhoods have offered opportunity for first-time buyers from the beginning, and still do, "there is real value for houses with a Langhorne mailing address," he says.

For-sale inventory is higher than it was last year, "which is consistently true for all of Bucks County, not just Middletown," Millner says.

The number of houses for sale countywide was up 3.8 percent in the first quarter from the same three months of 2014, according to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach Realtors HomExpert Market Report, and sales volume was 9.5 percent higher.

For Middletown alone, closed sales transactions are up 17 percent for the year so far, Millner says. HomExpert shows them 14.5 percent higher just for the first quarter year over year.

"The number of homes for sale in Middletown - 191, which is 10 percent above last year - adds up to less than six months of inventory, which technically favors sellers," he says.

Average asking price is $309,000, compared with $311,000 in the first quarter of last year, Millner says.

"We haven't seen any wild price increases," he says, adding that there is minimal new construction because there are few large parcels or building lots.

Philadelphia "is a big source of buyers," he adds, although a lot of his business is from people trading up from townhouses.

To illustrate how well the market is faring this year, Millner offers as an example a popular over-55 community, the Villages of Flowers Mill, which has a Langhorne mailing address.

Its 675 units (single homes, duplexes, and quads) were built by McGrath Homes and Realen Homes, have two to three bedrooms, are 1,450 to 2,300 square feet, and offer single-floor living.

"In recent years, there has always been five or six of these for sale at a given time," Millner says, "but now just one will go on the market and it is sold in just a few days."

He is working with a buyer who is looking at a unit listed at $323,000, "and she has to make a quick decision or the house will be gone."


Town By Town: Middletown By the Numbers

Population: 45,436 (2010)

Median household income: $81,572 (2009)

Area: 19.4 square miles

Settlements in the last three months: 79

Homes for sale: 191

Average days on market: 96

Median sale price: $274,900

Housing stock: 15,713 units, a variety of sizes and styles

School district: Neshaminy

SOURCES: U.S. Census Bureau; City-Data.com; Martin Millner, Coldwell Banker Hearthside, Yardley; Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach Realtors HomExpert Market Report


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