Town By Town: West Vincent: High price for rural, historic living

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French Creek meanders through West Vincent Township, where open space is everywhere, and everything.

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

With its rolling hills, horse farms, and villages, West Vincent Township is, to many people relocating from other states, their vision of Pennsylvania, says veteran real estate agent Kathleen McQuilkin.

"West Vincent is quintessential Chester County," says McQuilkin, an agent with Re/Max Professional Realty in Exton and first vice president of the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors.

The villages are Birchrunville and Ludwigs Corner, which has, for decades, hosted a horse show on Labor Day.

A large township (17.9 square miles) with slightly more than 5,000 people, West Vincent has "an open, village-like feel, but is superbly convenient to those relocating here who work anywhere between Great Valley and Exton," says McQuilkin, who has been selling houses in these parts for more than 30 years.

It is likely to remain "quintessential Chester County" for a very long time, as the municipal website states that "West Vincent's residents have indicated an overwhelming desire to keep their township as rural as possible."

The Board of Supervisors and "its supporting commissions and councils are committed to that goal," the website says.

The township's first zoning, adopted in 1955, established guidelines for how property could be used and developed in a primarily rural district.

Green Valleys Association, founded in 1964, was among the earliest watershed-protection groups, and it continues to protect the environment here.

"There is always pressure for development," McQuilkin says, adding that there isn't much being built now because builders are still recovering from the effects of the real estate downturn "even though they may have held on to the land."

West Vincent is a community primarily of large single-family detached houses on large lots.

Many are historic houses, which, McQuilkin says, are popular with buyers. More than 231 historic properties have been cataloged in the township.

Other houses are newer, larger, custom-built, and very expensive.

"Homes of the estate type sit on three to five acres, although as far as land is concerned, the sky is the limit," she says.

One house on the market is an eight-year-old custom on 31.5 acres, listed for nearly $2.4 million. Another $2 million-plus house is 9,000 square feet.

"A lot of neighborhoods are in the upper-level range of $2 million and more," McQuilkin says. "You can easily get up into the few millions for farms."

The 21 active listings range in price from $300,000 to $2.85 million.

The median price of the 35 homes that have gone to settlement since the beginning of the year is $510,500, she says, compared with $445,000 for the 33 houses settled in the same period last year.

Sales were consistent in the three months for which data were available in late June: four in March, eight in April, and 11 in May, and the median prices, by month, ranged from $450,000 to $470,000.

Within West Vincent's borders is Weatherstone, Hankin Group's neotraditional community near Routes 401 and 100 that was begun in 2002, survived the prolonged downturn, and has just six of the original 273 singles and townhouses remaining for sale.

Weatherstone is on just 30 percent of the 300-acre development, 185 acres of which is open space.

Bob Cousart, an agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors in Malvern, who has been selling in West Vincent for 24 years, says Hankin "hit a home run" with Weatherstone.

Carriage homes in the development sell in the high $300,000s, with single-family houses in the lower $500,000s.

A portion of Byers Station, which was built by Toll Bros. and Orleans, among others, is in West Vincent, McQuilkin says. At Toll's Summit at Byers Station, prices are "close to $800,000," she says.

Whatever the price, "people are willing to drive the extra five miles to work [or to the train in Malvern and Exton] to live in West Vincent," she says.

"It's the quality of life, a place that still has farm stands, where they've done a wonderful job preserving Ludwigs Corner, and the Birchrunville Cafe is so popular it is tough to get in there," she says.

"It's a classic."


Town By Town: West Vincent By the Numbers

Population: 5,196 (2014)

Median household income: $112,260 (2013)

Area: 17.9 square miles

Settlements in the last three months: 27

Homes for sale: 21

Average days on market: 91

Median sale price: $510,000

Housing stock: New carriage homes, custom homes, older estate homes, farms.

School district: Owen J. Roberts

SOURCES: U.S. Census Bureau; Kathleen McQuilkin, Re/Max Professional Realty, Exton


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