Town By Town: Big value in small town

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Featuring prominently its small-town vibe, Audubon's community backs up to Haddon Lake - one of many outdoor hot spots in the summer months, especially during the community's noteworthy Fourth of July celebrations.

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

It wasn't the best day for a visit to Audubon, N.J.

Wind-whipped rain washed over the White Horse Pike. Sidewalks were empty of all but the hardiest souls, who spent much of their journey from car to shop preventing their umbrellas from turning inside out.

The threat of more bad weather led to a week's postponement of the borough's annual fall yard sale - one of the big ways the Celebrate Audubon Committee raises funds for its Fourth of July celebration.

Audubon is serious about the Fourth, and the Camden County community that calls itself "the most patriotic small town in America" has good reason.

Near the front entrance of Audubon High School on Edgewood Avenue is a granite monument that honors three residents awarded Medals of Honor for heroism.

The three - Samuel M. Sampler, who served in World War I, and Edward Clyde Benfold and Nelson V. Brittin, who were both killed in action in the Korean War - are considered to represent the most Medal of Honor recipients per capita of any town in this country.

"Audubon is a really nice town that sometimes, through no fault of its own, falls through the cracks when people are looking for affordable houses," says Val Nunnenkamp, an agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors in Marlton.

"I've sold a few things there this year, especially on the east side of town," he says. "It is often the second or third choice of buyers, especially first-time ones who cannot afford Haddon Heights or Haddon Township."

As with many of the county's communities, Audubon "attracts buyers who grew up there."

There are 61 houses for sale here, ranging in price from $52,900 to $499,900. The priciest house was custom-built on a tree-lined street, and is one of the few newer houses in a community with little vacant land other than tear-down sites.

Fifteen houses are under agreement of sale, and there were 45 sales in the last six months, the data show.

"The houses here have a lot of character, and they are mostly older," Nunnenkamp says.

It isn't hard to find a starter house ranging from $150,000 to $250,000, he says.

"If a seller has a 11/2- to 2-full-bath updated house, he is sitting on a very salable entity." A two-bedroom, one bath is "a little harder to move," he says, but those that have been fixed up are market prize winners.

Nunnenkamp describes the school system as "decent," although "the taxes are a little bit on the upper side," which isn't unusual in Camden County.

The highest taxes are in Haddonfield, which has the highest median sale price and the 84th-ranked U.S. high school, according to Newsweek.

Audubon High School ranked seventh of the 16 high schools in Camden County, but was first in its "district factor group." This means, the district says, that among county high schools "with families that are just like ours, we outperformed them all on the high school proficiency assessment."

Nunnenkamp says he has handled sales in Audubon ranging from $120,000 to $280,000. "All have been good experiences," he notes.

"Houses from $300,000 to $400,000 do exist, but they are harder to move," he says, adding that a house under $300,000 is much more like what the typical buyer is looking for in Audubon.

He recently sold a duplex for $150,000, with two bedrooms on one side and one bedroom on the other.

"It was a handyman special, bought by a young couple from Pennsylvania excited by not only having a house but rental income, as well," he says.

Another of his listings was a three-story Dutch Colonial that had been in the same family since 1956. "It was put on the market totally as is and hadn't been updated for 60 years," he says.

The house, a three-bedroom, one-bath with a powder room, listed for $139,900, sold for above the asking price, and was bid on by three buyers.

"I give Audubon 3 out of 4 stars; 21/2 stars on resale and 4 on starter homes," he says.

One property he tried to sell and couldn't "because it backed up on a commercial property," Nunnenkamp says.

"They fired me."

aheavens@phillynews.com

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Town By Town: Audubon, N.J., By the Numbers

Population: 8,771 (2013)

Median household income: $75,841 (2013)

Area: 1.05 square miles

Settlements in the last three months: 27

Homes for sale: 61

Average days on market: 92

Median sale price: $175,000

Housing stock: 3,379 units, including rowhouses, twins, and bungalows

School district: Audubon

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; Val Nunnenkamp, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors, Marlton