Town By Town: Affordable Chalfont offers access for commuters

The Chalfont station is one of two on SEPTA's Doylestown-Lansdale line that serve the area.

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

Chalfont has much going for it, but in real estate terms, location, and affordability, top the list. And let's not forget the Central Bucks School District.

"It is a perfect location for those who need to commute to work," says Frank Dolski, of Coldwell Banker Hearthside, Realtors, who has sold houses in this Bucks County borough for more than two decades.

Two train stations on SEPTA's Doylestown-Lansdale line - one in Chalfont, the other in New Britain Borough - serve the area, so commuting to jobs in Center City is easy.

The Chalfont station was built in 1869, when the North Penn Railroad began rumbling through the village then called Whitehallville. The Victorian houses that comprise the Chalfont Historic District date from that era.

Threatened with demolition by SEPTA, the train station was purchased by the borough, which restored and maintains it.

Chalfont also is close to Interstate 476 (the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and the Blue Route). Many borough residents work at Merck's or Johnson & Johnson's pharmaceutical facilities, or commute to King of Prussia, Dolski says.

Chalfont is affordable, especially for younger families and first-time buyers looking to live in the Central Bucks district but not too far from Philadelphia and other major areas of employment.

"Prices range from $167,000 to $495,000," Dolski says, adding that there are many historic homes and more modern ones ranging in age from 11 years old to 45 years.

"I've sold a lot of homes, and many of them have been to first-time buyers," he says.

This is not a big real estate market by area standards. There are just 1,400 housing units in Chalfont, the newest ones being townhouses on Oxford Lane built by Oxford Land Development L.L.C., of North Wales.

In the last 12 months, just 64 houses changed hands, one fewer than in the previous year, Dolski says.

"Sixty-five houses a year is about the average number," he says. "Once people move here, they seem to have no interest in leaving unless they are relocated out of the area by their employer."

There are only 21 active listings, and 10 more houses are under contract.

"It is a small borough, just 4,062 residents in 1.6 square miles," Dolski says.

In the last 12 months, the average sale price was $316,232, about 8 percent or nearly $25,000 more than the $291,281 average of the previous year, he says.

"People want to move here and are willing to pay more to do so," Dolski says.

In the third quarter, there were just 11 sales, compared with 17 in the period of July 1 to Sept. 30, 2014, according to Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors' HomExpert Market Report, which uses data from Trend Multiple Listing Service.

Median and average prices showed big gains, however, confirming what Dolski saw in the 12-month comparison with 2014.

The third-quarter average price was $357,623, versus $263,424 the previous year, a 35.8 percent increase, while the median sale price (half the houses sold for more, half for less) was $380,332 versus $270,000, up 40.9 percent.

Average days on market declined 20.8 percent, to 61 from 77 year-over-year in the third quarter.

For the county as a whole, the average price of single-family homes remained firm through the third quarter, Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors reported.

Compared with Doylestown and New Hope, Chalfont is a quiet, relaxed place, with a couple restaurants, and a few businesses - some carved out of the borough's Victorian buildings.

One of the restaurants, Borghi's at Routes 202 and 152, is on the site of George Kungle's hotel, which was built in 1761. There have been several fires there over the years, according to the history on the borough's website.

Chalfont, which became a borough in 1901, is named for Chalfont St. Giles in Buckinghamshire, England, where William Penn met his wife and John Milton wrote Paradise Lost.

 

For many years, the borough was home to Forest Park, which started life as a picnic ground and evolved into a small amusement park.

It closed in 1968.

aheavens@phillynews.com

215-854-2472@alheavens


Town By Town: Chalfont By the Numbers

Population: 4,062 (2013)

Median household income: $84,180 (2013)

Area: 1.6 square miles

Settlements in the last three months: 11

Houses for sale: 21

Average days on market: 61

Median sale price: $380,332

Housing stock: 1,400 units, single-family homes and townhouses

School district: Central Bucks

SOURCES: U.S. Census Bureau, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors' HomExpert Market Report; Frank Dolski, Coldwell Banker Hearthside, Realtors, Lahaska