Town By Town: 'More house . . . lower taxes'

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470 Coldstream Dr. in Easttown, listed at $650,000. There are 72 active listings in Easttown. MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer

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

This is really a tale of two Chester County townships, side by side and sharing a school district.

We visited Tredyffrin, "valley town" in Welsh, back in July 2014.

Easttown is much easier to spell. No wonder most people refer to the school district as "T/E."

Kate Balk, a newly minted real estate agent with Duffy Real Estate in Narberth and St. Davids, knows both sides of the district. She has lived in the part of Wayne that finds itself in Tredyffrin. And until she became a real estate agent 10 months ago, she worked in the office at Tredyffrin/Easttown Middle School in Berwyn, a census-designated place that is partly in Easttown Township.

Some of Devon also lies in Easttown, and both places have stations on SEPTA's Paoli-Thorndale Regional Rail Line, which offers residents a rapid commute to Center City.

One of the things that has impressed Balk as an agent is how little time "properly priced" listings in Easttown and Tredyffrin spend on the market.

It's true even at this time of year, says her broker, B. John Duffy Sr.

"It has been busy over the holiday season, even at the high end of the market," said Duffy.

Typically, though some sellers ask agents to remove their listings between Thanksgiving Day and Super Bowl Sunday, "the serious buyers are out there," he said.

With uncertainty about interest rates in 2016, many buyers want to get ahead of higher mortgage costs, he noted.

There are 72 active listings on the Easttown market, priced from $199,500 to $4.6 million, the broker said.

In the third quarter, 42 homes sold, with the average price $806,599 and a median sale price of $652,500 (half sold for less, half for more), according to Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors' HomExpert Market Report.

Houses spent an average 53 days on the market.

"Easttown has many of the same benefits of Tredyffrin, which is a much larger township in population," Duffy says. Among those are the school district, proximity to the train, and "reasonable" taxes, "if you consider any taxes reasonable."

Balk says many of her buyers, especially from more heavily taxed Delaware County communities, mention "more house and land for lower taxes" when they are looking at Easttown properties.

Easttown tends to be "more country than Tredyffrin," with larger lots and more post-World War II housing, Duffy says.

"On the way to school, you drive by horses and cows," says Balk, who adds that there are a lot of townhouses near the middle school here.

A number of townhouses and condos were built in Easttown in the 1970s and 1980s, "when people already were scaling down," Duffy said.

Easttown was home to the country residences of wealthy Philadelphians from the 18th to the 20th centuries, Duffy says, and it has interesting examples of such properties.

One of his listings, on Littlebrook Road, is a good example.

The listing encompasses three parcels: On one is a house; the one in the middle has a swimming pool; and the third has a little cottage. A teardown would result in two buildable lots, Duffy says, but why anyone would consider such a thing is baffling.

"You have a nice house built in 1924, with a pool and a place away from the house for relatives visiting or the kids moving home after college," he says. The property is listed for $575,000.

Easttown and Tredyffrin are about even as far as wealth is concerned, and the majority of buyers are younger couples and families employed at the office parks and corporate centers nearby.

Routes 252, 202 and 30 "are there," although there is a lot of reverse commuting in for jobs, Duffy said.

As Balk sees it, the Tredyffrin/Easttown schools are the big draw.

"The schools are innovative and rooted in tradition at the same time, the legacy of administrators, teachers and parents who created the district's foundation," she says.

"They keep up to date but stick to the ideas that work," she says, "and the course selection at Conestoga High School resembles that of a university."

aheavens@phillynews.com

215-854-2472@alheavens

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