'Easygoing' life in rural Chester County

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The Eusebius Barnard house in Pocopson was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

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

Pocopson isn't just another one of those sleepy, historic, sprawling, thinly populated Chester County townships.

It does have history, of course, and although the town wasn't established until 1848, 71 years after the Battle of Brandywine, the British did cross the west branch of the creek at Trimble's Ford, now a historic district shared by Pocopson and West Bradford.

Pennsbury and East Marlborough - which also were linked to the battle, according to every historical record - "donated" land to form Pocopson Township.

Half of the very neat Lenape Bridge over Brandywine Creek is here. But within Pocopson's boundaries, too, are Chester County Prison; the county Youth Center; the Pocopson Home, which offers rehabilitation services; and "the Valley of Terror," a Halloween theme park that comes to life in October and November.

Pocopson "is like all of the other townships in the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District," says Jane Wellbrock, an agent in Weichert Realtors' Chadds Ford office who lives just over the border in Pennsbury.

In fact, she says, "Pennsbury and Pocopson are clones," with very similar real estate markets, though Pocopson is slightly smaller in land area and a bit larger in population and has much more new construction.

There are 24 active listings in Pocopson, ranging in price from $299,000 to $2.9 million, Wellbrock says. "That means the middle of the price range is $729,000, with many of the active listings $750,000 and more."

The problem is that the "sweet spot" of the Pocopson real estate market is $400,000 to $700,000, she says. "If you list a house here in that range, it immediately sells - in fact, it is scooped up before you can take a breath."

That's true whether the house is new or newish, or has been updated, Wellbrock says.

"I know that if I sell my 3,000-square-foot house, I would be able to get $600,000 for it, conservatively speaking," she says, since in the years she has owned it Wellbrock has updated the home a number of times.

But, she quickly adds, "where would I go?"

That's the dilemma faced by the aging population in more rural areas of Chester County, she says: People want to downsize, but they don't want to join over-55 communities or to move out of the area.

"People love living in Pocopson," Wellbrock says. "It is one of the most delightful places around to live in, a real country place but convenient to the outside, with one-acre or two-acre minimums."

Except, she adds, for the townhouse communities and Toll Bros.' Riverside at Chadds Ford and the Preserve.

She describes life in Pocopson as "easygoing."

There is Baily's Dairy at Pocopson Meadow Farm, with milk from grass-fed cows, and the Northbrook Marketplace, "where you meet up with your friends for lunch and dinner and baked goods," Wellbrock says, adding that residents do their shopping out of town by car.

In the last 90 days, 11 houses have gone to closing here, "all but two outliers" settling for $300,000 to $675,000, she says.

"It is heavy in the middle," Wellbrock says, because the more expensive active listings and the houses needing work that "the buyers of today are unwilling to do" tend to spend a lot of time on the market.

Pending sales - those under agreement - range from $275,000 to $1.1 million, with most of them newer singles and townhouses, she says.

The $275,000 property is a townhouse with three bedrooms and 21/2 baths, she says, while the $1.1 million home has five bedrooms and 51/2 baths.

Three recent sales - including two of Wellbrock's - are in the Olmstead development, single-family houses of 3,800 to 6,000 square feet built in 2004 that typically bring $750,000 to $850,000.

Buyers in Pocopson are primarily employees being relocated by M&T and TD Banks, with a few from AstraZeneca but few move-up buyers, Wellbrock says.

"We have a few bank employees moving in from Canada, where there is no problem getting mortgages for $1 million houses," she says. "They didn't have a clue how hard it is here."

aheavens@phillynews.com

215-854-2472@alheavens


Pocopson By the Numbers

Population: 4,582 (2010)

Median household income: $105,144

Area: 8.4 square miles

Settlements in the last three months: 11

Homes for sale: 24

Average days on market: 23

Median sale price: $505,450

Housing stock: 890 units; many newer and large single homes

School district: Unionville-Chadds Ford

SOURCES: U.S. Census Bureau; Jane Wellbrock, Weichert Realtors; Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors

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