Out on the border, opportunity for first-time buyers

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

It's time to locate Milford Township on the map of Bucks County.

Don't feel like map-reading after celebrating the arrival of 2017? Let us help you.

Run your finger along the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike until you reach the Quakertown interchange. You have arrived in Milford, population 9,902, which sits on the Bucks border with Montgomery and Lehigh Counties and completely surrounds the Borough of Trumbauersville (population 900).

To say that Milford is a Philadelphia suburb is really stretching it - by almost 50 miles, in fact. It's closer to Allentown by more than half - 21 miles or so - and the Northeast Extension takes you there quickly.

Yet Frank Dolski, of Coldwell Banker Hearthside Real Estate in Lahaska, says this community and others around it offer something to first-time buyers who work in King of Prussia and Montgomeryville that they cannot get closer in to Philadelphia.

That would be affordability.

"There are a lot of corporate employers in the Interstate 476 corridor, and this area is especially commutable," he says.

In addition, people downsizing from larger homes on larger lots in Bucks County locales such as Hilltown, Solebury, and even Doylestown are finding prices and properties that fit their needs farther out, in Milford and adjacent communities, Dolski says.

There are 44 active listings in Milford Township, ranging from a minimum price of $74,000 (probably a mobile home, Dolski says) to a maximum of $700,000. The average price is $345,961.

Of the 26 homes currently under contract, the minimum sale price was $105,000, the maximum was $465,000, and the average was $274,900, he says.

Over the last 12 months, he notes, the market has been very active, with "a ton of settlements."

By ton, he means 129, a large number for a place Milford's size, and that might point to a large number of first-time buyers in search of affordability.

The minimum sale price in the last year was $30,000, which "would be a trailer," Dolski says, with a maximum price of $674,900 and an average of $261,839.

Houses stayed on the Milford market an average of 82 days, and sale price averaged 96.6 percent of the original asking price, he says.

Average prices fell from the previous year (November 2014 to November 2015), but Dolski says that's easy to explain.

In that period, "the highest sale price was an anomaly for the market - $1.775 million," he says, and the minimum sale price was $35,000, "so the numbers are somewhat skewed." That made the average price of 135 settled properties $286,441, Dolski says - $25,215, or 9 percent more than in the prior 12 months. Sale prices were 98 percent of original list price.

Dolski says that in every other market he works in, "prices are up and average days on the market are in decline. There is a lot of new construction in this area, and many people are bypassing the older homes in favor of new."

The older homes are primarily ranchers, Cape Cods, and Colonials, plus farmhouses averaging about 150 years in age, he says.

New homes are having an impact on resales not only in Milford Township, but in adjacent areas along the Route 309 corridor, he says. But the typical average price in the last year was $261,839, with three houses selling in the $600,000 range, he says.

"One home selling for $1.775 million is unusual, considering that the high for the last 12 months was $674,900," Dolski says.

There are other communities in which there are $400,000 houses as well as those at $3 million - Riegelsville comes immediately to mind, he says - but Milford is not so diverse.

He anticipates that the pace of new construction likely will push up the averages. But right now, he says, those homes sell between $260,000 and $300,000 - although some $350,000 homes also are being built these days.

Commercial construction is booming around the Northeast Extension interchange, with hotels and stores that "support the infrastructure," Dolski says.

"Considering how well-traveled the extension is, that building is natural."

aheavens@phillynews.com

215-854-2472@alheavens