Town By Town: In Winslow Twp., running the gamut
One in a continuing series spotlighting real estate markets in the region's communities.
At 58 square miles, Winslow Township is Camden County's largest municipality in area. It is so large, in fact, that it has multiple zip codes - two shared with Hammonton and Berlin.
Its borders are filled with neighborhoods - Cedar Brook, Blue Anchor, Braddock, and Ancora among them - and, of course, Sicklerville, the "heart of Winslow Township," as real estate agents like to call it.
The township's size gives it multiple real estate markets, said Val Nunnenkamp, an agent with BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors' Marlton office. The differences among them determine home and lot size and, often most important, price.
"The Route 73 corridor near Berlin is a very sellable area, with very nice 55-plus communities, an elementary school in demand, and lots of new construction," Nunnenkamp said, adding that potential buyers can find "nice-sized homes of 3,000 square feet for under $300,000."
The section of Winslow close to Hammonton and the Atlantic County line "is still very rural, with one- to six-acre lots, and large ranches for $250,000 on three acres, with private wells and septic. The area is peaceful, very much like Medford and Shamong, as well as an easy commute to the Shore," he said.
In these areas, houses spend one to four months on the market, according to Nunnenkamp.
Then, there's Sicklerville, where most of the township's housing is concentrated and, he said, days on market average about five months.
"You can get a five-bedroom, 21/2-bath with a two-car garage on one-third of an acre for $185,000 to $195,000," Nunnenkamp said. "The low $200,000s if it has been gutted and rehabbed."
Weichert Realtors' Teresa Vandenberg said when location is key to selling houses, Sicklerville's proximity to Route 42 and Philadelphia gives it an edge over much of the rest of Winslow.
"It is a very nice area, offering a broad spectrum of housing and very affordable," says Vandenberg, of Weichert's Washington Township office, who has been selling area real estate for nearly 30 years.
Many homes in Sicklerville, while not brand-new, are "no more than 20 years old and are good-sized," she said.
Prices range from about $60,000 for a small bungalow in need of work to a four- or five-bedroom in pristine condition for $400,000, she said.
In the first seven months of 2014, the highest price was $400,000 and the average $163,542, Vandenberg said, on 177 sales.
In the same months of 2013, the top price was $405,000, with 208 sales and an average of $158,400.
Average days on market year-over-year fell three days, to 106, she said.
Most buyers are moving up from condos and townhouses to detached homes, with a few first-timers in the mix, Vandenberg said.
As with many municipalities on either side of the Delaware River that experienced building booms in the last three decades, there isn't much building underway in Winslow.
Scott Rote, of Haven Homes Builders L.L.C. in Brigantine, builds spec and custom houses inland and at the Shore.
He has a 10-lot subdivision at Waterford Farms and built three houses there in 2013.
They were among eight he built during the year, which "is about average for me and good compared with the last few years," according to Rote.
Builder Bruce Paparone, of Paparone New Homes, bought a farm in the Cedar Brook section several years ago, an area he describes as having a "strong Italian American farm population, sort of an extension of Hammonton."
The farm purchase "seemed like a good idea back then, before the market slowed down," he said, adding that "we are getting closer to restarting the approval process."
Looking at recent history, Winslow Township can sometimes be in the right place at the wrong time.
During the housing boom, a planned community of 1,200 singles and townhouses called Wilton's Corner was built on 700 acres in Sicklerville (Ryan Homes is still building townhouses there).
At the beginning, Vandenberg said, the spacious detached homes were commanding prices in the upper-$400,000 range.
Today, the same houses are selling in the upper-$200,000 to lower-$300,000 range.
"A lot of people fell in love with Wilton's Corner when they got off the expressway to look at it," said Nunnenkamp. "It was a pretty neighborhood but overbuilt, and people paid Cherry Hill and Voorhees prices and got stuck."
Nunnenkamp said the same thing happened in the 1970s, when Levitt & Sons began building thousands of homes in Sicklerville - starting with Winslow Crossing - after the Atlantic City Expressway interchange opened.
"They thrived at first, offering affordable homes of every kind from the high $20,000s to the low $40,000s, and there were plans for its own school, swim club, shopping center, and nine-hole golf course," Nunnenkamp said.
Interest rates climbed during the decade, reaching 15 percent in 1980-81, and "there was a mass sellout."
Today, Winslow's market is recovering from what Nunnenkamp said were 35 percent to 40 percent price drops from the 2005 peak.
"There have been a lot of short sales and foreclosures," Vandenberg says, "but I am seeing fewer these days."
"I don't think we suffered worse than anywhere else," she added.
Winslow Twp. By the Numbers
Population: 39,499 (2010).
Median income: $70,947 (2009).
Area: 58 square miles.
Settlements in the last three months: 100.
Homes for sale: 362.
Avg. days on market: 106.
Median sale price: $179,907.
Housing stock: Condos, townhouses, and detached, most built starting in '70s.
School district: Winslow Township.
SOURCES: U.S. Census Bureau, City-Data.com, Teresa Vandenberg, Weichert Realtors; Val Nunnenkamp, BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors