Town By Town: In Feasterville, a mix of younger, older
One in a continuing series spotlighting the real estate market in this region's communities.
It's just a small part of Lower Southampton Township, Bucks County, not too far from where it touches the city and Montgomery County. Feasterville has just one-sixth of the township's population of nearly 19,000 and covers less than one of its 6.7 square miles.
Yet if you ask most people for directions to either Lower Southampton or Feasterville, the crossroads of Street Road and Bustleton Pike - near the landmark Buck Hotel - is where you're likely to end up.
"I'd say that's what would happen. I couldn't tell you where Feasterville ends, though I know where it begins," Lori Pollock says, laughing. She and her husband, John, moved to the Pine Tree Farms neighborhood 17 years ago from Northeast Philadelphia.
Michael J. Hughes, sales manager at Edward M. Kent Real Estate, notes that there is also an Upper Southampton Township and that "Feasterville is better known, anyway."
Feasterville is Lower Southampton's business district, as well, which spells convenience for residents of the neighborhoods surrounding it.
Pine Tree Farms, for example - built in the early 1950s, when the first movement from the Northeast to the near suburbs began - "is a couple of blocks from Bustleton Pike," Pollock says, "meaning you can walk to stores. There is an 88-year-old woman in the neighborhood who does just that."
The age diversity, from people older than she and her husband to young families with school-age children, is "one of the things we really like," she says.
Lori, who is retired, and John, who owns Pollock Transport Service in Philadelphia, moved to Feasterville in their 50s, looking to be near the city in a house that would be physically more friendly as they got older.
"We looked at so many houses," Lori Pollock says, but "the minute we walked in, we knew this was the one."
The taxes, too, were a draw, she says - Bucks County's were much lower than Montgomery County's in those days.
The county Board of Assessment puts Lower Southampton's 2013 total millage rate at 189.228, with seven of the 53 other municipalities higher; 152 mills finance the much-touted Neshaminy School District.
"It is not the cheapest school district to move to," says Hughes, but not as expensive as others.
The Pollocks represent a major part of the current generation of home buyers in Feasterville, real estate agents say: aging baby boomers from Northeast Philadelphia.
"They are looking for single-level living and not so many steps," Hughes says. "They want to stay close to their relatives in the Northeast, as well as their doctors and dentists, so choose ranchers in Feasterville instead of over-55 communities farther out that they cannot begin to afford."
Prices here range from $150,000 for an older house in need of work to $400,000 for new construction on a teardown. Zoning requirements limit teardowns, Hughes says, but "there is a lot of rehabbing going on."
He recently sold a Cape Cod with a new interior for $260,000 - "a very good value," he says.
There is new construction, but not as much as there was when Pine Tree Farms was built in the 1950s, or when Sweetwater Farms' 250 houses went up in the late 1980s.
County Builders has added about 300 townhouses to the mix in the last several years, Hughes says, but they are priced at $329,000 to $400,000, more expensive than the current median price for all of Lower Southampton ($240,000).
The township is trying to preserve as much open space as possible - notably the 110-acre Playwicki Farm off Bridgetown Pike, the Dolphin Swim Club, and, more recently, 10 acres off Bustleton Pike.
Weichert Realtors' Kathy Darden sees a lot of movement within township neighborhoods, "especially younger buyers who grew up here who want to stay here."
"There are these little neighborhoods with their nooks and crannies," Darden says, adding that homes available for sale in Feasterville include Capes, ranchers, and "even bungalows."
"Some houses are 80 to 100 years old and more - originally they were vacation homes, she says.
(Hughes says his 93-year-old mother spent summers as a child away from the searing heat of Kensington in the family's getaway in the Oakwood neighborhood, along Neshaminy Creek, at the other end of the township.)
The rest of the current buyers, Hughes says, are firefighters, police, and teachers no longer required to live in Philadelphia; first-time buyers from the Northeast; and those who find the Bustleton Pike-to-Byberry Road-to-I-95 commute a snap.
Demand has increased to the point, Darden says, where there is a shortage of high-quality houses for sale. Resulting multiple offers have brought reintroduction of "escalation clauses" used by buyers interested in upping the ante in potential bidding wars.
Increased demand hasn't yet translated into higher prices, Hughes says, although the downturn in housing hasn't spelled disaster, either.
Andrew Frank, a Long & Foster Real Estate agent, says that although he has sold a few foreclosures in Feasterville, the numbers are "average."
The ups and downs of the market have had little impact on Lori Pollock, who is having a good time in Pine Tree Farms, being part of the activities her neighborhood has to offer.
"When we're ready to leave this house, they'll be carrying us out, she says."
Town By Town: Feasterville, By the Numbers
Population: 3,074 (2010)
Median income: $49,831
Size: 0.643 square miles
Homes for sale: 34
Settlements in the last three months: 19
Average days on the market: 102
Median sale price (single-family): $240,000
Median sale price
(all homes): $240,000
Housing stock: Lower Southampton Township total is 7,200; most built post-World War II.
School district: Neshaminy
SOURCES: U.S. Census Bureau; Weichert Realtors; City-Data.com; Movoto.com; Trulia.com
Contact Alan J. Heavens
at 215-854-2472, firstname.lastname@example.org,
or @alheavens at Twitter.