Home Price Survey 2011
Home Price Survey 2011
An analysis of more than 376,000 sales in the Philadelphia region yields key insights into how the real estate market in those eight counties behaved as the housing boom picked up momentum in April 2005, peaked in 2007, and slowed down through June of this year:
South Jersey’s median home prices have taken one hard punch after another from the bruising economy, with few communities in Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester Counties holding on to their gains in value. Some locales in the farther reaches of the Pennsylvania suburbs fared worse than those closer to the city. And Philadelphia, especially condo-filled Center City, did best of all.
Chat live at noon with Kevin Gillen, vice president of Econsult Corp., who compiled and analyzed the sales data.
The last few years have been tough on the Philadelphia region’s housing market. Not as grimace-provoking as the pain inflicted on some metropolitan areas across the country, but painful just the same for those with homes to sell and mortgages to maintain.
Eager buyers in search of brand-new houses in wide-open spaces fed the real estate boom in the four suburban Pennsylvania counties surrounding Philadelphia. Prospective homeowners camped for days at builders’ sales offices on the edge of Chester County farmland, hoping they’d be the first to snag premium lots.
But that was a lifetime ago.
Few Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester County towns have held on to the gains achieved from 2005 through the mid-2007 peak of the housing boom, analysis shows. In those three counties, prices have fallen by an average 29 percent.
Median single-family home prices in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods, especially Center City, have fallen 15.8 percent. But like everywhere else, economic worries have cut into the pool of buyers just when there’s a surplus of houses for sale throughout the city.
Many Shore points that are traditional vacation destinations for Philadelphia-area residents did not fare all that badly in the housing downturn. But casino-dependent Atlantic City has taken a big hit.
We all would like to think that our houses are more valuable than the price the neighbors we don't like got for their house last year or the year before. That's not necessarily the case, however. A house is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.
The Inquirer's special report on home sales is based on the analysis of 376,257 transactions from April 1, 2005, through June 30, 2011, in the eight-county Philadelphia region, as well as Shore towns in Atlantic and Cape May Counties.
The analysis was performed by Kevin C. Gillen, vice president of Econsult Corp. in Philadelphia. Additional analysis was done by The Inquirer staff. The project was reported by Alan J. Heavens, Inquirer real estate writer.
Philadelphia data were obtained from the city and include all valid sales. Trend Multiple Listing Service data, as reported by real estate agents or brokers for the suburbs and the Shore, were provided by Prudential Fox & Roach's HomExpert Market Report to Econsult Corp.
In all areas, the analysis focused on arms-length sales. Excluded are: blanket sales; nominal sales; sheriff sales; bank sales; inter-family transfers; any sales involving a government agency (FHA, HUD, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, etc.); sales under $10,000, and any considered outliers — too high or too low to accurately reflect sales in the area. In Philadelphia, about 20 percent of the sales were deemed invalid and excluded; in the suburbs, 5 percent were excluded.
Included in the analysis are single-family homes, condominiums, townhouses and twins, or duplexes.
Median price represents the amount at which one-half the sale prices were lower and half were higher.
Heavens has covered real estate for The Inquirer since 1989 and writes for the newspaper's Business, Homes, and Home & Design sections. He has a master's degree in history from the University of Connecticut and a bachelor's degree in history from Hobart College, and is the author of two books on home renovation.
Gillen, an expert in real estate markets and finance and urban economics, produces Econsult's quarterly home-price indexes for Philadelphia, the region, and the Jersey Shore. He has a Ph.D in applied economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and is a research fellow at the university's Institute for Urban Research.