Location. Location. Location. Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or just looking for a good investment, where you buy is as important as what you buy. Recently, buyers have seen double digit returns on investment in hot neighborhoods like NoLibs, Fishtown and Passyunk Square, but as these areas have become firmly established, there are fewer bargains to be had. To help you get ahead of the curve and identify what’s up and coming, here are four Philly neighborhoods poised to take off in 2017.
Point Breeze and Newbold
This is the year of Point Breeze, predicts two online real estate sites, Zillow and Redfin, which give the neighborhood high marks in their 2017 lists of Philly’s hottest real estate markets. John Featherman, associate broker at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services – Fox & Roach Realtors, agrees, saying that realtors have been buzzing about Point Breeze for a while. With a 26.8 percent increase in median home values last year and an additional 6.8 percent increase predicted for this year, it’s easy to see why.
“It’s the cheapest place for first-time home buyers who want to live in a cool, edgy neighborhood that’s still walkable to Center City,” says Featherman, and the next logical destination for buyers who have been pushed out of the Graduate Hospital area due to rising prices.
The neighborhood extends from Broad to 25th and Washington to Mifflin, but the Newbold section which stretches from Broad to 18th is especially desirable. Featherman sees more and more millennials who are increasingly making their home in Point Breeze saying, “I really prefer to live on a block where there’s a bar.” Point Breeze obliges with gastropubs like South Philly Tap Room (1509 Mifflin St.), American Sardine Bar (1800 Federal St.) — named one of The 40 Best Bars in America for Food Lovers by the Food Network — and the recently opened Second District Brewing Company (1939 S. Bancroft St.).
Lower Moyamensing, from Snyder to Ritner and Fifth to 10th streets, is a terrific place for first time buyers looking for value and growth, says realtor Jeanne Whipple, team leader with Philly Home Girls – Coldwell Banker Preferred. Whipple loves that LoMo is convenient to everything. “It’s super walkable to Passyunk Square and the Broad Street [subway] line,” she says “and major arteries such as Snyder, Oregon and Broad.” Wide streets let in lots of air and light and an active neighborhood association helps keep this area vibrant. Whipple also extols LoMo’s varied ethnic dining options.
“Los Gallos at Ninth and Wolf is a traditional Mexican restaurant with a great vibe,” she confides. “It’s super friendly and casual.” Frangelli’s Bakery at 847 W. Ritner St. is her go-to spot for cronuts stuffed with ricotta. Houses here are what she lovingly refers to as “grandmom specials,” well-maintained homes that lack the most current decor. “They’ve got good bones and are fun to fix up because you can largely stick to cosmetic updates, and maybe one bigger project like the electrical system. Best of all, you can get in under $200K.”
A neighborhood that’s not so much revitalized as evolving is Port Richmond — the area from Lehigh to Castor and Aramingo to Richmond. Unlike nearby Kensington, which also turns up on lists of Philly neighborhoods to watch, Port Richmond was never blighted. Whipple calls the area “vibrant and diverse,” a stable immigrant enclave of “tidy tree-lined streets, great historical buildings, gigantic churches, a park and artist lofts.” The food and bar scene here has never been better. At River Wards Cafe (3118 Richmond St.), you’ll find a lunchtime business crowd, while the New Wave (2620 E. Allegheny Ave.) serves up Polish food “like your grandmother is cooking for you. And when she’s done cooking, it turns into nightclub.” Recently-opened Gaul & Co. Malthouse (3133 Gaul St.) and Bait & Switch seafood restaurant (2537 E. Somerset St.) are getting lots of buzz, too.
A small (800 square-foot) house here rents for about $850 a month, reports Whipple, and costs $110,000, making buying in Port Richmond a smart investment. While public transit isn’t as obvious as in some neighborhoods, the 15 bus runs along Girard and Richmond connecting to the El, and a bike trail is part of a greenway project that’s transforming the city’s North Delaware Riverfront.
Looking to buy in an established neighborhood with gorgeous Victorian architecture, verdant streets, ample recreational space and booming businesses? Spruce Hill — from Market Street to Woodland Avenue, and 40th to 46th streets — tops Redfin’s 2017 list of hottest Philly neighborhoods. While the median sale price of $415,200 may seem high when compared to other trending areas, it buys lots of space (an average of more than 2,200 square feet), and a $213 per square foot price is a bargain compared with neighborhoods like Rittenhouse Square ($405 per square foot). Clark Park is a hub of year-round activity with a weekly farmers market and annual Shakespeare Festival; and bustling Baltimore Avenue is home to hipster hangouts like Dock Street Brewing (701 S. 50th St.).
Featherman recommends Spruce Hill to families who want to send their kids to a top-ranked school, since much of it falls within the Penn Alexander catchment, and notes that UPenn employees can receive incentives when they buy in the area. He’s also bullish on neighboring Walnut Hill, which runs west to 52nd, touting its affordability — many homes sell for under $200,000 — and recommending it to “urban homesteaders, early adopters who want to lay claim to an up and coming neighborhood.”