by Peter Elliott
East Mount Airy was selected as one of the top 10 desirable neighborhoods in Redfin’s “Top 10 Hottest Affordable Neighborhoods” for 2019. The real estate brokerage ranked East Mt. Airy as the second “hottest” neighborhood, just behind McKinley Park in Chicago, Illinois. The list ranks neighborhoods based on the popularity and affordability of their real estate.
“I’m not surprised,” said Larry DiFranco, a longtime resident of East Mount Airy and a partner broker with the real estate company Elfant Wissahickon. Having lived in the neighborhood with his family since 1976, DiFranco believes there are numerous reasons that it ranked so high on the list, including the neighborhood’s emphasis on community interaction.
East Mt. Airy, which is officially recognized as the area between Germantown Avenue and Stenton Avenue and between Washington Lane and Crescent Valley Drive, was recognized for the median sale price of real estate, which is around $200,000. The neighborhood’s real estate also has a high percentage of properties that sell to list pricing (98 percent) and a good percentage that sell above list pricing (28.1 percent).
“It’s a welcoming community,” DiFranco said. “The people are community-minded … there is a lot of community involvement, and a lot of community activity.”
The variety in housing sizes and styles alone is a contributing factor to the neighborhood’s popularity, DiFranco said. When he and his wife were expecting their fourth child in 1992, he moved from a twin home to a single home that was just blocks away.
“One of the benefits to moving is that there is a diversity in the housing stock,” DiFranco said. “East Mount Airy has an added benefit, as it was developed over several decades. There are different styles of houses on the same block. That allows for a variety of affordable houses.”
Other factors DiFranco believes play a factor in the popularity of East Mount Airy range from the relatively quick travel into Center City “by train, bus, car or by bike” to the relatively suburban openness of the local environment.
“A lot of times, people are attracted to the open space, trees and parking, and I think it benefits the area,” DiFranco said.
Among all these factors, the emphasis on community interaction cannot be understated. The East Mount Airy Neighbors are a group that works to bring neighbors closer, even organizing events such as block parties to help foster relationships and communication within the community.
“We’re attracting younger people to [join] East Mount Airy Neighbors to reflect the younger people moving in,” DiFranco said.
The “Hottest Affordable Neighborhoods” were chosen by Redfin based upon the growing number of people viewing or choosing favorite listings within the selected neighborhoods from 2017 and 2018. This tracking of pageviews and favorites was adopted from Redfin’s annual “Top 10 Hottest Neighborhoods” list. Additionally, each property had to have a price cap equal to or below $294,000 to keep in line with the national median price for properties.
East Mt. Airy was not the only Philadelphia neighborhood that made the list; Redfin also recognized Fox Chase and Bustleton as some of the “hottest” affordable neighborhoods in America. With three neighborhoods ranked, Philadelphia has the most neighborhoods featured on the list, tied with Baltimore, Maryland.
When asked about why Fox Chase and Bustleton are also popular within the Greater Philadelphia area, DiFranco believes it comes down to “the diversity of housing stock and the quality of housing stock” the two neighborhoods provide.