By Stacia Friedman
Magnolia, forsythia and tulips aren’t the only things blooming in Chestnut Hill. According to Mimi Morrow of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services (BHHS), Fox and Roach, the local housing market will be blossoming again soon. “Before restaurants, shops and schools reopen, our real estate market is going to rebound,” said Morrow. “Real estate is an essential business. People need homes, and we can show them safely.”
Right now relators, like everyone else, are confined to their homes. “My team meets twice a week via Zoom,” she explained. “We are not allowed to show houses, and inspectors are not permitted to enter them. However, there is still a demand, and people are making offers.”
Morrow looks forward to getting the go-ahead from the city to safely show houses again. “I miss getting out there and meeting the public,” she said. “We will maintain social distancing. I will enter the house wearing a mask and gloves, turn on the lights and then wait outside while the prospective buyer, also wearing masks and gloves, enters the home and looks around.”
Morrow is optimistic. “In 2019, we sold 106 houses and projected even higher sales for this year. There’s a lot of pent-up demand,” she said. “We currently have 31 active houses on the local market, ranging in price from $299,900 to over $4 million.” Given the unusually low interest rates, it’s a hot market. “Houses under $1 million are the best sellers. Higher priced, luxury homes stay on the market longer.”
Case in point: 28 West Abington Ave., a charming three-bedroom, two bathroom, brick twin, walking distance from shops, restaurants and Pastorius Park. “It was the home of one family for over 50 years and has been freshly painted and renovated with new hardwood floors, a remodeled kitchen and a walled patio that is great for gardening and entertaining,” said Morrow. Asking price is $349,900.
Philly hits the sweet spot when it comes to real estate pricing, ranking it smack in the middle, between the costliest cities – New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles – and the lowest priced – Detroit, Cleveland and Buffalo. “A $2 million house in Chestnut Hill would sell for $4 million or more in New York,” said Morrow. Following a national trend, Philly’s home values, including Chestnut Hill, rose in the last year as the number of available homes in the market fell.
“Chestnut Hill is an excellent real estate investment for buyers. Demand for homes has always been high here. What makes for the demand is that it feels like a small town but has everything city life has to offer,” said Morrow who noted that the Hill is especially attractive to young families in Center City seeking small town charm with easy access to the city.
“We have everything in Chestnut Hill — a vibrant main street with unique shops, great restaurants, a variety of private schools, Woodmere Art Museum, Morris Arboretum, plus the biking, hiking and Valley Green walking trails. All with the convenience of a rapid commute via SEPTA trains.”
What else is creating more demand for real estate in Chestnut Hill? In case you haven’t noticed, Philly has upgraded itself from a “city of lawyers” to a city of global innovation. We are now considered on par with Vancouver, Oslo and Dublin when it comes to bio-medical technology, thanks to our skilled talent pool, high-quality universities and business gateway infrastructure.
While in the past, your neighbor might’ve been an academic, attorney or financial planner, now, they may be working at Spark Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company launched by CHOP gene therapy researchers. The more robust the city’s economy, the more new residents will be attracted to Chestnut Hill’s unique quality of life.
You could say that Morrow, who has sold real estate for 11 years, married into the Hill. “I moved to Chestnut Hill from Connecticut in 1979 and married a lifelong 'Hiller' in 1987. We moved to southern New Jersey for five years and then in 1992, three kids later, we moved to Wyndmoor, where have been for the last 28 years.”
Previously, Morrow worked for four years at Weichert in Fort Washington and has been in Chestnut Hill with BHHS Fox & Roach for seven years. As a result, she knows the area and its residents well. Besides Chestnut Hill, Morrow sells homes in Mount Airy, Wyndmoor, Flourtown, Erdenheim and other nearby towns in Montgomery County. “Their proximity to Chestnut Hill is a selling factor. I have many friends who grew up here, moved away, then came back. It’s easy to see why,” she said.
For more information, visit mimimorrow.foxroach.com. Stacia Friedman is a Mt. Airy resident, author and freelance contributor to several websites and area publications.