Even though the real estate market has been tumultuous for many recently, Philadelphia somehow seems to be doing much better compared to most other parts of the country. The local market has some activity, as in housing is being purchased and seeing increases. Additionally, construction of new single-family homes continues to go up, especially in the suburbs.
One point of prosperity in the Philly real estate market lies in the increase in existing home sales into December. December 2011 took in about five more percent of existing sales than December 2010 did. Sales from the end of last year thus far have been positive. This is something the housing market needs momentously. Thus far in 2012, there hasn’t been a significant increase in homes purchased but there is certainly a growing interest in property expected to take place.
On the seller’s side, there is hope that rising apartment rental rates could drive some potential buyers back into the fold in 2012. The average rental rate for all Philadelphia apartments has gone up nearly eight percent in the last year alone. This equals an increase of nearly $80 in the past year alone. The thought is that those individuals or couples on the fence about renting and buying could take a more serious look at buying, especially with today’s mortgage rates.
Reports have shown that mortgage rates have been hitting record lows throughout the country, as well as here in Philadelphia, which is certainly inviting for potential buyers. Right now, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is coming with 4.007 APR. With mortgage rates being this low and rentals continuing to increase in price, there is hope that some buyers will begin to see the benefits of buying in early 2012.
Right now, Philadelphia’s top selling areas have remained the northwestern and western areas of Center City. However, other parts of Philadelphia have retained their value attracting buyers and keeping the market going.
Right now, the big issue the city faces is sale prices, specifically for sellers. It is important to note that even though sales prices have dropped in this area, they have not plummeted as much as other cities across the country.
In the coming months, there is reason to be optimistic that these prices can get a small pickup. Median prices were down about six percent in December from the previous year, but this could have been expected. The months of November and December are generally regarded as slow months for real estate anyway, but the numbers shouldn’t have too heavy an impact on the rest of the first quarter of 2012.
A glance at the early trends in 2012 Philadelphia real estate is truly a mixed bag right now. Coming off the month of December is usually not pretty for any market; however, the Philly market has looked rather stable in the early part of the year. Regardless, it should remain to be seen if factors such as mortgage rates, rising rental rates and an increase in existing home sales can positively influence the market for both buyers and sellers throughout the first half of 2012.
–By Emma Crawford, special to PhillyLiving.com