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Housing market heats up in South Philly

A recent economic report shows strong home sales in the four local zip codes.

Whether it’s due to South Philly’s rich culture, delicious dining options or flourishing avenues for entertainment, it’s the hot place to live. For some, it’s a matter of personal preference, but the numbers also paint a strong picture.

According to the latest monthly economic report from City Controller Alan Butkovitz, home sales in neighborhoods across South Philadelphia consistently have had the highest results. Sales across the 19145, 19146, 19147 and 19148 zip codes accounted for almost 20 percent of all home sales sold in May 2017.

“I‘m not surprised by that report because the market in South Philadelphia has been very strong within the past year or so,” Joseph Biancaniello, associate broker and co-owner of Alpha Realty Group Inc., 1700 W. Moyamensing Ave. said. “The appeal is a few things, but mainly the close proximity to Center City, major highways and our public transportation system.”

Biancaniello continued that, because it’s easy for residents to get from South Philly to almost anywhere in the immediate area, people are drawn to the idea they can simply jump on a bus, train or on the subway and be in Center City or on a major highway in just 10 minutes. Additionally, the many new and old restaurants in this part of the city also draw people in, with East Passyunk Avenue having established itself as a premier dining destination throughout the city. Other hot neighborhoods, according to Biancaniello, are Newbold, Pennsport and Point Breeze, with realtors, such as himself, also noticing a much stronger demand east and west of Broad Street, south of Snyder Avenue.

“South Philly in general is very hot right now,” Biancaniello said. “The prices are lesser than many other areas in the city so we’re seeing a lot of younger people looking to buy or even rent. The prices are much higher in Center City, so buyers who are ‘priced out’ start looking where it’s more affordable.”

He explained this rationale is how all of the so-called “hot neighborhoods” began attracting buyers as they look for the more affordable alternatives. Getting his start in the real estate business in 1983, and having been co-owner of Alpha Realty Group for more than 28 years in South Philly, Biancaniello stressed all living trends are connected to city life and the strive to embrace the urban environment at hand.

Confirming this trend and South Philly’s apparent “growth spurt,” Mike McCann, “The Real Estate Man” and associate broker and founder of The McCann Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach Realtors, noted his team sold more than 250 homes last year and well over 100 so far this year in South Philly. He credits Point Breeze as the hottest area with the most sales and the most appreciation, with Passyunk Square coming in second.

“Every block in every area from Washington Avenue down to the naval base is experiencing growth,” McCann said. “The demand is for mostly nicely renovated homes and [buyers] will pay top dollar for them. The other demand is for old warehouses/lots or run-down properties that can be purchased cheap enough for a builder to build new homes or renovate existing ones and possibly even transform a two-story home into a three-story home.”

Other desires McCann has noticed from those purchasing homes in South Philly are roof decks with beautiful views, finished basements, hardwood floors, plenty of closets and ultra modern kitchens and baths. They also want to be able to walk, ride bikes or take public transportation to theaters, restaurants, clubs or the gym and to go out to meet up with friends.

“Many of the people that are buying here are the millennials, single females, single males and young couples ages 26 to 34,” McCann said. “They want the social life that the city has to offer.”

With something to offer every segment of the market, Barbara A. Capozzi, owner of Capozzi Real Estate / Insurance, Ltd., 3320 S. 20th St., further believes this aspect is where the strong appeal to South Philly stems from. She too believes prospects gravitate to South Philly when looking for higher safety, more reasonable and affordable pricing, easier parking, more peace and quiet and a more “community feel,” as well as more friendliness, green-spaces and housing variety (shapes, sizes, ages of homes and amenities).

“A short commute from South Philly is a desirable alternative to many previously caught in the ‘walk to work’ myth [of Center City],” Capozzi said. “Buyers and renters score much more space and maybe even a yard and parking for what a small airless, sunless efficiency would cost in Center City.”

Therefore, she explains residencies of all shapes and sizes are currently “hot” in South Philly. So, it’s safe to say that until there is a shift in this housing trend, current South Philly neighborhood residents may see an increase neighbors and pedestrian traffic alike headed into the near future. SPR

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