If you were wondering what a million+ bought you in Narberth in 2021, take a look below. Plus - here are a few interesting facts: Nine homes sold for over $1M last year. Most sold for over asking price, and one sold for more than 30% over the listed price! Newly constructed and fully renovated homes commanded a real premium, and the most expensive went for went for $1.45 million!
When Main Line Parent took a look at family-friendly neighborhoods, it was only natural that Narberth was featured among them. And when it comes to Narberth neighborhoods, it was only natural that Cindy Ridgway helped to tell the story! See the Neighborhood Guide to Narberth.
This Narberth photo is from Don Groff.
The early start of the Spring market has seen some of the most intense competition for homes this region has ever experienced. The combination of low inventory, low interest rates, and pent-up demand from a pandemic-interrupted 2020, created the perfect storm for a seller’s market.
Here are 10 updates from the local real estate scene:
Spring came early. The Spring market is a “thing” because families want to buy in the Spring, and move in the summer, so they are settled before the new school year in the fall. The 2021 market started warming up well ahead of the weather outside - it was already well underway before Superbowl Sunday this year!
There are way more buyers than sellers right now. Homes for sale, especially those listed by experienced realtors, are attracting unusual levels of buyer traffic. With Covid safety measures making it important for parties to distance from each other, it’s become common for available showing appointments to be booked up for days in a row, and for a (distanced) line of prospective buyers waiting for their turn to enter an open house.
Many homes are selling for over the asking price. Often, the list price is just the starting point for negotiations. Sale prices are often much higher, and can substantially exceed appraised values.
Cash offers have become much more common. As sellers are looking for certainty and finality, a cash or “no mortgage contingency” offer is viewed as stronger and “cleaner” than an offer with a mortgage contingency. For this reason, at lower price points, prospective homeowners often lose bidding wars to investors looking for properties to rent or flip.
Appraisals are still catching up with sale prices. The publicly-available data doesn’t tell the whole market value story because the MLS doesn’t show the final price of homes sales that haven’t closed yet. Now more than ever, it’s important to have an agent who is an expert in the neighborhoods you’re targeting. The best agents have been in all the recently sold homes, and they can best estimate what a house “should” go for.
Unrepresented buyers and sellers are at a disadvantage. As the seller typically pays the agent’s commissions, there's almost never a good reason to be an unrepresented buyer. It’s like turning down a good free lawyer on your day in court, and just hoping for the best! Plus, some properties are actually under contract by the time an unrepresented buyer sees them on syndicated websites like Zillow. Sellers need agents more than ever, too, because the “market price” for homes is changing so fast. FSBO sellers, trying to save on commissions, can end up netting less on the sale because they don’t know how to handle multiple offers, and because they don’t have an agent’s insight about local market changes that month, that week, or even that day. Agents who are experts in your neighborhood are worth every penny, and then some.
Some winning buyers are dropping contingencies. Contingencies are the “unless” clauses that give buyers a contractual right to back out of an agreement. For years, in our local market, it has become commonplace for strong offers to be free of home sale contingencies - that is, the offer to buy the new house is not contingent on the sale of the buyer’s old house. Now, in this ultra-competitive 2021 market, agents are helping clients with creative strategies to win bidding wars. Some buyers are dropping all contingencies to win homes, including inspection contingencies! Contingencies protect the buyer’s deposit money, so make sure you understand the implications before you waive them.
Some of the higher price points are the most competitive. While all budget levels are popular right now, recently we’ve seen some of the fiercest competition for houses $1M+ that we’ve seen in years.
“Done” and “new” command a real premium. People move to the neighborhoods in and around the Lower Merion School District for the schools, walkability, and easy commutes, and they usually just accept the fact that the local home inventory is mostly older. In the few cases where this great location is combined with new construction, those homes command a high premium. Buyers are likewise choosing to pay a premium for homes that have been renovated with new kitchens and bathrooms, luxurious bedroom suites, or finished basements. With interest rates so low, buyers are choosing a bigger mortgage over the inconvenience of living through a project.
Interest rates are still near historic lows, but have recently started to creep back up. One of our lenders, Tim Lowry, of Prosperity Mortgage, gave us the following March 26 interest rate update. See their website for details or email Tim.
The early months of 2020 were notable for a lack of inventory in the local real estate market, coupled with historically low mortgage interest rates. This confluence of conditions led to some seriously competitive situations, especially for homes with three characteristics: new construction (which is pretty rare, locally) or extensively renovated, at popular price points, in desirable and/or walkable neighborhoods. Now that we see a gradual easing of the Covid restrictions, the pent-up local demand has only intensified the competition. Homes that exhibit some or all of three of those characteristics are especially popular, and they trigger bidding wars if they show well, and, are properly priced and marketed by an experienced agent. If you're looking to buy a home in the Lower Merion School District, an agent like Cindy Ridgway can make all the difference between closing the deal and just missing out. Here are a few of the new local listings. It may be too late to buy a few of tehm, but it's always helpful to see what the market looks like.
There's no better illustration of how hot the market is than Narberth Borough. Narberth's walkable downtown, close-knit community, and easy commute make it a target neighborhood for many of today's buyers, especially those making the move out of Philly and NYC. With both small-town charm and inner-ring-suburb conveniences, this tiny Borough is an easy landing spot for urbanites looking for a little more breathing room. The pictured 2813 sq ft, 4 bed/3.1 bath, listed for $785K, was the subject of a bidding war its first weekend on the market, and reportedly went under contract for more well over $800K. This updated property has a beautiful backyard and is just blocks away from the type of downtown that tons of buyers have on their priority list. What makes a home like this especially attractive in today's market is how "done" it feels. Money is cheap these days, so buyers tend to pay up for a house that feels finished, rather than pay less and live through a project. This home also has an enclosed porch and a finished basement that add living space to the footprint. You may have missed this one, but you can still see all the details and photos at: 229 Forrest Ave, Narberth.
This Narberth Borough home also went under contract quickly after its weekend debut. If you're looking to be close to the downtown and train station, this one's location is even better than the last one, as it sits on Narberth south side, just a block's walk from everything. This 2270 sq ft, 5 bed/1.2 bath was listed quite a bit lower than the last one, at $525K. The homes were both built within a decade of each other at the beginning of the 1900s, and they both have some of that classic Main Line charm from that era, but a few key differences lead to the difference in price. This house has good bones, but it doesn't have the renovations and updates that made the other one feel so move-in-ready. Features here include a bay window in the dining room, nice-sized mud room, first floor powder room, and an "old-school" back staircase. See for yourself at: 213 Woodside Ave, Narberth.
It's almost impossible to scoop Cindy on info about a new property hitting the market in Narberth and "Near-berth". Her client had an offer in on this place fast, and made the offer strong enough to quickly take this one off the market. It's an 1876 sq ft, 2 bed/1.1 bath twin that was listed for $399,900 in Merion Station, just over Narberth Borough's southern border. The move-in-ready home is smartly laid out to maximize living space, with an enclosed front porch, finished basement, and seating area on the deck just off the kitchen. See what Cindy's client liked so much at: 509 Kenilworth Rd, Merion Station.
In a Wynnewood neighborhood just a few blocks north of Narberth Borough, is this 2537 sq ft, 4 bed/3.1 bath Tudor, listed for $829K. The almost-quarter-acre lot has a nice backyard with a deck. The updated kitchen has an adjacent dining room with french doors to the back deck. The third floor has a big bedroom with its own full bath. In the finished lower level, the space has been divided between a laundry area, an office, and a large entertaining space. This one is currently available for showings. See more at: 548 Manor Rd, Wynnewood.
Need a little more room to spread out? This 9217 sq ft, 6 bed/6.2 bath sits on half an acre in Merion Station, just down the street from the Bala Library. It's not a new listing, but it just had a price reduction to $1.375M. The entry foyer is massive with very high ceilings. There are two sinks and dishwashers, a double oven and a 6-burner range in the huge, modern white kitchen. One bedroom suite is on the first floor, with the master suite and four other bedrooms on the second. The master suite has two-walk-in closets, high ceilings, a loft, and a loaded bath. A spacious, finished, walkout lower level has a fireplace, big recreational area/media room, fitness room, and connects to a two-car garage. Plenty to see in this mansion of a house, at: 286 N Highland Ave, Merion Station.
If you have the budget, here's another big one, a 6653 sq ft, 5 bed/5.1 bath, just listed for $1.45M. This home is in the Radnor School District part of Bryn Mawr, on a .8 acre lot, in a cul-de-sac that backs up to a forest preserve. An expansive first floor includes both a gas and a wood-burning fireplace, a huge modern kitchen, and a beautiful walk-out back deck. The lower level has it all - a guest suite with a full kitchen and spa bathroom, a large entertaining space with a third fireplace, a second laundry room, and plenty of storage. 715 Sturbridge Dr, Bryn Mawr.
This one came back on the market after some of the Covid restrictions were lifted, and quickly went under contract. It's a 3488 sq ft, 4 bed/3.1 bath Cape, that was listed for $969,900. The three-quarter acre lot, with a backyard in-ground pool and poolhouse with a full bath, is in a Bryn Mawr neighborhood not far from Harriton High School. The white, updated, eat-in kitchen has granite and stainless, and a gas cooktop in the center island. The Cape style gives this home the first floor master that many buyers have a hard time finding in this area. See all the details and photos at: 805 Gatemore Rd, Bryn Mawr.