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Buying Into Philadelphia Real Estate

Finding the True Investment Home Values for Motivated Buyers and Sellers.

15 min read

When entertaining the idea of choosing a city to remain in for the foreseeable future, one should precisely analyze that specific city. That individual should consider a multitude of criteria suitable for the standard of living he or she has already established.

The criteria for choosing a city may consist of a variety of standards such as an invigorating nightlife, the potential for excellent economic growth for years to come, elite quality hospitals, prestigious academic institutes, and an abundance of activities that accommodate all individuals.

Oh, and not to mention an exquisite cuisine!

This article will focus its attention on the city of Philadelphia, or as it is commonly referred to as “The City of Brotherly Love.” Philadelphia has excellent potential to be a prime candidate to start a future in, and in this article, we will analyze the who, what, where, and why’s of moving to Philly.

Why Should I Live in Philadelphia?

The United States of America is a country that contains a wide variety of beautiful cities. Cities such as Boston, New York, and Chicago are littered with influential stories of success throughout the history of this country.

So, why Philadelphia? Why is Philadelphia a better choice than any of the other cities I just listed? Or any other large US city for that matter?

The answer is passion and an innovative mindset amongst the city’s population. When you engage in a conversation with a Philadelphian you understand immediately the energy this city produces.

Don’t believe me? It was here in this very city that the foundation of this great country was established.

Ordinary men with extraordinary dreams cultivated the landscape for a prosperous nation. Creating a new nation based on the thoughts and energy of a few men is innovation at its core. The founding fathers fed off of the energy that the city produces. Ben Franklin and Betsy Ross were inspired by the cities beauty and potential. These innovative and courageous men and women laid the foundation for the tough reputation that this city is so proud to embrace. Not only were the people in this cities history passionate, but the current population in the city is also just as passionate as ever!

If you’re a sports fan, then look no further than Philadelphia. The BEST sports fanatics on planet earth. This city bleeds green in the fall for their beloved football team, and they also display patience and emotional intelligence for their exceptionally talented and young basketball team. This town expects to win in every aspect of life.

When the city is presented with a minor setback, the citizens of Philadelphia always rally back stronger and more resilient. This type of mindset has been ingrained in the heads of the youth here in Philadelphia. This has allowed the city to prosper to the magnitude in which it currently stands.

So why else should someone move to Philadelphia?

I will list three reasons that make Philadelphia outshine the rest. This list includes:

  1. 1. Positive outlook for future economic growth
  2. 2. Diverse culture and exceptional social experiences the city has to offer
  3. 3. Phenomenal geographical location.

Philadelphia’s Economic Potential

One reason to invest in Philadelphia is that of the hot real estate market that is going to continue for the foreseeable future. Population growth in Philadelphia has been rising for the last few years. Population growth began around 2010 and had continued to be slightly positive in the previous 8 or so years.  The population currently stands at over 1.5 million people.

As you can see below, the Philadelphia region has been experiencing an increasing population since about 2011. This population growth peaked between the years 2012 and 2014 but continues to be a growth today in 2018. This will lead to an increase or continuation of the status quo of the real estate market.

In general, based on studies that you can read up on here, a 1% increase in demand will lead to a 5% increase in price. Now we can’t guarantee that all the people moving into a city will be buying a home, but the increased population has a positive correlation with real estate prices.

According to Forbes.com, the millennials are pouring into cities, which if you’ve been in Philly it is noticeable. The population growth rate in Philadelphia between 2010 and 2015 was 38%. This is a considerable increase – in comparison, the growth in Denver was 43% during those same years, and Austin experienced a 50% increase in this category. Philadelphia is in the middle of a millennial population boom – which will lead to increased prices in real estate.

According to research done at the National Bureau of Economic Research in 1988, housing price is a function of the demand for housing. So, to predict what housing prices will be in the future we need to figure out what drives demand for houses. We do that by defining what demand consists of. Luckily, these guys did this for us almost 30 years ago. In fact, they predicted a steep decline in housing around the year 2007, followed by a gradual rise in prices at some point in the next ten years. Ridiculous, right?

They did this by analyzing population data and housing prices in the 1900’s. I won’t bore you with all of the facts, but they did some fantastic math, and you can check out their articles here. They found that a HUGE predictor of housing prices is the number of 25-30-year-olds in a population because this is the time in people’s lives where housing demand is highest.

I never thought about it before, and I bet you didn’t either, but it makes total sense. People buy their forever homes in their 20’s – even if they aren’t their forever homes – and then settle down. Now, we know people move later in life, but almost everyone buys their first house during young adulthood, which is why the number of young adults correlates so well with housing prices.

Based on this analysis, we can draw some simple hypotheses to see where the housing market will go in the future. Based on the surge in young adults in the Philadelphia market – it is safe to assume that the current state of demand will continue.

Compared to the top 10 largest cities in the USA, Philadelphia is currently experiencing slower growth. Up until 2010, Philadelphia was experiencing negative growth – which means that the current growth factor is indicative of potential growth as the millennial population continues to influence the urban environment.

So, the increasing number of millennials and the consistently positive trend of millennials moving into cities should be a signal that prices in Philadelphia will continue to rise. Currently, this holds true for neighborhoods where millennials will want to move, but often spreads to other nearby markets.

According to the city of Philadelphia in their 2016 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the number of 35-54-year-olds and the number of children from ages 5-19 have decreased in the city. This has occurred despite increases in the overall population, which proves that the increase in population is likely due to millennials.

Let’s look at some economic factors to get a better idea of what is going on in Philly. According to Data USA here are some of the key facts about Philadelphia economically.

Philadelphia Economy

  • Population:57M (+0.46%)
  • Median Age: 34.1
  • Median Household Income: 41,233(+5.61%)
  • Poverty Rate:8%
  • Number of Employees: 676,371(+3.71%)
  • Median Property Value: $150,700 (+1.34%)

The national average for homeownership is around 63%, which is slightly higher than the rate in Philadelphia, 52.6%. Property tax rates in Philadelphia average around $800-1500.

Wage distribution is a huge factor in today’s society. Philadelphia scored a 0.474 2015 Wage GINI score, which is below the national average of 0.486. Simply put, wages are better distributed in Philadelphia than the many places around the country. A GINI Score is a 0-1 coefficient to measure inequality. 0 would be perfect equality.

Employment grew by 3.71% to some 676,371 employees. Most of these people worked in business, sciences or healthcare.

The highest household income area in the city had an average value of household income of $135,375. The map is helpful to determining ideas for house values based on a population’s income. We can assume that areas with higher income will have higher property values.

This map from Data USA, shows the areas of highest income in the city.

According to the FY18-22 Five Year Plan, which is published by the city of Philadelphia, over the next seven years, Philadelphia is committed to a goal of a $500 million upgrade to parks, recreation centers, and libraries to improve access to high-quality amenities for all of Philadelphia.

The FY18-22 Five Year Plan also mentions the local economic conditions, which we have broken down for you right here.

TL;DR

  • Economic Outlook categorized as mildly optimistic
  • Unemployment Rate: 6.0%
    • National Average: 4.2%
  • Wage taxes: Decreasing over the next 5 years
  • Public Safety: A financial commitment to increasing public safety in all neighborhoods
  • Financial Incentives:
    • Over $1 million dollars to reduce homelessness
    • Private Sector Payrolls Increase 0.6%
    • Real Gross Metro Product Increase 1.8%

The plan to stimulate the local economy will include a reform of the Business Income and Receipts Tax. The cumulative effect of these changes will lead to $278.1 million surged into the economy.

Wage tax cuts will continue through this plan. The property tax is listed below in the table. Consider that these rates have dropped from over 5% in the 1990’s.

The city of Philadelphia revenues mostly come from taxes – in fact, over 70% of their revenue is from taxes. 45% of that is in the form of wage and income taxes.

Over the next 5 years, the city of Philadelphia plans to cut the Wage and Earnings Tax Rate as shown below.

We also need to look at some of the negatives of investing in Philadelphia, as we want to make sure that you know everything we do about what’s going on in the market. So, let’s take a look at tax plans. According to the FY18-22 Five Year Plan, the plans are to begin a reassessment process to update property taxes on 580,000 properties to add about $700,000 to the budget. What does this mean? Expect to see an increase in property taxes.

The city has an out of control budget issue with regards to the city employee pensions. By FY18, pension costs will represent 15% of the General Fund Expenditures.

In conclusion, it appears that Philadelphia is poised for economic growth over the next few years driven by an increasing population of young adults – which will help grow a currently stable local economy.

What is There in Philly?

This article has already discussed the significant impact Philadelphia had on the creation of the United States of America. Since Philadelphia is so historic and influential, it should come as no surprise that the city has a bountiful number of historical landmarks and museums that anyone would enjoy even after multiple visits.

If art is your passion, then look no further than the iconic Philadelphia Art Museum. This is the same museum where Rocky Balboa famously ran up and down those colossal steps in preparation for his epic bout against Apollo Creed.

The city also has a museum dedicated to the history of medicine and oddities known as the Mutter Museum. This museum displays exhibits such as a wall full of skulls and jars of miscellaneous objects your wildest imagination wouldn’t dare dream. If you still have your appetite after visiting the Mutter Museum, go dining at the City Tavern, this tavern’s claim to fame is that the leaders of America’s inception frequented the establishment to drink and ponder ideas such as an independent nation!

If dining on authentic traditional colonial food and beer has peaked your curiosity to explore the history of the city, then take a stroll down Elfreth’s Alley. The alley is a breath-taking trip, seen almost through a time machine because this alley may potentially be the oldest residential street in America. If history and art do not inspire your enthusiasm, maybe food and some alcohol will!

Alcohol, who doesn’t enjoy indulging in the consumption of alcohol from time to time? I know I do! Well one of our nation’s most notorious gangsters, who went by the name Al Capone, had what one would call an expert in the acquisition and distribution of illegal alcohol during the prohibition years.

Although his criminal endeavors were mainly set in Chicago, Al Capone was a prisoner of Philadelphia’s own Eastern State Penitentiary. If old gangster’s and historical museums are your ideas of a good time, then a trip to the Eastern State Penitentiary is a no-brainer. You can find their website here. Since we are on the topic of alcohol, let’s look at what Philadelphia has to offer as far bars, and restaurants are concerned.

               

Philadelphia Restaurants and Night Life

Philadelphia, as most of you know, is the home of the famous “Philly Cheesesteak”.  An abundance of restaurants and sandwich shops across the entire city have their own personal spin on this Philly classic. 

Places like Pat’s (website) and Geno’s (website) battle it out within yards of one another to prove who has the best cheesesteak in the land.  It would be in one’s best interest to try as many places as possible to appreciate the art of this sandwich.  Philly’s favorite sandwich isn’t the only staple in its repertoire.

 When discussing the cities possibilities for dinning venues it receives an A grade for its versatility.  This city is a melting pot of different culinary cuisine.  Ranging from Chinatown (website) to the many high-end steak restaurants, Philly checks the boxes in all categories.

 If a person wants a taste of what it is like to eat and drink authentic German, then they should go dine at Bru Craft & Wurst.   Bru, does a phenomenal job of replicating the atmosphere and cuisine of an authentic German restaurant.  You can find Bru Craft & Wurst website here.  If talk of cheesesteaks and German food is firing up your appetite, then wait until we talk about our next culinary landmark.

 The Reading Terminal Market is a place where Philly’s true culinary diversity is on display.  According to their website, which you can find here, the Reading Terminal Market is  “one of America’s largest and oldest public markets, housed since 1893 in a National Historic Landmark building.

The Market offers an incredible selection of locally grown & exotic produce, locally sourced meats and poultry, plus the finest seafood, cheeses, baked goods, and confections.

You’ll find everything you need to create a memorable meal, from cookbooks, to table linens, to kitchenware, to fresh cut flowers, and more. Plus, the widest variety of restaurants under one roof.” 

That is quite a list of worthy choices for your dining pleasure.  But what if the weather is beautiful and you want to just have a drink outside?  Well, I have the place for you! 

The Beer Garden, according to their website, “is an expansive 20,000 square-foot, all-American beer garden overlooking the Liberty Bell and Independence National Historic Park.  Independence Beer Garden’s decor’ features reclaimed timber, distressed metals, Tivoli lights, and games, creating intimate moments throughout the sprawling space.

A menu of American favorites will go well with the 40 taps of regional and domestic craft beers offered.” There is no better place to quench your thirst then at an establishment with the atmosphere like Independence Beer Garden.

 

Philadelphia is Geographically Convenient

Let us now bring our attention to how conveniently located Philly is when we are discussing geographical location. The city of Philadelphia has been established in South Eastern Pennsylvania. This geographic position makes Philadelphia very close to some popular cities such as New York, Washington DC, Boston and Baltimore.

All the cities stated in the previous sentence can be reached by bus, train, or motor vehicle with ease. Since Philadelphia is so conveniently located, the cities citizens have access to some of the best hospitals on planet Earth. In the city of Philadelphia alone stand hospitals such Penn Medicine, Jefferson Health,Temple University Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia .

I have the city to thank for its amazing hospitals. As a child, I was diagnosed with Leukemia. Having been lucky enough to be born in Bucks County, which is located just outside of the city, I was able to receive treatment at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The staff at the hospital included a team of exceptionally qualified and professional natured individuals whose number one objective was the care and wellbeing of the patient.

This type of commitment to the patient helped tremendously in my recovery process. I owe the city and its energy a tremendous debt, but because of this, I can genuinely and sincerely state that Philadelphia is a special city.

The city is indeed unique, and one could spend a great deal of time exploring its inner workings. However, if you want to get away from the city, but also don’t want to have to drive a considerable distance away for a beach trip, then Philadelphia rechecks the boxes! Philadelphia is only a short distance away from the Atlantic Ocean.

Because of this, it is a prevalent trend for the citizens of Philadelphia to take day trips or even long weekends to the many shore points the state of New Jersey has to offer. If you’re not a fan of sand and the thought of getting it everywhere prevents you from visiting the beautiful beaches of NJ, please don’t be concerned.

Philadelphia is just a stone’s throw away from the Appalachian Mountain Range. This Mountain range stretches across the state of Pennsylvania and allows for the existence of many small towns. These small towns make for the perfect quiet getaway. Whether you like camping and fishing or hitting the slopes the state of seems to Pennsylvania has it all.

Concluding Thoughts on the City of Philadelphia

Philadelphia is a city the inspires its citizens buy its beauty and overall presence.  It’s historical imprint on the United States of America just adds to the prestige that is Philadelphia.  The city encourages diversity, innovation, and a tough work ethic.  With these qualities, the city will continue to prosper well into the future.  They say it’s “Always Sunny in Philadelphia” so why not partake in the sunshine that is Philadelphia and invest in the city of Brotherly Love.

Based on predicted future economic growth, a diverse cultural and social scene as well as prime geographic location, we believe Philadelphia is and will continue to be a hot spot for home ownership.

 

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