Philly, a top market for future home sale growth. Pine Barrens locals oppose homes. – The Philadelphia Inquirer

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I have some good real estate market news for us here in the Philly region.

I’ve been watching national housing market recaps and forecasts for a while now to get more context about the wider real estate market. And usually, the closest I get to hearing about our area are stats about the Northeast.

Buy/sell, rent/lease residential &
commercials real estate properties.

So my ears perked up when I was watching a National Association of Realtors presentation last week and heard that the trade group chose the Philadelphia region as one of its top 10 housing markets to watch in 2024.

Keep scrolling for that story and to see why a plan for homes in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens is facing pushback, and peek into the Delaware County home of someone who really likes Christmas.

📮 Next week, we’ll have a special edition of the newsletter to wrap up the year. Did you make any significant or memorable home moves in 2023? For a chance to be featured in my newsletter, email me.

— Michaelle Bond

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2024 could be our year to stand out.

The National Association of Realtors has chosen the Philadelphia metropolitan area (which includes Camden and Wilmington) as one of the country’s top-10 markets with the highest potential for strong growth in home sales next year.

Why? Because we have a lot of pent-up demand when it comes to both buyers and sellers.

Compared to metros nationally, the Philly area has a much higher percentage of listings that first-time home buyers can afford. It also has a higher share of high-income millennials moving in from out of state.

And it has a higher share of homeowners who have lived in their properties longer than average. That points to a population that could choose to sell if market conditions improve.

See why economists are optimistic for 2024; learn how the Philly region stacked up against others in factors such as job and wage growth, crime, and home price growth; and find out where we fell on the list and which other places made the cut.

When I was a seventh grader in South Jersey, our teacher made us give dreaded group presentations to our classmates about various aspects of the Pine Barrens. I remember I had to talk about recreation.

Fast forward to today, and I enjoy kayaking in the state forests there.

Residents of the region enjoy its rural nature, and that’s one reason hundreds of people who live in and around Pemberton Township say they oppose a plan to build 456 single-family homes and 105 townhouses on a piece of 700 acres of forest in the town. The land is privately owned but widely used for recreation.

The site is in the federally designated Pinelands National Reserve. But it’s also in the zone earmarked for growth under a plan by the state’s Pinelands Commission and has long been zoned for housing.

This month, township officials voted to repeal a land designation in a move residents believed would make it harder to develop the site. But the developer plans to proceed.

Read on to learn more about the housing proposal, why some residents are against it, and the road ahead.

The latest news to pay attention to

  1. Officials in neighboring Bucks County communities have approved a plan for 60 income-restricted apartments for seniors and veterans.

  2. A developer wants to renovate a historical warehouse near the Delaware River to add apartments and save it from demolition.

  3. The Sixers’ proposal for a Center City arena faced hours of scrutiny in its first official city review.

  4. Warehouses are planned for the former site of an infamous mental hospital.

  5. A look at the design chosen to reconnect Chinatown over the Vine Street Expressway.

  6. House of the week: For $575,000 in Bucks County, a four-bedroom home on a large lot.

  7. Luxe listing: For $2.45 million in Chestnut Hill, a Queen Anne Victorian that “has lived many lives.”

Since June, my colleague Samantha Melamed has been bringing you stories about the construction destruction happening in Philadelphia as part of her Crumbling City series.

She’s told you about a developer slowly taking over a West Philly block.

She’s highlighted how the people affected the most by construction damage are longtime residents of gentrifying neighborhoods who can least afford repairs.

She’s noted how the city’s inspection system fails to catch major problems in homes.

And she’s shown that for builders accused of repeatedly damaging neighboring homes, accountability has been scarce.

Now, she’s talking solutions. Her latest piece explores five steps Philadelphia could take to help homeowners. One idea takes a page from London’s book.

Charley McGrath really loves Christmastime. So much that he makes it last. He puts up decorations at his three-story home just after Halloween and keeps them up deep into February.

I added some more Christmas decorations to my collection this year, but Charley’s definitely got me beat.

Green garlands wind around white columns on his two porches, one he rebuilt and another he added. Wreaths hang above black-shuttered windows. A snowman stands on one porch and a Santa wearing a velvet suit stands holding a teddy bear on the other.

Inside, red and green stockings hang above the fireplace for McGrath; his wife, Rayna; and their three children. Hundreds of ornaments fill the tree in the living room, and a gold angel on top touches the 15-foot ceiling.

Beyond holiday decorations, Charley and Rayna have revamped and modernized the home they bought in 2014.

Learn how the McGraths adapted after a 2019 tornado struck their community, and peek inside their home.

🧠 Trivia time

The Philadelphia Art Commission has postponed a vote on whether to approve a $32 million development on the Diamond Street Historic Corridor in North Philadelphia. The commission told city officials to hold more public meetings about the proposal, which has faced some community opposition.

Question: What is planned for West Diamond Street?

A) apartments for low-income residents

B) a police headquarters

C) luxury apartments

D) warehouses

This story has the answer.

📷 Photo quiz

Do you know the location this photo shows?

📮 If you think you do, email me back. You and your memories of visiting this spot might be featured in the newsletter.

No one got the location of last week’s photo quiz. That picture of tons of Christmas decorations covering a home at the end of a block was taken on Passmore Street in the Oxford Circle neighborhood of Northeast Philly.

This section goes out to the renters.

A year-end report on rental markets found that in 2023, fewer renters were competing for homes and that apartments stayed vacant longer. Philadelphia saw those shifts, too, according to a RentCafé report.

But the rental market stayed competitive in the city and was even more so in its surrounding counties.

Suburban Philadelphia ranked as the eighth most competitive rental market in the country.

But remember that at least now’s a good time to be looking for apartments if you want a deal.

Enjoy the rest of your week.

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