Recent trends in the real estate in Cobbs Creek have realtors hopeful that the once-suffering market will be stable for a long period.
“Compared to five years ago, it’s come up quite a bit,” said Yvonne Alexander of Niahda Real Estate, located at 5143 Baltimore Ave. “Real estate was on a down slope. Even in my business, sales weren’t coming in like they used to be one behind the other. Now I see it’s really picking up because I’m getting more calls, I’m getting listings in the Cobbs Creek area so I can see that it’s really starting to pick up.”
Alexander, who sells homes in Cobbs Creek and other parts of West Philadelphia, said she believes that the conditions have improved largely due to stricter mortgage policies, in regards to buyers credit scores.
“Things are different now, and of course the banks are very particular. They go through everything: your credit, your income, everything with a fine-toothed comb. They’ve been doing that for the last four or five years.”
Alexander said that in order to receive a mortgage, a home buyer must have a credit score of 620 or higher.
Sean Dundon, another agent who sells in Cobbs Creek, said he believes the neighborhood is very attractive for home buyers for a number of reasons such as its proximity to both University City and the suburbs, and Cobbs Creek Park along 63rd Street.
Dundon, who is a real estate agent for The Somers Team, also said that he believes the neighborhood has seen an increase in home buyers who are professors and faculty at the University of Pennsylvania. “People from U Penn are moving to Cobbs Creek because it’s much more affordable. It’s been happening since the university’s been growing, but it’s increasing now.”
The average price of a detached home in Cobbs Creek in 2009 was $111,295. The average price of an attached home, which makes up 71.6 percent of all units in the neighborhood, was $44, 068. Those figures are significantly lower than the citywide averages of $252,822 and $65, 271, respectively.
Alexander said that she also believes that the neighborhood is attractive due to affordable, quality homes.
“Most of the homes in the Cobbs Creek area are not row homes, they’re twins. And a lot of them are three, four or five bedrooms.” she said. “The houses are nice. The houses they built years ago I personally feel stand up to any kind of weather better than the newer houses their building today.”
However, because Cobbs Creek is such a large neighborhood, some parts of the area are more desirable for home buyers than others. The southern end of the neighborhood is inside the 19143 ZIP code and the northern end of the neighborhood is in the 19139 ZIP code. Alexander said she believes that there are more renters in the northern end who don’t take care of the neighborhood the way homeowners do.
“As you go closer to Market Street, you see the trend change,” she said. “For a lot of the houses closer to Market Street, some of the homeowners might have moved out and now their renting it out.”
Alexander’s beliefs and observations are reflected by statistical evidence. According to figures provided by City-Data, the 19139 ZIP code has a higher percentage of renters than the 19143 at 55 percent, compared to 46 percent. Also, real estate is more valuable in the 19143 ZIP code as the estimated median value for a home or condo in 19143 for the year 2010 was $124,424 compared to $92, 621 in the 19139 ZIP code.
Dundon, however, said he believes that with the economy picking up, he has seen a trend in the decrease in renters in the area. “I think we’re slowly seeing an increase of ownership more than rental,” he said. “I think the prices are to a point where renters are not going in as much as they used to. It doesn’t make sense for renting when you can invest.”
Dundon also said that he believes the homes closer to Cobbs Creek Park are becoming more owner-occupied, but the rest of the neighborhood will follow. “Between 52nd and 60th is still heavier on the investment side and probably has some time but eventually you will see homeowners moving in because it’s very affordable and the surrounding areas are getting more expensive.”
Alexander is confident as well that real estate in the area will continue to improve. “Real estate is picking up,” she said. “The areas are really being rehabbed and it’s really going to be nice around here. It’s going to be like it was years ago, only instead of the old homes their going to be new. I’ve been in the business 35 years and I’ve seen it go up and down and now it’s back up again.”