Philly burbs on the verge of recovery?

From the Philly Inquirer:

Suburbs boast best real estate market since recession, but don’t get too excited yet

In a suburban real estate market described for years as sluggish, it might seem as if, finally, the region is experiencing the recovery it needs.

From April to June, all but one suburban county in the region experienced a rise in property values over the previous year. Several zip codes had increases of more than 50 percent in median home prices. Municipalities that just last year had only a handful of sales nearly doubled their numbers this spring and early summer, and one almost tripled them. The region as a whole recorded 15,636 sales in the three-month second quarter, the most on record in more than a dozen years.

It’s a kind of house-hunting frenzy that some experts say they have never seen before: The number of homes for sale is at record-low levels, and buyers are becoming increasingly desperate to secure the home they want. No longer is it unusual for homes to sell just one or two days after going on the market, and real estate agents say open houses are flooded all day with shoppers.

“They want the home that is in truly move-in condition and they’ll pay a premium for it,” said Kathleen Hartnett, a Narberth-based real estate agent with Duffy Real Estate.

The result has been bidding wars, offers well above asking price, and buyers willing to take the risk to waive their standard protections, such as mortgage and appraisal contingencies, to beat their competitors. All the while, it presents a strain on millennials and middle-income buyers, who are finding a dwindling supply of starter homes for sale in the seven-county suburban region, as builders have focused on more expensive homes amid high land and labor costs and tight lending standards in order to turn a profit.

If the shot of energy flowing through the suburbs seems too good to be true, rest assured that it just might be. In both individual municipalities and the suburban region as a whole, the housing recovery is complicated and fickle — the spring and early summer months are typically the hottest times in the market — and there’s no guarantee the rush will last.

“The numbers clearly indicate that Philadelphia’s housing market had its best quarter since the recent housing-driven recession,” said Kevin Gillen, a senior research fellow at Drexel University’s Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation, who gave the Inquirer an analysis of home sales from the Trend Multiple Listing Service and Houwzer. But, he continued: “We’ve been here before. … There have been other recent quarters where [the numbers have spiked] as well, only to subsequently slump again.”

Despite sizable gains this quarter, the suburbs still have room to grow: According to Gillen’s data, home values across most counties in the region — Delaware, Bucks, and Montgomery in Pennsylvania, and Gloucester, Camden, and Burlington in New Jersey — still remain below their pre-recession peaks (Chester County is nearly even with 2007’s home value). South Jersey in particular has struggled — in Camden and Burlington Counties, for example, home values, on average, linger 25 percent lower than they were in 2007. In Philadelphia, meanwhile, home values have surged 17 percent higher than their former peak, making the suburban slump even more jarring.

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32 Responses to Philly burbs on the verge of recovery?

  1. Mike says:

    Good Morning New Jersey

  2. The Original NJ ExPat says:

    He’s an uppity astrophysicist.

  3. chicagofinance says:

    By David R. Henderson and John H. Cochrane

    Climate change is often misunderstood as a package deal: If global warming is “real,” both sides of the debate seem to assume, the climate lobby’s policy agenda follows inexorably.

    It does not. Climate policy advocates need to do a much better job of quantitatively analyzing economic costs and the actual, rather than symbolic, benefits of their policies. Skeptics would also do well to focus more attention on economic and policy analysis.

    To arrive at a wise policy response, we first need to consider how much economic damage climate change will do. Current models struggle to come up with economic costs commensurate with apocalyptic political rhetoric. Typical costs are well below 10% of gross domestic product in the year 2100 and beyond.

    That’s a lot of money—but it’s a lot of years, too. Even 10% less GDP in 100 years corresponds to 0.1 percentage point less annual GDP growth. Climate change therefore does not justify policies that cost more than 0.1 percentage point of growth. If the goal is 10% more GDP in 100 years, pro-growth tax, regulatory and entitlement reforms would be far more effective.

    Yes, the costs are not evenly spread. Some places will do better and some will do worse. The American South might be a worse place to grow wheat; Southern Canada might be a better one. In a century, Miami might find itself in approximately the same situation as the Dutch city of Rotterdam today.

    But spread over a century, the costs of moving and adapting are not as imposing as they seem. Rotterdam’s dikes are expensive, but not prohibitively so. Most buildings are rebuilt about every 50 years. If we simply stopped building in flood-prone areas and started building on higher ground, even the costs of moving cities would be bearable. Migration is costly. But much of the world’s population moved from farms to cities in the 20th century. Allowing people to move to better climates in the 21st will be equally possible. Such investments in climate adaptation are small compared with the investments we will regularly make in houses, businesses, infrastructure and education.

  4. chicagofinance says:

    And economics is the central question—unlike with other environmental problems such as chemical pollution. Carbon dioxide hurts nobody’s health. It’s good for plants. Climate change need not endanger anyone. If it did—and you do hear such claims—then living in hot Arizona rather than cool Maine, or living with Louisiana’s frequent floods, would be considered a health catastrophe today.

    Global warming is not the only risk our society faces. Even if science tells us that climate change is real and man-made, it does not tell us, as President Obama asserted, that climate change is the greatest threat to humanity. Really? Greater than nuclear explosions, a world war, global pandemics, crop failures and civil chaos?

  5. chicagofinance says:

    No. Healthy societies do not fall apart over slow, widely predicted, relatively small economic adjustments of the sort painted by climate analysis. Societies do fall apart from war, disease or chaos. Climate policy must compete with other long-term threats for always-scarce resources.

    Facing this reality, some advocate that we buy some “insurance.” Sure, they argue, the projected economic cost seems small, but it could turn out to be a lot worse. But the same argument applies to any possible risk. If you buy overpriced insurance against every potential danger, you soon run out of money. You can sensibly insure only when the premium is in line with the risk—which brings us back where we started, to the need for quantifying probabilities, costs, benefits and alternatives. And uncertainty goes both ways. Nobody forecast fracking, or that it would make the U.S. the world’s carbon-reduction leader. Strategic waiting is a rational response to a slow-moving uncertain peril with fast-changing technology.

  6. chicagofinance says:

    Global warming is not even the obvious top environmental threat. Dirty water, dirty air and insect-borne diseases are a far greater problem today for most people world-wide. Habitat loss and human predation are a far greater problem for most animals. Elephants won’t make it to see a warmer climate. Ask them how they would prefer to spend $1 trillion—subsidizing high-speed trains or a human-free park the size of Montana.

  7. chicagofinance says:

    Then, we need to know what effect proposed policies have and at what cost. Scientific, quantifiable or even vaguely plausible cause-and-effect thinking are missing from much advocacy for policies to reduce carbon emissions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s “scientific” recommendations, for example, include “reduced gender inequality & marginalization in other forms,” “provisioning of adequate housing,” “cash transfers” and “awareness raising & integrating into education.” Even if some of these are worthy goals, they are not scientifically valid, cost-benefit-tested policies to cool the planet.

  8. chicagofinance says:

    Climate policy advocates’ apocalyptic vision demands serious analysis, and mushy thinking undermines their case.

  9. chicagofinance says:

    If carb0n em!issions pose the greatest threat to humanity, it follows that the costs of nuc5lear power—waste d1isposal and the occasional m%eltdown—might be bearable.

    It follows that the costs of genetically modified foods and modern pesticides, which can feed us with less land and lower carbon emissions, might be bearable. It follows that if the future of civilization is really at stake, adaptation or geo-engineering should not be unmentionable. And it follows that symbolic, ineffective, political grab-bag policies should be intolerable.

    Mr. Henderson is a research fellow with the Hoover Institution and an economics professor at the Naval Postgraduate School. Mr. Cochrane is a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution and an adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute.

    Appeared in the July 31, 2017, print edition.

  10. chicagofinance says:


  11. chicagofinance says:


  12. chicagofinance says:


  13. chicagofinance says:

    no idea what threw me into mod

  14. A Home Buyer says:


    That’s awful! We really need to do something about our suicide and gang violence problems!

    I mean, that is what your getting at right?

    Because I’m not sure how the circumstances involving 20000 cases of severe mental distress to the point of suicide, or the 5000 incidents of gang on gang violence resulting in deaths would be fixed without first addressing the negative cultural, societal, and economic issues that led these poor individuals to that point.

  15. The Original NJ ExPat says:

    St. Louis Fed President Bullard has a message for Pumps:
    “No inflation for you!”

  16. The Original NJ ExPat says:

    Over the last couple decades do you know what power source has been used most prolifically to add to grid capacity? Answer: Nuclear. Nimby’s won’t allow any new nuke plants, so quietly they’ve quadruped the output of almost every existing plant.

  17. D-FENS says:

    It used to be, that sitting in your car and closing the garage door while it was running was the best way to kill yourself. Now that we have catalytic converters, it’s nearly impossible. The suicide rate has not decreased…people only turned to other methods.

  18. abeiz says:

    We just got back from 4.5 weeks in Europe (I worked for the last of these three weeks). When my wife and I walked through our front door we both immediately agreed that we would be perfectly fine if someone just shipped our stuff to the place we rented for a month and we never set foot in Fort Lee.

    Monthly gross average IT analyst salary in big city: 10-13K (local currency)
    Cost of property: .5-1K (local currency) per square foot.

    prop taxes are non existent but there is a slew of mandatory off the top cuts, the first being 9% of gross to the national health budget.

    Inhales deeply. Can’t wait to catch up on the madness here.

  19. Blue Ribbon Teacher says:

    For the fanboys of TESLA, I found an offering for you

    Tesla Inc. is selling bonds to bolster its balance sheet and support spending on the Model 3 sedan.

    The company plans to offer $1.5 billion in senior unsecured notes due in 2025, according to a statement . Tesla said it intends to use the proceeds toward scaling up for its most affordable model yet and for general corporate purposes.

    Tesla burned through a record $1.16 billion in cash in the second quarter, driven by spending on capacity for the Model 3 and boosting battery output. The Model 3 starts at $35,000, roughly half the cost of the base Model S sedan, and has racked up almost half a million net reservations since the company began taking refundable deposits last year.

  20. Juice Box says:

    Blue Ribbon it’s barely 5 months on since they last raised money. They won’t make it to 20,000 cars a month never mind the predictions of 1/2 a million cars a year.

  21. Juice Box says:

    Even after another 80 years of global warming when the average expected a global temperature rise of 2℃ projects catastrophe those effects will pale in comparison to the global perhaps world ending wars as 11 to 12 billion people fight for resources in the years leading up to the 22nd century.

    Peak oil, peak water, peak arable land, peak seafood etc. The global population will eventually begin to fall perhaps as much as half a billion people per decade until living conditions fall to levels similar to those of the early 1900s.

    The future won’t be stopping carbon dioxide emissions but stopping the population the human race from growing.

  22. The Original NJ ExPat says:

    LOL. Marketing people do not even know that the initial launch of the Hubble Space Telescope was a failure due to OPTICAL problems. Yet it is, I guess, a perfectly good name for a company marketing contact lenses? This is kind of like naming your Jewish Charity as H1tler for Jews not knowing that there was a different H1tler that didn’t have a fondness for Jews?

  23. Grim says:

    Hubble was fixed using a contact lens.

    Vast oversimplification – but an accurate lay analogy.

  24. Clotpoll says:

    We are firmly into the end times. Prepare accordingly.

  25. Juice Bo says:

    Billion. Dollar contact lens…..

  26. D-FENS says:

    Overpopulation is a myth.

  27. ex-Jersey says:

    7:21 Sinead O’Conner … Teterboro…..

  28. chicagofinance says:

    The End Is Nigh (Nothing Compares 2U Edition):

    Troubled singer Sinéad O’Connor has posted an online video saying she’s suicidal — and living in a motel “in the arse end of New Jersey.”

    “I’m all by myself. And there’s absolutely nobody in my life except my doctor, my psychiatrist, the sweetest man on earth, who says I’m his hero, and that’s about the only thing keeping me alive at the moment … and that’s kind of pathetic,” the “Nothing Compares 2 U’’ singer says, weeping.

    “I am now living in a Travelodge motel in the arse end of New Jersey” — Hackensack, she said.

    “I want everyone to know what it’s like, that’s why I’m making this video.

    “Mental illness, it’s like drugs, it doesn’t give a s–t who you are, and equally what’s worse, it’s the stigma, it doesn’t give a s–t who you are.

    “And suddenly all the people that are supposed to be loving you and taking care of you are treating you like s–t.’’

  29. Comrade Nom Deplume, Blues Traveler says:


    I don’t take policy advice from you, why would I take it from an astrophysicist?

    The fact that he can describe quarks better than me doesn’t turn his opinions on policy into gospel.

  30. Comrade Nom Deplume, Blues Traveler says:

    “The Original NJ ExPat says:
    August 7, 2017 at 8:09 am
    He’s an uppity astrophysicist.”

    To quote the inestimable Mark Twain: “there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

  31. Comrade Nom Deplume, Blues Traveler says:

    “Clotpoll says:
    August 7, 2017 at 7:21 pm
    We are firmly into the end times. Prepare accordingly.”

    There is something vaguely reassuring about knowing that our own site doomsayer is on the job.

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