Fall Q3 2020 Real Estate News and Market Reports

Home Office Demands

Telling the story of the current Main Line and Center City real estate market for Q3 2020 is not a simple task. At this particular time, we have a dramatic real-life example of how there are multiple “realities” depending on what numbers we view in which market segments.

Oversimplified reports can lead to bad decisions, especially during challenging times. No one wants to hear “it’s complicated” when dating – or when buying or selling real estate. However, that is the case in the Greater Philadelphia area for Q3 2020.

Now more than ever, it’s important to have detailed information for your particular situation as reported in my Fall 2020 Newsletter.

Fall 2020 Newsletter for Main Line and Center City

In fact, what started out to be my normal market update turned into various reports covering luxury markets in Gladwyne, Villanova and Bryn Mawr on the Main Line, Rittenhouse Square and Mid-Town in Center City as well as the dramatic spike in pre-foreclosure distressed properties.

This is a unique point in time where each of these market segments has been impacted by our national COVID pandemic, political uncertainties and national news coverage of protests and violence in Center City.

Q3 2020 Market Report Summary

Philadelphia broke records in September for number of sales and median sales price primarily driven by a spike in activity after our COVID shut down during Q2.

Philadelphia Market Report

While these results can make an amazing story, it’s not clear that this is a sustainable trend. However, the steady demand and consumer confidence during challenging times speaks well for the stability of the Philadelphia real estate market.

Main Line and Center City Luxury

Luxury Market trends on the Main Line and in Center City are best viewed by year-over-year changes. Smaller number of sales at high values can skew statistical shifts month-over-month.

The biggest Q3 2020 shifts are reflected in Gladwyne luxury market with a decrease from an average of 10 months of inventory to 3 months, and a 26.59% increase in median sales price over the past 12 months.

Gladwyn Luxury Market Report

Other Main Line luxury markets such as Villanova and Bryn Mawr remain in high demand with low inventory. However, the shift isn’t as dramatic because these areas were in high demand pre-COVID due to easy access to shopping, dining and regional rail commuting stations.

Conversely the Rittenhouse Square and Mid-Town luxury markets softened to approximately 16 months from an average of 9 months of inventory. Both of these luxury market segments are largely driven by luxury condo sales such as Two Liberty and The Residences at Ritz-Carlton located in the center of the civil protests during the summer.

Does that mean that Center City luxury is dying? Not at all. Life on Rittenhouse Square is thriving.

Demand for mid-sized cities like Philadelphia within an easy commute to New York and Washington DC make Center City a prime destination for relocating buyers and commuting executives.

Gary Vee predicts we are going 100% into a mixed office environment with a standard for work from home with occasional office visits.

This lasting trend will help support the recovery of Center City.

Pre-Foreclosure Spike

The pre-foreclosure market segment has cross-currents as well. Misinformation from forbearance reporting errors adds to the increase in delinquencies. Although this spike cannot be ignored, it may not be what it seems.

Spike in 2020 Foreclosures

Mortgage crisis vs. COVID

News and analysts typically dismiss the increase in pre-foreclosures as not being the same as the mortgage crisis, citing the strong possibility of forbearances being extended into 2021.

Will forbearances be extended? Most likely. That may only postpone foreclosures if home owners remain in financial difficulty and are unable to bring their mortgage current.

The distressed property market today is not like 2009. An abundance of forbearances is indeed a different scenario than bad loans. However, a different cause doesn’t negate the results. Much hinges on our economic recovery, and home owners ability to convert their forbearance into a loan deferral.

Like other market segments, there are many layers to this “story” and it’s a trend we need to watch.

How’s the real estate market?

A quote I heard years ago applies now more than ever;

“Asking how’s the real estate market from a national perspective is like asking what’s the temperature in America”

There is technically a temperature for the United States, if you average all the temperatures across the country. However, that won’t help you plan your day or know if you need snow boots or an umbrella.

Similarly, if you ask me how’s the real estate market in the greater Philadelphia area, the answer is “it’s complicated.”

As I reported 10 years ago from Kauai’s luxury second home market, it’s a bit like quantum physics. Multiple realties for various market segments. At this point in time in the Philadelphia area, that’s especially true.

Although real estate shifts are normal, this is a very dynamic time, unlike any other real estate market shift we’ve experienced. The question that’s most important is how to best navigate these changing currents for your success.

What’s the future look like?

Both negative and positive Q3 shifts can be attributed to the impact of COVID and political unrest. What can we expect for the coming months?

No one has a crystal ball to predict the future or how sustainable these trends may be. Even the exodus of New Yorkers to large suburban homes may shift to more of a cosmopolitan lifestyle in Center City communities like Queen Village where you have the best of suburban and urban living.

Dr. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, recently predicted “it will be one of the best winter sales years ever.” Of course, that’s a national generalization. I certainly hope that holds true. However, now is not a time to passively wait and see. It’s a time to apply smart, creative strategies in your particular market to create success for you.

What are your real estate goals?

What’s most important is how we can maximize on current trends to meet your particular short-term and long-term real estate goals.

I’m passionate about supporting my clients with information and concierge, VIP support. As detailed as these market reports are – nothing compares to a personalized analysis for your particular goals.

Let’s talk! Please book a call or Zoom chat on my calendar or feel free to comment below. Your information will remain confidential.

Main Line mid-century modern elegance

I had to ask myself why I love Main Line mid-century modern so much, then I started laughing because I realized I am mid-century modern! 😆

This week’s #FeatureFriday spotlight shines on a renovated mid-century gem located in Gladwyne at 1639 Monk Road designed by Kjell Ingebrigtsen and on the market for the first time after a major renovation. Tell me you don’t love this! 💕

Mid-Century elegance offered for the first time after renovation – 1639 Monk Road

I actually grew up in Victorian gems with wrap around porches, hardwood floors, back stairs to the kitchen and all kinds of fun nooks and cranny’s to play hide and seek. Homes like 227 Lansdowne Ave in the heart of South Wayne Historic District steal my heart too! 🥰

Renovated Victorian on the Main Line in the heart of South Wayne Historic District
Just Listed in the heart of South Wayne Historic District. Click for details

Many times my buyers have conflicting loves as well. One likes historic, the other adores modern.

A great solution for both is a renovated home with modern amenities but historic architectural features like my clients’ recent purchase of their “forever home” at 356 Meadow Lane in Merion Station:

To learn more about Main Line mid-century design, Main Line School Night is offering Inspiring Architecture: Mid-Century Modern online in October, taught by William Gustafson FAIA, Senior Principal Ballinger Architects & Engineers.

For easy access to all the best homes on the Main Line;

What your favorite architectural style? Comment below and share!

COVID-19 ignites Gladwyne luxury real estate market

Gladwyne luxury homes

What effect has COVID-19 had on Main Line real estate values? Today’s current market uptick can be easily attributed to pent-up demand combined with very little inventory and low interest rates.

However, a very different dynamic in Gladwyne luxury real estate has caused a significant increase in median sales price, and decrease in days on market.

The effects of COVID-19 luxury buyer demands for large, flexible homes with privacy and pools has literally flipped the Gladwyne luxury market.

Local news and statistical reports haven’t really told the story of what’s happening in Gladwyne luxury real estate. As always with statistics, results vary depending on what you’re looking at and how you’re analyzing data.

Gladwyne real estate market statitics

Maybe it’s the times, but conflicting reports on the coronavirus, the election, the economy and also real estate can be a bit much!

Quantum physics of market data

Reviewing statistics reminds me of the metaphysical, quantum physics concept that reality changes when observed. Or that one’s observation can change reality.

Especially in the luxury real estate market where one or two large sales in a small community skew results.

However, recent trends in Gladwyne are consistent and dramatic. Enough esoteric wanderings, let’s get to some understandable facts!

Gladwyne Luxury Real Estate

There are really 3 different market segments within any local area that includes luxury real estate; under $1M, $1M to $2.5M and above $2.5M. For this report, we are looking specifically at the $1M+ residential market.

Looking at the $1M+ and especially the $2.5M+ market in Gladwyne, a dramatic shift has happened.

As recently as 6 months ago, walkable locations on the Main Line, such as Wayne, Lower Merion, and Bryn Mawr were preferred by luxury buyers over large Gladwyne estate homes. Maintenance of pools, large 6+ bedroom homes with acreage that require ongoing maintenance were often deal killers. Buyers wanted easy access to transportation and shopping.

Gladwyne has become a desired location for newly mobile executives. The impact of migration from Manhattan to the Main Line along with demand from other areas such as Washington, DC has ignited Gladwyne luxury market values.

Buyers want expansive, flexible space, pools and tennis courts on a gracious private lot. A home that can function for the entire family, work from home and offers resort-style amenities.

Now the qualities that were seen as negative are competitive “must haves” for today’s buyers.

Let’s review the numbers. There’s clearly a dramatic increase in market values as detailed in this month’s Gladwyne Luxury Report:

As noted above, depending on how you analyze statistics, you might miss this story!

If you look at “absorption rates” the Gladwyne luxury inventory has been running at a 5-6 months which normally indicates a balanced market. That doesn’t reflect the hot luxury buyer activity going on right now, or the clear increase in median sales prices.

Greater Philadelphia Area Statistics

No one analyzes local data better than Drexel University economist Kevin Gillan. However as an example of how confusing statistics can be, a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article sourced Gillan :

“While home prices rose in Philadelphia in the second quarter of the year, prices of homes in the suburbs dipped.”

The “suburbs” includes several counties, and many communities. Again, it depends on what data you’re analyzing. Statistics really are only meaningful when looking at micro-market trends – what’s exactly happening in your local market.

The Bryn Mawr market snapshot below shows an example of the upward trends in Montgomery County:

Bryn Mawr Market Stats
Montgomery County median sales price $900K, up 33% over past 24 months

Contrary to Gillan’s analysis, Rittenhouse Square results from the exact same set of data shows a decline in median sales prices:

Rittenhouse Square median sales price dropped to $400K, down 27% over past 24 months

For insights into market trends in your area, contact Susanna for a private confidential consultation.

Dive deep into data detailed below, and please share your insights in the comments. Be sure to subscribe to receive future blog posts.

Detailed Market Reports

Gladwyne Luxury Market Report

Bryn Mawr Market Report

Villanova Market Report

Rittenhouse Square Market Report

Montgomery County Industry Watch Q2

Delaware County Industry Watch Q2

All data used by Gillan and in the reports above come from the same source, our local Bright MLS.