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.
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.
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.
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.
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.