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Morton market, location and zip code to consider

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Realtor Barbara Mastronardo sums it up this way: “Morton has a multiple personality.”

One is the Delaware County municipality, the focus of today’s real estate market discussion.

Morton market, location and zip code to consider

The other is Morton the zip code, 19070. As Mastronardo, of Weichert Realtors’ Media office, explains, it can muddle the issue for those looking for a house in the borough.

“The zip code covers Morton, Rutledge, and parts of Springfield and Ridley, which means that it falls into two school districts, Ridley and Springfield,” she says.

Morton Borough lies in the well-regarded Springfield School District.

Zip code Morton has 27 active listings and a median price of $189,000 to $190,000, Mastronardo says, with an absorption rate of three months. That means that if nothing else came on the market, it would take three months to sell all those houses.

Morton the borough has 12 active listings, with prices in the last three months averaging $205,000 to $210,000, says Nicole Ritchie, an agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors’ Media office.

“The lowest price a house has sold for is $30,000, but it was really in bad shape,” Ritchie says.

“Right now, sale prices are averaging 87 percent of the original list price and 92 percent of the last listing price,” she says, so the more realistic sellers are about value, the better they will do.

A recent study by Quicken Loans found appraisers’ opinions of home values are 1.6 percent lower than the estimates of Philadelphia metropolitan-area residents.

With the median home price in the region about $231,000, that gap translates to a difference of about $4,000, says Quicken spokesman Jordan Fylonenko.

“This could cause bumps in the mortgage process if appraisals come in lower than the value estimated on the mortgage application,” Fylonenko says.

A year ago, appraisers’ opinions were 3.4 percent less than those of the homeowners’ or buyers’, Quicken says, so perceptions are better.

Still, Ritchie says, “Sellers always try to get the most [for] their houses as they can.”

As many real estate agents have complained lately, though the market is much improved from the depths of the housing downturn, it is not as fully recovered as they had hoped.

Mastronardo and Ritchie readily acknowledge that their part of the market still has plenty of bank-owned properties and short sales, and that until those disappear, sale prices will still struggle.

Ritchie, who sells real estate throughout Delaware and Chester Counties, says things are changing so much that one day it’s a buyer’s market and the next day a seller’s.

Overall, the Morton market – the borough and the zip code – is ideal for first-time buyers looking for that reasonably priced starter home, both agents say.

“Younger buyers can’t afford major renovations so put more money into the mortgage instead,” Ritchie says.

For such buyers, the FHA mortgage is still the main choice because it requires a lower down payment than conventional loans, she says.

“The No. 1 obstacle to home ownership is the amount of money needed,” says Jerome Scarpello, president of Leo Mortgage in Ambler. “Research shows that saving money for the down payment and closing costs is the primary barrier to buying a home.”

Yet recent increases in FHA mortgage insurance have boosted the up-front costs of those loans, sometimes canceling the advantage over other products.

Ritchie and Scarpello applauded a decision this month by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to offer 3 percent down-payment loans to qualified first-time buyers and some others.

“I think lenders are cautiously expanding the availability to credit,” Scarpello says. “They have learned lessons from the past, and the buyer must certainly qualify from an income and credit standpoint, but by lowering the down payment, otherwise eligible buyers can now enter the market.”

In Morton Borough, the housing stock is largely twins and singles, mostly brick three-story Colonials with converted attics, Mastronardo says. There are also some rowhouses.

The lots are small, 50 feet by 100 feet, so the houses are taller, she says. “If you come from a South Philadelphia rowhouse, even that size is like the back 40.”

Most industry moved out of Morton in the 1960s, she says, so there are no great swaths of buildable land as there is in a place like Conshohocken – just a few infill properties.

“The development costs would be so high there wouldn’t be much of a profit margin,” Mastronardo says.

Besides offering housing at affordable prices, a major advantage Morton has is its station on the SEPTA Media/Elwyn Regional Rail line.

“The train option is a great one because people who work in Philadelphia but cannot afford to live there can get there easily,” Ritchie says.

Mastronardo emphasizes how the train service makes Morton convenient to the rest of the area.

“It is fabulous,” she says. “If you miss the train at your stop, you can drive to the next one up the line and catch it into Center City.”

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Investment Advice

SEQ Population Growth needs 12 Springfield-style mega cities to cope: Planner

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Southeast Queensland needs a dozen mega-developments like Springfield if it is to cope with the extra 2.2 million people over the next three decades, a respected urban geographer has told Fairfax Media.

Springfield is expected to be home to 80,000 people by 2030. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Springfield is expected to be home to 80,000 people by 2030. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Professor Bob Stimson, Emeritus Professor in Geographical Sciences and Planning at the University of Queensland, told Fairfax Media there would be 5.5 million living between Noosa and Tweed Heads within three decades.

Professor Stimson – an analytical human geographer and regional scientist for 49 years – said Southeast Queensland could no longer rely on increasing densification with the existing area.

Population growth will require up to a dozen mega-planned communities to cope with an extra 2.2 million people. Photo: Glenn Hunt  Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/seq-population-growth-needs-12-springfieldstyle-mega-cities-to-cope-planner-20150626-ghyxzb.html#ixzz3fdZRqltR

Population growth will require up to a dozen mega-planned communities to cope with an extra 2.2 million people.Photo: Glenn Hunt

Professor Stimson said between “10 and 12” large master-planned communities like Springfield or North Lakes – on Brisbane’s northern-edge – would be needed for the extra 2.2 million people.

“There is no way that all of the growth that is going to occur can be accommodated through urban infill,” Professor Stimson said.

“You are still going to need greenfield growth, fringe growth,” he said.

“So the big issue for Southeast Queensland over the coming decades is that you are probably going to need 10 or 12 of those types of developments to be occurring.”

Greater Springfield is a privately-owned 2680 hectare master-planned community south of Ipswich that has around 20,000 residents in two suburbs; Springfield and Springfield Lakes.

It started around 1995 and is planned to have 80,000 residents by 2030.

Professor Stimson said “green belts” between the Gold Coast, Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast were under pressure, but he believed would be protected because of the state government’s Southeast Queensland Regional Plan.

He said there was land near Beaudesert and Ipswich and between Brisbane and the Gold Coast for residential development.

“There is plenty of land that is not prime agricultural land, that is not ecologically important land, national park or high conservation-value land that could be taken up for that sort of growth.”

On Friday Australand launched a $400 million master-planned community for 25,000 people over 25 years called The Rise at Park Ridge in the Logan City Council area.

Australand’s Queensland general manger of  residential growth Cameron Leggatt said the development targeted low-cost home and land packages ($280,000) and provide 13,000 local jobs over 25 years as part of 2450-hectare project.

“With housing affordability throughout Brisbane and South East Queensland out of reach for many Australians, The Rise is keeping the dream of home ownership alive,” Mr Leggatt said.

Professor Stimson warned that jobs growth needed to accompany residential growth if it pushed further west than Ipswich.

He said jobs growth remained concentrated in the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane to Gold Coast line.

“Over the years I have been quite a critic of the Southeast Queensland planning process, which has tried to force growth into that western corridor because all the economic data demonstrates all the jobs growth is along the linear corridor that stretch to the north and south of Brisbane.”

Unemployment figures show Ipswich’s unemployment rate marginally higher in May 2015 than Brisbane’s western suburbs.

Unemployment – May 2015

Brisbane’s southside – 5 per cent

Brisbane’s inner-city – 5.5 per cent

Brisbane northside – 5.6 per cent

Gold Coast – 6.1 per cent

Brisbane West – 6.3 per cent

Moreton Bay – 6.3 per cent

Sunshine Coast – 6.8 per cent

Ipswich – 7 per cent.

However Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale said Professor Stimson appeared to be unaware of new job developments in Ipswich.

Ipswich’s labour market statistics show unemployment beginning to fall from 9 per cent to 7.4 per cent, with 2600 jobs created since March.

“We have a massive amount of industrial, commercial and retail development including the largest concentration of transport and logistics companies in Australia with DB Schenker, Northline and TNT at Redbank,” he said.

Cr Pisasale said jobs were being created at the new HOLCIM project underway at Swanbank, the new GE Electrical building at Springfield Central and with the Orion Shopping Centre doubling in size.

“RAAF Base Amberley is also continuing to expand with a workforce of more than 5000,” he said.

“Ipswich and the western corridor has a major role to play in satisfying growth in Southeast Queensland.

“We can’t continue to simply concentrate growth within Brisbane and the coastal fringe if we think we will maintain the same quality of life.”

In May 2010 former premier Anna Bligh announced plans for three mega-cities in Southeast Queensland to provide homes for 250,000 people.

Those three cities – at Ripley (near Ipswich), Yarrabilba (south of Logan) and Bromelton – about six kilometres south of Beaudesert – are all underway

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Investment Advice

Low interest rates cuts negative gearing ATO investor claims in 2012-13

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Low interest rates cuts negative gearing ATO investor claims in 2012-13

Low interest rates cuts negative gearing ATO investor claims in 2012-13

 

Record low interest rates have shown up in new statistics from the Australian Taxation Office, in a sizable drop in negative gearing tax claims by property investors.

Claim for rental properties fell from around $13.8 billion to $12 billion between the 2011-12 and 2012-13 financial years.

The latest statistics for 2012-13 show that 1.26 million people deducted losses made on investments (including mortgage interest) from their overall income, from the 12.7 million lodged individual tax returns.

The overall cost of negatively-geared rental properties has fallen by $2.4 billion, or 31 per cent, in 2012-13, due to record low interest rates and higher rents.

The Tax Office’s latest statistics shows 1.9 million landlords.

The value of rent returned was up 8.6 per cent to $36 billion but the value of interest claimed was down 6.7 per cent to $22 billion.

While the number of landlords with negatively-geared properties increased by almost 60,000, their tax deductions fell 13 per cent.

​The highest number of property investors claiming tax deductions had a taxable income – after tax deductions – of between $37,000 to $80,000 a year.

By JONATHAN CHANCELLOR

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Investment Advice

Nearly two milllion negative gearing investors across Australia: ATO

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Nearly two milllion negative gearing investors across Australia: ATO

Nearly two milllion negative gearing investors across Australia: ATO

Negative gearing property investors now total 1,967,260 across Australia, according to the ATO latest data.

That’s up from the 1,895,775 in the previous tax year, 2011-12.

There were 1,811,175 investors claiming rental income in the 2010-11 year.

The ATO has a investor rental video series on working out your tax correctly.

The statistics for the 2012–13 income year were sourced from 2013 individual income tax returns processed by 31 October 2014. The statistics are not necessarily complete.

This data is not representative of the total number of properties.

By JONATHAN CHANCELLOR

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