As many of you know we have spent a lot of time focusing our efforts on Torresdale Avenue, implementing store and streetscape improvements to draw positive attention and development to Tacony. The majority of our organization’s funding structure cannot be used for housing development. We have improved commercial buildings with apartments above (commonly called mixed-use buildings), and buildings on Torresdale Ave are mixed between commercial buildings and homes. Because of this focus some residents have asked us how these projects benefit the entire community. The following snapshot provides a look into the housing market of Tacony beginning in 2010 when the economy began to recover from the housing crisis. Although there are many factors in play when we look at housing, many of which are outside of our local neighborhood development corporation’s control, this will tell us how conditions are changing outside of Torresdale Ave.
To do this analysis we looked at Tacony’s four main census areas to paint a picture of our housing market. When then examined rental rates, home value, building age and occupancy rates to showcase our strengths, challenges, and opportunities. Our data came from the U.S Census’s American Community Survey for the years 2010-2012. We then compared these years or used the 2012 estimate to give a snapshot of the current housing market in Tacony. This article analyzed data for the 19135 zip code to explore other challenges our housing market faces.
Housing in Tacony is improving in several key areas; residential rental rates have increased by $57, rising from $876 dollars in 2010 to $933 in 2012 . This is a modest increase in rent but it tells us people are starting to place a greater value on living in Tacony. Again we see positive trends with actual home owners with our owner occupied housing rate increasing nearly 2% over this time period. Also encouraging is there are 9401 housing units in Tacony which is a slight increase from 9320 in 2010. Coupled with this increase in rental rates, owner occupancy, and new homes we find the family size of owner occupied homes and renter occupied homes have both increased, 3% and 5% respectively. This means new families are moving into our neighborhood. All of these facts point to a housing market that is starting to open its doors to new growth.
Even with our recent gains Tacony’s housing market still faces some challenges. The most telling one is that our housing stock is old. Only three percent of our houses were built after 1970, while a third of our houses were built before 1939. The old housing stock may present maintenance challenges for potential owners. Older homes often require more money to provide proper upkeep for the structure.
But this is not a complete downside. Even though these older buildings may cost more money to repair, older buildings tend have better character and more curb appeal than modern cookie-cutter residential units. It’s why Tacony was recognized as a great opportunity for homeowners by “this Old House” magazine. These homes present a great historic preservation opportunity that can enhance our neighborhood. Our older housing stock presents some upfront maintenance issues with cost but still is a valuable opportunity.
Homes Within Reach
Despite modestly increasing rents median household value has fluctuated around $119,000 over this three year period. This is a great opportunity. Decreasing vacancy means the market is getting stronger, but Tacony still is highly affordable for potential home owners.
Foreclosures and Bank-Owned Properties
Tacony was not immune from the foreclosure crisis triggered by the last recession. This has left lasting impacts on Tacony’s housing market. 289 buildings are in some form of foreclosure in the 19135 zip code meaning it will take some time for these properties to complete the judicial proceedings and sale process. Our CDC has received many calls about vacant and foreclosed properties and have followed up with maintenance servicing companies to hold them accountable for maintaining these properties: ensuring the property is secured, grass is cut, and the buildings are not dangerous. We have partnered with the Department of Licenses and Inspections, Community Life Improvement Program, and Tacony Civic Association.
Housing in Tacony is stabilizing from massive market challenges related to the national recession. While we lag other areas of the city our housing market is improving and will continue to stabilize. We work closely with the Tacony Civic Association and other partners to welcome new residents and continue to grow our neighborhood.
by Christian Regosch