From Fishtown to Feasterville, over 6 million people reside in the City of Brotherly Love and its sprawling statistical area that includes parts of Southern New Jersey and Wilmington, Delaware. Within Philadelphia, the fifth-largest city in the United States, brick row homes line the streets inhabited by more than 1.5 million people. Suburban residential architecture displays exterior construction adorned by native Pennsylvania stone, unearthed when excavation in the outlying areas commenced in the 18th century as populations moved away from the heart of the city.

Real estate trends in Philadelphia have been marked by moderate growth in home values over the past five years as population growth has underwhelmed, positioning Phoenix, Arizona, to leapfrog Philadelphia in terms of residents. Much of the appreciation in median home value has been realized in the suburbs, while dwellings in desirable city locales have kept pace, with many up-and-coming neighborhoods experiencing revitalization triggered by new construction and an influx of young professionals and artisans.

Market Insights

The median home value has grown at an average annual rate of 4.20% in metropolitan Philadelphia over the last five years through 2015. Of the 6,100 homes listed for sale, the median list price for a home in the city confines has risen to $159,000, a 6.1% increase over the prior month. In suburban regions, where tiny, census-designated places (CDP) have grown in popularity due to the pursuit of small-town lifestyles close to big-city attractions, the average median list price for a home exceeds the asking value of dwellings in the city. Along Philadelphia's storied Main Line, an area that runs northwest from Center City to Paoli to Swarthmore, anchored by the "Little Ivy" college from which the town draws its name, a median home listing price was $265,000 as of March 2016. This reflects a year-over-year (YOY) increase of 17.7% and a 21.5% increase over the February 2016 value.

Property and Transfer Taxes

Philadelphia County's adoption of an actual value initiative (AVI) in 2014 is a departure from prior years' calculation of property taxes in which fractional market values were used to arrive at a tax that held an effective tax rate of 3.13%. Under the old method, a homeowner with an assessed value of $200,000 would have paid $6,260 annually prior to the transition to the AVI method, which uses 100% of assessed value and levies an effective rate of approximately 1.4%.

The sale of business or residential property in Philadelphia is subject to a transfer tax on the agreed price of real estate and is also due on exchanges where no sales figure exists. In the case of transfers where nominal values are used to transfer realty, the city's assessment office arrives at a fair market value, of which 3% is due to the city and 1% is due to the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Most Expensive Neighborhoods

Society Hill, an area that extends west from the Delaware River waterfront to South Sixth Street between Chestnut and South Streets, is highly coveted by residents seeking to live in downtown Philadelphia. The Sixth and Walnut Street neighborhood that encompasses Independence Hall has a median home value of $574,224 and an average rental price of $1,805 per month.

Moving away from the heart of the city, West Mount Airy, bordering Chestnut Hill to the northeast and Wissahickon Valley Park to the southwest, had a median home value of $704,738 as of December 2015. Home values in that neighborhood, which sits about 13 miles northwest of Center City, exceed the values of 99.7% of Pennsylvania homes and 95.3% of dwellings in the United States.

Top Real Estate Websites

Many websites offer insight into the Philadelphia-area real estate market. Along with listings of homes for sale, detailed information on schools, attractions, demographics and crime statistics can be found on websites such as Redfin, Movoto and Zillow. Specifically geared toward the City of Brotherly Love's unique neighborhoods, PhillyLiving.com provides a bird's-eye view of the metropolis' housing and statistical data.

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