Season of Change

As I write this, history is being made a few hours away in Washington, D.C., where a record-breaking crowd has gathered to witness the inauguration of the nation’s 44th president and its first African-American commander in chief. Monumental stuff, indeed.

But tomorrow’s sobering realities will no doubt return. The focus will inevitably come back to the current state of the economy, and whether it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Here on the Main Line—like everywhere else—we wait and we hope.

Anyone whose livelihood is tied to the housing market has been feeling the relentless weight of our debilitating economic crisis for well over a year. As of December 2008, the nation’s median home price had plummeted 15 percent in 12 months, to $175,400. Here in Southeastern Pennsylvania, it dropped 6 percent to $207,500, and the number of homes sold was down almost 23 percent since December of last year. Sellers can expect their houses to remain on the market an average of 10 days longer than they would’ve a year ago. (All of this according to the Prudential Fox & Roach HomExpert Market Report.)

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And yet, there’s the sense from local industry experts that times are tough, but they could be worse. Still, no one I interviewed for this month’s cover story bothered sugarcoating the facts. They all agreed that the local market has experienced a significant downturn. Nonetheless, the Main Line remains one of the state’s most desirable areas, and prices reflect that. Foreclosures aren’t blanketing the area as they are in Nevada and Florida—and that alone is reason enough to be skeptical of what you hear.

“There isn’t a national weather forecast, so people shouldn’t listen to national reports on the real estate market and apply it to our area,” says Kathy Maud of Prudential Fox & Roach in Rosemont. “We want buyers and sellers to feel that the glass is half full.”

Maud’s colleague, Carol Oglesby, reported that the Main Line market “has been very active throughout the month of January in all price points.”

And to disprove the notion that new construction has ground to a halt, we give you builders Don and Todd Pohlig, whose Athertyn development on the former site of Haverford State Hospital is one of the most sought-after addresses for empty-nesters. We also spotlight high-profile developer Brian O’Neill, who’s breathing new life into the western Main Line with his auspicious luxury residential, business and retail project, Uptown Worthington, in Malvern.

And so, with spring on the way, here’s to new beginnings.

Our Best of the Main Line Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!