One in a continuing series spotlighting real estate markets in the region's communities.
Even on a warm day in mid-June, a visit to New Britain Borough can be a walk in the park.
In this case, Covered Bridge Park.
Whether you drive up Routes 202, 309, or 611 to this Bucks County community a few miles from Doylestown, or take the train to the New Britain station and walk across Butler Avenue up Keeley Avenue, the park is well-worth the visit.
With just 1.3 square miles and 3,152 residents, the borough, which is engaged in attracting more businesses and creating a walkable community, does not have much real estate activity, says Frank Dolski of Coldwell Banker Hearthside Real Estate in Lahaska, who has been selling houses there for a decade.
New Britain Township, which surrounds the borough carved from it in 1928, has more for sale.
In fact, there are just 18 properties on the market in the borough, Dolski says, with many at Carousel Pointe, condominiums built by Granor-Price Homes in 1989-90.
"I still have the brochures," says Marshal Granor, company principal.
Four listed for sale at Carousel Pointe range in price from $167,900 to $209,900, according to Trend Multiple Listing Service, and have two bedrooms and one bath. In September, a two-bedroom/one-bath, 950-square-foot unit went for $155,000.
Other borough neighborhoods include Lenape Village, a subdivision of detached single-family homes constructed in the mid-1960s on half-acre lots; Hillside Village, singles on one-third-acre lots constructed in 1957; and Forest Park, townhouses constructed in 1988, also by Granor-Price.
The builder bought some of the old Forest Park amusement park, which stretched along Chalfont and New Britain Boroughs and New Britain Township, for Carousel Pointe and Forest Park.
"Of course, each had different zoning," says Granor, who bought the land from Frank C. Nicholas, onetime chairman of Beech-Nut Corp., and used "an amusement park theme" for the townhouses and condos, "which sold quickly."
"The highest-price single detached homes run in the $300,000s," Dolski says, "but the Forest Park townhouses are favored by younger couples looking for affordability, people who like to be close to the train station [SEPTA's Lansdale-Doylestown Line], and those looking to move down."
Judi Schaeffer, an agent with Keller Williams Real Estate in Doylestown, plans to move down because the house on Woodland Drive that she and her husband have owned for 22 years is too big for them now, she says.
It was the desire for a bigger house that attracted the Schaeffers to New Britain Borough in the first place, she says.
"We were living in a townhouse in Doylestown, and my husband didn't like it, so we came here looking for a nice-sized ranch, and there it was," 3,800 square feet on two acres, Schaeffer says. The house is listed for $599,900.
"The prices on my street reflect those of the borough - ranging from the $200,000s to the $600,000s," she says.
Because New Britain Borough was created from a number of 18th- and 19th-century villages, there are houses of every era among the 930 within its borders.
In addition, part of Delaware Valley University's property is in the borough, and New Britain Baptist Church's cemetery holds the graves of veterans of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.
Prices "were stable in the [real estate] downturn, Dolski says, "with the median give or take $250,000" and the average price $200,000, meaning a discount rate from list price to sale price of 4 percent.
"We did experience a drop," Schaeffer says, "as did everyone else, and they haven't yet come back to where they were" during the housing boom.
Taxes here are in line with other areas of Bucks County, she says. With the Central Bucks School District taking the lion's share, "they are the same as Doylestown and any other district community."
Though one might think convenience to Center City by SEPTA would be a selling point here, Schaeffer says many prospective buyers of her house have cited the noise of the train as a drawback.
Not a problem for the Schaeffers.
"In our back yard, we can see it and hear it, and we love it," she says.