One in a continuing series spotlighting real estate markets in the region's communities.
Once you've arrived in Thorndale, you have finally reached the end of the line.
The Paoli-Thorndale rail line, that is.
Thorndale, the commercial hub of longer-than-it-is-wide Caln Township, is indeed the end of SEPTA's Regional Rail service from Center City.
Flanked by Coatesville and Downingtown, with the east-west Route 30 Bypass down its middle, Caln Township is named for the hometown of its early settlers, Calne in Wiltshire, England. (That town in the U.K. is the Pennsylvania community's sister city.)
Thorndale is a U.S Census-designated area of the Chester County township. But when you ask Noel Bernard, of Keller Williams Real Estate, whether Thorndale is more familiar than Caln because of the rail line, she says "no."
"It is a good question, but most people ask for Caln," says Bernard, who has lived in the township for 21 years.
Buyers are attracted to Caln, she says, because "it offers a lot of things and is close to everything."
Offerings include "lots of schools," shops (although she wishes there were more), almost 200 acres of open space, and a township-owned golf course called Ingleside that is on the onetime summer estate of James Buchanan, 15th president of the United States.
Brandywine Hospital and the Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center also are within the township, Bernard says.
Thorndale, she says, is just one zip code in a township that shares two other zip codes, with Downingtown and Coatesville. Caln is in the Coatesville Area School District.
The township's median price in the second quarter was $189,000, according to Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors' HomExpert Market Report, putting it right into the first-time buyer's price range.
"Millennials . . . Generation Y or whatever they are known as in their 30s, are my buyers these days," Bernard says, citing a showing for a newly constructed home she'd had earlier on the day of our interview.
The prospective buyers were a couple to whom she had sold a house two years ago who wanted to move to a new and larger home.
"This generation has a fair amount of money," Bernard says, an observation at odds with the general perception of millennials as saddled by student-loan debt and wary of homeownership after witnessing the bursting of the housing bubble.
A lot of her buyers are local, from Chester County, primarily, and from Coatesville and Downingtown, especially. But a large number are from Delaware County, too, Bernard says.
"They get more bang for their buck here, with larger lots because there is less congestion," she says.
Population density, that is, not traffic.
"The congestion at Routes 340 and 322 is very tough in the morning rush hour," Bernard says.
Currently, there are 101 active listings, priced from $70,000 to $425,000, she says.
As with many communities, there isn't as much new-home construction here these days as there was 10 years ago, when the housing market began heading south and values with it.
Rouse Chamberlin Homes has the eight-year-old King's Grant development on Woodruff Road, with single-family detached houses priced from $249,990 to $301,990 - 1,874 to 2,970 square feet, with three to four bedrooms and one- and two-car garages, the developer says.
Rouse Chamberlin also has the Woods at Clarelyn, a five-year-old development of single-family detached homes on Lloyd Avenue starting in the low $300,000s. Lot sizes range from a quarter-acre to a half-acre, the developer says.
Four-bedroom single-family houses can be found near Thorndale station at the Crossing at Bailey Station, priced from the $200,000s to the low $300,000s, and 152 townhouses comprise the Mews at Bailey Station. Both were built by Provident Homes Corp.
When she arrived in Caln more than two decades ago, there wasn't much development, "and we have finally reached a point where there is not much left to be developed," Bernard says.
"The township is into open-space preservation," she says. "There aren't a lot of big parcels left."
Population: 13,817 (2010)
Median household income: $60,198 (2009)
Area: 8.8 square miles
Settlements in the last three months: 54
Homes for sale: 101
Average days on market: 58
Median sale price: $189,000
Housing stock: 4,535 units, singles and townhouses.
School district: Coatesville Area