One in a continuing series spotlighting real estate markets in the region's communities.

Unless you're a local, it's sometimes difficult to figure out where Folcroft begins and Glenolden ends. The opposite is true, too.

But just as it was fun wandering around Glenolden on a warm day in late spring, a sunny and warm Tuesday in early autumn was perfect for exploring Folcroft.

According to a sign along the borough's portion of Chester Pike, in Old English Folcroft means "leafy green meadow fields." That's what settlers found when they arrived in this Delaware County community early in the 18th century.

Where leafy fields rolled on for acres, there is now a bumper crop of rowhouses and twins. There are 62 active listings, ranging in price from $37,000 to $189,000, says Barbara Mastronardo, an agent with Weichert Realtors in Media, who sells there.

"There are a lot of cute rows that are really reasonably priced," she says.

It's sad that 30 percent of the homes for sale are foreclosures because Folcroft, along with other Delaware County communities, was hit hard by the bursting of the housing bubble and the subsequent prolonged real estate downturn.

In third quarter 2015, there were more than 1,800 properties in foreclosure in the county. That's a far cry, however, from the peak in 2010 to 2011, according to RealtyTrac, which tracks foreclosures nationwide.

"The economy got it [the housing market], and it hasn't yet come back," Mastronardo says.

Eight houses are under contract in Folcroft, she says. Those pending sales range in list price from $48,000 to $169,700.

If no houses came on the market from today on, it would take nearly eight months, based on the current sales pace, to clear for-sale inventory.

"There were only 18 closings in the last six months," and eight in the second quarter, Mastronardo says, with an average sale price of $90,000 to $110,000.

The median sale price, as noted by Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors HomExpert Market Report, was $70,900, down 19.9 percent from the same period a year ago.

"It is a tough market," Mastronardo says, not unlike many other older portions of Delaware County adjacent to Southwest Philadelphia.

In Yeadon, for example, the downturn hit some homeowners so hard that they rented to others and moved in with their families to try to save their homes, Realtors say.

Before the housing bust, prices in these postage-stamp-size communities were rising, mirroring the rates of increase in most of the Philadelphia region. A twin was selling for $160,000, while a single detached house was going for somewhere in the lower $200,000s.

Today, if they aren't in foreclosure - often the result of being purchased for much more than they were worth during the housing boom, then plummeting in value when the market collapsed - the same homes are going for $90,000.

In Folcroft, sales in the first six months ranged from $22,500 to $99,000, with the average sale price between $65,000 and $75,000, Mastronardo says.

"Most were foreclosures and short sales," transactions in which the lender accepted a price that is less than the balance owed on the mortgage, she says.

Suburban communities in the region continue to struggle to recover the values lost when the housing market collapsed in third-quarter 2007.

Kevin Gillen, chief economist for Meyers Research and senior research fellow at Drexel University's Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation, said that although the region's homes lost 23 percent of their value when the housing bubble burst, they have recovered just 9 percent in the years since.

Based on current prices, Folcroft and comparable communities "are destinations for investors," Mastronardo says.

She also believes that these communities "are prime pickings for first-time buyers," with rentals "also a good possibility."

One of the attractions for city buyers of Folcroft and other Delaware County communities in the 1950s and 1960s was bigger houses and garages.

Delmar Village, built in the 1950s, has 1,300-square-foot townhouses, half with one-car attached garages, with three bedrooms, one bath, and full basements.

"A good opportunity," she says, for young buyers.


Town By Town: Folcroft by the Numbers


Population: 6,624 (2013)

Median household income: $55,051

Area: 1.4 square miles

Settlements in the last three months: 8

Homes for sale: 62

Average days on market: 79

Median sale price: $70,900

Housing stock: 2,629 units, mainly rowhouses and twins.

School district: Southeast Delco.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; Barbara Mastronardo, Weichert Realtors, Media; Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach HomExpert Market Report EndText