One in a continuing series spotlighting real estate markets in the region's communities.
If you live in Northampton, and your house is for sale, and you're considering taking it off the market until the spring, think again.
There are already more prospective buyers than there are listings in this Bucks County community. And real estate agents like Sharon Ermel Spadaccini of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors, in New Hope, want to keep inventory intact when they can.
"Don't you dare," she warns sellers who think that properties remaining on the market during the holidays and in early winter will look stale.
"With just 126 active listings, it only takes one serious buyer to purchase your house," Spadaccini says.
"Serious buyers know no season; they are always out there," she says. "There may not be a lot of showings, but they are quality ones. As long as the house is priced properly, it will sell."
There may not be a lot of houses for sale in this community of 39,000-plus 12 miles northeast of Philadelphia, but as Martin Millner of Coldwell Banker Hearthside Real Estate says, the housing stock is very diverse - something for every buyer and price point, to be sure.
"There are all price ranges, short of the mega-estates you will find in places such as Solebury Township," says Millner, who has offices in both Yardley and Newtown. "Two-million-dollar houses are rare."
The range begins with condominiums at $170,000 to $200,000, he says. "There is a mix of houses for sale priced in the $500,000-to-$700,000 range, but not quite as many in the lower price point."
At the end of October, the average sale price of single-family houses and townhouses here was $414,000, Millner says.
Third-quarter results including condo sales, provided by Berkshire Hathway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors' HomExpert Market Report, show an average price of $398,501 and a median price of $391,300 (half were lower, half higher), on sales of 158 properties during those three months.
Despite the shortage of houses for sale, "I consider the market balanced between buyers and sellers," Millner says. Even with inventory down, "activity is up significantly from last year," he says, adding that what Northampton is seeing "is consistent with all of Bucks County."
Even during the real estate downturn, "Northampton's market was consistent," relatively better than comparably sized communities without such a variety of housing types and prices, Spadaccini says.
There are older homes and new construction in the mix, the agents say.
On the new side, Toll Bros.' Reserve at Northampton, a 40-lot subdivision of single-family houses on one-acre sites, starts in the upper $700,000s, Millner says.
"It has been very well-received," he says, which is real estate talk meaning that the starting price will be well over $1 million when all the add-ons have been paid for.
Toll also did the over-55 community Northampton Chase, where prices are in the $500,000 range, Millner says.
Four decades ago, Spadaccini says, Northampton was country when Gigliotti Builders began construction of its Village Shires development on 335 acres here.
By the time Gigliotti was done in the late 1980s, Village Shires had 1,593 units, with 185 single homes, 556 townhouses, and 852 condominiums "in seven different condo associations," she says.
The Council Rock School District is a major plus for people considering Northampton as their address, both agents say.
"It is the preeminent school district in the area, and a lot of people are drawn there," Millner says.
The commute to work, especially if you don't have to travel at rush hour, isn't bad from Northampton. Millner recently sold a house to a buyer from Hoboken, N.J., who had been commuting from his home to Princeton.
Before we leave Northampton, Spadaccini says, we must say something about the homemade ice cream at Tanner Bros. Dairy, on Hatboro Road in Richboro.
"They have this vanilla ice cream with caramel running through it that I absolutely love," she says. "And what is even better, they still are making it in the winter."
Population: 39,726 (2010).
Median household income: $106,661.
Area: 26.1 square miles.
Settlements in the last three months: 158.
Homes for sale: 126.
Average days on market: 53.
Median sale price: $391,300.
Housing stock: 13,138 units of various types and price points.
School district: Council Rock.