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

As small towns go, Rutledge is one of the smallest around here - just 798 people in one square mile of Delaware County.

That's the number the borough's website gives as the population of Rutledge. The U.S. Census says that as of 2010, there were 784 people, down from 860 in 2000, but that's not the only fact about Rutledge that seems to be disputed.

More on that later.

When it comes to real estate, this isn't a very active place - the fact that the public record shows only 277 property owners could be the reason why.

Among the many things this town has going for it, says S. Clark Kendus of D. Patrick Welsh Real Estate, is that of the communities that comprise the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District - Swarthmore, Rose Valley, Nether Providence (Wallingford is within that township's borders) are the others - Rutledge's home prices offer the least expensive entry.

In the first quarter of 2016, Swarthmore's median price was $325,000, based on the sales of 14 houses. Rose Valley's median was $402,000, based on four sales. Nether Providence had a median of $250,000 on 31 sales, while Rutledge weighed in at $170,000, according to Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors' HomExpert Market Report.

With so few real estate transactions, Rutledge's market is easy to analyze for Kendus, who is based in neighboring Swarthmore.

"There are only two active listings," he says, "with an average price of $235,500 and average days on the market at 216."

One house sold in the last 90 days for $261,500.

That was also the highest sale price in the last 180 days, when there were three sales total, with an average price of $200,500. Homes remained on the market an average of 47 days during those six months, the data shows.

For a broader data set, Kendus went back to 2015, when there were nine sales for the year. The median sale price was $264,900; the average price was $238,844. Those nine homes spent an average of 43 days on the market, and prices ranged from $120,000 to $285,000, he says.

"Most of the houses in Rutledge are 80-plus years old and are bigger," he says, adding that in these times of new, perfect and move-in condition being many buyers' ideal, older houses that need work are not on everyone's list.

"Some of the houses have been renovated, others have not, but generally the housing stock has been very well-maintained," Kendus says.

The homes here "are mostly single-family detached, and there are some smaller ones," he notes.

There is also no new construction, he says, and hasn't been for a long time.

Though older housing stock appeals to fewer buyers today, Kendus says he believes sales in Rutledge are low because people like living here. And as in Swarthmore, Wallingford, and Rose Valley, the school district remains a big plus, he says.

Rutledge is not an "in your face" kind of place, Kendus says: "A lot of times I've shown houses there, people thought it was part of Ridley, not a separate borough."

It does have location going for it: Rutledge is so close to Morton that the station stop on SEPTA's Media-Elwyn Line, while partly in Morton and partly in Springfield Township, is called Morton-Rutledge.

"It is within walking distance of pretty much all of Rutledge," Kendus says.

Even on the warm first day of summer, Rutledge was a nice place for a walk - from the train station, south on Morton Avenue to President Avenue and its big old houses, to Borough Hall, which also served as a school.

Then down to Triangle Park at Rutledge and Swarthmore Avenues and a bench near picnic tables to enjoy the day.

Up for debate here, in addition to the population figure, is just for whom Rutledge is named.

A marker at Morton and Swarthmore Avenues says it was named for President Lincoln's first sweetheart, Ann Rutledge. But a history prepared by Randall Poe and Mary E. (Lynn) Woodling suggests it might have been named for a novel popular when a group of Philadelphia businessmen founded the community in 1885.

It became a borough two years later, in 1887.


Rutledge By the Numbers


Population: 784 (2010)
Median household income: $80,972
Area: One square mile
Settlements in the last three months: 1
Homes for sale: 2
Average days on market: 47
Median sale price: $261,500
Housing stock: 305 units; mostly large, single-family, detached homes, 80-plus years old on average.
School district: Wallingford-Swarthmore
SOURCES: U.S. Census Bureau; S. Clark Kendus, D. Patrick Welsh Real Estate