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

Under the microscope this week is Hatfield, the township. As opposed to Hatfield, the borough - although, because the township completely surrounds the borough, there may be just a little overlap here and there.

Hatfield Township is the next stop on Route 309 after Montgomeryville as you wend your way through that part of Montgomery County.

And stop you often do, waiting for SEPTA's Lansdale-Doylestown Line trains to cross the highway to get to and from the Colmar station. Access to regular commuter-rail service to Center City and Doylestown is, however, worth the minor inconvenience.

Within Hatfield Township lie the villages of Colmar and the unusually named Line Lexington, which it shares with adjacent municipalities. (In the early 1800s, a village hatmaker chose the name of the Revolutionary War battle of Lexington as his trademark. He also gave the name to the village, adding "Line" to show that the village straddled the border between Bucks and Montgomery Counties.)

If you're looking for a house in Hatfield Township, you will probably find something that is much less expensive than in the other municipalities that make up the North Penn School District.

"In this area, people usually search by school districts," says Diane Williams, of Weichert Realtors in Blue Bell.

In North Penn, Upper Gwynedd has the highest-priced housing, followed by Montgomery and Towamencin Townships, then Hatfield, she notes.

In the first nine months of 2016, the median price of a house in Hatfield Township was $270,000, based on 109 sales, according to Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors HomExpert Market Report.

In the school district's other communities, prices were not much different during that period, but the shortage of homes available for purchase has been boosting what people will pay in many areas of the Philadelphia region, especially Montgomery and Bucks Counties.

Williams checked the average prices for Upper Gwynedd and Montgomery Townships against Hatfield's from December 2015 through Dec. 19, 2016. Montgomery's average sale price in that period was $338,855, compared with Hatfield's $300,730. Upper Gwynedd's average sale price was $331,455, Williams says.

Currently, she says, there are 34 active listings in Hatfield Township, ranging from $182,200 to $575,595. The higher end is new construction, ranging in price from $459,900 to $575,595.

Eleven properties are selling each month, which means the absorption rate is at three months, she says.

Ryan Homes is developing Montgomery Square, a community of townhouses, and Ryan Homes at Belmont Square, which features single homes, Williams says.

The townhouses start at $280,000, while the single homes range from $479,000 to $519,000 for 2,500 to 3,370 square feet, Williams says.

Two new spec homes are priced from $359,000 to $389,000, she says.

"Sales in Hatfield are really moving, because there are now 40 pending sales," Williams says.

Average days on market for last year was 52, she adds.

Hatfield Township has been around since 1730, and is home to three businesses well-known to the Philadelphia region.

In 1885, Hatfield Township Packing Co. was established, and is now the site of Hatfield Quality Meats, which makes, among other things, that Christmas ham that's probably on the menu for today's holiday meal.

In 1925, William Rosenberger established Rosenberger's Dairy, but, as it happens, the building is closed and is now for sale.

M.H. Zeigler & Sons, which got its start as an apple press in Maurice Zeigler's garage on North Broad Street, sends its cider all over the country.

And now, a final word about Hatfield Borough - as in how it came to be.

In 1898, some residents of Hatfield Township wanted more streetlights, but not many were willing to pay for them.

Thus, the borough was born.

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