One in a continuing series spotlighting real estate markets in the region's communities.
Sometimes a town can appear too rural, even if it isn't really all that far off the beaten path.
If this is indeed a problem, it may be what is affecting the Tabernacle real estate market, at least as far as what Weichert Realtors' Janet Brown is seeing these days.
Brown, who lives in neighboring Shamong, has 37 years of experience selling real estate in South Jersey, starting in the part of Camden County closer to Philadelphia.
She believes the fact that the Burlington County township lies completely within the Pine Barrens and the Pinelands National Reserve and is noted for its horse farms and kayaker-friendly waterways pushes it lower on buyers' lists than closer-in communities.
"The trend, I guess, is more to the urban lifestyle these days than a rural one," Brown said, "but I try to point out to people that it really isn't as far away as it seems."
And it is not, affirmed Val Nunnenkamp of BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors in Marlton, who includes Tabernacle in his sales area.
"It is just minutes from Route 206 and Route 70," he said. "Of course, horse farms are very popular, but what most buyers enjoy are the peace and quiet, and, of course, there are a lot of private wells and septic, so there is a savings on water and sewer bills, as well."
What the prospective buyers also are missing, Brown said, is a price range that meets most budgets.
"There is the Allenwood Mobile Estates [on Cherry Lane], an over-55 community of 100 manufactured homes where there are resales available for as low as $20,000 to $25,000," she said, "because, of course, you don't own the land."
There is a homeowners' association fee of $480 a month.
Then there's Michaelson's Woods off Route 532, single-family detached houses with a median square footage of 5,200 on one-acre lots built by Orleans Homebuilders in 2008.
"When it was built, prices exceeded $1 million but dropped dramatically during the downturn," Brown said, noting that one resale property was now under contract for $599,000.
Property taxes in Tabernacle are typical of South Jersey. A 2,692-square-foot, four-bedroom single detached on one acre listed for $410,000 comes with a $9,432 annual tax bill, for example.
Right now, there are 57 active listings in the township, ranging from $89,000 at Allenwood up to $410,000. Eleven of those are under agreement of sale, Brown said.
There were 17 sales in the third quarter of this year, 26.1 percent fewer than in the July-through-September period in 2013, according to the BHHS Fox & Roach HomExpert Report, which uses data from the Trend Multiple Listing Service.
Both median and average prices gained year over year. The average price in the third quarter of 2014 was $280,529, up 10.3 percent from $254,410 a year earlier.
The median price for the third quarter of 2014 was $285,000, up from $255,000 a year ago.
There were just two fewer sales in the third quarter compared with the second, HomExpert reported.
Although prices took a dive during the housing downturn, as they did elsewhere, there were many fewer foreclosures and bank-owned properties in Tabernacle than, for example, in Winslow Township, Camden County, Brown said.
Some new construction - limited because of the township's location in the strictly protected Pine Barrens - didn't make it through, either, she added.
One, across from Allenwood, has improved roads but that is as far as things went, and the land is for sale, Brown said.
"There wasn't a lot of building during the boom, again because of the limitations of being in the Pine Barrens," she added.
Most of the "new" houses are 10 to 20 years old - for example, Traverelli's Eagle Mere development was built around 1991, Brown says.
Tabernacle's development boom started in the 1970s, and the township population almost doubled between 1970 and 1980.
Population growth slowed after 1980 and declined slightly afterward, data show.
Buyers today are coming from adjacent areas of Camden County, including Winslow and Waterford, and even Medford, Brown said.
Though some are from Philadelphia, "Medford is usually the cutoff in distance from the city," she said.
What she is seeing are more buyers from North Jersey, especially the Princeton area, "because they can get more house here."
Mercer County buyers are also crossing the Delaware River into Pennsylvania for pretty much the same reason, Bucks County real estate agents said, but a big reason is to escape high property taxes and because Keystone State treatment of retirement income is better.
Property taxes in South Jersey are usually lower than in areas north of Burlington County.
"They can get as involved here as they want," Brown said, citing the plentiful recreational opportunities and the sports and other activities at Tabernacle schools and Seneca High School, which is part of the Lenape Regional District.
Brown said she spends a lot of time pointing out the less rural aspects of Tabernacle - Murphy's Market and Nixon's General Store and its famous "road kill hot sauce" and penny candy.
On the other hand, "there is no light pollution," she said, so rural is good, too.
Town By Town: By the Numbers
Population: 6,949 (2010).
Median income: $101,053 (2010).
Area: 49.6 square miles.
Settlements in the last three months: 17.
Homes for sale: 57.
Days on market: 132.
Median sale price: $285,000.
Housing stock: Much of it has been built since 1970, but limited by Pinelands.
School district: Tabernacle, Seneca High (Lenape Regional).
SOURCES: U.S. Census Bureau;
Weichert Realtors; BHHS Fox & Roach HomExpert Report EndText