Investing in Norristown, Pennsylvania

30 Replies

Does anyone have any experience investing in the Norristown, PA market? What are your thoughts? I am familiar with the area, and now beginning to research properties there and their values.

Hi @Maurice Bailey,

Would suggest joining Diversified Investors Group your local REIA. A lot of investors there know Norristown well.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Regards,

Joe Scorese

I haven't made it to DIG yet. I have a property in Norristown. My biggest warning is the permit inspection process. When I got my place, it hit me with a lot of unexpected costs to get it permitted. Be sure to budget and plan accordingly.

Not that I am aware of. It is my understanding that the code office will not inspect a house and give a report until after the purchase. That means that the best you can do is get a knowledgeable contractor to walk through with you and give you his take on what it will cost to get it up to code. (I can recommend my guy)

It is my further understanding that getting it up to code could involve multiple meetings with the historic board to approve materials and explain other requirements. My guy handled that for me.

@Maurice Bailey I'm working on my second property (low income rentals) in Norristown. Concerns regarding the Historic Board are not something I'm familiar with but I know a U&O can be done pre-sale. I closed on a property a few weeks ago and the actual U&O window bridged the settlement date. The actual timeline went like this: inspection, settlement, repairs, re-inspection. Naturally, there was a contingency clause in the event the building was unable to pass U&O for any reason.

If you've read The Book on Rental Property Investing, specifically chapter 8 on location, I would classify much of Norristown itself as class C and some sections  maybe even class D.  Between Dekalb and Markley starts to become less desireable as you get further south towards Marshall and to the river.  There are others that can probably narrow it down further, but after much research I chose not to invest in the borough itself.  Look at historic sale prices on current listings and you'll see that homes don't seem to appreciate much, and if they do, it's only after a major renovation.  A 4BR/2.5BA 2,500 sq.ft. row home sold for, say, $60,000 in 1985 and it's selling for $60,000 now? Has to make you wonder what you're getting into. 

Not trying to discourage, just advising on what I found when I researched around a year ago.

As you move West of, say, Stanbridge St. and also further East, as well as North of Fornance, neighborhoods get better.  Again, others who actually own Norristown properties will hopefully chime in.

My partner and I own 10 properties in Norristown.  I would agree with Jim's assessment.  They key is the tenant- no surprise there.  We use a property manager who is familiar with the area.

I own 13 units in the bad parts of Norristown. To @Jim Davis 's point, I never count on asset appreciation in my calculations; I only look at cash flow. If appreciation happens, it's a bonus. 

I personally handle my properties and my tenants pay their rent. Not always on time, but as of right now, 7/25, nobody owes me money. This socioeconomic sector comes with its own challenges, but the return percentages are higher. Physically being onsite with some frequency is paramount to success in my arena. I do a lot of maintenance/repairs myself, but I know my limitations. I don't mind spending 10-12 hours over two days fixing something, when I have time. The tenants see me actively working to improve their quality of life and are happy to be in my buildings.

That said, it really all depends on how much tolerance you have for the hood. I didn't exactly grow up in the projects, but we lived close enough to a railroad tracks to have the house shake, and there was a never ending supply of sirens throughout the night.

@Maurice Bailey I only own one property in Norristown so far (a duplex with a rented garage), but that's my target area.  As @Jim Volpe said, beware the code people/process.  I haven't found them to be very responsive except when they're harassing you for un-permitted work.  Also beware the HARB (Historical Architectural Review Board, http://www.norristown.org/historical-architecture-review-board.html).  I didn't realize that the HARB existed when I bought this property and it turns out it was in Zone A.  I'd love to meet up and discuss.  I can show the the property (from the outside, at least), tell you about the tenant profile, the work that went into it, and all the things I continue to learn.

Charles, Jonathon and others,

Good dialog here.  My business partner and I own 12 properties (19 units) in Norristown.  We generally prefer the "better" sections but have picked up some good deals in less than great areas.  Our business model assumes zero capital appreciation.  We own properties in HARB zone 1 and 2.  Both my partner and I (adult son) have full time, non-Real Estate jobs so we use professional property managers.  I would love to get together and compare notes and brainstorm.   Topics to share a beer over include where we see Norristown going, Rehab contract strategies, maintenance co-op (not sure what this means exactly but basically sharing a handyman), other interesting R/E opportunities.

@Ryan Hoer and @Keith W. , et al.  Let me know when you want to get together.  I have another triplex in Norristown under contract now and it promises to be a fun ride.

I know it's short notice, but I'll be here tomorrow night:  https://www.meetup.com/Norristown-Investors-Revitalization-Alliance/events/245558894/

@Ryan Hoer Honestly, the setup is a little peculiar...there are two events in the same location at almost the same time, advertised by the same organizer.  One of them had a $10 fee, the other didn't.  But as far as I know, that's all that's required.

This is the other one: https://www.meetup.com/realestate-1590/events/245854694/

@Steve Babiak Sorry for the lack of tag...the site seems to have issues with comments in Chrome on Android. My Spidey senses were tingling already for other reasons, but thank you very much for the link. I'll still be there, if only for the floor show.

I just purchased an investment SFH in Phila. Looking at Norristown for a multifamily duplex or triplex at cheap prices. Does anyone have recommendation on whether I should stay in Phila or look into buying in Norristown? In terms of cash flow and appreciation?

Thx.

This post has been removed.

Hi Everyone,

I know this post is coming some time after the original thread, but I was curious about the local meet ups that Norristown investors attend. I am getting started in the area and would love to meet as many individuals as possible.

Thank you in advance for the help!


Best Regards,

Colton

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