Philadelphia neighborhood opinions - Cobbs, Fairhill, Elmwood

9 Replies | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I'm looking for some opinions on some neighborhoods in Philly. Specifically looking at:
W. Glenwood Ave - Fairhill
South Alden St - Cobbs Creek/Angora
Paschall Ave - Elmwood

Anyone have any experience in these areas that can offer opinions on pros or cons or places to avoid?

@John Humphries, how are you. The best way to understanding the neighborhoods are you familiar with there CDC or RCO group meetings. Best way to understand neighborhoods is attending this neighborhood meetings. West Philadelphia is diverse and changing. Any further questions please let me know. Regards, Joe Scorese

Hi @Joseph Scorese , thanks for reaching out. I guess I could have been more specific on the post and mention that in this case, I am an out of state/country investor (BC). I'm looking at buying notes from a provider and trying to do some due diligence on a few lending opportunities that they have provided me with. All in Philadelphia which is a market I am unfamiliar with so I am doing research and looking for resources. I have appraisals for all properties, but I am having a hard time trusting the appraisals based on the research that I am doing. All of the properties are townhouse/row house style and nicely renovated, but a bit of further digging shows quite a few neighboring properties in disrepair or foreclosure. From a distance, I'm having a hard time believing that a renovated property can be worth $120,000 while most other properties on the block/row are still in rough condition and likely to go for more like $40 - 60. Looking for someone in Philly with some local knowledge to either set my mind at ease or to point me in the right direction based on neighborhoods. All 3 areas that I am currently looking at appear to be similar class neighborhoods. Wondering if I should put more weight behind one of these particular areas or if there are specific areas to avoid.

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With limited knowledge of what appraisals and notes you are looking at, the answer is yes, renovated SFRs in certain areas of Philly can be worth 120k and much higher. Small developers are moving into the areas and buying up all those run down row houses one at a time, renovating them and flipping to first time buyers, or renting. In certain parts, larger developers are renovating warehouses or swaths of a neighborhood which is raising property values in the immediate vicinities. Will this momentum continue I guess is the real bet. I think it will continue even if there is a recession or slow down in the global markets. Feel free to message me to speak further. Good luck. 

@John Humphries - All of those places are great rental markets that usually BRRR out pretty consistently. Although there is a wide range of property value.

I'll start with my favorite out of those- Cobbs Creek

Cobbs has a lot of direct influence from U-City expansion. The borders have gradually pushed Westward to what is considered the "nice area."  Rule of thumb in that pocket is the more south of market/chestnut towards Baltimore the better and obviously the more east towards Penn & Drexel.  There are a couple major projects going from major developers like the ~50 unit commercial/mixed used residential at 59th and market, the torn down church at 48th and city pumping a couple billion into West Philly per its 20 year comprehensive plan. 

Elmwood is an interesting beast. Along Island Ave you have a pretty strict border. On the SE Side houses are selling for +200k with nice granite, Central AC, finished basement, etc. On the other you can sell formica, no AC, no finished basement for 130k all day. Both are great markets, all depending on what you are looking to do. Regardless of the side, that is a low crime rate area (you can look up those statistics here

Fairhill- No sugar coating- this place is ROUGH. Great Cashflow with incredibly low purchase prices BUT there is this thing called "Allegheny Ave." This is well known throughout the city, unfortunately, as the focal point for rampant drug use. Here is a sample of one of many articles highlighting the issue North of Temple Hospital (essentially Lehigh Ave) is where you see the evidence, and man it's sad. Not too far east are a couple of the rougher stops on the El (Market-Frankford Line). I know some investors that do very well here with S8 housing, but I would say it is one of the roughest areas in Philly.

@John Humphries . Cobb's definitely has flips going for 150k as well as nasty shells. I'm doin a rehab there and house next door is asking 170k. On the same block there are a couple vacant dumps. It's an interesting spot and you have to see how each block looks

@John Humphries , below you will find three maps showing the risk scores for each neighborhood you have inquired about, Cobbs, Fairhill, and Elmwood in that order.

As @Jimmy O'Connor has already stated, Cobbs Hill is definitely looking like the top candidate. Location gets better the further east you go and north of Market street in roughest. 

Fairhill is going to be mainly F rank. This location will offer you the highest risk and appropriately highest reward if you can handle the headaches. 

With Elmwood, locations on the southern end will be slightly better than the northern areas. 

Hope this helps! 

@Art Perkitny - Thanks for weighing in! I think I may have across these in deeper post.  I found them very helpful. Thanks for sharing. I've basically thrown out Fairhill. Might be ok for buying and fixing up but in terms of lending, I'm much happier lending in a more stable environment.

Thanks to everyone for the crash course in Philadelphia!