Usually, real estate investors looking for ideal markets aim for up-and-coming cities or those reporting considerable gains in population or the economy. For this reason, Philadelphia isn’t often mentioned as a potential market for real estate investing, but it’s a mistake to overlook this city. The City of Brotherly Love has a few factors in its favor when it comes to investment potential.
Philadelphia Population Growth
Did you know that Philadelphia is the fifth most populous city in the United States? The US Census reports almost 1.6 million people call Philadelphia home as of July 2019. That figure doesn’t include the surrounding suburbs and greater metro area, which the UN projects as 6.3 million people.
With an already high population, population growth numbers aren’t as dramatic as other real estate investment markets. The Census reports the population grew 3.8% from April 2010 to July 2019. Clearly, growth is not off the charts. However, Philadelphia’s population base is stable, and numbers have slowly but persistently grown since 2006.
According to Pew Trust research and analysis, the population growth is being fueled primarily by two groups. Young adults and immigrants form the base of Philadelphia’s increasing population. Both groups tend to rely more on rental properties for their housing.
Philadelphia Job Market
Again, in terms of year-over-year numbers, the percentages aren’t incredible, but they are steadily trending positive. It’s this reliability and consistency that helped ZipRecruiter rank the greater Philadelphia area as one of the country’s best job markets. The site ranked Philly 8 out of 10 Metro areas. The jobs website also mentioned it noticed an uptick in job postings for the metro area, which could signal that greater growth is on the way.
In terms of industries, Philadelphia offers a highly educated workforce. The top employment sectors are healthcare and information technology. Health care and social assistance alone employ over half a million people. Philadelphia is also home to the University of Pennsylvania, one of the Ivy League schools. The headquarters of Comcast, Crown Holdings, Aramark, and Urban Outfitters are in the city.
During the pandemic, non-farm employment for the Philadelphia MSA was down 7.7 % in August for the year. The national job count declined 7% in the same period, meaning the Philadelphia MSA’s losses were close to being on par with the national rate. The metro area is likely to pace with the nation on its economic recovery.
Philadelphia Housing Market
Before the pandemic, Philadelphia’s housing prices were starting to become more stable after months of hitting record highs. This was making it a better opportunity for buying into real estate.
The pandemic returned to the era of pricing growth. As of October 2020, the median sale price for a home in Philadelphia County was $246,000, a 12% increase over the prior year.
Even with the city reporting record highs, Philadelphia’s housing prices were attractive to young adults and immigrants. According to the Census, an owner-occupied unit’s median value from 2015 to 2019 was $163,000. For people starting their professional careers, working in white-collar jobs, or looking for real estate rental properties, that’s more affordable than other nearby metros like New York City and Washington, DC.
Another signal of interest in Philadelphia homes is the number of residential building permits. The figures have doubled in the past decades. The new construction is changing everyday life for Philadelphia residents and, in some ways, making the city attractive to a new demographic.
Philadelphia Rental Market
Around 53% of Philadelphia’s housing units are owner-occupied, leaving ample opportunity to serve tenants’ needs. Investing in rental real estate in Philadelphia is affordable and an easy way to grow a rental business. According to Mashvisor, the rent-to-price ratio for Philadelphia homes is 18%.
The average apartment in Philadelphia rents for $1645 as of October 2020. This figure is a 1% decrease over the prior year. Naturally, some areas of the city are more desirable and command higher rents.
Invest in Philadelphia Real Estate
While Philadelphia may not be earning attention for impressive numbers in population growth or rental demand, it is a stable market. Newer real estate investors will find its cost of doing business more accessible than other metro areas. We know that there is high interest in rental properties due to the city’s shifting demographics. Play your cards right in Philadelphia, and real estate investors could be showered with lots of brotherly love and business growth.