Chip Off the Old Block


WELL, I HOPE I’M SLIGHTLY MORE DELICATE THAN THE PHRASE ‘old block’ implies. But I use the expression because my 25-year-old son and his girlfriend just closed on an old house in Philadelphia, following my lead in acquiring vintage real estate. It’s in Fishtown, an old working-class community just north of Center City — a wonderful corner building that once housed a shop selling newspapers and cigars, according to an elderly neighbor. I’m guessing from the decorative brickwork around the cornice and the Eastlake-style fireplace that the house is from the 1880s.


I encouraged this purchase all the way. In fact, I looked at the place myself back in ’06 when I was shopping around for an investment in the area, but it was too expensive for me. The owner was asking 360K at the time, with one rental unit. I ended up buying a smaller, much cheaper place in nearby Old Kensington.


Then, when my son and his girlfriend were house-hunting this past winter, hoping to take advantage of the Federal first-time home buyers $8,000 tax credit, the Fishtown house was on the market again (same seller). They got it for nearly 100K less, with a 3% down payment and an interest rate under 5%. Extraordinary opportunity, and one that some of their friends in Philly also took advantage of.


The house is in very decent condition, with a new heating system, though they’ll need to totally renovate the kitchen and bathroom.


They’re moving tomorrow. Very exciting for them and for me.

About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
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8 Responses to Chip Off the Old Block

  1. Terry says:

    Best wishes to your son and his mom.

  2. Astor C. says:

    Well, it’s a very nice “block.”

    Great move for the kids…

  3. Guy McClure says:

    That’s great! Many young people wouldn’t try to become a homeowner and would throw money away for years on renting.

  4. bob says:

    Max’s new house looks terrific. I am surprised the prices have gone down that much since my exploring the market in Philly with your friend the broker.
    When is the house warming?

  5. chris says:

    I live on the same block. Wish your son and daughter best of luck. Maybe put them in touch.

    I hope they plan on living there themselves for a long time and it’s not entirely an investment. Best,

  6. cara says:

    Thanks for the good wishes, all. Yes, Guy, I’m proud of them for taking the plunge into home ownership at such a tender age (it’s a home, not just an investment, neighbor Chris). Bob, I’m not sure prices have dropped that much all across the board — it’s possible this particular house was way overpriced before.

  7. Nancy says:

    Congrats and Kudos to Max and Alexis. I’ll miss them in Brooklyn but what a great move they have made.

  8. Congrats to them! It’s a super cute house!! I have family that lives in the Fishtown / Port Richmond area.

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