Antique Corner House, NoLibs (Philly) 309K


IN PHILADELPHIA LAST WEEKEND, I squeezed in a quick look at a house whose listing I found intriguing for several reasons:

  • It’s in Northern Liberties, a neighborhood full of restaurants, bars, and history with which I’m familiar, and where a lot of young, hip, solvent people want to live. Hence: easy rental territory.
  • It’s a corner building, at the end of a row, which means three exposures instead of just two.
  • It’s old, and you know my philosophy: the older the better. I could tell from the roofline — an inverted V, with steep sides peaking in the middle and two dormer windows at front and back — that it was c.1800 Federal style, which is entirely possible in that nabe.



Living room and one of two bedrooms in the upper duplex, above

The ask had been 329K; it recently came down to 309K. It’s a two-family — a 1BR ground floor apartment, presently renting month-to-month for $700, and a 2BR duplex above for $1,100, with a lease ending next April.



Kitchen in the duplex, above

However, I decided against pursuing it, despite its income potential and a few undeniable charms (exposed-beam ceiling in the upper duplex, cozy attic bedrooms, sunny hippie-style bath, pleasant roof deck, below).



It’s on the fringe of Northern Liberties — diagonally across from Liberties Lofts, a converted warehouse-turned-rental building, but also directly across from some depressingly ill-maintained modern row homes. It also needs more work and money than I’m prepared to put in right now.


But it is an opportunity for the right someone. With the two current rentals totaling $1,800, and room to go quickly higher with some fixing up — plus a rentable off-street parking space, above — it would be possible to break even or better right out of the gate.

If you’re interested, give Ken Krauter of Zip Realty a call (215/450-0605).

Heart of NoLibs 2-Family 329K


Northern Liberties street scene

283847941NoLibs? WTF is NoLibs? You might well ask. It’s a silly acronym (is there any other kind?) for Northern Liberties, one of the most happening neighborhoods in Philadelphia. Think of it as the Williamsburg of Philly — established enough to be a secure real estate investment, yet still with development potential aplenty.

Just north of Center City — an easy walk or bike ride — the neighborhood is old and historic, with 3-and 4-story row houses in a variety of styles. It dates back to William Penn’s 1680 plan for the city, when the area was carved up into 80-acre plots (“liberty lands”) to be given away as incentive to those who bought 5,000-acre parcels elsewhere in the colony of Pennsylvania.

I own two buildings in Philly and covet more. When I get listings emailed to me, I look at them. Usually I’m not moved to act, or even blog. But this one, left, is a corner building in a prime spot and apparently decent shape. The ask (down recently from 350K) is in line with current market conditions, and the possibility of renting both units and being immediately in the black makes it seem worth a closer look.


data=Ay5GWBeob_WIPLDYoIWcfVXxvZu9XwJ55OX7Ag,vdn7d-fpjAqTDBft27wBVuuLm3uD_HXVRyJO3BEEF8EgwOeamOmJ187hWjVKu-p76vUhawZrKt4vPrhjn_1RMOJ3_WaZVFqIFcrFmF0_There are two apartments: a 700-square-foot one-bedroom on the ground floor, with outdoor space in back, and an upper duplex with a loft-like living space, above, two attic bedrooms, and a deck.

It’s clear that a cardinal rule of real estate sales has been broken here: the listing photos suck. Bad for the seller; not necessarily so for prospective buyers. I’ll be down in Philly next weekend and will take a few of my own. In the meantime, for more lousy-but-better-than-nothing images, go here.

And for an appointment to view this or other Philadelphia properties, I can wholeheartedly recommend Ken Krauter, the broker I used when I bought my house in Old Kensington, one neighborhood over, in 2007:, 215/450-0605.