In this local area highlight, MortgageCS CEO Ben Stucker visits the town center of Ardmore in the Main Line area! Along with Realtor Lisie Abrams of Compass Real Estate Ardmore, we’ll take a look at the local housing market, unique neighborhood features, and more.
Lisie provides us with a window into this community-oriented, walkable, and forward-thinking neighborhood that has something for everyone. Hear what she has to share as both a real estate agent and a long-time resident of the Ardmore area! If you’re searching for a home in the Montgomery or Delaware County areas, check out this video and add Ardmore to the list!
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Ben Stucker, MortgageCS: (267) 391-7425
Lisie Abrams, Compass Real Estate – Ardmore: (215) 779-5765
All About Ardmore (Video Transcript)
Ben Stucker (00:28)
Hey, guys. Ben Stucker here from MortgageCS with Lisie. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself.
Lisie Abrams (00:35)
Hi. Nice to meet everybody. I am a resident of Ardmore. I’ve been here for about 18 years, moved back from Portland, Oregon, where I lived for 18 years prior. And I am so delighted to be in this community. It’s like been so reminiscent of all the progressive things that I loved about Portland. And I am delighted to be in the square here where now we have this green grass that is fake. And I’m just happy.
Ben Stucker (01:03)
It’s great. Tell me, where are we right now?
Lisie Abrams (01:07)
We are in the center of Suburban Square, and this is like the epicenter of where people went to shop back in like the 50s and 60s and 70s. And I remember this building behind us used to be a huge Department store. And the building to the right was basically a whole facility of doctors. Over the years, as many folks realized what a nice walkable community this was and how easy it was to get into Philadelphia and New York, it began to be populated by many more people. So what’s happened is that developers have come and started to create more of a multiuse type of area where we have all different level types of shopping. We have food stores, and we still have the Suburban Square farmers market. Yeah.
Ben Stucker (02:02)
Actually, I was in the farmers market earlier. It smelled awesome. First of all, good stuff. So that’s great. And we were walking sort of up and down the main street here and there’s the main stores, like Lulu Lemon, an Apple store is over there. You’ve got eateries, restaurant, eateries.
Lisie Abrams (02:17)
Ben Stucker (02:17)
It seems like a pretty cool place to come, at least check out and hang out for the afternoon as far as different areas.
Lisie Abrams (02:21)
Totally. Yeah. There’s really something for everyone. Actually, what I want to alert people to, this is great Suburban Square, but honestly, steps across the bridge, we have written House Ardmore is really building their business community, and we are attempting to have a kind of similar vibe about two blocks away. And we have a lot of great things. We have a great new coffee shop that serves whiskey and different craft drinks after five. And we have a new taco place opening and somebody that I love that when Montgomery County chef in 2019, Greg Herman owns Sophie’s Barbecue. And that’s a great place. I mean, it’s just great. So this is great. And this has got a lot of bling, and then you can walk across and you can feel the bling without paying for the bling. And that’s why I love Ardmore. It’s like there’s something for everyone.
Ben Stucker (03:18)
All right, so let’s talk a little bit about what a first time home buyer or even any home buyer coming to this market might expect. So as a real estate pro. Right, we’ve got you here, which is great. So tell us a little bit about what I might expect if I was buying a house or someone coming to this area, what our house is like, what’s the size of a house, how expensive our house is? Is it a seller’s market here in 2022 like it is everywhere else? What do you think?
Lisie Abrams (03:50)
Unfortunately, it’s a little bit different than 2002. In 2022, we are on the heels of this world pandemic that’s lingering. So again, walkability is key. So as a first time, second time, third time home buyer, there’s something for everyone, of course. First, you want to align with the professional that has insider knowledge and acknowledge that in Ardmore there is nowhere that is not desirable. Beyond us, really deeply caring and ingraining ourselves in all different levels of diversity that comes with home buying and the economic diversity. So you can find we have condos, we have townhomes, we have row homes, which is a home that is in between other homes. We have twin homes which may have a wall external that is not connected. And we have single family homes. So we have price points from $130,000 all the way to probably four or five million. So where we are across Montgomery Avenue, we have larger homes, more homes that might have bigger plots of land. And I was mentioning earlier, a few steps over towards Delaware County, County Line is the Intersector of Montco and Delco. There’s homes for everybody. It’s competitive, it’s a seller’s market.
Lisie Abrams (05:07)
But if you like anything in life, if you want something, be strategic, create a plan and acknowledge that never was it important that a house looks a certain way, but that the bones are right. So when you’re purchasing in a place like Ardmore, when you have such historic value and such inclusion, that also includes the fact that people care about their homes and they maintain them well, you can’t go wrong beyond me. I work all over the Main Line and Philadelphia, Ardmore is 100% the best. I have traveled all over the world and I have come back here.
Ben Stucker (05:43)
That’s great. So it sounds like there’s certainly a fair share of history here, right? So we have older homes that have been probably kept up really nicely. You have maybe some older homes that are potentially even not fix and flip per se, but move in need some love, right? How about new construction in this area?
Lisie Abrams (06:00)
We have so much new construction. We’ve had a lot of established businesses up and down Montgomery and Lancaster that have not been blighted but have not had the highest and best use. So, again, developers have had an opportunity and they have tried to sew themselves into the fabric of the community by creating somewhat some of the condos are affordable, some of them have mixed use. So, yes, we’re going to see up and down Lancaster, up and down Montgomery, the influx of new construction, and they will be mostly in the form of condos or townhomes, not single family homes.
Ben Stucker (06:35)
That might just be a zoning consideration. You can get more residences in the same space.
Lisie Abrams (06:40)
Yeah, of course.
Ben Stucker (06:41)
So that’s a good sign, actually, for desirability when you think about it. Right? Because if not a lot of people wanted to live here, then they would have sprawling homes with excess acreage.
Lisie Abrams (06:50)
Ben Stucker (06:51)
But people want to get here. I mean, looking around, we’re seeing restaurants, clothing. No shortage of shopping here. Right. So if you wanted to spend money and go shopping, this is probably a really good place to come.
Lisie Abrams (07:03)
And again, I want to mention this is just phenomenal what’s happening. We’re having businesses that have come from Philadelphia or other areas, and they’re popping up in all other parts of Ardmore. And what’s happened is Ardmore has said, we love you and we want you here. And there are lines out the door for brand new businesses.
Ben Stucker (07:21)
That’s great. Well, thank you for the insights here. I really appreciate it. Sounds like a great community from housing. There’s a lot of opportunities. Right. All right. So thank you for the insights so far on the housing market. Great stuff there for anyone considering this area. Let’s talk about something very important, transportation. If I’m living here or if anyone’s living here and they’re professional, are they working in the area? Are they working in Philly, New York, what’s the transportation seem like here, public transportation and otherwise?
Lisie Abrams (07:47)
I’m thrilled that you asked that question. This community has done a lot of different transportation studies because of the density that’s increasing. We need to make sure that this was around great public transportation. So right here, right on the other side of this Suburban Square here, we have the regional rail that goes all the way… it actually takes you, once you go in the city, you can go to New York. We have the high speed line that says the transfer of 69th street. And we have all kinds of buses. So our goal is really to have people utilize public transportation, and that also helps with the environment. So Ardmore has done many studies to help support that. So I’m glad you asked that because many people are moving here because they’re aware of the flexibility in transportation style.
Ben Stucker (08:29)
Yeah. We’ve seen some busses go up and down. Certainly the busses are here, the trains are here.
Lisie Abrams (08:33)
Ben Stucker (08:34)
Lisie Abrams (08:35)
Yeah. I would say I actually have a lot of clients that this has become a bedroom community, oddly, not just for New York, but DC and parts of Chicago. As people remoted themselves, more work became more remote. This became a better community to live in because of what you mentioned, the schools, the transportation. And Philadelphia is known to have the best restaurants, the best nightlife, and more things to offer for families and individuals.
Ben Stucker (09:03)
That’s great. Thank you. All right, so let’s talk about real estate investors yeah, they’re around. So you’re one of them. Great. So we’re interviewing a real estate investor here, folks. So let’s talk about this area of real estate investors. What are the things about this area that a real estate investor may find attractive?
Lisie Abrams (09:22)
All of the things that we mentioned would dovetail into what many – as an investor we need to get a certain return on our investment. So if we’re going to hold on to the property and we want to rent it, what we want to acknowledge is that location, location, location. That hasn’t changed since that movie where Alec Baldwin was saying that so that’s all still the same. So as an investor you need to spend more to get more and that again in life quality costs money. So you can’t steal anything. You never could. If you are a developer looking to invest in a block or in a blighted property, you are absolutely going to need to know the people because this is not a community that’s just going to allow an outside investor to come in that doesn’t understand our dynamics. And that’s something that I think a lot of people don’t know.
Lisie Abrams (10:09)
If you’re just somebody that wants to purchase a property and flip it, acknowledge that you are going to need to potentially put in more so that you have integrity of longevity in your finishes. This is not a community that will allow just a quick fix and flip. The buyers will see it because these are more refined, discerned buyers.
Ben Stucker (10:30)
All right. So Lisie, tell us a little bit about the type of properties here. Give us a deep dive into the number of bedrooms, maybe the square footage, the type of properties. Focus a little bit on the actual homes themselves, what somebody might find when they look around here.
Lisie Abrams (10:45)
So the homes themselves, what you would find is they’re often like a town home or a row home will be three to four bedrooms. If it doesn’t have a third finished space, it’ll have a basement and it will have a small yard and potentially a porch. The single family homes, again, can actually be equivalent in square footage anywhere between 1200 and maybe 2800. Well, for a twin home or a single home. And they also can be three bedrooms to maybe five bedrooms. The Lower Merion School District, Montgomery County versus Delaware County Haverford Township. There’s a little bit of variance. Montgomery County has a little bit lower taxes. However, Delaware County has a little bit lower house prices. So it balances itself out.
Ben Stucker (11:33)
Got you. So listen, tell me about the schools here.
Lisie Abrams (11:36)
Okay. So let me start with Haverford Township. That has always been an excellent school and used to not maybe rank in the test scores as high, potentially because of the more economic diversity. So what we have is we have some blue ribbon elementary schools like Chestnut Wall. There’s five elementary schools in Haverford Township, approximately five in Lower Merion. And both school districts are excellent. And you would be happy to have your kids. So any of these schools in either of the counties, either of the areas are very community focused and very well rounded in their education. You will find them teaching all parts of history.
Ben Stucker (12:15)
Lisie Abrams (12:16)
That’s really what we need.
Ben Stucker (12:17)
I actually noticed writing in here today, I think there’s a new elementary school or middle school being built not far from here.
Lisie Abrams (12:23)
Ben Stucker (12:24)
And I think I learned that there was maybe an old church or synagogue or something had been sort of repurposed into a new school. So certainly nice to see a focus on education, which is so important in any community. So that’s great. So let’s see. We’re going to talk a little bit about you.
Lisie Abrams (12:41)
Ben Stucker (12:42)
How long have you been working in this area in particular?
Lisie Abrams (12:45)
I have been working for 15 areas – 15 areas and 15 years in this area as a realtor! Yes.
Ben Stucker (12:52)
That’s great. So you’ve seen a lot of development.
Lisie Abrams (12:55)
Ben Stucker (12:56)
You’ve seen market cycles change, right? Seller’s market, buyer’s market, everything in the middle.
Lisie Abrams (13:01)
Ben Stucker (13:03)
Talk to us about some of the things that you do to help your clients in this market, whether it be selling a house or buying a house. What are some of the things that really make you stand out to your peers?
Lisie Abrams (13:15)
I think the one thing and this is just something that’s a temperament thing. I am like a natural born grassroots organizer. That’s what I did in Portland, Oregon, for about 18 years. And we’re in a market that will require you to think outside of the box. And that’s who I am. I am constantly trying to innovate. So what will set me apart is that in that grassroots preparation, if you want a house in Ardmore and we’re not finding what you want, then I’m going to talk to my sphere and see if anybody wants to sell their house. So I’m creating inventory by allowing my sellers the opportunity to not do anything but to just have them sell to somebody else. So I cannot stress enough, we are not in a market where you can do traditional things. And this is why I thrive and why I love it and why I’ve been doing this for so long. Prior to me getting my license, I did my very first flip unknown to me in Portland, Oregon, and my husband and I have renovated every home that we’ve lived in. And just by kind of dumb luck, we happened upon figuring out a recipe that helps.
Ben Stucker (14:19)
So if I were to summarize that, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, right?
Lisie Abrams (14:24)
Yeah, unfortunately, being in a place for a long time, and you have to.
Ben Stucker (14:28)
Absolutely. Great. So give us… I’m going to ask you questions. It’s going to be a hard question.
Lisie Abrams (14:33)
Ben Stucker (14:33)
And being a first time home buyer is a tough thing right now in this market. Right? Such a seller’s market. We have multiple offer situations. You have big down payments, you have cash buyers. What would be a piece of advice that you would give a first time buyer in this market, perhaps specific to this area or perhaps anywhere? What would be that single piece of advice based on your experience, how to win in this market.
Lisie Abrams (14:57)
I promise you, you can win in this market. It’s a really simple thing. So if you want to be in this location, do what you can. So if that means you’re… Because there’s nobody better in the business than Ben at pre-approving you and analyzing your finances, if your pre-approval goes up to $400, let’s look a little bit lower. Here’s what I have to say to everybody. Get into Ardmore at all costs. Find something that fits your needs, make a compromise, and then you will move yourself up. This will not be your last house as much as you might want to think it is. So my advice is this is totally a buyer’s market if your mind is open to compromise.
Ben Stucker (15:36)
That’s a great perspective.
Lisie Abrams (15:37)
Ben Stucker (15:37)
And I think that would be a great message to send to the world right now because there are buyers out there looking for the perfect house when really anyone that’s owned a house, they’re going to own another house or they’ve owned a house before. Right. So we change houses, it’s what we do.
Lisie Abrams (15:54)
And Ben, can I just turn it on you for a minute? Because here’s what’s helped my buyers. They’ve worked with lenders like yourself who have been able to get them a commitment and so it’s okay, whatever your price point is that commitment is gold. You don’t need $100,000 down. That’s basically you doing cash so you need to be clear with your lender about what your financial abilities are and then I will bridge the gap with you. But you must compromise.
Ben Stucker (16:22)
That’s good. Well, thank you so much for your time. It’s been awesome talking with you on this very chilly Ardmore day here. It is a lovely area though. I can’t wait to come back actually in the evening, I’ve seen lights hanging everywhere. That seems like a great environment to come around. I’m going to come back in the late spring or perhaps the summer or maybe a Thursday or a Friday night. I’m sure this place will be bustling so let’s say thank you so much for your time.
Lisie Abrams (16:46)
Can I do a final shout out to a business that’s going to be going, leaving? Okay. One shout-out, Shop 65 that I thought was a clothing store for young people, this owner, Linda LaRosa she’s unbelievable. She’s got a place in Doylestown down. It is right around the corner and I really – she has the most innovative design she’s a fashionista.
Ben Stucker (17:07)
Okay. We’ll check it out.