Like love and marriage, West Goshen and West Chester go together like a horse and carriage.
It’s not that West Goshen Township, which surrounds the Chester County seat, can’t stand on its own. It’s simply that West Chester’s growing restaurant scene and other amenities have made it a destination for those living in the towns nearby.
The fact that West Goshen is just minutes away from the borough’s downtown gives its residents a head start on parking.
What about the endless traffic on Routes 322 and 202?
“If you live in West Goshen,” Betty Fennelly says, “you know all the back roads, so you don’t have to ever use the main ones.”
“West Goshen is hot, especially when things are priced to sell,” says Fennelly, an agent with Weichert Realtors’ West Chester office and a longtime township resident.
The trouble, and it’s a perpetual problem: There just aren’t enough homes for sale in the township, which Money magazine has named one of the best places to live in America.
“The real estate market is pretty good everywhere, but few are better than West Goshen,” says Kit Anstey, an agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach Realtors in West Chester.
“A lot of people, especially people relocating to the area for jobs in Philadelphia and Wilmington, pay attention to the accolade,” Anstey says, and they ask for West Goshen by name.
In the last 12 months, he says, just 322 houses were listed for sale, and 275 sold. That means 20-plus sales a month, 43 days on market, and an absorption rate of two months, two days.
“The good school district [West Chester Area] and the low taxes thanks to industries such as QVC and Chester County Hospital all contribute to the high demand,” says Fennelly.
For example, a 37-year-old house listed for sale for $515,000 has a typical annual tax bill of about $6,000.
The tax rate here is one of the lowest, Fennelly says, “unless you buy new construction.”
“What you have here is primarily resales,” Anstey says.
In fact, there’s not much building going on in West Goshen these days. Says Fennelly: “A buyer wanted new construction, and I had to take him to Chadds Ford.”
A new community by NV Homes “has almost sold out of its houses, which started in the low $500,000s and ended selling in the mid-$800,000s,” Anstey says, “which is kind of the reverse of a lot of markets since the start of the downturn.”
There are a few townhouses here, including the over-55 Arbors at West Goshen, near Brandywine Airport, but “if you want to find townhouses starting at $180,000,” he says, “you go to East Goshen Township.”
Many of those townhouse buyers “are first-timers looking for the school district, who are planning to move up into a single-family detached house at some point, and in West Goshen,” Fennelly says.
Low for-sale inventory and high demand lead to many instances of multiple bidding in West Goshen, she adds, especially if the “priced-right” rule is followed.
List price, if the rule is complied with, is not all that distant from sale price, Fennelly and Anstey say.
Average sale price here is $393,000 to $395,000, according to the agents’ analyses, with the list price averaging $415,000.
“This is almost a first-time buyers’ price,” says Anstey, though he and Fennelly both note that West Goshen is by far a families-with-children community, “with a skateboard park as good as anything you’ll find in California.”
(You can find the Skatepark at Robert E. Lambert Park at South Pottstown Pike and Greenhill Road, open sunrise to sunset, by the way.)
Of the 35 active listings in the township, 10 are priced at $600,000 and higher, which, Fennelly says, “will take longer than the 43 to 47 days on the market this short-of-inventory community has been averaging.”
Houses in West Goshen are primarily single-family homes with four bedrooms and 21/2 baths and situated on large lots. Fennelly describes them as “older,” 15 to 35 years old and mostly center-hall Colonials.
But some houses in the township do qualify as “McMansions,” Anstey says.
Prices didn’t fall dramatically here during the real estate downturn, “unless you bought a house in 2005-2006 and tried to sell it in 2009,” Fennelly says.
“Then you lost money,” she says. “If you sold it in today’s market, you’d be likely to break even.”
Though West Goshen is its own place, being close to West Chester is a huge plus, Anstey says.
“It has become an unbelievable destination,” he says.
Lorenzo’s, the South Street pizzeria, is opening at High and Gay Streets, and Couch Tomato of Manayunk is also coming, Anstey says. And developer Eli Kahn and his partners have plans for the former courthouse annex in the borough, including 15 high-end condos.
Still, “a lot of buyers like West Chester but not the closeness,” Fennelly says.
“In West Goshen,” she says, “they get an acre.”
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