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Communities.
Thursday, January 23, 2003
Camden
Good schools, upscale homes power real estate sales

By KAREN KENNEDY-HALL
Courier-Post Staff

Every weekend Kerry and Andy Richards scoop up their four boys, ages 7, 6, 3 and 1, strap the younger two in a stroller, and head to the center of Haddonfield.

"We walk the boys to get a haircut and walk in town for pizza," said Kerry Richards. "We walk everywhere."

The Moorestown natives, both in their late 30s, have lived in their Redman Avenue home for 11 years. They said they like living in Haddonfield because life there centers around families and children. And, it has a small-town feel.

The Richards are not alone. The latest U.S. Census figures show that of the nearly 4,500 households in the upscale community, more than 3,200 are families with children under age 18.

Of the 4,500 occupied housing units, 3,500 are single- family homes, Census figures show.

Real estate values are one of the highest in the area ranging from $200,000 up to $1 million, making home ownership a good investment for those who can afford to buy there. Median household income in the borough is $86,000, Census figures show.

Suzanne Stoinski, a real estate agent with the Haddonfield office of Prudential Fox and Roach and a 35-year resident, said the school system is one of the main reasons people want to live in the borough. She said the convenience of the Hi-Speedline to Philadelphia, the small-town feeling and a thriving business district are other factors that attract buyers.

"People want to stay in town, they do not want to leave," Stoinski said.

That can create a limited number of homes for sale, she said. And those houses don't stay on the market for long, especially during the busy season that starts right after the Super Bowl, Stoinski said.

Last February, Stoinski said, the busy real estate market in Haddonfield created bidding wars for properties, where sellers are offered more than their asking price by buyers competing to get into the community.

"This is the last place to feel a recession and the first town to bounce out of a recession, to have people buy in," Stoinski said.

She said home prices have been holding steady to increasing slightly. The average three-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath home would sell now for $250,000 to $325,000, but during the busy season it could sell for up to $350,000.

Two years ago, she said, that same home would have cost between $200,000 to $300,000.

And, those homes sell fast, many in a day or at least within two weeks, "which is quite quick," she said.

Richard and Nancy Mansfield were among the buyers looking for a home last spring. They bought and moved into their home off Kings Highway near Chews Landing Road in June.

Richard Mansfield grew up in Cherry Hill so he was familiar with the community's reputation. The couple chose Haddonfield when they wanted to move back to the area to be closer to family.

"We wanted an excellent school system," said Richard Mansfield, the father of two, on choosing to live in Haddonfield. The couple, both in their mid-40s, have two children, one in eighth grade, the other in 10th.

Stoinski said some families will rent in the community if they can't afford to buy so they can put their children in the school system.

"Rental units go immediately in Haddonfield," said Stoinski, because they are hard to find. She said there aren't many houses for rent and they can cost up to $3,000 a month.

There are some duplexes and triplexes in town, she said. Rent for a one-bedroom, the size of an efficiency, can start at $750 a month, she said.

"People just want to live here. We have a little oasis here," Stoinski said.


Reach Karen Kennedy-Hall at (856) 317-7828 or kkhall@courierpostonline.com

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