In 2017, Andrew and Michelle felt like they were growing out of their Queen Village apartment, but didn’t want to find another place to rent. When weighing their many options, including purchasing a first home, Andrew said, “If we’re going to live in Philly, let’s just do it.” The impulse to find a more permanent home combined with a good buyers market convinced them that it was the right time to look for a house.
Both landscape architects, Andrew and Michelle agreed on what home design and style would work best for them. Even so, the first-time home buying process involves a lot of work and decision-making. For Andrew and Michelle, the process included getting loan pre-approval and narrowing down their neighborhood.
Picking Point Breeze
Andrew and Michelle worked with Solo’s Alex Franqui to narrow down their geographic area and price range. They started finding listings in the Point Breeze neighborhood of South Philly: a neighborhood defined as south of Washington Ave. and west of Broad St. Alex drove them to viewings, making sure to park a few blocks away from each house so they could get a feel for the area on foot. The house on Sears St was the last of 8 houses they viewed one weekend.
It was pretty much love-at-first-sight for Michelle. “I loved this house. We didn’t even go upstairs and I’d already knew I liked this house,” she says.
They loved the scale and neighborhood feel of the smaller street. The newly renovated 2-bedroom had been used as an AirBnB prior to listing, and neighbors expressed their hope that owner occupants would purchase it. Andrew and Michelle felt drawn both to the home and the surrounding neighbors.
“Some of the other places we looked at, it felt like a house in a sea of houses. Here, it felt a little bit more like there was a community vibe going on. When we moved in, and started introducing ourselves to the neighbors, everyone was super friendly. Here, you know that people have been living in this neighborhood for generations,” says Andrew.
Moving into a First Home
Now, a year after getting settled into their new home, the couple is glad they chose a home that didn’t need too much fixing up to be livable. Being able to simply start living in a house was a priority the couple, and a helpful focus during the homebuying process. They’ve set up a room for their two adorable kittens, and Andrew is turning the basement into a studio.
Michelle says the biggest shift between being a renter and homeowner is feeling more invested in the neighborhood. There’s a desire to make friends with their neighbors, and to have more permanent relationships with people on their block. “When I start seeing a change in the neighborhood, now I have an opinion about that in a different way,” says Andrew. “There’s something about owning something, you start looking forward to the future differently.”