Philadelphia, commonly referred to as “Philly”, is located in southeastern Pennsylvania and has the largest population in the state. Its population of over 1.5 million makes it the 5th most populous city in the United States. The greater Philadelphia region also boasts a high growth in its millennial population, leading the nation.
Almost half of the residents (49.4% according to NeighborhoodScout) are renters rather than homeowners. So not only is the large and growing population a good sign for real estate investors on its own, but buying a rental property in Philadelphia means plenty of demand from tenants.
It’s also important to note that this population consists of a highly educated workforce who supports the health of the local economy. The 1.4% job growth rate year over year is another positive sign of the strong and steady economy in the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington metropolitan area. While Philadelphia has historically relied on the manufacturing industry, it has become a more diverse economy in recent decades. Leading industries in Philly include finance, telecommunications, biomedicine, medicine and pharmaceutics, insurance, technology, and printing and publishing. Of course, with all of its famous historic attractions like the Liberty Bell Center, the National Constitution Center, and the Museum of the American Revolution, tourism plays a big role in the economy of the city as well.
The Philadelphia real estate market is in the top five housing markets in the Northeast region of the US for overall investment prospects, according to the annual report by the PWC. This is mainly due to the fact that Philadelphia real estate offers both affordability and the advantages of a highly populated city.
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The Philadelphia housing market promises not only affordable real estate but significant property appreciation as well. Since Q1 of 2000, Philadelphia home values have experienced a total appreciation of 141% at an average annual rate of 4.7% (according to NeighborhoodScout). Zillow forecasts that Philadelphia real estate will continue to appreciate by 9.4% over the next year. This combination of cheap real estate and high natural appreciation makes Philadelphia investment properties a great option for investors.
Property investors should keep in mind, however, that the Philadelphia real estate market is currently a hot seller’s market. This is mainly due to the low inventory of homes for sale. As a result, property prices are rising in the market even though they are still affordable compared to most major metro areas in the US housing market.
Because Philly offers unique historical attractions to tourists, it comes as no surprise that the vacation rental industry prospers in the city. In fact, Airbnb growth as been so great in the Greater Philadelphia region (a five-county area) that local hosts made over $6.2 million in additional income in 2018. Airbnb Philadelphia alone welcomed the most guests bringing with them $47.7 million in revenue for hosts in the city. This is all thanks to the legalization of Airbnb in Philly in 2015. The city hoped to capitalize on the upcoming visit of Pope Francis through short-term rentals. So zoning laws were changed and Airbnb rental properties have since been allowed to operate in residential areas. This makes it one of the best cities for Airbnb investment.
Even though the practice is legal, if you wish to rent out a non-owner occupied property, you will have to apply for a visitor’s accommodation variance. Beside that, to operate legally, Airbnb Philly hosts will have to pay an 8.5% hotel tax. There is also a cap on the days an Airbnb rental can be occupied by guests- up to 30 days at one time and up to 180 days in a year. The property cannot be occupied by more than 3 people who aren’t related at one time. There are also safety regulations hosts must abide by such as installing smoke alarms on every floor, in each bedroom, and in hallways near bedrooms of the Airbnb rental property. Carbon monoxide alarms must also be installed.
In addition to those Airbnb regulations, a Philadelphia host cannot make changes to the rental property for the purpose of renting it out on a vacation rental website nor can you advertise using lawn signs or the like.