How To Buy A Philly Row House

U.S. News ranks Philadelphia as one of the best places to live, and also one of the best places to retire. One of the most popular types of houses to buy in Philadelphia is a traditional row house (often called townhouses or brownstones in other cities).

Because Philadelphia row houses are so unique to the city, there are certain things you may want to keep in mind when row house shopping.

Here are just a few:

Philly housing is relatively affordable and the return on investment can be significant.

The median price of an average house in Philadelphia Is $184,676 as of October 2020, according to Wallet Investor. Based on these forecasts, a long-term increase is expected; the predicted price of an average home in the Philadelphia area is $205,712 by October 2025. For a five-year investment, the profit is expected to be around +11.39%, meaning that investing $100,000 today may yield a profit of $111,390 by 2025.

Be aware: Philly property taxes are high.

Property taxes in Philly are slightly higher than the national average. There is also one more tax to consider here: the Philadelphia Real Estate Tax.

Good news: Philly offers a ten-year tax abatement.

A generous ten-year tax abatement program lowers your property taxes while giving you an opportunity to improve your home. There is a choice of abatements from which to choose, depending on your investment plans.

Older row homes may mean repairs and maintenance.

Philadelphia is one of the oldest cities in the nation and so is its housing; maintenance, repair and other concerns, especially roof replacements, can be a high priority. Don’t forget to consider a solid homeowners’ insurance policy as the best way to protect your property.

Most of the more historic row houses were built with very little insulation, so roof and wall insulation may be an investment to consider before buying.


Philadelphia row houses are famous for their front porches and stoops. These front-of-house gathering places are great for your laser projector-based home theater in the summer. Invite friends and neighbors! Stoops allow for more neighborly communication and community.


Most row house roofs are flat, so that means you may consider it as a gathering place and deck (if it’s deemed safe). This could make up for a lack of a big yard. Remember that zoning and special licensing most likely will be required beforehand. And don’t forget a railing as a vital safety feature.

Where to look for Philly’s most popular and elegant row homes.

Many of the most sought-after row homes are located in Center City, which is just like it sounds: the center of the city. You can also consider wonderful row house architecture in Queen Village and South Philadelphia.

The “Trinity” style is the smallest type of row house available, usually found in alleyways and dating back to the American Revolution.

London row houses (based on that city) are slightly larger than the Trinity, and prominent in the Jeweler’s Row area.

Elfreth’s Alley is considered one of the nation’s oldest residential streets, and often feature side yards and are generally considered more spacious than other row house offerings.