Where Urban Living Meets Small Town Charm
By Brian Anderson
Photos by Melissa Kelly Photography (melissakellyphotography.com)

Manayunk is more than a name on a map. It’s where restaurants, cafes, and drinking holes fill us up. It’s the hills, paths, and trails that make us sweat. It’s the public art that inspires and captivates us. It’s Main Street, Venice Island, the Towpath, Pretzel Park, and more.

And for so many of us, it’s where we call home. While guests will always be attracted to Manayunk, there are still many that truly call this neighborhood home.

The people that help us find homes in Manayunk have a deep appreciation and passion for all the properties of 19127, too.

Christine Ertz, a realtor with Compass and the MyPhilly.House team — and Manayunk homeowner — is passionate about helping clients buy homes in Manayunk. In many ways, the neighborhood sells itself.

“A lot of people say they rent here, they buy here and they get sucked into the community — in a good way” Ertz said. “There are so many good ways to get involved in the community. Manayunk has a really good sense of community and neighborhood.”

And while it’s certainly true that Manayunk is a neighborhood where communities thrive, there’s more to the story. With more than 100 years of history, there are hidden gems and relics of times gone by. As a realtor, Ertz said she’s captivated by houses with transoms, stained glass windows, exposed brick, and other architectural features that are still common in the neighborhood. Even with renovations and upgrades, those details are preserved and maintained.
“There are amazing contractors who take care of houses in this neighborhood,” she said. “If they can’t preserve a house’s character, they add to it.”

What advice does Ertz have for people looking to buy in Manayunk? First, get offline.

“Don’t go to those home buying websites,” she said.

She also recommends getting a referral. Your realtor should really know the area, which gives you more information about buying in Manayunk or further up the hill. They’ll know the upsides (like the neighborhood hangouts and the pocket parks) and downsides (unfortunately, the parking woes so many of us have experienced) and can help you make better choices in your search. A website search may give you dozens of homes to look at, but a realtor will show you the neighborhood and what makes this area a joy to live in.

And if you want a realtor that loves dogs, Ertz could be for you (just search for her on Instagram and you’ll find her adorable puppet, Phin).

Steve Buzogany, another realtor and resident of the neighborhood, said most of his business is helping clients buy in Manayunk. He calls the neighborhood, “Philadelphia’s last undiscovered treasure.” But how could that be?

For one, the homes are affordable for their sizes (and many have yards). Next, Manayunk offers plenty to do — shopping, eating, exercising, volunteering — that some people overlook when thinking about the neighborhood. Manayunk is serviced by SEPTA and is only a few train or bus stops away from Center City. And lastly, there are houses with driveways or alleys, which is one cure to parking problems.

Try finding all that anywhere else in Philadelphia for an affordable price tag.

“Manayunk has such a variety,” Steve said. “It’s all here. There’s going to be something here for you.”

Manayunk is very friendly for our four-legged friends, too.

“Anything you want for your dog is here,” Steve said, highlighting the local dog parks, the Wissahickon and other trails, and the overall friendly atmosphere Manayunk has for dogs.

“There’s no better community in the city for dogs.”

Many of his clients are former-renters-turned-homeowners who moved to Manayunk shortly after college and haven’t left.

“It doesn’t take a ton of convincing to stay,” he said.

An under-appreciated aspect of Manayunk real estate is the variety, Steve said. If you’re looking for character, you can find rowhomes with exposed brick or original hardwood floors. But if you want clean lines and modern furnishings,

here are homes that have been updated recently, too. There are very few cookie-cutter designs in Manayunk, as years of renovations, updates and repairs have created diversity in the neighborhood’s housing stock.

Tyler Bradley is a realtor with the Cooley Bradley Group, and he said Manayunk’s vibrant Main Street, filled with restaurants, cafes, shops, gyms, and more, plus it’s convenience to Center City and the suburbs, make the neighborhood an incredibly desirable place to live.

“It has an urban vibe yet is quieter, more manageable, and less expensive than living in the actual city itself,” he said.
Tyler said if you’re looking to buy in Manayunk (or anywhere, really), start by getting pre-approved by a reputable lender before your search. And don’t be afraid of open houses.

“Open houses are a great and casual way to check out places on the weekends as well as to possibly meet a buyer-agent if you don’t have one yet,” he said.

Here in Philadelphia, the The City of Neighborhoods, Manayunk does stand out as one neighborhood that has it all. From cheesesteaks and pizza to fitness studios and parks to beer gardens and hiking trails, Manayunk has something for everyone, and more. There’s a real sense of community here and a character that attracts people from so many parts of the city and the region.

“New people moving into our area only enhances the lifestyle and makes it that much more interesting and integrated,” Tyler said. “It’s always truly fascinating to hear what is bringing them to the City of Brotherly Love — and to our beloved Manayunk.”

“I don’t know another neighborhood that meets all of those needs,” Steve said. “There’s something for everyone here.”

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