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A Toll Bros. founder sees new business opportunities amid global troubles

Joseph N. DiStefano, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Q: Who's moving to all these apartments?

A: A good portion of people 55 and over who decided to downsize from their house. And a lot of young married people. I'm amazed at all the young people.

People are staying in their apartments longer. A lot of young people are working from home, so we put WiFi throughout the buildings. I think some are never moving to houses.

Q: Is that by choice? Or are a lot of Americans priced out of the market, not sharing in the prosperity?

A: It is the economics. Some people don't have the down payment, even if they can afford the monthly mortgage payment. It's tougher [to get approved for a home loan] than 15 years ago, before (the Great Recession]. Which to me is a good thing. We were giving away mortgages to unqualified people [and speculative investors].

Q: You don't do much in the city of Philadelphia; why not?


A: That's true. When I was president at Toll Bros., we bought the land at 26th and Bainbridge [former Naval Home, now townhomes and apartments] from the federal government. The company, where I am no longer involved, is still doing a few buildings in Center City.

But I've mostly avoided that. I was raised in Elkins Park. Dad told me horror stories about Philadelphia government.

Q: Are the youngest Tolls attracted to business?

A: I have 11 grandchildren. One graduated from Wharton last year, one is graduating from Wharton this year, one is still at Wharton. My granddaughter who's at Wharton brought five [classmates] to Passover dinner this year, and every one of them had a job already lined up. Mostly not in Philadelphia.

You can see this is a great time to become employed. All the young people I know are having no problem getting a job, so long as they have learned something they can put to work.

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