When Joyce VerHoef and her husband moved to Maryland from California two years ago, they ended up living in Pasadena completely by accident.
"When we first moved here, we had three days to find a place to live," VerHoef said. "And you know how fate just sometimes leads you somewhere. That was it. We ended up in the right place by luck."
Along the way, VerHoef says, she fell in love with Pasadena's waterfront and even bought a boat so that she and her family could traverse nearby Bodkin Creek and the Chesapeake Bay.
Now, the family's decision to buy a second home in the eastern Anne Arundel County community is anything but arbitrary.
"We can ride our bikes to the Bodkin; the neighbors are great. We didn't have this kind of community in California," VerHoef said.
Pasadena's waterfront has attracted many residents to the community which 20 years ago was little more than a spot on the map.
Boating and crabbing on Pasadena's Bodkin Creek has been a way of life for Nick Bortle, who grew up and went to school in the community. Bortle and his family now live in a home on a peninsula that stretches into the Bodkin and features a 110-foot pier. The lifelong resident says he can't imagine living anywhere else.
"Other than trying to go to Florida for the warm weather, it's as close to the perfect place for us because of the waterfront; we're water fanatics," Bortle said.
Angela Stull says the primary reason she and her family moved from Columbia to Pasadena 11 years ago was the proximity to the water.
"We were attracted to the water and wetlands and open spaces," Stull said. "Now it's a little more crowded but it's still a big water community. People take advantage of the fact that all over Pasadena there's waterways and creeks."
The attractive waterfront has anchored Pasadena's growth in recent years and the community now features six major subdivisions including Farmington Village, one of the fastest-selling developments in Anne Arundel County since it opened almost two years ago.
"Farmington Village was an unexpected surprise for buyers in that part of Anne Arundel County. A planned community of its caliber combined with Pasadena's location really attracted homebuyers," said Bob Coursey, director of marketing for Ryan Homes.
Dave Duncan, an agent with Long & Foster Real Estate Inc., said the range of new developments and existing homes has made Pasadena an active market.
"New constructions and the waterfront have been the big draw, but we've got the full range of prices and homes here in Pasadena," Duncan said.
With homes spending just a little more than three months on the market and selling for 98 percent of the listing price, homebuyers are heading to Pasadena in droves, Duncan said.
According to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, the multiple-listing service for Realtors, 407 homes have been sold in Pasadena in the past six months with an average selling price of $158,470.
"Pasadena has come a long way in the past decade or so," Duncan said. "It's really become an attractive market for homebuyers."
In the early days of Pasadena's growth, only a few stores and restaurants lined Mountain Road and the nearest shopping for residents was in Glen Burnie. When Marley Station mall opened on Ritchie Highway in 1987, Pasadena homeowners got their first taste of local shopping and congestion.
"The roads around Pasadena just aren't equipped to handle all the development," 11-year- resident Stull said. "It can get bad sometimes."
Many residents say the growth of Pasadena has continued to cause severe traffic problems in recent years, especially on major thoroughfares such as Mountain Road. Resident Joseph Peters says two-mile backups are not unheard of in the community and he fears that new developments are putting a strain on the water supply.
But, Stull says, at least Pasadena's waterways aren't as crowded as the roads. "The water is still pretty open. The traffic really hasn't transferred over to the water," she said.
Duncan said the traffic situation is not as bad as it seems in Pasadena because while commuter traffic may be heavy at times, there is no through traffic in the area.
"Unless you know where Pasadena is at, you're not going to drive through it on the way somewhere. Buyers are attracted to that," Duncan said.
And buyers are also attracted to the location, Duncan says.
"A lot of folks will live here and commute to Baltimore, Annapolis or Washington," Duncan said. "Pasadena just has a good location right in the middle of things but still removed from city life."
ZIP code: 21122
Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 25 minutes
Public schools: High Point Elementary, Riviera Beach Elementary, Solley El- ementary, Sunset Elemen- tary, Lake Shore Elemen- tary, Pasadena Elementary, Bodkin Elementary, Fort Smallwood Elementary, Jacobsville Elementary, Chesapeake Bay Middle, George Fox Middle, Northeast High, Chesapeake High
Shopping: Marley Station, Lake Shore Plaza, Pasadena Crossroads Shopping Center, Festival at Pasadena, Longpoint Shopping Center, Riviera Plaza
Homes on market: 278
Average listing price: $161,811 *
Average sales price: $158,470 *
Days on market: 91
Sales price as percentage of listing price: 97.4% ** Based on 407 sales in the past six months compiled by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.