Nice lawns and brick and stone houses line the streets of Fullerton, a community just beyond Baltimore's northeast boundaries where the Beltway meets Belair Road. Near more expensive communities such as Perry Hall and White Marsh, Fullerton has remained a lower-priced alternative for those looking to live in the area, real estate agents say. Many of the homes are older and smaller than the suburban castles being constructed today.
"The prices there are still good; they're not out of reach yet," said Margaret Franklin, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. "Parkville, on the other side, is getting to a point where it's over $200,000 at least. There are some great older homes in Fullerton. They don't make stone houses like that anymore. When they were built, they weren't just thrown up there."
The community sits close to Overlea. Fullerton and Overlea technically are divided by Taylor Avenue, but many residents feel like members of the same community. A sign on Belair Road welcomes visitors to Overlea-Fullerton.
"Overlea and Fullerton are a combined area, really," noted Ray Klein, also a Coldwell Banker real estate agent and a former 28-year Overlea resident.
The community got its name from Margaret Fuller, a widow who in January 1858 moved to the area from Ohio with her six children and purchased 43 acres. Fullerton was recognized officially by the post office in 1885 as the farmland began giving way to development. By the early 1900s, streetcar lines were reaching into the area as builders began constructing homes there.
"If you drive around the neighborhood, you'll see different eras," said Pete Definbaugh, president of the Overlea Community Association, who has lived in the area all of his 43 years. "You'll see houses from the 1910s, houses from the 1930s. You'll also notice that at about World War II, nothing was really built, and you'll see a lot was built in the 1960s. By about that time, things stopped, and there hasn't been much development during the past 20 years."
Klein said a house can be bought in the area for about $130,000. Six years ago, they went for less than $100,000.
"People down here have been living here 10 to 20 years, so there's not a lot of turnaround," Definbaugh said. "But [prices] are going up and going up fast."
Jay Franc, president of the Linover Improvement Association, said Fullerton's location is one of its advantages -- not too close to the hustle-and-bustle of downtown, but not too far away.
"It's an out-of-the-way place, but you're right off the Beltway, so it's convenient," said Franc, a 42-year resident of the community. "It's a quiet, older community." Single-family detached homes are commonplace in the area, which includes a few semidetached homes.
Susan Todd, a 47-year resident of Fullerton and community supervisor at the Overlea-Fullerton Recreation Office, calls Fullerton as a "nice, stable community."
Community events such as Fourth of July celebrations and Little League opening days are popular. "We have a very involved community, a lot of volunteer efforts and plenty of children's activities," Todd said. "We have a mix of blue-collar and white-collar families, and everyone is very hard-working and dedicated to their children and their community."
Definbaugh agrees, noting that the Overlea-Fullerton Citizens on Patrol helps keep watch over the community. And the community association has been focusing on maintaining and beautifying the Belair Road business district.
"It's time to start cleaning the area up a little bit," Definbaugh said. "That's one of our master plans for this year and next year.
"When you can get 80 members of the community on Friday and Saturday night to watch the community, that's pretty good. Everyone's out to help each other. I don't think there's a better neighborhood around."
ZIP codes: 21236 and 21206
Average commute time to downtown Baltimore: 20 minutes
Schools: Fullerton Elementary, Overlea Senior High
Shopping: Beltway Plaza Shopping Center.
Homes on the market: 25
Average listing price: $129,632 *
Average sale price: $128,026 *
Average days on the market: 73 *
Sales prices as a percentage of listing: 98.76% *
* Based on 72 sales in the past 12 months as compiled by Long & Foster Real Estate Inc.