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December 5, 2016

Is An Energy Audit Right For Your Condo Association?

student_visa_checklistThe strength of any condo association in town is usually a reflection of how much money they have in the kitty and it is the responsibility of EVERY condo association to cut costs wherever waste is identified. There is a company in town who has been doing audits for some larger buildings around town and helping them assess their energy needs and areas for efficiency improvements.
  No Capital outlay
  Lower operating costs; now and in the future
  Make long term energy efficient building improvements
  Lower maintenance cost by replacing aging equipment
  Improve resident and guest experience
  Utility company Cash Incentives available in many states
Tony Lepre may be able to help your condo association save money:
email Tony Lepre at tony@lepreenergygroup.com

• • •

November 8, 2016

Additional Crap I know about Real Estate in Center City That You Probably Don’t :-)

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:35 am

1) The Philadelphian at 2401 Pennsylvania Ave. is the largest condo building in the state of PA. Over 700 units. Very cool mid-century feel to the place.

2401-pennsylvania-ave-1

2) Buyers AND Sellers often nit-pick themselves right out of a deal. They focus on minute details and the other party gets fatigued and the deal falls apart.  Most deals fall apart over the SMALLEST details and usually based upon emotion and not $$.

3) Buyers usually don’t buy the bricks and mortar. They buy feelings and emotions. (See #2 above).

4) I encourage buyers to bring family members on a tour of condos. But not friends. Family members support and encourage. Friends are the ultimate deal killer who bad mouth EVERY condo we see- almost always.

5) I do not believe that expiring tax abatements on any given condo building equates to lower future values. I have watched many buildings with expired abatements and I haven’t seen a correlation.

6) Like automobiles, popular condo units (when first offered/built) have a tendency to remain popular units throughout their life span. Like all the “01” units at The Murano or the “G” units at Society Hill Towers.

7) Condo fees are like a person’s age. They go up nominally almost every year. It is a fact of life…it just is.

8) Waterfront Sq. at 901 N. Penn just got their Energy Star Rating- To earn the ENERGY STAR, the apartments in a new multifamily building must be built to meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. An apartment unit that has earned the ENERGY STAR label has undergone a rigorous process of third-party testing and verification to ensure it delivers better quality, comfort, and value.

9) When I settle on a property, that buyer or seller is out of my life for the foreseeable future. This often is a letdown as I have grown to know my clients and I won’t get to continue to interact with them.

10) Sloppy offers usually garner sloppy responses. If you want your offer to be presented in the best light, then dot your i’s and cross your t’s. And that often means getting a pre-qual from the lender that the LISTING AGENT knows best. This can easily remove doubt as to your qualification for a mortgage.

11) No, you can’t bring your dog on our tour of condos. I love dogs. I love my dog too, but you won’t see her on our tour. Leave your dog at home. Seriously.

12) Every home inspector says you need a pan under your washer/dryer. If there is not one there now, then you most likely aren’t getting one. This is the #1 thing on any inspection report that I cannot successfully negotiate for you. (If there is not drain, then a pan will do you no good and very few buildings have drains under their W/D units).

13) Mortgage companies torture everyone equally. You will not be able to circumvent this fact EVEN if you are super-duper rich or if you have an existing account with your lender. Trust me. I know.

14) More and more high rise buildings are not renewing their FHA approvals. Not sure why- but the Reef building at Waterfront Sq. just did so.

Mark Wade
www.CenterCityCondos.com
BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors
Mark@CenterCity.com ~ 215.521.1523

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November 3, 2016

Ten Pitfalls to Avoid when buying a Center City Condominium…

Filed under: For Buyers,Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:24 am

600-s-9th-view2

Being a veteran Center City Realtor (26 years), I often see buyers making some repeated mistakes.  At least in my opinion, I use the word mistakes.

Here are some common pitfalls:

1) Paying Points on a short term hold.
Many buyers know they will only own their condo for 3 to 5 years. Paying Points may not be advantageous- Talk to your lender. Do your homework here.

2) Saying “No” to a “Betterments and Improvements ” rider on your home owners policy. This covers items like floor, appliances, cabinetry, doorknobs, etc etc. Might be worth considering.

3) Glossing Over Building Issues – You are given 5 days to read your condo docs. If you don’t want to do so, then hire a lawyer. A Real Estate Lawyer.

4) Using a Mortgage Lender because you have a Savings Account at that bank, and have had for 23 years. That doesn’t mean crap, in my experience. Nada. Nil. Zip.

5) Using a relative to be your Realtor, Mortgage person, or otherwise to play a huge role in your buying process. These arrangements can go up in flames quickly. Not always…but…

6) Not Vetting Your Philadelphia Realtor – “When in Rome” is pretty good advice.. Interview him/her to decide if you two make a good team.

7) Over-buying : Do you really need a three bedroom and den unit? Or will a two bedroom and den suffice? Same story with one vs two bedroom units- If you don’t need the space, why pay for the space?

8) Not Reading Your Sales Contract – 99% of the questions you may have about a transaction here in PA can be answered by reading your Agreement of Sale (The Contract). Read It. I beg you.

9) Expecting Perfection: Yes, the seller is going to vacate your new condo in a dirty and somewhat used condition, with holes in the walls where their art once hung. IF that is the biggest bump in the road during our journey, then we should all g o sing and dance in the middle of the street with joy and glee :-). Nothing in life is perfect so a hint of forgiveness along the road can be helpful.

10) Relying on the Square Foot calculations on Condo Flyer. Or even relying on info provided by some sources. Best to do your own measuring/ fact checking.

Just Ask Me.
Let’s find the answers together to help you make the best decisions possible.

Mark Wade
Mark@CenterCity.com
BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors
www.CenterCityCondos.com

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• • •

October 6, 2016

901 N. Penn St. ~ Peninsula Building now FHA approved!

Filed under: For Buyers,Of Interest to Buyers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 11:04 am

Waterfront Square

Great news! We just received word that The Peninsula Building at Waterfront Square has been approved for FHA Financing!

fhapeninsula

As you can see, the Reef Building has also been approved. This is great news for Waterfront Square! The approval is valid for 2 years.
FHA insures condominium single unit loans for up to 30-year terms to purchase or refinance a unit in an FHA-approved condominium project.

For more information about FHA condos, click here!

Mark Wade
BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors
530 Walnut St. #260
Philadelphia, PA 19106
www.CenterCityCondos.com

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September 27, 2016

Rising home prices, quick sales – Philly’s in a sellers’ market (Mark’s Two Cents on Philly.com)

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,General Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums,State of Marketplace — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 9:54 am

Alan J. Heavens, Philly.com’s Real estate writer says, “The city of Philadelphia is officially a sellers’ real estate market, as a continued shortage of inventory has pushed up prices for properties listed for sale.”
skyline_west

Economist Kevin Gillen, senior research fellow at Drexel University’s Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation, said the second quarter of 2016, which ended June 30, saw median prices 13 percent higher than April-through-June 2015.

…Gillen isn’t exactly sure why homeowners aren’t rushing to list their houses, but Mark Wade, an agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors, cites several factors.

Mostly, it is “because many buyers in town over the last few decades have been empty nesters who believe they have made their final move and don’t need to downsize or adjust their living quarters to match their future needs,” Wade said.

The “flip side of rising house prices is decreased housing affordability,” Gillen said.

“Prices are now rising faster than household incomes, which implies that home buyers must now sacrifice a greater portion of their wealth to buy a home than they would otherwise, or else must defer the purchase of a home altogether,” he said.

Click here to read the full article on Philly.com.

Mark Wade
www.CenterCityCondos.com
BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors
Mark@CenterCity.com ~ 215.521.1523

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September 21, 2016

Top Ten Philly Condos

Filed under: For Buyers,General Real Estate,Real Estate: Condominiums,State of Marketplace — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:41 am

In terms of value retention, resale ability and livability…Here are my latest top ten picks:

Waterfront Square

1) 1706 Rittenhouse at 1706 Rittenhouse St. – – There can be little doubt that the building shines in terms of value growth and demand. The highest of high end here in Center City. Buyers line up for these units- Who wouldn’t want to live at 1706 ??

2) Kahn Park Place at 1119-25 Pine St.– Parking, roof decks and nice interior space…at prices that I think are undervalued. Homerun! Location is key here as well. Interior condition drives the wide range of values here.

3) Washington Square West Condos on the 12xx Block of South St. – Solid investments in a high growth area. Oh, and all have parking and two bedrooms! You can’t beat these simple yet value driven condos. Boom!

4) St. James Court in Society Hill – 40 years old condos with interiors that clearly stand the test of time. Undervalued and best deals in the 19106 zip code. Most units are off street and quiet. Interior courtyard is picture perfect. You can’t beat the prices in this segment in my opinion.

5) The Coronado at 2201 Chestnut St.– Improvements to the building make the investment here a solid one in terms of value growth. And in the 19103 zip code to boot.

6) The Lenox at 250 S. 13th St.– Not unlike 2201 Chestnut Street in the fact that it is a pre-war styled condo building that has undergone many recent upgrades and improvements. Since the Parker across the street closed- are values poised for a significant bounce upwards? Probably.

7) Center City One at 1326 Spruce St. – If I had millions of dollars, I would probably spend most of them inside this building if I wanted to make money.
Try to beat the location and the floor plan of the two bed, two bath units.
No supply here.

8) The Philadelphian at 2401 Pennsylvania Ave. – Values for the larger units bounced higher and faster than any other segment in Center City. Many reasons which can be attributed to the association…and lack of supply didn’t hurt either.

9) Low Rise Condos in 19103 and 19107– Perpetual demand leads to a shortened “days on market” for many in this segment. Solid purchases and solid returns. And those near Jefferson and U of Penn have a double good whammy- which is huge rent-ability.

10) 2200 Arch St. Condos at 2200 Arch St. – Probably the quickest sales in the loft like segment here in town. Parking, close to jogging trail and in the 19103 zip code. This place is firing on all cylinders.

Honorable Mention:  The Reef Building at WaterFront Square 901 N. Penn St. – Just about 6 units remain and the values are climbing faster than most other buildings around town. Expect another bump in values when the building completely sells out. Philadelphian’s are warming to the idea of living in this lovely gated community. Though I am biased…We own and live here.

Mark Wade
BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors
www.CenterCityCondos.com
215.521.1523 | Mark@CenterCity.com

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September 17, 2016

Some Basics on Buying a Condo (Read Mark’s Two Cents on Philly.com)

Filed under: For Buyers,General Real Estate,Real Estate: Condominiums,State of Marketplace — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 8:34 pm

“Once you decide on a location, the next step in your search for housing is determining whether to rent or buy.” Philly.com Real Estate Writer, Alan J. Heavens then said, “If you decide to buy, the next question is what.  A growing number of Americans are choosing condominiums, especially in urban areas.”

Mark Wade, of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors in Center City, said there are three main reasons buyers give when opting to buy a condominium: “one-level living – absence of stairs; a lack of maintenance requirements; and the security of a 24-hour front doorman.”

1830

“Many younger buyers are attracted to condos because they are so consumed with their careers that they simply don’t have the time or energy for the needs of a single-family home,” he said.

Many empty-nesters are looking to rid themselves of the upkeep that a larger single-family home may require, Wade said.

“The trade-off between a single-family home and a condo is usually location and size,” he said.

Condo living affords buyers the opportunity “to lose up to a few thousand square feet of unused, unwanted space, or perhaps three unused bedrooms – quite a weight lifted for those looking to simplify their lives.”

Click here to read the full article on Philly.com.

Mark Wade
CenterCityCondos.com
B
HHS Fox & Roach Realtors
215.521.1523

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May 9, 2016

1326 Spruce #2001

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 12:26 pm
Vacant for nearly 25 years. A high floor condo at Center City one 1326 Spruce St.
Delightful skyline views of this two bedroom, two bath condo with PARKING.
Original condition condominium with fantastic floor plan/layout. Being sold AS-IS.
Asking price is $475,000   A rare opportunity indeed!
1326 Spruce Street 2706-5846KateDevlin2016_1326_Spruce_St_MW-1
Mark Wade
CenterCityCondos.com

• • •

April 4, 2016

My View/ Experience /Expertise at The Hopkinson House (604-36 S. Washington Square)

Filed under: Center City Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 3:00 pm

hopkinsonhouse

My good friend Tom who introduced me to Center City in 1987 told me that the “Hop House” was known as one of the best values in downtown condo living. Ask anyone today and I think they will repeat that assertion about The Hopkinson House. I call it “The Toyota Of Center City Values”….reliable, dependable, and an easy resale if you need to sell your condo at 604 S. Washington Square. Since that time we have sold probably close to a dozen units at Hop House- And I always find that demand outweighs supply- especially in the spring market when the med students come into town and want proximity to Jefferson Medical Hospital.
My brother and I used to own a unit in the building which we flipped…and I think the management is a strong attribute to the appeal of the building (many of the very friendly front door staff is still around after 20 years). Know that all the corner units in the building are two bedroom units (unless modified from the original plan by individual owners) and a portion of the two bedroom units are 1.5 baths- HOWEVER, those units can be modified and made into TWO full bath units.
All units face either North or South- And I honestly have never found there to be a preference in terms of resale ability, or demand. South units have great sun and the higher floors have killer river views. The North facing units at The Hopkinson House have great views of Washington Square park. The Heat and Central Air are supplied by the building and I believe is done so via a TWO PIPE system, which means the Hopkinson House dictates when the condo building as a whole switches from delivering heat to delivering central air. The condo building does not allow dogs- though they do allow cats. Rental parking is in the lower level, so no one owns parking at Hopkinson House. I have had parking in the building on a monthly basis for a few years as our office is very close- staff is very friendly and helpful. Management is tops in town and really couldn’t be any nicer. A small but well-stocked food market is on the first level of the building and hailing a cab from here is never an issue. Oh, and there is one Kick-A** pool on the roof which rocks! 🙂
The condo association has recently upgraded their hallways (which is a huge visual improvement to the common areas), and has replaced all interior windows and sliding glass doors to individual condo units. What I find interesting is that 604 S. Washington Sq. has more Realtors who live in the building than any other condo building in town- And I think that speaks volumes. One other thing I know is that a TON of info about the building can be found publicly on their condo’s website, which many folks find helpful. Know that I have a number of friends, colleagues, and past buyers who live in the building- So my current clients should contact me if they want additional insight into the “Hop House”.

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March 28, 2016

New construction affecting views?

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 11:20 am
So there has a image1been a lot of talk recently within my circle of condo buyers in town about how the views of south facing units at the Ritz Carlton will be affected by the new building being erected to the south.
This really only affects “A” units at the Ritz which face south and east. I was able to find an image showing what the views might one day look like.
In my opinion, when that new building is erected and buyers can actually see that it will be some 53 feet in distance from the Ritz- the effect on value(s) for the south facing condos will really not suffer a great deal.
I think the “unknown” may be more damning that the reality of what is going to be built.
My suggestion- throw some caution to the wind and look at the “A” units while you can and while their pricing may be a bit suppressed by the “unknown” element – that being partially blocked views.

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530 Walnut Street, Suite 260
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Direct: 215.521.1523 ~ Office: 215.627.6005
Fax: 215.627.3142
Email: Mark@CenterCity.com
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