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August 31, 2007

Who Owns a Condo Buyer Here in Philadelphia?

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 7:36 am

Did you know that if you have me show you some condos here in Center City, then you call another REALTOR® (a specific one, let’s call her ABC Agent) and have a brief conversation with that other REALTOR®, that I can no longer comprehensively represent you?

That is correct. If you and I have an established relationship, let’s say your son and I were college roommates, and you call ABC Agent, and discuss a luxury styled loft, Philadelphia condo, or even townhome – ABC Agent will no longer allow me to show you his or her portfolio of Philadelphia condos for sale!

There is not a legal statute for this.  It is more of a professional choice (I call it a blunder) made by some REALTORS®.  But it has happened to me and buyers I am representing more than once, and I want you to be aware of this potential problem so you can steer clear of it.

ABC Agent will ask, prior to allowing me to show one of her or his Center City condominiums or loft units, who my buyer is. And if that name is in ABC Agent’s log of prior contacts, she claims that she is working with said buyer. My buyer. The buyer whose son and I were college roommates, drinking buddies, allies, and overall best friends.

Which begs the question:  Who Owns a Buyer?

In the long run, don’t you think that ABC Agent and his buyers and sellers are going to be the biggest losers here? Initially, my buyer and I are going to lose. But let’s look at the big picture. Let’s look at the long run. How excited do you think I’m going to be to call ABC Agent in the future to show his listings?  And how happy do you think his sellers would be if they knew he’d refused to allow their condo to be shown to a potential buyer?

I’m appalled when another Philadelphia real estate agent asks for my buyer’s name. Perhaps I could give you his shoe size, birthday, and let you know what is on his Christmas list. I believe that a buyer belongs to whomever that buyer chooses to belong to. If a buyer chooses to work with an agent, then that agent should be protected in the spirit of cooperation, in order to honor the trust, commitment, and working relationship that the buyer has developed with his or her chosen REALTOR®.

I would never dream of asking a Philadelphia REALTOR® for his or her buyer’s name. I don’t care if the buyer is named Mr. Joe Bag-a-Donuts, and Mr. Joe and I have conversed in the past. I am not interested in keeping Mr. Joe away from my listings. And the sellers who have entrusted me with marketing their Center City condo certainly aren’t either.

I own a buyer if a buyer chooses for me to “Own” them.  And when that happens, I value and respect the trust that buyer has given to me and the commitment we’ve made to each other.   Perhaps other agents should do the same. If not for the sake of buyers, then how about for the sellers they represent?

Want to work with a real estate professional who puts your best interests first?  Give me a call today at 215-521-1523 or drop me an email at mark@centercitycondos.com.

Mark Wade
www.CenterCityCondos.com
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St. Philadelphia, PA 19106

 

• • •

August 29, 2007

Low Condo Fees Can Kill Your Resale Value

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 7:22 am

I am a REALTOR® in downtown Philadelphia. I specialize in selling Center City condos and have for the past 18 years of my career. Last year, my little group and I sold 160+ Philadelphia condominiums and loft-styled properties.

I’m always amazed when I go on a listing appointment and the owner tries to sell me on the fact that condo fees in his building are super low, as compared to similar condo buildings in downtown Philadelphia.  Perhaps Mr. Seller thinks I am new to this planet. It’s been my experience that somewhat abnormally low condo fees for a particular building can actually result in a lower resale price for those Philadelphia condos.

Condominium buildings, like cars, teeth, and gardens, require ongoing maintenance and care. In an effort to cut your personal costs, try not buying toothpaste or floss for a year, and see where that gets ya’. In the long run, it’s probably going to cost you more than if you bought (and used, of course) toothpaste, floss, and mouth rinse.  One dental bill can blow those costs out of the water. The same analogy can be said about Philadelphia condo buildings.

Let’s say a condo association decides it’s going to keep fees minimal because the owners got together and decided NOT to raise fees yearly. Bad move, I say!  Interior and exterior maintenance projects are going to be lacking, most likely, as will routine projects like cleaning exterior windows, hall carpeting replacement, etc.

I think a HUGE portion of a buyer’s perception of a particular Center City condo is formed in his or her brain PRIOR to him or her entering that specific condo. If the common hallways are dirty, the exterior weak in terms of curb appeal, etc., it is not going to reflect well on any unit within that Philadelphia condominium building.

Such glaring deficiencies in the showing ability of the building as a whole should not be underestimated by any condo association.

Certainly the prospective buyer walking in the front door for the first time is going to see those deficiencies….

Ready to buy or sell your Center City condominium?  Let me help you get the best terms and price. Give me a call today at 215-521-1523 or drop me an email at mark@centercitycondos.com.

Mark Wade
www.CenterCityCondos.com
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St. Philadelphia, PA 19106

 

• • •

August 27, 2007

My Crystal Ball is in the Shop

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 9:11 am

As a longtime REALTOR® here in the Philadelphia condominium market, I am always amazed at how many times buyers and sellers ask me to give them solid, concrete information about what is going to happen in the future.

Often a buyer’s query comes in the form of:  “Will this home be worth more in five years than the one across town we just saw?,” or “Should I lock my interest rate today because interest rates are going to rise next week?”

Sellers are a bit more forward thinking, as I find their mental dilemma encompassing thoughts of:  “If I hold this property, and rent it out, what kind of rents can I get in the year, say, 2027?”

Now I admit that when I bought my first Center City condominium, I drove my real estate agent nuts. I mean crazy. I still kinda’ duck my head when I pass her by on the street.  And I am sure I tortured her with silly questions she could not have possibly answered.

Although, you know, her crystal ball must have been fully operational way back when as she had no problem spittin’ out future numbers like they were being read off a Bingo Card.  And I bought everything that came out of her mouth. Today that condo is worth exactly 4 times what it was worth back in 1991. (Bridgeview Place Unit # 525).

Now why didn’t I ask her to pick some lottery numbers for me?

I might not have a crystal ball, but I do have the knowledge to help you purchase or sell your Center City condo or Philadelphia condominium for the best price and terms.  Give me a call today at 215-521-1523 or drop me an email at mark@centercitycondos.com.  We’ll have fun!

Mark Wade
www.CenterCityCondos.com
Prudential Fox and Roach Realtors
530 Walnut St. Philadelphia, PA 19106

• • •

August 24, 2007

If a Celebrity Dies in Your House, It’s a Landmark!

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 9:42 am

I love that line. Could you imagine someone throwing that at you to try to overcome or capitalize on a possible downside to a home?

I remember back in the early 1990’s, a listing agent told “Suzy” the REALTOR® and Suzy’s buyers that “this” home was historically certified. As the deal progressed, the buyers could find no substantiating evidence to support such a claim. The listing agent, when cornered, uttered, “No dear, I said historically certifiable”.
 
But that leads to a valid question, especially here in the historic city of Philadelphia. Does the reputation, or historic significance, of a home play into the value of that home…be it a Philadelphia condominium, loft, or townhouse? And conversely, does a less than desirable reputation of a certain home have the ability to suppress the resale value of that home?

I say yes to both.

Pretend a major double murder-suicide kind of something went down in a home, especially in the not too distant past.  Such an event might make a buyer hesitate to become interested in a home, which could draw out the length of time a home sits on the market, and make that home riper for a lower sales price.

On the other hand, the fact that Ben Franklin used to make booty calls to your home is no occasion to memorialize such an event with a plaque on the front of your home. 

Having, say, “Hail Columbia” composed in your living room might make for an interesting compliment to your resale value. I know of more than one example of premiums being paid for Philadelphia condominiums and townhomes where significant history was made at that particular address.

In a town that brought you the likes of Thomas Paine, Dolly Madison, and Betsy Ross, history does sell and has a tendency to sell well.  Assuming, of course, that such history can be documented and is more than a wild rumor. Less concrete claims, like ghosts and “George Washington once left his wooden teeth in this house” are less likely to garner a price adjustment to a historic Philadelphia home.

Interested in buying or selling your own historic (or non-historic) Philadelphia condo?  Give me a call today at 215-521-1523 or drop me an email at mark@centercitycondos.com.  (Ghosts and wooden teeth not guaranteed.)

Mark Wade
www.CenterCityCondos.com
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St. Phila., Pa. 19106

• • •

August 22, 2007

Non-Smoking Condominium Building

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 9:11 am

Could such an idea work here in Philadelphia? Could a developer create (or a condo association turn) its structure into a non-smoking building?   And would it be a success, or would it limit resale?

I once got a call from a potential buyer looking to move to town who wanted to live in a non-smoking building. I told her that I was unaware of such a building here in Center City.

She wanted a loft style Center City condo in a high-rise that was 100% non-smoking. I mentioned that all buildings prohibited smoking in common areas.   But she wanted one that did not allow smoking inside particular condo units within the building. I told her that perhaps she had a better chance of seeing God than she did of finding such a place.

That was back in 2004.

With the advent of Philly’s ban on smoking in common areas of buildings, I now wonder if a completely non-smoking Center City condominium building is on the horizon.  In my opinion, as long as the building provided a covered smoking pavilion, or outside area where condo owners could gather, and not, say, get rained on, then maybe such an idea could work.

Allow me to confess that I am a smoker. But I am an outside smoker. I do not smoke inside my loft in Old City. I smoke out on the deck. I don’t care for my curtains and my duvet cover to smell like smoke. Neither does my other half, who is a non-smoker.

I think that a building that was a mid-rise, or possibly a Brownstone styled condo building, (I don’t know if you could pull such an idea off in a 700-unit luxury high-rise) could implement a smoking ban inside the specific units of that building, and be successful…IF that building were to provide a covered area for its smokers somewhere on the premises. This type of Philadelphia condominium building could provide for an interesting draw.

Since the majority of Philadelphia condo buyers are non-smokers, as is the general population, certainly the notion is not too far-fetched. But to impose such a ban on personal freedom inside someone else’s condo unit…well, it just might work in today’s Center City condo market. It might even be an interesting sales pitch.

Mix the “Nonsmoking condominium building” sales pitch in with some ideas that make the building “Green,” and you might just have a winning idea sitting on your plate. Would it be a PLUS, or a negative? Again, in a medium to small sized building, coupled with some GREEN attributes, and a covered outside smoking area, I think the idea has merit, and would be a “PLUS” to potential buyers.

Picky buyer?  Let me help you find your perfect fit.  Give me a call today at 215-521-1523 or drop me an email at mark@centercitycondos.com.

Mark Wade
www.CenterCityCondos.com
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St. Philadelphia, PA 19106

• • •

August 21, 2007

HGTV Shows I Would Like to See

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 2:07 pm

I like HGTV. I think their shows are timely, relevant, and interesting. A nice combination of education and entertainment centered around a topic that everyone likes to talk about – Real Estate buying and selling.

Here are some ideas I have for TV programs that I would like to see, because as a Philadelphia REALTOR®, I encounter a plethora of situations I believe are worthy of their own TV segments:

Buy a Home From Me… or Get Out of My Car – A show where buyers who really are not interested in buying, but just want a guided tour to see some cool homes, are called on the carpet.

Lazy Stupid REALTORS® – A show featuring some of the lazy and stupid things REALTORS® do… Like advertising an open house, and then not bothering to show up for it.

Buyers – What Are You, Nuts? – A show where buyers grossly overpay for a home simply because they like the way the home shows and/or because of the cleanliness of the interior.

Sellers – What Are You, Nuts? – A show where sellers want to sell their homes for more than any other house in their ZIP code because they “know” their home is the nicest in the entire area.

Yes, You Have to Pay Condo Fees – A show that captures the quizzical looks of buyers when they learn that the Center City condo front doorman doesn’t work for free.  Or, that the elevators do run on electricity, which results in a common bill for ALL condo owners.

You Want to Buy WHAT?? – A show that features buyers who purchase the polar opposite of what they tell their REALTOR® they’re looking for.

Any Closet is a Walk-In Closet if You Try Hard Enough – A show featuring the silly things that come out of REALTORS® mouths when trying too hard to make a sale.

Fighting Spouses – She wants a Philadelphia condominium; he wants a Center City loft. The differences play out before the cameras! Or, she wants to buy, he doesn’t.

Parents say the Darnest Things – So eager for their kids to move OUT of the house, parents find a positive side to the worst possible properties on the market!

Let me help you make sure your Center City real estate transaction doesn’t become the next HGTV hit reality show.  Give me a call today at 215-521-1523 or drop me an email at mark@centercitycondos.com

Mark Wade
www.CenterCityCondos.com
Prudential Fox and Roach Realtors
530 Walnut St. Phila., Pa. 19106

• • •

August 17, 2007

Where is Philadelphia’s Next Big “It” Neighborhood?

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 8:41 am

I dream about this idea a lot. Where could Center City’s newest neighborhood come from? Where is that neighborhood that is not too far, but could offer a really groovy mix of luxury Center City condominiums and townhouses?

I think the most overlooked and potential new neighborhood for such a development is between Callowhill Street and Spring Garden Street.  It’s the area from 2nd Street to say 6th Street, between Old City and Northern Liberties.

Take a drive around that neighborhood, and what you will find is a mix of commercial spaces, a few warehouse buildings, and a lot of open surface parking lots. If this area were developed, it would bridge the gap between Old City and Northern Liberties, and Chinatown, for that matter. Certainly, the highest and best use of a half acre of land can’t be for a one-story, semi-retail, tin can type production facility, can it?

I say hell no! Someone should go in, buy up as many of those “tin can production facilities” as possible, and start building. He or she could capture the Old City spill over buyer, and certainly draw folks closer to the Center City area (for those considering Fishtown or Northern Liberties). With easy access to I-95 and the expressway, it might be a great idea. And God knows that if you want to jump over to the other side of town (Rittenhouse Square area), the quickest way is down Callowhill Street.

I think this area might be the perfect place for a few new, green Philadelphia condominium buildings to land. Start one of the buildings as a nonsmoking building. Certainly the wealth of higher-end Center City condominium and luxury loft living has dispersed over the years throughout downtown Philadelphia, so why not here?

If I were a big developer, I would forget the plans for waterfront condos, and start building in the area I will call…Mark Wade Land. Kidding….how about, New Village. Or Newville. Or the Green Lands?  If you get a minute, drive up to the area, and I think you’ll be amazed at the possibilities. Amazed that no one has yet gone in to grab some of this area as residential.

Philadelphia is certainly on the grow, and Center City condominium / loft developers are in no short supply. This fairly large strip of land dividing two growing residential neighborhoods (Old City and Northern Liberties) is potentially there for the taking. Now someone, please take it!

Have questions about buying or selling a Center City Condo?  Give me a call today at 215-521-1523 or drop me an email at mark@centercitycondos.com.  I’m happy to share my knowledge with you!

Mark Wade
www.CenterCityCondos.com
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA  19106

• • •

August 15, 2007

An Occupational Hazard for REALTORS®

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 2:08 pm

There is something to be said about model homes. I love them. I want to buy everyone I see.  Brand spanking new model homes – versus – character laden, gorgeous, historic homes – which do I choose?!  The great thing about Philadelphia real estate is that there are fantastic properties at both ends of the spectrum.

While I’m a veteran home flipper (my brother and I have bought, rehabbed, and resold 140 + Philadelphia condominiums and townhomes) I have to admit I am intensely attracted to the pretty residential faces of model homes.

It really is an occupational hazard!  I want to move every week. This is in spite of the fact that the Philadelphia loft condo I currently share with my other half has been featured on HGTV.

We rehabbed our circa 1813 Old City condo (with three-car parking inside a really cool, private gated courtyard) from scratch. We chose every material and item in it ourselves. Okay, we grossly overspent. But we also won the 2005 Philadelphia Magazine’s Kitchen of the Year Contest.

But like a lot of you who love historic Philadelphia real estate, I also love model homes. I used to preach the mantra of “With a town that brought you Betsy Ross and Ben Franklin, historic homes sell – well!”  And although I do throw that line out to buyers from time to time, the truth is I’m a sucker for Philadelphia’s new construction model homes. 

Am I a hypocrite? Should I not utter what I covet?

When you see what’s available in terms of model homes, you can’t help seeing the benefits of owning one of these properties.

I am telling you, give me a new construction ranch house, with a driveway, garage, patio, and a ¼ acre yard, in Old City- And I am willing to bet that I would go directly into the intersection of Broad and Walnut Streets, and dance a bit…right there in the middle of the street.  Honest. 

Of course, that ranch house has to be “Model Home” gorgeous. You know, with all the latest designer furniture, wall coverings, hip features and new paint, etc.

It’s all about lifestyle. Getting into a house or Philadelphia condominium that doesn’t require any work so you can sit back and enjoy your new property is a big bonus. I know I would love that type of lifestyle with all my heart.  And never, ever, ever want to leave. That’s right, never.        

Until, of course, the next time I was out showing a buyer a new construction penthouse condominium with gorgeous outside patios. Slowly, but surely, as closet doors are being slid open, rooms explored for the first time, kitchens ogled and bathrooms admired, that feeling will come over me again.

I’ll be struck with the itch to own one of the amazing model homes available on the Philadelphia real estate market. And you’ll find me back in the intersection of Broad and Walnut Streets doing my own crazy version of the model home dance.

Whether you want to buy new construction or a historic beauty, I can help you get the best price and terms.  (I can even help you choose between the two.)  Give me a call today at 215-521-1523 or drop me an email at mark@centercitycondos.com.

Mark Wade
www.CenterCityCondos.com 
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St., Phila., PA  19106

• • •

August 13, 2007

I Hope the Center City Condo I Sell You Smells Like Dog Pee

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 6:13 pm

And has dirty orange shag carpeting.  And faded purple painted walls.  I really do.

I have been preaching this mantra for some eighteen years now here in Center City Philadelphia.  And it has worked!  Our little group of seven REALTORS® (www.CenterCityCondos.com) at Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS® sell over 160 Philadelphia condos and Philadelphia townhouses a year to very happy owners.

One distinction that we can brag about is the fairly sizeable profits a lot of our buyers make when they call us a number of years later to resell their Center City condos. Now granted, a lot of that has to do with the market conditions, and the fact that Philadelphia real estate has been on an upswing for the past dozen or so years.  But, a significant reason many of our Philadelphia condo buyers make money is because we guide them to properties that are diamonds in the rough.

Buyers are probably going to find the smelly, ugly Center City condos severely discounted (disproportionately) lower than one might expect….because few other buyers are emotionally attracted to these “dogs.”  My goal is to get buyers to see past the simple outdated or unattractive cosmetics that are inherent in a number of downtown Philadelphia lofts, condos, and townhomes.

I feign deafness when I hear a buyer tell me that the “place is perfect, except I don’t like the carpeting.”  Or that the appliances are old and the inside of the refrigerator smells like the inside of their gym bag.  Those issues are what I call PHONE CALL UPGRADES. You pick up the telephone, you dial the local Home Depot or Lowes and you set an appointment for them to come out and replace the appliances and carpet. You place one call to a painter who repaints all the faded purple colored walls. These are one step-one call upgrades. This isn’t brain surgery. We are not moving the kitchen which would involve moving gas lines, water lines, replacing flooring, redoing baseboard moldings on and on and on and on. Simple stuff… “One Phone Call” stuff. 

And that is where many buyers see a huge increase in their resale price:  simple, light cosmetic work. The kind of work that takes a pee smelling, dirty orange shag carpeted piece of ick, and adds significant emotional value through the use of good decorating skills, cleanliness, and minor cosmetic upgrades that are readily visible to the eye.

For those condo owners who are considering doing some major renovations, The Fortress Builder General Contractors do both residential and commercial renovations.

Buy ugly.  Buy smelly.  And sell oohs and aahs…   Then sing and dance all the way to the bank.

Ready to discover your own diamond in the rough?  Give me a call today at 215-521-1523 or drop me an email at mark@centercitycondos.com.  We’ll smell out those “dogs” and find you a real ooh and aah buy!

Mark Wade
www.CenterCityCondos.com
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA  19106

• • •

August 9, 2007

Is That Date Firm? Delivery Dates for New Philadelphia Condos

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 2:41 pm

I always find it interesting when developers or REALTORS® advertise a spring 2007 delivery for Center City condos and the project has yet to break ground. I’m thinking, it’s summer 2007 and your project isn’t even started!

Or. how about those large signs in the ground announcing a new development that got axed nine months ago?  Look around town. You can see a few.

I don’t know why delivery dates for new construction Philadelphia condos are so wrong sometimes. But I do have my theories.

Perhaps these developers are unaware of what it takes to get Philadelphia condos approved and built. Maybe it’s a bit of wishful thinking on the part of the REALTOR®: will an early delivery date increase the traffic through their site?

More likely, it’s a bit of both. 

Any buyer looking at pre-construction projects should be told of the inherent delays in new construction. Buyers must be aware of the countless pieces of the puzzle that need to fit into place in order for a project to come together. And they must be told the truth – that often, developers have zero control over the puzzle pieces. (Think city and state permit requirements, for example.)  Learn more about neighborhoods in the Center City area.

I think it would be difficult in most cases to adequately predict, some nine months in advance, an exact settlement date for your new condo. To me, promising a delivery date that clearly isn’t within range is a mistake. REALTORS® and developers of new Philadelphia condos lose credibility when they do this.

I started thinking about all this remembering a mistake I made. (I know, I know. I of all people should know better!) When I was moving, I actually messed up my calculations on a new construction piece. I ended up in corporate housing for six months. (You can imagine what a pain that was. Two extra moves…)

If you’re considering Philadelphia condos in a new construction project, be wary of the advertised delivery date. Allow for some grace time with your lease. Don’t make completely firm plans with your moving company. You’ll avoid a lot of headaches brought on by unforeseen construction delays.

Stop trying to comprehend today’s complex real estate market all alone.  Give me a call today at 215-521-1523 or drop me an email at mark@centercitycondos.com.  Together, we’ll find your perfect Center City condo or sell your Philadelphia condo…and have fun doing it!

Mark Wade
www.CenterCityCondos.com
Prudential Fox and Roach Realtors
530 Walnut St. Phila.,Pa. 19106

• • •

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Philadelphia, PA 19106
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