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September 28, 2007

Challenges Philadelphia REALTORS® May Face in Different Markets

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 7:59 am

After selling Philadelphia real estate for a number of years, I have come to the conclusion that there are challenges encountered by myself and other Center City REALTORS® no matter what market conditions we face.

For instance, in a slow market (buyer’s market), Philadelphia condo buyers are fewer and farther between. It becomes more difficult to have a “mass” of ready, willing, and able buyers who are actively shopping for a condominium in downtown Philly.

The traffic through my listing inventory diminishes, and sellers get a bit more edgy and nervous.  A potential condo buyer may think that prices are more elastic, and therefore may lowball loft units that are on the market.

On the one hand, some sellers understand the consequences of a slower market, and price their condominiums accordingly. This presents an opportunity for my buyers to get a really good deal. Though the masses may not be priced under market value, there are some condos and lofts here in the downtown Philadelphia real estate market that are “killer deals.”  So a slowing market can be a double edged sword for REALTORS®. Most prices may seem high, buyers may want to lowball, but there are generally a few good opportunities on which to “pounce.”

On the other hand, a strong seller’s market will have its ups and downs as well. The prices may be more aggressive, but buyer’s seem to know this, and are much more motivated to jump into the fray. As a Center City real estate agent who is a strong listing agent, this certainly works to my advantage at times. However, a strong seller’s market can lead to multiple bid situations, in which there is much more competition for Philadelphia lofts and condos. I may have a ready buyer, who is willing to pay asking price, but there may be two or three other buyers who are in the same position.

So each market, be it a buyer’s or a seller’s market, presents opportunities and challenges that a Center City agent may face.  I find that the number of challenges and opportunities are pretty much the same, regardless of the market conditions for Center City condominiums and lofts, and I enjoy each unique set of circumstances that the market may present!

No matter what’s happening in the Philadelphia real estate market, I can help you get the best price and terms on your Center City condo or loft.  Just give me a call 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

• • •

September 24, 2007

Rittenhouse Square Condos in Brownstone Buildings

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 8:03 am

Condominiums in Philadelphia take on many shapes, sizes, styles, and forms. In this blog entry, I would like to focus on the low-rise condominiums and lofts found around Center City.

I use the terms low-rise condo and brownstone-styled condos frequently, and to me, they are the same thing here in our urban area of town. From Rittenhouse to Society Hill, from Old City to Fitler Square, this type of condo and loft are fairly common. As a Philadelphia REALTOR®, I have been selling low-rise condos for 19 years.

A Center City low-rise condominium is generally a converted brownstone building that was once (when first erected) a single family rowhouse. Usually large (originally being up to 8000 sq ft each), some of these buildings make fabulous condominium buildings. And the rise of the popularity, sale price, and luxury of such brownstone condominiums in Philadelphia doesn’t seem to be “on the mend”.

Why? For a number of reasons….

First would be the character that such buildings possess. Being a fairly old stock of housing, you never know what you are going to find.  Be it a 12’ pocket, carved mahogany door, or ornate ceiling plaster detail, these “Pre-War” condominiums often retain a high degree of original detail and character which is always inviting and attractive to someone looking to pick up some Philadelphia real estate.

I would also suggest that the intimacy of a small condominium association might be appealing to a number of, say, Center City loft buyers. Additionally, gardens, more readily accessible and available parking, tax abatements on newer rehabs, are all additional reasons why low-rise condos, especially in the Rittenhouse Square area are gaining in popularity and acceptance amongst the set looking to buy a Center City condominium.

But one of the main reasons why low-rise units are doing so well is sometimes the strength in the location in which such condos exist. You certainly can’t build a high rise skyscraper building at 17th and Spruce Street in the 19103 ZIP code, but you certainly can find some gorgeously new rehabbed Pre-War condominiums on the block in low-rise converted brownstone buildings!

Whether you’re looking for a Center City loft, a low-rise Rittenhouse Square condominium or some other type of Philadelphia condominium or loft, I can help.  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

• • •

September 20, 2007

Because Your Offer Sucked, That’s Why…

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 8:25 pm

So you made an offer on your dream Philadelphia condo or loft, and you didn’t get it because there was another offer. Well Boo-Frickin’-Who…..

Perhaps your Philadelphia REALTOR® isn’t the sharpest tack in the box. Or perhaps you didn’t listen to him or her when pursuing your real estate dreams by doing three simple things that he or she (should have) suggested to you:

  1. Get a pre-approval from the listing agent’s mortgage person. This tactic is a no-brainer. Why not call the listing agent, ask who they use for a mortgage, call that solicitor, and get an approval from them. Any Philadelphia real estate agent who brings me such an approval makes my job so much easier. It makes the question of “Is this buyer qualified” disappear. I trust my mortgage guy.
  2. Knowing that you are in a competitive bid situation, did you offer the seller the opportunity to settle within a range of dates, instead of a specific date? Often, the seller has special circumstances for moving that buyers and their agents are not aware of….therefore, offering to settle within a range of dates might just suit the seller to a “T”….
  3. Did you include in your offer a nice handwritten note about how much you truly love the Center City condominium or loft space that your are bidding on? I know of very few sellers who hate their home….so why wouldn’t you want to lead the seller to believe that you love their home as much as they do? Clearly you do, or you wouldn’t be making an offer on it – right?!

There are many ways to make your offer more attractive to any given seller who has their (say) Rittenhouse Square condo for sale or their Old City loft on the market. Why not get creative with your Philadelphia REALTOR®, and make your offer the most attractive it can be? With some creative thinking, your offer can become more attractive without upping your price!

Ready to work with an agent who knows how to give you the edge over other buyers and sellers?  Call me 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

• • •

September 19, 2007

Common Philadelphia Real Estate Terms

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 7:10 am

It is said that all real estate is local, and I believe that to be the case, especially in terms of Philadelphia condominiums and lofts.

A lot of buyers are often confused after reading the Inquirer, or surfing the internet for Center City real estate. So here are a few terms, tidbits and odd facts that I know that any Philadelphia REALTOR® should know after selling condos in this town after a while:

RWP Floors:  Random width pine floors. Probably the most valuable and sought after floor here in the Center City realty market. Will refer to an older building, possibly a loft or warehouse, and found in almost all areas of town – from Rittenhouse Square to Society Hill, Old City, Art Museum area, etc. Pumpkin colored, and the width of the planks vary in size, hence the term, Random Width.

FSBO:  For Sale by Owner. If you need for me to spell out what this means, perhaps you should do something else with your time other than shop for real estate.

Subway Tile:  This refers to the shape of a particular tile. Often found in bathrooms and kitchens of Center City condos, lofts, etc. Commonly, subway tile is twice as long as it is tall, hence, 6” by 3” or even 3” by 1.5".  Varying sizes can be called subway tile, which was popularized in subway platforms around the country back in days of yore.

GFHA:  Refers to a heating system that is “Gas Forced Hot Air”. Gas heats the air, and is “forced” through the heater by a huge internal fan. Very common in Philadelphia condos.

GFCI:  Is a “Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter”. They are outlets, generally with a “test and reset” button between the upper and lower plug in places on the outlet. Per Philadelphia housing code, such outlets must be placed within 5 feet of water sources.

Summer Winter Hookup: Becoming a thing of the past, but popular in older times, this is a heating system that has an integrated hot water tank. Your hot water is heated by the same system that heats your house. Even more rare in urban condominiums, lofts, and warehouses.

If you have any questions about Center City Philadelphia real estate, condos, lofts or warehouses, please give me a call at 215-521-1523 or drop me an email at mark@centercitycondos.com.  I’m happy to give you the scoop!

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

• • •

September 17, 2007

You Gotta’ Have a Bathtub If You Have More Than One Bathroom

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 9:57 am

As someone who sells Philadelphia real estate, I’m often asked how to best incorporate bathroom fixtures into a Center City condominium or loft styled home that will please “the masses.” This question is often asked by developers and those fixing up their own Philadelphia condos for resale.

My best advice is…
If you have a small condo or loft, with just one bathroom, the best use of your bathroom space is probably one large shower stall.

If you have more than one bathroom, I strongly encourage you to install one shower stall and one bathtub.

I’ve seen more than one new construction condominium project here in Center City Philadelphia where a builder goes to sell his Center City condos, and has really misread the Philadelphia real estate landscape. He’s built, say, a Rittenhouse Square two bed condominium and proceeds to install two bathtubs. Or conversely, builds two bathrooms, and does no bathtub. Bad…very bad!

Think of it this way: Most people take showers MOST of the time. Therefore, a builder should spend most of his area in the master bathroom for a large walk-in shower stall. I do NOT see the advantage to trying to fit in a tub AND a small shower in the master bedroom. Put the tub in the guest bath where it belongs!

With multiple bathrooms, a tub is always in order for two reasons:

  1. Some folks do enjoy a soak
  2. Some folks have kids, who need a tub

Oh, and those GIANT six person bubble jet tubs from the early 1980’s?  You gotta’ be kidding me?! Don’t even think about it.

There is no better way to ruin the value as well as the space of your Philadelphia condominium, be it in the Society Hill or Rittenhouse Square area, than to take up valuable bathroom space with one of those big stupid tubs that no one uses past their inaugural soak. It will get used once, and probably never after that….so don’t even think of it!

I would love to hear your feedback on this post….

Are you a soaker? Do you have a large tub hogging space in your bathroom? Would you want one, if space in your condominium or loft were limited?  Just post a comment and let me know if you think I’m all wet!

Whether you’re looking for a 1 or 2 bathroom Center City Philadelphia condominium, I can help you find the shower, tub or both that fit you best.  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

• • •

September 14, 2007

Sandbagging Your Own Listings

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 7:37 am
The lowest of the low… REALTORS® who are so greedy, that they violate the responsibility they have to their own sellers.

Here is how Sandbagging works:
REALTOR® gets a new listing. REALTOR® brings his own buyers to see the home prior to any other REALTOR® getting the opportunity to do so. Said REALTOR® sells his own listing to his own buyer, then submits the property to the MLS. Other REALTORS® then call to show the home only to find out it is no longer available.
 
As an experienced agent for eighteen years here in the Philadelphia real estate market, I have indeed been called on the carpet for Sandbagging. However, I have never done so without full disclosure to my particular seller.

I think it is important to let sellers know that you are presenting an offer prior to any other buyers getting a crack at their home, and that they may possibly lose out on a competitive bid scenario. If the seller has no problem, and feels he is getting the best price for his property, and is willing to sign the agreement I am presenting, with full disclosure of the above, then I don’t see a problem. Am I wrong in this instance?
 
The differentiating factor between selling your own listing in a day, and sandbagging, is full disclosure. Full disclosure in this circumstance means having the seller sign off on a statement saying they understand that the home has really not been offered to the buying public. Some sellers are looking for a “bird in the hand” and don’t care. However, I would suggest that this is not the case for most sellers.
 
I would love to hear input from other REALTORS®, buyers and sellers on this topic. If you get a minute, please post a comment, good or bad – please!

Thanks so much…..
 
Mark Wade
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St. Philadelphia, PA 19106

• • •

September 12, 2007

A Very Good Buyer

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 7:14 am

As a Center City REALTOR® here in Philadelphia for the past 18 years, I’ve met my share of good buyers, and not so good buyers. Here is an off-the-cuff list of traits "Good Buyers” possess:

  1. Good Buyers don’t bring their dogs on tour. They understand that if the Dorchester condominiums on Rittenhouse Square has a No Pet Policy, they probably won’t make an exception for you to bring your dog to see the new two bedroom corner condo with parking.
  2. Good Buyers understand that the tour is timed. They don’t show up an hour late, which inevitably throws off the entire tour. If the Society Hill tenants in unit #4 on the tour come home after our 4 p.m. scheduled showing, we may not get in to see unit #4 on the tour.
  3. Good Buyers understand that it’s a good idea to read their Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS® agreement of sale. They understand that reading the condominium documents to their new Bridge View Place condo might be wise as well.
  4. Good Buyers make themselves available to receive faxes, sign addendums, etc.  They understand time is of the essence in the agreement they signed to buy that new unit at Strickland Row in Washington Square West.
  5. Good Buyers realize that all first time buyers get cold feet.  They make rational decisions prior to submitting an agreement of sale for the Old City Philadelphia loft with the big windows.
  6. Good Buyers have their finances in order.  They submit information to the mortgage company when asked so they can settle on their new Philadelphia condo when the contract says they will settle….and not act surprised that settlement date is when there is an exchange of cash for keys and deed. 
  7. Good Buyers know they must bring certified funds and a valid ID to settle on their new Center City condo, because their agent has told them no less than say, four times. And, they know that bringing $6,532.87 in cash to a settlement table may not be an ideal situation.
  8. Good Buyers are respectful to listing agents when viewing their new luxury penthouse on Spruce Street. They don’t comment on the red sofa and the orange end table because they are personal property, and are not going to transfer with the sale.
  9. Good Buyers don’t bring their mother, father, all siblings, neighbor, sister-in-law, best friend, sister-in-law’s best friend and neighbor’s uncle with them when we meet to see some Society Hill condos. My car seats six. Perhaps you thought I drove a bus….
  10. Good Buyers make a B-Line for the photos on the dresser of The Moravian condominium we are looking at. We all do. But, Good Buyers wait until the seller leaves before ogling the occupant’s personal effects.

Don’t worry. If you are not a Good Buyer at first, we will live and learn together. Some of my favorite, and most memorable, clients here in Center City Philadelphia since 1989 have been Not-So-Good Buyers from day one!

Want to work with a professional agent who will show your Philadephia condominium to Good Buyers?  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   


• • •

September 11, 2007

Really Bad MLS Photos

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 4:27 pm

I came across this blog site, and thought it was one of the funniest things I have seen at http://www.orlandorealestatephotography.com/bad_mls/bad_mls.html   and just about fell off my chair! Be sure you scroll at least half way down the page to see the photo of the empty room, with what appears to be a sizeable blood stain in the middle of the room’s carpeting.

I have said it before, and I will say it again….Showing Ability rules! Whether you are selling a piece of Philadelphia real estate that is a condo, loft, or townhouse, please make sure that you do your best to avoid selling anything like what you will see in these photos. Seriously, could you imagine yourself buying any of these condominiums or lofts here in Philadelphia, if given the opportunity?  As a longtime Philadelphia realtor, I can assure you that buyers do indeed run out of certain condominiums and loft condos screaming….often times laughing uncontrollably!   🙂

So think before you sell. See before you buy. And know that almost all photos have the ability to hide dirt…and like these photos, If you can actually see the dirt IN the photo, there is probably a lot of it there!

And check back to this Orlandorealestatephotography.com  site often, as photos are frequently added….for your viewing pleasure!

Mark Wade    Prudential Fox and Roach Realtors   Philadelphia, Pa. 19106                                                                                                                                                     

www.blog.centercitycondos.com

www.CenterCityCondos.com

 

• • •

September 8, 2007

Are Condo and Homeowners Fees Too High?

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 7:33 pm

I found a great article at www.blog.askjerryboutcher.com, concerning condo fees. Someone was inquiring whether or not his condo fees were too high, with respect to other associations in the area.

Jerry had made a number of good comment, about condo fees, by saying " I always consider them relative, that they are in direct proportion to the amenities and services given in exchange."

I couldn’t agree more. Many potential condo buyers believe that condo fees magically evaporate into thin air. Generally speaking, they do not. You get what you pay for, and in a lot of cases, the fees for different associations (at least here in Philadelphia) vary due to the varying master insurance policy rates that a particular assocation carries.

In addition, a high rise condo fees, in say Rittenhouse Square, are going to be a lot higer than a low rise, regardless of the neighborhood, because high rise condos and loft buildings offer services such as doormen, elevators, possibly pools, and grounds. And none of those amenities are free!

I welcome your questions, comments, or concerns about my posts.

Mark Wade

CenterCityCondos.com      www.blog.centercitycondos.com

Prudential Fox and Roach Realtors

Philadelphia, Pa. 19106

• • •

September 6, 2007

Lazy Stupid REALTOR®

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 8:43 pm
There are lazy stupid doctors, roofers, donut makers, and yes, REALTORS®….
             And I have no doubt that I have fallen into this category at numerous
points in my eighteen year career selling downtown Philadelphia real estate.

So that you can stay far, far away from them,
here are some telltale signs of Lazy Stupid REALTORS®:

Doesn’t own a lockbox

Well, they do have one. But it belonged to the Philadelphia REALTOR®

 who had the listing to this Center City condo prior

Owns a lockbox, but gives you the wrong combination….
            Confuses it with the last 4 digits of their SS number
Doesn’t own a digital camera so they can’t post photos on the local MLS…
            My seven year old niece has a digital camera. She got it when she
            was five
Hasn’t bothered to see if the keys they just had copied, actually work…
            Perhaps it is their first day on this planet
Is unaware that being on time for appointments is a good thing….
            While the tour I have set for my buyers gets seriously delayed
Forgets to call their Philadelphia condo sellers after I have set up, and confirmed
a showing…..
            And I get greeted by surprised sellers who think I am there to rob them
Has just one key to their new listing….
            And it simply must be returned by me the minute I am done showing!
Thinks it is OK to give my lockbox combo to their Philadelphia condominium
buyers to revisit one of my listings….
            And can’t understand how this might upset my sellers
Pressures me to “close" an offer they bring me on one of my listings….
            Though it clearly is NOT in the best interest of my seller to sign that
            offer
Has an offer for one of my listings!
            And it becomes clear that it is MY responsibility to pick it up from them
I have an offer for one of their listings….
            And it becomes clear that it is MY responsibility to deliver it to them
If you witness me engaging in any of the above activities, feel free to call me on it!
 
Ready to work with a Center City REALTOR® who handles all the details for you (and owns his own lockbox)? Give me a call today at 215-521-1523 or drop me an email at mark@centercitycondos.com.

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

• • •

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