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January 31, 2008

How Potential Philadelphia Condo Buyers React to What They Perceive to be a Weakened Market

Filed under: Of Interest To Sellers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 11:56 am

Having watched buyers and sellers in all kinds of real estate markets here in Philadelphia – both a buyer’s market, and a seller’s market, I would like to cough up my two cents on what I see is happening now in the Philadelphia condo market as we start the new year (2008).

Let’s begin with the obvious. Buyers believe that sellers are nuts, and sellers believe that buyers are just plain crazy. And realtors are lunatics. I can see that. Buyers will react to what they believe to be a weakened market in a number of ways. Not only will they tend to “low ball”, but their behavior as far as location and condition are altered as well.

1) Low-ball offers become the norm: No big surprise here. The days of multiple offers on the same property have passed. Not only are there fewer buyers in the market, but the motivation levels of those buyers are not as prevalent.  We just don’t see that wide-eyed frenzy of “Gotta’ have it”. Buyers will often question how long a property has been on the market, and bid accordingly. Sellers should be less offended and less surprised by such behavior.

2) Condition Rule: Buyers become much greedier in their desire for something that shows well, and is in move-in condition. Why should they settle for something that needs work, when possibly they can now move up into something newer that shows really well for what they believe to be the same price? Rittenhouse Square condos, say, that do not feature a strong showing ability may be looked over. There is more product on the market, and a lot more substitutability, so those units that are a bit worn, are going to have to be priced really well to garner an offer.

3) Location becomes more important: I witnessed this firsthand back in the early 1990’s. In a perceptually weakened market, the “lesser” locations will be the first to drop off as far as prices and traffic are concerned. A buyer’s desire to “pioneer” an area will lessen as he or she may believe such a tactic is more risky in a less “demand saturated” market.

Condos in Philadelphia may be perceptually “off”, as far as sales and demand is concerned. Sellers need to be aware of this new view that buyers hold, and act accordingly. Waiting for the multiple offer situation to come knocking on their door might be best invoked by rubbing a lamp. However, what doesn’t require one to “rub a lamp” is the notion that a Philadelphia condo that shows well, and is priced well, will still sell well. Take that to the bank.www.CenterCityCondos.com
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St., Suite 260 Philadelphia, PA 19106 

Mark Wade

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January 29, 2008

Best Condominium Buys In Center City Philadelphia

Filed under: Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 4:05 pm

As a veteran Center City realtor, I am often cornered at parties, and asked, “What is the best buy in the Philadelphia condominium market?” The answer is not always easy, and depending on your priorities, can be varied, and alterable.

Generally, I have always believed the best buy is a good combination of location and condition. The former being strong, and the latter being weak. Buy an ugly Old City loft in a strong location, and make the emotional improvements yourself. Or buy a dated Rittenhouse Square condominium that needs work, and watch your investment skyrocket with a good dose of elbow grease.

I began selling real estate in Philadelphia nineteen years ago, when the market was very depressed. It was not uncommon for sellers to have to bring money to the settlement table in order for them to sell their condos. That is probably why I think it is ultimately important to buy “ugly”. If you read my blog regularly, or listen to my podcasts, I am sure I am beginning to sound like a nag. But take the point. Or at least consider it. Do not allow someone’s dirty condo to interfere with your perception of the true value of that particular Society Hill condo, or Fitler Square condominium. The power of dirt to chase other buyers out the door, and ultimately result in a lower sale price should not be diminished. One of the first articles I wrote for publication on the net was titled, “I hope I sell you a condo that smells like dog pee”. You can pretty much surmise the story by the title.

So the next time you see me at a party, perhaps getting all liquored up, and rambling on and on about Philadelphia real estate, you can be sure some of the ramblings are going to center around buying a crappy Art Museum area loft, or a smelly Society Hill condo.

And I mean it lovingly. Nothing spells value like the aroma of someone else’s dog pee.

Mark Wade
www.CenterCityCondos.com
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St., Suite 260 Philadelphia, PA 19106 

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January 24, 2008

Welcome to the Philadelphia Condominium Market, Mr. Trump

Filed under: Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 11:37 am

It seems “The Donald” is coming to town, and bringing a big band of trumpet blowers with him. I am hearing all kinds of noise about his plans on adding to our waterfront. Trump Tower Philadelphia is his plan to add 45 stories, and 225 residences to our fair city. To which I say, “Have at it”.

I have seen the plans, and been to the sales presentation. Now I am rarely impressed with developers. Especially those from New York, who along with their New York city big- brained consultants tell us what we need, and how we need it. The principle they never seem to get is the “When in Rome” theory of life. And let me tell you, this ain’t Rome. This is Philadelphia. Not all issues, factors, desires, and sales trends translate across the wide expanse of New Jersey (from NYC to Philly).

But I gotta’ say…..I think someone at the Trump organization must have correctly read some tea leafs or perhaps they looked into a crystal ball on the Jersey turnpike on their way down here from NYC. From what I see, this building is not only gorgeous, but appropriately sized (in terms of unit mix, size, and number of units in total), and the amenity package seems to be spot on for what this town really needs to make the waterfront area a really desirable destination for residency. The new Trump Tower Philadelphia, looks to be its own “Private Idaho”, in terms of the amenities and the recreational facilities onboard. I can see the Jersey shore becoming less a draw for those who might live in the new Trump Tower Philadelphia….

What do you think?  Leave me a comment and give me your thoughts or send me an email at Mark@CenterCity.comwww.CenterCityCondos.com
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St., Suite 260 Philadelphia, PA 19106 

Mark Wade

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January 22, 2008

Congratulations Mark Wade, The Number One Realtor in the Galaxy, and Member of the Jillion Dollar Club!

Filed under: General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 1:02 pm

I have been around the Philadelphia real estate market for a long time. Since 1989 to be exact. I have heard, and seen all kinds of things. And I either cringe or laugh when I hear some of the absolute bull that comes out of the mouths of some of my contemporaries.I was once told by a peer that he had the ability to either make or break a certain sale. He had the power to “make” his buyers buy what he suggested. To which I replied, “Really?”…. In all my 19 years experience I have never been able to exercise such mind control. Perhaps it was his toupee that gave him such exceptional abilities. I have never been able to get a buyer to buy something they didn’t want.

Oh, and don’t ever believe a Philadelphia realtor when they send you a mailer that states “I have buyers waiting to buy your property”. What a load of crap. Perhaps these buyers will just buy anything, sight unseen? Or perhaps it is the magic of the toupee again doing the impossible.

And how many realtors claim they are #1??

“# 1 realtor in Philadelphia”

“#1 in Listings and sales”

“#1 in Volume”

“#1 in transactions closed”

How about: # 1 in Sales this side of the planet Pluto? Or, # 1 in the Universe? Or, # 1 in the galaxy. Please.  Again, I believe it is all crap.  ONE realtor is # 1 in our town, has been for a long time, and I will take a billboard out on I-95 to let you know when that changes.

I personally never claim to be much of anything, except I do boast a bit about being an expert here in the Center City condominium market (selling approx. 140-160 condos per year here in town).  Though I once tried to get my company to print up my new business cards that said “Member – Jillion Dollar Club”. I thought it would be pretty funny. I guess they didn’t see it that way.  Perhaps being a Jillion dollar seller is just more “out there” than being the # 1 realtor in the Galaxy….

And just in case – I am neither the # 1 realtor in the galaxy, nor am I am member of the Jillion dollar club.  So if you are looking for a realtor who knows a bit about Center City Philadelphia but isn’t #1 of anything, then give me a call at 215.521.1523 or send me and email at Mark@CenterCity.com.  You may just get a prize for being my jillionth client….just kidding!  

Mark Wade

www.CenterCityCondos.com
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St., Suite 260 Philadelphia, PA 19106
 

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January 15, 2008

Attention: Philadelphia condominium buyers- Talk to me… I can’t read your mind

Filed under: Of Interest to Buyers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 9:59 am

I have been working with buyers in the Philadelphia condo market for some time now.  Since 1989 I have been shuttling around buyers in my car, on foot, and a few times, via bikes. I enjoy myself, and really like selling real estate. Call me nuts. I don’t care, but I do enjoy it.

But what I really don’t like are buyers who won’t give me any guidance or feedback. What Am I, a mind reader? I need you to talk to me. Tell me that you hate that condo on Lombard Street, or tell me you love that loft at 3rd and Arch streets. Just talk to me. Tell me why. I don’t own that condo, and I am not going to get offended by your dislike of dirty orange shag carpeting.  

Every buyer has a rank of priorities when they look at Philadelphia condos. Some value location, some condition, some value ceiling height and natural light above all else, and some Rittenhouse Square condo buyers value the prestige a certain building may or may not exude. I don’t care what your particular  priorities are, or how you value them….I just care that you adequately verbalize these wants and needs to me, so I can incorporate them into our next tour.  Otherwise, I am going to continue to show you a bunch of stuff you are not interested in seeing. God knows there is enough inventory on the Philadelphia condominium market to keep both of us looking until the year 2012, especially with the Changing Skyline that Inga Saffron, the Architecture critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer has been writing about. If you don’t have help me rule out some of the flats and lofts you are NOT interested in seeing, we are just going to spin our wheels.

My favorite buyers are the ones with opinions. Realistic opinions. Penthouse condos in prestigious buildings don’t sell for $139,000, nor can I get you EVERYTHING on your wish list. But I can hit a pretty high percentage of your wants and needs, if you just speak up and tell me why you liked the condo at 2nd and Spruce Street, or why you think you need three bedrooms, instead of two bedrooms and a den. Communication is the key, so don’t be shy!  Again, I don’t own these condos,  I just show these condos, so when you are ready to start talkin’ to me, give me a call at 215.521.1523 or drop me an email at Mark@CenterCity.com.  I am on your side!

Mark Wade
www.CenterCityCondos.com 
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St., Suite 260 Philadelphia, PA 19106

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January 10, 2008

Are My Fees Going To Go Up In My New Philadelphia Condo?

Filed under: Of Interest to Buyers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 12:07 pm

Not only is this a good question, it is often asked, and it is relevant. There are many issues to consider when answering this question. Let’s assume you are looking at a new condo building here in town that has a new elevator, roof, windows, common area hallways, etc. The answer to your question can be a strong yes, or a strong no.

Yes- Your condo fees are going to rise significantly in the first year:

If an initial review of the budget reveals that the developer has artificially kept fees low, and really skewed the budget to an unrealistic level of operation, then there is no way in hell your condo fees are going to be what the developer is suggesting, in say years two and three. This introductory “teaser’ fees are bullcrap, and that is kinda’ shady of someone to pull that kind of stuff on buyers. A close examination of the condo budget can easily reveal such trickery if you know what you are looking for.

No- Your condo fees should remain stable for the first five years or so:

If your building has a new roof, new windows, a new elevator, new fire systems with a new stair tower(s), new common area carpeting, paint, etc. then you can reasonably expect that your condo fees are going to be stable for the first five years or so of the inception of your Philadelphia condo association. The key is to look at the budget again, and determine if the developer is being honest and truthful, and to see what the fees cover. Do your fees include water and sewer, or are they being billed separately? Does the master insurance policy adequately cover the replacement value of the building? Is a management fee included in your monthly dues?

Generally speaking, I think fees do remain stable in new construction condo buildings here in most Center City Philadelphia condo buildings. Just keep a sharp eye on the budget to make sure that all possible items are accounted for.  And make sure there is money set aside each month into a “rainy day” fund (aka: capital improvements fund).

I personally fell in love with Philadelphia real estate in the late 1980’s and became a resident when I bought my very first condo here in the Old City section of town.  From working with bank foreclosures on multi-unit buildings to helping developers turn apartment buildings into condominium buildings, I have pretty much carved my niche as a condominium specialist.  Today, as a realtor with Prudential Fox and Roach’s Society Hill office and once again an owner of an Old City condominium, I can say with confidence that I am intimately familiar with the lofts and condos (and their association fees ) here in Center City Philadelphia!    

Are you looking for honesty and insight into your future condo fees? Pick a realtor with a lot of knowledge and experience in Philadelphia condominiums, and you might just be happy you did!

Mark Wade
215.521.1523
www.CenterCityCondos.com
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St., Suite 260 Philadelphia, PA 19106

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January 8, 2008

Not All Hardwood Floors in Philadelphia Condominiums and Lofts Are Created Equal

Filed under: Of Interest to Buyers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:04 am
This lovely Philadelphia condo has hard wood floors throughout….

How many times have we heard a Philadelphia realtor bark those words at a buyer during an open house, or say an advertisement in the real estate section of the Inquirer? I like to think of hardwood floors as being in three classes or categories. Each class can be defined by cost, look, and wear.

The first class is what I call the faux class. These floors really have the look and feel of a laminate, but are often incorrectly called hardwood floors by the mistaken masses. The name most often associated with these floors is Pergo. Often times called a floating floor, this surface often has a bit of a hollow sound when you walk. Easy to identify, I discover most buyers, even young first time Philadelphia condo buyers recognize a Pergo floor when they see one. Durable, inexpensive, and easy to install, the benefits do suit a specific type/price range of Center City condominiums.

The second class is the roughly 2 ¼ inch- 4” wide planks sold in either unfinished, or in an array of finishes baked on at the manufacturing plant. Newer construction Philadelphia condominiums abound in these floors. From bamboo to Brazilian cherry, and dozens of hues of oak, this flooring surface is popular in many Center City condos because they tend to be a bit more expensive than faux hardwood floors, and can be re-sanded, sometimes more than once, over the years. Rarely, would  one have to remove these hardwood floors to improve their look. They simply would refinish. In my experience, oak is the most durable. I have seen many a bamboo floor with puncture marks from high heels, etc.

Lastly, original 200 year old random width pine floors, with varying widths of 2”-14” – the latter being in the oldest of Philadelphia real estate attics and such, finish what I believe to be the three most relevant categories of Philadelphia condo flooring.  As the name and description above imply, these floors are the most expensive and rare. Seen in many old Philadelphia townhomes, these floors, with their glowing orange hue, and rough patterns of unevenness, are generally only seen in old lofts throughout Old City and Society Hill condos. You can’t buy these floors, outside of some who salvages old homes for a living. Softer in nature than the store bought oak, and generally about an inch thick in nature, make these floors the Grande Dame of Center City condominium flooring!

And you can check them out for yourself right inside some of my new listings.  Just give me a call at 215.521.1523 or send me an email at Mark@CenterCity.com and we can set up an appointment.  I hope to hear from you soon!  

Mark Wade
www.CenterCityCondos.com
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St., Suite 260 Philadelphia, PA 19106

 

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January 3, 2008

You Have Got To See the Crappy Philadelphia Lofts and Condos Before You Get to the Good Stuff

Filed under: Of Interest to Buyers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 4:48 pm

As I work with buyers, a task in which I enjoy very much, it has become evident over the past nineteen years that one tenet of seeing lofts and condos in Philadelphia holds true – You are going to see some undesirable pieces of Center City real estate before we finally hit upon the one that grabs your heart, your eye, and your pocketbook.

More often than not, I find that buyers reject 99.9% of the condos in Center City for one reason or another. No problem. That is the goal of house hunting. And believe me, there is good reason to reject many of the things that are on the market. Too big, too small, not enough closet space, too dark- you name it.  And for one reason or another, any given condo in Old City, Rittenhouse Square – wherever – is not going to be a good fit for what you have in mind.

The important thing here is that you and I learn of your likes and dislikes. That you adequately communicate what you are seeing, and how it does or doesn’t fit into your scheme of things. I don’t own any of the condos you are seeing, so if you aren’t interested – that’s ok.  Just be sure to let me know the strengths and weaknesses of everything we are seeing, so we just don’t work in circles, and continue to see condos in Society Hill that may be too cramped, if that is indeed how you are feeling.

We will eventually find you a new condo. I always do.  And if I can’t…well, then possibly your expectations are a bit lofty, or you are just not ready to buy. I am not going to give up on you….so get ready, and please be patient as we see some crap out there in the Philadelphia real estate landscape!  Call me at 215-521.1523 or send me an email at Mark@CenterCityCondos.com when you are ready to go! 

Mark Wade
www.CenterCityCondos.com
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St., Suite 260 Philadelphia, PA 19106

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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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