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February 27, 2008

Hardwood Floors in the Bathroom of your Philadelphia Condo?

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 11:16 am

I am often asked to consult with my buyers when it comes to new construction purchases. From coordinating the “kitchen cabinet color with the granite and tile backsplash”, to helping choose stains for hardwood flooring, and matching wall color, I am often adding my two cents.  I think I have a pretty good eye for what is hip and in vogue in terms of the Philadelphia condo buyer.

One thing I find interesting, is the overwhelming substitution buyers are making in favor of hardwood flooring in their bathrooms and kitchens, in lieu of traditional tile flooring. The diminished role that tile flooring plays in the design of many Rittenhouse Square condos, is evened out by the increased use of tile on bathroom walls. Not just surrounding the tub or shower stall, but we are seeing it’s increased use on bathroom walls, and of course, kitchen backsplash areas (the space between the upper and lower cabinet).

Another trend I like, is the increased use of textures, and natural materials on surfaces throughout the home, like a kitchen island area, or again, as a substitute for the traditional tile backsplash. A number of "green" items have made a popular entrance into the Philadelphia market, most noticeably at the Winne Building, with the help of Greenable Philadelphia.  Hip, and green, some of these products are a perfect fit for a new Old City loft, or Society Hill condo.

Think about stepping out of the box when planning your next Philadelphia condominium. Mix your textures, in otherwise uncommon areas of your new home, and you might find yourself living the life many of us just dream of. Your condo should be representative of your individual taste and style, and go ahead….live a little!

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

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February 25, 2008

New Yorkers Find Philadelphia Freedom

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 9:15 am

I came across this great article the other day.  Tom Acitelli of The New York Observer had this to say about the new trend of New Yorkers relocating to Philadelphia:

"Since 2001, 8,334 New Yorkers have moved to Philadelphia and stayed. Most—3,957—moved from Brooklyn. After Brooklyn, most émigrés hailed from Queens (2,160); and the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island, respectively.

What makes Philly so attractive? The Rocky statue atop the art museum steps? That’s been moved. No: It likely comes down to real estate.

Although exact numbers are difficult to find, Philadelphia home prices, generally, are absurdly low compared to almost any area in New York." 

The rest of Tom’s article can be read here.

As a realtor for 19 years here in Center City Philadelphia as well as an owner of an Old City Condominium, I’d have to say that I agree with these New Yorkers that Philadelphia is a great place to live! So, when you are ready to head down the turnpike and look for a great loft or condo here in Center City Philadelphia, 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., Suite 260 Philadelphia, PA 19106

 

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February 19, 2008

Does it cost me money to have a realtor if I am looking to buy a Philadelphia condominium?

Filed under: Of Interest to Buyers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:09 am

Most buyers are unaware that buying a condo in Center City will not cost them much of anything. The way the system generally works is that the seller pays the realtors fees (the listing and the selling agent) and that buyers may contact a realtor, and not have to pay him or her for their services.

The possible exception to that rule may be a $275 administration fee. At least that is the case with myself, and Prudential Fox and Roach Realtors. My fees, as your realtor, are paid for by the seller. You can use me, my knowledge, insight, and I will not charge you for my services. And I don’t charge you the $275, nor do I benefit from that fee-it is a fee that my agency charges. I hate that fee. I think it is stupid.

I will shuttle you around from Center City condo building to condo building, and sometimes even spring for coffee at the local Wawa. I will put money in the parking meters, or park illegally on the street and risk being towed. I might even pick you up at your place of residence, and drop you off there as well when we are done with our tour. All for free!

Now that doesn’t mean that there are not costs associated with buying a condo-on the contrary, as there are closing costs when you buy a Philadelphia condominium. It is just that my services are not charged directly to you.
So, if you are in a “Ready, willing, and able” state of buying your new Philadelphia condo…let’s roll!

Looking to hop into a car, and start your Center City condo shopping? I am ready when you are! Just drop me a note, and let’s chat! And let’s go look at some condos, and have some of that good Wawa coffee in the middle of our tour!

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

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February 14, 2008

Could I be the only Philadelphia Condo Owner Who is a Moron?

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 12:26 pm

I live in a low rise Old City condominium building, and really enjoy the lifestyle.  I have all the modern conveniences one could reasonably expect in a three year old restoration of an old warehouse building.

But I can’t figure out how to program my thermostat. I have been living with this computer like device on my living room wall for a number of years now, and I still don’t have a clue how it works. It is supposed to save me money. For the life of me, I can’t figure out how it works.  Ditto for the TV and the DVD player.  I know how to turn it on, and I know how to record a program on my On-Demand feature.  But heaven help me on the days that the remotes are sitting on the couch, and the dog inadvertently steps on the buttons on the remote. Then I am totally screwed. I don’t know how that thing operates….for crying out loud…there are a total of four remotes, and I don’t have a clue, the time, or any inclination to become familiar with all that crap. I have better things to do. Like sit on my can and watch Seinfeld reruns.

Am I the only one? Is it possible that I am the biggest moron in this town? Some things are just too complicated for their own good. And I know I am not the only one who doesn’t know how to program their thermostat.  In my opinion, some things are better left idiot-proof.  Like the old thermostats, that you simply turn either left or right to control. And don’t let me chew your ear off about the TV remotes either.

If you are shopping for components for your new Philadelphia condo, don’t get in over your head. Keep it simple. You never know when a moron like me is going to be your next buyer, and just might be scared off by your hi-tech know-how. I like my condos user-friendly and simple. Like me.

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

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February 12, 2008

What is a 1031 Exchange, and is it right for your Center City condominium?

Filed under: General Real Estate,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:37 am

I am not a tax expert, nor do I pretend to be. In fact, the issues of a 1031 exchange kinda’ confuse me. However, I have been in MANY transactions where either the buyer or the seller have participated in such an exchange. The exchange is all done via paperwork, prior to, and at the settlement table. It does seem like a nice way to basically defer taxes due on the sale of a piece of real estate. If you are looking to sell and buy another piece of real estate in Philadelphia, or elsewhere, you might want to consider what a 1031 exchange can offer. Here is a little info on the topic, garnered from www.1031.org:

In a typical transaction, the property owner is taxed on any gain realized from the sale. However, through a Section 1031 Exchange, the tax on the gain is deferred until some future date.
For more information, please visit www.1031.org, and find out if a “1031 exchange” is right for you and your Philadelphia condominium!

Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code provides that no gain or loss shall be recognized on the exchange of property held for productive use in a trade or business, or for investment. A tax-deferred exchange is a method by which a property owner trades one or more relinquished properties for one or more replacement properties of “like-kind”, while deferring the payment of federal income taxes and some state taxes on the transaction.

The theory behind Section 1031 is that when a property owner has reinvested the sale proceeds into another property, the economic gain has not been realized in a way that generates funds to pay any tax. In other words, the taxpayer’s investment is still the same, only the form has changed (e.g. vacant land exchanged for apartment building). Therefore, it would be unfair to force the taxpayer to pay tax on a “paper” gain.

The like-kind exchange under Section 1031 is tax-deferred, not tax-free. When the replacement property is ultimately sold (not as part of another exchange), the original deferred gain, plus any additional gain realized since the purchase of the replacement property, is subject to tax.

Q – What are the benefits of exchanging v. selling?

• A Section 1031 exchange is one of the few techniques available to postpone or potentially eliminate taxes due on the sale of qualifying properties.

• By deferring the tax, you have more money available to invest in another property. In effect, you receive an interest free loan from the federal government, in the amount you would have paid in taxes.

• Any gain from depreciation recapture is postponed.

• You can acquire and dispose of properties to reallocate your investment portfolio without paying tax on any gain.

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

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February 7, 2008

Monthly Fees for Philadelphia Condominiums – Can they be lowered?

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 12:23 pm

Of course each condominium association here in Center City sets their own condo fees. These fees are contingent upon a number of items, generally encompassing the amount of services provided- doorman, elevator, parking garage, roof deck, utilities, etc. I am often asked if any given Center City condo building/association can lower their fees. And the answer is a resounding maybe. Here is what I would do if I were sitting on your condo board, and wanted to see if fees could be lowered:

1) I would shop my master insurance policy for the entire building, to four (4) or more new insurers. Check your liability amount, your deductible, and see if you are overpaying for your current policy

2) Shop around for a new management company for your Center City condo building. For instance, is your current management company charging for move-ins and move-outs, and NOT giving that money to the association? Are they charging you for services you really don’t need? I would think about getting some competitive bids, as a lower management fee is going to lower your condo fees. Also, it is not uncommon to see low-rise four to six unit buildings do the management internally, and not hire an outside contractor to manage the building

3) Make sure that there is a two month capital contribution to each new buyer on every sale for every unit in your building. This fee is equivalent to two (2) month condo fees, and that goes straight into your “condo pot”. VERY common on about half the Philadelphia condo buildings I have come across in the past number of years. If your association isn’t collecting this fee, perhaps they should be.

4) Change hallway light bulbs to the new “spiral fluorescent” bulbs- they can save a lot of dough through a year’s time.

5) Implement a special assessment to change all toilets to 1.6 gallon per flush models. Not a popular idea, but a good one none the less

6) Implement a special assessment to have individually water meters installed in each unit, instead of your current “one meter” system. You may save a few dollars per year if you pay water outside of condo fees (if you are not a water hog, that is…though that idea probably will go over like a lead balloon at your next condo meeting

So there you have it. Yes, you can probably lower your condo fees, and probably make some enemies in the condo association at the same time, as most of these ideas are going to be “shot down” by the masses at any given condo association meeting. Leave me a comment and let me know how everything works out.  Good luck with that….

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

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February 5, 2008

How does floor height affect value in Philadelphia condominiums?

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:18 am

In my opinion, with respect to a high-rise Center City condo, the answer to the question is an obvious one:  The higher the floor, the better the view, and generally the higher the price. On a clear day you can see forever. You can even see, with binoculars, the high rises in Atlantic City.  Heck, from Liberty Two (50 S. 16th St.) you can even see the Nuclear power plant in Limerick. Although the upper floors do command higher prices, there is a segment of the Philadelphia condo buyer who enjoys, and actually prefers a tree top view, somewhere around the fourth or fifth floors. Provided of course, the view is actually of trees and treetops, and not rooftops of neighboring buildings. 

In a low-rise Center City condo building, my opinion is that the value of the floor height is usually determined by the presence or absence of an elevator.  If you have an elevator, top floors are preferred.  However, know that in MANY cases, the higher the floor (in a low-rise condo) will mean a lower ceiling height.  The first floor generally has the highest ceiling height in almost all low rise condos in Philadelphia. But there is some opposition to being on the first floor by some Center City condo buyers.  The perception is safety, or the lack thereof. That perception can be balanced….as there are many $2,000,000 townhouses here in town that of course have a lot of living space on the first floor. It is kinda’ a “part and parcel” issue. It is how the city is built. If you live in a low-rise say, Fitler Square condo, I would suggest to you that resale wise, the second floor is generally going to be most desirable. Especially second floor front. Think about it. There are many reasons why a 2nd floor front unit is going to be the most desirable in the building…given that all other issues are equal within that building.

I would love to hear feedback on my points.  Leave a comment or drop me an email sometime.  Mark@CenterCity.com  Tell me what you think!

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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