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May 29, 2008

Sometimes, Simplier is Better for Your Center City Condo

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

Being the fabulous, urban Philadelphia condominium realtor that I am, I have an image to uphold. I drive a fancy car, wear the right clothes, and can be seen in all the “in” restaurants. I am a realtor snob, and if I were a female, I might just be draped in diamonds, furs, and white elbow length gloves. You know the type. Fabulous can be a realtors middle name.

But please allow me to be the first to say…We just bought a small vacation home, and…We have Formica brand countertops…and I LOVE them. They are easy to clean, glasses sometimes don’t break upon impact with this countertop, and seldom does this product chip, fade, or need to be regrouted between seams. And when we get sick of it, we will choose another Formica Brand countertop….from our local hardware store.

And for all you housing snobs…guess what?! I have berber carpeting in my new master bedroom, and I DON’T CARE. I kinda’ like it. Again, cheap, easy to maintain, is comfortable to walk on, and when we get sick of looking at it, we will simply take it out back, and throw it in the neighbors dumpster. Let’s see you do that with you old worn hardwood flooring.

We don’t have California closets…we have the Home Depot knock off specials. The fireplace is about as real as Phyllis Diller’s hair. It ain’t authentic, and I don’t care what you think.

Ok, so the brass doorknobs are a bit cheesy these days. But so is that maroon “Members Only” jacket in my closet that I refuse to discard. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the ceramic tile in my bathroom that isn’t ceramic tile, but linoleum that looks like tile. I like it, it cleans up real nice, and didn’t cost me a lot.

I can let my hair down around my new formica, berber, and fake ceramic tile. Simplier can be better. Especially in a vacation home where you don’t want to put on any airs, and you just kinda’ want to kick back, and be yourself. If I could just find a used 1972 Ford Pinto to park in this driveway, my life would be complete.

Not all Philadelphia Condominiums need to be fancy to meet your needs. If you are looking for a smart, simple condo to suit your tastes, why not give me a call at 215-521-1523 or drop me an email at Mark@CenterCityCondos.com, and let me show you some Philadelphia condos that fit your needs!

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

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May 22, 2008

I Know a Few Things About Living in a Center City Condo

Filed under: Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 3:49 pm

After having lived here in downtown Philadelphia, I know a few things that I would like to share with the folks just moving into downtown for the first time….
 
1) If you live in a condominium building or loft,you can have your dry cleaning picked up and dropped off at your home. For nearly 17 years now, I have been using:
Paul Catellano Dry Cleaning Services 1-609-617-4291  He does dry cleaning, wash and fold service, and is always friendly and reliable-no charge for pickup/delivery
 
2) If you plan on getting around town, from time to time via cab, I like Olde City Cab at 215.338.0838  Again, friendly and reliable, the best in town, in my opinion
 
3) Looking for a kinda’ hip, swanky kinda’ place to have a drink? Try “XIX” at the Bellevue at Broad and Walnut Streets (19th floor of the Park Hyatt). Nice surroundings, with not a lot of attitude. Very Philadelphian of you….
 
4) Don’t join a gym until you have seen the Sporting Club at the Bellevue. Probably will be one of the most amazing things you will see. Huge doesn’t do this place any justice. BIG BIG BIG, clean, and nice classes all day long. Opens super early, closes very late every day.
 
5) Getting from one side of Center City to the other on the weekends is easy if you use Market Street and JFK BLVD.
 
6) Looking for cheap diner food at 2am on any given night? You want to go to Little Pete’s at 17th and Samson Streets.
 
7) Need any bath accessories? Try WaterWorks at 1525 Walnut St.  Some really high quality stuff!  from towels to faucets….
 
8) Cheap Weekend breakfast? Zeke’s deli on 5th street between Spruce and Pine. Service is always friendly, and food is reasonable. A nice clean place!
 
9) New to our TV viewing area? Most Philadelphians watch ABC 6 action news. I don’t know why…but I like them too….
 
10) Looking for some high end appliances? Check out ABC appliances over the bridge in Jersey. Nice folks, nice supply of higher end appliance, etc.
 
For other vendors I like, more related to real estate, vist my site, www.CenterCityCondos.com, and click on the “Vendor” menu button.

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

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May 20, 2008

Center City Condos and Homes Still Selling!!

Filed under: Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 3:25 pm

Last week, I read an article on Philly.com that was inspiring to me as a Center City Philadelphia REALTOR!!  It still appears that despite the housing and mortgage crisis around the country, that Center City Condos are holding on strong!  Here is an exerpt from the article:

“”Housing prices have remained strong,” Levy said. “There’s no doubt there’s a cooling in the market, but there’s no evidence of a bubble bursting downtown.”

Levy noted that Philadelphia has the lowest mortgage foreclosure rate – 0.49 percent – among the 10 largest metropolitan areas, far below Atlanta’s 2.53 percent or Detroit’s 4.92 percent.

Levy said the survey showed that last year the average Center City condominium sold for $428,596, while the average sales price for a single-family home was $286,616. Center City condominiums increased in price about 6.4 percent over 2006, while single-family homes increased in price by 9 to 15 percent, depending on neighborhood.

The number of Center City condominium units that sold for more than $1 million went from 49 in 2006 to 115 last year.”

I love both living and working here in Center City Philadelphia and it looks like I am not alone!!  Leave a comment or send me an email at Mark@CenterCityCondos.com and let me know what you think of our City.

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

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May 15, 2008

Venting Issues in Your Philadelphia Condo

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 3:22 pm

There are really three things you should consider when purchasing a Philly condo, in terms of it’s ventilation:

1) Is the fireplace vented? A lot of gas fireplaces are NOT vented to the outside in the state of PA. I have one in my house. I like it, and it certainly looses no heat via the flue. However, I do feel it is best to have a CO2 detector nearby, just in case. I rarely see the non-vented fireplaces as an issue to resale. Buyers generally don’t seem to either care, or realize the difference between a vented and non-vented gas fireplace.

2) Is the hood range vented? In most Philadelphia condos, it is not. How do you tell? Simply open the cabinet door above the microwave or hood range, and see if there is a pipe which leads up through the top of the cabinet. If you see no pipe..then the unit generally is not vented. If your unit is not vented, there are usually charcoal filters embedded into the hood range, or the microwave that will reduce the odors and smoke that arise from you burning dinner, or smelling your Old City loft up with odorous fish cooking. The range in my Philly condo is not vented, and it doesn’t bother me. And again, most Philadelphia condominium buyers are either not aware of the difference, of they don’t care.

3) Is you dryer vented to the outside? A lot of times, there is a white plastic box at the end of a six foot vent pipe. You know, the one that you are supposed to keep filled with water, which no one does, in order to reduce the amount of dryer lint/dust that will fill your condo? My condo has a vented dryer, because we insisted on buying a condo with a vented dryer. I lived in one condo that did not have a vented dryer, and I had a perpetually dusty apartment as a result. The only way to combat this issue is to investigate into ventless dryers that filter through some type of water.

It is more common than not, to have all three of the above items NOT vented to the outside of your Philadelphia condo…and none really make an impact on resale. Just a comfort issue for you, the potential buyer, whether or not all three are vented!  So, let me know what you think…..post a comment or drop me an email at Mark@CenterCityCondos.com and we’ll chat. 

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

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May 13, 2008

Buyer Beware….or Buyer Be Aware

Filed under: Of Interest to Buyers,Of Interest To Sellers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 3:55 pm

Question: You sell your Philadelphia condo, go to move out your couch which has been sitting in the SAME position for seven years, and the hardwood floors under your couch have faded. Are you responsible for such a “defect” if no such mention was made in a seller’s disclosure?
Answer: What do I look like, a lawyer?

But this does pose a very interesting question. Just how much “on the hook” is a seller? I pose this question, because this exact scenario just happened to me. I moved a couch, and the floor under the couch was discolored. Could the buyer have been mad? Possibly. I guess my argument here would have been “Let The Buyer Beware”.
I certainly wasn’t trying to hide anything. And that big dumb couch weighed as much as a space ship, and sure as hell that thing hadn’t been moved in seven years. But I felt kinda’ bad that the buyer inherited a floor that was (in this spot, where the couch was) discolored.  I guess if the shoe were on the other foot, and the seller told me that he was unaware, I would have to take his word for such.

What’s my point??
My point is that even with a home inspection, and a seller’s disclosure, there may be a surprise or two at the settlement table.

My advice??
Bring a flashlight to the home inspection, and do some looking around yourself. Ask questions. Compile a list of questions to ask the seller, and email to me (your realtor). A more informed buyer leads to less potential surprises. And thought there is no such thing as perfection, (besides a Denny’s Grand Slam Breakfast at 2am on any given Saturday night), the onus is on you to protect yourself from as many surprises as you can!

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

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May 8, 2008

Why are some condo fees higher in certain Philadelphia condominium buildings?

Filed under: Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 11:29 am

There are a lot of issue that may create higher or lower condo fees in certain condo buildings. Here is a list of ten that you might not have thought of:
 
1) Heat is included in the condo fees. The building has one system, and the cost to run that system is split between all owners of units in that particular building.

2) Water and Sewer are NOT included in the fees. Very rare…but does occur. May account for the fact that one particular building appears to have lower condo fees.

3) A porter is on-staff. This is someone, besides the front door man, who caters to your needs. IE: Trash removal, keeping the place clean EVERY day, etc.

4) An outdated master insurance policy. If you buildings combined unit value is say $3m, and you are only insured for $1.5M…then your fees are going to be lower than they should.

5) The building is a comprised of a small number of condo units, and therefore doesn’t need/have an outside managment company. This will keep your fees lower than most others.

6) The on-site swimming pool, parking, and grounds do not automatically clean and take care of themselves. Shocking. Someone’s got to pay for the upkeep.

7) The building is old, and suffers from no comprehensive, long term maintenance program. Assessments and increased fees are implemented to cover such forgotten upkeep.

8) A lack of common area can keep fees low. A low rise condo building with 4 common hallway lightbulbs is one way to keep the fees low. Especially if no elevator exists.

9) A “Green” thinking Philadelphia condo association that implements low wattage florenscent light bulbs, and utilizes low flow faucetts and toilets can keep fees lower than others.

10) Finally, a good, smart condo board that anticipates, rather than reacts to maintenance items can keep fees low in the long run. An ounce of prevention…….
 
Looking to keep your condo fees in check? Drop me an email at Mark@CenterCityCondos.com to chat about more ways to keep your condo fees in line.

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

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May 6, 2008

Big Bang for your Buck in Kitchen Backsplashes

Filed under: Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 9:44 am

A backsplash in a kitchen is the area between the upper and lower cabinetry. Often times, we see a variety of backsplash materials, depending on how a home owner may choose to accent the design of a kitchen.

From granite, to tile, and from glass to mirrors, I have pretty much seen a wide variety of materials used to fill in the space between the upper and lower sets of cabinets in many o’ Philadelphia kitchens.  And I am often times asked to add my two cents into what might look good in this area. The options are numerous, but if you have stainless steel appliances, I would suggest you cover this area with a relatively inexpensive FORMICA (in stainless steel color). The stainless steel look that FORMICA offers is really amazing. You couldn’t tell the difference between this product, and real stainless steel.

SO WHY USE THIS PRODUCT?

It is not expensive, and it is fairly easy to have someone from Lowe’s or Home Depot install it for you.  But the thing I like best is the fact that unlike real stainless steel, FORMICA is not susceptible to fingerprints. And if you do happen to smudge the FORMICA backsplash, it wipes off very easily, and rarely streaks. Try saying the same about the front of your stainless steel refrigerator!

Is it stainless, or is it FORMICA? I dunno. No one else will know either.

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

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May 1, 2008

So, you have parking with your new Philadelphia Condo?

Filed under: Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 2:41 pm

Congrats…you are in a minority! A good minority to be in, as parking, regardless of cost, has proven to be a great amenity for resale. But a lot (TONS) of realtors are WRONG when they advertise “Deeded parking”. Or they tell their buyers that the parking is “deeded” when indeed that is not the case. Parking can be described in the condo docs, and on one’s deed as “assigned” or as a LCE (limited common element) with the full right of use and enjoyment to unit # whatever.

Which is preferred? Some Philadelphia Realtors incorrectly assume that deeded parking with a Philly condo is preferred. I would argue otherwise. You see, with deeded parking, although you can sell your condominium off to whomever, you have to hope whomever also wants your parking space.  If the potential buyer of your Rittenhouse Square Condo doesn’t want your deeded parking space you are left with the headache of deciding whether to reject their offer because it will leave you with a parking space that will do you no good when you move into your Old City Loft.  Not to mention you’ll be stuck paying taxes on that space you won’t be using because you not only pay taxes on your condo, but you have a separate tax bill for that “other” deed…the one for your parking space.

An assigned condo parking spot has no separate tax bill, as the condo and the parking are on one deed. Really, in my eyes, whichever way the parking is set up by the declarant (the condo developer in most cases), will not affect the value of your condo. The value is in having parking in the first place. But please be aware when you hear the words “Deeded parking”…as your parking space may not be deeded at all. If I had my choice….I would choose NOT to have deeded parking, rather assigned parking to my unit, whose rights of ownership transfer to whomever buys my Philadelphia condo.

Please feel free to leave a comment on this post.  I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

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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