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May 29, 2009

Not all Philadelphia Locations suffer Equally in this Real Estate Market

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Of Interest To Sellers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 3:54 pm

What I find interesting about the current state of the market, here in late Spring 2009, is that not all segments of the real estate market in downtown Philadelphia are equal in terms of it being a sellers or a buyers market. 

The hottest segment in town has got to be the two bedroom townhouse market in the 19103, or northern portion of 19146- roughly called the Rittenhouse Square area, under $400,000. Slim pickins’ should a buyer find themselves looking for housing in this crowded area. Many buyers, either Penn students, or whomever, are searching for that perfect, say, $375,000 two bedroom townhouse. I would strongly suggest that this segment of the market is a sellers market, or at least leaning in that direction- more so than any other segment of the Center City real estate market.

Conversely, I would venture to guess that an extreme buyers market is in effect in the Northern Liberties section of Center City in terms of the condo market. Simply looking at inventory levels in one clue. The other clues, or symptoms would be average “Days On Market”, and the difference between asking price and selling price of many of these units. The last hint to where any segment of the market may fall, in an extremely unscientific measure, is the amount of buyers I have who visit my website, and search for inventory in those two particular neighborhoods. The Rittenhouse Square area out weights other areas in a disproportionate manner. 

Depending on what market segment you may be interested in, may determine your ability to not only have a lot to different condos to look at, but also may provide more opportunity to bargain with any given seller. Yes, there can be a buyers market on one end of town, and a sellers market on the other end of town- at the same time.

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

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May 27, 2009

Dispursement of Philadelphia’s Real Estate Wealth

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Of Interest To Sellers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 3:16 pm

Twenty years ago, if you had $750,000 to spend on a piece of Philadelphia real estate, you had just two options- Rittenhouse Square or Society Hill. Or like most buyers in the Philadelphia region, you may actually have omitted the downtown options, and landed in suburbia. Back in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s, transferees into the metro Philly area would seem to magically bounce of Center City (our downtown area) and end up in a suburb. The idea of spending anything over a half million dollars to live in Old City, The Art Museum area, or say Washington Square West was just not a popular option or idea- even if you could find something in those neighborhoods in such a price range. You would have to be out of your mind NOT to position yourself front and center on Rittenhouse Square, or in Society Hill- our two mainstays for the Location, Location. Location equation.

Today, options for high end condos and townhomes in Philly are varied- not only in terms of location, but also style. Old City is a REAL possibility for many condo buyers in the upper tier. Old City is probably the one neighborhood where a high end modern loft condo has not only become a real possibility, but a true draw to many empty nesters looking to abandon such things in their lives as lawnmowers and multiple car ownership.  Fitler Square, with its quaint cobblestone side streets and small pocket gardens, as well as the Avenue of the Arts- replete with cultural activities nearby, are options that high end buyers did not exercise in the late 1980’s.  And let’s not forget the Waterfront areas, as well as Art Museum areas, and Queen Village, each offering their own attractions and pleasures of an urban lifestyle.
   
With the growth and popularity of downtown Philly, there has arisen a variety of options in which buyers should explore, before sticking with one neighborhood in which they are familiar. And it seems that all buyers coming into Philadelphia have heard of locations like Rittenhouse Square and Society Hill. With the advent of Google Street Views, and maps, one can easily learn about all of the area neighborhoods before even stepping foot into the downtown Center City area.

So take a look around, and explore. Not only neighborhoods, but also the variety of housing stock offered in the downtown area. From converted brownstone mansions, to contemporary new “green” structures, downtown Philadelphia has come a long way in the past twenty years as a viable alternative to suburban life. And it seems like the table have now turned- transferees now magically bounce off the outlying suburban areas, and end up putting their money and their belongings in a Center City townhouse or condominium.

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

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May 20, 2009

New Construction Condos in Philadelphia

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Of Interest To Sellers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:28 am

You call THAT an upgrade?


 
Since when are closet inserts an upgrade? When one buys an $800,000 condo, should you not be able to expect that some sort of clothes hanging mechanism would be included? Even the cheesy cheap wire mesh systems? I have seen developers try to pass off even the basic necessities as upgrades, and it is insulting. Perhaps Mr. Developer, you think my $800,000 buyer just fell off the back of a turnip truck? How the hell do you think he or she got to the point in their life where they could afford such a condominium without a brain cell or two? Dumbass.

And please stop with the patronizing “and you get lovely carpet in the bedrooms at no extra charge”. Again, you are an idiot.

And touting the virtues of a dishwasher, a garbage disposal, and/or doorbell for each condo unit?Yippee…where does my buyer sign?? If developers could take a minute or two to tour some of the condo offerings in Center City Philadelphia, and realize that the buyers I am bringing to your front door have seen almost EVERYTHING on the market, then maybe that developer could wise up, and compare apples to apples. Tell us about the significance of your location, the quality of your construction, or the fact that you are priced competitively. My buyers are not stupid, and I will not allow them to be uneducated. So wise up, and let’s make a deal. Because until you (Mr. Developer) come to your senses, my buyer’s desire to write an offer on one of your condos is going to be severely limited.

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

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May 15, 2009

Urban Aromas

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:03 am

…I love the smell of brake dust in the morning.


 
City living can be tough on the senses. From the wafting smoke churned out from passing busses, to the brake dust the collects on our front windowsills of our urban loft in downtown Philadelphia.
 
The flip side of the coin is that we are never woken up by early morning lawn mowing, aren’t bitten by mosquitos in the middle of the night, and we rarely have roosters waking us at the crack of dawn. Yes, city life is blessed with with a mixed bag of smells, sounds, and sights. I will never forget when I was huddled with a bunch of early morning commuters at the corner of 16th and Market one morning- waiting for the light to change so we could cross the street. Also waiting, was a rat. When the light changed to green, and we all proceeded out into the street, so did the rat. I named him “Commuter Rat”. Haven’t seen him since. I hope he is doing well.

And I know suburbanites don’t think that city living is really “real”….but my mind goes back to what Samantha said on Sex in the City one time about living in a big urban area: “A homeless man just showed me his d***”…It doesn’t get any more REAL than that. And it is true. There are many things we put up with in order to live the City Life. And I wouldn’t have it any other way…….

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

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May 12, 2009

Buying a Rehabbed Center City Condo?

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 3:15 pm

It is difficult to put a price on a new kitchen in say, The Hopkinson House condominiums, or the Academy House condos. Though it is easy to calculate what the seller may have paid for the new granite, the appliances, and the cabinetry, but what about all the other costs associated with a new kitchen in an existing high rise condo here in Philadelphia?

Consider the fact that you have to first plan for the new kitchen. You measure, you check, you curse, you get confused, you wing it, and you now have some plans. But you have to pull permits from the city. And get approval from your condo association. You then must shop for all the new ingredients- including baseboard, toekicks, quarter round, and backsplash tile. You then need to get rid of your old kitchen. It is not like you can just throw the sink down the trash chute. And you have to live with this mess. And without a kitchen for a while as well. Then you have to take delivery of the new cabinetry and appliances and all (from M-F 9am-4pm only in most Philadelphia condo highrise buildings) and see that your delivery men get a parking space, don’t bang the walls in the hallway, etc. Next plan for something to go wrong, and put your plans back 3 weeks. It happens. All the time 🙂

So congratulations. You now have a new kitchen. And a healthy respect for EVERYTHING you had to go through to get this new kitchen inside your new Center City condo. And you swear you will never do it again. So, you still think that new kitchen in the condo you are looking to buy is only worth $20,000?

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

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May 8, 2009

Hard vs. Soft Lofts

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,General Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 12:13 pm

Almost any Center City condominium, with a smattering of exposed brick, attempts to pass itself off as a loft. Often sought after as an expression of one’s own style, loft living has taken off in downtown Philadelphia. Lofts vary in look, layout, and location throughout downtown Philly. Some loft condos impress mightily, and others are cheap imitations of highly unique, urban treasures hidden in pockets of Old City, Bella Vista, and of course, The Loft District around 13th and Vine Streets.

The best example of a hard loft in Center City might be The Old Shoe Factory at 314 N. 12th St. From an unadorned cavernous lobby area, up to the eighth floor via a converted oversized warehouse lift, the units are characterized by hugely oversized windows, exposed brick, minimalist kitchens, and bedrooms that are open to the living area. Fantastic city views, high ceilings, and a few units with polished cement floors. Minimalistic at best, these condos truly tag at the definition of a live/work open space where room size is valued over room count.

A fair example of a soft loft might be BridgeView Place at 315 New St. in Old City. With the prerequisite high ceilings, and touches of exposed brick, these condos have been compartmentalized to include bedrooms, walled off kitchen areas, and walk-in closets. Some units at BridgeView do indeed have a loft bed perched above the living space, but those units are few and far between. The conversion to condominiums in the mid 1980’s at 315 New St. is a good example of a reasonable living space, with a bit of “lofty” flair.

A Center City Philadelphia loft can come in a variety of sizes, styles, and locations throughout downtown Philadelphia. Some more true to their “lofty roots” than others, loft living of all proportions is gaining popularity amongst the empty-nester set moving into town from the suburbs and elsewhere. Many of the available loft condos today didn’t exist in the early 1990’s when the very first empty nester/baby boomer began trickling into Center City. And judging from the success of many loft and loft-like sales throughout the area, buyers are finding individuality can be expressed through the (loft) style in which they choose to live.

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

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May 5, 2009

Pending Home Sales Jump 3.2%

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,General Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Of Interest To Sellers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 3:57 pm

Yippee – Increase in sales contracts signed during March. 
  
I am generally not a big fan of NATIONAL real estate news, but here is one good sign….

Pending home sales rose in March for the second consecutive month and are up year over year. The Pending Home Sales Index from the National Association of Realtors showed a 3.2% gain to 84.6 from February, when it was 82. The index stands 1.6% higher than a year ago.

The consensus forecast of industry experts polled by Briefing.com had predicted no increase in the index.

It may still take a while before the market gains enough momentum to firmly state that the downturn has been reversed, according to Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. And, the upturn may have been boosted by the first-time homebuyers tax credit, a temporary measure that will lapse in December.

A ray of sunshine, in a storm of dismal housing news!

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

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May 1, 2009

Six Can’t Miss Paint Colors for your Philadelphia Condo

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,General Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Of Interest To Sellers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 11:30 am

I found a very interesting little tid-bit in Readers Digest. For all you knuckleheads who have never picked out paint before, you should use view the following as gospel. I disagreed with one of their choices, so I deleted it.  (All colors are Benjamin Moore.)

Million Dollar Red (#2003-10): Good for dining rooms and family rooms. Just please use sparingly.

Potpourri Green (#2029-50): “Earthy and pale,” a neutral for kitchens and bathrooms.

Wood Grain Brown (#2109-30): Less red and more gray than Hershey’s Kiss brown, this is the color Mayhew used in her own dining room.

Gray Owl (#2137-60): Works in bedrooms or throughout the house.

Birds Egg (#2051-60): A blue with a “clean gray tint,” another all-purpose color for Mayhew.

Early Morning Mist (#1528): “Somewhere between gray and beige” is this versatile neutral “greige.”
 
–Source: Flip! For Decorating: A Page-by-Page, Piece-by-Piece, Room-by-Room Guide to Transforming Your Home by Elizabeth Mayhew (Ballantine, $24)
 
Want a few more decorating tips to make your Philadelphia condominium stand out? Drop me a note, and let’s chat!

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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