Why rent a Philly condo when you can buy one? Many renters believe they need to save a large down payment to purchase a condo…the reality is that some loan programs accept as little as 3% down. Many renters believe they need a 700+ credit score to qualify for a mortgage…the reality is that there are lenders that will accept a score as low as 620 for a conventional loan.
The main difference between renting and buying is who gets your check—a landlord or the bank. Here are some fast facts from our friends at Trident Mortgage about the advantages of homeownership:
Fact: Interest rates are still at historic lows. Fact: Renting deprives you of large tax breaks. Fact: A home is a leveraged investment using other peoples’ money. Fact: Real estate continues to be an excellent return on investment.
Still not convinced? Check out this calculator to see the personalized numbers for yourself: Buy vs Rent Calculator.
BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors
* Deluxe one bedroom?
* Jumbo one bedroom?
* One bedroom plus den?
* One bedroom plus niche?
* Extra large one bedroom?
Call them anything you want, but many buildings offer these super-sized one bedroom condos, which are growing in popularity as well as demand.
I think back to the “01” units at The Murano. Over 1000 sq ft with a very large living room, these units sell almost as quickly as they come on the market.
One Riverside at 25th and Locust has a one bedroom with den unit that I think is fantastic. The “den” is really a bedroom but the design is an open floor plan that offers a buyer options on how they want to lay out their space.
Waterfront Square offers two varieties. In one style, the living room is HUGE…the other has a separate den.
Independence Place has what they call a one bedroom and niche which plays out as a large living room that can easily be cordoned off if the owner desires.
These are just a few examples. I find many buyers will change their minds and opt for a large one bedroom plus den instead of a traditional two bedroom. Often, the square footage is the same but the pricing is usually better. They realize the need to host overnight guests is really NOT a practical decision.
The waters can get muddied when buyers ask what does or does NOT constitute a bedroom. Does it need to have an operable window to be called a bedroom? If so, then NO units at Two Liberty have any bedrooms because none of the windows open. Direct sunlight? Then very few units at the National are true two bedrooms as the 2nd bedroom gets no natural light. Does a bedroom need a closet to be a bedroom? I doubt it.
With so many options here in the Center City Condo Market, you might find your best option is a jumbo one bedroom/one bedroom plus den. Worthy of consideration? I think so…
The plan is for 54 condos, along with long- and short-term rental units located in a 48-story high-rise with retail on the first floor. With prices starting around $2.5M, the developer (Southern Land Company) is hoping for a groundbreaking in 2019.
According to Multi-Housing News, “residents will receive white-glove amenities that include valet parking, indoor lap pool and hot tub, five-star fitness center with luxury locker room, steam room and sauna, yoga and Peloton room. A club room and terrace overlooking Rittenhouse Square will offer bar and catering kitchen, conference room and dog spa. Residents will also be afforded use of the luxury car service, as well as the rental suite for their out-of-town guests.”
Photo Source: Southern Land Company
Designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz, this project aims to be Philly’s tallest residential-only building. Their plan is to open a sales office at 1845 Walnut in the spring.
1) The process of getting a mortgage will drive you up a wall. Someday there will be paperless closings, I am sure. Until then, you will have to sign your name 1,378 times. Just know that you are being tortured just as equally as everyone else. (Check out our preferred lenders here – they will make this process as painless as possible for you – I promise!)
2) The seller may leave your new home in a condition you find unacceptable. Rarely will a seller have the home professionally cleaned after they move out. If they do, know that you should thank them…honestly. You should also be grateful if they remember to bring ALL the keys, key fobs, garage door openers, door codes, and the mailbox key to closing…
3) You will find holes left in the walls where the seller’s artwork once hung. Yeah- artwork and framed photos don’t magically float. It would be illogical to assume that some holes will NOT be left. Sorry.
4) You can’t move in prior to settlement, nor may you move any of your belongings into the condo prior to settlement. Most buyers get this, but some get p*ssed when they learn they may not do so.
5) You have to coordinate your move-in with the condo management company and there may be restricted time frames that the building allows move-ins – weekends and after 5pm is most likely a no-no.
6) While chatting with the seller at the table, you find out you can’t have a BBQ grill on your deck, or that the building has rules on visitation, like extra fees for parking, etc. because you didn’t read your condo docs and now you are shocked and p*ssed. Not uncommon.
7) No one told you that your closing funds have to be in a cashier’s / bank check or wired in prior to settlement. (Our preferred title people will not let this happen to you – again, I promise!)
Here are a few condo reserve questions I often get asked:
1) How much money does a certain condo association have in its kitty?
You really are not going to know the answer to that question until you purchase the condo and review the condo docs. The state of Pennsylvania allows for a five-day review of condo docs for you to make an informed decision. Some buildings stockpile a boatload of $$ – and others simply just assess when needed. I usually find that the very small buildings and the very expensive/exclusive buildings in town don’t keep that much $$ on hand- their way of making improvements is to simply assess owners when needed.
2) How much in reserves is required by Fannie Mae for the building to be “warrantable?”
Although there is no set amount (for the ability of buyers who want to buy in a particular building), it is probably a good idea to be setting 10-15% aside every month for capital improvements.
3) What are capital expenditures?
Reserves for deferred maintenance (performed less frequently than yearly in order to maintain the asset’s useful life) and capital expenditures (purchasing or replacing assets that have a useful life over one year) are required for certain building components unless the board votes annually to waive and/or reduce reserve funding.
4) WTF is a capital contribution???
Buyer pays two months worth of condo fees into the ASSOCIATION- this does not go to the seller and this helps to build the kitty for future improvements. You do not get this payment back when you sell the condo and it is not a pre-payment of condo fees. This contribution is now applicable for almost ALL condo sales in town.
5) How much should my Philly condo association have in reserves?
This really is a function of the board’s goals and the current condition of the entire parcel including the roof, windows, elevators, etc. Most folks I speak with suggest 10% -15% of the TOTAL annual intake of condo fees to help build the kitty. A professional reserve study may be in order to best guide an association.
Email me for details and I may be able to help with this. 🙂
Mark Wade www.CenterCityCondos.com | BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors
530 Walnut St. #480 | Philadelphia, PA 19106
Mark@CenterCity.com | 215.521.1523
Northern Liberties has become a great residential neighborhood with a mix of professionals, families, and empty-nesters, all while maintaining its original artistic vibe. With a great neighborhood association (NLNA) there is always something exciting going on in the area.
From family events at the Community & Rec Centers, to the seasonal farmer’s market and music festival at Liberty Lands Park, to the great variety of restaurants and bars in the neighborhood, Northern Liberties has it all. Here are just a few groovy spots:
Cantina Dos Segundos – 931 N. 2nd St. – Great for everything from brunch to happy hour to midnight margaritas…and all the delicious Mexican cuisine with a twist you can eat in between!
Yards Brewery – New location at 500 Spring Garden St. – 20 brews on tap plus a full menu…the brewery is still under construction but tours will begin soon. Bonus: They’ve got a Super Bowl bet going with Harpoon Brewery in Boston…Go Eagles!
North Bowl – 909 N. 2nd St. – Bowling, pool tables, arcade, bars, food – something for everyone. The NLNA is hosting a Winter Fest here on Feb. 11…
Edgar Allen Poe House – 532 N. 7th St. – Open Friday through Sunday – Free, self-guided tours – Great for history/literature buffs.
One Shot Coffee – 217 W. George St. – Great coffee and ambiance! House-made pastries, Good breakfast sandwiches – Make sure you try the french toast!
Unless you are moving to Philadelphia from say, Alaska, the idea of living in a building where you don’t have to go outside to get out of the house can be rather appealing this time of year. Here are 6 Philadelphia Condos where you can do exactly that (and this is not an exhaustive list):
1) Waterfront Square – There is a 25-meter, indoor lap pool on site here with beautiful views of the river and bridge. There is also a spa, sauna, and steam rooms, not to mention a fitness center and on-site yoga classes. There is even a convenience store on-site.
2) The Rittenhouse Hotel – Offering a true “hotel-living” experience, this condo building has restaurants and bars on-site, including Scarpetta, Lacroix, and The Library Bar. There is also a spa in the building with unlimited services, a salon, barber, and indoor pool. The fitness center offers small group training and yoga classes daily.
3) The Ritz Carlton – Amenities at The Ritz include a large pool, huge gym, hot tub, and one of the most comfortable and actually usable community rooms in the City. The Richel D’Ambra Spa & Salon and modern Latin American restaurant Aqimero are also on-site.
4) Liberty Two – If you get tired of your panoramic views of the skyline, you can visit the Sky Club on the 37th floor of this building to access amenities including a lounge, billiards room, yoga room, massage rooms, fitness center, sauna, steam showers, and swimming pool. R2L Restaurant is also on the 37th floor and dinner is served from 5-10PM, with the lounge staying open until midnight on the weekends.
5) The Phoenix – Tir Na Nog Irish Bar and Grill, Philadelphia Credit Union, and Starbucks are all located here at 1600 Arch St. There is also a newly remodeled club room, a state-of-the-art fitness center and weight room, dry cleaning and shoe shine services, pool table, and a private conference room and dining facilities on site. You can also access The Suburban Station Concourse from inside The Phoenix, which allows you to access nearby offices, or connect with rail service to 30th Street Station, New York City, or the airport without stepping outside.
6) The Philadelphian – This building houses a pharmacy, a restaurant/bar, a grocery store, a bank, and a variety of businesses including healthcare professionals, attorneys, and more. The Philadelphian also offers on-site activities including aerobics, yoga, Tai Chi, club games, meditation group, and book club. There is also a fitness center, sauna, and pool.
Also, if you are out touring condos for sale in these buildings or other high-rises this weekend, you won’t have to worry that the lockbox will be frozen shut as all of these condos have front desk concierge services. On-site maintenance and on-site parking are a few additional conveniences of center city condo living you may want to take into consideration.