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!
Construction of Phase One of Philadelphia’s exciting new Rail Park is quickly progressing! This 1/4 mile section of the Park is a wonderful addition to the Loft District. Much like the addition of the Schuylkill River Trail, Philadelphians will no doubt make great use of this new outdoor space. It will be a great place for engaging programs featuring arts, education, culture, health, and wellness. This is a wonderful way to get city dwellers out into green spaces!
Photo Courtesy of TheRailPark.org
Phase One will run from 11th and Callowhill to Broad and Noble Streets and will have gathering places, seating, swings, and amazing skyline views! Learn more about The Loft District Neighborhood here.
The Philly Home Show will be at The Convention Center this weekend. This year there will be a City Studios feature showcasing three looks from area designers that will focus on making the most of small spaces in creative ways – could be useful for anyone living in, say, a Rittenhouse Square condo with a lovely view.
Closets by Design will have an interactive social media challenge where you can try to organize a closet in under 2 minutes. And for all the animal lovers out there, Providence Animal Center will be there to share some design ideas for your pets.
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.
Here are a just a few scenarios you could encounter without the protection of title insurance:
– Forgery or fraud in connection with the execution of previously recorded documents
– Incorrect representation of marital status of grantors
– Undisclosed or missing heirs
– Wills that have not been properly probated
– Mistaken interpretation of wills and trusts
– Incorrect legal descriptions
– Unsatisfied mortgages, liens, or judgments not shown on the record
– Deeds executed under expired or false powers of attorney
– Confusion due to similar or identical names
– Unknown rights of ex-spouses or former owners
– Clerical errors in recording legal documents
– Incorrect filing of condominium declarations.
Some of these things may sound crazy. However, in my 29 years of selling Philadelphia Real Estate, I have come across more than a few of the above situations.
Email us if you have any questions about purchasing title insurance or any of the other steps involved in the home-buying process.
1.) Right or wrong, some buyers will reject a Philadelphia Condo with high condo fees. However…
2.) Most buyers will look at their total monthly cost in determining their financial reach in terms of a purchase.
3.) Educating a buyer about the purpose of condo fees often tempers a buyer’s aversion to higher fees – most buyers simply do not grasp the concept of condo fees and how they are determined.
4.) It is not uncommon for there to be an additional condo fee for a parking spot and sometimes that number can be super duper high (often as high as neighboring rental garages).
5.) Condo fees are not tax deductible.
6.) Condo fees in Co-op buildings include the taxes.
7.) Almost every buyer will pay approx. 2 months worth of condo fees into the kitty (aka- reserve fund) at time of closing. This goes to the association, not the seller.
8.) An additional burden of condo fees is called the special assessment. No owner likes them, but everyone benefits from them in the long run.
9.) All condo fees are based on the square footage of that particular building. All. Period. Stop asking me that question. 🙂
10.) Super duper low condo fees are NOT a good thing. Usually means your building is running on fumes with no emergency reserves.
11.) A reflection of a building’s health is how much money it has in its reserves (which can stave off future assessments).
12.) Newer buildings tend to have less money in their reserves as the life expectancy of some of the larger common elements/ticket items (roof, windows, elevators, etc) have little or deferred maintenance.
Homeowners Insurance is necessary if you want to protect your home and your assets. Of course, Philly condo associations have a master insurance policy that covers the building, but you will still need to purchase a separate policy for everything “inside” the walls of your condo.
The standard homeowner’s insurance policy protects you from a wide range of things. Here is some information straight from our friends at Trident Insurance Agency that you may be surprised to find that homeowner’s insurance can cover:
Yes! Grave markers at a cemetery are considered “personal property” and are covered by some homeowners insurance policies. There is probably a special coverage limit on tombstones.
2. Volcanoes (Not Earthquakes)
Most of us in the U.S., outside of Hawaii, don’t have to worry about this but if your home is in the path of an erupting volcano you’ll be covered! Earthquake damage or ground movement is not covered under most standard policies.
3. Your Child’s Belongings at College
If you send your child to college and he or she is living in a dorm, their items are usually covered under your homeowner’s policy. That’s because most policies cover anyone in your household as well as students under the age of 24. Not all policies cover students living in off-campus housing, however. Those students may require a separate tenant’s policy.
4. Your “Stuff” that you travel with
Most homeowners policies cover your belongings wherever they go under the “off-premises” provision. This means that if your luggage is stolen while you’re on vacation in China or Turkey or even North Dakota you’re usually covered. For pricey items like your jewelry, you should make sure you discuss purchasing additional coverage with your insurance agent, anyway.
5. Dog Bites
If your dog or cat or even your guinea pig bites someone, your homeowner’s policy may cover the cost of medical care, up to your Personal Liability Limit. Trident Insurance recommends AT LEAST $500,000.
Review your policy. You’ll find more interesting things that may be covered. If you have any questions about homeowner’s insurance, please email Jessica Nydick at Trident Insurance Agency….firstname.lastname@example.org.