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June 29, 2015

Venting Issues in Your Philadelphia Condo

Filed under: For Buyers,For Sellers,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 2:09 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

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June 22, 2015

Do You Really Know What You Are Buying When You Buy A New Philly Condo From Plans?

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers,General Real Estate,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 2:36 pm

I get the shivers when I think of people investing in new Philadelphia Condos that are still on the drawing board. Do these people have some kind of condominium ESP I lack?

After almost 3 decades selling condos at place like The Murano, I know one thing is for sure: there’s a big disparity between finished condo projects and the drawings that started them.

plans photo

 

Let’s take a couple of Philadelphia condo projects as an example. Any two projects… line them up side by side in terms of resale ability, quality of finishes, the overall fit, the light views, etc.

In both instances, buyers are asked to plunk down money, site unseen. It’s quite a gamble, isn’t it? Doesn’t it just make sense that there will be winners and losers? Some people will get the Philadelphia condos of their dreams; other people will get a nightmare.

You also have to ask yourself about the resale factor. Some Philadelphia condos simply do not resell well. Other Center City condos are at the opposite end of the spectrum- buyers are reselling for a good deal more than they originally paid a few years ago and have little trouble doing it.

So do we really know what we are getting into when we buy Philadelphia real estate that is not yet built? Unless you have condominium ESP, you can never know for sure. But, it does help to know a bit (or a lot) about condos and Philadelphia and buyers in general. That’s the best way I know of to determine whether un-built Philadelphia condos will ultimately be successful. Learn more about Center City planning for growth.

Ready to stop relying on condominium ESP? With my years of experience representing buyers and sellers of Philadelphia and Center City condos, I can guide you through today’s real estate maze and help you come out a winner! Give me a call today at 215-521-1523 or drop me and email at mark@centercity.com

 

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June 16, 2015

A very cool shot of 4 Center City condo buildings

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 2:31 pm
In the foreground on the left is 1706 Rittenhouse Sq.
In the foreground on the right is 250 S. 17th St.
The red building in the center is 250 S. 18th St.
Background on the right is the Barclay at 237 S. 18th St.
(taken from the 12th floor of the old medical arts tower- looking west down the 17xx block of Rittenhouse)
And here is some good food for thought…
If Location, location, location is the sole driving force of value then how can these four condo buildings each have distinct demand as well as pricing?
Certainly a building’s reputation and cache have something to do with pricing….

 

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June 2, 2015

The 5 most frequently asked Questions by Center City Condo Buyers

Filed under: Center City Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 1:21 pm

1) Is transfer tax split between buyer and seller?
Yes….and that fact is embedded into the agreement of sale. You pay 2% of the sale price, and so does the seller.

2) Can I move my stuff in prior to settlement?
Uh, no. The day you give the seller your money, it is all yours. Until then, you may not occupy or make alterations to your new Philly condo!

3) Why do I have to pay 2 months condo fees to the association?
It is called a capital contribution. Helps pad the condo association against future assessments. Almost all condos has everyone pay this when buying.

4) Do I get my 2 months capital contribution back when I sell?
Uh, no, shut up.

5) Why do I need to buy title insurance?
Because certain debt transfers with title. You buy, you may inherit someone else’s debt. Title insurance gives you a clean, debt-free title. (Abridged answer!)

You will certainly have more questions when purchasing a new Rittenhouse Square condo, or say Old City loft. Trust me. :-) And that is why I am here.

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

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May 18, 2015

I Don’t Have a Crystal Ball

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 12:01 pm

The Philadelphia condominium market is something I enjoy analyzing, thinking about, etc., I am always amazed at how many times buyers and sellers ask me to give them solid concrete information about what is going to happen in the future.

crystalball

     Often a buyer’s query comes in the form of: “Will this home be worth more in five years than the one across town we just saw?” or “Should I lock my interest rate today because interest rates are going to rise next week?”

     Sellers are a bit more forward thinking as I find their mental dilemma encompassing thoughts of: “If I hold this property, and rent it out, what kind of rents can I get in the year, say, 2027?”

     Now I admit that when I bought my first Center City condominium at BridgeView Place , I drove my real estate agent nuts. I mean crazy. I still kinda’ duck my head when I pass her by on the street. And I am sure I tortured her with silly questions she could not have possibly answered.

     Although, you know, her crystal ball must have been fully operational way back when as she had no problem spittin’ out future numbers like they were being read off a bingo card. And I bought everything that came out of her mouth. Today that condo is worth exactly 4 times what it was worth back in 1991. (Bridgeview Place Unit #521).

     Now why didn’t I ask her to pick some lottery numbers for me?

     I might not have a crystal ball, but I do have the knowledge to help you purchase or sell your Center City condo or Philadelphia condominium for the best price and terms. Give me a call today at 215-521-1523 or drop me and email at mark@centercity.com. We’ll have fun!

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April 27, 2015

Spring 2015 Condo Market Is In Full Swing!

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 2:12 pm
Our listing inventory is impressive, if I may say:
Our recent sales :
Mark Wade
www.CenterCityCondos.com
BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors
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April 20, 2015

I Just bought a condo… And I agreed to what??

Filed under: Center City Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 2:13 pm
Here Are 5 clauses that are usually inserted into your Center City condo mortgage papers that you may not have known about…
1) Acceleration Clause
2)  Defeasance Clause
3) Prepayment Clause
4) Due On Sale Clause
5) Compliance Clause
All these clauses are standard-whether you are buying at The Hopkinson House, or say the Academy House….in most residential mortgages. What is the bottom line here? In my opinion…pay your mortgage and no one gets hurt….Similar to any other obligation, but in the case of a mortgage lender, they will provide clauses and provisions that are generally immutable and do go to the heart of protecting their own interests.
Your best defense? Ask. Then ask again.  And get a Real Estate Lawyer if you are signing something you don’t understand….
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April 14, 2015

Ten Pitfalls to Avoid when buying a Center City Condominium…

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 9:12 am
                      
Being a veteran Center City Realtor (26 years), I often see buyers making some repeated mistakes.
At least in my opinion, I use the word mistakes.
 Here are some common pitfalls:
1)  Paying Points on a short term hold
Many buyers know they will only own their condo for 3 to 5 years. Paying Points may not be advantageous-  Talk to your lender. Do your homework here.
2) Saying “No” to a “Betterments and Improvements” rider on your home  owners policy. This covers items like floor, appliances, cabinetry, doorknobs, etc etc. Might be worth considering.
3) Glossing Over Building Issues – You are given 5 days to read your condo docs. If you don’t want to do so, then hire a lawyer. A Real Estate Lawyer.
4)  Using a Mortgage Lender because you have a Savings Account at that bank, and have had for 23 years. That doesn’t mean crap, in my experience. Nada. Nil. Zip.
5) Using a relative to be your Realtor, Mortgage person, or otherwise to play a huge role in your buying process. These arrangements can go up in flames quickly. Not always…but…
6)  Not Vetting Your Realtor – “When in Rome” is pretty good advice.. Interview him/her  to decide if you two make a good team. Ask your realtor what they know about, say The Ayer condominiums on Washington Sq.
7)  Over-buying: Do you really need a three bedroom and den unit? Or will a two bedroom and den suffice? Same story with one vs two bedroom units- If you don’t need the space, why pay for the space?
8) Not Reading Your Sales Contract – 99% of the questions you may have about a transaction here in PA can be answered by reading your Agreement of Sale (The Contract). Read It. I beg you.
9) Expecting Perfection: Yes, the seller is going to vacate your new condo in a  dirty and  somewhat used condition, with holes in the walls where their art once  hung. IF that is the biggest bump in the road during our journey, then we should all go sing and dance in the middle of the street with joy and glee 🙂  Nothing in life is perfect so a hint of forgiveness along the road can be helpful.
10)  Relying on the Square Foot calculations on Condo Flyer. Or even relying on info provided by some sources. Best to do your own measuring/ fact checking.
  Just Ask Me.
 Let’s find the answers together to help you make the best decisions possible.
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April 6, 2015

NOT ALL UPGRADES PAY OFF

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:49 am
The goal should be your own Use and Enjoyment 
with a side of Value Retention
download
There is no such thing as a Sure Thing..no surprise there.  In most instances, condo owners upgrade for their own Use and Enjoyment- but some do improve with the goal of a higher resale value. Here are some common upgrading mistakes that I see in the Center City Condo marketplace:
1) Wall to Wall Carpeting in a Living room.
2) Installing a Huge soaking tub/ Jacuzzi like monstrosity
3) Replacing closet doors with Mirrored closet doors
4) Adding a Roof Deck (very subjective on this one)
5) Adding Hi-Hats and / or track lighting
Now certainly there are exceptions to every rule, and in some instances, these additions can add value. But from my experience- the value added is nominal. And in some cases- can actually detract from value. Really depends upon the unit. If you have some of these features in your condo, I would NOT suggest you remove them. But spending money to add them to your existing condo may not provide you with the expected return. Instead, I suggest you throw some money into what buyers seem to always remember:
1) Rework your Closets-  You can buy off the shelves at Home Depot or Lowe’s. I call it the faux California Closet look. Never underestimate the power of good closets in Center City condo value. One of the first things condo buyers do is they check out the closet space- like the walk ins at Waterfront Square Condos.
2) Repainting- Want some Kick-A** ideas? Visit www.Houzz.com for some fab fab fab visuals. Remember, focus on two main colors and highlight with decor pieces as the third. You needn’t paint every wall in a room one color.
3) Recaulk and Regrout Your Bathroom- This is huge, and doesn’t cost a lot. Email me and I can send you references  to
make your bathroom look 1000% better- and can be done in a day. Don’t underestimate this upgrade, please.
4) Replace all the knobs and pulls in your kitchen and bathroom. And try Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware. This is a huge and inexpensive way to really put “icing on the cake” in two of the most important rooms in your home. And if you want to take it a step further- after you do the above 4 Upgrades- think about replacing interior door knobs. Again , a small visual cue that can really set the tone and feel of you condo.
Want my input? Call me, and I will come over and do a quick assessment of your place…No biggie.  I have been on HGTV for the decorating I did in my own home, and I won Philly Mag’s Kitchen of the Year contest back in 2005. Not to be a big brain or anything…
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March 30, 2015

Doing Work To Your Condo?

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Of Interest To Sellers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 2:31 pm

Academy House

A few things to remember when doing work to your Center City condo:
1) You will have to present Insurance certs to the board for your contractors. Like at the Philadelphian Condos which has a strong management board.
2) Your contractors will generally have specific times when they may work- and hours are usually like from 9am-4pm Monday through Friday. Weekend work not allowed in most buildings.
3) Converting a two bedroom condo to a large one bedroom unit? Usually not a good idea in terms of resale value and future demand for your condo.
4) Light Cosmetic work (paint, wallpaper, re-sanding floors) will almost always get you the biggest return for your money. Especially when done with the supervising eye of a decorator.
5) Never carpet a living room. Never use high gloss paint outside a kitchen or bath. And when thinking of a color scheme- use 2 primary colors and one accent color. No more then 3 per room.
6) Stay away from: Black grout around the tile… Mirrored Closet doors…an avoid fluorescent lighting fixtures. No one looks good under fluorescents. Not even supermodels.
7) Consider putting $$ into your closet organizing system- this is going to give you a HUGE return in terms of “Use and Enjoyment” and is going to play quite well into resale value.
8) When remodeling a kitchen- you needn’t spend the big big bucks for a built-in refrigerator, but you should make your refrigerator appear to be built-in….this is an easy trick for any qualified contractor. A frig that looks out of place IS out of place…Like black shoes and a brown belt.
If you need some advice, call me.
 I know the best, and the worst contractors in town.
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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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