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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.


     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 We’ll have fun!

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May 11, 2015

15 Buildings- 15 Updates

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 2:30 pm
The Hopkinson House at 604 S. Washington Sq.
Doing their annual Habitat for Humanity clean out as well as providing a truck on-site to shred documents for owners. Also the apron work around the front entrance appears to be completed.
WaterFront Square at 901 N. Penn St.
New front entrance (really nice looking water feature) is almost complete as is the new redesigned dog park. New manager for Reef Building as well as new front door staff.
444 N. 4th St.
This lofty styled condo building between Spring Garden and Callowhill has 4 recent pending sales as well as another 12 settlements and has brought new life to the loft building. Recent developer upgrades to each unit would most likely be the culprit behind the great sales of late.
The Philadelphian at 2401 Pennsylvania Ave.
 Terrace upgrades are in the works!  The owners have chosen clear glass panels and there will not be a special assessment to pay for this project.  The work is expected to begin in early summer of this year. Just terrific!
The “NEW” National Condos (?) 
Who knows what to call the condos on the east side of N. 2nd (between Elfreth’s Alley and Arch). I am told by a fairly reliable source that the parcel was purchased by the developer of WaterFront Sq. No idea what is to become of this. 10 years ago it was to be high end loft condos. That never happened….
One Riverside Condos at 210 S. 25th St
 I hear the condos are flying off the shelves. There is very little competition for this segment in terms of location and pricing for new buildings- anywhere in Center City. One Riverside is a fantastic location in 19103 zip and views are going to be some of the best in town.
Sales are going very well…37 sold and 2 under deposit out of 55. Now can offer tours of the building and show individual residences with the 10′ ceilings, 8′ doors, trim and cabinets installed. Projected delivery in the fall so buyers can now protect their interest rate till their settlement…and that fee paid by seller.
The Murano-at 2101 Market St.
With just 3 units still on the market (developer owned)- I would expect to see values jump in the short run as almost all similar buildings see a jump in resale value after the developer is gone. Don’t ask why. I think I am a big brain and I can’t explain this phenomenon. Also- The first floor commercial space has a new tenant- some kind of financial/banking tenant which adds some liveliness to the ground level entrance which is nice.
The Dorchester at 226 W. Rittenhouse Sq
 Work continues on the heating/cooling risers as well as progress on the repairs to the garage under the building. Upgrades to the bike room look to be completed shortly – Most major projects now completed or nearly completed.
The Rittenhouse Hotel at 210 W. Rittenhouse Sq.
 Sales of the raw space on the 19th floor (two settled and one still available)
are encouraging as are recent sale prices in the building. I have always thought the building was a bit undervalued  but prices here are escalating as they should. Top notch in my book. This would be my destination if my other half said we could move. We can’t.
Rivers Edge Condos at 2301 Cherry St.
All common windows and inside apartment windows(bedrooms) have been replaced at the condos expense. They’re still replacing the sliding patio doors but have completed quite a few and are done at the owners request and expense. The outside front entrance is about to have new pavers and plantings. Also they are working on water damage from the courtyard level. Assessments continue through 2018…then look for a HUGE spike in resale values.
Academy House Condominiums at 1420 Locust St.
Front entrance/lobby has been torn out and a new lobby is in the works. Replacing the overabundance of green marble that had existed since the 1980’s. Sales in the building are hot as only “one bedroom” condos are available in the entire building of over 500 units. And of the one beds for sale (seven total)- FIVE are under contract and only two left for sale. Huge.
Ten Rittenhouse Condos at 130 S. 18th St.
A larger unit just sold at over $1000 a sq ft. No surprise- building is stunning and there really is no inventory in town. Oh, and that unit didn’t even face the square. The gold standard for this segment.
Low Rise/Brownstone Styled Condos in 19107
Aka- Near Jefferson Hospital. Always hot in the spring market and this year is no exception. Currently there are 22 such units “UNDER CONTRACT” and awaiting settlement. Prices have escalated and inventory shrinking. The surprise in this segment is the “DOM” clock (days-on-market) is much shorter in 2015 than I have seen in the past.
The Ritz Carlton at 1414 S. Penn Sq.
Without a doubt, the hottest selling building in town. And deservedly so.
With the completion of Dillworth Plaza, the views facing north are really stunning and worth seeing if you have yet to view. Also pretty nice resale values for previously owned units… appreciating nicely!
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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


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
There is no such thing as a Sure 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 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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March 23, 2015

Let’s look closer at the Low Rise/ Brownstone condo segment of Center City…

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 1:39 pm

    Known for low condo fees and uniqueness brownstone / low rise styled condos are an option in Center City that I find are becoming more popular for many condo shoppers. Known for their really groovy features, low rise condos have shown to have good resale over time, and often show up in some of the strongest residential locations in Center City.

    The condo associations tend to almost always favor pets, rules can be a bit more lax than a high rise, and many units have either decks, parking, fireplaces, or say an abundance of original detailing. Here are some of my favorite low rise/ brownstone condo buildings in town- Due to either curb appeal, unit layout, value retention, or just an overwhelmingly serene locale:

1) Roberts Quay: 1035 Spruce – 18 units, a huge variety of layouts, and probably the most handsome building in 19107. Sits on the NE corner of 11th and Spruce. (see above and you can see what I mean).

2) 2100 Delancey: Again, huge curb appeal, an array of unit sizes and wrought with original detail. Many units have fireplaces, ornate windows, and of course a great location.

3) 251 S. 24th St: A very rare loft styled new condo building in Fitler Square that few have heard of/know of/have seen. Garage parking, huge windows, and sits in a quiet pocket of Fitler Square. High end contemporary finishes throughout each unit.

4) The Clinton: 1023 Clinton St. – Now here is a stunning building. Sits on the corner of 11th and Clinton St- serene as they come. Some units have parking, and many units have south facing windows- many completely shielded by huge trees. Modest condo fees and attractive pricing.

5) St. James Court: Hidden between 5th/6th Street, Locust and Walnut sits this enclave of “uppers and lowers”. Rental parking next door at Indep Place. Great space, quiet location, handsome exteriors, outside space for every unit, and two story living rooms. A great track record of resales / value retention over the past dozen years.
And of course I should mention:
Kahn Park Place at 1119-25 Pine
Wash Sq. West Condos on the 12xx block of South St.
Portico Row – 9xx Block of Spruce St.
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March 16, 2015

How MANY sales per building in past 12 months?

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 1:45 pm

Philadelphian– 35

Society Hill Towers– 13

Academy House – 17

Dorchester– 9

Hopkinson House– 17

City View- 39

Independence Place– 9

2601 PA. Ave– 30

WaterFront Square – 33

Wanamaker House– 2

The Murano– 25

The Savoy– 9

Center City One– 3

Symphony House– 12

1352 South– 12

The Ellington – 12

Locust Point – 13

And interestingly enough…Low Rise Condos On Spruce St. From River to River = 39

Mark Wade
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services – Fox & Roach Realtors

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February 16, 2015

Just Listed ~ The Moravian Condominiums Unit 205

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 7:58 pm


A really Groovy mix of old urban, contemporary chic, and soft loft living at the Moravian Condos. Enter into a two story open vestibule with grand staircase. MASSIVE open living room, dining room, and kitchen combination with large vaulted ceilings and skylights…a rambling great room with fireplace and hardwood floors. Large kitchen with Viking appliances, beautiful cabinetry and stainless backsplash, granite counters and a large island area… the kind of kitchen that is open and large and really makes you want to go cook something. Honest. Two large sized bedrooms and one small den/play room as well as two and a half large baths with great elbow room. Gracious oversize closets and laundry area. Included is one car garage parking and private storage area. Please see the photos- this place will put a smile on your face. Oh yeah… and its 2590 sq. ft. and the place shows like a gem. Asking $865,000

Click play below to listen to the podcast now! 

Mark Wade
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors

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February 9, 2015

Attention Developers…

Filed under: Center City Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 1:55 pm


Converting a Brownstone to Condos in Center City?

As the market begins to heat up, so does the demand for smaller associations like brownstone styled condos that tend to have lower condo fees, and a hint more character than say a high rise may possess. Here are a few hints a developer may want to keep in mind:

1) Make sure to carpet the common areas. No one wants to hear the owner of say unit 2R clomp his or her way through the halls with their high heels. Keep noise to a minimum in common areas- hardwood floor and or tile is not appropriate. Carpet these areas. Please.

2) Think about splitting your water bills up- meter each unit separately. Many buyers may be part timers or weekend city warriors, and may benefit from not having to pay for water that they don’t use on a daily basis.

3) If the city allows, and you have space in the basement, put up two by fours and chicken wire storage units. And buy a dehumidifier for the association. The minimal cost will pay for itself in terms of marketability like the Commodore Barry Condos.

4) Common Area paint should be done in a low gloss finish. And spend a few extra dollars on front door security and hallway lighting. Again, a small cost, but huge in the minds of many Center City brownstone styled condo buyers.

5) When you are done building the condos, take a step back, and put in another $2500 into each unit in terms of groovy paint, wallpaper, and lighting. You will no doubt be able to recoup every penny of that visual investment (and them some) and the condos will sell quicker. Much quicker.

Remember, your competition is going to be at least a decade or two old- so modern up to date cosmetics are exceedingly important for marketability. I find that what kills a developer in terms of profitability, is the time it takes to market a condo. A vacant condo is simply just p*ssing money down a drain.  I would suggest there is a fine line between over-improving, and hitting the market just right- in terms of pricing and your final product. Need some more advice?

Call me, Let’s chat.

Mark Wade
215.521.1523 / 215.627.6005
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox and Roach Realtors


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January 19, 2015

Tossing Up Red Flags Faster Than I Can Down A Martini

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:37 am
Being on the inside track of the Center City condo market, I am at the epicenter of buyer feedback and I am privy to their thoughts and I see what buyers consider to be red flags. Here is what they are telling me. This list could also be called                        ” Things My Condo Buyers Quickly Reject:”
1) A condo with a  two-story spiral staircase
2) Poorly kept common areas of low rise condo buildings
3) Low owner occupancy ratios in any size condo association
4) Lawsuits against the association
5) An unusually high “days on market” for units within the building
6) A clear lack of upkeep and maintenance for any size building. Buyers are usually acutely aware of the lack of upkeep and have little trouble identifying such buildings.
Certainly there are a plethora of reasons why a buyer will buy or reject any given condo here in town. The above list of six examples are the most common that I see.

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