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October 27, 2014

What Is Hot In The Condo Segment Of Center City Since 1/1/14?

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:57 am
Let’s Look At Condo Sales By Price Range:
Under $250,000 = 213 SALES
$250,000-$500,000 = 397 SALES
$500,000- $1,000,000 = 115 SALES
Over $1 Million = 63 SALES
Let’s Look At Center City Condo Sales By Zip Code:
19102 = 59 sales
  19103 = 195 sales
  19106 = 111 sales
19107 = 82 sales
19123 = 68 sales
   19130 = 131 sales
19146 = 66 sale
19147 = 61 sales
Let’s Look At Philadephia Condo Sales By Bed Count:
Studios = 38 SALES
One Bedrooms = 299 SALES
Two Bedrooms = 307 SALES
Three or More Bedrooms = 70 SALES

Per Trend MLS I am including all sale in 2014 in the following zip codes:

19102,19103,19106,19107,19123,19130,19146,19147

I sifted through page after page of MLS sale stats to come

up with these figures. The numbers may be off by a few…

So a hint of forgiveness is appreciated. Thanks.

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October 20, 2014

Condo Buying and Selling Etiquette

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 8:09 am
 
For Sellers:
Keep the temperature of your condo comfy for showings
Make sure ALL keys work before giving to Realtor
Disclose ALL defects..but keep your feeling about your neighbor mum if you simply have an ax to grind
Deliver your Center City condo CLEAN and free of debris prior to settlement
Keep appliance manuals for your new buyer
Give buyers the name of the paint but throw away old paint cans
Leave a note in your condo about any quirks that the buyer may find
helpful such as trash day, neighbor contact info, mgmt info, etc.
For Buyers:
Be on time for your scheduled appointments
Eat and use restrooms prior to your condo tour with your Realtor
Keep sassy comments to yourself UNTIL we exit the condo…then
we can talk trash about what we have seen
Furniture and other unattractive decor items aren’t included.
You are not buying the sofa….So don’t be too judgmental
Know that the property will NOT be delivered in a state of cleanliness
that is up to your standards. A hint of forgiveness goes a long way.
IF you ask to see a specific condo…don’t change your mind
when you pull up to the building and think you want to “pass” on it…
For Open Houses:
Never allow any agent to pressure you to sign in…ever.
Be on time…and don’t show up 5 minutes after scheduled
open house closes
Keep your dog at home. NEVER bring a dog to an open house
If you are a curious looky-loo- no problem…just don’t try to monopolize an agent’s time – let them concentrate on the real lookers
Best not to be talking trash about what you are seeing
while still inside the condo. Zip it…
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Listen…I get it. Sometimes nice polite folks run afoul of the more general accepted practices in real estate…sh*t happens.
But do your best to play by the rules as emotions do end up playing a huge
part in any real estate transaction.
 
Trust me…I’ve got 25 years of witnessing hurt feelings
every now and again
and no one wants to feel like a goof when big money
is exchanging hands…
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October 13, 2014

Could you be dealing with a desperate seller? Here are some signs:

Filed under: Center City Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 9:06 am

1) You see that the condo is vacant, and the front desk tells you they moved
over a year ago.

2) You Google the sellers, and You see that they own multiple properties,
and all of them are for sale.

3) You search the history (in the MLS) of that listing, and see the seller is on
their third listing agent.

4) You walk into the Philadelphia condo, it is vacant, the appliances are gone, and it looks
like the seller left in the middle of the night.

5) You read some unique language in the MLS listing about “seller makes no
warranties”, or “ corporate addendum must accompany…” usually means
corporate owned- aka REO.

These are all possible signs that the condo is ripe for an insulting offer.

Good Luck!

Mark Wade

CenterCityCondos.com

Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox and Roach Realtors
530 Walnut St. #260 Phila., PA 19106

 

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October 6, 2014

Common Blunders in Condo Buying and Selling aka- Nit-pickin’ yourself out of a deal

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 8:14 am

Scenario 1:  Having the Last Word

Seller is asking $499k for a condo

Buyer and seller go back and forth on an offer and after a few days the buyer says -$480,000 is my “Highest and Best” offer for this parcel. And then seller comes back and says $480,001. Really? You really want to be a goof and say that? You are pissing the buyer off, and it will probably  cost you much much more in terms of anxiety, anguish, and animosity within the transaction as you are locked into a legally binding contract with this buyer for say the next 60-90 days. Perhaps you should just zip your lip and take the freakin’ $480k instead of having to have the last word. Don’t forget, buyers still have to perform a home inspection.

Scenario 2: Can’t See the Forest For the Trees

Seller asks $499k for a condo

A condo that is a bank-owned unit that should be selling for $800k if it weren’t so dirty, missing all the appliances, and listed with Susy Bag O’ Donuts out of Erie, Pa. (it happens…bank foreclosures are often listed by those with no connection to the area). And as a buyer, you get the Big-Brain idea to come in at $400k…because after all, the market is slow, weak, and uncertain.  OK….you are an idiot. If you can’t recognize such an overtly strong bargain, and see that the huge upside is the fact that the condo is grossly underpriced at $499k….then maybe you need to do a little more homework on prices and values here in Center City.

Scenario 3: Why Isn’t My Realtor Using a Magic Wand?

Sellers asks $499k for a condo

As a buyer, you top out at $480,000 and the seller will still not accept your offer. And recent “comps” suggest the seller is correct as no other unit in the building has sold for under $500k. You then turn to your Realtor and complain that you can’t get the property for $480k. And you are relentless. Even in the face of the facts. But you persist. You dump your Realtor because he or she refuses to wave their magic wand and make this deal happen. You then drive down the road, and see your Realtor Singing and Dancing in the middle of the intersection of Broad and Walnut. It happens.

Opportunity exists in all market conditions, and the current state of affairs in Center City should indeed be taken into account when negotiating the purchase or sale of any parcel in Philadelphia. But knowing when you have crossed the line and driven right into Crazy Town might be helpful when finding the perfect condo and help you negotiate the best possible and realistic terms.

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September 15, 2014

So you have Three looney tunes, one nutbag on your condo board? Shocking….

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:27 am

 

Listen, I get it…everyone’s favorite punching bag is his or her condo board. Often maligned, and more often than not, the criticism is not just or warranted. It is a thankless job- just be happy someone is doing it, and doing it for free. Here is what I would make sure is happening in order to preserve my value as a Center City condo owner, and member of the association, just in case. These are huge. You might want to take notes:
1) Make Sure The Building Stays At Least say 66% Owner Occupied
by restricting an over abundance of rentals. 75% is even better.
2) Make Sure The Building is FHA Approved- this is easy and shouldn’t be overlooked. I am amazed when I see how many condos around town AREN’T FHA approved…(FHA approved condos really open up the building to first time buyers who may not have the usual 10% down or more needed to buy a condo).
3) Put 10% of monthly condo fees into a reserve for improvements beyond
just the day to day and month to month expenditures.
4) Make Sure the Building is being maintained. Do not hesitate to spend. Spending on cleanliness of the building will provide your best return. Think…exterior paint, hallways, foyer, etc., especially for smaller associations.
Visual presentation is HUGE for resale.
5) Larger associations should have a website that highlights the building, amenities, and give as much info as possible to the buying public. They have nothing to hide…so highlight the information for perspective buyers. Take a look at Society Hill Towers website…a great example.
Value retention is an elusive trait in the hands of amateurs. And I am not aware of any qualifications needed to sit on a condo board- beyond basic ownership in a given building.  Most associations around town do a fairly good job, but some fall prey to the pitfalls that can lead to a fairly rapid decline in condominium values in specific buildings. Best to keep your eye on the signs that may point to a downward spiral in condo values within your building. The above list is written as a guide, one that it may be advantageous to follow. I am not suggesting that your values are going to spiral if one of these points is ignored…rather a combo
of events can lead to downward values.
Here is what I have seen in simplified terms:
Condo board runs amok of rules that keeps the building easy to finance (FANNIE MAE WARRANT-ABLE). New buyers have to then put  30% down or more to buy. This cuts the resale market in MANY buildings. Units then don’t sell, sellers start to compete with each other, prices fall, and more owners begin to rent their condo out. This downward spiral is difficult to reverse.  By having a board aware of these pitfalls, your building should easily be able to remain warrantable and easy to finance. And IF your building has a fair share of condos that might sell under $420,000 then there is NO excuse for the building not being FHA approved.
So here is the moral of this story:
It is indeed your money- You paid for the condo, and that investment is just that- an investment.  You should be standing up and saying something if you see your board veering off the course of a clear path to value and value retention.
Invite me to your next condo board meeting-
 I’ll give them the “what for”
Or if you are a board member of your association,
give me a call and let’s chat about how you can
implement some of these guidelines if you like…
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August 25, 2014

Yippee! More Random Center City Condo Information:

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 3:08 pm
-Dranoff is holding a VIP Realtor Sneak Peek on 9/3/15
for his new condos in Fitler Square named “One Riverside”
to be built at 25th and Locust.Watch these condos fly off the shelf
~
-The Hopkinson House is getting ready to do some pretty
heavy cosmetic changes to its lobby starting any month now
~
-Center City One Condos at 1326 Spruce continues to beautify
its premises with the completion of hallways- And are giving
owners the option of changing out their windows- fabulous!
~
-A plethora of small low rise condo buildings around Old City have sprung
up recently including 109-11 Church St. and 142 N. 2nd St- Nice infill
into a nicely established neighborhood.
~
-220 W. Rittenhouse – Once mentioned by Philly Mag as the least
attractive lobby on Rittenhouse Sq. is in the midst of adding
substantial visual appeal to its lobby area.
~
-Resale values at Ten Rittenhouse have shown to be strong in terms of value growth
over the past 3-4 years since first becoming occupied
~
-The Ritz-Carlton is selling like crazy. I mean really well….
~
-In my opinion, the most difficult segment in terms of little or no inventory
would be a two bedroom in 19103 under $600k. Hell, even
 a really sweet one bedroom under $500k for that matter.
~
Rivers Edge Condos at 2301 Cherry is poised for some kick*ss appreciation
over the next year as sales have spiked as the building has been
assessing and upgrading. Bravo.
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April 14, 2014

Playing The A-Hole Card In A Real Estate Transaction

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 8:03 am

It can make you a big winner or a big loser…
    When big money is flying around here and there, the door opens for many folks to get bitten by the A-Hole bug. Which make sense…emotions are running high, deadlines need to be met, etc. etc., and I have seen some folks get seriously burned by playing their cards at the wrong time in the wrong place.
    I think you need to look seriously at a few circumstances that may surround your transaction to know the power or leverage you have to throw your weight around. To begin with, the first thing you should look at is
“substitute-ability” of the Philadelphia condo.  If you are fishing in a big pond of buyers or sellers, then of course you can bounce from one to the other without much risk to your goal of buying or selling a condo.  Want to buy a condo at Locust Point in the spring? Watch your P’s and Q’s and zip your lip.  Ditto for say a two bedroom at the Hopkinson House. If you are buying, you need to put your best foot forward and tie it up with a pretty red ribbon because demand almost always outweighs supply in those instances. Playing hardball as a buyer in these circumstances probably isn’t going to play in your favor. Owner’s can feel free to play any cards they pretty much like under those circumstances.
Two Quick Examples:

I sold a Center City condo in early 2010 to a buyer who had a real F You attitude to me, the seller, and the man on the moon for that matter.  I have a lot respect for this buyer, and I like him. But I knew early on that if he didn’t get his way, he was going to walk. He may have been trying to save a dime for the sake of a dollar, as this was an exceptional deal, but his hardball play worked for him. I represented the buyer in this case, so I gave him all the ammo I could find. With a little homework, I could easily deduce that a lowball offer was warranted (thank you google) then was accepted by the seller.     Winning.

On the other hand, back in the early 1990’s, I had a seller who was a real pr*ck, and his hardball tactics seriously misfired. He got his price, but wanted to keep his prized
Westinghouse Washer and Dryer…that were like 12 years old. Buyers told him to keep his used basement appliances, and walked. Seller sold the property six months later, for $40,000 less. The proverbial $40k washer/dryer, if you will.

Are you going to be a big winner, or perhaps a big loser? I dunno. But if you are going to play the A*hole card, you better be willing to stick to your guns when the heat rises. I just hope I can give you solid, if not a hint conservative information so you can make your own decision. And if you are being a butt-head, be my guest.. Then we’ll see how the deal is going to go down 🙂

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March 17, 2014

A building’s reputation shines brightly onto condo values

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 2:40 pm
                           
Take location and amenities out of the valuation
equation and you are pretty much left with reputation
as the driving force of value for Center City Condos.
   Reputation is the elusive building quality that can garner some high end sale prices for certain buildings in Center City. Every building has a reputation which is built on a plethora of factors- some of which may not be visible to the naked eye. Factors such as: location, curb appeal, overall quality of fit & finish, upkeep and maintenance, and amenities/services that are offered. Some of the more subtle qualities of a good building reputation might be clues to the building’s finances, the size and composition of the condo units, monthly dues, friendliness of staff and management responsiveness.
The one factor that I notice buyers pay attention to is the friendliness of the staff. This is BEYOND HUGE. And such a simple factor that can easily be affected. If your doorman is anything but courteous and helpful- my buyers are going to pick that up pretty quickly and it will sour their impression of your building. York Square in Old City used to have a really pissy front desk staff and a fair number of my clients would comment on that attribute. And the comments from my buyers weren’t nice. First impressions are huge…we all know that.
The reality is that you cannot single out location as being the only driving force of value in a Center City Condo. Just look around town and try to compare building’s based on location alone- then try to determine the buildings value based solely on location. You would pretty much have to be a goof….you follow me?  Building reputation and the attributes associated with reputation can indeed dictate value and really be a driving force of those values.
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March 3, 2014

Seriously- Does Your Building Give A Crap About Your Resale Value?

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 12:52 pm

Think your condo board and management companies don’t play a role in your value retention?

 

    Center City condominium buildings are like a business and should be run as such. From maintenance to condo association policy, seems many folks have a hand in the determination of your resale value.  Value within any given building is a moving target, and if I were King of the World, I would suggest that any association would want to evaluate their policies considering:
1) Pets- A hot button item. Buildings are often overlooked by potential buyers based upon the buildings’ pet policies.  Buyers often request a pet- friendly building, but never have I had a buyer express to me that a pet-free building is on their wish list. Associations may want to limit pets based upon breed, size and allow such freedoms to only the owner occupants and not tenants.
2) Common Area Presentation – The death knell for many buildings in town in terms of value retention. Often, buyers refuse to walk into a Philadelphia condo unit after being walked through the common building foyer and through the halls. Some hallways smell- and haven’t been painted or had any new lighting in 20 years. I would have to suggest you rid your association of anyone who could be responsible for such lack of attention. The cost is SO MINIMAL to improve common area elements that it really makes no sense not to keep your common areas in tip top shape. This is where the “Investment Multiplier” comes into effect- for every dollar you put in, you get two back. Simple math here folks.
3) Transparent and Open Communications – There is a reason why Society Hill Tower, Hopkinson House, and The Washington Square West Condos at 12xx South St. are known to be very well run.  I would suggest it has to do with the accessibility and transparency of the condo associations and or management companies. From condo docs, to board minutes – THINGS BUYERS WANT TO KNOW- Are but a click away on but a handful of condo sites. The surreptitious and somewhat mysterious ways that associations fail to hold out the information to scrutiny can be a serious concern for many buyers. And making a buyer wait up to 4 weeks to get condo docs – REALLY?  That is a great way to piss off a new buyer and possibly a new member of the condo association.
4) Rentals- It is fairly standard for a building to allow a certain percentage of the condominiums in the association to be rented out. But having NO policy which addresses rentals can be a real disaster. Fannie Mae has rules about owner-occupancy ratios. A lack of adherence to those rules can lead to the need for buyers to put more money down AND pay a higher interest rate.
Which of course can reduce demand for your building, raise inventory levels, and ultimately lower your values. Ain’t no rocket science involved in that equation….
Below is a fantastic site with some great information. If you are a board member of an association here in town, you might want to bookmark this website:
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February 24, 2014

Really? You wanna’ buy that Center City Condo??

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,Of Interest to Buyers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 11:47 am
   54
 

The old adage “Buyers Are Liars” is repeated often in many Real Estate circles. I think the line is a crock of sh*t….The line should be “Realtors don’t spend the time to get to know their Buyers.”

And there you have it….

The key to selling condos in Philadelphia. Find out as soon as possible what trigger is going to make any given condo work for a given buyer. Oh, and make sure you know everything about almost every condo in town and be able to discuss that condo at length, at the drop of a hat.
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Here is a list of things that I find buyers really key into when shopping for a condo here in town:

1) Walkability
2) A Side of parking
3) Proximity to a given Point Of Interest
4) Areas in which they already are familiar
5) Curb Appeal / Interior Condition
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Which one of those blows the others out of the water?
That would be # 5…
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I hear it all the time- “I want this area”, “I must have parking”, or I want to be able to walk around town”.  But many of those MUST HAVES fly out the window the minute the majority of buyers walk into a Philadelphia condo and fall in love with what they are seeing…usually quite a different story than what originally comes out of their mouths. NOTHING wrong with knowing what you like….I too am very visual.
Gone is the need for a study, or a 2nd bedroom, that large kitchen buyers have always wanted. Visually stunning condos here in Center City Philly are always in demand- regardless of most market conditions. Believe you me….and NEVER underestimate the fact –
IF IT SHOWS WELL, IT WILL SELL WELL

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Philadelphia, PA 19106
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Email: Mark@CenterCity.com
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