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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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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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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 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 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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December 15, 2014

Whatta’ you…new to these parts?

Filed under: For Buyers,For Sellers,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 9:59 am

 

Our condo market in town can best be
described as Turn-Key
  Fixer-Uppers cater to a very slim market in Center City as most buyers are not equipped with the tools, knowledge, time nor the know-how to rehab a condo. Turn-key condos (those that are ready to occupy with little or no work) appeal to the majority of buyers in Center City Philadelphia.
 Most buyers who come to town do not own a band saw, a miter saw, or any kind of saw for that matter. Nor do they possess the expertise in using such instruments and probably couldn’t identify a band saw if their life depended on it. Our marketplace is one of professional white collar buyers who have money and a sharp eye…but fall short of having the time, inclination or ability to make repairs to any new possible purchase. That fact should come as no surprise to any of my readers.
  So when you hear that condition is king…right up there with location- you needn’t look or act surprise. The visual appeal of any given condo here in town is going to play a heavy hand in determining value. See the photos below to see what I mean…
Visual appeal with some heavy decorating…
Turn key is KEY in our marketplace
when looking to garner maximum
resale value for your condo.
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December 9, 2014

2015 Condo Market Forecast

Filed under: Center City Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 9:08 am

So where are we in terms of value retention and return? Have we fully recovered from our last downturn? Just What Can We Expect For 2015?

Center City Philadelphia Condos

Is it time to be a seller??

Click play below to listen to my new podcast about the 2015 Philly Condo Market…

 

Mark Wade    215.521.1523
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services | Fox and Roach Realtors®

 

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