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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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June 9, 2014

Renegotiating After A Home Inspection?

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:30 am
Think you are going to get a $10,000 price reduction after your home inspection?
Everyone should get a home inspection. There is no such thing as perfection and every Philadelphia condo- be it new construction, or a clearly used up old condo- almost every condo that I have come across needs some kind of maintenance or attention.
  But how do you go about protecting yourself without pissing off a seller to a point where he or she no longer wants to deal with you? Well, that can be a thin line….but here is what I suggest:
1) Focus on the big ticket items. Try not to be too nit picky about the small stuff. Sellers can become easily fatigued…so instead of asking for a plethora of small items to be corrected, ask for (say) one or two big issues- If warranted. One that can be backed up by the home inspection. Sellers are sometime less worried about the money and more worried that they may not have the time to fix every little issue- sometimes sellers will negotiate on convenience- as opposed to being consumed by trivial matters.
2) If you have the option of taking a credit, or having the seller repair items- GO FOR THE CREDIT. Because more often than not, you or your contractor may not like the way the seller does the repair. Then we all have a problem….
3) I don’t think it is logical for a buyer to ask for a credit or a repair on items they clearly knew were previously broken. For instance,  if you make an offer on a condo that has a cracked window pane or clearly unused/broken dishwasher – the seller may be less apt to fix it- because you clearly knew of this shortcoming prior to making an offer….and of course you made your offer accordingly, one would assume.
4) Electrical issues are huge….and you can almost always hit a seller up for making such a repair. Electrical issues are scary for most buyers and something most buyers cannot and probably should not fix themselves.
     I usually coach my buyers to think this way: If the amount of the needed repairs impacts your perception of the value of the Center City condo, then you should probably back out of the deal or go at the seller at full force. However, if you are just looking to rake the seller over the coals for the hell of it- that should be done during the time you make your offer. Not at a later date where you are just looking to perhaps get something for (almost) nothing. Just my two cents…
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February 10, 2014

Philly Real Estate: Views Can Mean Value – But Not Always

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 11:56 am

…and floor height isn’t the only factor affecting values within the same buildings.

Probably the most overlooked effect on value to high rise condominium is the view that any particular piece of Philadelphia Real Estate has to offer. And not all views are created equal. Let compare and contrast a few different scenarios. All are based on my opinion, as a fairly seasoned Realtor who specializes in condo sales I have learned a great deal about the effect on value that particular views may or may not have, and any given buyer’s perception of how that view might affect their desire to purchase.

3 1 2

1) It is possible for a posh condo to nearly double in value if it has a highly coveted view. Think Central Park.

2) In some buildings, the highest values have been posted not only on the highest floors, but also on what we call “treetop” view. A very nice view of the treetops, say on the 5Th floor of a high rise condo can be very appealing to a number of buyers

3) A condo on a high Floor does not always warrant a higher sales price. IS there a benefit to looking directly into a neighboring high rise condo building- from the 27Th vs the 8Th floor?

4) I personally have found few buyers to discriminate between an East vs West view. However, a number of condo values are greatly affected by a North Vs South view.

5) Not all views from the 16Th floor of various buildings are the same. Think about ceiling height, and windows that run floor to ceiling. The building itself can manipulate either the view, or the feeling that the view offers, and this in turn will affect resale value and overall appeal.

At times, the need for a good view can be bypassed if a condominium has great light. There are many Rittenhouse Square condos that offer tremendous natural light, be it north or south, east or west, that don’t necessarily have great visuals. I find a lot of buyers will fore-go a great view if the natural light is strong. Conversely, I find that a great view will not overcome the weakness of a dark condominium. I would suggest that natural light is a stronger motivator than a great view- at least in terms of resale ability.
So know that it has been my experience that view does indeed affect resale price and the time it may take to sell any given Philadelphia condominium. Though direct “park views” are the most desirable, there are compensating factors, and issues that can compensate for a lovely tree lined view of say, Washington Square. One needs to consider the window size, ceiling height, amount of natural light, and of course floor height. All factors should be considered when determining the resale ability of any given Philadelphia condo.

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

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April 8, 2013

Low Condo Fees and Your Resale Value

Filed under: Center City Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 9:55 am

I am a REALTOR in downtown Philadelphia. I specialize in selling Center City condos and have for the past 23 years of my career.


Condominium buildings, like cars, teeth, and gardens, require ongoing maintenance and care. In an effort to cut your personal costs, try not buying toothpaste or floss for a year, and see where that gets ya’. In the long run, its probably going to cost you more than if you bought (and used, of course) toothpaste, floss, and mouth rinse. One dental bill can blow those costs out of the water. The same analogy can be said about Philadelphia condo buildings.

I’m always amazed when I go onto a listing appointment and the owner tries to sell me on the fact that the condo fees in his building are super low, as compared to similar condo buildings in downtown Philadelphia. Perhaps Me. Seller things I am new to this planet. It’s been my experience that somewhat abnormally low condo fees for a particular building can actually result in a lower resale price for those Philadelphia condos.

Let’s say a condo association decides its going to keep fees minimal because the owners got together and decided NOT to raise fees yearly. Bad move, I say! Interior and exterior maintenance projects are going to be lacking, most likely, as will routine projects like cleaning exterior windows, hall carpeting replacement, etc.

I think a HUGE portion of a buyer’s perception of a particular Center City condo is formed in his or her brain PRIOR to him or her entering that specific condo. If the common hallways are dirty, the exterior weak in terms of curb appeal, etc., it is not going to reflect well on any unit within that Philadelphia condominium building.

Such glaring deficiencies in the showing ability of the building as a whole should not be underestimated by any condo association. Certainly the prospective buyer walking in the front door for the first time is going to see those deficiencies…

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August 19, 2010

Divide up your Old City Loft Space….but keep the light!

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Of Interest To Sellers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:16 am

A buyer of mine sent me this link,, and I think it is really groovy! And a great idea for many Old City condo lofts which have exceedingly large living rooms. By adding another bedroom area, and still keeping the light coming into your living room, you could quickly and easily add value.

raydoor raydoor 2 raydoor3 raydoor4

And the look is very hip and perfectly positioned for some of the neat Old City condos that Center City has available! See more at

Mark Wade
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St., Suite 260 Philadelphia, PA 19106

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August 12, 2010

An Insider’s Look Into The Center City Condo Activity

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,General Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Of Interest To Sellers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 1:30 pm

We hear all kinds of national news stories about the country’s current real estate market. Below is a simple breakdown of the number of showings that have taken place at Prudential Fox and Roach’s Center City Philadelphia Listings over the past 9 months. The figures are broken down by price ranges. There does not appear to be a lack of folks looking to buy and as usual, very early spring seems to produce the most Center City Condo buyers with traffic slowing mid-summer as many people leave for vacations.   


Leave a comment, or shoot me an email at I’d live to hear your thoughts on this “inside” Center City Real Estate report. Spring Market 2011 is just around the corner!

Mark Wade
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St., Suite 260 Philadelphia, PA 19106

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August 5, 2010

Sh*tty Philadelphia Condo Buildings

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,General Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 2:17 pm

…Have Sh*tty Resale Prices- If they sell at all.

Come on, you would have to be from the moon to believe all condo buildings here in Center City are created equal in terms of
demand, cache, and resale ability (in terms of price and “days on market”). There are some buildings in downtown Philly that just really suck, in terms of their investment value. And there are a handful of buildings that basically cannot resale at all.
Some of the signs to be aware of-
1) A lot of units on the market, and very few sold in the past 12 months
2) A high number of REO’s/Foreclosures/Short Sales
3) A low owner-occupancy ratio in the building
4) Poorly managed exterior and common area condition
Unless you are buying a short sale or a foreclosure in the building, or are in the mood to just piss your money away, I would suggest we talk prior to you buying in certain buildings.. Some Center City condominium buildings aren’t worth a look, much less an offer.

Mark Wade
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St., Suite 260 Philadelphia, PA 19106

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July 29, 2010

The First to Flinch, loses

Filed under: General Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Of Interest To Sellers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 1:07 pm

I am at a standoff between a buyer and a seller on a particular condo in Center City.

This is routine. What makes this an interesting case is that after 5 days of initial offer presentation, the seller is at (say) $815k, after some price reductions, and negotiating…and the buyer is stuck at $810k, after a few counter offers.

So who is going to budge?

If I pester the other agent to hammer his or her buyer to take my seller’s offer of $815k…does that not show a sign of weakness?  I think it does. It is a game of chicken at this point, and the first party to flinch, or show weakness in the negotiating process by being too impatient, may well indeed be the loser and may have to cave to make up the $5,000 difference in this case.
I am advising my seller to sit tight, and put on their best poker face.
We will see….stay tuned.
Mark Wade
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St., Suite 260 Philadelphia, PA 19106

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July 27, 2010

Five best selling new construction condo buildings in Center City

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 1:19 pm

1) Locust Point

2) 815 Arch St

3) Naval Square

4) York Square

5) The National at Old City

Based upon the fact that these buildings are sold out, (or in the case of Naval Square which continues to add new buildings as demand dictates), I would suggest that these five Philly condo buildings have fared the best in Center City since the onslaught of new construction in Philadelphia started taking shape. There are also a handful of buildings that have just a few remaining units left- Ayer, Symphony House, and Western Union Building to name a few. And of course, there are buildings here in Center City in which a small fraction of sales have happened, even after a four to five year marketing period. We won’t mention those pieces here.

Mark Wade
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St., Suite 260 Philadelphia, PA 19106

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July 23, 2010

Top 3 Snarky answers to the question: Do I have to pay condo fees?

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 9:01 am

1) Why no…the elevator runs on magic pixie dust…it doesn’t need electricity to operate.

2) Of course not…the doorman here works for free.

3) Not in this building….the hallways, windows, and lobby magically clean themselves.

 …it is a miracle of course, but that is how things happen at this Philadelphia Condominium.
If there are common elements (the definition of a condo) then they have to be maintained by the members of the condo association. If your condo makes up say 2% of the building, then you are responsible for 2% of the cost to run the building. Plain and simple! 🙂

Mark Wade
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St., Suite 260 Philadelphia, PA 19106

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