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January 27, 2014

3 Easy Ways to Spruce up your Philly Condo’s Showing Ability

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Sellers,Of Interest To Sellers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 12:37 pm

 

I am often asked by condo owners to offer tips on getting their condo to “Show Well”. Here are the 3 quick easy tips for maximizing the showing ability of your Philadelphia condominium:

1) Go to Ikea, and buy a floor to ceiling curtain and hang it from ceiling height, in front of your bathtub. This is not going to take the place of your shower curtain, it is simply going to add some dramatic effect to the bathroom. It is quick, cheap, and has a powerful punch in terms of the emotional appeal of your Center City condo.

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2) Paint an accent wall. Preferably, one that is opposite the entryway to any given room. I like to see fireplace walls accented in somewhat neutral, yet enticing colors too. Like a chalky blue, or green. Painting an accent wall will give a hint of flavor to a room, without overpowering the room with massive color.

 

 

 

 

3) Replace the knobs on the doors and drawers in your kitchen and bathroom. And don’t buy the 99 cents knobs either. Go to Pottery Barn, or Restoration Hardware, and spend a few dollars. Believe me when I tell you, they will help even a somewhat tired kitchen look a bit refreshed.

knob

 

 

 

 

 

That’s it. Three quick easy steps for maximizing the interior “curb appeal” to your  Center City Condo!

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

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September 4, 2013

Not All Upgrades Pay Off….

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Sellers,Of Interest To Sellers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:27 am

There is no such thing as a Sure Thing. No surprise there. But time and time again I see Philadelphia condos where the seller has spent money in order to hopefully improve the resale value of their condo. In most instances, condo owners upgrade for their own Use and Enjoyment- but some do improve with the goal being a higher resale value. Here are common upgrading mistakes I see in the Center City Condo marketplace:

1) Wall to Wall Carpeting in a Living room.2200aarch
2) Installing a Huge soaking tub/ Jacuzzi like monstrosity
3) Replacing closet doors with Mirrored closet doors
4) Adding a Roof Deck
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 Lowes. I call it the faux California Closet looks. And they can add tremendous value to your condo. 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.
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.
—–
 So I’m thinkin’……I am kinda’ groovy, you see 🙂
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July 29, 2013

Deception By “Comps”

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:11 am

Don’t believe everything you read, or every comparable you see. NOT all condo space is created equal, and not all two bedrooms in the same building are of the same value.  Duh. There are soooo many factors that infuence value-

HOW DO YOU THEN CORRECTLY COMPARE APPLES TO APPLES?

a and o

Here are some Tips:

1) Ask to see EVERY sale in the building in the past 2 years. Ask for the public records and MLS records.

2) Find a map of the building, and see which units face “The Park”, and which overlook the DUMPSTERS – Positioning within a Center City condo building plays a role in value!

3) Inquire as to seller concessions that may have result in a higher recorded sales price for comps in newer buildings. And ask “did that unit include any extras like free parking?” Cuz if it did, it is going to distort the comps.

4) Floor height value- may or may not play a part in comps/ comp value. Newer Philadelphia condos are GREATLY based upon floor height.

5) Know that ALL pictures in the MLS look good- they don’t show dirt, clutter, or a poor showing ability (generally speaking).

And know that “Fact Sheets” and MLS sheets are like Resumes- full of bullsh** and dog doo. Never take that info for granted- you must confirm!

6) AND THE BIGGEST factor to warp comps- Interior condition. Hugely huge in comp valuation.

Here is a good example of “Not All Space Being Created Equally”…

Equally sized two bed units at the Plaza can vary in price from $400k- $700k. Condition, and view have huge impacts on value and pricing.

So clearly comps can be deceiving – if you don’t know…ask me. Please.

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July 22, 2013

Known for low condo fees and Uniqueness

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 3:46 pm

Brownstone styled condos are an option in Center City that I find are becoming more popular for many condo shoppers. Known for their low condo fees, and some 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 overwhlemingly 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: 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. 1023 Clinton St.

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.

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May 20, 2013

Buy That Condo That Smells of Dog Pee

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,Of Interest to Buyers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:11 am

And has dirty orange shag carpeting. And faded purple painted walls. Really!

I have been preaching this mantra for some eighteen years now here in Center City Philadelphia. And it has worked! Our little group of seven REALTORS (www.centercitycondos.com) at Prudential Fox & Roach REALTORS sell over 160 Philadelphia condos and Philadelphia townhouses every year to very happy owners.

One distinction that we can brag about is the fairly sizable profits a lot of our buyers make when they call us a number of years later to resell their Center City condos. Now granted, a lot of that has to do with the market conditions, and the fact that Philadelphia real estate has been on an upswing for the past dozen or so years. But, a significant reason many of our Philadelphia condo buyers make money is because we guide them to properties that are diamonds in the rough.

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Buyers are probably going to find the smelly, ugly Center City condos severely discounted (disproportionately) lower than one might expect… because few other buyers are emotionally attracted to these “dogs”.  My goal is to get buyers to see past the simple outdated or unattractive cosmetics that are inherent in a number of downtown Philadelphia lofts, condos, and townhomes.

I feign deafness when I hear a buyer tell me that the “place is perfect, except I don’t like the carpeting”. Or that the appliances are old and the inside of the refrigerator smells like the inside of their gym bag. Those issues are what I call PHONE CALL UPGRADES. You pick up the telephone, you dial the local Home Depot or Lowes and you set an appointment for them to cone out and replace the appliances and carpet. You place one call to a painter who repaints all the faded purple colored walls. These are one step-one call upgrades. This isn’t brain surgery. We are not moving the kitchen which would involve moving gas line, water lines, replacing flooring, redoing baseboard moldings on and on and on. Simple stuff…”One Phone Call” Stuff.

And that is where many buyers see a huge increase in their resale price: simple, light cosmetic work. The kind of work that takes a pee smelling, dirty orange shag carpeted piece of ick, and adds significant emotional value through the use of good decorating skills, cleanliness, and minor cosmetic upgrades that are readily visible to the eye.

Buy ugly. Buy smell. And sell oohs and aahs… Then sing and dance all the way to the bank.

Ready to discover your own diamond in the rough? Give me a call today at 215-521-1523 or drop me and email at mark@centercity.com. We’ll smell out those “dogs” and find you a real ooh and aah buy!

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May 13, 2013

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

Filed under: For Buyers,For Sellers,Of Interest to Buyers,Of Interest To Sellers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:29 am

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 Center City condos, I know one thing is for sure: there’s a big disparity between finished condo projects and the drawings that started them.

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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March 4, 2013

Is a Condo right for you?

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,Of Interest to Buyers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:58 am

Condominium; an apartment house, office building, or other multiple-unit complex which is individually owned, with an individual deed and right to sell the individual unit of that building. So many uses of the word “individual” but that’s not exactly the word most people would use to describe a condo. Yes, you have your individual unit, but it is in a shared building with shared amenities, such as pool, gym, and/or tennis court, and shared responsibility to show your neighbors the utmost respect.

Let’s back track for a minute. You stopped at the word “amenities” didn’t you? That’s right, when living in a condo amenities such as these are right in your “backyard”, so to speak. Some Philly condos even go as far as to providing you with town car or private bus service to and from your destinations! Not a bad deal for a small fee.

A fee is described as a charge or payment for professional service. That couldn’t hit the nail harder on the head. Along with all the amenities included in your “condo fee”, which is a monthly payment for access to all that a condo has to offer, you also receive the privilege of professional services such as lawn and exterior maintenance as well as indoor home repairs. There are so many wonderful things a condo has to offer.

Condos provide a sense of a safer environment for people living alone or looking after small children considering the extra eyes that are always around. Living in a condo is like working in an office, you have your own personal and private space, yet you aren’t alone, and you aren’t too far from a neighbor or friend.

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February 25, 2013

Philly Condo Buyers- Who Are They?

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums,State of Marketplace — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 11:12 am

Of course I get tons and tons of folks emailing me looking to move into a condo in Center City…no surprise there. But you might be surprised by who is actually buying in town. Here are some common groups of buyers who I see buying condos in Center City.  Certainly others exist, but this is a generalization of what I see:

1) The Returnees – Grew up in Philly, moved elsewhere, and now returning. Being close to friends and family is often the draw.
2) The Empty Nesters- Shedding themselves of 75,000 pounds of unused house. They can often be very happy happy buyers who are starting a new chapter in their lives. I enjoy working with and watching them get excited for a move into town.
3) The Weekend Warriors- They have done the shore, now they spend their weekends in town. Much more common than you think.
4) The Kids Who Have Parents Who Have $$ – Very common. Very.
5) The Transferee- Maybe came to town via a promotion- and wants to be close to work. Moving to town wasn’t on the radar. Doesn’t matter- he or she is here now.
6) The Growing Families- It used to be that young adults would get married , and get a dog, two kids, a station wagon, and BOOM- off to suburbia they went. No longer the case. They now often represent our move up buyers in Center City.
7) The Investors- Who knew that the city is the place to be, and that their investment will provide a handsome return year after year after year. Unless say Univ. of Penn moves to say the moon…a condo may easily be a magnet for a tenant.

8) The First Timers- The good ole reliable first time buyer. The backbone of the Center City condo market- always has been, probably always will be.

 

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January 22, 2013

Guest Post: Renovating Condo Units

Filed under: For Buyers,For Sellers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 11:36 am

Renovating a Philadelphia condo unit brings with it challenges that homeowners simply don’t face. Unit owners must comply with condo rules and regulations, consider how noise affects neighbors and work within the building’s larger electrical or plumbing systems. Careful planning before renovations helps prevent problems with the condo association and staff.

Unlike a house, when you purchase a condo you only own what lies within the unit’s walls. You cannot renovate public areas, other people’s units or the building’s utility infrastructure. This is necessary, in part, to ensure the building maintains its overall feel and appearance.

Check Everything

Well before you commit to any condo renovations, read over the condo association’s condo docs to find out what types of renovations are permitted. Different condo docs have different restrictions. You’ll probably need to submit a plan of renovation, in writing, to the condo association.

Generally, most condo agreements allow you to paint, install new appliances, replace lighting and plumbing fixtures and replace flooring. More complex renovations such as rerouting plumbing or electrical wiring and knocking down walls require approval by the condo association.

Renovations requiring work in adjourning units are least likely to be approved, as this inconveniences other residents. Extensive plumbing and electric work may fall into this category.

Working with Contractors

Renovating a condo often means working several stories up, rather than on the ground. This complicates materials delivery, heavy equipment transport, waste removal and even contractor parking.

Ask your condo association if they can recommend contractors with experience in condo renovations. Contractors need experience working in the tighter confines of a condo unit, and keeping noise to a minimum for the sake of your neighbors.

Renovations will go smoother if you coordinate with condo staff. Doormen and other staff need to know when contractors will be on-site, when they will be moving heavy items and your renovation schedule. Early planning and frequent updates help prevent miscommunications and hard feelings. If your renovations require access to the building’s plumbing or electricity, arrange for access well ahead of time.

Considering the Neighbors

When renovating a house, contractors usually work late into the evening, so the job will inconvenience you as little as possible. In a condo, you have to consider how renovation noise and dust affect your neighbors.

Most condo associations have strict noise regulations and limit the hours during which contractors can work. These are reasonable restrictions; your neighbors share walls, ceilings and floors with you, and don’t want to be disturbed late into the evening.

Let neighbors know your renovation plans well in advance so they don’t get blindsided by unexpected noise. Be polite and understanding–after all, you’re inconveniencing them, not the other way around. When renovations are done, express your thanks to neighbors for their patience.

Byline: Michelle is an aspiring writer with a passion for blogging. She enjoys writing about a vast variety of topics and loves that blogging gives her the opportunity to publicly voice her thoughts and share advice with an unlimited audience.

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February 17, 2012

A Brief Outline on Home Mortgage Loans

Filed under: For Buyers,Of Interest to Buyers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 2:00 pm

Mortgages play very crucial role in the economy. The importance of the mortgage industry was realized during the last economic crisis that the country had faced. Rising number of mortgage loans default cases were reported and housing prices plunged to very low levels. This led to the crash in the real estate market in the economy. The negative effects of the crash in the real estate market were percolated to the other sectors of the economy soon. Eventually, the country, as a whole, went into recession. Anyways, in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the mortgage lenders have become more cautious and they are keeping in more stringent eligibility criteria for obtaining a home mortgage loan. In other words, they are checking the credit worthiness of the borrowers like never before.

Anyway, before taking out a mortgage loan, you must conduct a thorough research about different mortgage loans and rates available at the market place. After examining the different mortgage loans, you will be able to find the most suitable mortgage loan. In other words, the home mortgage loan that you have taken out, must be very affordable to you. In order to find out your affordability, you can also take the help of a mortgage calculator. A mortgage calculator calculates your affordable mortgage payment amount. Anyways, if you face difficulty in repaying your original mortgage loan, you can opt for home mortgage refinancing too.

A mortgage refinance replaces the original mortgage loan with a new one which is affordable to you. In other words, the aim of mortgage refinancing is to help the borrowers pay off their mortgage loans. This can be done through by lowering down the monthly mortgage payment amount or by raising the term of a mortgage. If you want to pay off your mortgage loan earlier before the scheduled time, then also you can opt for mortgage refinancing. Mortgage refinancing can lower down the term of the mortgage loan but at the cost of increased monthly mortgage payment.

Again, if you want to switch to the safety of a fixed rat mortgage from that of an adjustable rate mortgage, then also, you can opt for mortgage refinancing.

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Philadelphia, PA 19106
Direct: 215.521.1523 ~ Office: 215.627.6005
Fax: 215.627.3142
Email: Mark@CenterCity.com
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