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November 8, 2016

Additional Crap I know about Real Estate in Center City That You Probably Don’t :-)

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:35 am

1) The Philadelphian at 2401 Pennsylvania Ave. is the largest condo building in the state of PA. Over 700 units. Very cool mid-century feel to the place.

2401-pennsylvania-ave-1

2) Buyers AND Sellers often nit-pick themselves right out of a deal. They focus on minute details and the other party gets fatigued and the deal falls apart.  Most deals fall apart over the SMALLEST details and usually based upon emotion and not $$.

3) Buyers usually don’t buy the bricks and mortar. They buy feelings and emotions. (See #2 above).

4) I encourage buyers to bring family members on a tour of condos. But not friends. Family members support and encourage. Friends are the ultimate deal killer who bad mouth EVERY condo we see- almost always.

5) I do not believe that expiring tax abatements on any given condo building equates to lower future values. I have watched many buildings with expired abatements and I haven’t seen a correlation.

6) Like automobiles, popular condo units (when first offered/built) have a tendency to remain popular units throughout their life span. Like all the “01” units at The Murano or the “G” units at Society Hill Towers.

7) Condo fees are like a person’s age. They go up nominally almost every year. It is a fact of life…it just is.

8) Waterfront Sq. at 901 N. Penn just got their Energy Star Rating- To earn the ENERGY STAR, the apartments in a new multifamily building must be built to meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. An apartment unit that has earned the ENERGY STAR label has undergone a rigorous process of third-party testing and verification to ensure it delivers better quality, comfort, and value.

9) When I settle on a property, that buyer or seller is out of my life for the foreseeable future. This often is a letdown as I have grown to know my clients and I won’t get to continue to interact with them.

10) Sloppy offers usually garner sloppy responses. If you want your offer to be presented in the best light, then dot your i’s and cross your t’s. And that often means getting a pre-qual from the lender that the LISTING AGENT knows best. This can easily remove doubt as to your qualification for a mortgage.

11) No, you can’t bring your dog on our tour of condos. I love dogs. I love my dog too, but you won’t see her on our tour. Leave your dog at home. Seriously.

12) Every home inspector says you need a pan under your washer/dryer. If there is not one there now, then you most likely aren’t getting one. This is the #1 thing on any inspection report that I cannot successfully negotiate for you. (If there is not drain, then a pan will do you no good and very few buildings have drains under their W/D units).

13) Mortgage companies torture everyone equally. You will not be able to circumvent this fact EVEN if you are super-duper rich or if you have an existing account with your lender. Trust me. I know.

14) More and more high rise buildings are not renewing their FHA approvals. Not sure why- but the Reef building at Waterfront Sq. just did so.

Mark Wade
www.CenterCityCondos.com
BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors
Mark@CenterCity.com ~ 215.521.1523

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October 6, 2016

901 N. Penn St. ~ Peninsula Building now FHA approved!

Filed under: For Buyers,Of Interest to Buyers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 11:04 am

Waterfront Square

Great news! We just received word that The Peninsula Building at Waterfront Square has been approved for FHA Financing!

fhapeninsula

As you can see, the Reef Building has also been approved. This is great news for Waterfront Square! The approval is valid for 2 years.
FHA insures condominium single unit loans for up to 30-year terms to purchase or refinance a unit in an FHA-approved condominium project.

For more information about FHA condos, click here!

Mark Wade
BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors
530 Walnut St. #260
Philadelphia, PA 19106
www.CenterCityCondos.com

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September 27, 2016

Rising home prices, quick sales – Philly’s in a sellers’ market (Mark’s Two Cents on Philly.com)

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,General Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums,State of Marketplace — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 9:54 am

Alan J. Heavens, Philly.com’s Real estate writer says, “The city of Philadelphia is officially a sellers’ real estate market, as a continued shortage of inventory has pushed up prices for properties listed for sale.”
skyline_west

Economist Kevin Gillen, senior research fellow at Drexel University’s Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation, said the second quarter of 2016, which ended June 30, saw median prices 13 percent higher than April-through-June 2015.

…Gillen isn’t exactly sure why homeowners aren’t rushing to list their houses, but Mark Wade, an agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors, cites several factors.

Mostly, it is “because many buyers in town over the last few decades have been empty nesters who believe they have made their final move and don’t need to downsize or adjust their living quarters to match their future needs,” Wade said.

The “flip side of rising house prices is decreased housing affordability,” Gillen said.

“Prices are now rising faster than household incomes, which implies that home buyers must now sacrifice a greater portion of their wealth to buy a home than they would otherwise, or else must defer the purchase of a home altogether,” he said.

Click here to read the full article on Philly.com.

Mark Wade
www.CenterCityCondos.com
BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors
Mark@CenterCity.com ~ 215.521.1523

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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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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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June 2, 2014

Screw “Location, Location, Location” In Center City It Can Be All About “Condition, Condition, Condition.”

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:41 am

When enthusiasm drips from a buyers mouth-
Every “Ohh” is worth $5,000
and every “Ahh” is worth $10,000
Location is always going to be a determining factor in price as well as long term value retention. But there are mitigating factors in the Center City condo market that are going to dilute the power of a strong location in driving prices over the long haul. That major factor would be interior condition and the visual impact of any given Center City condo.  Here are a few factors that may help the power of a condo’s condition to play a huge role in determining value:
Disbursement Of Wealth- Twenty years ago, if you had $1,000,000 you bought on Rittenhouse Square-period. Today, we will find that every neighborhood has broken the $1M barrier.  And it is getting much easier for buyers to find high end condo product in some locations that might have been unfathomable even five years ago.
First Time Buyers and Empty Nesters- Clearly the dominate driving forces in the Center City condo buying segment. AND what do they both have in common? They both want a strong interior condition as neither seem to favor the condos that need work. Trying to get either to buy a fixer upper is an uphill battle (generally speaking).
Everything is out the window when buyers fall in love- You would pretty much have to be new to this planet to not know that concept. I have found that most buyers buy with their eyes. More often than not, buyers will forego the strength of the location in order to buy the condos that really strike a visual chord.
In no way should this argument be a vote for a weaker location than perhaps what you have in mind. However over the long haul, you might be surprised to find just how important condition is to the overall value retention of your condominium here in Center City.  Ugly is an 800 pound albatross that can and will drive down your value like no other condominium attribute- And it may not matter if you are sitting in the perfect location. To underestimate the value of strong interior and visual appeal would be to underestimate the overall value of any given  
Center City condominium.
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March 10, 2014

Rumor has it…

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 1:25 pm
-The Plaza is done with their lobby work and they made one of the best common foyers in town even better. Now exterior work to begin on the balconies.
-I have heard that the planned new construction at 25th and Locust is going to be a Philadelphia condo building- and not rentals. Don’t bet on it-just a rumor.
-The Murano is getting a make-over to their community room. No offense as I love the Murano, but…yippee.
-The lobby of the Warwick has been completed..and this ain’t no rumor- it is fabulous! Really…next time you walk past- stick your head inside the lobby at 1701 Locust St.
-I just implemented a new menu button on my site “The Newest 50 Condos In Center City.” That info will of course be updated daily for my condo junkies that love to stay on top of everything here in town.
-I just got my first “Multiple Bid” situation for the Spring 2014 selling season- A sign of the impending “sellers market” (watch prices rise this year pretty much across the board).  The spring market is starting real early this year- and will run through say mid-July.
-I just saw one of the most jaw-dropping condos I have seen in town- At 1352 South St. A super duper stunning corner unit- the likes of which I have never seen in Center City. This is the only one like it in the building.
Asking under $800k. I was like, damn…..
-Center City One at 1326 Spruce St. has completed (most if not all) of their common hallway repairs and they look stunning. Building is so well run and they are now offering options for folks to replace their own exterior windows and doors. Touche.
-I heard that the southwest corner of 5th and Walnut was recently purchased by a large Center City developer and will be turned into a fairly dramatic new condo high-rise building. I overheard that little noodle from a big wig in the company who was in good spirits when he started singing like a canary.
-The Former Shirt Corner (NE corner 3rd & Market) is adding a CVS and 59 units…not sure if condos or apartments.

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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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January 13, 2014

Some Philly Condos Appreciate and some Depreciate

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:03 am

man-swimming-in-pool-871278587620eIzC-300x200

Some Philly Condos Appreciate and some Depreciate Like people in a swimming pool, some float, and some sink. The question is why.

Obvious factors are the showing ability and emotional impact that a particular condo unit does or does not possess: cleanliness, natural light, wall color, furniture, even the smell of a condo can add or subtract from the emotional beauty, and leads to a huge impact on a condos value. In my twenty years of selling real estate, I have never had a buyer tell me to find him the dirtiest, or the worst decorated condo available. Easily, as much a ten percent difference in value depending upon showing ability. And of course interior condition can also have a major impact on value. Beige bathtubs and appliances can crimp value fairly quickly in a lot of cases. 

In addition, the physical characteristics of any given unit can help or hurt the units value (think- huge closets, a tax abatement, high ceilings,etc). Styles, like appliances and carpeting have a tendency to age, and that is usually accompanied by a slower rate of appreciation. Clearly, more recently rehabbed, say, Rittenhouse Square condos are going to retain their value better than a unit in a state of disrepair or decline in its finishes. Also prohibitive condominium association rules and policies can deter many buyers from specific buildings. A host of factors can cause units to sit on the market longer than normal, and almost always guaranteeing a lessened resale value.

Location is also a huge factor to the rate of either appreciation or depreciation. Stronger locations in town have a tendency to be a bit more elastic- they are the first neighborhoods to see a drop in inventory with any influx of buyers to the market. That’s a good thing. Recall the principles of supply and demand. I would argue that a strong location is going to depreciate less -because IF in a weakened marketplace, the first condos to remain unsold are in the weaker locations. (The flip side is that you might be able to strike a significantly improved deal, should you be looking away from an “A” location.)

I am just brushing the surface here, but know that not all Center City condos in town will appreciate or depreciate at the same rate. Or sell within the same given time frame. The best tools you have to insure your value remains intact is twofold:

1) Buy it at the right price in the first place and/or

2) Keep your unit looking like it just jumped off the pages of Town and Country Magazine.

Easier said than done, I am aware!

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

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530 Walnut Street, Suite 260
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Direct: 215.521.1523 ~ Office: 215.627.6005
Fax: 215.627.3142
Email: Mark@CenterCity.com
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