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October 13, 2009

My Top 5 Bizarre Open House Moments

Filed under: Of Interest to Buyers,Of Interest To Sellers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 3:43 pm

…and you thought being a realtor was all glamour.

 

I have been sitting Open Houses in Center City Philadelphia for twenty years now. If I add up all the hours I have spent alone in some strangers home, I could have taken a month off in the Bahamas, I am sure. But not all the sitting and waiting for some Philadelphia condo buyer has been in vain. Here are my top (bottom?) 5 Open House experiences that I have lived through:
 
1) Someone once died in the living room of my lovely Open House. I was in a Washington Square West Condo, and PA. Hospital was but 1/2 block away. Buyer Lived.

2) I once added a cat to someones home. The cat was lurking by the back door. I figured I let him out by mistake. I didn’t. This owner didn’t own a cat.

3) I once sat the wrong Open House. Couldn’t get the key to work. Sat on the front stoop for an hour. Was told a week later I was at the wrong address.

4) I once left an open house, and locked a potential buyer inside. She was knocking on the front door, from inside the house, as I attempted to leave. Good save on her part.

5) I once tracked grease from the sidewalk onto the new carpeting of a model open house I was once sitting.  I didn’t tell anyone. It still eats at me at this day.
 
I’m not perfect, but if you own a Center City Condo, I might just be perfect for you.

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

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October 9, 2009

Appraised Values are Bullshit

Filed under: General Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 3:50 pm

…how do you not understand that?

I have long contended that appraisals are not worth the money. Sure, they are a necessary ingredient into any mortgage or refinance situation, but just how real is an appraisal for any given Rittenhouse Square condo for example?

It has been my general experience that an appraisal is any given mortgage or Re-Fi situation is a question of “Meets”….does the appraised value meet or exceed the sale price. If yes, then great…deal goes through. If not, big problem. But I have seen COUNTLESS appraisals magically come back at exactly sale price. Now how does that happen?
    
Here is what happens: Appraiser finds out sale price, then finds comparable sales to meet that sale price.  It is the tail wagging the dog.

But my bigger complaint is that appraisals do not take into account (or for the most part, discount) interior condition. IF Mr. or Mrs. Appraiser is looking for comparable sales to either meet or exceed the value of the subject property, but he or she has not been inside the comparables, how can they account for the huge fluctuations in the sale prices of supposedly similar units? Does the emotional impact of a unit not count for anything?  And are they getting their insight/knowledge about the interior condition, or the emotional impact of a condo from 5 or 6 crappy photos of a Center City Condo added to the MLS by some realtor with a $20 camera??
    
I would love to hear some feedback on my assertion that appraisals are Bullshit. What do you have to say?

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

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October 7, 2009

No Lack of Condominium Buyers In Center City Philadelphia

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

….for distressed properties, that is. Interesting note for Fall 2009.

There was a really nice 1500+ Sq ft. two bed/two and a half bath condo with parking at WaterFront Square that went on the market a 12 days ago.

The unit was being sold by a bank, and from what I hear, had 4 cash offers. Asking price was $389,000.  Clearly, this unit sold in no time. I even told a buyer that I easily could have sold that unit at least twice, providing no one else knew of this gem.

Whats my point? There are no lack of ready willing and able buyers in Center City Philadelphia. However, there is a lack of severely distressed inventory to satisfy the bottom-feeder buyers.

And I am casting no judgement on those buyers- more power to anyone who is smart enough to be prepared to make such a move. I wish I had more buyers like that! There are still 3 places in town that I think are similar in nature- two in Old City (which is rare) and one in Washington Sq. West. Bottom feeders- Call me. Lets chat.

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

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June 25, 2009

Fireplaces, Huge Soaking Tubs and other useless Amenities

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 1:23 pm

…that are pointless in a Philly High Rise Condo.

I love it when some dumbass developer takes up a large chunk of a 20th floor condo with a huge soaking tub.  Always good for a laugh. Pointing out the foilbles of some newbie condo builder is one of my favorite pasttimes. Under the theory of “When In Rome….” fireplaces and those giant soaking tubs are soooo out of place in a high rise Philly condominium.

I know of NO ONE who actually uses those giant oversized tubs. I am not talking about a regular bathtub….I am referring to those big dumb soaking tubs that can fit an army of regular sized people. NOTE TO DEVELOPER- grow a brain. Such an amenity is a huge waste of space. I always point to them and tell my buyers- You will use this on the first day you move in, then you will never use it again. They ALWAYS agree.
And wood burning fireplaces here in  Rittenhouse Square 19103 condominiums? Now where the heck is my buyer going to store the wood needed to fuel such a spectacle? Better question- where the hell is he going to get the firewood? It is not like there is some lumber jack who lives at 9th and Spruce Street who chops down trees and sells split wood.

Developers installing such amenities are spending money, and taking up valuable space for items that are really a negative to many Philadelphia condominium buyers. Trust me, this ain’t suburbia. This is urban downtown Philly, and such amentities don’t fly with the condo buying set.

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

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June 5, 2009

You can’t compare a walk-up to an elevator Condo building in Philadelphia

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,General Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 4:13 pm

… in a Low Rise Condo Building.


 
Just like comparing apples to oranges, an elevator vs. a NON-elevator building is just not the same. But there are a number of “red flags” I would preface this information with….

I am not suggesting that an elevator building in inherently more valuable than a non-elevator building. That is not the point. And it ain’t true in all cases. However, there MUST be some differentiation in value when you are talking about two IDENTICAL units (in terms of size, location, condition, amenities,etc) in which one is a FIFTH floor walk-up, and the other is a FIFTH floor condo in an elevator building. HUGE difference in price.

No one could tell me, with any conviction (unless they were mental) that a value difference needn’t be considered.

Most Philadelphians will hike it up to the 2nd floor without a gripe. A few noises for 3rd floor walk-ups. Fifth floor is a tall order- no pun intended.

But then again, most of the higher walk-up floors are going to be discounted. Just look at 924 Spruce St. # 301 – probably one of the best deals in town! Generally speaking, the higher the floor ( above 2nd) is going to have to be discounted more and more. These units are saleable, but adjustments need to be made.

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

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May 29, 2009

Not all Philadelphia Locations suffer Equally in this Real Estate Market

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Of Interest To Sellers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 3:54 pm

What I find interesting about the current state of the market, here in late Spring 2009, is that not all segments of the real estate market in downtown Philadelphia are equal in terms of it being a sellers or a buyers market. 

The hottest segment in town has got to be the two bedroom townhouse market in the 19103, or northern portion of 19146- roughly called the Rittenhouse Square area, under $400,000. Slim pickins’ should a buyer find themselves looking for housing in this crowded area. Many buyers, either Penn students, or whomever, are searching for that perfect, say, $375,000 two bedroom townhouse. I would strongly suggest that this segment of the market is a sellers market, or at least leaning in that direction- more so than any other segment of the Center City real estate market.

Conversely, I would venture to guess that an extreme buyers market is in effect in the Northern Liberties section of Center City in terms of the condo market. Simply looking at inventory levels in one clue. The other clues, or symptoms would be average “Days On Market”, and the difference between asking price and selling price of many of these units. The last hint to where any segment of the market may fall, in an extremely unscientific measure, is the amount of buyers I have who visit my website, and search for inventory in those two particular neighborhoods. The Rittenhouse Square area out weights other areas in a disproportionate manner. 

Depending on what market segment you may be interested in, may determine your ability to not only have a lot to different condos to look at, but also may provide more opportunity to bargain with any given seller. Yes, there can be a buyers market on one end of town, and a sellers market on the other end of town- at the same time.

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

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May 27, 2009

Dispursement of Philadelphia’s Real Estate Wealth

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Of Interest To Sellers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 3:16 pm

Twenty years ago, if you had $750,000 to spend on a piece of Philadelphia real estate, you had just two options- Rittenhouse Square or Society Hill. Or like most buyers in the Philadelphia region, you may actually have omitted the downtown options, and landed in suburbia. Back in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s, transferees into the metro Philly area would seem to magically bounce of Center City (our downtown area) and end up in a suburb. The idea of spending anything over a half million dollars to live in Old City, The Art Museum area, or say Washington Square West was just not a popular option or idea- even if you could find something in those neighborhoods in such a price range. You would have to be out of your mind NOT to position yourself front and center on Rittenhouse Square, or in Society Hill- our two mainstays for the Location, Location. Location equation.

Today, options for high end condos and townhomes in Philly are varied- not only in terms of location, but also style. Old City is a REAL possibility for many condo buyers in the upper tier. Old City is probably the one neighborhood where a high end modern loft condo has not only become a real possibility, but a true draw to many empty nesters looking to abandon such things in their lives as lawnmowers and multiple car ownership.  Fitler Square, with its quaint cobblestone side streets and small pocket gardens, as well as the Avenue of the Arts- replete with cultural activities nearby, are options that high end buyers did not exercise in the late 1980’s.  And let’s not forget the Waterfront areas, as well as Art Museum areas, and Queen Village, each offering their own attractions and pleasures of an urban lifestyle.
   
With the growth and popularity of downtown Philly, there has arisen a variety of options in which buyers should explore, before sticking with one neighborhood in which they are familiar. And it seems that all buyers coming into Philadelphia have heard of locations like Rittenhouse Square and Society Hill. With the advent of Google Street Views, and maps, one can easily learn about all of the area neighborhoods before even stepping foot into the downtown Center City area.

So take a look around, and explore. Not only neighborhoods, but also the variety of housing stock offered in the downtown area. From converted brownstone mansions, to contemporary new “green” structures, downtown Philadelphia has come a long way in the past twenty years as a viable alternative to suburban life. And it seems like the table have now turned- transferees now magically bounce off the outlying suburban areas, and end up putting their money and their belongings in a Center City townhouse or condominium.

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

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May 20, 2009

New Construction Condos in Philadelphia

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Of Interest To Sellers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:28 am

You call THAT an upgrade?


 
Since when are closet inserts an upgrade? When one buys an $800,000 condo, should you not be able to expect that some sort of clothes hanging mechanism would be included? Even the cheesy cheap wire mesh systems? I have seen developers try to pass off even the basic necessities as upgrades, and it is insulting. Perhaps Mr. Developer, you think my $800,000 buyer just fell off the back of a turnip truck? How the hell do you think he or she got to the point in their life where they could afford such a condominium without a brain cell or two? Dumbass.

And please stop with the patronizing “and you get lovely carpet in the bedrooms at no extra charge”. Again, you are an idiot.

And touting the virtues of a dishwasher, a garbage disposal, and/or doorbell for each condo unit?Yippee…where does my buyer sign?? If developers could take a minute or two to tour some of the condo offerings in Center City Philadelphia, and realize that the buyers I am bringing to your front door have seen almost EVERYTHING on the market, then maybe that developer could wise up, and compare apples to apples. Tell us about the significance of your location, the quality of your construction, or the fact that you are priced competitively. My buyers are not stupid, and I will not allow them to be uneducated. So wise up, and let’s make a deal. Because until you (Mr. Developer) come to your senses, my buyer’s desire to write an offer on one of your condos is going to be severely limited.

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

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May 12, 2009

Buying a Rehabbed Center City Condo?

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 3:15 pm

It is difficult to put a price on a new kitchen in say, The Hopkinson House condominiums, or the Academy House condos. Though it is easy to calculate what the seller may have paid for the new granite, the appliances, and the cabinetry, but what about all the other costs associated with a new kitchen in an existing high rise condo here in Philadelphia?

Consider the fact that you have to first plan for the new kitchen. You measure, you check, you curse, you get confused, you wing it, and you now have some plans. But you have to pull permits from the city. And get approval from your condo association. You then must shop for all the new ingredients- including baseboard, toekicks, quarter round, and backsplash tile. You then need to get rid of your old kitchen. It is not like you can just throw the sink down the trash chute. And you have to live with this mess. And without a kitchen for a while as well. Then you have to take delivery of the new cabinetry and appliances and all (from M-F 9am-4pm only in most Philadelphia condo highrise buildings) and see that your delivery men get a parking space, don’t bang the walls in the hallway, etc. Next plan for something to go wrong, and put your plans back 3 weeks. It happens. All the time 🙂

So congratulations. You now have a new kitchen. And a healthy respect for EVERYTHING you had to go through to get this new kitchen inside your new Center City condo. And you swear you will never do it again. So, you still think that new kitchen in the condo you are looking to buy is only worth $20,000?

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

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May 1, 2009

Six Can’t Miss Paint Colors for your Philadelphia Condo

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 @ 11:30 am

I found a very interesting little tid-bit in Readers Digest. For all you knuckleheads who have never picked out paint before, you should use view the following as gospel. I disagreed with one of their choices, so I deleted it.  (All colors are Benjamin Moore.)

Million Dollar Red (#2003-10): Good for dining rooms and family rooms. Just please use sparingly.

Potpourri Green (#2029-50): “Earthy and pale,” a neutral for kitchens and bathrooms.

Wood Grain Brown (#2109-30): Less red and more gray than Hershey’s Kiss brown, this is the color Mayhew used in her own dining room.

Gray Owl (#2137-60): Works in bedrooms or throughout the house.

Birds Egg (#2051-60): A blue with a “clean gray tint,” another all-purpose color for Mayhew.

Early Morning Mist (#1528): “Somewhere between gray and beige” is this versatile neutral “greige.”
 
–Source: Flip! For Decorating: A Page-by-Page, Piece-by-Piece, Room-by-Room Guide to Transforming Your Home by Elizabeth Mayhew (Ballantine, $24)
 
Want a few more decorating tips to make your Philadelphia condominium stand out? Drop me a note, and let’s chat!

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

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