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March 2008

March 25, 2008

Philadelphia Real Estate-Old School What’s changed in the past 20 years?

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 11:39 am

Not too long ago, in a not too distant galaxy (that being Philadelphia, Pa.), we used to sell real estate the old fashioned way. We busted our humps. Now I am not saying we do not work hard, but in looking back to when I began in the business, it does seem that life has gotten a little easier. Or maybe it is just as difficult, handling more deals at one time than I used to be able to do.

For instance, there was a time when lock boxes didn’t exist here in the Center City real estate landscape. If you wanted to show someone else’s listing, you had to go pick up the key. Multiply that by 12 condos you want to show, and it seemed an afternoon was spent picking up keys, the next afternoon showing those Center City Condos, and the next day returning those keys to various offices throughout town. Our MLS system had yet to be computerized, and the “books” would come out once a week. I remember those one dozen weekly 60 page catalogues of Center City condos and homes. With just one photo, and jumbled abbreviations to describe the property, it was a wonder we were ever able to identify properties that would fit our buyer’s needs. Comparables were very difficult to illustrate, as the information just wasn’t there. A lot of hearsay was used to support value. And appraisers….how did they ever do their job? The way we really got our information was via flyers that listing agents would drop off to our office in the hope of promoting their listings to get some showings (from cooperating realtors). But a hot listing was another story, and there were a lot more “in-house” sales. It was pretty much a given that a hot, well priced, nice home was going to sell within that particular office that listed it. How were the other agents to find out about it? Especially if you missed the weekly deadline for the MLS book that week. Then the word wouldn’t get out for almost two full weeks that you had a new hot listing.

Juggling emails, text messages, and being in contact with my buyers and sellers almost 24 hours a day now is equally taxing-much more efficient, but certainly a lot busier. Lockboxes abound, as fax machines, and efaxes. But work is work, and in the broader light of day- things here in the Philadelphia real estate game really haven’t changed that much.

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

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March 20, 2008

Philadelphia Condominium Sales – Is that really a two bedroom condo?

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 1:44 pm

Now that is a really good question. Is that two bedroom unit- be it a loft or not, really a two bedroom unit, or is more like a one bedroom with a den, or even just a large open space, where a bedroom could go “here” and another bedroom ”there”?

As a long time Philadelphia realtor with Prudential Fox and Roach Realtors, I have seen a fair number of condos in Center City that really aren’t what they are advertised to be. Odd that realtors can be creative, and crafty, eh? Now I am no saint, and I am well aware of the fact that I may have stretched the limits of reality when I exclaim that my new “two bedroom” loft is either this or that…..

It seems that the laws governing the traits that constitute a bedroom vary from state to state. I have heard many things from many realtors across the country. Sometimes I hear that in order to be a true bedroom, a room must have a closet. Or to be a bedroom, it must have a window. Or a window and a closet. I am really not sure what does and does not constitute a bedroom in a condo in Philadelphia, but I pretty much do know a bedroom when I see one. Here is what I believe: If it looks like a bedroom, and operates as a bedroom, then I think it is fair to call it a bedroom. Although I will usually make a notation somewhere that “legally, this center city condominium may be a one bedroom, but it does play like a two bedroom.”

For instance, I have sold a number of units along Spruce Street and Clinton Street in Washington Square West in which the second bedroom does not have a window, rather that room is open ended- and the “second bedroom” overlooks the living room in a loft like fashion.  But it does have a door, and a closet, and I do find that a lot of buyers who are in the market for a 2 bedroom condo will find this arrangement acceptable. What I find objectionable, as do many of my buyers looking to purchase a condominium in Philadelphia is the open loft space that has NO defined bedrooms, but is advertised as a two bedroom unit.  Perhaps the listing agent of that loft condo thinks that we are so clueless that we will somehow miss the fact that there are no bedrooms. It hasn’t happened to me yet, but there is always a first time for everything.
In most cases of Philadelphia loft bedroom count issues, the question is a fairly simple one: Does a loft bedroom, open ended and not completely closed off constitute a bedroom? I think that it does, and I think that most of my Center City condo buyers agree.

So when your interested in looking for a loft or condo here in Center City Philadelphia, with or without a "bedroom", give me a call at 215.521.1523 or drop me an email at

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

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March 18, 2008

Is BridgeView Place (315 New St.) perhaps the easiest condo sale in Old City?

Filed under: Of Interest To Sellers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 4:11 pm

Bridge View Place in Old City Philadelphia is an old warehouse building that used to be the home of Thomas Scientific supply. I think they used to manufacture the microscopes and various apparatus that many elementary schools used back in the old days. When made into  approximately 121 apartments by Historic Landmarks for living in the late 1970’s, the units were carved out in such a way that make the condos an easy sell. Very few of the units are dark, almost all have oversized factory styled windows, and all floors have good ceiling height. The original physical characteristics of the building lend themselves to user-friendly condominiums in Old City to this very day.The mix and size of units are appropriate as well. Someone really nailed it back in the 70’s when they decided to make a the building into a fair number of 900+/- square foot two bed, two bath units, to which I say, “way to use your brain”. Throughout the past ten or so years here in the Philadelphia condo market, there has always been demand for such a product, especially an Old City condominium that has the ability to sell with on-site parking, which of course BridgeView possesses.

With interesting common areas, lots of exposed brick, oversized windows, and good ceiling height, as well as underground and outdoor parking lots adjoining the building, and the being one of the few mid-rise doorman condo buildings in Old City, I find that 315 New St. has always been a fairly easy sell. The condo association has many attributes that sell well in today’s market, and I am sure will continue to be an asset to the building in many years to come. For a moderately priced studio, one or two bedroom condo unit in Old City, I have often found BridgeView Place to be the destination of choice for many Philadelphia condo buyers.

If Bridgeview sounds like the place for you, give me a call at 215.521.1523 or drop me an email at and I’d be happy to show you around one of my favorite buildings here in Center City Philadelphia.

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

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March 11, 2008

How About a Two Bed Philadelphia Condo Instead of a One Bedroom at the Same Price?

Filed under: Of Interest to Buyers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:57 am

How?  Easy.  Drive your car off a cliff. With the proliferation of the car sharing companies here in Center City  Philadelphia, you might want to ask yourself, seriously, do I really need to own a car? You might be surprised. Most parking lots around town now have designated spaces for these hourly rental cars.Let’s look at the general/average monthly cost of a new car here in town:

Parking $200

Insurance $300

Car payments $400

Tickets, gas, etc. $100

Cost of being carless: Priceless!

With nearly $1000 a month in saving, you have now transformed your Philadelphia condo shopping possibilities from a one bedroom to a two bedroom.  Or maybe you have gone from an existing somewhat “used” condo to a new bright shiny, never before lived in, say, Rittenhouse Square condo.

Being carless is something that is hard for most Center City condo buyers to imagine. Like freckles, or unmanageable hair, it is something that we possibly have lived with all of our lives. Imagine the freedom you can mentally experience without the burden of owning a car. I did it here in town for five years, and let me tell you- it was a joy!

So to all those Philadelphia loft or condo buyers who are struggling to find what they want, think about the possibility of shedding 2000 pounds of ugly fat. Drive your car off a cliff. Or sell it. Whatever. If you simply look into the easy and availability of the new car sharing programs here in town, you just might be pleasantly surprised at what you can now afford in the Center City condominium market!


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

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March 6, 2008

The Center City Philadelphia Condo market, as I see it on 1/1/08

Filed under: Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 11:00 am

As a maven, devotee, fan, fanatic, aficionado, supporter, and all around nut-bag with all things “Center City Condos”, I believe I am aptly centered to give my opinion on the subject. Some human beings can cite sports scores and statistics of their favorite sports teams or players, and simply confound you with their knowledge. My sport happens to be Philadelphia condominiums. Go figure. Here is what I believe is happening in our market as of 1/1/08…..

The fall 2007 market, duplicating the fall market of 2006, literally sucked. Best described as a period of time that saw the influx of bad press, and potential bubbles, we saw buyers stand by the sidelines and basically wait things out. Not unexpected. We still had buyers coming into town who had sold their previous residences elsewhere, and we did see an average amount of transferees move into town. But the buyers who really didn’t need to buy? They stood waiting on the sidelines. Not out of the picture, but not in a ready willing and able position to pull the trigger on that new condo sale.  I saw it not only in a lack of sales within the  Philadelphia realtor community, but also in the new construction high rise sales staff who would often question me as to the market- I guess to make sure that they weren’t the only game in town that happened to be stagnant. Inventories around town have continued to increase, and sellers began to get a bit itchy. Itchy to individual sellers translates into a lowering of prices, or an increase of commissions. Itchy to big developers and new construction folks means increased incentives from free flat screen TV’s to free upgrades within the condo units.

They say all real estate is local. I agree. The subprime mortgage mess, and the foreclosures that seem to be swallowing towns like Detroit and Des Moines, hasn’t seemed to affect our market. However, the emotional impact does resonate. Buyers are a bit more cautious, and are just hanging out, without any real wind blowing their sales needs at this time. Ditto for sellers. We are not seeing a lot of new product (in terms of individual sellers) coming on the market.

As far as the new year is concerned, I see a lot of room for optimism. What doesn’t happen in the latter part of the year, happens in the new year. It appears that the Philadelphia condominium market will duplicate its behavior of 2007- A strong first nine months, then dead.

Those buyers who have been waiting by the sidelines will jump into the market. They now realize that perhaps the “sky isn’t falling” as earlier predicted, and they buy and sell. Happened the same way in 2006. And I can tell already by the number of people who are visiting my site, the length of time they stay on the site, and number of return visitors, and the number of those who ask for additional information, or say they are now ready to shop for their new Philadelphia condo.

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

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March 4, 2008

I just bought a Center City Philadelphia Loft condo, now what do I do?

Filed under: Of Interest to Buyers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:35 am
Congratulations! And welcome to our fair city! First thing I would do if I were you-Get your locks changed. You have no idea of how many people have had access to your Philadelphia loft or condominium unit prior to your purchase. From the past owners best friend, to the home inspector, to that odd Philadelphia realtor, or odd plumber for that matter. You have no idea. So change your locks.Make sure that you have called PECO, and if you have gas service, that you have called the gas company. And good luck with the gas company. Also, the cable company, and the phone company are calls you will want to make soon after purchasing your Center City condominium. You don’t need to call the water company, regardless if you buy a Philadelphia condo, or a townhouse, as the title company will make that adjustment at the settlement table. Certainly, you will want to make sure your mail gets forwarded to your new (say) Rittenhouse Square condo, or your Old City loft, whatever.

More often than not, the closet space inside the new piece of Philadelphia real estate you just purchased is not up to snuff. I would call Lowe’s or Home Depot, or wherever, and have them re-do the insides of your closets. It seems like a fairly minimal cost, and you honestly will be able to double the usable space inside the closets of your new place. And certainly a good investment for resale, as a lot of Center City lofts lack such organization inside the closets.

Oh, and make sure you read through the local, mostly free publications like the Philadelphia Weekly, or something similar to stay on top of events, social networks, and general goings-on’s here in town. There is ALWAYS something going on….from glass blowing demonstrations, to fun little dog park get togethers.



It is hard to be without something to do here in Philadelphia, and once you have made arrangements for your locks and utilities, it is time to get out there and enjoy everything the Center City condominium life has to offer – Now go live your life, and have a blast doing so!!

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

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