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July 2013

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-


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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July 15, 2013

Welcome to the Hotel California…

Filed under: Of Interest to Buyers,Of Interest To Sellers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 2:55 pm

You can check out anytime you like… but can you ever leave (sell) that condo ?

What is the Achilles heel to resale and value? Key fatal flaws in a condo may prove difficult to resell a condo.


I asked around the Real Estate Community, and here is what most Realtors believe to be a tough sell:

1) A very expensive unit in a low rise building without an elevator – On a high floor.  Meaning $1M for a 5th floor walk up. Though some of the best deals in town can be found on the 3rd floors of many blgds.

2) A Three story tall cheap metal spiral staircase that screams “death” ?  Yeah, that isn’t easy to overcome.

One flight of spirals in town is a great space saver. Three flights can be visually daunting.

3) Condo fees over over $1 per sq ft per month without a doorman, parking, pool, or even a gym. An inverse relationship can exist between condo fees and resale value. Add the burden of non- fanne mae warrant-ability, and you have on tough sale on your hands.

4) Buildings that just look like sh*t- from the exterior, to the lobby, elevators, and hallways. Where ongoing maintenance is clearly not a priortiy.

NOW….there is one possible upside to buying a condo in a building that may possess some of the above characteristics – And that would be price. An exceedingly well priced condo can be forgiven for its many attached sins.

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July 8, 2013

Crappy Center City Condo Buildings

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 3:30 pm

There are a lot of well managed, well run Philadelphia condo buildings here in town, and there are a lot of crappy, hard to resell, impossible to finance, and just all around disasters-  In terms of being an awful investment.

Here are some things that I suggest buyers keep in mind when determining the strength of a Center City condo purchase (unless of course, they outright just steal the condo in terms of a killer price-

1) Owner- Occupancy Ratios: The more owners in a building, generally the better for resale. Under 30% tenants is a fine number. 90% tenants ain’t so great.

2) Delinquincy Ratios on Condo Fees- Some buildings are filled with deadbeats. Sorry. If over 15% of owners are late on their monthly dues- building becomes non fanne mae warrantable, and financing the condos in the building is remarkably difficult. Leads to depressed values real quick.

3) Condo buildings with appallingly low monthly fees. That could mean the building is going to hell in a handbag. Buildings need to be maintained regularly.

4) Buildings that clearly are in need of an assessment- yet owners won’t approve deferred, much needed upkeep and repairs- either internal or exterior.

5) Overall Ugly Buildings. In an alley. Next to a dumpster. Puke on the sidewalks. And urine. Yeah, not a big fan.

You want me to name name’s? Call me. Let’s chat.

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July 1, 2013

5 Times When I Have to Tell a Buyer “NO”

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,Of Interest to Buyers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 12:04 pm

You don’t get if you don’t ask….but there are times when I have to say NO to a buyer’s request. I just can’t….Sorry 🙁
1) Getting condo docs in advance of your offer- Condo docs are ordered by the seller and can cost up to $300. No seller orders prior to a sale in my experience.
2) Make an offer on two Center City condos  simultaneously- Sorry, but you have to make up your mind. You need to approach an offer in good faith…and like dating, you really can only do so one at a time. You may want to two time…but you really can’t.
3) Move In Prior To Settlement- Perhaps if you rub a lamp, this wish could come true. It ain’t going to happen. You can move in when you own the condo. Period.
4) Expect the Owner to Leave The Condo Spic & Span- Yeah….that ain’t going to happen. The contract calls for “Broom Swept Clean” condition.
5) Expecting there not to be nail holes in walls where pictures once hung- Pictures do not magically float or levitate onto walls. They are put there via nails and screws. Expect that holes to remain once the pictures are gone. Shocking, right?
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