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October 2013

October 28, 2013

What’s In Your Condo Docs?

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,Of Interest to Buyers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 9:27 am

Here are a few things that you may not have known are pretty standard in condo docs in  Center City:

1) Almost all associations charge 2 months capital contribution- means you pay 2 months condo fees to the association- not the owner, but the association- Helps build the kitty.
2) You better check the pet policy- A few years back a young woman bought a Philadelphia condo at Locust Point, then had to sell because she ignored the pet policy- her dog was too big. And she of course wasn’t parting with the dog, so she parted with the condo.
3) Rental Restrictions- Becoming more and more common in condo docs and their rules and regs- which can be a huge value-preserving tool for the association.
4) Future Assessments- Will tell you if any assessments have been approved for the future. Not “discussing assessments” but real approved assessments. There is a difference.
5) The Budget- This is a biggie. You may want to see how much $$ is on hand for future improvements- should correspond to building size and age. New buildings have little reserve- and often, they don’t need them- there is no differed maintenance beyond cosmetic often.

In the state of PA., you have 5 days or 15 days to review your condo docs depending upon the type of Center City condo you are buying- used or new.

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October 21, 2013

10 Things Your Realtor May Not Tell You

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:27 am
1) Your condo isn’t available for financing. Falls outside the perimeters on what mortgage companies will loan. This is a problem for non-condo specific agents sometimes. Could be a HUGE waste of time to find a buyer, only to find out no one will lend on it after you’ve had it under contract, and off the market for 2 months.
2) If your Realtor sells you a Philadelphia condo, and he is not happy with the commish $$ being paid, he may ask you (you being a buyer) to help compensate him. Total BS if you ask me. Once saw a co-op agent do this- I thought he was moron for asking his buyer to do such a thing.
3) YOU choose your mortgage, title, and your home inspector. Sure, I kinda’ push people to the vendors I trust- but in the end, it is your call. No Realtor should ever dictate which providers you MUST use during the deal.
4) Your condo could actually sell for a lot more if you did some minimal work- like decluttering, cleaning, shopping at say Ikea for some groovy wall art, hiding your family photos, and spending about $1000 to get your condo ready for the market. Basic home selling 101 stuff -which is easy to do. And I can and will help. Call me if you want me to see and make suggestions.
5) Open Houses aren’t really to sell your condo- they are for the Realtor to pick up new buyers. Almost always.
6) They may cut the commissions on the sale of your condo IF you buy another home from them.
7) Print advertising probably won’t sell your Center City condo- But a video, professional photography, and good social marketing may go a lot farther these days.
8) The condo is inside a building with a really sh*tty reputation- and those units have a very difficult time selling. Or, the condo you want to buy has been on the market in excess of 1243 days. That might suck for you….
Ask, Ask, Ask!
9) The Tax Abatement is set to expire at the end of the year, which may (or may not) heavily impact your monthly costs.
10) Huge Upcoming Assessments are just around the corner- This one is hard to quantify- A good condo Realtor in town should know by the history of the building….NOT always, but should have an inkling or insight.
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October 14, 2013

5 trends in the Center City Condo Environment Over the Past 25 Years

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 9:08 am

Like haircuts and our waist size, things have a tendency to change over time. Here are some notable changes I have seen to the Center City condo market over the past 25 years-



1) The Disbursement of Wealth – In the mid 1980’s, if you had a million dollars to buy a condo, you landed on Rittenhouse Sq. And probably in 1820 or 1830 Rittenhouse. Today- your imagination and money can take you to far away exotic places like- Old City, Bella Vista, and the Loft District. Large high-end condos have spread around town to almost all neighborhoods.


2) The introduction of “High End Low-Rise/Brownstone” styled condos- The defeat of many a high-end brownstones over the years was the lack of an elevator. Anyone looking to buy high end in a brownstone probably isn’t going to be fond of stairs. From 1030-2 Spruce (Knightsbridge Condos) to the lovely 1904 Spruce and 2138 Lombard, the high-end market is finding its way into groovy Brownstone and soft loft conversions- with elevators.


3) No trend in Co-op growth- No new ones since before the mid-1980’s. They fly well in NYC never really caught on here in town in terms of their growth in numbers. 1901 Walnut is the premier co-op building in town…a lovely pre-war on the north side of the square. Very handsome building…and I fail to see how the fact that it is a co-op has diminished its value.


4) Lower Than Expected Conversion Projects- Yes…we saw the Grande, The Ellington, The Phoenix and a smattering of other re-used office buildings. But with the inventory and locational advantages some of these older places have- I am surprised we haven’t seen more conversions. I would look for more conversion projects in the next wave of building.


5) Zeroing in on Condos Near Jefferson and U of Penn- The growth of small and large size condominium buildings around Jefferson Medical for example has proven to be one of the easiest, sure-fire ways for many condos to find buyers. Like shootin’ fish in a barrel. Ditto for U of Penn area.  Builders are filling a market need, and there are some smart buys in both areas. Huge growth segment.

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October 7, 2013

Ask the Big Brain Realtor …questions I get most often

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Of Interest To Sellers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 9:10 am

q and a


1) Have you ever walked into a condo and found someone naked?

Sleeping, drunk, passed out, in the shower, in the tub, having “relations” behind in a locked bedroom -Yes. But naked- no
2) What is the Value of a parking spot in town?
Up to $150,000 in the hottest, most densely packed parts of Center City Philly. Though rarely available
3) Should I Buy Or Should I Rent?

What do I look like? That’s your call. What I believe is that values have bottomed out, and demand is rising.

 4) What do you think of this or that area?
I think you need to look at your priorities, and your desired lifestyle. Rittenhouse and Society Hill have vastly different appeal- one more hustle and bustle, the other more quiet and a hint more suburban. Neither being a negative- you just have to decide what is right for you.
5) When will the Market Improve?
In many segments, it already has- multiple offer bidding, condos selling in a matter of a few days- being seen once again in the 2012 Center City Condo market. Scarcity is going to be the key word in 2012 for many segments.
6) You seem to badmouth a lot of condos… Do people often get pissed at you?
Yes. I was once asked to leave a Brokers Open House when I commented that the owner had a better chance of seeing god than he did of getting his asking price. Listing agent wasn’t happy. She’s been mad at my for like 19 years now. Whatever. I was right. It sat on the market for over 2 years. I will champion the cause of any well priced Philadelphia condo…but I will call ’em as I see ’em in terms of the junky overpriced listings around town.
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