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Center City Philadelphia
Condos and Lofts


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January 2017

January 30, 2017

Never Piss Off A Doorman…

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers,General Real Estate,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 3:15 pm
   One way to ostracize yourself fairly quickly in your new condo building would be to get on the wrong side of the staff. If you want your packages and your guests to come and go without being tortured or be put through a lengthy inquiry, then perhaps you should listen up.
Folks who live in doorman buildings quickly learn that the way to get anything done through the building is through the doorman. From allowing your guests access through the front door to helping you with you packages, a great relationship with staff can certainly make your living arrangements more enjoyable.  And from fetching your car, to walking your dog- doormen can make your life easy and they often will go the extra mile for Philly condo owners who are friendly. And being greeted  with a smile each time you come home is a nice thing. Having a doorman who doesn’t like you is not a walk in the park.  Believe me, I learned the hard way back in the late 1980’s  by being rude and pushy. I no longer live in that building, and I now treat doormen with respect. You should too. Your life will be made much easier if you never piss off your doorman. They are great for learning of building gossip too…they seem to know everything. Oh, and tipping is generally done at the holiday season either via a pooled fund which is collected by the building, or done individually. I would suggest you get yourself a stack of $20 bills and pass them out like Halloween Candy. This is not the time or place to be stingy 🙂

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January 24, 2017

Hard VS Soft Lofts

    Almost any Center City condominium with a smattering of exposed brick may attempt to pass itself off as a loft. Often sought after as an expression of one’s own style, loft living has taken off in downtown Philadelphia. Lofts vary in look, layout, and location throughout Center City. Some loft condos impress mightily while others are cheap imitations of highly unique urban treasures hidden in pockets of Old City, Bella Vista, and The Loft District around 13th and Vine Streets.
   The best example of a hard loft in Center City might be The Old Shoe Factory at 314 N. 12th St. From an unadorned cavernous lobby area, up to the eighth floor via a converted oversize warehouse lift, the units are characterized by huge windows, exposed brick, minimalist kitchens and bedrooms that are open to the living area. Fantastic city views, high ceilings  and a few units with polished cement floors. Minimal at best, these condos truly tag at the definition of a live/work open space where room size is valued over room count.
A fair example of a soft loft might be BridgeView Place at 315 New St. in Old City. With the prerequisite high ceilings  and touches of exposed brick these condos have been compartmentalized to include bedrooms, walled off kitchen areas  and walk-in closets. Some units at BridgeView do indeed have a loft bed perched above the living space  but those units are few and far between. The conversion to condominiums in the mid 1980’s at 315 New St. is a good example of a reasonable living space with a bit of “lofty” flair.
   A Center City Philadelphia loft can come in a variety of sizes, styles, and locations throughout downtown. Some more true to their “lofty roots” than others and loft living of all proportions is gaining popularity among the empty-nester set moving into town from the suburbs and elsewhere. Many of the available loft condos today didn’t exist in the early 1990’s when the very first empty nester/baby boomer began trickling into Center City. And judging from the success of many loft and loft-like sales throughout the area, buyers are finding individuality can be expressed through the (loft) style in which they choose to live.

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January 18, 2017

Picking Apart:  The Phoenix Condos At 1600 Arch St.

Having sold over a dozen units in the building, I can say for certain that I am a fan of the Phoenix condos. And here is the inside skinny as I know it-
The Phoenix was an existing office building when it was converted to apartments just over fourteen years ago…say around 2002. Then around 2006, the usage was altered to be condominiums. The Phoenix performed fairly well at its introduction to the public and is fully sold out. The building has a great mix of one, two and three bedroom condos- though the 3 bed units are rare, as are a handful of studio units in the building. A fair number of one bed plus den styled units…around 1100 sq ft (the den is a bedroom, but doesn’t have any direct sunlight or windows..but the size of the den is similar to the bedroom). Values can be contingent upon which direction a condo faces, but in reality- interior condition is king. The costliest views are east and north…and resale prices are reflective of such. The building has valet parking- condo owners could have either purchased a rental license or were given the option to rent a parking spot. The tax abatement for the building expired in 2013 and I do NOT think that values have been affected in any way by that fact. The condos at the Phoenix provide direct access to the train station (you don’t have to walk outside to catch a train to say NYC). The front desk staff is very friendly and have never given me any crap….and I can see that the residents of the building like them as well. There is a Starbucks and a restaurant down the first floor corridor which is nice for owners and residents.
The building kinda’ sits close to Jefferson Medical, U of Penn and Hannemann which draws from those three crowds…almost like a “built-in resale market.”  The Phoenix at 1600 Arch has the best and largest common roof deck of any condo building in Philadelphia and has lounge areas as well as a BBQ station which is nice. There is also a fairly good sized gym and conference rooms. The common areas are done nicely and retain a fair amount of their pre-war grandeur, but the interior units don’t reflect that fact. The top floor condos at the Phoenix are unique in that they preserved some of the original detail of the building and incorporated it into the condo units. The condominiums are pet friendly and I am unaware of any rental restrictions for owners.
And my clients should feel free to email me if they would like to chat with someone who lives in the building in order to get their two cents on the Phoenix condos at 1600 Arch St.  I recently sold a unit to a lovely couple at the Phoenix and their condo is NOTHING short of stunning and is magazine quality (I mean you Joan).

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January 16, 2017

Crap I know about Real Estate  in Center City-Insider Tips and Clues

Filed under: Center City Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 2:25 pm
I am generalizing here but you’ll get my drift…
1) When a couple get into my car- the quiet one in the backseat is usually the one making the decisions. The one in the front seat just thinks he or she is doing so.
2) I like to look for listings that say “corporate addendum” attached. This usually means the condo is owned by a non-emotional third party who is generally more motivated to sell.
3) Some of the best deals are the condos that have been on the market for a long time with continual price drops. Might signal a fatigued seller.
4) When a buyer says to me “I have to see the condo today” or “I have to buy a condo by tomorrow” – usually these are non buyers and rarely ever turn out to be a real buyer.
5) If you think that getting a mortgage from a bank where you hold a savings or checking account is a bonus- it isn’t. Ever.
6) Wall art does not magically levitate on a wall. Yes there will be nail holes in the wall when you move in. It’s just logical to assume.
7) Within a specific building, condo fees are based on the square footage. But that same square footage in any other building will result in different condo fees.
8) Most sellers don’t need to be at settlement. Most buyers do.
9) You almost always have to pay 2 months into the condo pot when you buy. You don’t get that back when you sell.
10) The old real estate saying “buyers are liars” is usually not the case. More often they just don’t know their options in terms of what is available to buy.
11) I like to look for listings that are with specific agents in town- the ones who primarily work with foreclosures and Relo properties.
12) I put up with a lot of sh*t in my job. You being late for an appointment is not one of them 🙂
All is well that ends well. The middle part of the transaction may suck but the end result is the goal. In a month from now, you will forget what a pain in the ass this transaction has been for you. I promise.

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January 9, 2017

10 Misconceptions About Our Center City Condo Market

Some buyers know it all. Good for them. For the rest of you…here is what you may not know:
1) Two bedroom units are a better investment than a one bedroom-
Unless you live at the beach and plan on having guests every weekend. Otherwise, I don’t see that argument holding much water.
2) That unit comes with deeded parking-
Not always. Usually a parking license that gives you the right to park, but you don’t have a separate tax bill.
3) Those are hard wood floors-
Or maybe they are laminate, or a composite, or a soft wood like pine. Though it may make no difference to anyone, many floors are called hardwood but actually are not.
4) I can rent my unit out anytime I choose-
Not unless the condo docs say otherwise. Read your docs.
5) A higher floor always means a higher value-
In older buildings, I think the guiding light of value is not floor height, rather interior condition. Though a high floor has never hurt value.
6) A friend told me to stay away from that building-
It is hard to turn a deaf ear to a friend. But sometimes doing your own homework and asking questions can be an equally good idea.
7) I will walk everywhere when I move into town-
That’s great. But few will walk from say Naval Sq. to The Ritz movies in Old City. Of course you will walk more. Walk everywhere? Doubt it…Get the Uber app on your cell phone and be done with it.
8) I need three full bedrooms-
 Most buyers can do with two beds and a den. Think about that as the number of three bedroom condos under say $1m is exceedingly limited.
9) I am going to find a condo where I don’t have to pay condo fees-
Good luck with that. Elevators don’t run on magic fairy dust and doormen do not work for free. Fees are a reflection of what the building offers and how much it costs to operate.
10) I need to have gas cooking-
I sold a condo to a sous chef from Le Bec Fin back in the day. He bought a condo with an electric stove. He said it didn’t matter…rather a huge misconception with the part time home chefs. Sorry.

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January 5, 2017

Center City One Condominiums at 1326 Spruce St. – Some updated info!

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums,State of Marketplace — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 12:40 pm

A Great Value! With 182 individual condominium units, and 86 deeded parking spots, Center City One Condominiums have a great reputation for being a solid Philadelphia real estate buy. A mix of studio, one, and two bedroom units, Center City One condos near the center of Philadelphia, at Broad and Spruce Streets, have great views – either offering wonderful city views, or wonderfully bright, sun-drenched southern views. These Washington Square West condos are located in the 19107 zip code, and all units at Center City One are flats- no loft condo units at 1326 Spruce exist. We find many Philly real estate buyers delighted with what they can buy for their money at Center City One.

As a veteran Philly real estate agent who specializes in condo sales, I hear a lot of feedback that the building has a strong on-site management team, an active condo association, and of course liberal pet policies.  Parking, and the building’s close proximity to Avenue of the Arts really allow this building to “fire on all cylinders”.  All condos at 1326 Spruce have their own HVAC systems.

Center City One condos hold some of the best values in town, and the two bed/two bath 1209 sq ft units have the BEST floor plan in town for city living. The owners association updated all hallways, the lobby, and elevators in 2013…and did a great job. In 2016, the exterior of the building was pointed and power washed. The balconies were painted and the wood rails were stained. Also, many of the owners have purchased upgraded windows and balcony doors. Exterior lighting in the garage and under the portico was replaced with LED fixtures, making the building more energy efficient.

When units become available for sale, prices can fluctuate and are generally contingent upon views and interior condition. You may find some original condition condos at great prices, but expect to pay a premium for some of the stunningly upgraded condos in the building- though I think either are a strong value. If I had millions of dollars, I would probably spend most of them inside this building if I wanted to make money. The location and floor plan are tough to beat.

Mark Wade
BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors

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January 3, 2017

BPS- Big Purchase Syndrome

When normal everyday people board 
the crazy train…
    Listen- I get it. Buying a condo can easily cause BPS (big purchase syndrome). Normal everyday people can go a little nuts over small bumps in the road or small wrinkles that inevitably come down the pike when buying a home. And catching BPS crosses all lines- whether you are buying a small little one bedroom condo or a large penthouse. Happens to many buyers of all ages and sizes regardless of the price range or experience of the buyer.
   I don’t judge people when they board the crazy train in a real estate transaction. Sh*t happens and BPS is more common than one might think. And it happens to me every time I buy or sell a condo. It just does.
So don’t feel bad if you call me out on some silly detail or freak out over a little bump in the road. I understand that buying a condo has much more to do with emotions and feelings than actually owning a condo in Center City.
Almost all of my favorite buyers go bat-sh*t crazy at least once during a deal. It is part and parcel. The true crazies here are the folks who can and do take everything in stride 🙂

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