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June 16, 2015

A very cool shot of 4 Center City condo buildings

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 2:31 pm
In the foreground on the left is 1706 Rittenhouse Sq.
In the foreground on the right is 250 S. 17th St.
The red building in the center is 250 S. 18th St.
Background on the right is the Barclay at 237 S. 18th St.
(taken from the 12th floor of the old medical arts tower- looking west down the 17xx block of Rittenhouse)
And here is some good food for thought…
If Location, location, location is the sole driving force of value then how can these four condo buildings each have distinct demand as well as pricing?
Certainly a building’s reputation and cache have something to do with pricing….

 

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June 8, 2015

Do Expiring Tax Abatements Equate To Lower Resale Values In the Center City Condo Arena?

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 2:36 pm
 There are a number of buildings in town whose tax abatements have run their course and an even bigger pile whose abatements expire over the next few years. The net effect on resale values and demand comes into question for many buyers. Here is my opinion:
     Center City CondoBuildings such as The Phoenix at 1600 Arch St. and Dockside at 717 S. Columbus Blvd. have expired abatements. Buildings like York Square, WaterFront Sq (in the Peninsula and Regatta towers),
many Naval Square units-as well as many other buildings erected here in town in the mid-2000’s are soon to expire. I have heard (though I certainly am usually not one to speak on behalf of city hall) that the tax rate for condos will be 1.34% of assessed value when abatements expire.
   If we look at the sales data from buildings whose abatement has expired over time, the net effect of an expired tax abatement is almost nil when looking at resale prices, demand and values. I have not seen any instance of value dropped solely based upon the expiration of a tax abatement.   Why, you ask? Here is what I gather from my many condo buyers in town:
   Lee Iococca adopted a theory he called “The Equality Of Sacrifice” – which I interpret to mean that as long as everyone is in the same boat (of an unabated tax bill) – then any fears of inequity are diminished.  And I believe that to be true. FULL ten-year tax abatement offers are few and far between in town these days
…. Except for maybe the last three units at WaterFront Square in the Reef building and a smattering of smaller new construction projects here and there.
   I think that buyers generally do not expect to see a “game changing”  benefit from the balance of any tax abatement. The entire market is rapidly aging in the expiration of the abatements and therefore I believe that any partial abatement period is kinda’ icing on the cake. It certainly can sweeten a deal for many, but I don’t think this is the end all, be all determining factor if a buyer buys “this unit or that”. But again, it certainly does not hurt to inherit the balance of an abatement 🙂
   Center City is more attractive than any abatement. We’re growing in size and popularity and the expiration of abatements and almost certainly isn’t going to keep anyone out of  town or out of any specific building in town.

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April 27, 2015

Spring 2015 Condo Market Is In Full Swing!

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 2:12 pm
Our listing inventory is impressive, if I may say:
Our recent sales :
Mark Wade
www.CenterCityCondos.com
BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors
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April 6, 2015

NOT ALL UPGRADES PAY OFF

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:49 am
The goal should be your own Use and Enjoyment 
with a side of Value Retention
There is no such thing as a Sure Thing..no surprise there.  In most instances, condo owners upgrade for their own Use and Enjoyment- but some do improve with the goal of a higher resale value. Here are some common upgrading mistakes that I see in the Center City Condo marketplace:
1) Wall to Wall Carpeting in a Living room.
2) Installing a Huge soaking tub/ Jacuzzi like monstrosity
3) Replacing closet doors with Mirrored closet doors
4) Adding a Roof Deck (very subjective on this one)
5) Adding Hi-Hats and / or track lighting
Now certainly there are exceptions to every rule, and in some instances, these additions can add value. But from my experience- the value added is nominal. And in some cases- can actually detract from value. Really depends upon the unit. If you have some of these features in your condo, I would NOT suggest you remove them. But spending money to add them to your existing condo may not provide you with the expected return. Instead, I suggest you throw some money into what buyers seem to always remember:
1) Rework your Closets-  You can buy off the shelves at Home Depot or Lowe’s. I call it the faux California Closet look. Never underestimate the power of good closets in Center City condo value. One of the first things condo buyers do is they check out the closet space- like the walk ins at Waterfront Square Condos.
2) Repainting- Want some Kick-A** ideas? Visit www.Houzz.com for some fab fab fab visuals. Remember, focus on two main colors and highlight with decor pieces as the third. You needn’t paint every wall in a room one color.
3) Recaulk and Regrout Your Bathroom- This is huge, and doesn’t cost a lot. Email me and I can send you references  to
make your bathroom look 1000% better- and can be done in a day. Don’t underestimate this upgrade, please.
4) Replace all the knobs and pulls in your kitchen and bathroom. And try Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware. This is a huge and inexpensive way to really put “icing on the cake” in two of the most important rooms in your home. And if you want to take it a step further- after you do the above 4 Upgrades- think about replacing interior door knobs. Again , a small visual cue that can really set the tone and feel of you condo.
Want my input? Call me, and I will come over and do a quick assessment of your place…No biggie.  I have been on HGTV for the decorating I did in my own home, and I won Philly Mag’s Kitchen of the Year contest back in 2005. Not to be a big brain or anything…
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March 30, 2015

Doing Work To Your Condo?

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Of Interest To Sellers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 2:31 pm

A few things to remember when doing work to your Center City condo:
1) You will have to present Insurance certs to the board for your contractors. Like at the Philadelphian Condos which has a strong management board.
2) Your contractors will generally have specific times when they may work- and hours are usually like from 9am-4pm Monday through Friday. Weekend work not allowed in most buildings.
3) Converting a two bedroom condo to a large one bedroom unit? Usually not a good idea in terms of resale value and future demand for your condo.
4) Light Cosmetic work (paint, wallpaper, re-sanding floors) will almost always get you the biggest return for your money. Especially when done with the supervising eye of a decorator.
5) Never carpet a living room. Never use high gloss paint outside a kitchen or bath. And when thinking of a color scheme- use 2 primary colors and one accent color. No more then 3 per room.
6) Stay away from: Black grout around the tile… Mirrored Closet doors…an avoid fluorescent lighting fixtures. No one looks good under fluorescents. Not even supermodels.
7) Consider putting $$ into your closet organizing system- this is going to give you a HUGE return in terms of “Use and Enjoyment” and is going to play quite well into resale value.
8) When remodeling a kitchen- you needn’t spend the big big bucks for a built-in refrigerator, but you should make your refrigerator appear to be built-in….this is an easy trick for any qualified contractor. A frig that looks out of place IS out of place…Like black shoes and a brown belt.
If you need some advice, call me.
 I know the best, and the worst contractors in town.
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March 16, 2015

How MANY sales per building in past 12 months?

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 1:45 pm

Philadelphian– 35

Society Hill Towers– 13

Academy House – 17

Dorchester– 9

Hopkinson House– 17

City View- 39

Independence Place– 9

2601 PA. Ave– 30

WaterFront Square – 33

Wanamaker House– 2

The Murano– 25

The Savoy– 9

Center City One– 3

Symphony House– 12

1352 South– 12

The Ellington – 12

Locust Point – 13

And interestingly enough…Low Rise Condos On Spruce St. From River to River = 39

Mark Wade
Mark@CenterCity.com
www.centercitycondos.com
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services – Fox & Roach Realtors

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February 9, 2015

Attention Developers…

Filed under: Center City Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 1:55 pm

ATTENTION DEVELOPERS….

Converting a Brownstone to Condos in Center City?

As the market begins to heat up, so does the demand for smaller associations like brownstone styled condos that tend to have lower condo fees, and a hint more character than say a high rise may possess. Here are a few hints a developer may want to keep in mind:

1) Make sure to carpet the common areas. No one wants to hear the owner of say unit 2R clomp his or her way through the halls with their high heels. Keep noise to a minimum in common areas- hardwood floor and or tile is not appropriate. Carpet these areas. Please.

2) Think about splitting your water bills up- meter each unit separately. Many buyers may be part timers or weekend city warriors, and may benefit from not having to pay for water that they don’t use on a daily basis.

3) If the city allows, and you have space in the basement, put up two by fours and chicken wire storage units. And buy a dehumidifier for the association. The minimal cost will pay for itself in terms of marketability like the Commodore Barry Condos.

4) Common Area paint should be done in a low gloss finish. And spend a few extra dollars on front door security and hallway lighting. Again, a small cost, but huge in the minds of many Center City brownstone styled condo buyers.

5) When you are done building the condos, take a step back, and put in another $2500 into each unit in terms of groovy paint, wallpaper, and lighting. You will no doubt be able to recoup every penny of that visual investment (and them some) and the condos will sell quicker. Much quicker.

Remember, your competition is going to be at least a decade or two old- so modern up to date cosmetics are exceedingly important for marketability. I find that what kills a developer in terms of profitability, is the time it takes to market a condo. A vacant condo is simply just p*ssing money down a drain.  I would suggest there is a fine line between over-improving, and hitting the market just right- in terms of pricing and your final product. Need some more advice?

Call me, Let’s chat.

Mark Wade
215.521.1523 / 215.627.6005
www.CenterCityCondos.com
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox and Roach Realtors

 

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February 2, 2015

Buying Pre-Construction From a Set of Plans…

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 12:50 pm
Remember that 1960’s board game “Mystery Date?”
Where you didn’t know if you are going to get the dreamboat or the dud? Well, that is not unlike buying a new construction Center City condominium from a set of plans….
Unless you have a crystal
ball or are perhaps from the future.
Some buyers win, some…not so much.
    Evidence of both scenarios have clearly played out in town over the past decade as buyers often purchased from developers’ plans.
108 Arch St. clearly handed the brave buyers a lovely place to hang their hat as finishes, layout, scale, light, ceiling height, nearly every factor turned out to be top notch- not to mention the finish quality.
   There is an upside to buying from plans- and that generally is a developer’s willingness to make alterations to his plans free of charge. Don’t need that 3rd bedroom, but want a larger closet and bath? Done. Want to pick your finishes in the kitchen, flooring and tile options, etc? No problem. Altering a floor plan or finishes prior to the developer buying or completing the interior work usually can be negotiated at no charge to the buyer…so some flexibility/benefit can be achieved by buying new construction.
   But the same can’t be said for many other condo buildings in town. Examples of poor workmanship, values that deflate rapidly, and buyers left holding the bag are not uncommon. Because truth be told, there are many instances where you really don’t know what the hell you are buying. And getting the developer to finish the unit, should a significant punch list survive settlement, might be like pulling teeth.
There are winners and losers when buying pre-construction.
My advice?
 Get a good real estate lawyer from the get-go, and DO NOT settle until the condo is finished. Don’t settle with a punch-list IF it can be avoided.  Some developers are true to their word…and honestly will service your condo post-sale. I think a few good examples of this would be my experiences with Pearl Properties,Toll Brothers and Rufo Properties. All were really great at post-settlement follow up.
Oh, and when the completion date is set for say June 1st…plan on moving in August 1st or so (in any given year). I’m just sayin’….the best laid plans can get held up in town and so many things are out of the control of a developer…so plan ahead.
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October 27, 2014

What Is Hot In The Condo Segment Of Center City Since 1/1/14?

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:57 am
Let’s Look At Condo Sales By Price Range:
Under $250,000 = 213 SALES
$250,000-$500,000 = 397 SALES
$500,000- $1,000,000 = 115 SALES
Over $1 Million = 63 SALES
Let’s Look At Center City Condo Sales By Zip Code:
19102 = 59 sales
  19103 = 195 sales
  19106 = 111 sales
19107 = 82 sales
19123 = 68 sales
   19130 = 131 sales
19146 = 66 sale
19147 = 61 sales
Let’s Look At Philadephia Condo Sales By Bed Count:
Studios = 38 SALES
One Bedrooms = 299 SALES
Two Bedrooms = 307 SALES
Three or More Bedrooms = 70 SALES

Per Trend MLS I am including all sale in 2014 in the following zip codes:

19102,19103,19106,19107,19123,19130,19146,19147

I sifted through page after page of MLS sale stats to come

up with these figures. The numbers may be off by a few…

So a hint of forgiveness is appreciated. Thanks.

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August 18, 2014

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 @ 8:38 am

  Like haircuts and waist size, many 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, but 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 location 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 construction.

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.

Mark Wade
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services 
Fox & Roach
530 Walnut St. Suite 260
Philadelphia, Pa. 19106
Mark@CenterCity.com
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Philadelphia, PA 19106
Direct: 215.521.1523 ~ Office: 215.627.6005
Fax: 215.627.3142
Email: Mark@CenterCity.com
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