June 29, 2015
Tags: Center City condo, center city condos for sale philadelphia, center city philadelphia condo, Center City Real Estate, condos in Philadelphia, Philadelphia condominiums
There are really three things you should consider when purchasing a Philly condo, in terms of it’s ventilation:
1) Is the fireplace vented? A lot of gas fireplaces are NOT vented to the outside in the state of PA. I have one in my house. I like it, and it certainly looses no heat via the flue. However, I do feel it is best to have a CO2 detector nearby, just in case. I rarely see the non-vented fireplaces as an issue to resale. Buyers generally don’t seem to either care, or realize the difference between a vented and non-vented gas fireplace.
2) Is the hood range vented? In most Philadelphia condos, it is not. How do you tell? Simply open the cabinet door above the microwave or hood range, and see if there is a pipe which leads up through the top of the cabinet. If you see no pipe..then the unit generally is not vented. If your unit is not vented, there are usually charcoal filters embedded into the hood range, or the microwave that will reduce the odors and smoke that arise from you burning dinner, or smelling your Old City loft up with odorous fish cooking. The range in my Philly condo is not vented, and it doesn’t bother me. And again, most Philadelphia condominium buyers are either not aware of the difference, of they don’t care.
3) Is you dryer vented to the outside? A lot of times, there is a white plastic box at the end of a six foot vent pipe. You know, the one that you are supposed to keep filled with water, which no one does, in order to reduce the amount of dryer lint/dust that will fill your condo? My condo has a vented dryer, because we insisted on buying a condo with a vented dryer. I lived in one condo that did not have a vented dryer, and I had a perpetually dusty apartment as a result. The only way to combat this issue is to investigate into ventless dryers that filter through some type of water.
It is more common than not, to have all three of the above items NOT vented to the outside of your Philadelphia condo…and none really make an impact on resale. Just a comfort issue for you, the potential buyer, whether or not all three are vented! So, let me know what you think…..post a comment or drop me an email at Mark@CenterCityCondos.com and we’ll chat.
June 22, 2015
Tags: Center City condo, center city condos, center city philadelphia condo, Center City Real Estate, condos for sale in center city philadelphia pa, condos in Philadelphia, philadelphia
I get the shivers when I think of people investing in new Philadelphia Condos that are still on the drawing board. Do these people have some kind of condominium ESP I lack?
After almost 3 decades selling condos at place like The Murano, I know one thing is for sure: there’s a big disparity between finished condo projects and the drawings that started them.
Let’s take a couple of Philadelphia condo projects as an example. Any two projects… line them up side by side in terms of resale ability, quality of finishes, the overall fit, the light views, etc.
In both instances, buyers are asked to plunk down money, site unseen. It’s quite a gamble, isn’t it? Doesn’t it just make sense that there will be winners and losers? Some people will get the Philadelphia condos of their dreams; other people will get a nightmare.
You also have to ask yourself about the resale factor. Some Philadelphia condos simply do not resell well. Other Center City condos are at the opposite end of the spectrum- buyers are reselling for a good deal more than they originally paid a few years ago and have little trouble doing it.
So do we really know what we are getting into when we buy Philadelphia real estate that is not yet built? Unless you have condominium ESP, you can never know for sure. But, it does help to know a bit (or a lot) about condos and Philadelphia and buyers in general. That’s the best way I know of to determine whether un-built Philadelphia condos will ultimately be successful. Learn more about Center City planning for growth.
Ready to stop relying on condominium ESP? With my years of experience representing buyers and sellers of Philadelphia and Center City condos, I can guide you through today’s real estate maze and help you come out a winner! Give me a call today at 215-521-1523 or drop me and email at firstname.lastname@example.org
June 8, 2015
Tags: center city condo for sale, center city condos, center city philadelphia condominiums, Center City Real Estate, condominiums
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.
June 2, 2015
Tags: Center City condo, center city condos, center city philadelphia condo, Center City Real Estate, philadelphia
1) Is transfer tax split between buyer and seller?
Yes….and that fact is embedded into the agreement of sale. You pay 2% of the sale price, and so does the seller.
2) Can I move my stuff in prior to settlement?
Uh, no. The day you give the seller your money, it is all yours. Until then, you may not occupy or make alterations to your new Philly condo!
3) Why do I have to pay 2 months condo fees to the association?
It is called a capital contribution. Helps pad the condo association against future assessments. Almost all condos has everyone pay this when buying.
4) Do I get my 2 months capital contribution back when I sell?
Uh, no, shut up.
5) Why do I need to buy title insurance?
Because certain debt transfers with title. You buy, you may inherit someone else’s debt. Title insurance gives you a clean, debt-free title. (Abridged answer!)
You will certainly have more questions when purchasing a new Rittenhouse Square condo, or say Old City loft. Trust me. And that is why I am here.
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St., Suite 260 Philadelphia, PA 19106
April 20, 2015
Tags: Center City condo, center city condo philadelphia, Center City Real Estate, condominiums, Philadelphia condominiums
Here Are 5 clauses that are usually inserted into your Center City condo mortgage papers that you may not have known about…
1) Acceleration Clause
2) Defeasance Clause
3) Prepayment Clause
4) Due On Sale Clause
5) Compliance Clause
All these clauses are standard-whether you are buying at The Hopkinson House
, or say the Academy House….in most residential mortgages. What is the bottom line here? In my opinion…pay your mortgage and no one gets hurt….Similar to any other obligation, but in the case of a mortgage lender, they will provide clauses and provisions that are generally immutable and do go to the heart of protecting their own interests.
Your best defense? Ask. Then ask again. And get a Real Estate Lawyer if you are signing something you don’t understand….
April 14, 2015
Tags: Center City condo, center city condos, center city philadelphia condo, Center City Real Estate, condos in Philadelphia, condos philadelphia
Being a veteran Center City Realtor (26 years), I often see buyers making some repeated mistakes.
At least in my opinion, I use the word mistakes.
Here are some common pitfalls:
1) Paying Points on a short term hold
Many buyers know they will only own their condo for 3 to 5 years. Paying Points may not be advantageous- Talk to your lender. Do your homework here.
2) Saying “No” to a “Betterments and Improvements” rider on your home owners policy. This covers items like floor, appliances, cabinetry, doorknobs, etc etc. Might be worth considering.
3) Glossing Over Building Issues – You are given 5 days to read your condo docs. If you don’t want to do so, then hire a lawyer. A Real Estate Lawyer.
4) Using a Mortgage Lender because you have a Savings Account at that bank, and have had for 23 years. That doesn’t mean crap, in my experience. Nada. Nil. Zip.
5) Using a relative to be your Realtor, Mortgage person, or otherwise to play a huge role in your buying process. These arrangements can go up in flames quickly. Not always…but…
6) Not Vetting Your Realtor – “When in Rome” is pretty good advice.. Interview him/her to decide if you two make a good team. Ask your realtor what they know about, say The Ayer condominiums on Washington Sq.
7) Over-buying: Do you really need a three bedroom and den unit? Or will a two bedroom and den suffice? Same story with one vs two bedroom units- If you don’t need the space, why pay for the space?
8) Not Reading Your Sales Contract – 99% of the questions you may have about a transaction here in PA can be answered by reading your Agreement of Sale (The Contract). Read It. I beg you.
9) Expecting Perfection: Yes, the seller is going to vacate your new condo in a dirty and somewhat used condition, with holes in the walls where their art once hung. IF that is the biggest bump in the road during our journey, then we should all go sing and dance in the middle of the street with joy and glee 🙂 Nothing in life is perfect so a hint of forgiveness along the road can be helpful.
10) Relying on the Square Foot calculations on Condo Flyer. Or even relying on info provided by some sources. Best to do your own measuring/ fact checking.
Just Ask Me.
Let’s find the answers together to help you make the best decisions possible.
April 6, 2015
Tags: Center City condo, center city condo for sale, center city condos, Center City Real Estate, condos in Philadelphia, Philadelphia condominiums
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…
March 30, 2015
Tags: Center City condo, center city condo for sale, center city condos, Center City Real Estate
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.
March 23, 2015
Tags: Center City condo, center city condo philadelphia, center city condos, center city philadelphia condo, Center City Real Estate
Known for low condo fees and uniqueness brownstone / low rise styled condos are an option in Center City that I find are becoming more popular for many condo shoppers. Known for their 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 overwhelmingly 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: 1023 Clinton St. – 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.
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.
And of course I should mention:
Kahn Park Place at 1119-25 Pine
Wash Sq. West Condos on the 12xx block of South St.
Portico Row – 9xx Block of Spruce St.
March 16, 2015
Next Page »
Tags: apartments for sale in philadelphia, center city condo for sale, center city condos, Center City Real Estate, condominiums
Society Hill Towers– 13
Academy House – 17
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
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services – Fox & Roach Realtors