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February 2024

October 20, 2014

Condo Buying and Selling Etiquette

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 8:09 am
For Sellers:
Keep the temperature of your condo comfy for showings
Make sure ALL keys work before giving to Realtor
Disclose ALL defects..but keep your feeling about your neighbor mum if you simply have an ax to grind
Deliver your Center City condo CLEAN and free of debris prior to settlement
Keep appliance manuals for your new buyer
Give buyers the name of the paint but throw away old paint cans
Leave a note in your condo about any quirks that the buyer may find
helpful such as trash day, neighbor contact info, mgmt info, etc.
For Buyers:
Be on time for your scheduled appointments
Eat and use restrooms prior to your condo tour with your Realtor
Keep sassy comments to yourself UNTIL we exit the condo…then
we can talk trash about what we have seen
Furniture and other unattractive decor items aren’t included.
You are not buying the sofa….So don’t be too judgmental
Know that the property will NOT be delivered in a state of cleanliness
that is up to your standards. A hint of forgiveness goes a long way.
IF you ask to see a specific condo…don’t change your mind
when you pull up to the building and think you want to “pass” on it…
For Open Houses:
Never allow any agent to pressure you to sign in…ever.
Be on time…and don’t show up 5 minutes after scheduled
open house closes
Keep your dog at home. NEVER bring a dog to an open house
If you are a curious looky-loo- no problem…just don’t try to monopolize an agent’s time – let them concentrate on the real lookers
Best not to be talking trash about what you are seeing
while still inside the condo. Zip it…
Listen…I get it. Sometimes nice polite folks run afoul of the more general accepted practices in real estate…sh*t happens.
But do your best to play by the rules as emotions do end up playing a huge
part in any real estate transaction.
Trust me…I’ve got 25 years of witnessing hurt feelings
every now and again
and no one wants to feel like a goof when big money
is exchanging hands…
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October 13, 2014

Could you be dealing with a desperate seller? Here are some signs:

Filed under: Center City Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 9:06 am

1) You see that the condo is vacant, and the front desk tells you they moved
over a year ago.

2) You Google the sellers, and You see that they own multiple properties,
and all of them are for sale.

3) You search the history (in the MLS) of that listing, and see the seller is on
their third listing agent.

4) You walk into the Philadelphia condo, it is vacant, the appliances are gone, and it looks
like the seller left in the middle of the night.

5) You read some unique language in the MLS listing about “seller makes no
warranties”, or “ corporate addendum must accompany…” usually means
corporate owned- aka REO.

These are all possible signs that the condo is ripe for an insulting offer.

Good Luck!

Mark Wade

Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox and Roach Realtors
530 Walnut St. #260 Phila., PA 19106


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September 29, 2014

My Top 5 Picks for Value Increases Over The Next 10 Years

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 8:35 am

1) 2301 Cherry St– The condos are selling at a pace I haven’t seen in a decade at Rivers Edge.  Major assessments are helping and you just can’t find these values in 19103 with parking in a doorman building.

2)1352 South St. Condos– Began a  new marketing campaign earlier this year. When that is over and the building sells out- I would look for prices to spike as the current $/sf is very competitive.

3) Low Rise Condos in 19107 – The overall lack of inventory and “DOM” (days on market) for this set shows a trend for potential future growth. One key is proximity to Jefferson Medical.

4) The Rittenhouse Hotel and Condominiums – Recent sales have primarily been original condition units which have artificially set the bar at a low point in terms of resale prices. Once that inventory gets soaked up- Prices are going to jump in the building in my estimation. The competition just isn’t there for such a fine building on the Square.

5) Center City One Condos– 1326 Spruce St. The lines have already started- buyers looking for a two bedroom two bath unit here will compete with each other for the next unit to appear. A new benchmark will be set…that is pretty clear to anyone who has kept their eye on the Center City condo market. I mean…even a blind man knows when the sun is shining 🙂

Oh, and of course 1706 Rittenhouse!

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September 15, 2014

So you have Three looney tunes, one nutbag on your condo board? Shocking….

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:27 am


Listen, I get it…everyone’s favorite punching bag is his or her condo board. Often maligned, and more often than not, the criticism is not just or warranted. It is a thankless job- just be happy someone is doing it, and doing it for free. Here is what I would make sure is happening in order to preserve my value as a Center City condo owner, and member of the association, just in case. These are huge. You might want to take notes:
1) Make Sure The Building Stays At Least say 66% Owner Occupied
by restricting an over abundance of rentals. 75% is even better.
2) Make Sure The Building is FHA Approved- this is easy and shouldn’t be overlooked. I am amazed when I see how many condos around town AREN’T FHA approved…(FHA approved condos really open up the building to first time buyers who may not have the usual 10% down or more needed to buy a condo).
3) Put 10% of monthly condo fees into a reserve for improvements beyond
just the day to day and month to month expenditures.
4) Make Sure the Building is being maintained. Do not hesitate to spend. Spending on cleanliness of the building will provide your best return. Think…exterior paint, hallways, foyer, etc., especially for smaller associations.
Visual presentation is HUGE for resale.
5) Larger associations should have a website that highlights the building, amenities, and give as much info as possible to the buying public. They have nothing to hide…so highlight the information for perspective buyers. Take a look at Society Hill Towers website…a great example.
Value retention is an elusive trait in the hands of amateurs. And I am not aware of any qualifications needed to sit on a condo board- beyond basic ownership in a given building.  Most associations around town do a fairly good job, but some fall prey to the pitfalls that can lead to a fairly rapid decline in condominium values in specific buildings. Best to keep your eye on the signs that may point to a downward spiral in condo values within your building. The above list is written as a guide, one that it may be advantageous to follow. I am not suggesting that your values are going to spiral if one of these points is ignored…rather a combo
of events can lead to downward values.
Here is what I have seen in simplified terms:
Condo board runs amok of rules that keeps the building easy to finance (FANNIE MAE WARRANT-ABLE). New buyers have to then put  30% down or more to buy. This cuts the resale market in MANY buildings. Units then don’t sell, sellers start to compete with each other, prices fall, and more owners begin to rent their condo out. This downward spiral is difficult to reverse.  By having a board aware of these pitfalls, your building should easily be able to remain warrantable and easy to finance. And IF your building has a fair share of condos that might sell under $420,000 then there is NO excuse for the building not being FHA approved.
So here is the moral of this story:
It is indeed your money- You paid for the condo, and that investment is just that- an investment.  You should be standing up and saying something if you see your board veering off the course of a clear path to value and value retention.
Invite me to your next condo board meeting-
 I’ll give them the “what for”
Or if you are a board member of your association,
give me a call and let’s chat about how you can
implement some of these guidelines if you like…
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August 25, 2014

Yippee! More Random Center City Condo Information:

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 3:08 pm
-Dranoff is holding a VIP Realtor Sneak Peek on 9/3/15
for his new condos in Fitler Square named “One Riverside”
to be built at 25th and Locust.Watch these condos fly off the shelf
-The Hopkinson House is getting ready to do some pretty
heavy cosmetic changes to its lobby starting any month now
-Center City One Condos at 1326 Spruce continues to beautify
its premises with the completion of hallways- And are giving
owners the option of changing out their windows- fabulous!
-A plethora of small low rise condo buildings around Old City have sprung
up recently including 109-11 Church St. and 142 N. 2nd St- Nice infill
into a nicely established neighborhood.
-220 W. Rittenhouse – Once mentioned by Philly Mag as the least
attractive lobby on Rittenhouse Sq. is in the midst of adding
substantial visual appeal to its lobby area.
-Resale values at Ten Rittenhouse have shown to be strong in terms of value growth
over the past 3-4 years since first becoming occupied
-The Ritz-Carlton is selling like crazy. I mean really well….
-In my opinion, the most difficult segment in terms of little or no inventory
would be a two bedroom in 19103 under $600k. Hell, even
 a really sweet one bedroom under $500k for that matter.
Rivers Edge Condos at 2301 Cherry is poised for some kick*ss appreciation
over the next year as sales have spiked as the building has been
assessing and upgrading. Bravo.
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August 4, 2014

I too LOVE model homes

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 3:05 pm

There is something to be said about model homes. I love them.  I want to buy everyone I see.  Brand spanking new model homes-versus-character laden, gorgeous, historic homes- which do I choose? The great thing about Philadelphia real estate is that there are fantastic properties at both ends of the spectrum.

While I am a veteran home flipper (my brother and I have bought, rehabbed, and resold 140+ Philadelphia condominiums and town homes)  I have to admit I am intensely attracted to the pretty residential faces of model homes.


It really is an occupational hazard! I want to move every week. This is in spite of the fact that the Philadelphia loft condo I currently share with m other half has been featured on HGTV.

We rehabbed our circa 1813 Old City condo (with three-car parking inside a really cool private gated courtyard) from scratch. We chose every material and item in it ourselves. Okay, we grossly overspent. But, we also won the 2005 Philadelphia Magazine’s Kitchen of the Year Contest.

But like a lot of you who love historic Philadelphia real estate, I also love model homes. I used to preach the mantra of “With a town the brought you Betsy Ross and Ben Franklin, historic homes sell-well!” And although I do throw that line out there to buyers from time to time, the truth is I’m a sucker for Philadelphia’s new construction model homes.


Am I a hypocrite? Should I not utter what I covet?

When you see what’s available in terms of model homes, you can’t help seeing the benefits of owning one of these properties.

I am telling you, give me a new construction ranch house, with a driveway, garage, patio, and 1/4 acre yard in Old City-And I am willing to bet that I would go directly into the intersection of Broad and Walnut Streets, and dance a bit… right there in the middle of the street. Honest.

Of course, that ranch house has to be “Model Home” gorgeous. You know, with all the latest designer furniture, wall coverings, hip features, new paint, etc.

It’s all about life style. Getting into a house or Philadelphia condominium that doesn’t require any work so you can sit back and enjoy your new property is a big bonus. I know I would love that type of lifestyle with all my heart. And never, ever, ever want to leave. That’s right, never.

Until, of course, the next time I was out showing a buyer a new construction penthouse condominium with gorgeous outside patios. Slowly but surely all closet doors are being slid open, rooms explored for the first time, kitchens ogled and bathrooms admired, that feeling will come over me again.

I’ll be struck with the itch to own one of the amazing model homes available on the Philadelphia real estate market. And you’ll find me back in the intersection of Broad and Walnut Streets doing my own crazy version of the model home dance.

Whether you want to buy a new construction or historic beauty, I can help you get the best price and terms. ( I can even help you choose between the two.) Give me a call today at 215-521-1523 pr drop me an email at


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July 29, 2014

The Dying Art Of Open Houses

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Sellers,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 8:37 am

Remember the olden days when the Sunday paper would arrive and you would get out your red felt tipped marker, then circle the open houses you wanted to see?

   That was so 1997….Those days are all but gone- having been replaced by the advances in internet marketing for condos. Additionally, more and more Center City Condos are forbidding agents to hold Open Houses- ever.

   It is said in Real Estate circles that open houses are NOT for sellers- they are for agents trying to pick up buyers. To a degree, I agree. More so with the fact that videos, virtual tours, podcasts, blogs, multiple photos, etc are easily found with a quick Google search. And most Realtors’ websites can give you a lot more than you can learn at an open house- think neighborhood stats, crime reports, etc., not to mention the gossip and dirt you can pick up on your neighbor’s house. If someone is seriously in the market for a condo, they are going to view your listing if they are interested- Open House or not.

  I usually find that Open Houses tend to cut down on the weekly traffic- the more people who see it at an open, the fewer weekly appointments one will find in terms of buyer traffic. And of course, we are all aware that Open Houses usually beget nosy neighbors, passersby, and the like. With overall traffic down on Open Houses over the past decade (in my experience)- how long before Open Houses will go the way of land lines and flip phones?  Probably not long.

FYI-Center City Open Houses are usually ONE hour only- Get in, then get out. Suburban agents can spend 3-4 hours at one open house. How utterly boring. I think I’d rather drink bathwater than to sit in a house on a Sunday for four hours.


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July 1, 2014

Really? You wanna’ buy that Center City Condo??

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,General Real Estate — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 12:56 pm

The old adage “Buyers Are Liars” is repeated often in many Real Estate circles. I think the line is a crock of sh*t….The line should be “Realtors don’t spend the time to get to know their Buyers.”

And there you have it….

The key to selling condos in Philadelphia. Find out as soon as possible what trigger is going to make any given condo work for a given buyer. Oh, and make sure you know everything about almost every condo in town and be able to discuss that condo at length, at the drop of a hat.

Here is a list of things that I find buyers really key into when shopping for a condo here in town:

1) Walkability
2) A Side of parking
3) Proximity to a given Point Of Interest
4) Areas in which they already are familiar
5) Curb Appeal / Interior Condition
Which one of those blows the others out of the water?
That would be # 5…
I hear it all the time- “I want this area”, “I must have parking”, or I want to be able to walk around town”.  But many of those MUST HAVES fly out the window the minute the majority of buyers walk into a Philadelphia condo and fall in love with what they are seeing…usually quite a different story than what originally comes out of their mouths. NOTHING wrong with knowing what you like….I too am very visual.
Gone is the need for a study, or a 2nd bedroom, that large kitchen buyers have always wanted. Visually stunning condos here in Center City Philly are always in demand- regardless of most market conditions. Believe you me….and NEVER underestimate the fact –

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June 23, 2014

Many Comps Are Just Plain Horse Sh*t

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,General Real Estate,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 8:51 am
Not all 1500 sq ft condos are created equal-
Even within the same building and same time frame
There are so many factors which affect value in a Center City condo that “comps” may not always tell the entire story.
Many buyers try to justify their low offers with square footage calculations….which CAN be horribly erroneous. How best to compare apples to apples?

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 resulted in a higher recorded sales price for comps in newer buildings. And ask “did that unit include any extras like free parking?” 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 Resume’s- 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 IN THE SAME BUILDING can vary in price from $400k- $700k. Condition, and view have huge impacts on value and pricing.

Clearly Center City condo comps can be deceiving – if you don’t know…ask me.

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June 9, 2014

Renegotiating After A Home Inspection?

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:30 am
Think you are going to get a $10,000 price reduction after your home inspection?
Everyone should get a home inspection. There is no such thing as perfection and every Philadelphia condo- be it new construction, or a clearly used up old condo- almost every condo that I have come across needs some kind of maintenance or attention.
  But how do you go about protecting yourself without pissing off a seller to a point where he or she no longer wants to deal with you? Well, that can be a thin line….but here is what I suggest:
1) Focus on the big ticket items. Try not to be too nit picky about the small stuff. Sellers can become easily fatigued…so instead of asking for a plethora of small items to be corrected, ask for (say) one or two big issues- If warranted. One that can be backed up by the home inspection. Sellers are sometime less worried about the money and more worried that they may not have the time to fix every little issue- sometimes sellers will negotiate on convenience- as opposed to being consumed by trivial matters.
2) If you have the option of taking a credit, or having the seller repair items- GO FOR THE CREDIT. Because more often than not, you or your contractor may not like the way the seller does the repair. Then we all have a problem….
3) I don’t think it is logical for a buyer to ask for a credit or a repair on items they clearly knew were previously broken. For instance,  if you make an offer on a condo that has a cracked window pane or clearly unused/broken dishwasher – the seller may be less apt to fix it- because you clearly knew of this shortcoming prior to making an offer….and of course you made your offer accordingly, one would assume.
4) Electrical issues are huge….and you can almost always hit a seller up for making such a repair. Electrical issues are scary for most buyers and something most buyers cannot and probably should not fix themselves.
     I usually coach my buyers to think this way: If the amount of the needed repairs impacts your perception of the value of the Center City condo, then you should probably back out of the deal or go at the seller at full force. However, if you are just looking to rake the seller over the coals for the hell of it- that should be done during the time you make your offer. Not at a later date where you are just looking to perhaps get something for (almost) nothing. Just my two cents…
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530 Walnut Street, Suite 480
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Direct: 215.521.1523 ~ Office: 215.627.6005
Fax: 215.627.3142
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