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June 16, 2014

These changing times….

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,For Sellers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:25 am

What was once valued can easily become passe. Though many elements listed below are still of interest to many buyers and prevalent in our marketplace, many Center City Condo buyers are now asking for the following:
What’s In?                                           What’s Out?
Wallpaper in Bathrooms               Painted High Gloss Walls
Mixed Counter Top Surfaces                                       Corian
Wireless Alarm Systems                        Window Grates/Bars
Freezers On the Bottom                                         Side By Side
LED Lighting                                                 Halogen Lighting
Oversize Kitchen Sinks                            Double Kitchen Sink
Balconies                                                             Roof Decks
Solid Interior Doors                                  Hollow Core Doors
Dark Hardwood Flooring              Honey Colored Hardwood 
Painted Brick                                                   Exposed Brick
One Level Living                                  Multiple Level Living
Home Theaters                                                             Dens
Frosted Glass                                                         Glass Block
Full Door Closets                                     Bi-Fold Closet Doors
Quartz                                                                        Granite
Walk-In Showers For Two                     Jacuzzi Tubs For Two
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May 12, 2014

How is the “B” Grade Inventory selling?

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,General Real Estate,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 1:08 pm
   When the market hits a rough patch, the outlying areas are the first to notice the change in terms of demand and therefore pricing. Those “B” areas are usually the last to rebound in terms of demand and prices when the market picks up speed. There are exceptions to that rule of course, but anyone would have a tough time arguing that Rittenhouse Square has the fluctuations in demand during the high and low parts of the Center City condo market when compared to our “B & C” inventory. There is indeed something to be said about the “location, location, location” saying.
   But when the market is in full swing as it is today and buyers outnumber sellers, we see the “B” inventory pull up the rear with a real sense of urgency and demand. There are no less than a half dozen condo buildings around town that have had some exceedingly impressive sales….sales where no prior sales have occurred for the past say two years.  As the core of our Center City condo market strengthens, so does our outlying areas and with that, our “B” inventory.
Once overlooked, now being looked over
   The resale prices in some of our “B” locations is striking as we see values “stair-stepping”,where one sale builds upon the one prior and prices stair-step up in clear and rapid fashion. We can see that trend throughout the Center City condo market and many buildings that had no traction even a year ago are seeing wonderful attention in today’s market.
I find the lack of talk in the general Real Estate community concerning the eastern portion of 19123 and the northern portion of 19107 to be surprising, to say the least. Proportionally, these are our newest growth areas in terms of value.
 Believe me. I’m not making this stuff up.
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March 31, 2014

5 Times When I Have to Tell a Buyer “NO”

Filed under: Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 2:11 pm

You don’t get if you don’t ask….but there are times when I have to say NO to a buyer’s request. I just can’t….Sorry

1) Getting condo docs in advance of your offer- Condo docs are ordered by the seller and can cost up to $300. No seller orders prior to a sale in my experience.

2) Make an offer on two Center City condos  simultaneously- Sorry, but you have to make up your mind. You need to approach an offer in good faith…and like dating, you really can only do so one at a time. You may want to two time…but you really can’t.

3) Move In Prior To Settlement- Perhaps if you rub a lamp, this wish could come true. It ain’t going to happen. You can move in when you own the condo. Period.

4) Expect the Owner to Leave The Condo Spic & Span- Yeah….that ain’t going to happen. The contract calls for “Broom Swept Clean” condition.

5) Expecting there not to be nail holes in walls where pictures once hung- Pictures do not magically float or levitate onto walls. They are put there via nails and screws. Expect that holes to remain once the pictures are gone. Shocking, right?

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December 16, 2013

Center City Condos And Outside Noise

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Of Interest To Sellers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 9:58 am


Some of the most sought after condo buildings here in Center City are on or very close to lively blocks that are full of activity, or they are on or near bus routes, and can have a close proximity to highways. This is very convenient but can be noisy!


Having constant noise outside your dining room or bedroom could be a big problem. So, I devised a kinda’ cool solution that works like a gem. And in the scheme of things, really doesn’t have to cost a lot.


Here’s the solution: Replace your windows (genius, eh?)!


Depending on where you live in downtown Philadelphia, you may have a fairly strong historic association who mandates the type of window replacement you must use.  However, this does not preclude you from installing another set of windows INSIDE the historical set.




You can add a double paned, inexpensive vinyl clad INSIDE the outer set of historically approved windows, giving you a total of 3 or 4 panes of glass between you and the noise.  This ingenious little set-up demonstrates how you can effectively keep all city noise out of your Philadelphia loft or condo.


You don’t need to live 30 feet from the highway or live in a super luxury condo building to benefit from this idea.  Such insulation also provides extra protection from cold, heat loss, and dirt that gets inside of other single paned windows!  To Keep the Value in, You Must keep the noise out!


If you’re thinking of buying or selling a Center City condominium and want some more tips, I can help.  Give me a call today at 215-521-1523 or drop me an email at


Mark Wade
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services | Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St. Philadelphia, PA 19106


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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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August 26, 2013

Minimizing Risk in a Condo Purchase

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,Of Interest to Buyers,Of Interest To Sellers — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 9:40 am

Mick Jagger once said “It’s alright letting yourself go, as long as you can get yourself back”.   I like that…and think the phrase is apt when considering a condo purchase. I bought in a building that was perceived to have a hint of  risk (in terms of value retention)-

but I snagged the condo at such a great price, I know that if I ever want to move to the moon– I can sell my condo without losing money.

But you do have to be wary of the units I call the “HOTEL CALIFORNIA” condos- meaning you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave- because you simply can resell the damned thing.

Here are 5 things to consider when determining the risk of a condo purchase:

1) The Cost of the Condo- If you buy a Center City condo at half the price similar condos are selling for- then most of the risk is removed. It gets back to one issue- NOT OVERPAYING.

2) Owner Occupancy Ratios can be an issue in SOME buildings- as a lack of Fannie Mae Warrant-ability can be a sign of a risky condo purchase. BUT by no means is this the only factor- it may just be a factor in assessing the risk.

3) Reputation and Resale History- There are buildings in town where NO CONDO has resold for 5 years. Not as rare as you might think. If no one else is buying in the building- you need to start asking me questions as to why.

4) Deferred Maintenance– I can name two buildings off the top of my head that need HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of dollars of repair, upkeep and maintenance work just to put them on par with their competition. I generally would avoid, unless of course you can just steal the condo outright (at a killer price). Otherwise, future assessments may wreak havoc on your investment dollars in that Philadelphia condo.

5) Buying within the Price Frames of the building- Buying a $2M condo in a building where the average price is $250,000 and is overwhelmingly populated with say studios may not be in your best financial interest, and may be a risky purchase.

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July 8, 2013

Crappy Center City Condo Buildings

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,For Buyers,Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 3:30 pm

There are a lot of well managed, well run Philadelphia condo buildings here in town, and there are a lot of crappy, hard to resell, impossible to finance, and just all around disasters-  In terms of being an awful investment.

Here are some things that I suggest buyers keep in mind when determining the strength of a Center City condo purchase (unless of course, they outright just steal the condo in terms of a killer price-

1) Owner- Occupancy Ratios: The more owners in a building, generally the better for resale. Under 30% tenants is a fine number. 90% tenants ain’t so great.

2) Delinquincy Ratios on Condo Fees- Some buildings are filled with deadbeats. Sorry. If over 15% of owners are late on their monthly dues- building becomes non fanne mae warrantable, and financing the condos in the building is remarkably difficult. Leads to depressed values real quick.

3) Condo buildings with appallingly low monthly fees. That could mean the building is going to hell in a handbag. Buildings need to be maintained regularly.

4) Buildings that clearly are in need of an assessment- yet owners won’t approve deferred, much needed upkeep and repairs- either internal or exterior.

5) Overall Ugly Buildings. In an alley. Next to a dumpster. Puke on the sidewalks. And urine. Yeah, not a big fan.

You want me to name name’s? Call me. Let’s chat.

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August 19, 2010

Divide up your Old City Loft Space….but keep the light!

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Of Interest To Sellers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 10:16 am

A buyer of mine sent me this link,, and I think it is really groovy! And a great idea for many Old City condo lofts which have exceedingly large living rooms. By adding another bedroom area, and still keeping the light coming into your living room, you could quickly and easily add value.

raydoor raydoor 2 raydoor3 raydoor4

And the look is very hip and perfectly positioned for some of the neat Old City condos that Center City has available! See more at

Mark Wade
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St., Suite 260 Philadelphia, PA 19106

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August 12, 2010

An Insider’s Look Into The Center City Condo Activity

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,General Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Of Interest To Sellers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 1:30 pm

We hear all kinds of national news stories about the country’s current real estate market. Below is a simple breakdown of the number of showings that have taken place at Prudential Fox and Roach’s Center City Philadelphia Listings over the past 9 months. The figures are broken down by price ranges. There does not appear to be a lack of folks looking to buy and as usual, very early spring seems to produce the most Center City Condo buyers with traffic slowing mid-summer as many people leave for vacations.   


Leave a comment, or shoot me an email at I’d live to hear your thoughts on this “inside” Center City Real Estate report. Spring Market 2011 is just around the corner!

Mark Wade
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St., Suite 260 Philadelphia, PA 19106

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August 5, 2010

Sh*tty Philadelphia Condo Buildings

Filed under: Center City Real Estate,General Real Estate,Of Interest to Buyers,Real Estate: Condominiums — Center City Philadelphia Real Estate Agent @ 2:17 pm

…Have Sh*tty Resale Prices- If they sell at all.

Come on, you would have to be from the moon to believe all condo buildings here in Center City are created equal in terms of
demand, cache, and resale ability (in terms of price and “days on market”). There are some buildings in downtown Philly that just really suck, in terms of their investment value. And there are a handful of buildings that basically cannot resale at all.
Some of the signs to be aware of-
1) A lot of units on the market, and very few sold in the past 12 months
2) A high number of REO’s/Foreclosures/Short Sales
3) A low owner-occupancy ratio in the building
4) Poorly managed exterior and common area condition
Unless you are buying a short sale or a foreclosure in the building, or are in the mood to just piss your money away, I would suggest we talk prior to you buying in certain buildings.. Some Center City condominium buildings aren’t worth a look, much less an offer.

Mark Wade
Prudential Fox and Roach REALTORS®
530 Walnut St., Suite 260 Philadelphia, PA 19106

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