Rapid Condo Upswing-Part 2 /

Common Condo Misnomers /

Emotional Attraction to Condos/

"B" Inventory Now Selling Well

The How and Why Our Condo Market Made a Huge Sharp Turn Upwards Just Recently...
 So it seems that our Center City condo market really turned on a dime. Over the past 60 days, we have seen activity that hasn't reared its head since the height of the market say 5+ or so years ago.
But Why and How? Here is what I see from the front lines:
1) Inventory Depletion- As I mentioned in my last newsletter, inventory is down. Many segments of the condo market here in town can be considered a pure SELLERS MARKET.
2) Motivated Buyers-It appears that buyers are back, feeling that the bottom of the market has come and gone, and that real estate in town is now a worthwhile investment. I can't disagree.
3) Interest Rates are Inching Up-Which means buyers are interested in finally taking advantage of historic low rates. Joni Mitchell once sang "you don't know what you got til' it's gone"..... Bingo, Joni.
4) Many Sellers Are No Longer "Underwater"- Which enables them to finally decide to sell. A hint of fresh inventory leads to opportunities, which means sales.
5) Follow the Leader Mentality- We live in a "monkey see-monkey do" world. As more empty nesters sell their 4 bedroom rancher in the burbs, more friends and acquaintances follow their lead into town.
6) Cultural Shifts- After WW2, the move was to the burbs. Today, the move is into more urban living arrangements- being close to work, ditching the car for everyday use, and the lower costs to heat and cool a condo, not to mention the lack of responsibility in terms of maintenance (than a 4 bedroom rancher) can all contribute to the popularity of city condo living. I don't see this trend waning.
7) The Perception of City Living- Way up. From the perceived cleanliness of the city, to views on crime, livability, to cultural attractions....all help drive our condo market.
    The first step in our turn around is inventory depletion. The next logical step is price escalation. I think we will see prices begin to increase as we move further into 2013. Multiple bid situations will mean many buyers will lose their bids for condos and will motivate them to make stronger offers on the second go 'round, if applicable. 
    I have witnessed our condo market go down, up, down, and now up again...all since I first began my focus on Center City condos in 1989. The writing is on the wall folks...History has a way of repeating itself, and from my vantage point, the market is indeed rebounding. So is it time for you to hop onto the bandwagon?
Call me...we can chat about your options.
You Are Not Buying The Couch...You Are Buying The Condo- So don't get so excited
   Listen, I get it. The visual appeal and the emotional punch that rides on the back of a gorgeous condo can be overwhelmingly attractive. But many buyers are sometimes disheartened when they buy a condo, then go back for the final walk through on the day of settlement and the initial emotional attraction has left the condo along with the owners belongings.
I think it is important to keep a few things in mind:
1) You can easily add the emotion whallop back into the condo. Think a groovy paint color scheme and curtains. If you don't have the vision to do this yourself, visit to Houzz.com
2) Think about having a new coat of polyurathane put down on your hardwood floors. Usually, this can be done for about $2-$3 per square foot. The presentation of your new floors will generally have a HALO effect over the entire unit. This should be done the day you settle, and at least 48 hours prior to you moving  belongings into the condo. Huge visual plus here...
3) A Super duper thorough cleaning can really bring a lifeless condo back to life. Including window cleaning, tile and grout cleaning and carpet cleaning. Stanley Steamer does tile cleaning as well as carpet, and the impact is huge. Like having new tile installed- at a fraction of the cost.
4) And if you are thinking of a few new furniture pieces but don't have a huge bankroll to deck out the entire condo, try PhillyBusyBee.com where they sell somewhat used model furniture that may have been used in a past life to stage a property- so kinda' used, but not really.
"B" Grade Inventory Selling Much Better in 2013
   "B Grade" condos are often hidden gems that a potential condo buyers often overlook.  Or perhaps the building has somehow become mired in a lack of sales or demand. However, as the inventory in town dwindles, the options for "A" grade condos in town become less prevalent. I believe that as demand in Center City gets stronger, buyers begin to exercise their imagination a bit and start to think outside the box. It just follows to reason.   And when I can easily point out a dozen condos that languished on the market through ALL of 2012...and have now sold in 2013- I think the point should be well taken.
   We are also seeing lenders step into the "non warrantability" segment of the condo market and offer special financing on condos that even a year ago were deemed to be unable to secure any kind of financing.  "B" grade condo inventory in town has one good friend- and that is time. As these buildings pick up steam, increase their owner occupancy ratios, and slowly inch prices upwards, the pall once cast upon some of these less desirable condos can and does indeed fade and demand therefore grows in these segments of the Center City condo market.
I have my best picks for "Most Improved" condo buildings around town and
in my next newsletter, I will give some thoughts on those buildings. So stay tuned...
 8 Common Condo Misnomers
    Though getting a Real Estate license does not require one to go to MIT, most agents I know are conscientious, knowledgeable, and good at what they do. Though some agents may use words incorrectly to describe certain parcels...here are some of the more common mistakes I hear most often:
Calling a Laminate Floor A "Hardwood Floor"- Laminate flooring has become very popular, and very few folks seem to point out the fact that not all wood-like floors are hardwood floors. This is a very common goof. So if a fact sheet says "Hardwood flooring or HWF"...
You might want to check for yourself to make sure. I have laminate floors and I personally don't give a rat's behind....but some folks may.
"Deeded Parking" - Often the parking doesn't have its own deed...rather, it is defined as limited common area for the sole exclusive usage of a particular condo unit.
"Includes Parking" - Yeah, some Realtor thinks that a year of paid parking in a neighboring lot means that he or she can say (in the MLS) that the unit has parking.
It doesn't. I dislike this habit a great deal. I think it is not a good practice.
"Penthouse"- Does a top floor unit truly constitute a penthouse? You decide....
Granite vs Marble- Few know the difference, and often, I don't either. Marble is commonly used in a bathroom, while granite is most often used in a kitchen.
"Walk-In-Closet"- Isn't any closet a walk-in-closet if you really try to squeeze into it?lol
"Full Service Building"- Go visit like 1830, or say the Rittenhouse Hotel & Condos if you want to see what full service really means. A doorman does not constitute full service. Especially the lazy ones who don't get off their butts to help you with packages. Urg....
"In Society Hill"- I sometimes think the boundaries of specific neighborhoods are stretched a bit. And what are the boundaries- are they defined by zip code? I think so...
Oh, and no, I do not think many agents are morons.
 I just thought this guy holding this sign was funny :-)
Mark Wade         www.CenterCityCondos.com
 As a 23 Year Veteran of The
 Center City condo market,
 I sell neither the"Most Expensive"
 nor the "Best" condos....
 But I do kinda' sell a boatload
 every year.
Mark Wade
Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors
530 Walnut St. Suite 260
267.237.3404 (cell)