Friday, December 29, 2006

Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/24/2006 | On the House | Prices, not the press, help move home sales

Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/24/2006 | On the House | Prices, not the press, help move home sales

A few posts back, I wrote about how I felt that the press influences home buyers. In fact, the CEO of the brokerage I work for has written letters to the Inquirer asserting this. Of course, pricing is paramount, but there is not question that in order to sell papers, emotional tag lines and "scary" sentiments can get to the psyche of readers/potential buyers!! In this article, the newspaper appears to be going on the defensive!! I have personally experienced this. Buyers come in and expect to be able to "steal" properties and make ridiculously low offers. They have been unsuccessful.
To give credit, however, the article goes on to say that the Philadelphia area housing has not been impacted as much as the rest of the nation. Our local economy is strong and growing. Stay tuned!!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Fox Chase Cancer Center


This post is a follow up to my previous post -

As previously explained, residents of most communities seem overly fearful and resistant to anything being built nearby. Sometimes, of course, their reasoning is valid, which I will explore in future posts. Sometimes, in my opinion, it is not.

Case in point - Consider the recent situation (2005) in Northeast Phildelphia concerning Fox Chase Cancer Center. By any standards, this is a highly rated medical institution geared to fighting cancer at both the clinical and research levels. They have a world class reputation and employ many people in the Phildelphia area.

However, the center is just squeezed too tightly in their current facility and the board of directors has wanted to expand onto SOME of the parkland in the adjacent Burholme Park. This met with fierce opposition from the community. The way the facility explained it, most of the park is going to be salvaged and there are other nearby park areas for residents to use. The park never appeared to be overly utilized in the first place.

The boon to the local economy and to the neighorhood, city and region is almost inestimable, to say nothing of the valuable medical resource. It boggles my mind that anyone could have had such fierce resistance. Apparently, however, the measure is passed and the Fox Chase Cancer center will be permitted to go ahead with its plans. Jobs will be maintained and new positions added. This will allow continued growth in that neighborhood - continuing to draw high caliber professionals to our area. This is always GOOD for real estate!! Stay tuned!

Read more about it from the Center's Newsletter:

Here is a link to a blog from people in the region who opposed it:

Marlene Goldberg Realtor, GRI, Jenkintown, PA

Thursday, December 21, 2006

RISMedia » Are Consumers Sick of Development? Attitudes against Land-Use Development Grow Deeper, Survey Says

RISMedia » Are Consumers Sick of Development? Attitudes against Land-Use Development Grow Deeper, Survey Says

My take on this is as follows: Generally, any potential development from something like a cell tower, to a school, or hospital expansion, etc. is frequently met with community resistance. Two "policies" seem to govern this. They are "NIMBY" and "BANANA" - acronyms which stand for... "Nothing in My Back Yard" and "Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything"!! It is a wonder that anything ever gets built!!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

TRI-STATE HOUSING OUTLOOK FOR 2007

While it is true that there is a housing "slowdown", what is indisputable is the fact that Real Estate continues to be the single greatest source of individual wealth. Local and and national trends continue to support a healthy economy that supports a normal real estate market.
DEMOGRAPHICS: Baby boomers are at their peak earning years and are buying bigger and more expensive homes and vacation homes. Generation X and Y are buying a first home or moving to larger ones. Immigration has created a growing market of home buyers. Singles, especially women, are the largest growing population segment of home buyers.
Our national and local economy continue to generate job and income growth. Interest rates remain at historic lows.
In the tri-state region, there exists a temporary decrease in the pool of buyers. Why? Extremely low interest rates and concern about rising prices caused many people to purchase a home BEFORE they might have in a more normal market. This has caused a temporary decrease in the number of current buyers in the market place.
Also, there are legitimate concerns about affordability. Prices in the tri-state area have risen 68% over the past five years, while income has risen onlly 25%.
Where are we now? The number of sales in Trend Multiple Listing Service decreased 19 to 23% in the third quarter, compared to the same period in 2005. Inventory has increased by 35.6%. There is now an 8 month supply of houses for sale compared with a 5 month supply in 2005 and 4 months in 2004. Average days on market has risen from 41 to 56.
How long will this last? Our best guesstimate is that it will last through all of 2007 and into the spring of 2008. Partly, this is due to the fact that sellers' and buyers' expectations are far apart. Many sellers still expect a double digit annual appreciation. Once they accept and understand the current market, asking prices will adjust, creating more buyer activity. Then a process of recovery will begin. Affordability will increase and buyer confidence will be enhanced.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

HOUSING BUBBLE -MYTH VS REALITY

REAL ESTATE MARKET MYTHS VS REALITY


Hello there. I just returned today from the Prudential Fox and Roach “Master’s Conference” in Cambridge, Maryland, and thought you would find the following very interesting.

We were addressed by the CEO of our firm, Larry Flick IV, and Earl Lee, the national president of the Prudential Real Estate Organization.

Here are some statistics. First of all, when discussing “the” real estate market, you need to specify WHICH ONE. Real estate is a regional commodity and there is lots of variation in different areas of the United States. I will be discussing the Greater Philadelphia area.

Second, there is NO real estate “bubble.” The slowdown appears to be psychology oriented and has been egged on by constant articles and comments in the press. The reports are greatly exaggerated and inflammatory and designed to cause trepidation amongst consumers. It is a known fact, that negative news sells many more papers and garners more attention than positive news.

Consider the following facts: Appreciation rates are slowing but not declining. That means prices in most of our market areas will continue to climb but at a more gradual pace than in previous years. The economy is healthy in our area and is generating jobs. This leads to continued demand for real estate. Mortgage interest rates are NOT going up. In fact, in the past 13 weeks they have been gradually DECREASING!

The pool of buyers is fewer now than it was last year. That is because some people accelerated their buying decisions in fear of rising interest rates and home prices. Yes, INVENTORY is definitely up from what it was a year ago. Right now we have an eight month supply of houses. A year ago at this time there was a five month supply and two years ago there was a four month supply.

The average number of days on market has increased from 22 days to 32 days – This was reported in the local newspapers as a 50% increase in number of days on market. In actuality, however, 32 days is still a VERY SHORT TIME historically! With the 3rd quarter sales reports now in for 2006, it has now been determined that 2006 will probably turn out to be the 4th best year ever in real estate. No, not better than last year, but still an excellent year!

The fundamentals leading to a continued vigorous real estate market are strong. There are 78 million baby boomers. Single women are the single largest growing segment of our population and they buy more real estate than other segments of the population. There is still a high rate of immigration and as many as 25-30% of houses purchased are purchased by someone not born in the U.S.

So, in contrast with the past few years, housing is slower, but market fundamentals are still very strong.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Flood Plains

Oon Sunday, September 24, the Philadelphia Inquirer published an article describing how the longstanding reference for flood plains (the army corps of engineers) is probably not accurate enough in outlining risk for property owners. It does not adequately take into account development and increases in paved surfaces, for example, that impede water absorption and runoff by the ground. THis has increased the numbers of homes that are at risk.

Monday, August 14, 2006

SELLING A HOME IN TODAY'S MARKET

The media has been full of stories about the slowing housing market --and although this kind of market normalization is commonplace in the real estate industry, there is no question that in many parts of the country, houses are currently on the market a little longer and there is more competition for buyers.


HIRE A PROFESSIONAL
If you want to sell your home fairly quickly, now is not the time to go at it alone. You want to make sure that your home gets the maximum exposure and the best marketing strategy. When you work with a qualified real estate professional, your home will be listed on an MLS database that other real estate professionals can access. In addition, you get the benefit of an experienced marketer and negotiator who is familiar with real estate issues in your community.


When selecting someone to represent you, ask questions such as: How will your home be marketed to reach the greatest number of buyers? What price can you get for your home? What's the average time listings have been on the market. Your agent should be able to back up his or her answer with a Comparative Market Analysis and provide the names of two or three of their most recent sellers who you may contact for a reference.


PRICE IT RIGHT
A house priced just at market value piques the interest of real estate professionals and buyers, while overpricing chases them away. If your home is priced too high, interested buyers may never even tour your listing. It is true that you can always drop the price, but the first 30 days are the most critical. That is when interest is the highest, and it can be difficult to recapture people's interest later on. The longer the property is on the market, the fewer the prospects. The fact is that you will walk away with MORE money at the settlement table by pricing it right at the outset than by starting too high and reducing it later on.


GET YOUR HOME IN SHOW CONDITION
Get your home in tip-top shape before any potential buyer views it. Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Get rid of the clutter. Touch up the paint where needed. Clean the carpet. Consider having your home inspected, and make any recommended repairs. (If there are any repairs you decide not to fix, inform the buyers about the condition of your home and discount the repair cost from the selling price).

CURB APPEAL
Don't overlook the outside of your property. You don't want a buyer to rule out your home based on the outside appearance. The lawn should be trimmed, bushes and shrubs pruned, and leaves raked. The front of the house needs a clean, fresh appearance. Even the mailbox needs to be attractive and functional. (Believe it or not, a rusty, unhinged mailbox can turn potential buyers off.) And don't forget to put away bicycles; toys and other items that may make your property seem cluttered.


OFFER INCENTIVES
Offering incentives can be just the impetus a potential buyer needs to select your property over others. You may want to consider offering a carpet or paint allowance. If the buyer knows up front that there is an allowance for the worn carpet or paint, they may overlook those cosmetic flaws in order to choose their own color. You could pay for a professional home inspection or a home warranty -- and, depending on your market and budget, offer to pay some of the closing costs. Make it easy to be shown and don't restrict appointment requests whenever possible.


Don't be discouraged if there are competing homes for sale in your neighborhood. Making the right moves at the beginning of your home selling process can give you the upper hand you'll need in today's competitive market.









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Thursday, June 22, 2006

WHY A CONDO MIGHT BE RIGHT FOR YOU

An option often overlooked by those desiring homeownership is purchasing a condominium or condo. But, the traditional detached single family home is not the ideal situation for everyone. For those just starting out, affordability may be an issue. An empty nester may want to downsize and not have the hassles of yard work and other maintenance. Or it can simply be that the traditional family home doesn't suit your lifestyle.


When you own a condo, you own the title to the space within the walls of your living quarters. Common areas such as hallways, roofs, parking lots, green areas and pools are shared with the other owners in the complex. The more common type of condo is the apartment-style, in which you may have units on either side of you and above and/or below. However, there are other styles. There are units that are designed more like townhomes, with single or multiple levels and one or two common walls with neighbors. You may even find a condo in a building that was a multi-unit apartment converted to condo units.


Condos are attractive to many buyers because they offer them a chance to own their residence and build equity at what is usually a lower cost than a single-family detached home. Of course there are exceptions, such as the luxurious condominiums that many developers are building in downtown and affluent neighborhoods.


One factor to consider is that condominum owners generally must pay a condo association fee monthly. These fees defray the cost of maintenance, repairs and upgrades to the community's common areas as well as the cost for the services of a property management company.


However, if you would rather spend your free time doing something besides mowing the lawn, painting the outside of your home, or waiting at home for the pool maintenance person, then a condo may be for you.


Other advantages of owning a condo are the amenities that may be part of your complex such as a pool, tennis courts, fitness center or clubhouse. These are some of the perks you might not be able to afford or even have room for if you were to purchase a single-family home.


Of course, as with all things, there are some disadvantages to owning a condominium, such as the lack of privacy that a single-family detached home affords. You are also confined to the rules and laws of the community association, which can run the gamut from how to display a satellite dish to the type of animals you can keep.


Is a condo the right living arrangement for you? Make an informed decision by weighing the pros and cons. Talk with a real estate professional who is familiar with condominiums and the laws that govern them. Preview the various condos in your area to get an idea of how the properties are run. If your real estate professional has sold condos in any of these complexes, find out the type of feedback he or she has received from clients.


Condo living isn't for everyone, but can be an attractive option for those who want to own instead of rent.

Monday, May 01, 2006

SOCIAL BENEFITS OF HOME OWNERSHIP

Recently, the National Association of Realtors had identified the following benefits of home ownership and for public policies that promote home ownership. Among those pluses are: 1) Higher educational performance and better behavior of children; 2) Lower community crime rates; 3) Lessened welfare dependency among households; 4) More household participation in civic affairs; and 5)Better household health. You can read more about this at: REALTOR.org/realtormag.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

STAGING YOUR HOME FOR SUCCESS!!

Staging is the new "buzzword" in real estate. It refers to the process of setting the stage, so to speak, when marketing your home. This means getting the property to show to its best ability in order to obtain a quicker sale at the best possible price. This can include but is not limited to re-organizing and straightening up and removing clutter - to actual redecorating, painting, clever furniture placement, "de-personalizing", and freshening. Since all of these things really work, many top agents are really paying attention and taking courses in professional staging. Of course, seller cooperation is mandatory in this endeavor and the team approach has been yielding great results for sellers!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Philadelphia Inquirer | 03/28/2006 | Housing boom moves east of Broad

Philadelphia Inquirer | 03/28/2006 | Housing boom moves east of Broad

STATISTICS REVEAL THAT CENTER CITY PRICES AND SALES ROSE MORE THAN ANY OTHER COUNTY IN THE GREATER PHILADELPHIA AREA FROM LAST YEAR TO THIS YEAR; AND THE TREND IS THAT THE EASTERN PORTION OF CENTER CITY IS GETTING MORE POPULAR THAN EVER.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

VIRTUAL TOURS OF HOMES ON TELEVISION

Comcast has launched "Real Estate On Demand" within the past year. It enables viewers who have this service from Comcast to view real estate offerings and properties that are for sale from the comfort of their living rooms. The tours are audio/visual and feature 7-8 photos of each property inside and outside along with voiced over narration. In the Greater Philadelphia Area, Prudential Fox and Roach Realtors has an exclusive contract with Comcast and they are the only brokerage able to advertise their listings on Comcast cable TV. It is a free perc that sellers get who list their homes with Prudential Fox and Roach.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Important Insurance Add-On for Condo Owners

If you are thinking of buying a condominium or if you already own one, you should strongly consider purchasing a "condominium loss assessment rider." This is very inexpensive - perhaps on the order of $12 to $30 per year at most. It covers you in the event there is a large loss as a result of a lawsuit against the homeowner's association where the reserves are not enough to cover it. In this instance, it is possible that each unit owner could be charged with a costly special assessment. This type of coverage can pay this claim for you saving you lots of money.

Also, every condo owner generally pays for condo insurance as part of the condo fee. This is the master policy that covers the common areas and exterior in most cases. You also should have insurance for your interior and possessions and have your agent add on this LOSS ASSESSMENT RIDER as described above.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

HOW TO GET YOUR OFFER ACCEPTED IN A COMPETITIVE BIDDING SITUATION:

Always make your best offer first – Give the seller something to “lose sleep over” in the event they turn it down. It may seem counter-intuitive but this truly is the best strategy. Give your full deposit UP FRONT with the initial offer – It costs no more and looks serious, setting your offer above those of other buyers. Make sure you have a strong pre-approval letter, or even better, an actual mortgage commitment. In fact, if you KNOW you can get a mortgage, you should consider eliminating the mortgage contingency clause completely and making it a “cash” offer. Find out what settlement date the seller needs and meet that date. All of these things can help you get the property for the best price possible yet still beat out other buyers.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Home inventories rise sharply in many major markets

Rising inventory signals some falling real estate prices in Philadelphia and other major cities


In my own marketplace, which is Eastern Montgomery County, Lower Bucks County and Northeast Philadelphia, I have been observing this since Labor Day. Unfortunately, home sellers are frequently the "last to know" and try in vain to cling to the high prices that were being obtained seven-eight months ago. The good news is that this makes it more affordable to trade up, however!! Also, this is great news for first time home buyers.

Inman News - Real Estate News and Advice for Buyers, Sellers & Investors

Inman News - Real Estate News and Advice for Buyers, Sellers & Investors

Friday, February 10, 2006

Too much of a good thing? - 2006-02-06

Industrial Land Scarce in Phila area as Residential Devpt has Flourished.

Businsses looking to find industrial real estate in the Philadelphia area, especially new types of high-tech businesses are being faced with an intense scarcity on both sides of the Delaware. This imbalance does not bode well for economic development for our area as these new businesses that could provide jobs are forced to look elsewhere.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Trump Targets Philly Waterfront in new Condo Project

Donald Trump Planning a Waterfront Conndominium

The Daily Pennsylvanianreports that one of their more "infamous alums" - the Trumpster, is looking to transform the city waterfront. Others have suggested that this part of our city is vastly underdeveloped citing locales such as Baltimore and San Antonio that have done exemplary jobs at making their waterfronts destinations of their own.

No Bubble Bursting in Philly center city Condo Market

You won't get burned by Phlly's hot condo market, experts say

Real estate prices are definitely softening as inventory builds and buyer supply appears to have dwindled a bit, but at least some people feel that the center city condo market is still quite hot. See the following post concerning the new waterfront condo proposed by Donald Trump.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Home Buyer & Seller Survey 2006

MORE BUYERS USING THE INTERNET IN HOME SEARCHES

As time has passed, more and more people are using the internet to start their initial search for real estate - usually in the preliminary stages - afterwards, they are more likely to contact a Realtor when ready to begin searching in earnest. This article from NAR (National Association of Realtors) outlines this process in 2005-06.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

FHA and VA Loans Back in Vogue in a Cooling Real Estate Market

FHA and VA Maximum Loan Limits Raised for 2006

FHA and VA maximum loan limits have been raised in the Philadelphia area. THe new loan limit is $270,500. Now that the market is "cooling", sellers are going to be more willing to accept FHA and VA deals, rather than insisting on only "conventional" financing (non-government). This is good news for home buyers!Credit requirements are generally more relaxed in these govermnment programs than in the conventional market since they are insured and guaranteed loans respectively backed by the federal government. In this way, they are actually more of a "sure thing" for home sellers than some conventional loans might be.

Suburban Sprawl

Suburban sprawl an irresistible force in U.S.

During my 22 years in real estate here, the entire corridor along routes 213 North (Bridgetown Pike), and route 532 (Buck Road), both in Northampton Township, Bucks County, has gradually been developed with new housing, but these roadways have not gotten any wider.

When considering a purchase in these areas, make sure to factor in driving time to and from work during busy rush hours. This will vary considerably from what you will encounter on a Sunday afternoon jaunt.

Getting Top Dollar - what's the secret?!

Guess what? - having all the upgrades in the world means diddly squat if you have a cluttered home. Buying a home is sort of like test-driving a new car. When a potential prospect walks through your property, if they are serious, they are mentally placing their own furniture and possessions into what might become their new property.

If your home is over-run with "stuff" they cannot do this! You also need to depersonalize by removing lots of family photos from the walls. A clean, spare spartan look always wins over the heavily decorated look and costs nothing!

Comments welcome!

WELCOME TO MY BLOG!!

Hello, welcome to my blog - this is my first post! As time goes by, I plan on posting insightful tidbits about what is new, exciting, interesting, or even amusing, about the real estate market in the greater Philadelphia area!

Please feel free to leave your comments, perceptions and questions.

Thanks for visiting!