Monday, May 21, 2007


Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the Grand Re-Opening of the Hiway Theatre in Jenkintown.
The Hiway Theatre has been an important community, cultural and economic institution since 1913 and is one of few non-chain and free-standing independent theatres that remain in the Delaware Valley. Having various names and owners over the years, its mission has always been in bringing people together to enjoy high quality films. But time, neglect and heavy use had left the theatre in desperate need of a carefully orchestrated renovation. In 2003, a group of local residents, who recognized the Hiway's importance to the community formed a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation to purchase, operate and rehabilitate the theatre. Donors were invited to this evening's special Grand Reopening Event.

What I found remarkable is that this was an example of all levels of government working together with private citizens to bring about something important for the community. In order to pull this off, county commissioners, Abington, Cheltenham and Jenkintown elected officials and private donors got together. On hand this evening were Congressman Joe Hoeffel and U.S. Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz. Montgomery County commissioners Thomas Ellis and Ruth Damsker were also present and had helped to raise funds. Congresswoman Schwartz was instrumental in getting PA Governor Ed Rendell to approve the largest piece of funding from the state right before she left her position in PA state government to become a member of Congress. We also got to meet some of the architects and designers. The theatre looks wonderful and is very comfortable.

Before the presentation, we were treated to a wonderful catered affair in the lobby with delightful hors douvres , cocktails and chamber music provided by some very talented local student musicians. Then, we saw a special screening of the movie "The Philadelphia Story" with Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart. The film was selected because it was made in 1940 – the same year the Hiway theatre got its current name.

You may wonder what this has to do with real estate – actually, it has a lot to do with it. Anything that strengthens a community, enhances its culture and brings concerned citizens together with government, is an asset to the community and has a "trickle-down" effect that benefits local property owners. Conversely, the alternative of having a decayed and neglected theatre and a blighted appearance would have had a negative impact on Jenkintown and the surrounding townships and their real property values.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Why Your Home Isn't the Investment You Think It Is -

Why Your Home Isn't the Investment You Think It Is -

Hi Marlene,

Here was an interesting article in the WSJ that frankly scared me a little. I suppose the message is that a home isn't really an investment in the sense of stocks/bonds/etc, but I was interested in your take on it as well.

Kenny (name changed)

A young client of mine who is actually the son of former clients (boy – I must really be old!) is buying his first home and forwarded an email to me and this article (link above) from the Wall Street Journal. It worried him. The article is by David Crook, Sunday editor of the WSJ. It appeared a couple of weeks ago. I am providing you with a link to the entire article which is quite lengthy and a bit tedious. I felt that Mr. Crook's piece had significant inaccuracies and used isolated incomplete examples and “fear tactics” in order to make a point and help the author sell his books. I wrote a response to my young client and forwarded same to the author. In coming days read my response, Mr. Crook’s response, and my client’s final response.
Your feedback and comments are welcome!

Marlene the Real Estate Queen

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Real Estate Trends

According to the current issue of Philadelphia Magazine (March '07), people are attempting to "reconnect with their inner Mayberry. There is a desire to be in more urban settings again in the sense of being able to walk to a stores, movies, shops and mini-downtowns. Suburban home ownership appears to have lost some of its luster. The center city condo boom is not only attracting empty nesters, but also families with young children. Back yards are being replaced by city parks. Communities that already have a mini-downtown and main street, such as Ambler, Glenside, Hatboro, etc, are likely to have somewhat of a rebirth over the next decade. How do you tell if an old town is on its way back? According to the article, if there is a parking problem, that is a sure sign!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Great time to Jump In to the Market

For all of you who may have delayed on buying a home for the past five to six years - now could be your opportunity. It is true that sellers have reigned in our area. Inventory has been slim and prices were escalating daily. Frequently, buyers were in multiple bid wars - with as many as five or six offers on the same property. The lowest offer was usually full price! Well, now things have reverted to a more normal and balanced market. There is more selection of properties, interest rates are still attractively very low, and prices in the Philadelphia area have stabilized. So, call your favorite Realtor, and get out there and start looking!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Philadelphia Inquirer | 01/28/2007 | Condo cooldown not severe in Phila.

Philadelphia Inquirer | 01/28/2007 | Condo cooldown not severe in Phila.

The Philadelphia condo market has not suffered as much as those in other major cities. This article explores the reasons and explains that the runup in values was not as dramatic as in other cities in the U.S. What the article does not say, but what I have observed, is that there is still an increasing popularity of center city living among various demographic groups. Younger singles and marrieds in their twenties and thirties, even those with children, appear to be favoring the "downtown" lifestyle and culture as opposed to living in the burbs, which their predecessors have done. also, older empty nesters are in many cases, selling their larger suburban homes and moving to center city residences.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Road Congestion in Bucks County

I have been a Realtor for 23 years. During that time, I have noticed many new residential housing developments go up in Holland, Langhorne and Richboro, for example. The main roads in and out of that area are typically Buck Road (route 532), Bridgetown Pike(Route 213), Bustleton Pike, and 2nd Street Pike (route 232). During that time those roads have remained primarily two lane roads. The population and traffic have increased exponentially, yet the roads have not been expanded. For this reason, I rarely elect to show homes to people during rush hour in these areas.

It is just too difficult to get from property to property without a lot of hassle. It is also difficult for people to get anywhere in those areas starting from after school hours around 3:30 until almost 7PM. This pattern is repeated, I am sure, in many suburban areas throughout the region. It is one reason why people fear development and protest it. Usually, however, protests do not seem to occur around residential development, but more around civic and commercial projects. All develpment projects, in my opinion, need to take into account the traffic and congestion that will be created.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Termite Bait Stations May Not Work

Traditionally, subterranean termites (the kind we have in the Phildelphia area) have always been treated with chemicals injected into the ground around the entire perimeter of a home. The exterminators drill every 12-18 inches both inside and outside to create a chemical barrier. This method, usually is immediately effective at killing termites and stopping them in their tracks. Occasionally, there are gaps in the barrier and re-infestations need to be retreated, but this is not terribly common.
Then, someone came up with the idea of "bait stations" and they are being heavily marketed by the large franchise termite companies. The theory is that small bait stations with wood in them are placed in various locations outside the property. The companies come back at quarterly intervals to "monitor" them. If they find termites in one of the stations, they then replace the piece of wood with some chemically impregnated wood. This is supposed to be taken back to the termite home under ground and then kill them.
I may be oversimplifying, but here is what I have observed in several properties I have sold that have these bait stations. While the termites are eating the wood in the bait stations, nothing is stopping them from eating the wood in your house! They just don't work and the termites continue to dine on your home leaving extensive wood damage if they go unchecked. Moreover, these bait stations are almost three times the initial cost as a traditional treatment and the annual contract to maintain them is about $400 per year as compared with about $100 per year for the traditional, and, in my opinion, more effective method.
They are promoted by companies for one reason - they are cash cows and great profit centers. So, if you find out you have termites in your home (usually you will see a swarm of insects in either the spring or fall that looks like flying ants)make sure to get all the facts before you decide on treatment and don't fall for the glossy sales pitch. Obtain several opinions from both small and large companies.
There are some situtaions where the bait stations are the only alternative, for example, in homes with well water as opposed to public water. As always, get informed to make the best decision.