Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Weekend Winners: April 18-20

Friday, April 18th, 2014
The Oval returns for a second season of outdoor fun with Farm Fest today and tomorrow. Expect more events like this every weekend from now through the late fall. Photos by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia.

The Oval returns for a second season of outdoor fun with Farm Fest today and tomorrow. Expect more events like this every weekend from now through the late fall. Photos by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia.

Farm-themed fun, flea markets and finery are on tap this weekend.

Friday, April 18

Down on the farm on the Oval: The first weekend of the 2014 season of the Oval brings a touch of the country to the city with “Farm Fest,” a weekend full of farm-ified food, music and activities for folks of all ages. This evening, visitors to the Oval can enjoy street fare from a variety of food trucks, beer from the Victory Brewpub Mobile Beer Garden, music from the Highwater Preachers and a screening of the made-in-Philly film Witness. Tomorrow, the festival has an Easter theme with plenty of kid-friendly events, including an Easter egg hunt, a petting zoo and tree-climbing. There’s also live clogging, blues-rock music and a food-truck feast.

Farm Fest at The Oval: 5 to 9 p.m. tonight and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. tomorrow at Eakins Oval, 24th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway opposite the Art Museum. Free.

Saturday, April 19

Strawbridge’s comes alive again: We don’t think it’s a stretch at all to say that Franklin Flea, the emporium that made its debut last fall on the first floor of the former Strawbridge & Clothier department store, is actually channeling the ghost of Stockton Strawbridge. The family patriarch wanted his store to be a place of wonder and discovery, and that’s exactly what Franklin Flea offers with its eclectic mix of merchants offering vintage goods and original creations. Its six-week indoor season, which starts today, will offer a changing mix of sellers each Saturday, thus keeping the experience fresh with every visit. New this spring is the Franklin Stove, a food booth that will give a different local chef each week a chance to shine. Inaugurating that space today will be Eli Kulp of High Street on Market.

Franklin Flea: 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. today and every Saturday through May 24 at the former Strawbridge & Clothier, 801 Market St. Free to enter; merchandise and food as priced.

Sunday, April 20

A South Street tradition returns: Philly’s oldest Easter parade returns to South Street for the 83rd time today. Put on your Easter Sunday best and make your way to 5th and South streets for the start of the South Street Easter Promenade at 12:30 p.m. From there, the parade heads down South Street to the plaza at 2nd Street, where judges will choose the best dressed promenaders in a dozen different age and gender categories, not to mention best-dressed pooch. The festivities include live performances from the Philadelphia Freedom Band, Easter treats, a “Bunny Hop” and more. And it’s all over around 2:30 p.m., giving you time to enjoy Easter brunch.

The 83rd Annual Easter Promenade: Parade steps off from Passyunk Avenue and South Street at 12:30 p.m. and ends at the 2nd Street plaza. Free.

Does Philly have a housing affordability problem, or doesn’t it?

Friday, April 18th, 2014
1430 South Street facade rendering

New rental properties at any price point, like this one planned for the 1400 block of South Street, will help keep renting affordable if the growth in supply outpaces the growth in demand – it’s basic Econ 101.

Whatever your opinion on the subject, there’s no denying that housing affordability has become one of the Issues of the Day. We’ve long maintained (for instance, here and here) that, at least by East Coast standards, housing remains affordable overall in Philadelphia, and the problems we do have stem more from the city’s high poverty rate and the desire to maintain a mix of incomes in gentrifying neighborhoods than anything to do with the cost of housing itself.

But the welter of conflicting arguments and reports on the issue have begun to make our head spin. The latest: a report from real estate data site Zillow that states that rents in Philly may be bumping up against the threshold of unaffordability.

According to Zillow figures as reported by NBC10, a household earning the area median income will spend 28.2 percent of it on the rent on the median-priced rental property. That’s a significant jump from its historic level: from 1985 to 2000, rents ate up only 18.2 percent of the area median income.

While that 28.2 percent figure remains below the national average of 29.6 percent, it is worrisome because the rule of thumb for rentals is that rent and utilities should account for no more than 30 percent of income.

(And if that 28.2 percent makes renting in Philly almost unaffordable, then it appears we do have a nationwide housing affordability problem.)

But when one considers the lower median income in the city itself, affordable rental housing does become a matter for concern. According to numbers provided to NBC10 by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Philadelphia is $1,135. A renter would have to earn an hourly wage of $21.83 — $5 an hour more than what an average Philly renter earns, according to the NLIHC — in order to afford that apartment.

The easiest solution to the problem is the Econ 101 one: Build more rental units, period. Even an increase in the supply of expensive apartments frees up existing units for other renters, and if the increase in supply outpaces the increase in population, then rents will fall for the vacant units as landlords try to lure renters to their empty apartments.

At least in Center City and environs, builders have increasingly been doing just that, according to a recent Center City District report. A number of initiatives launched by City Council members also seek to increase the supply of affordable housing. But most of those focus on subsidizing the cost of construction. The real issue is enabling the would-be renter — or buyer — to afford what is being built, and that calls for different approaches.

Rents Unaffordable in Philadelphia: Study (

First-time buyer? Learn the ropes at this Saturday seminar

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014
Philadelphia Real Estate

The road to your first home can be intimidating. Our First-Time Buyer Seminar this Saturday will help make the journey easier.

Thinking of becoming a homeowner, but intimidated by the complexities of real estate? A seminar this Saturday from the team will help you overcome your fears and buy a new home with confidence.

At PhillyLiving’s First-Time Home Buyer Seminar, to be held this Saturday, April 5, from 10 to 11:30 a.m., you will learn the ins and outs of buying a home and how you can move into your first home with as little as one percent of your own money for an upfront down payment.

“In my seven years of experience working with first time buyers, I have found that taking time to support and educate consumers helps transactions run smoothly and lays a foundation for a lifetime of real estate investment success,” said PhillyLiving CEO Noah Ostroff.

The seminar is the first in a series of Real Estate Seminars PhillyLiving will sponsor throughout 2014. Future seminars will offer advice for those looking to buy property for both personal use and investment purposes. Watch this space for news about upcoming conferences.

All seminars will be held at the Coldwell Banker Preferred Old City office at 223-25 Market Street.

A Buyer’s Market? Not In Center City

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014
Center City Market Action Report

Homes in many Philadelphia neighborhoods are selling faster and fetching better prices than they were one year ago.

Industry buzz is that the spring selling season is off to a slow start in Philadelphia. Yet local news reports say that agents nonetheless are optimistic about how the season will turn out.

So are we. If you are thinking of selling your Greater Center City home, now is a good time to act.

While a recent Zillow report ranks Philadelphia as one of the top 10 buyer’s markets in the country, many city neighborhoods are performing far stronger for sellers. According to Philly Living’s latest Market Action Report, median sale prices in Northern Liberties in February, for instance, rose 78 percent from the same month last year, and average days on market fell 44 percent. Other local markets, including Queen Village, Bella Vista, Hawthorne and Passyunk Square, are also performing strongly.

Center City District data show that the Greater Center City area – the territory between the rivers from Girard Avenue on the north to Tasker Street on the south – continues to experience a surge in population and that housing production has boomed since 2012. While many of these new arrivals are Millennials starting out in their careers, many are looking for homes to buy as well, stimulating construction surges in neighborhoods like Northern Liberties, Graduate Hospital and Point Breeze.

What does this mean for the home owner looking to sell? It means opportunity. With the help of an experienced Realtor (we happen to know one), a Center City homeowner can expect a positive outcome: a better sale price and a quicker sale.



4 Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Home’s Exterior

Friday, February 21st, 2014

file0002000388241By Kurt Jacobson

Spring is all about the breezy sunny weather and a refreshing energy to make a change. Many people make use of this time to refresh their home after the long snowy winter days. Spring-cleaning can be time consuming but it will surely leave you feeling refreshed and productive. Spring is the time of the year when you want to finish all those tasks and do some justice to the beauty of your house. Here are some of the ways you can reinvent your home’s exterior during spring.

1. Power Wash Your House.

Many people try to leave this washing to Mother Nature and assume that rain will give their house a nice bath. Although rain can wash off the dirt of your exterior but it is likely that the ducts, your deck or other points of the house could use a more thorough cleaning. In such a case, a pressure wash might just be the thing that your house needs the most. A power wash is best suited for the wooden decks and the greasy driveways that cannot be cleaned very easily. Even if you cannot purchase a pressure washer, you always have an option of renting it.

2. Give Your House That Much Deserved Paint Over.

Just as we change our entire closet when the season ends, our house deserves a makeover as well. Winter has most likely left a gloomy or a bleached out effect on your paint. Every new season, you do something different to your hair or try to lose weight so you look a little better the next season. Paint your house in that amazing red color you were always dreaming of. Do away with that old and rusty mailbox of yours and get one with a nice springy color. You will feel fresher and more vibrant as your house also gives off the spring season vibes.

3. Clean Those Windows.

The winter sleet, snow and storms have probably done a number on your windows. Nothing gives off a bad impression like dirty windows, so its time you clean that glass. It is best to take down the screens or rub them with soapy water and a brush. Moreover, you should start your cleaning from the outside first and then move on the indoor side of the windows. Make sure those windows are clean and smooth for you to enjoy the sunny breezy days ahead.

4. Sort Out Your Garden.

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Spring? Flowers and green grass do it for most. Just like when you were little, you attributed flowers and greenery to spring. It is time to take off those boots, put on some sneakers, and get your gardening going. The spring sun will surely give you the kick-start from the winter blues. Set it up, yank those weeds, and flatten out those overgrown shrubs in your garden. Most likely, your garden has also been suffocating under all that snow. Rake off those extra leaves and do some creative gardening.

Just as you get ready to say good-bye to winter, plan your time wisely and make sure you give your house the treatment it needs.

Kurt Jacobson is a surfing enthusiast with a background in real estate. Having moved 10 times in the past seven years, he thrives on helping others learn from his experiences. When he’s not out shredding waves he writes about rental homes for RentFinder.


FHA lowers ceiling on mortgage loans in Philly

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Mortgage graphicLooking to secure FHA financing on your new Philly home? Starting in January, you’ll have to settle for a little less home.

The Federal Housing Administration sets “floors” and “ceilings” for its guaranteed mortgages – minimum and maximum amounts it will provide financing for. Currently, for those seeking mortgages on single-family homes, the ceiling for Philadelphia is $420,000. For applications submitted starting Jan. 1, 2014, that amount will fall to $379,500.

What this means is that time is running out quickly if you plan to obtain FHA financing for a home priced above $379,500 in this area. If you can complete an agreement of sale and file your mortgage application in time for you to receive an FHA case number by Dec. 31, you’ll be fine. Otherwise, you’ll have to consider other options to obtain a mortgage on terms you can afford. Consult your mortgage lender or Realtor to learn what may be available to you.

Two Story Houses: Pros and Cons

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

There can be many pros and cons when it comes to building, or moving into, a two-story house. There is a great deal to consider when determining which is right for you. Although two-story houses may seem bigger, looks can be deceiving as the same square footage can be applied in a single-story structure. Aside from the actual square footage, what are some pros and cons to having a two-story house as opposed to others?

1. Lot Space
Pro: By condensing your square footage into a taller unit, you can save on the amount of yard space you have available. This can make your lot seem much larger than it actually is using the same amount of space.

Con: Now that you have extra yard space, you need to maintain it before it becomes an eyesore. This means you will need to put more time and money into your yard care products and devices. While some welcome having an open yard, others might not.

2. Heating
Pro: As hot air rises, turning on the heat in the first floor can help keep the top floors comfortable in the winter. Depending on how your floor plan is set up, this temperature difference could be excellent for heating efficiency.

Con: Since hot air rises, summers can be near unbearable if the bottom level of the home is a hub of activity. The very thing that keeps the second floor warm in the winter is also keeping it warm during the summer.

3. The View
Pro: Having a multi-level home can give you a spectacular view of the area. Of course, this depends greatly on the area you live in.

Con: As your second level windows are higher than objects and structures around you, shade may be difficult to come by, which can further increase the temperatures of your home for longer periods of time. Although tall trees may help provide some of this shade, not everyone has them.

4. Noise Levels
Pro: If the two levels have an open stairwell or wall, calling someone for dinner requires less effort as the areas are condensed closer together. It can also be used to listen for bells, alarms, or other devices that you need to hear.

Con: Children running around on the top level can easily be heard in the bottom. If your home is older, every bounce and step can be heard as if someone was dropping weights above your head.

5. Cooling
Pro: On the opposite side of heating, cooling a second level takes less effort if your stairwells or walls are open to allow air circulation throughout the home. Cold air sinks from the cooling units in the second floor which can help cool down the first.

Con: During the winter, the lower levels can become cooler as the cold air from the top levels sink down to the lower one. Since the hot air is rising to the second level, there is nothing to keep the temperatures warmer in the first level.

When it comes to picking the right house for you, it all boils down to personal preference. Some people are willing to face the cons in order to have the square footage condensed into a thinner dwelling. If the pros of a two-story home outweigh the cons for you, then that is what will make you happy. If you’re not comfortable in your own home, then you need to find one that you can be.

Author Bio:  This article is contributed by Madoline Hatter. Madoline is a freelance writer and blog junkie from You can reach her at: m.hatter12 @ gmail. com.



The Lowdown on Logan Square Schools

Monday, August 5th, 2013
Franklin Institute

The Franklin Institute partners with the School District of Philadelphia to run the Science Leadership Academy, an innovative Logan Square school that emphasizes scientific methods of learning. Photo by K. Grappa for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation.

With so many cultural treasures close at hand, one might be forgiven for thinking that the decision to raise children in Logan Square ought to be a no-brainer. The Free Library, the Franklin Institute, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art are educations in themselves. But these institutions don’t provide the basic education that Logan Square schools offer, and that’s important to a child’s development as well.

So herewith we offer a guide to Logan Square schools so you can make an informed choice about where to send your offspring.

Logan Square Schools

Public Elementary: Albert M. Greenfield

Public High School: Julia Reynolds Masterman*, Science Leadership Academy*, Franklin Learning Center*

Parochial High School: Roman Catholic High SchoolJohn W. Hallahan Catholic Girls’ High School

Private: Friends Select School

Public Charter: Russell Byers Charter SchoolString Theory High School for the Arts & Sciences (currently enrolling 9th graders)

Rittenhouse Square Schools: What You Need to Know

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

The highly regarded Independence Charter School, on the edge of the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, draws talented students from all over the city.

With art, culture, great shopping, fine dining and entertainment all close at hand, Rittenhouse Square is the neighborhood of choice for many sophisticated Philadelphians. Sophisticated Philadelphians with children, though, will want to know what options Rittenhouse Square schools offer for their offspring. We point you to the resources you need to learn about Rittenhouse Square schools here:

Rittenhouse Square Schools:

Public Elementary: Albert M. Greenfield

Public High School: Julia Reynolds Masterman*, Creative and Performing Arts*

Parochial High School: Roman Catholic High SchoolJohn W. Hallahan Catholic Girls’ High School

Private: Friends Select SchoolThe Philadelphia School (preschool-8th grade), The City School at Rittenhouse (9-12)

Public Charter: Independence Charter School, Freire Charter School (9-12)

Your Guide to Washington Square West Schools

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013
Gen. George A. McCall School

Washington Square West shares with Society Hill the George A. McCall School, one of the best public elementary schools in the city.

Washington Square West is one of Center City’s most eclectic and diverse neighborhoods, which makes it a great place to raise children. And if that’s what you’re planning to do, then you want information about Washington Square West schools, right?

Read on, then. Below you will find links that will give you all the facts about Washington Square West schools so you can make an informed choice about the best school for your children:

Washington Square West Schools

Public Elementary: Gen. George A. McCall

Public High School: Julia Reynolds Masterman*, Parkway Center City*, Academy at Palumbo*, High School for Creative and Performing Arts*

Parochial Elementary: St. Mary Interparochial School

Parochial High School: Roman Catholic High SchoolJohn W. Hallahan Catholic Girls’ High School

Public Charter: Friere Charter School (5-8), World Communications Charter SchoolYoung Scholars Charter School (6-8)

*citywide magnet school


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