Archive for the ‘Philadelphia real estate’ Category

Buildings Then and Now: From hospital to homes

Saturday, April 19th, 2014
The intersection of 18th and Bainbridge streets today. Photo by the author.

The intersection of 18th and Bainbridge streets today. Photo by the author.

Before Graduate Hospital was Graduate Hospital, it was a neighborhood that had historically been home to Philadelphia’s black middle class but had fallen on hard times since the 1960s. Many of the institutions that black middle class built remain — the churches, the Christian Street YMCA — but some, such as the Hotel Brotherhood USA, have changed purpose, and others, such as the Southwest-Belmont YWCA, have disappeared, their buildings awaiting a new future.

The nondescript block of townhomes that occupy the plot of land bordered by Colorado, Bainbridge, 18th and Fitzwater streets marked the first major redevelopment effort in the neighborhood. Built in the late 1970s, it was called “Fort Bainbridge” by some of its first residents, a nickname that arose in part from its compound-like appearance and in part from its location in what was then considered a rough neighborhood. These homes, however, also occupy the site of what was probably the neighborhood institution best known outside it — a world-renowned institution that, had it stayed in the neighborhood, might have imparted its name to it the way the hospital just across South Street from it did later. (more…)

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.


Living in Philadelphia: Philly Homeowners Can Receive Tax Relief Today

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Longtime Philadelphian homeowners will get rewarded for their patience. In December, Mayor Michael Nutter unveiled the PHL Tax Loop plan, which will allow homeowners to receive some property tax relief as a result of property value increases around the living-in-philadelphia-homeowners-receive-tax-reliefcity. The new Philadelphia administration has set aside $20 million for its long-tenured homeowners.

The previous mayoral administration had raised property taxes, partly due to rising home values throughout the state. With the induction of the PHL Tax Loop, many of those living in Philadelphia for a decade will be rewarded for their tolerance and payment through those years. Those approved through this one-time offer will have their tax bill reduced for ten years, contingent on continued success with requirements.

PHL Tax Loop Requirements For Those Living in Philadelphia

In order for residents to be eligible for the PHL Tax Loop, they must fill out these requirements by no later than February 17, 2014:

  • - The property must be the homeowner’s primary residence from at least July 1st 2003
  • - The inquiring homeowners must reside in a single-family or a multi-unit property (with as many as three residential and one commercial units).
  • - The owner must meet the income requirements for the building’s household size.
  • - The owner must be in a structured payment agreement in which his payments are up to date and the real estate taxes are current.
  • - The property must not have ever had a tax abatement.


The program seems like a no brainer for Philadelphia residents to apply for and see if they qualify. Meanwhile, the early-year deadline will allow the city to formulate payment plans before the end of 2014. If you’re living in Center City, Northern Liberties, or South Philly, all longtime homeowners are encouraged to apply. Don’t miss out on the tax relief that those living in Philadelphia have been pining for.

New Construction in Philadelphia: The W Hotel

Monday, January 13th, 2014

1441 Chestnut Street is welcoming the W Hotel in January 2017. The City of Brotherly Love has been experiencing a high volume of new construction in Philadelphia, as developers flock in town to take advantage of the growing city. As Philadelphia’s housing market continues to rise, new construction in Philadelphia has become a familiar occurrence. In 2012, the W Hotel secured permits and approvals to move forward with building plans, along with a loan to finance the project.

The hotel will begin its renovation on the soil of a half-acre parking lot in Center City. Four years ago, that ground was earmarked to house a $420 million Waldorf-Astoria hotel project with luxurious condominiums. When the lending markets collapsed in 2008, the plan was ultimately scrapped. New Construction in Philadelphia: W Hotel by Philly Living

W Hotel’s Lush Accommodations and Amenities

The Chestlen Development, developer for the W Hotel, is asking for a tax financing for the new construction in Philadelphia. Overall, the tax financing will equal out to $33 million dollars, including public subsidies, which will total to a final $75 million amount. The Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation disputes any tax financing outcries with the W Hotel’s potential earning. If the hotel yields $17 million of wage tax revenue during its initial 20 years of operation, the $33 million tax break will be essential for a valuable investment. However, financing for new construction in Philadelphia remains optimistic due to high construction costs in an urban setting and cautious lending markets.

The 582-foot hotel will be built next to the Ritz Carlton with a scenic view across from City Hall. The project encompasses 780,000 square feet and 700 rooms. The hotel plans include a spacious 41,000 square feet plan for banquet and meeting space, an 8,600 square feet restaurant space, along with an airy 185-space parking garage. The 700 rooms will be tentatively split with 460 rooms committed under the Element by Westin flag, and 240 of the rooms devoted to the W Hotel flag. The hotel amenities include fitness centers, ground floor retail and a pool. Once the project is completed, the market value is anticipated to total $95.8 million. The W Hotel’s new construction in Philadelphia is also expected to aid the job outlook by creating 450 permanent jobs and 1,800 construction jobs.

Bursts of new luxury boutique hotels have entered the real estate market in the previous years, indicating a positive upswing for the real estate market. In addition to the W Hotel, more hotels are in the works for tourists and traveling businesspeople. It’s clear to see that Philadelphia is becoming a popular cultural and historical hotspot to visit.

Top Ten Benefits to Living in Philadelphia

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Steeped in history, Philadelphia is on the heels of an edifying renaissance. Composed of most of the nation’s firsts, the City of Brotherly Love has a distinctive food and arts scene, plenty of new commercial centers, and distinguishable neighborhoods. Many people know Philadelphia for the Liberty Bell and its succulent cheesesteaks, but it’s still an untapped secret for its prime relocation and retirement area.

Best Reasons to Live In Philadelphia

There are numerous different reasons why you should consider living in Philadelphia, but here’s our top ten list on this exciting and emerging city.

Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Move to Philadelphia by Philly Living

1. It’s an active city. Right now, the city is currently developing a bike-share program to roll out between 2014-2015. In the meantime, Philly residents get plenty of exercise in the country’s fifth most walkable large city. There are plenty of playgrounds and parks to check out, including Fairmount Park, which is one of the largest urban parks in the country.


2. College tuition and living costs can come with a hefty price tag, but Philly students don’t have to choose. They have the opportunity of receiving a world-renowned education while living near home to save money.


3. Unlike New York where the cost of living is astronomical, living in Philadelphia means choosing between many neighborhoods that offer inexpensive rent. For instance, the Bella Vista neighborhood is perfect for couples and large families.


4. Philadelphia is home to many prestigious medical schools and university-affiliated hospitals. Some of these universities include Drexel University and the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.


5. Philadelphia has a love affair with performing arts. Most of the ballet programs are offered at little to no cost. This makes for a fun night out on the town for art-appreciators.


6. Living in Philadelphia means living in a place where history was made. Philadelphia attracts a high volume of tourists eager to visit many of Philadelphia’s historical sites.


7. Philadelphia is a melting pot of many different cultures. The city celebrates that fact with annual events dedicated to paying homage to the ethnic groups living in Philadelphia. During the events, people come to enjoy the festivities, listen to music and eat.


8. While Philadelphia has its fair share of four-star restaurants, the city also comes with a myriad of food trucks, great eateries, and Wawa. Likewise, Philadelphia has many neighborhoods that offer a taste of an array of authentic cuisines.


9. Living in Philadelphia means that if you want to see art, all you have to do is look up. Philly has many man-made murals on the side of buildings, cars, and houses. There are over 3,000 murals in the city, making art a huge part of Philadelphia life.


10. Lastly, the diverse neighborhoods are one of the best things about living in Philadelphia. Each neighborhood has its own distinctive characteristics. The Northern Liberties neighborhood is an up-and-up community for the young, artsy professional while the University City neighborhood bustles with intellectual energy. There’s something for everybody here.

2013 Philadelphia Housing Market Outlook and Beyond

Monday, November 25th, 2013

As the City of Brother Love continues its expansion plans, it’s no surprise that Philadelphia is quickly gaining ground as a highly sought-after metropolis. The housing market is primed and the labors of the revitalization are rippling positively throughout the neighborhoods. The town’s real estate efforts have allowed Philadelphia to carve out its place as the third-largest downtown population in the country. Along with the recent housing boom, Philly neighborhoods have begun to adopt individual characteristics and emerge as residential hotspots.

Philadelphia has an illustrious background, steeped with a highly noteworthy past. Due to so many historical significances in Philadelphia, many neighborhoods proudly boast popular tourist attractions. Even though production on new housing has been modernized with luxury buildings, Philly streets still hold claim to architectural influence from the past. Many neighborhoods are feeling the resurgence as housing prices continue their way to a steady stabilization, which is a clear sign that the market is rebounding. As confident consumer trends continue, the economic market has been slowly improving to reveal an optimistic outlook for Philadelphia real estate. Housing Market Outlook in Philadelphia by Philly Living

Housing Market Forecast: Warmer with Clear Prices in High Numbers

As one of the leading homeownership markets in the country, Philly has consistently boasted low housing prices in the country. Over the last few years, prices have remained stagnant. Throughout the 2013 year, business has improved for realtors and home sale prices. Now that household spending and consumer confidence in the housing market is improving, it is likely that construction and home sales will resume growing as the economy upswings.

In addition, there are a few other positive signs that indicate an improved housing market outlook for the Philadelphia area. The higher housing demand and new construction renovations signal an improvement in the market. Sellers can now charge more for their homes instead of going below market prices, which may create a bidding war between buyers. Listing prices are also holding steady instead of dropping off in pricing. This means that Philadelphian sellers are confident that they can get the price they’re asking for. Most importantly, housing in all prices ranges are selling. From the truly affordable to the decadently luxurious, there is still a market for each neighborhood.

It is understandable that real estate confidence levels can still be uncertain after the housing market crash. But since then, real estate has been in a slow recovery and is continuing its organic improvement to a more resilient market. In 2013, Philadelphia’s housing market has continued to report strong numbers and still shows no signs of slowing down its renaissance.

New Construction in Philadelphia’s Real Estate Market

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

After the collapse of the housing bubble a few years ago, almost all construction within the country was brought to a halt. The housing market crash not only scared perspective home buyers, but also real estate developers as well. Now, as the dust begins to settle, Philadelphia’s real estate market is on the rise. Recently, trends have begun to change with an increase number of people moving into apartments. This influx is keeping property owners happy, while also keeping their vacancy numbers low.New Construction in Philadelphia’s Real Estate Market by Philly Living

As the sixth largest metropolitan area in the United States, Philadelphia has much to offer to current and potential residents. With dozens of historical attractions in area such as The Liberty Bell, The National Constitution Center, and Independence Hall, it is no surprise that Philadelphia’s real estate market is on the rise.

Center City’s Rental Boom

The housing and real estate upswing in Philadelphia starts includes many noteworthy projects that will start breaking ground within the year. Renovation and construction plans to begin on a number of sites including the historic Art Deco Tower, 1616 Iconic, Southstar Lofts, the Atlantic Building, the old Goldtex Shoe Factory in the Loft District, and The Granary located in Logan Square. This new construction increases the total number of new apartments in Philadelphia to approximately 1,000 units.

A new type of apartment complex will soon be entering the Center City skyline. The Granary Philadelphia will feature 227 luxury apartments and 20,000 square feet of prime real estate space and convenient underground parking. The developer’s goal for construction in Center City is to create complexes that also have convenient places to live, work and socialize. The Granary amenities resemble the creative comforts offered by many luxury hotels across the country. The Granary will be the first to dive into the new apartment construction, though it is expected that new construction in Philadelphia will also follow suit.

The new construction in Center City represents the increase in growth across the entire Philadelphia area. From shopping centers to apartment complexes, the Philadelphia real estate market continues to recover and grow in 2013.

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