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Two, four, six, eight, how did our homes appreciate?

Friday, January 10th, 2014
House Price Appreciation Map

Pennsylvania’s average annual house price appreciation of 4.59 percent since 1975 puts it in the middle of the pack of all 50 states.

If you’ve lived in Pennsylvania since 1975, you’ve probably done okay with the value of your home.

If you haven’t, then how well you’ve done depends on when you moved here.

House prices in Pennsylvania have risen 4.59 percent per year on average over the period from 1975 through 2013.

But as with most of the other 49 states, this figure smooths over significant swings in the market over that time period. Homeowners who purchased their homes after the 2008 housing market collapse, for instance, have seen higher gains, while those who purchased their homes in 2003 have experienced a significant loss – more than 10 percent on average in Pennsylvania’s case.

There’s an interactive website that lets you examine the housing market performance, state by state, since 1975, with figures for the last quarter of 2013, last year, the last five years and the last 10 years, plus charts showing price changes year by year. Curious? Check it out.

New home starts surge in November: Blip or trend?

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013
Homes under construction in Northern Liberties

Housing starts surged 23 percent in November. Analysts say this is the beginning of a near-term trend. Photo: Sandy Smith.

New home starts surged 23 percent in November, according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The pace of home building hit a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.09 million, a sharp rise from the prior month’s revised rate of 889,000.

Experts say this signals an end-of-year pickup in the national housing market after a slowdown that lasted through the summer and fall.

As to whether this uptick will prove durable, signals are mixed.

Homebuilder confidence, as measured by the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, stands at a four-month high this month, with a level of 58. (Figures over 50 indicate builders are optimistic about market prospects.)

But building permits fell from October to November, dropping 3.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.01 million. However, that figure is well above the 933,000 figure posted a year ago at this time.

Analysts predict this uptick will carry the market into the spring.

(Los Angeles Times)

South Philly Area: Residential Growth and Rich Culture

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

While many Philadelphia areas have been major growth, the South Philadelphia area has been one of the few neighborhoods surrounded by reminders of its authentic past. Living in South Philly, residents are able to see the characteristics from yesteryear carry over to the present today. Take a stroll down South Philly neighborhood streets to experience a beautiful neighborhood that has held onto many of its quirky 19th and 20th century roots. South Philly is enriched with many Italian-American and Irish-American families that have worked and lived in the area for generations. The affordable residential homes include neatly lined row homes and low-rise apartment complexes. The layout of the neighborhood reveals a clean architecture for family- friendly accommodations and a safe environment.

With immaculately maintained homes and flourishing family-run small businesses, the town reveals a quaint living experience to delight South Philly residents. Living in South Philly means eating some of the best Italian food in Philly and accessibility to interesting family-owned variety stores. Due to the unique demographic make-up of the neighborhood, cultural diversity is rich. While South Philly has remained mostly unspoiled, exciting new social changes have started occurring to the neighborhood. Community development is lively and many different ethnicities are starting to call South Philly home. This indicates a forthcoming revitalization in the area that will lay the foundation for a developing South Philly in the future.south-street-south-philly-real-estate

Visit Popular Locales for a True South Philadelphia Experience

 

South Philly is home to many popular locations and residential favorites. One of the most visited areas for South Philly residents is the Italian Market. Considered the commercial heart of the Italian community, the thriving marketplace features many grocery stores, cafes, butcher shops, cheese markets, and restaurants. Located in the Bella Vista area, South Philly residents enjoy close accessibility to this one-stop-shopping marketplace.

After grabbing a bite to eat, have a ball at the Philadelphia Sports complex. The stadiums are comprised of three current facilities. Wells Fargo is home to The Philadelphia Flyers, Philadelphia 76ers, Philadelphia Wings, and the Philadelphia Soul. The second facility, Lincoln Financial Field, is home to the Philadelphia Eagles and the Temple Owls. Rounding out at the last facility, the Philadelphia Phillies call the Citizens Bank Park stadium home. Be sure to choose a side and get your ticket to watch some exciting games!

Another South Philly must-see is the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Illustrious for its historical significance, the Navy Yard has undergone a transformation in recent years. Since the 1990s, the Navy Yard has morphed into a vibrant mixed-use hub. The Navy Yard’s everyday use has been resuscitated with booming businesses, residential developments, mass transit and waterfront amenities. With a large investment in the area, progress will not slow as the area continues to expand. One thing is certain; South Philly is an area with a lot of potential for growth and exciting changes over the next few years.

Our Best Bets on Philly’s Second Casino License

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

When Sugarhouse Casino first opened its doors in 2010, revenue numbers of over $320 million dollars were projected during the first year alone. But the numbers ultimately came up short with a $190 million revenue in 2010, much less than the initially projected income. The differences between Sugarhouse and the other neighboring casinos are evident. In 2012, Sugarhouse was able to produce $8.9 million to its local government while Bensalem’s Parx Casino and Sands Casino doubled that amount to their own respective governments. With a new casino, it would support Sugarhouse and produce extra funds to benefit the school district and the city’s general funding. Our Best Bets on Philly’s Second Casino License by Philly Living

Casino License Up For Grabs: What it Means for Philly Residents

 

Six bidders are vying for the casino, and each bidder offers different locational attractions and aesthetics for the residents living in Philadelphia and for its visitors. The stakes are high with many different elements going into the final decision. The board is not taking the decision lightly and has completed a commercial analysis for the city, along with any potential monetary impacts the plans may have and how the casino could affect the neighboring communities and Sugarhouse.

 
The city is hoping that the casino will bring in a long-term profit and maximize the gambling profits in the Philadelphian region. This will benefit the residents living in Philadelphia, as the second casino will bring in jobs, tax revenue and gaming and non-gaming revenue for the city. The casino will be carefully chosen, with the handpicked casino selected for the greatest potential to bring on an optimal economic development, revitalize the area and bring in new visitors. Some of the city’s biggest concerns for the new development are with parking, traffic and security, all factors that have been taken into consideration. Hopefully, a new casino in town equals higher benefits to the local region by resuscitating the local businesses and infusing the job market with new careers.

 
With the bidders continuing to clamor for the license, the decision for the new casino license is expected by early 2014. With careful planning, the new casino license will bring good news for city taxpayers living in Philadelphia with higher property values for the surrounding areas and taxable revenue for the city.

Find Fairmount Schools That Meet Your Child’s Needs

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013
Bache-Martin School

Fairmount’s neighborhood public school, Bache-Martin, benefits from the support of a strong and active Home and School Association.

Committed families have worked hard to improve and strengthen Fairmount schools, and as a a result, the neighborhood northeast of the Art Museum has a number of educational options families with children can consider. Use the resources below to learn about Fairmount schools and choose the one that’s right for your child:

Fairmount Schools

Public Elementary: Bache-Martin

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

Parochial Elementary: St. Francis Xavier

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

Private: Philadelphia Mennonite High School, St. Joseph’s Preparatory School

Public Charter: Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School, People for People Charter SchoolString Theory High School for the Arts & Sciences (currently enrolling 9th graders)

Queen Village Schools: Which Ones Rule?

Friday, July 26th, 2013
William M. Meredith School

The WIlliam M. Meredith School in the heart of Queen Village is one of the top performing public elementary schools in the city.

Queen Village, “Philadelphia’s first suburb,” attracts many homebuyers, and one of the amenities that attract them are the Queen Village schools. Maybe you’re thinking of moving to Queen Village yourself and want to know more about the educational options Queen Village schools offer. Look no further – we have the information you seek on the top schools right here:

Queen Village Schools

Public Elementary: William M. Meredith, George W. Nebinger

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

Private Elementary: St. Peter’s School

Parochial Elementary: St. Mary Interparochial School

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

Public Charter: Christopher Columbus Charter School

*citywide magnet school

Picking the Right Old City Schools

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013
Mastery Charter High School

Among the great Old City schools is the Lenfest Campus of Mastery Charter High School on Fourth Street.

Old City has a lot to offer: history, nightlife, sophisticated living. All of these make it an appealing place to buy a home. But if you’re planning on raising children in Old City, you should have the facts on Old City schools. Here’s the information you need to know to make the best choice for your child among Old City schools:

Old City Schools

Public Elementary: Gen. George A. McCall

Public High School: Julia Reynolds Masterman*, Constitution High School*

Parochial Elementary: St. Mary Interparochial School

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

Public Charter: Mastery Charter High School (Lenfest Campus)Charter High School for Architecture + Design

*citywide magnet school

Rising Mortgage Rates Driving Buyers Off Fence, Says NAR

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013
Sold sign

© Goilo | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

The latest sign of a housing market that’s heating up: Pending sales contracts have hit a seven-year high.

The National Association of Realtors reports that its Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) for May 2013 was at its highest level since December 2006. The PHSI measures sales contracts. May’s index of 112.3 is 6.7 percent above April’s index of 105.2 (revised downward from an initial estimate of 106.0) and 12.1 percent above its year-ago level of 100.2.

May marks the 25th straight month that the PHSI has stood above year-ago levels. The PHSI, which measures contracts expected to close within 60 days, has historically been a reliable predictor of actual home sales. An index of 100 equals average contract activity in 2001, the year the index began.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said recent mortgage-rate hikes may be driving fence-sitters to buy now. “Even with limited choices, it appears some of the rise in contract signings could be from buyers wanting to take advantage of current affordability conditions before mortgage interest rates move higher,” he said.  “This implies a continuation of double-digit price increases from a year earlier, with a strong push from pent-up demand.”

Yun predicts the national median existing-home price will rise to $195,000 by year end, 10 percent higher than last year’s median and the strongest price rise since 2005.

In the Northeast, pending sales activity remains below 2001 levels but is also rising: the PHSI for this part of the country stood at 92.3, unchanged from last month and 14.3 percent from a year ago.

 

Experience the World of Espionage this Summer at the Franklin Institute

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Spy exhibit banner

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a real spy? This summer at the Franklin Institute, you can finally find out. Go beyond 007 and explore the fascinating world of real life spies at its new exhibit, “SPY: The Secret World of Espionage.” In this exciting spy experience, you can learn the true importance of intelligence gathering and how real spies help to change the world every day.

Did you know that Philadelphia played a big part in the history of intelligence gathering? In a recent interview with the South Jersey Times, Franklin Institute CEO Dennis Wint called Philly a “hotbed of intrigue and intelligence,” pointing out that Benjamin Franklin himself helped found the American Intelligence Council, the predecessor to the CIA.

The Franklin Institute’s SPY exhibit features over 200 historical artifacts and the incredible stories behind them, from the CIA, FBI, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and the immense private collection of intelligence historian H. Keith Melton. A few of these intriguing artifacts include a collapsible motorbike, a two-man submersible, a fake firefly and a robotic catfish. You can even experience the spy life for yourself through disguises, voice alteration, navigating a field of laser beams and more.

Former senior FBI special agent Jerry Richards visited the SPY exhibit and remarked on many of the artifacts. He recalled the various concealed items he often discovered, including documents, cameras and weapons concealed in everyday travel items like toothpaste. The strangest concealment he ever found was a foot-tall statue which could only be opened after holding it upside down for 45 seconds. The SPY exhibit features a display of shoes with items concealed in their heals, a toy with a hidden compartment and even hollowed-out fake teeth.

The SPY exhibit runs from now until October 6. The hours are Sunday to Wednesday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursday to Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Daytime admission (including general admission to the museum) is $28 for adults and $19 for children aged 3-11. Evening admission (SPY exhibit only) is $18 for adults and $13 for children aged 3-11. Evening hours are Thursday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

SPY: The Secret World of Espionage
The Franklin Insitute
222 N 20th St, Center City
www.fi.edu/spy

When Hiring a Professional Home Stager Makes Sense

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
living room fireplace

Looks inviting, doesn’t it? A professional home stager can help you achieve this look when you sell your home.

Let’s face it – not all of us are design geniuses. We may keep our homes spic and span, with everything in its place, but that place still might not show off its qualities to greatest advantage when it comes time for you to sell it.

We may know all the little things we need to do to make the inside of our homes more appealing to buyers, like getting rid of clutter and removing peculiarly personal mementoes or odd knicknacks, but we may still not have our home in ready-for-its-closeup condition.

In such cases, it makes sense to engage the services of a professional home stager. Home stagers are interior design specialists who focus on turning sellers’ homes into show pieces. They know the little tricks that turn a room from ho-hum to dazzling, where and how to place furniture to maximize the appearance of spaciousness, and the steps to take to downplay a home’s defects.

And in just about all cases, they can do it with the objects you already own.

What’s more, hiring a home stager can be an excellent investment. A survey conducted by the HomeGain website found that professional staging produced a $1,780 average boost in a home’s selling price, or a 586 percent return on investment.

Which means that if you can afford it, hiring a professional stager can result not only in a faster sale of your home, but also a more profitable one. The Philadelphia area has many talented, knowledgeable home stagers to choose from.

 

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