Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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

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.


Spring Festival This Saturday on South Street

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Spring Festival posterTomorrow – Saturday, May 4 – “the hippest street in town” will become even more of a playground from noon to 8 p.m.

During those hours, South Street from 2nd to 8th streets and 2nd from South to Lombard will be closed to traffic for the first-ever South Street Headhouse District Spring Festival, an afternoon-long celebration featuring food, music, crafts, shopping, fun for the kids, and more.

The street will also be a stage, with featured bands performing hourly on the main stage at 5th and South streets, a kids’ stage at 2nd and South featuring the School of Rock House Band and the Tune Up Philly youth orchestra, and other musicians and performers doing pop-up sets at satellite stages along the street.

Local restaurants and bars will turn out their best fare for the event – we’ll bet there will be specials – and hot dog emporium Hot Diggity will wheel out the mobile version of its South Street restaurant at the festival.

Discount parking is available at the lot on Columbus Boulevard at the foot of the South Street pedestrian bridge, and other area lots will also be open. Or save yourself the headache and take SEPTA to the event – or let Uber drive you there: the car service is offering users their first ride free with a special promo code for the event.

For more information about the festival, parking and the promo code, visit the South Street Spring Festival web page.


PlazaPalooza Coming to G-Ho This Weekend

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

PlazaPalooza graphicPlazaPalooza is once again coming to Graduate Hospital this Saturday, May 4, from 1 to 7 p.m. Held in one of the triangles of Grays Ferry Avenue between South and Bainbridge streets, this year’s event promises to feature music from local bands New Pony, Tall Trees, Minas and the Clef Club Jazz Ensemble; beer from nearby Grace Tavern, and of course food from the establishments in and around the area. And, of course, what is a good street fair without something for the kids? Expect activities like a dunk tank, a fire truck, and more.

PlazaPalooza is great because it brings the community together, yes, but it also shows how the triangular intersection of 23rd/South/Grays Ferry could be better utilized as an expanded pedestrian plaza by reducing a lot of the redundant asphalt that currently covers the spot. This year, the fountain that exists at the intersection has been turned on and people regularly utilize the little amount of seating provided to enjoy the feature. The Triangles on Grays Ferry Avenue Gateway Project was formed to more fully promote pedestrianizing traffic triangles along Grays Ferry Avenue and 23rd and South Streets is one of their biggest priorities. Let’s hope events like PlazaPalooza continue to be a success and show how great the triangle can be if pedestrianized to its fullest. If the City’s Pedestrian Plaza Program wants to get in on the action as well, the more the merrier!

Affordable Living Solution for Dense Cities: Think Small

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Small apartments are the big thing in a growing number of densely built cities where affordable housing is hard to come by. The trend offers benefits for both renters and landlords. Photo from NYCMayorsOffice via Flickr.

When a middle-class income is barely enough to buy a phone booth in some of our largest cities, how can we come up with housing middle-class residents can afford?

The answer, say a growing number of experts, is: Build phone booths.

We exaggerate a bit, we realize. But the “micro-apartment” – an apartment that’s significantly smaller in size than those allowed under old zoning codes – is gaining favor with both elected officials and developers.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, for example, has championed revising the city’s zoning code to legalize apartments as small as 250 square feet in size. In Philadelphia, such apartments would still be illegal under the current zoning code.

Developers are warming up to them as an affordable living solution because they offer a win-win situation for both the builder and the tenant. For example: A typical one-bedroom apartment in New York has 750 square feet of space. Under New York’s new minimum size of 250 square feet, a builder could put three apartments in that same space.

Those apartments will rent for well below what that 750-square-footer will, putting them within reach of one- and two-person households, especially younger ones of more modest means. Yet the total income to the owner will be more than what that 750-square-foot apartment would produce.

This article explains the advantages of building micro-apartments for property owners in densely built cities. We don’t think Philadelphia is one of these yet, not by a long shot. But if the residential boom that has transformed swaths of North and South Philadelphia into extensions of Center City continues, we could envision a time when demand for housing in the most desirable areas is so great that owners might want to consider the small-scale solution too.


3rd Annual Burger Brawl is a Go

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Burger Brawl logoRob Wasserman, owner of Rouge, 500 Degrees and The Saint James, has announced the Third Annual Philadelphia Burger Brawl is officially on this year. The event will be held on Sunday, May 5, 2013, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Fleisher Art Memorial in Queen Village.

The Brawl was founded in 2011 by Rob and his wife Maggie to benefit the construction of computer labs in elementary schools throughout Philly. The first two events funded a computer lab in the William M. Meredith Elementary School. The Third Burger Brawl (and any Brawl in the future) will award computer labs to Philadelphia public schools on a needs basis that allows principals to vie for the award.

With more than twenty of the city’s top burger chefs set to compete to see whose burger is best, the event is expected to raise quite a bit of cash and plenty of sponsorships. More than 700 attendees are expected, and Mr. Marc Summers will be emcee.

This year’s Brawl participants include:

  • Alla Spina
  • Barbuzzo
  • Butcher and Singer
  • The Capital Grille
  • The Corner
  • The Dandelion
  • Ela
  • Good Dog Bar
  • The Industry
  • Kennett
  • London Grill
  • Lucky’s Last Chance
  • Misconduct Tavern
  • Miss Rachel’s Pantry
  • Percy Street Barbecue
  • Shake Shack
  • Silk City
  • South Philadelphia Tap Room
  • Spencer ETA Burger
  • Table 31

Tickets are $75 each and include burger tastings from all participating restaurants, cocktails from Jim Beam, beer tastings from Dogfish Head brewery, Rita’s Water Ice, Krispy Kreme doughnuts and more. Tickets are available here. Hurry up, the event is expected to sell out quickly.


Fannie Mae Posts Record Profit in 2012

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013
Single-family house

Fewer bad loans and reduced foreclosure losses contributed to Fannie Mae’s rebound to record profitability in 2012.

In another sign that the housing market turnaround is beginning to lift many more boats, mortgage guarantor Fannie Mae reported yesterday that it earned a record $7.6 billion in the fourth quarter of 2012 and $17.2 billion for the year.

Fannie Mae’s turnaround enabled the government-sponsored enterprise to pay $11.6 billion in dividends to the U.S. Treasury last year. In the last quarter, it made a $4.2 billion dividend payment on the government’s $187.5 billion investment in the company and sibling Freddie Mac. The dividends count as a return on the investment and not as repayment of the bailout money.

Since entering government conservatorship in 2008, Fannie and Freddie have paid $65.2 billion in dividends to the U.S. government. Under an agreement with the U.S. Treasury that went into effect this year, the two companies can retain only $3 billion in net worth, with any assets beyond that amount going to the Treasury.

Bloomberg News quotes Fannie May President and Chief Executive Officer Timothy J. Mayopoulos saying in a telephone conference call with reporters, “We expect to remain profitable for the foreseeable future. It’s a very good thing for taxpayers, but there’s still an important task in front of policy makers to determine what structure they want to have for the future housing finance system, what institutions they want to have playing the various roles in that system and then figuring out how to attract private capital.”

When Fannie and Freddie collapsed under the weight of underwater mortgages after the housing market bubble burst in 2008, government regulators did not map out a path to independence for the companies, as they assumed Congress would liquidate and replace them before they returned to profitability. Yesterday’s announcement raises the possiblity that a different future for Fannie and Freddie may be at hand, one in which they may continue to play a role in the nation’s housing finance system.

The profits come on the heels of a $16.9 billion loss in 2011. Analysts attribute the dramatic turnaround to a shrinking portfolio of bad loans and lower losses from sales of homes in foreclosure.


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