Posts Tagged ‘19103’

School Report Card: Russell Byers Charter School

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Location: 1911 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Enrollment: 418 students in grades preK-6 in 2010-11

Student-teacher ratio: 16.0 in 2010

Demographics: African-American, 81.8%; White, 11.5%; Asian, 2.4%; Latino, 3.8%; all others, 0%. 67% of Russell Byers students come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.


Attendance rate (2010-11) 91%.

PSSA performance (2011, percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced):

Subject This School District Public Schools State
Math 71.0% 58.6% 77.1%
Reading 65.1% 52.0% 73.5%
Science 70.2% 34.8% 60.9%
Writing 84.8% 51.2% 75.0%

Profile: Founded in 2001 to honor the memory of the Philadelphia Daily News columnist who passionately championed both his hometown of Philadelphia and better public education, Russell Byers Charter School is the only school in the state to adopt the Expeditionary Learning Schools model of instruction, which emphasizes learning by doing, teamwork, discovery and accountability. The model sets high expectations for students, teachers and school staff and builds character as students engage in collaborative projects that engage them with not only subject matter but the world around them. Spanish language instruction is an integral part of the curriculum as well.

School Report Card: Albert M. Greenfield School

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Location: 2200 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Enrollment: 520 students in grades K-8 in 2011-12

Student-teacher ratio: 13.8 in 2010

Demographics: African-American, 47.1%; White, 33.5%; Asian, 7.5%; Latino, 4.2%; all others, 7.7%. 9.8% of Greenfield students are classified as gifted, and 16.5% have learning disabilities. 57.7% are economically disadvantaged, and 1.5% are learning English as a second language.

Attendance area: The Greenfield attendance area includes the residential portion of Logan Square, Rittenhouse Square, Fitler Square and the northern part of the Graduate Hospital area (Southwest Center City). It is bounded on the north by the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, on the south by Bainbridge Street, on the east by Broad Street and on the west by the Schuylkill.


Attendance rate (2010) 94.5%.

PSSA performance (2011, percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced):

Subject School District State
Math 71.6% 58.6% 77.1%
Reading 67.9% 52.0% 73.5%
Science 60.2% 34.8% 60.9%
Writing 58.3% 51.2% 75.0%

Profile: Named for a longtime Philadelphia real estate titan and champion of intergroup harmony, Albert M. Greenfield School prides itself on its ethnic and economic diversity and its academic excellence. The school consistently ranks among the better elementary schools in the city and well outperforms its demographically similar peers. The school is well equipped, with computer access in every classroom, two computer labs, two science labs and a state-of-the-art library. Greenfield students benefit from several curriculum reform programs, including Core Knowledge, Mathematics in Context, and Mathland, and go on to attend some of the city’s most academically rigorous and challenging high schools. Greenfield has an active and involved Home and School Association that works to incorporate the region’s artistic, cultural and historic resources into the school’s curriculum and activities. The school also provides a wealth of extra-curricular activities, including Scrabble Club, Homework Club, Science Club, Health Club, Art Club, Yoga Club, Spanish Club, String Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Newspaper, Yearbook, American Girl Club, Business Club, Student Council, Learning Club, Safety Patrol, Sports Club, Kickball, Chess Club and Math 24 Club.

Condo Sales Double 2nd Quarter of 2010

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Philadelphia SkylineCondo sales in Philadelphia nearly doubled from the first quarter of this year to the second, and the numbers were better than at any time since the housing downturn began here in August 2007, according to

Data from the Recorder of Deeds Office analyzed by Econsult Corp. vice president Kevin Gillen show that 604 condo sales closed citywide between April 1 and June 30. Of those, 477 units sold for less than $500,000, the analysis shows.

More than 200 separate condo locations were recorded, including some in Northeast Philadelphia, South Philadelphia, and East Falls, according to Gillen’s analysis. The majority were in Center City and adjacent neighborhoods.

FHA Mortgages: Recent and Proposed Changes

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Federal Housing Administration logoThe world of mortgage financing has been an ever changing landscape since its inception.  We have gone through times that the underwriting pendulum has swung to the left and we experienced easier guidelines and the ability to put more people into homes.  Unfortunately as the guidelines relax the foreclosure rate increased.  So the industry reacts by making the guidelines more rigid and thus swings the pendulum to the right.  We are currently going through one of those times when the pendulum is over to the right.

The Federal Housing Administration lost relevance in the first half of the decade when home prices soared and borrowers turned to easy-to-get subprime loans with lower upfront costs. But as the mortgage market unraveled, borrowers flocked back to the FHA. The agency does not make loans. It insures qualified lenders against losses if borrowers default. Since its creation in 1934, it has collected fees from its borrowers to pay lenders for loans gone bad. In the past year and a half, FHA-insured loans made up roughly 30 percent of all new single-family home purchase mortgages — up from 3 percent in 2006 — and about 20 percent of new refinancing deals.

But as the agency’s loan volume expanded, its default rate shot up. The cash reserves the FHA has set aside to pay for unexpected losses have eroded to dangerously low levels. If FHA funds are depleted, taxpayers would have to come to the rescue for the first time in the agency’s history. The agency is now trying to protect itself against risk without undermining its key role in propping up the housing market. To that end, the FHA has tightened some standards while loosening others. Here are some of the changes underway.

Recent Changes…

Upfront insurance premium
What is it? A fee the Federal Housing Administration collects from borrowers that can be paid in cash at the closing table or rolled into the loan.
What’s changed? The FHA raised the premium earlier this year from 1.75 percent of the loan’s value to 2.25 percent.
Why? The money will replenish the funds FHA uses to compensate lenders for default-related losses.
How does this affect me? If you take out a $300,000 loan, you will now pay $6,750 in premium instead of $5,250. If you roll the premium into the financing, you will also pay interest on it during the life of the loan.

Cash-out refinancing
What is it? Refinancing a mortgage for a higher amount than is owed on the loan and taking the difference in cash — in effect, pulling equity out of the house.
What’s changed? Borrowers can tap up to 85 percent of the home’s current value. Previously, they were allowed to take up to 95 percent of value.
Why? Cash out loans are considered a riskier type of loan so they want to minimize the risk with lower Loan to Value.
How does this affect me? Cash-out deals have become tougher to find. Even with conventional loans, many lenders offer this type of financing only to people with top-notch credit and significant equity.

What is it? The practice of buying a home and quickly reselling it for a profit.
What’s changed? On Feb. 1, the FHA suspended a policy for one year that banned FHA borrowers from buying a home if the seller had owned it for less than 90 days.
Why? The goal is to encourage investors to buy poorly maintained foreclosures, fix them up and sell them to FHA buyers as soon as they hit the market. This in turn should help clear the glut of homes for sale.
How does this affect me? This opens up a wider range of properties to FHA borrowers. But inspections must be done to determine whether the home is in working order. If the price of the home is 20 percent higher than what the investor paid, a second appraisal is required to determine whether the increase is justified.

Condominium spot approval
What is it? To purchase a condo in a building that is not FHA-approved, FHA borrowers had to receive “spot approval” for the unit. The process required the condo’s management to fill out a questionnaire addressing the agency’s must-meet conditions.
What’s changed? The agency eliminated spot approval earlier this year. Now, any condo buyer with an FHA loan must stick to an FHA-approved building. A lender, developer/builder, homeowners association or management company can submit a package to the FHA seeking approval. The change was part of a broader initiative to tighten FHA condo policy. Some elements of that initiative have been temporarily loosened through Dec. 31 to try to stabilize the condo market.
Why? Condos are widely considered the market’s shakiest segment because they are popular with speculators and financially vulnerable entry-level buyers. A lot of foreclosure-related losses have come from condos, which is why industry policies have forced lenders to look more closely at the makeup of entire complexes before extending loans.
How does it affect me? As part of the temporarily loosened guidelines, the FHA will insure the loans on up to 50 percent of the units in a condo building, though it will back 100 percent if a project meets certain criteria. At least 50 percent of the units in a project must be owner-occupied or sold to owners who plan to occupy the units. As for new construction, 30 percent of the units must be pre-sold before an FHA loan can be financed there.

Coming Changes…

Seller concessions
What is it? Contributions that sellers kick in to help defray a buyer’s costs. They can include closing costs, inspections, appraisals and free upgrades.
What’s changing? The FHA proposes slashing allowable seller concessions in half, capping them at 3 percent of the home price instead of the current 6 percent.
Why? FHA analyses show a strong correlation between high seller concessions and high default rates, possibly because the concessions can lead to inflated home prices. The theory is that some sellers might make concessions only to add the cost to the price.
What does this mean to me? This buyer’s perk will soon become less generous. The proposal does not ban concessions above 3 percent. But concessions exceeding 3 percent would result in a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the home’s sales price and reduce the amount of the allowable loan.

Credit scores
What is it? Three-digit numbers that help lenders determine how likely a person is to pay back a loan in a timely manner. The FHA uses the most common scoring formula, called FICO, with scores ranging from 300 to 850. The higher the number, the better the rating.
What’s changing? This year, the FHA plans to impose a minimum credit score requirement: 500. Borrowers with credit scores below 580 would have to make a down payment of at least 10 percent instead of the usual 3.5 percent minimum.  These days the reality is that most lenders won’t loan to a customer below a 600 credit score anyway.
Why? Low-scoring borrowers default at a higher rate than more creditworthy ones. As of January, the percentage of FHA borrowers who were seriously delinquent was three times as high for borrowers with scores below 580 than for those with scores above 580.
What does this mean to me? Lenders are already imposing tougher credit score requirements on FHA borrowers than the agency is proposing, which could explain why only 1 percent of borrowers with FHA-insured single-family home loans have scores below 580.  Nationally 15% of Americans have a score under 580.

What is it? Lenders must document information about the property (such as its value) and the borrower (such as income, debt, credit score) to assess whether the person is likely to repay the loan. Most lenders typically feed that information into an automated underwriting system for an initial approval.
What’s changing? High-risk borrowers whose loans were flagged by the automated system could soon be subjected to a more in-depth manual review by the lender’s underwriting staff.
Why? The agency is trying to reduce its exposure to risk by limiting the discretion lenders have in approving loans.
What does it mean to me? Borrowers whose loans are manually underwritten would be required to have cash reserves equal to at least one monthly mortgage payment. Borrowers with credit scores below 620 would be more closely scrutinized. For instance, their overall debt would not be allowed to exceed 43 percent of their income.

Short refinancing
What is it? A new program that allows borrowers current on their mortgage payments to refinance into an FHA loan if they are underwater, meaning they owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth.
What’s changing? Borrowers who have no equity in their homes would be allowed to refinance into an FHA loan. The FHA would allow refinancing of the first mortgage only. If there is a second mortgage, the two loans combined cannot exceed the current value of the home by more than 15 percent once the first loan is refinanced.
Why? Many people are vulnerable to foreclosure because their home values have plummeted, making them unable to refinance or sell their properties if they lose their jobs or face a financial setback. This programs aims to help them.
What does it mean to me? Refinancing in this manner will probably hurt your credit, and qualifying won’t be easy. The lender or investor who owns your existing mortgage must voluntarily reduce the amount owed on that loan by at least 10 percent. Also, you generally must have about 31 percent or more of your pretax income available for the new monthly payment for all mortgages on the property.

I hope this snapshot helps you understand what’s going on mortgage financing.

Home Prices continue to get slashed

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Price Reduction Sign24 percent of listings currently on the market in the United States as of July 1, 2010 experienced at least one price reduction. This represents a nine percent increase from the previous month. The total dollar amount slashed from home prices was $27.3 billion and the average discount for price-reduced homes continued to hold at 10 percent off of the original listing price, according to Trulia.

What does this mean for homes in Philadelphia? If you list your home at the right price from the beginning, you will avoid the months of waiting and hoping to get that “pie-in-the-sky” number.  Whether it’s a good economy or a bad one, homes that are priced well, and show well, will sell fast!

Philadelphia Real Estate – Best Places to Live

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

So you have decided to move to Philadelphia, but are not too familiar with the area. You have talked to your family and friends, and everyone seems to point you in different directions. Your head is spinning because you don’t want to make any mistakes, and I don’t blame you! There are areas to run to, and areas to run away from. I am going to tell you about a few of the best areas in Center City Philadelphia to live in.

You have to consider a few things when deciding on a place to live. The first and most obvious is price. How much are you willing to spend on your dream house, and how much can you actually qualify for? (A pre-approval from a mortgage lender will answer this question)

The second thing to consider is location. Where do you work? Where do you like to spend your free time? What is important to you about location? The first two items go hand in hand with each other, The more desirable the location, the more expensive the house will be.

The third item to consider is safety. Center city has some extremely safe neighborhoods, but nestled between those safe neighborhoods are neighborhoods you want to avoid. Once you have ranked the first three items, you will be able to get into specifics.

According to the Trend MLS 2010 1st quarter economic report, the top 2 most expensive zip codes are as follows:

19103- Average sales price – $564,600. This area is known as Rittenhouse Square, and is known as one of the most prestigious areas in Center City. The boundaries are South of Market, North of Lombard, West of 15th, East of 22nd.

19106- Average sales price – $562,200. This zip code is made up of Old City, which stretches from the Delaware River, south of Vine Street, north of Walnut Street, and east of 7th Street; and Society Hill, which goes from South of Walnut, North of Lombard, West of Delaware, East of 6th.

Rittenhouse Square, Society Hill and Old City are all very desirable areas where value continues to remain steady. These neighborhoods are built out for the most part, and it is difficult to find raw land for a reasonable price in these areas. If location is your top priority, and price will not stand in your way, these areas may be good places to look for a house. There are tons of restaurants and stores, and many nice parks for kids or dogs.

If price is a concern, and you are looking for something with more space and possibly some parking, Graduate Hospital may be a better choice for you. You will have an easier time finding a newer house for a more reasonable price, and parking is not as big of an issue there. The borders of Graduate Hospital are South of Lombard, North of Washington, East of the Schuylkill River, West of Broad, although I caution you about the specific streets you choose.

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