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Reid Rosenthal & The Rosenthal Group

Mudrooms, Pantries and Pegboards, Oh My!

Sleek appliances and statement pieces may get the glory, but useful storage solutions (big and small) help keep your home clutter-free.

Here are five spaces found on Zillow Digs to keep you organized:

Decorated Drop Zone

Simple installations, like hooks and shelves, can be powerful tools to combat the regular pile-up of shoes, bags and coats by the door. Adding colorful pillows or a patterned rug keeps a space from looking too utilitarian.

Handyman Haven

Pegboard – the tried-and-true workbench staple – is here to stay. It also works great in the kitchen for hanging pots and pans, or in a craft room for organizing supplies.

Plentiful Pantry

Creative, custom drawers and cabinets make the most of a small kitchen. Need some paprika? All your cooking essentials are within reach.

Folding Station

Having a dedicated space to fold laundry will keep it from piling up in the main living spaces of your home. A place to hang renegade socks and cabinets for storing cleaning supplies are also nice additions.

Just for Kids

Adding storage bins and shelving to a closet can instantly bring calm to chaos. This closet was made with kids in mind: clothes are tucked away while toys are front and center.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Named ‘Real Estate Agency Brand of the Year’

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, the new real estate brokerage network operated by HSF Affiliates LLC, has been named “Real Estate Agency Brand of the Year” in the 26th annual Harris Poll EquiTrend study. BHHS received the highest ranking in the Real Estate Agency category based on consumers’ perception of its brand familiarity, quality and purchasing consideration, among other qualifying elements. The study was based on opinions of more than 40,000 U.S. consumers surveyed online earlier this year.

“We are delighted to be recognized by consumers in the venerable Harris Poll EquiTrend study,” said Earl Lee, CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC, which operates Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. “This terrific honor by consumers is a tribute to our powerful brand – whose namesake is the world-renowned Berkshire Hathaway Inc. – and the top-quality affiliates and agents who represent it.”

The brand received the highest numerical Equity Score among large real estate brands included in the 2014 Harris Poll EquiTrend study, which measures and compares the brand health of more than 1,500 brands across 170 categories from airlines and apparel to retailers and real estate. Consumers responded with their brand perceptions, gauging their emotional connection to the brand, plus brand awareness, influence and familiarity.

BHHS, which transitioned its first affiliates in September 2013, has grown exponentially with independently owned brokerages operating across America. The network is built on a foundation of quality with rigorous standards for affiliation.

Inventory of Homes for Sale Soars 10% in February from a Year Ago

Rising home prices are strengthening seller confidence, fueling rapid growth in the number of homes for sale in many markets in February, according to a report issued by Realtor.com. Median list prices were up 7.6% from a year ago in February, to $199,000, and the inventory of homes for sale rose 10.1% to 1.74 million. In other words, there were 160,000 more homes for sale than the same time a year ago.

Out of 146 markets tracked by Realtor.com, 99 experienced annual growth in listings, with 63 of those markets seeing inventories swell by 10% or more. Median list prices and inventory were up on a month-over-month basis as well, rising 2.1% and 4.3% respectively, indicating that 2014 home sales, which got off to a slow start in January, have potential to grow as the spring buying season gets underway.

But even with the recent surge in listings, inventories “are still extremely low,” Realtor.com said in summarizing the overall picture. “Seller confidence is the factor to watch as we head into the spring home buying season, and these are very encouraging indicators — not only are more homes coming onto the market, but typically we don’t see a rise in asking prices this early into the year,” said Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Realtor.com operator Move Inc., in a statement. “This is the market these sellers have been waiting for.”

Homes in Realtor.com’s database include 90% of all homes listed in U.S. multiple listing services. According to Realtor.com, the homes it was tracking in February had been on the market for a median of 114 days, up 6.5% from a year ago but down 0.9% from January.

Markets that saw the largest percentage drops in inventory from February 2013 to February 2014 were largely found in the middle of the country.

Inman News

East Market: Retail-Residential Development Planned on Market Street

In a sweeping $500 million-plus project aimed at finally upgrading Philadelphia’s worn downtown retail district and spreading Center City’s apartment revival east of Broad Street, a development group says it plans to demolish a modest block of stores on Market Street between 11th and 12th, and eventually level or renovate the rest of the block down to Chestnut Street, in favor of a new retail/residential complex.

"We’re going to have grocers, we’re going to have restaurants, entertainment, fashion," said Jeff Kanne, chief executive of National Real Estate Advisors (NREA), a $2.2 billion-asset, Washington-based firm that counts the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and other unions as investors. "All the tenants have been terminated, and we expect to knock that building down in July," Kanne said Tuesday of the 1100 block of Market Street, former site of the N. Snellenburg & Co. department store and currently home to a dollar store and electronics, clothing, and jewelry shops.

Planned are two new store buildings facing Market Street that will be topped by 325 apartments with parking underground. Builders also will strip and replace the outside walls of the eight-story former Snellenburg warehouse facing 11th Street, now used by the city’s Family Court. The developers are talking to office tenants, but could end up putting more apartments there, said Pete Soens of Philadelphia developer and landlord SSH Real Estate, an East Market investor.
Retail stores are planned for the first floor of the nearby 12-story Girard office building, with the upper floors upgraded for office, hotel, or apartments, depending on “market demand,” said Daniel Killinger, director at NREA Development Services.

If the initial space sells well, the group plans to replace buildings in the 1100 block of Chestnut Street with new stores and apartments - bringing the residential count for the entire project to as many as 1,000 units, Killinger said.

McDevitt Co., a retail real estate agency whose clients include the chains owned by South Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters Inc., is in charge of signing new stores. The architect for the project is BLT, whose recent efforts include two University City high-rises. Service alleys on Ludlow and Clover Streets will be opened to through traffic, the developers said Tuesday, and a walkway stretched from opposite the Convention Center’s Reading Terminal entrance on Market Street to Chestnut, linking historic neighborhoods south and east.

(Philadelphia Inquirer)

Philadelphia Area Second Best Market in the Country for Home Buyers

If you’re looking to buy a home, Philly might be the place for you: Zillow.com released their list of the 10 best markets for home sellers and 10 best markets for home buyers - Philadelphia ranked second on their list of best buyers’ markets.

“Top buyers’ markets tend to have lots of inventory, steep price cuts and homes that linger on the market,” said Cory Hopkins of Zillow.com. “Top sellers’ markets tend to have low inventory, homes that are selling for more than the asking price and a quick turnover. Zillow analyzed data on sale-to-list price ratio, number of days listings spent on Zillow and percent of homes on the market with a price cut, and ranked the cities within your metro relative to one another.”

Zillow also calculated that the median estimated home value for the Philadelphia area on a given day was $193,000 for the month of February, up 2.4% from February 2013. Nationally, the median estimated home value was $169,200 in February, up 5.6% from February, 2013. Hopkins also says the values for homes in the Philly metro area are expected to rise another 1.3% over the next 12 months.

Dr. Stan Humphries, the chief economist for Zillow, says their latest report shows that the West Coast may be better for sellers and the East Coast better for buyers. “The real estate data in markets on both coasts are telling markedly different stories,” Humphries said. “Relatively strong job markets in the West are helping spur robust demand, which is being met with limited supply, causing rapid home value appreciation and giving sellers an edge. In the East, housing markets are appreciating a bit more slowly, and homes are staying on the market longer, which helps give buyers the upper hand.”

We’ve Moved!

We have transferred our blog to Wordpress. Please follow us at http://rittenhousecondos.wordpress.com/

Thank you!
Reid Rosenthal & The Rosenthal Group

Changes to Mortgage Trends in Today’s Market

Fixed-rate mortgages have been preferred the past few years following the housing bust because of their stability and certainty. However, adjustable-rate mortgages, with their low introductory interest rate, have been rebounding recently in loan the market.

In the past year, rate for the 30-year fixed mortgages climbed from about 3.4% in February 2013 to about 4.1% in February 2014. This upward trend will continue and likely reach 5% before the end of 2014, says Erin Lantz, director of the Zillow Mortgage Marketplace.

On the other hand, 5/1 ARMs still show near historical low introductory rates, around 2.75% in February 2014, which seems more appealing to homebuyers.

“Particularly, for buyers plan to move or sell their houses within few years, hybrid ARMs could be financially advantageous, since they provide extended initial period with a fixed-rate from three to ten years,” says Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist at Freddie Mac.

According to Freddie Mac’s ARM Annual Survey, in January 2014 the interest-rate savings for a 5/1 hybrid ARM with a 30-year term compared to the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage amounted to about 1.36 percentage points. On a $250,000 loan, this results in $194 in principal and interest savings during the first five years of the ARM loan versus a fixed-rate mortgage.

However, homebuyers should be wary of possible risk that interest rate can go up after fixed-rate period ends. “Interest rates will increase as Federal Reserve System begin to taper its quantitative easing as the economy continues to show signs of improvement,” says Kiefer.

Philadelphia Inquirer

New Luxury High-Rise Planned for 5th and Walnut

The developer of Center City’s luxury 1706 Rittenhouse Square Street condominiums said Monday that he plans to build a 26-story, 40-unit condo tower at a cost of $150 million. The tower will overlook Independence Hall, developer Tom Scannapieco said, and will be built on an 18,155-square-foot site vacant for more than a decade. Scannapieco said construction should begin in spring 2015, with units ready for occupancy in March 2017. The “glass-needle” tower is being designed by Philadelphia’s Cecil Baker.

Requirements for a building adjacent to Independence National Historical Park, and within the view corridor from the Liberty Bell to Independence Hall, must be considered in any design, according to court documents filed in litigation over the site in 2012. As a result, the building is designed not to interfere with “an onlooker’s view from the Liberty Bell to Independence Hall,” Scannapieco said.

Baker said the site is “perched on the threshold of history,” adding that he envisioned the building as “accepting and cognizant of its historical foreground.”

Scannapieco said he expects to close on the property, which he is buying from Five Hundred Walnut Associates for $8.5 million, in 60 days. Parkway Corp. chairman and CEO Joseph S. Zuritsky, a principal of Five Hundred Walnut Associates, acquired the site from Abington Bank in 2012 for $3.16 million.

The site is under court-mandated zoning for as many as 84 units. Scannapieco plans only 40, however, with the top stories developed as full-floor units of 4,200 square feet and the remaining floors having two units each. Two penthouses will be offered - each of two stories with more than 8,400 square feet - that will have private interior elevators, multiple balconies, and fireplaces.
“It is a beautiful site,” Scannapieco said in an interview, adding that he would take advantage of Philadelphia’s 10-year tax-abatement program, a “very valuable incentive.” ‘

He added that his plan for 500 Walnut builds upon “the luxury” of 1706 Rittenhouse Square Street, and will offer greater “privacy and intimacy” than the earlier project, which sold out last year after reaching prices of $3.9 million to $12.5 million. In his original marketing research, he said, he found that there were perhaps 2,000 people in the Philadelphia metropolitan area with net worth in excess of $10 million who could afford to live in such pricey condos.

Philadelphia Inquirer

10 Things You Should Do to Your Home this Spring

If you’re ready to delve into spring cleaning, here are some helpful tips plus a few other things you should be doing to your home:

1. Sell something
When the weather gets warmer, it’s time for a garage sale. Gather up all your unwanted stuff and put it out on the lawn.

2. Donate something
Take everything that doesn’t sell over to a local charity. Not only will you be doing a good deed for people in need, but your donation is also tax deductible.

3. Trash something
If you have large items that cannot be sold or donated, you don’t have to live with them taking up all the space in your garage. Many cities will schedule a large trash pickup one time a year, while others have sites where you can drop off for free.

4. Clean something
The concept of spring cleaning isn’t about your normal program of vacuuming and dusting. Move furniture and clean underneath and behind. Pull back the blinds and clean the windows AND blinds.

5. Scrub something
It’s a good time to get to those things that need a little extra effort, like cleaning out your washing machine (yes you CAN do that.)

6. Organize something
The closets you’ve been ignoring? You never know what you’ll find in there that you’ve been missing. And cleaning out your closets are also a great way to find items to sell and donate.

7. Renew something
That ugly chair that didn’t sell at your garage sale? Maybe you could pretty it up with some paint or fabric? With a little time and effort, you might actually create a new favorite piece.

8. Plant something
Spring is the time to get your garden in gear. Flowers, bulbs, and certain veggies thrive in Spring.

9. Update something
Paint colors stuck in a decade-old funk? It’s time for a fresh coat.

10. Upgrade something
Maybe it’s just time to chuck it all and move. The Spring buying season is upon us, after all. If you are thinking of moving, remember that all the same rules apply for getting your home sale-ready as they do for getting Spring ready.

Jaymi Naciri