Sunday, July 24, 2016

The "Philly Urban Living" blog has moved to the new

You can now find all of my new/old blog posts at

Woo hoo!

That's right, I have a new website. And it turned out pretty great, if I do say so myself.

Thanks for all of your help, Melissa!

The new has officially launched, and also has it's own page for the "Philly Urban Living" blog here. So please make this your new PUL spot by just typing in to your address bar, or by going to and visiting the "Philly Urban Living | Blog" page.

My new website also has a super-easy home searching tool, monthly newsletter sign-up tool, better graphics, and much more.

It's been a fun ride using Blogger to store/showcase all of my original posts over the years, but it was time for me to move onward-and-upward.

Please enjoy the new ... and keep reading!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Philadelphia is becoming a millennial powerhouse

Our wonderful city at night. Courtesy of

Here are some interesting stats/stories to help paint the picture:

- "Philly's Millennial Population Growing Fastest Among 10 Largest US Cities"

- "Where Millennials Live in Philadelphia"

- "Two Philadelphia-Area Companies Named Best Places to Work for Millennials"

- "Philadelphia Ranks as the Best City for Millennials to Work & Live" (which coincidentally, is the inspiration for this blog post)

There is even more great/positive press out there for Philadelphia and the millennial contingent, but rather than post a few more links that all prove the same thing, I thought it would be beneficial to discuss the subject.

So let's break this topic down

- The obvious reason ... our affordable housing.

If you compare the average cost to buy a home in Philadelphia, versus the average cost to buy a home in Texas, The City of Brotherly Love & Sisterly Affection may not seem like a steal. But ... If you compare the average cost to buy a home in Philadelphia, versus the average cost to buy a home in New York, Philadelphia is the deal of the century.

We also look good compared to DC and Boston, just sayin'.

Now, if the average buyer only focused on areas like Center City or University City, the good deals may not seem as prevalent. But a quick home search in South Philadelphia or Northwest Philadelphia really opens up the doors for most young buyers, and still provides all of the benefits (e.g. convenient location, public transportation, neighborhood restaurants/festivals, etc).

I know a lot of the naysayers out there will say that millennials would prefer to rent than buy, or that millennials fear the commitment associated with owning a home; there is some truth to that. But when the monthly "cost to own" is less than the "cost to rent" (and Philadelphia's diversified renter pool typically allows the option to keep your home as an investment rental property, even in the event you have to leave the city and prefer not to sell), this is where Philadelphia's home buying affordability starts to really shine through.

- Our city's vibrant cultural, dining, and entertainment scenes.

If you are a traveler that likes to "see and do things" on your trips, Philadelphia is a cornucopia of culture.

There's the history: Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, everything Benjamin Franklin, etc. There's the food: Stephen Starr, Jose Garces, our Top Chef alum, cheesesteaks, roast pork, etc. There's the art: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Barnes Foundation, more public art than most national/international cities, etc. There are the sports: Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Union (oh, and Rocky). There's the music: Electric Factory, Union Transfer, The Fillmore, Johnny Brenda's, etc.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Most people in the US (as well as around the world) do not realize how big and awesome Philadelphia really is, along with all of the things it has to offer its visitors and residents.

If you're looking for more, is a great website to peruse.

- Our world-class universities and hospitals.

Second only to Boston, Philadelphia has more to offer in the "Eds & Meds" category than any other city in the US; hands down.

UPenn and Drexel keep getting bigger and harder to get into. Temple has created its own neighborhood. Villanova just won the NCAA title. Need I say more.

Our hospitals are not only great for those looking to become doctors and/or medical specialists, but they offer great job opportunities once a degree is in hand. Oh, and let's not forget that Philadelphians have access to some of the best healthcare institutions in the world, whether you are in the city proper or in the suburbs.

So, what does all of this have to do with millennials you say? Well, a lot.

Most millennials strive to go to college; Philadelphia has some of the best. Post-college, most millennials plan to work right away; Philadelphia has great co-op/intern programs, job opportunities, and a vibrant entrepreneurial community. When not working, millennials enjoy their meals out; Philadelphia has so many restaurants, it can be hard to make a decision sometimes. Finally, millennials are less into owning cars and more into public transit; tons of SEPTA trains, subways, and buses in/around Philadelphia.

Needless to say, millennials love Philadelphia.

Our city checks all of the appropriate boxes, and offers a convenient US location to boot. Staying relevant to younger generations around the world is an obvious bright spot in Philadelphia's promising future.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Philadelphia is emerging as a tech city

What do you typically think of when you hear the phrase "Top Tech Cities?"

I don't know about you, but I typically gravitate toward San Francisco/San Jose (aka Silicon Valley), New York, Boston, and Austin. Those are cities I hear about all of the time, especially in the start-up/tech world.

I also happen to be a big fan of Bloomberg TV, which makes those aforementioned city names even more repetitive.

Welp folks, we can now begin to discuss Philadelphia in that category as well. Ironically, this blog post is also kicking off Philly Tech Week 2016, so don't forget to check out the upcoming highlights between now and 5/7.

The Huffington Post recently posted an article titled, "Top 10 Cities Techies Should Consider Moving to In 2016." Guess who was #5 on their list (tied with NYC, mind you)? Yup, it was Philadelphia. That's a big one for myself and my fellow Philadelphians, considering we are not typically associated with other top US cities for tech.

At least, not yet and not often.

I know, I know. Blogs are subjective, they are not fact; case in point. But, you can't ignore that Philadelphia is now getting noticed in ways it never has before.

Part of the reason the term "tech" walked into our city's corner and took a seat is because of local, successful companies like RJ Metrics, DuckDuckGo, Curalate, and Scholly (a company which also happens to work out of the same space as Copper Hill, at Pipeline).

Now, to compare our city to one of our Northeastern neighbors (let's go with Boston, as we have similarities), a big reason why Boston gets so much credibility for their start-up/venture scene is due to its abundance of top-quality universities, millennial population growth, and vibrant city lifestyle. This is where Philadelphia is also starting to get noticed, as we too have great universities (ever heard of Penn, Drexel, Temple, and the rest of our higher education crew), a growing millennial population (the fastest growth rate among the 10 largest cities in the US), and the popularity of Center City/University City as amazing live/work/play environments (hello 2nd largest downtown).

So, is Philadelphia the best city to be in if you are in the tech industry? No. Is Philadelphia pushing its way into the overall discussion because of the reasons I just mentioned? Yes.

People are starting to notice Philadelphia's forward-thinking momentum and valuable assets: an affordable quality of life, dynamic cultural/food scene, and convenient Northeastern US location (as stated in the article: the beach is an hour in one direction, the mountains are an hour in the other direction, etc).

These are reasons why our city is on the rise and gaining credibility on both a national and international scale.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Another common real estate question: What does it mean to be "Represented" by a REALTOR?

For more great info, check out:,, +

As promised in October 2015, I have written another educational post on the topic of real estate.

If you are a regular reader, you know that I typically like to discuss development, local happenings, and all things related to Philadelphia and its Suburban Towns. Let's mix it up a bit again, shall we.

When we hear the terms "Represented" or "Representation," it is referring to what is called "Agency." In real estate, there are all different forms of agency: Buyer Agent, Seller Agent, Dual Agent, etc. As a buyer or seller (e.g. someone who is interested in buying/selling real estate at some point in the near or not-too-distant future), it is important to understand what these different roles mean as well as to learn why real estate agents even have roles at all.

Let's start with a brief history lesson.

The fundamental principles of the agency relationship date back hundreds of years, and evolved from what was known as the "Master/Servant Relationship" under English common law. If we time warped a few hundred years back, servants owed their masters absolute loyalty. This undying loyalty overruled any/all of the servant's personal interests, as well as loyalty owed to other people.

This concept is not all that different today, except for the fact that I'm not serving tea at Downton Abbey but I'm helping people buy and sell real estate in the Greater Philadelphia area. Not a huge difference, but one that should be noted.

Today, an agency relationship in real estate is when one person (a buyer or seller) delegates to another person (a real estate agent) the right to act on his/her behalf in a transaction. There are also certain duties that an agent must provide to his/her client, such as: Obedience, Loyalty, Disclosure, Confidentiality, Accounting, and Reasonable Care & Diligence. It's these duties that create a fiduciary relationship between a buyer and an agent, or a seller and an agent.

Simple enough, right? Good.

If you have bought/sold real estate before, I'm sure this is starting to sound familiar. If you have not, I hope it's starting to make sense.

Okay, let's break this post down

- "What is a Buyer Agent?"

Simply put, an agent who acts in the buyer's best interest.

It's when a buyer chooses to work with a specific real estate agent and broker (by way of a Buyer Agency Contract) who then works exclusively on his/her behalf, even if the buyer agent is paid by the seller (otherwise known as a cooperative transaction, or co-op for short).

When you buy a home, there are traditionally 3 options to consider: 1) Choose a buyer agent, 2) Choose to work with the seller's agent (who would then also become your buyer agent, aka Dual Agent; we'll get to that), or 3) Choose no agent at all (which is more common in a private sale or FSBO). Option 1 allows you the most freedom/flexibility as a buyer and entitlement to the fiduciary duties, Option 2 entitles you to limited fiduciary duties, and Option 3 entitles you to no fiduciary duties.

What's interesting is that in most cases, Options 1 & 2 involve the buyer agent getting paid by the seller, whereas Option 3 will either involve the buyer paying a lawyer/attorney or just representing his/her own interests. This is not in all cases, but it is in most cases when you buy/sell a home in PA.

- "What is a Seller Agent?"

Staying with the simplicity theme here, an agent who acts in the seller's best interest.

It's when a seller chooses to work with a specific real estate agent and broker (by way of a Listing Contract, or Seller Agency Contract) who then works exclusively on his/her behalf.

When you sell a home, there are traditionally 2 options to consider: 1) Choose a listing/seller agent, or 2) Choose no agent at all (again, through a private sale or FSBO). Option 1 allows you the most freedom/flexibility as a seller, entitlement to the fiduciary duties, and the highest amount of selling/marketing exposure; Option 2 entitles you to no fiduciary duties and more-likely-than-not the least amount of selling/marketing exposure.

In selling a home, you typically pay for all real estate commissions (traditionally in PA, that amount is 6% and based on the purchase price). If there is both a buyer agent and a seller/listing agent involved in the transaction, that 6% fee is typically split in half (unless specified otherwise by the seller/listing agent).

- "What is a Dual Agent?"

I mean why would I give up on the simplicity theme here, as it seems to be working out so well. It's an agent who represents both the buyer and seller in the same transaction.


Sounds a little intense, right? In all honesty, it can be.

Choosing to work with a dual agent puts both the buyer and seller in a tight spot, let alone the agent involved. Dual agents owe limited fiduciary duties to both buyer and seller, which means he/she must take a neutral stance in the transaction. In other words, it's hard to get good advice when someone can't really advise you.

So why then would anyone choose to work with a Dual Agent? Well, there are some instances where it is more common.

In the case of experienced buyers and sellers, they may even prefer to work with a dual agent as both parties already have a good understanding of the real estate process in PA and it may allow for a more seamless experience. It may even give both parties a sense of comfort due to that particular agent's level of knowledge, experience, credibility, and professionalism.

So as you can see, dual agency can come into play sometimes, but most times it's not what buyers and sellers choose to do. That is why single agency exists, to represent clients as either a buyer agent or as a seller agent. It gives both the buyer and seller the opportunity to choose their own agent for all of the various reasons mentioned above.

Bottom line, as I have mentioned in past blog posts, there is a lot at stake in real estate. Buying or selling a home is one of the most important transactions in a person's life, and one that merits guidance from an industry professional. Someone who has earned a license, and who is qualified to help you make good decisions from start to finish. Therefore, you should expect the unexpected and choose your own agent when you have the opportunity to do so. It provides both freedom and flexibility, and entitles you to fiduciary duties.

Referrals have always proven to be one of the best places to start. If you do not know anyone in real estate, or are moving to a new town, city, and/or state, online reviews will guide you along your home-buying or home-selling journey.

I hope this blog post was educational, and my goal is to post more like it in the future.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Bridging the divide "is not just smart, it is inspired"

Skyline shot courtesy of

What "divide" am I referring to?

The Schuylkill River waterfront of course, or the gap between Center City and University City. The quote above was borrowed from the article that produced this post, as I like to give credit where credit is due.

This may seem like a small issue compared to some of the other large ones Philadelphia is currently facing today: public education, competitive business taxes, aging infrastructure, etc. But ... sometimes the smallest issues are the ones most overlooked, and in turn, create the biggest opportunities for growth.

A recent article on went into brief detail about the transformative idea to put a large, structural cap over the 30th Street rail yards. You know, the rail yards you see while flying down the expressway on I-76 East (on the right, where I-76 & I-676 meet). Yup, that big thing over there.

In my world, those same rail yards are considered prime real estate.

Before we get into more of the details, here are some stats on Philadelphia's 30th Street Station (which some local pols now refer to as William H. Gray III 30th Street Station):

- 3rd busiest Amtrak station in the US (behind NYC & DC)
- Over 10,000 passengers everyday
- 3 regional rail hubs (including access to Philadelphia International Airport)
- Walking distance to both Center City & University City

Now, some may say that spending all of that time, money, and effort on building new structures above an existing/busy area of approximately 175 acres would be a waste (especially with all of the other development opportunities that exist in Philadelphia today).

Please note, I would not be one of those naysayers; and here is why.

The 2 main reasons that Philadelphia is performing so well in 2016: 1) Center City, and 2) University City. The Navy Yard is a close 2nd, but UCity wins the prize.

So, if Center City & University City are the core of Philadelphia's economic growth and prosperity in 2016 and beyond, wouldn't it then make sense to hold accountable the land in that particular area to its highest and best use?

What I also like about this plan is that the rail yards would remain as-is, still carrying thousands of passengers every day between NYC & DC. The stakeholders involved (i.e. Drexel, SEPTA, Brandywine, etc) would be using the air-rights above the current infrastructure to see their vision through.

Some features include 3 walkways across the Schuylkill River (easily connecting thousands of daily pedestrians to both downtown areas), mixed-use buildings (i.e. offices, residences, etc), and new green space (i.e. parks, stormwater solutions, etc).

Not only would this project increase the surrounding property values due to its size and scope, but it would help connect Center City & University City in a more business/pedestrian-friendly way (e.g. those who commute and get around Philadelphia by foot, bike, skateboard, hoverboard, etc). Today, CC & UC almost seem like 2 separate downtowns.

For additional reading, here are 2 past blog posts that discuss 30th Street in further detail.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Which part of Greater Philadelphia could see as much as $1B in real estate appreciation?

KOP Rail Project |

Yup, I said "B" as in Billion.

If you read the local news like I do, you may have guessed it already; or maybe you didn't, because you had one too many spiked egg nogs last weekend. No worries, it happens.

If you said King of Prussia, you nailed it!

So to paint a visual for all of you readers out there, the Top 3 areas I am referring to include King of Prussia, Gulph Mills, and Bridgeport. Please bear in mind that these 3 areas are based on my own professional opinion, and not that of the Philadelphia Business Journal. PBJ classified the prime area as "Upper Merion."

Now, I also believe that areas like Wayne, West Conshohocken, and Norristown will benefit from the rail line as well, but let's call them my Bottom 3 areas. Out of those 3, Norristown has the most to gain as it is currently in comeback mode.

The reason I specified those areas in particular, is because their combined location is solid (right in between KOP & Philadelphia). Add a rail line, and you've got a real estate investor/developer's dream.

If you take a few minutes to look at one of my past blog posts that discussed this same topic, and then compare a present-day Google Map with the proposed train route options, you will see the pattern I am seeing. Any area close enough to the new rail line will eventually see an increase in value (both residential and commercial), as this is the first time in history that King of Prussia will be connected directly to Center City Philadelphia by regional rail (Greater Philadelphia's 2 largest areas for employment and entertainment).

Remember, the #1 rule in real estate is "Location, Location, Location."

Even without a current rail line in place, there is a ton of development going in and around the King of Prussia area as we speak: 1) KOP mall expansion, 2) KOP Town Center, and 3) CHOP's outpatient facility. There are other small projects being built, as well as additional ones being discussed. If interested, you can read through a more in-depth report here.

The KOP rail project would not only provide a better quality of life for those who commute by car in between Philadelphia & King of Prussia everyday (I-76 East/West is basically a parking lot at rush hour), but it would also promote additional investment/development along its planned route.

Connecting KOP to PHL by rail, could create an additional $1B in real estate value when fully realized. Let's all watch to see if it gets approved sooner than later.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Based on "Top 10 Metro Areas," Philadelphia is ranked #2 for Affordability

Image courtesy of The Philadelphia Foundation

Interesting title, I know. This one can be looked at a few different ways, so let me elaborate a bit.

There is a difference between "Top 10 Cities" and "Top 10 Metro Areas." Top "city" means that the population of the city proper (within a city's borders) is what classifies its population. Here is a list of the top 10 cities by population in the US (according to Wikipedia):

1. New York, NY
2. Los Angeles, CA
3. Chicago, IL
4. Houston, TX
5. Philadelphia, PA
6. Phoenix, AZ
7. San Antonio, TX
8. San Diego, CA
9. Dallas, TX
10. San Jose, CA

Top "metro area" means that the population of the metropolitan statistical area (or MSA, which defines a "core" with an "adjacent territory that has a high degree of social and economic integration with the core") is what classifies its population. Here is a list of the top 10 metro areas by population in the US (again, according to Wikipedia):

1. New York - Newark - Jersey City
2. Los Angeles - Long Beach - Anaheim
3. Chicago - Naperville - Elgin
4. Dallas - Fort Worth - Arlington
5. Houston - The Woodlands - Sugar Land
6. Philadelphia - Camden - Wilmington
7. Washington - Arlington - Alexandria
8. Miami - Fort Lauderdale - West Palm Beach
9. Atlanta - Sandy Springs - Roswell
10. Boston - Cambridge - Newtown

So as you can see, there is a difference between a major city's population, and a major urban area's population; as noted in the 2 different lists above. Since every city/area has its own borders, tax laws, and rules, population sizes will vary; which is why it's always good to look at both when analyzing numbers/data.

Take Boston, for example. The city itself is ranked #24 by population (about 655,000 people), and the metro area is ranked #10 by population (about 4,750,000 people). So as you can see, there is a big difference between the population of "Boston" and the population of the "Boston Metro Area."

Okay, enough fact finding. Let's get down to business.

For purposes of the article that inspired this post, NerdWallet used "metro area" to calculate its numbers. In my opinion, that's a more valuable approach as it more closely looks at each different "area" in its entirety; not just within "city" limits.

This is where Philadelphia performs very well. When you look at our local MSA (Philadelphia, Camden, and Wilmington), Philadelphia's real estate market is affordable.

How affordable exactly? Well, out of the Top 10 largest MSAs, Philadelphia ranks #2 in affordability (just behind Atlanta, Sandy Springs, and Roswell) and #24 out of the top 100 US metro areas.

Considering Philadelphia is the 5th largest city in the US, and the 6th largest metro area in the US, that's pretty d*mn good.

Why, you may ask? Because it means that Philadelphia has a lot to offer its local residents as a major US city/area, while keeping its home ownership cost low. Since owning a home is typically the largest expense any person/couple/family carries on a monthly basis, this bodes well for those who live in/around Philadelphia.

To top it off, this study doesn't account for location; and you all know I love to talk about Philadelphia's convenient US location.

So to summarize my own opinions/thoughts, Philadelphia is an affordable urban area to own a home and a convenient urban area to live in. In my profession, those are the 2 most important reasons why people choose to buy real estate.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

One of the most common real estate questions out there: What exactly is a REALTOR?

For more great info, check out:,, +

Welp, folks, I decided to go the educational route with this post, because real estate is becoming a hot topic at the dinner table once again (... and at the water cooler, the coffee machine, the food truck, the dry cleaner, the barbershop, you name it).

If you are a regular reader, you know that I typically like to discuss development, local happenings, and all things Philadelphia and its Suburban Towns. Let's mix it up a bit, shall we.

What makes this post interesting is that most people throw around the term "Realtor" as if it were the only word to describe a person who has a career in real estate. I would say about 9 out of 10 times when people refer to my occupation, they say Realtor. Even though I am a Realtor and proud to be one, there is more to it.

While there is truth in saying that a licensed real estate agent can be a Realtor, not every licensed real estate agent is, or has to be, a Realtor. It's an option, a choice, and a specific way to run an agent's own business. After all, most real estate agents are considered self-employed "Independent Contractors," which basically means that most agents can run their businesses any which way they want to; which can be both good and bad.

To start this post off right, let's first define what it means to be a REALTOR (as per

"The term REALTOR has one, and only one, meaning. REALTOR is a federally registered collective membership mark which identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics."

So, going back to one of my earlier points, being a Realtor is a licensed real estate agent's choice. It means he/she has taken extra steps to make himself/herself a more accountable licensed agent by subscribing to approved ethical practices. In other words, he/she is agreeing to provide a higher level of customer service through honesty and integrity. Now, there are also real estate "brokerages" that mandate their agents become Realtor members, but that is a choice the brokerage made to ensure that the Code of Ethics is strictly adhered to.

Okay, now let's break this post down

- "The Internet has drastically changed the real estate industry ... for the better."

My professional opinion is that the last 5 years have drastically changed the real estate industry ... and for the better. Laptops, tablets, and smartphones have become real estate buyers and sellers' best friends, and rightfully so. They have educated the general public about how real estate works, as more customer information is now readily available with just a basic online search.

Seriously, how easy is it to just Google real estate questions/terms on your phone; it's almost too easy these days. Now, not everything you read online is 100% accurate, but there are enough resources and industry professionals readily available to answer any questions you might have.

Again, a good thing.

- "The changing real estate industry has increased the need for a better customer service experience."

Absolutely. With all of the positive changes that have taken place in the real estate industry, it has increased the need for all real estate agents to deliver higher quality customer service to all of their clients. The real estate industry can carry with it a negative stereotype (believe me, I know; it's what I do), as well as stir up old war stories from your grandparents, parents, friends, neighbors, coworkers, pets (just kidding), etc.

One of the main reasons why, about 25% of all licensed real estate agents are considered "part-time," which means they already have a full-time job (which they are more proficient at than real estate) and real estate is used to supplement their income (let's call it a 2nd job). That also means real estate is not their strong suit, and that can affect the overall customer experience. If you select a real estate agent to "represent" you, I am assuming that most people would prefer to work with someone who is an expert in real estate; considering the importance of buying, selling, or renting a home.

In reality, about 20% of all licensed real estate agents make $100,000 or more per year, and the median annual income for a real estate agent is about $40,000. In the local Philadelphia market, that's about 6-7 closed transactions per year. $40,000 per year is nothing to sneeze at, the point is that a majority of licensed agents are not representing clients enough; it's a tough business to break into. If inexperience is the norm, it can lead to a less-than-perfect experience for the client.

Use technology to your advantage, and choose an agent that you believe would be the best fit for you. Oh, and make sure they are a Realtor too. You know, for good measure.

- "Although real estate may be an experience that most only go through once or twice in their entire lifetime, each experience should be just as good as the last."

Since most buyers and sellers go through a major real estate experience only one or two times in their entire lives, it's not a service you need on a daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly basis; which means it's easy to overlook the big picture. You buy a home, you get bad advice, you make mistakes, your closing is a mess, and you tell all of your friends and family what a stressful experience it was. In today's information-friendly age, it's very easy to pull up online reviews from people who did not like working with their real estate agent.

The traditional real estate approach was always, "Oh, Uncle Bobby has his real estate license? I'll work with him." Now the approach should be, "Does Uncle Bobby practice real estate for a living? I'll call/email/text and ask him a few questions first."

Buying or selling a home is one of the most important (if not the most important) transaction of peoples lives. More times than not, it's the most expensive thing you will buy/sell, it holds the most weight over how you live your life, and it requires the most serious commitment from those who choose to become homeowners.

Bottom line, there is a lot at stake in real estate. Therefore, you should expect to have a solid real estate experience and work with not only a Realtor, but with a Realtor who has produced many happy clients in the past. Run a basic online search first, it's the smart thing to do.

I hope this post was educational, and my goal is to post more like it in the future.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Market East "is building this," and Market East "is improving that." Wait ... Market West?

Vintage shot of West Market Street, Circa 1925 | Courtesy of

That's right, you heard me correctly. Market West is becoming a hot topic within Philadelphia's development community.

But it's difficult to say what it could/will look like in the near'ish future.

Over on Market East, projects have already been approved, money is in place, and shovels are in the ground. In other words, there is already a level of certainty that change is happening, and that it's all positive development (e.g. East Market, Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia, 11th/12th + Chestnut, etc). Plus, we pretty much know what these projects are going to look like when they're completed; which is comforting.

As for Market West, first of all, who the h*ll even refers to Market Street between City Hall and 30th Street Station as Market West? Well, I guess I just did ... and others are too.

Some call it "The Business District," some call it "Downtown," and some call it "Rittenhouse" or "Logan Square." Personally, I've always just called it Center City, but today Center City has been split into so many specific pieces/parts due to popular neighborhood names (e.g. Fitler Square, Midtown Village, etc), additions to what is now "considered" Center City (e.g. Fairmount, Graduate Hospital, etc), and the complete separate identity of the ever-growing eds/meds capital of Philadelphia, University City.

So needless to say, you have to be careful with your Philadelphia-neighborhood-based assumptions these days. Otherwise, someone may try to bash you with their Internet muscles.

Over on West Market Street, a big portion of the street frontage has recently become a hot spot for large/proven developers (i.e. those who have a successful track record in Philadelphia, and financial resources to make something happen), who are buying up pieces of real estate as if it were a game of Monopoly: Hey, I just bought my first "color-group" from "the bank," and I want to start building "houses" and "hotels" (ha, what a great game).

But, why? What's the draw? What's the play?

Well for starters, a lot of it was owned by one guy/group/company: Richard Basciano. That name may sound familiar, as it was one his properties that collapsed unexpectedly at 22nd & Market in June 2013. My condolences to anyone/everyone who had a loved one there that day.

Also, Richard has been "speculating" on that long stretch of Philadelphia road for decades, which means he bought low and is now selling high. If you have not read recently, 2015 is a great time to be selling large pieces of Center City real estate.

Finally, large parcels are very hard to come by in Center City these days. Not only for a reasonable price, but just to buy in general. Now that Richard is a willing seller, developers are starting to see this as a great opportunity to close the gap between City Hall and University City. Connecting the two with large anchor projects, which could also spur a building frenzy for smaller projects.

Welp, there you have it. My professional take on one of Philadelphia's next big development zones. More blog posts will follow, as soon as more news comes out.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Are we experiencing Philadelphia's biggest development boom in almost 50 years?

Fantastic shot courtesy of

In my professional opinion ... maybe. Since I've only been alive since '79, it's kind of hard for me to say.

Here is what I will say. No matter how experienced you are as an agent, no matter how long you have been selling Philadelphia real estate, it's very difficult for anyone to give a straight answer to that question or predict the future of the local market.

But ... when you have someone who is as experienced and credible as Alan Greenberger (Philadelphia's current Deputy Mayor for Economic Development & Director of Commerce) say that he has not seen a boom like this since '74 (the year he moved from NYC to PHL), you know that something unique is currently happening in the City of Brotherly Love.

So, how is 2015 any different than the last real estate wave that ended in 2008? The answer, global awareness of Philadelphia's affordability and accessibility.

As I have stated in the past, Philadelphia is not one of the most affordable cities in the US, but we are one of the largest and most affordable cities in the "Northeastern" US. On top of that, we are a Top US global gateway metro, with our neighbor NYC being the largest. "The Northeast" is the most economically developed, densely populated, and culturally diverse region in the entire US. There is more urbanized land than any other part of the country, and we also enjoy large amounts of forest-use/green space (about 60% in total, which is about twice the US average). From just Pennsylvania to Maine, the area is home to over 55M people.

When you are located right in between the Financial Capital of the US (NYC, which in 2014 was also named the "World's Leading Financial Centre") and the Political Capital of the US (DC, or course), you are guaranteed to receive some attention. Now that Philadelphia has really begun to come into its own, with Center City, University City, and the Navy Yard all leading the charge, the world now has its eyes on us.

And when they get here, they will realize just how affordable and accessible Philadelphia really is!

Based on the city's size, as well as the size of the surrounding suburban metro area, you can get almost anywhere using a form of public transportation (i.e. train, subway, or bus). Now that Uber has entered the Philadelphia transportation market, it's even easier. This is due to the metro area's compactness, which is a product of density and smart planning over the last 300+ years.

Okay, back to Greenberger.

This article states that he sees the current real estate boom in Philadelphia continuing for the next 5-10 years, although maybe not at the same pace throughout that entire time frame. There are still many highly accessible areas in both North/South Philadelphia that have yet to be touched by redevelopment/reimagination from the millennial generation, as these are the folks that are making cities like Philadelphia great again.

Just like the Market-Frankford Line has redefined neighborhoods like Northern Liberties, Fishtown, and Kensington, the Broad Street Line has the same potential.

It will be interesting to see what happens over the next 5-10 years, and if Greenberger's prediction is right. Either way, it's a very exciting time to be living in Philadelphia.