WHY HIKING SHOULD BE YOUR NEXT HOBBY (IF IT ISN’T ALREADY)

Are you interested in doing something fun and exciting on a day that you may have off from work or a weekend with no plans?  If you are and if you are like many other Americans, there is a good chance that you may be interested in doing something recreational such as going on a hike.

Hiking is one of the most popular recreational activities in the United States. Most cities and towns have at least one hiking park or hiking trail and many have multiple.

One of the many reasons hiking is such a popular recreational activity is because it can be an easy stroll or a challenging trek, and everything in between.

Hiking is also popular because it can be completely solitary or with a group of friends. It is also a great family activity.

Another reason why hiking is growing as an activity of choice is because it is a workout in nature rather than a boring, stuffy gym.

In addition to being great for us physically, spending time outdoors has been proven time and again to have beneficial effects on our emotional and mental wellbeing. The Vitamin D exposure (safely of course, wear your sunscreen!) and the fresh air are just two of the countless benefits of time spent outdoors.

Finding a hike near you:

  • recreation.gov
  • americanhiking.org
  • americantrails.org

5 Quick Home Makeovers

Whether you’re considering putting your home on the market this spring or you’re simply looking for a new year pick-me-up, try one of the following ideas to give your living space a boost…and your mental state in the process.

 
1. If you hate it, lose it. Why wait for spring cleaning? If you roll your eyes every time you pass that sofa in the sitting room that no one uses and you’ve never liked, get rid of it. See if a friend or family member can use it, list it on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist or a neighborhood tag sale site, or donate it to Goodwill or the local shelter. Don’t hold onto objects that make you unhappy.
 
2. Make windows a priority. Windows are a critical aspect of our home environment as they control the amount of light coming into a space…or lack thereof. They are also our connection to the world outside, whether that’s on the 25th floor of an urban high-rise, or a few wooded acres in the country. Make sure your windows are dressed optimally for letting light in, providing privacy and enhancing views. It’s also important to assess your curtains, shades and blinds and make any necessary changes. Rule of thumb—less is more.
 
3. Don’t get walled in. We tend to hang a painting or a mirror on a wall and then let it sit there for years. But who said wall décor needs to be permanent? Our tastes change over the years, so take a good look at your walls and decide if you still like what’s hanging there. If not, check out some great wall décor ideas (photo gallery, mural, unique shelving, etc.) on Pinterest, or your favorite home décor portal.
 
4. Color cures all. Whether it’s painting an entire room, an accent wall or the kitchen cabinets, the quickest way to a fresh feel and change of mood is through a paint brush. Painting also makes for a great weekend project when forced indoors by inclement weather. Too much to tackle? Then change up your existing color patterns with pillows, throws, bedding and area rugs to create a new palette.
 
5. Rearrange the furniture. Have you ever repositioned your bed? If so, then you know how that one small step can create an entirely different feel within your bedroom. Try the same with your living room sofa, office desk and bookcases, or family room entertainment equipment. Even switching up the location of lamps, plants and decorative objects can add a new flow to your environs.
 
Remember, updating your home doesn’t require a major renovation or large investment of time and money. Simple strategies like the above will add welcome changes with little effort.
 
For more quick home makeovers you can tackle today, contact me today.

How to Help Your Child with Student Debt

 

 

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A hot-button topic during this year’s presidential election, mounting student debt is triggering concerns on many levels, not only for students themselves, but for the housing industry and the economy at large.

 
According to the most recent National Association of REALTORS® Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey, while surveyed households still believe now is a good time to buy a home, roughly half of young adults with student debt disagree. The HOME survey revealed that existing student debt is making many young people uneasy at the thought of taking on additional debt to buy a home. According to the survey, roughly two-thirds of non-homeowners and half of respondents under 35 with student debt said they aren’t comfortable also having a mortgage. They also believe they’re less likely to even qualify for a mortgage due to their debt.
 
The student debt dilemma is particularly troubling for parents who want to see their children take flight after working so hard to earn their college degree.
 
Here are a few ways parents can help their graduate get out of debt and on with life faster:
 
-Encourage your child to move back home…temporarily. While you might have gotten used to the empty nest, having your child move back in to save money makes sense in many scenarios. Set up some ground rules and have them contribute to household expenses, but make it clear that paying down their student loan is priority.

-Whether living with you or on their own, help your child create a budget and teach them where they can trim expenses and how to live within their means.

-If downsizing to a smaller home is in your near future, you might want to consider shortening the window and making the move now, sharing some of the profit to help your child pay down their debt.

-Sign up with a rewards program like Upromise, which allows you to earn cash back on purchases like travel, restaurants, groceries, online shopping, and more. You can cash out your rewards via check or use them to pay down an eligible student loan directly.

-Ask family and friends to consider giving your children cash instead of gifts for holidays and birthdays. This money can help pay down student loans faster.

-Encourage your children to look for side projects that can bring in additional income that goes directly toward their loans. Child care, catering gigs, freelance writing, home maintenance jobs—whatever your child’s talents happen to be can be put to good use to earn some extra cash.
 
Most of all, be emotionally supportive and keep the lines of communication open—advise, don’t lecture, and assure your child that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
 
For more tips to successfully help your child with student debt, contact our office today.

Buying a Home? How Technology Can Help

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Technology touches every part of our lives, and buying a home is no exception. With an abundance of websites and apps at the homebuyer’s disposal, how do you know what’s worth your time and what isn’t? And what about a real estate agent? Where do they fit in? Here’s a game plan for using technology to your advantage when searching for your home-to-be.

 
Get prequalified. Before you even begin your home search, find out how much house you can really afford by using an online mortgage calculator. Then start the process to get prequalified for your mortgage. Certain lenders even offer a streamlined online process for prequalification.

Start online. Well over 90 percent of homebuyers start their search online, and this is a good thing. Try a home search portal like realtor.com® or Homes.com, or do a Google search on the cities/neighborhoods/zip codes where you’d like to buy. This will also lead you to the sites of real estate professionals who serve the areas you’re interested in. Then start perusing what’s available.

Look for listings with lots of photos, and better yet, virtual tours and videos. Some videos are even done with drone technology to give you an awesome aerial perspective on properties for sale.

Use social media sites like Instagram and Twitter and check out homes and neighborhoods using hashtag searches that include the towns you’re interested in. This will yield some interesting information not only on available real estate, but on the communities themselves.

Do some drive-by’s. Your online research will help narrow down your choices. Now it’s time to get in the car and drive by the properties you’re interested in. While you’ll most likely notice a yard sign with the listing agent’s information outside the homes you’re interested in, you might even notice a text-for-more-info code. Be sure to take advantage of this technology if it’s offered, as it can connect you with an agent right away who can then show you the home and help you negotiate an offer.
 
Technology will help make for a fluid relationship with your agent. Let your agent know your preferred method of communication—email, text or phone call—to ensure responsiveness. You’ll also find that digital documents and secure electronic-signature technology will streamline the closing process even further.
 
Despite the array of technology that will help you along the way to buying your home, remember that none of it replaces the guidance and local expertise of your real estate agent. Ask them how they use technology and what other apps they may have available to help you find and seal the deal on your home.
 
Contact our office today to learn more about how technology can help in the home search process.

5 Ways to Redecorate Without Spending a Dime

5 Ways to Redecorate Without Spending a Dime

You know the feeling. You look around your home and are struck with a case of the blahs. The immediate thought is to set out on a shopping spree for new rugs, new lamps, new linens or whatever it takes to revamp your space. Unfortunately, your wallet may say otherwise. But don’t despair. With a little creative thinking, you can update the look and feel of your home without spending any money at all. Here’s how:

 
The old switcheroo. Believe it or not, switching furniture from one room to another can completely change the look of a room. Try swapping out a living room end table with your bedroom nightstand. Or move that stately floor lamp from your den into your dining room. With just a little muscle, you will instantly arrive at a brand-new look.
 
Find buried treasure in your linen closet. If you’re like most homeowners, it’s more than likely been a while since you’ve cleaned out your linen closet. And I bet you won’t believe what you’ll find in there. Curtains, tablecloths, throws and bedding that was tucked away years ago and forgotten about can be reintroduced to various spots in your home for a brand-new look.
 
Enlist old paint. Remember all those half-full cans of paint leftover from various projects over the years? Put them to use to change the look of a room by painting one wall, a piece of accent furniture or even cabinet doors. You saved them because you thought they’d come in handy someday. Well, today’s that day.
 
Get digging. Want to switch up the flow of your yard? Look around and see what plants, shrubs and small trees can be relocated to a brand-new spot. Be sure to do some research online ahead of time in order to determine the correct way to transplant certain items to ensure your green friends survive the move. You can do this even more easily by repositioning container plants and patio furniture.
 
Embrace the online community. Before you spend money on new furniture and décor items, check out some of the increasingly popular websites for scoring free stuff. The Freecycle Network, for example, is made up of 9 million members worldwide. The nonprofit describes itself as a grassroots movement, comprised of local volunteers who moderate activity to keep dealings on the up-and-up. Membership is free to boot.
 
With the right mindset and a little creative thinking, your home will be on its way to a brand-spanking-new look.
 
Contact me today for more real estate tips and information. 

Home Price Predictions Get an Unexpected Bump: Is 2018 the Time to Sell?

Housing experts recently upped their predictions for the real estate market in 2018, predicting home prices to rise 4.1 percent as opposed to the originally anticipated 3 percent.


The 2017 Q4 Zillow® Home Price Expectations Survey, sponsored by Zillow and conducted by Pulsenomics LLC, asked more than 100 housing experts, market strategists, and economists about their expectations for the U.S. housing market in 2018 and beyond.

The revised pricing prediction is based largely on the ongoing inventory shortage. According to the quarterly survey, the number of homes for sale in the United States has fallen on an annual basis for the past 33 straight months. Although building activity picked up slightly toward the end of 2017, the biggest surprise was the slow pace of single-family home building, according to the panelists. Only 16.7 percent expect it to change in 2018, a sign that limited inventory will still be a driving force in the housing market this year.

Given the predicted rise in values for the coming year, 2018 may be the right time to put your home on the market. Consider the following variables to help you make that decision:

  • Talk to your local real estate professional to determine your home’s current value and the amount of equity you have accrued.
  • Figure out what home improvements may be warranted to significantly increase the listing price of your home.
  • Find out what your agent’s game plan will be for marketing your home: Which listing portals will he or she use? Are staging services offered? Will there be an open house?
  • Determine what your next move will be. Are you looking to move up? You may be confronted with the same rising prices depending on your next living situation, so be sure you have the financial means for your next move. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that while home prices are expected to rise in 2018, so are mortgage rates. Experts believe they may reach 4.5 percent from the current rate of about 3.9 percent. This is still well below the 6 percent rates seen during the run up to the housing bubble, however, the increase may get would-be homebuyers off the fence and into action before rates go even higher.
 
If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact us.

The Dorchester 224-30 West Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia PA 19103

People who choose sophistication and luxury prefer Rittenhouse Square which is at the apex of Center City’s neighbourhoods. The Dorchester building has thirty-two stories above the Rittenhouse Square; The Dorchester has the best sights the city has to provide. Whether being welcomed back by the security officer every night or relaxing by the pool on the penthouse-level roof deck, occupants experience real luxury living.

The entrance is a peaceful and calm place for the occupants and visitors to relax before going out to their favourite restaurants Philadelphia has to provide. Every unit has its distinct environment, with views from all directions of the city; potential residents may select the home which fits their standards, from comfortable studios to extensive three bedrooms.  The units consist of fully advanced, living room, office, featuring a custom kitchen, dining room, and separate laundry room among other rooms.

Every unit has almost 1,826 square feet of inner space with nearly 2,000 total square feet comprising of two terraces. The rooms have elegant finishes such as granite countertops in master bathroom and kitchen. Also, the rooms have marble on the floor and ceiling. It has fixtures, appliances, cabinets like GE Profile, Kohler sinks, Kohler Jacuzzi, Sub Zero, Bosch, Instant Hot dispenser, Baci, Hans, and Hunter Douglas among other appliances.

When one looks through the window walls, one can see the overview of the entire Rittenhouse Square that is in the heart of the city. It is located in the Southwest corner of the Rittenhouse Square in the most desirable location. It has thirty-two floors above Rittenhouse Square thus offers the panoramic sight of Rittenhouse Square which has survived for over 300 hundred years as a green oasis.  It has a Valet Parking Garage in the underground. Package rooms for dry cleaning.

Condo fees are comprising of all heating, electric, basic Comcast digital cable, and fitness center membership. It has a free fitness center with different weights and cardio machines.  On the 32nd floor, there is the famous Penthouse Pool that offers the panoramic views of Rittenhouse Square, South Philadelphia sports complexes, City skyline, New Jersey, Art Museum Area, and University City. During Friday and weekends, the membership fee is needed though from Monday to Thursday no fee is required. The building is maintained on a daily basis since there is a maintenance department on the location.  There is a spacious bicycle room which is secured and storage lockers. Taxis are found at the front of the apartment for easy transportation. No smoking room in the building since it is non-smoking building from 2010     In the neighborhoods of The Dorchester, there are the popular the beautiful Rittenhouse Square, desirable theatres, restaurants, and museums.

The Rittenhouse Square hosts several events like The Little Friends Festival, The Ball on the Square, and multiple arts and crafts demonstrations, and seasonal farmers markets. The Rittenhouse Square popular restaurants Center City has to provide like La Croix, Barclay Prime, Rouge, and Devon. There is the Schuylkill River on the West of Rittenhouse Square. Towards the east of the Square, there is Chestnut and Walnut Streets that have Philadelphia’s best shopping like the Brooks Brothers, Michal Kors, and Apple. There are the Avenue of the Arts to east and south of the street: Wilma Theatre, Merriam Theatre, The Kimmel Center, Academy Music, and Suzanne Roberts Theatre. Also, to the north, there are the Franklin Institute, Mutter Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Ben Franklin Parkway. 

 

HISTORY

The Dorchester building on Rittenhouse Square was opened in 1963. Its opening was a milestone since it was luxury apartment building compared to some traditional apartments, comprising some mansions, on 20th street and Rittenhouse Square. The Dorchester building was designed and developed by William Zeckendorf, who is well-known New York constructor.  He is also accredited for building the United Nations headquarters. William Zeckendorf constructed The Dorchester to accommodate Philadelphia's growing population, and to cater for the need for additional residential flats in Center City.     

Milton Schwartz, the architect, Initially, Milton Schwartz who was an architecture recommended two towers having an opening between them. However, Mr Zeckendorf rejected his recommendation. Later, they adopted the L-shaped design for The Dorchester building. The building acquired the name The Dorchester from a London landmark just like other buildings on Rittenhouse Square like The Savoy, The Barclay, and The Claridge. The Dorchester was unique building on Rittenhouse Square since it was the first apartment to apply the uncovered concrete as an outside finish. Also, The Dorchester provided a range of units comprising studio, one, two, and three bedroom flats. The Dorchester's design of studios was indifferent to the Pre-War houses on Rittenhouse Square which covered half and full floors.     

During the 1970s, rents raised to a thousand dollars each month for a two-bedroom apartment. This increase of rent meant that only wealthy persons could afford to pay that rent. Successful entrepreneurs, elected officials, celebrities, and media personalities were attracted to The Dorchester apartment. The penthouse pool that The Dorchester had was the gathering spot for several socialites and their associates.     

Robert Sheridan & Partners in 1980s transformed The Dorchester building to condominiums. The Dorchester's condos were in high demand and were sold out immediately. Most of the apartments were purchased by the present tenants of the building. On Rittenhouse Square, The Dorchester building has remained to be the most vibrant residential over the years. 

 

The Rittenhouse Hotel & Condominiums 210 West Rittenhouse Square Philadelphia, PA 19103

The Rittenhouse Hotel 210 West Rittenhouse Square Philadelphia, PA 19103     The Rittenhouse Hotel and Condominiums is situated at 210 W. Rittenhouse Square. It is in the heart of the city. It has 33 floors, 125 units in total, and has three elevators. It is the best condo apartment in town. It was constructed in the 1980s. The Rittenhouse Hotel and Condominiums has hotel rooms and office spaces. The Rittenhouse Condominiums offers occupants of the studio, one, two as well as three bedroom homes with amenities and services from the five-star Rittenhouse Hotel. The condominiums have their separate entrance with the doorman for security 24 hours. Condo residence gets services from the other parts of the building like town car usage, room service, and maid service for an additional fee. Occupants of the building always have a magnificent view of Rittenhouse Square to the east and University City to the west. The units of the building are different regarding layout, size, and floor plans. Every unit has in-unit washer and dryer. Parking lots are available to the owners, but no occupant individually owns a parking space in the building.     

The Rittenhouse Hotel and Condominiums has the best valet service in town, and the personnel’s are always helpful and friendly. The shared areas of the condo building like the hallways are often 100 percent tidy and well-maintained. They are attractive as one get off the elevators. This is a pet-friendly building. Thus pet lovers can consider owning a condo in this building. The pool and gym are shared with the hotel guests and are medium in size.  It has Penthouse units that are amazing at 210 W. Rittenhouse Square since they have large fireplaces and balconies and they offer nothing less of spectacular. Apart from Rittenhouse Square it also neighbours the Fitler Square, Logon Square, Graduate Hospital, Art Museum, Avenue of the Art, Old City, and Washington Square.

6 Reasons Why You Should List Your Home During the Holidays

6 Reasons Why You Should List Your Home During the Holidays

Traditional real estate wisdom may be telling you to hold off selling your home until after the holidays, but there are plenty of good reasons to list your home right now. Consider the following:

  • People who are looking for a home during the holiday season are most likely pretty serious about making a move. In fact, they may be in a bit of hurry. Putting your home on the market now might result in a faster sale at a higher price point.
  • Between family gatherings and holiday parties, you’ve probably got your home in bright and shiny, tip-top shape for entertaining. What better time to show off your home to prospective buyers, too?
  • In most areas of the country, yard maintenance decreases during the wintry holiday months. While you may have to blow a few leaves and clear away some snow from walkways, you won’t have to worry about keeping the lawn mowed, the garden beds weeded and the flowers blooming as you would if listing your home in the spring and summer.
  • The end of the year is usually a slower time for real estate professionals, so you will get lots of attention from your agent if you decide to list your home during the holiday season.
  • You will also have less competition in terms of other homes on the market, allowing your home to stand out more to prospective buyers.
  • You can stage your home to make an emotional connection to the holidays. Work with your real estate agent to tastefully decorate so that prospective buyers envision themselves hosting loving family celebrations in your home during the holidays. Stay away from overtly religious decorations and stick with decorations like small white lights, natural evergreens and a few shimmering metallics. An evergreen- or cranberry-scented candle will also emphasize that home-for-the-holidays feel. 

If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

4 Questions You Should Ask Your Real Estate Agent About the Market

When shopping for a home, we’re understandably preoccupied with the physical features of our future abode. How many bedrooms and bathrooms? Is there a first-floor master suite? Enough space in the yard for a pool?
 
While those details are of course paramount, there is some other critical information you should know about any home you’re considering buying: local market statistics. The house you buy is not only the place where you will raise your family and live the lifestyle you’ve always wanted; it’s most likely one of the biggest—if not the biggest—investments you will make in your lifetime.
 
Make sure you’re making a wise investment by asking your real estate agent the following questions:

  1. What’s the average time on market, and how has it changed in recent years?Knowing how quickly homes in your market sell is a great indicator of how much you will be able to profit off the sale of your home in years to come. Also be sure to ask how the days on market is expected to trend in the coming year.
  2. What’s the average sales price in your market? This is important to know in order to gauge whether you’re getting a sweet deal or potentially overpaying and hurting your chances to at least recoup your money when you sell. Find out if the average sales price has gone up or down in the last year or so and in which direction it will head over the coming year.
  3. What’s the current inventory of homes for sale in your market? Inventory is an easy way to determine whether you’re in a buyer’s or seller’s market. Both have their advantages. If inventory is high and you’re in a buyer’s market, you can negotiate a better deal. If inventory is low and you’re in a seller’s market, expect to pay above listing price. However, if market stats show that you will be in a seller’s market for years to come, you can make a nice profit should you choose to sell.
  4. What’s the rate of building and construction in your market? New homes, apartment buildings and businesses are all excellent indicators that you’re buying in a thriving and expanding market, which bodes well for your investment. Conversely, if businesses are closing or moving out of town, and if new-home construction is stagnant, your market may be experiencing a decline. 

Bear in mind, while market stats are extremely important, if you’ve found a great home in an area you love, and plan on staying put for many years, it’s most likely a wise choice. Real estate is still the safest and smartest long-term investment.
 
If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact us.

Philadelphia Real Estate Investing 101

Many of the clients that we have here at InvestPhilly are, in fact, investors. Investor clients generally have different expectations of their property. Rather, than a place to live, they desire a return from their asset.

There are many reasons why someone might choose to invest in real estate and specifically Philadelphia real estate. Over the next several weeks, the team here at Invest Philly will embark on an ambitious project.

Our aim is to educate our audience about some of the risks, benefits, and unique nuances of real estate investments in the city of brotherly love. Our upcoming blog entries should not be considered authoritative academic texts. Rather, they are a collection of writings from professionals to relate our experience, to pique your interest and to provide a primer for further study.


Also, as we publish entries, we ask that you send us suggestions about subjects you’d like to see written about in the blog. We’re always available at admin@investphilly.com and welcome your input.

To begin our series, let’s discuss why someone might consider real estate investing as opposed to other asset classes.

Benefits:

1.Cash Flow:

Many investor in rental properties do so in order to produce a cash flow. This source of income, which is largely passive, is ongoing and regular allowing many investors to pursue other interests or increase their holdings to further grow their cash flow.

Real estate cash flow is stable, predictable and often given as a reason to get into the field. Barring unforeseen maintenance expenses and the occasional bad tenant, this is often suggested as one of the best reasons to get into real estate investing.

2. Tax Benefits:

When discussing taxes, an important stipulation is to always consult with a qualified accountant or financial adviser before making any decisions. That said, federal and state tax laws are often favorable to real estate owners. Whether homeowners or rental property owners.

This before getting into discussions of tax abatements, which are an article in and of themselves and will be discussed at a later time.

3. Appreciation:

As the saying goes; Buy land, they're not making it anymore. This little nugget of wisdom comes from basic economic theory. Increasing demand for a product with a fixed quantity leads to higher price under most circumstances

Astute investors know where to find undervalued bargains. And, barring a major recession, land values tend to rise over time. Thus making it a good investment. This is especially true in a city. A city like Philadelphia.

 

We hope you’ve found this introductory blog entry informative and hope that you will stay tuned for more detailed articles that are coming soon!

 As pictured, successful investments will allow you to buy progressively larger houses.

As pictured, successful investments will allow you to buy progressively larger houses.

A Haven of Creativity in Fishtown

A Haven of Creativity in Fishtown

InvestPhilly sits down for a conversation with Kim of the Portside Arts Center to learn a thing or two about expression, community and the power of teaching through art.