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BUSINESS
January 20, 2012 | By Alan J. Heavens
Not so long ago, marketing a house for sale was as simple as a newspaper ad, open house, the smell of bread baking in the oven, and a few shovelfuls of fresh mulch on the front gardens. Oh, yes, and washing the windows to let in as much natural light as possible. Most of those suggestions are still valid, of course, and although there are growing signs of the downturn easing and a turnaround in the offing, the task of marketing a house these days still requires much more effort by real estate agents than it used to. In fact, most agents insist that they are doing nothing really differently - just more of it. "Yes, I'd use the term more rather than different - more photos, more websites, more online presence, more recommendations to sellers to fix up, clean up, stage their property," said agent Ruth Feldman of Weichert Realtors McCarthy Group in Philadelphia's Mount Airy neighborhood.
BUSINESS
January 13, 2012 | By Alan J. Heavens
The year 1994 was a bad one for real estate. In fact, by then, things had already been difficult for several years. In 1987, the bottom had fallen out of the national market, the result of unsustainable price increases and overbuilding. By early 1990, the Philadelphia region had been caught up, too. And by some measures, the early to mid-1990s were even worse here than the current downturn has been, with Philadelphia taking the biggest hit. From 1990 to 1994, city prices fell 17 percent, compared with 2 percent in the suburbs, according to economist Kevin Gillen, vice president of Econsult Corp.
BUSINESS
January 6, 2012 | By Alan J. Heavens
You've decided to dip your toe into the sea of properties available in the Philadelphia real estate market. Now, the question is: single-family home or condo? Though location and price are prime considerations for both, real estate agents cite lifestyle as a major factor. Why? Because when you buy a single-family house, you purchase the land on which it sits, and are responsible for maintaining it. "When you buy a condominium, you are also buying the services," said developer/real estate broker Allan Domb, who specializes in the Center City high-rise market - "the doorman, the facilities offered, maintenance, and professional management.
BUSINESS
December 23, 2011 | By Alan J. Heavens
If there has been anything positive about residential real estate in the last year, it has been the multifamily-housing market. Those who might have bought homes are renting apartments or condos instead, mindful of declining home values and coping with tighter lending requirements. The latest national data, released Tuesday by the Census Bureau, showed construction permits for multifamily projects skyrocketing. Locally, a fourth-quarter apartment-research report by real estate investment-services firm Marcus & Millichap confirms that "as a result of [Philadelphia's]
BUSINESS
December 16, 2011 | By Alan J. Heavens
Is a new house, or being able to sell your present one, near the top of the list you sent Santa Claus? Because if you're looking for a time to list your house for sale, or to begin searching for that place of your dreams, the holidays might just be it. If you're a seller, one advantage is that would-be buyers out in the market during the holidays tend to have a reason for being there, and so are very serious about the hunt. A recent Move.com survey of Realtors around the country found 79 percent had concluded as much, and area agents and brokers affirmed the observation.
BUSINESS
December 9, 2011 | By Alan J. Heavens
When should you repair and when should you replace? With the economic downturn keeping people in their homes longer and money ever tighter, it is a choice being considered by more homeowners these days. For example, with winter coming, and concerns about energy costs mounting, many cash-strapped homeowners are trying to figure out how to reduce the $1,900 per year that the Department of Energy says the typical family spends on utilities. A new furnace or energy-efficient windows, although both very obvious ways to lower heating costs, may not be in the budget.
BUSINESS
December 2, 2011 | By Alan J. Heavens
One of the first things swimming instructors teach is safety, especially staying afloat in water too deep to stand in. Who'd have thought it would become such an important part of homeownership? Today, 10.7 million homeowners with mortgages, 22.1 percent of the total nationwide, owe more money on those loans than they could get if they sold their houses - effectively putting them "underwater" or "upside-down," according to CoreLogic, of Santa Ana, Calif., which tracks U.S. real estate data.
BUSINESS
November 18, 2011 | By Alan J. Heavens
The market for new homes continues to be mired in its worst contraction since record-keeping began in the early 1960s. Among the reasons: competition from lower-price resales, especially short sales and foreclosures; tight credit for builders and buyers; and high unemployment. Yet from time to time, bright spots emerge, perhaps contributing to a growing builder confidence nationally, as reflected in Wednesday's report by the National Association of Home Builders. That boost in confidence is "evidence that well-qualified buyers in select areas are being tempted back into the market by today's extremely favorable mortgage rates and prices," said David Crowe, chief economist for the builders group.
NEWS
October 21, 2011 | By Sally Friedman, For The Inquirer
Judy Wicks' Fitler Square home is a testament to her wide-ranging imagination and her deep commitment to the environment. Wicks - creator and former owner of West Philadelphia's White Dog Cafe, a leading community organizer and passionate environmentalist - lives in a 100-year-old three-story home that contains treasures collected over a lifetime from near and far. She displays them in a way that makes visitors eager to explore her quirky and...
BUSINESS
September 16, 2011 | By Alan J. Heavens
Fixed mortgage-interest rates are down to a record 4.09 percent, Freddie Mac reported Thursday - something that doesn't appear to mean much to many Americans these days, because few people are buying houses. The low fixed rates do, however, offer a good opportunity to refinance your current home loan. With lenders remaining tight-fisted, home values continuing to decline, and appraisals often falling well below borrower expectations, refinancing sometimes can be a long and difficult process.
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