August 1, 2015 |
After a lengthy drought, real estate lawyers are a hot commodity again. The biggest firms in Philadelphia and other cities with booming real estate markets say finding lawyers skilled in handling the zoning, tax, and transactional pieces of complex projects has become a near impossibility. There simply aren't enough lawyers to go around, and that has stretched existing practice groups and forced firms to move lawyers internally from other specialties. " Voracious is the word that I would use to describe what is going on," said Bart Mellits, chair of Ballard Spahr's real estate department, which has more than 100 lawyers.
July 26, 2015 |
The Counselors of Real Estate is a group of 1,000 individuals, invited to join, who are considered the crème de la crème of the industry. Over the last 26 years, the organization has provided considerable fodder for this column. Today's focuses on the top issues facing residential real estate in 2015-16, as seen by the group. I'm skipping over commercial real estate issues, unless they affect residential or result from housing shifts. First up: demographic shifts, with baby boomers and millennials having the greatest impact.
July 24, 2015 |
Not even a stint in a Kentucky prison cell could stop serial counterfeiter and forger Kenneth Hampton from engaging in one of Philadelphia's oldest real estate scams, federal prosecutors said. In an indictment unsealed Tuesday, Hampton, 54, was charged with recruiting three family members in a scheme to steal two West Philadelphia rowhouses by filing fraudulent deeds with the city's Department of Records. All told, investigators say, Hampton caused $87,000 in losses and kept potential property buyers tied up in court for months.
July 9, 2015 |
Sellers appear to be having a better time in today's market. So says a national survey by Coldwell Banker Real Estate, which compared responses in late April with the initial recovery years of 2010 to 2013. It found that: The offer the seller accepted recently was based more often on emotion than money. About 25 percent say they sold their homes in less than two weeks. Forty-seven percent received multiple offers this year, compared with 40 percent back in 2010 to 2013.
May 20, 2015 |
Michael J. Lenny, 75, of Cherry Hill, a real estate appraiser there, died of leukemia on Thursday, May 14, at home. Mr. Lenny served as president of the Camden County Board of Realtors in 1979. He graduated from Camden Catholic High School in 1957, and studied business at the University of Miami before serving in the Air Force Reserve, a son, Kevin, said. In 1962, Mr. Lenny joined his father's firm, Lenny Realtors, which appraised, bought, sold, and insured houses. The Fairview firm expanded to Cherry Hill when Mr. Lenny joined his father, Kevin Lenny said.
May 18, 2015 |
Brownstein Group and Vault Communications are in similar businesses: advertising and public relations, which means their success depends largely on people - who can set up shop anywhere. Brownstein is in Center City, while Vault is in Plymouth Meeting, and the tax consequences of their locations separate them far more than the 19 miles between their offices. Vault pays a business privilege tax of 0.15 percent and no local net income tax in Plymouth Township. Brownstein's tax bill in Philadelphia includes a 6.45 percent corporate income tax, a 0.1415 percent gross receipts tax, a 1.13 percent use and occupancy tax, and a 2 percent city sales tax. That heavier tax burden, coupled with the Philadelphia wage tax that is nearly four times higher than the average in the suburbs, has long handicapped the city's job growth.
May 18, 2015 |
The company that Joseph F. Coradino leads took a lot of heat over the Gallery. Critics lashed out at the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, which includes the Center City mall among the dozens it runs nationwide, for shutting stores and cutting merchants off from their livelihoods. Even the promise of a glittering new shopping mall in a tired section of Market Street East didn't seem to turn down the temperature. But the critics didn't understand the whole story, says Coradino, 63, chief executive of PREIT.
May 11, 2015 |
It didn't matter when Philadelphia's median home price was $59,000. Back in 1990, the children of longtime owners of rowhouses in the river wards and West Philadelphia walked away from those properties when the last parent passed away. The houses weren't worth the taxes, and no one was interested in them except those who broke the locks and stripped the insides of copper and anything else they thought was worth a buck. Some neighborhoods didn't even have real-estate agents. If someone's son or daughter needed a house and a neighbor had died, the transaction was done off the grid but recorded with the city.
May 2, 2015 |
There's nothing fancy about the ensemble of redbrick houses that line the 3600 block of Lancaster Avenue in Powelton Village. Built in the late 1870s, when the avenue linked country farms to city markets, the modest, wood-trimmed buildings housed working people who tended shops on the ground floor. Folks still live upstairs today, and neighborhood businesses - bike store, nail salon, day-care center - still pepper the storefronts below. Such blocks are what make Philadelphia, well, Philadelphia.
April 27, 2015 |
The speedy growth of Nicholas Schorsch 's real estate empire of 4,000 Walmarts, Red Lobsters , and other chain locations stalled last fall, when his publicly traded investment firm, American Realty Capital Properties , admitted falsely inflating profits. Last month, the company restated three years of earnings, acknowledged millions in unreported losses, and replaced top bosses. American Realty's admission - amid what the company said are investigations by federal prosecutors in New York, securities regulators in Massachusetts, and the Securities and Exchange Commission - has given investors ammunition to fix blame for the $3 billion decline in the company's share value since last fall.