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Recycle Your Tree in 2013!

Don't toss your tree on the curb - Treecycle it! Bring your naked tree (no tinsel, ornaments, or lights) to Liberty Lands Park on January 5th.


A Sharp Year for Norris Point

Looking back over 2012, one of the highlight projects of the year that stood out to us was Norris Point. This exciting new construction project brought 10 three-story, 17 foot wide, 2000 square foot modern homes with off street parking to the heart of Fishtown. Built by experienced, reputable developers (recent projects The Nine & Memphis Flats), the new additions to 2149 E Norris Street offer distinct design elements both inside and out. The development is set apart by modern, distinct design by Interface Studios.

One happy buyer had this to say:

"My house hunting out of state reinforced the quality of my new construction home.  I appreciate the quality of the house and more importantly the quality of the developers.  I appreciate the professional manner in which they do business.  Thanks for your help for the past three or so years!"

Come take a look at this incredible addition to Fishtown - contact the Somers Team for a showing.


REMAX Lifetime Achievement Award

I opened a surprise letter from REMAX International this past week informing me that I just received the"REMAX Lifetime Achievement Award".  The timing could not have been better during the holidays as the letter provides even more inspiration for 2013.

It is a simple reminder that great things can happen by doing good work, working hard, doing the right thing for your clients, being honest, having integrity and competence and going the extra mile.   I look forward to having a great 2013 and continuing to work hard for our clients.   This award is tremendous reinforcement that we are doing a lot of things right.


REMAX Lifetime Achievement Award


Clearing Up the Confusion on the Homestead Exemption

In a recent article, it says the new tax property rate under AVI is tentatively projected to be 1.3% without a homestead exemption, or 1.4% with a $30,000 exemption.

Many people have been confused about what the Homestead Exemption is, and whether or not it would help or hurt them. Matt Ruben, President of the Northern Liberties Neighborhood Association, has taken the time to explain what it is and whether it will help or hurt you.

He also goes on to say “This is a separate issue from the larger problem of AVI increasing property tax bills because of large hikes in the assessed value of homes.”

Here’s Matt’s easy to understand explanation of the Homestead Exemption:

(1) What Is the Homestead Exemption?

The Homestead Exemption exempts a portion of your assessed value - currently proposed to be $30k - from taxation, if the property is your primary residence. So with the Exemption, a home valued at $100k would be taxed only on $70k of that.

(2) How Could the Exemption Be a Bad Thing?

To pay for the lost revenue from the Exemption, the City has to set the property tax rate higher than it would be if there were no Exemption. For some homes, that will mean that the increased tax rate will outweigh any savings from the Exemption.

(3) How Do I know If the Exemption Will Help or Hurt Me?

Based on the above numbers, the "tipping point" is $420,000. If your home gets assessed at $420k, your bill will be the same with or without the Exemption (see example #3, below). If your home is assessed at less than $420k, the Exemption will save you some money. If your home is assessed at more than $420k, the Exemption will cost you some extra money.

The examples below show the impact of the Exemption for assessed values that cover the range of what most Northern Liberties homeowners will see when the new assessments come out.


Examples of Tax Bills under AVI:

(1) $100k Assessment:

- 1.3%, no Homestead = tax bill $1,300

- 1.4% with Homestead = tax bill $980

- Homestead Exemption saves $320, reducing tax bill by 25%

(2) $300k Assessment:

- 1.3%, no Homestead = tax bill $3,900

- 1.4% with Homestead = tax bill $3,780

- Homestead Exemption saves $120, reducing tax bill by 3%

(3) $420k Assessment:

- 1.3%, no Homestead = tax bill $5,460

- 1.4% with Homestead = tax bill $5,460

- Homestead Exemption saves $0, neither increases nor reduces tax bill

(4) $500k Assessment:

- 1.3%, no Homestead = tax bill $6,500

- 1.4% with Homestead = tax bill $6,580

- Homestead Exemption costs an extra $80, increasing tax bill by 1.2%

(5) $800k Assessment:

- 1.3%, no Homestead = tax bill $10,400

- 1.4% with Homestead = tax bill $10,780

- Homestead Exemption costs an extra $380, increasing tax bill by 3.7%


You can also read a previous blog on this topic here.

Would love to hear your thoughts on the Homestead Exemption - did this blog post help clear up any confusion or do you still have questions?


HARP – A Personal Thank You

As many may know, I am not a big fan of Government programs nor big banks.  However, one program that provides both HARP - REFI savingsrelief and immediate stimulus to the economy now is the HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program) which allows both homeowners and investors to REFI their loans to take advantage of the low interest rates.   With a traditional REFI it can be very difficult with all of the cumbersome issues such as appraisals or if you own multiple properties.  HARP streamlines the process to allow the end goal to happen.


I just completed a HARP REFI on one of my investment properties where by lowering my interest rate, my monthly mortgage payment will go down from about $2,000 a month to $1,500 a month.  Woo hoo!  That extra $500 a month savings will be instant stimulus to the economy which is the main reason I am a huge proponent for this program as it provides direct relief to individuals who are doing the right thing (paying their mortgage on time).


And I have one more HARP REFI in the pipeline where the monthly savings will be almost as much!  For me, that is some great savings!  Both loans were with Bank of America.  I contacted them directly to initiate the process.  Thus, if you have a potential loan that can qualify for HARP, the easiest and simplest way to get started is to contact your lender directly.


What are the qualifications for HARP?

  1. You must be able to make your mortgage payments moving forward.

  2. It doesn't matter what you owe or how upside-down you are.

  3. You must have a fair credit score.

  4. Subject Property can be your owner occupied residence OR a rental property.

  5. Property can be a 1-4 unit property.

  6. Your Loan Must be owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac

  7. Be on time with your mortgage payments for the last 6 months. You are allowed one 30 day late period in the previous months 7-12.

  8. Be employed for at least the last 12 months or, if Self-Employed, report sufficient income on your tax returns (No “Stated Income or No-Doc Loans”).

For more info, visit HARP REFI Program.


Do you have any personal experience with HARP or will you be looking into this now?


Now Renting: 837 N 2nd Street 309

837 N 2nd Street, Unit 309 is now renting!

Located in walking distance to restaurants, coffee shops, local entertainment, and minutes from Center City. This is hands down, one of the best spots to live in Northern Liberties. Garage parking for two cars! Two large bedrooms, 2.5 large bathrooms, and a personal balcony AND rooftop deck. Hardwood floors throughout this spacious condo. Contemporary kitchen with granite and stainless steel appliances, and breakfast bar. Plenty of natural light and extra storage space/medicine cabinets installed in the bathrooms. Both bedrooms have new "California closets" installed for extra closet space. Large rooftop deck with pressure treated wood deck. New paint throughout. New smoke detectors and circuit breaker. Extra storage under the stairs. Meticulously maintained. Elevator in the building a huge plus.

Now renting for $2,495 a month. Contact the Somers Team for more information.



Calling All First Time Buyers! 1921 N Mascher Street

1921 N Mascher Street is a great opportunity for our first time buyers out there. Here's why...

Welcome to Old Kensington, one of the neighborhoods growing in popularity between Northern Liberties and Fishtown. This fantastic 3 bedroom 1.5 bath home is located in walking distance to the Berks Street El stop. With hardwood floors throughout, new windows, newer kitchen, and a washer and dryer included, this property will make a great home for a first time buyer. Currently tenant occupied ($1,200/mo) month to month. We welcome your visit.

Contact the Somers Team for more information.


The Fountainhead

This is one of the most inspirational books that I have read, and it is great to be introduced to a hero, Howard Roark who even though he is a fictional character, we all can learn a little bit from.   If you are looking for thought provoking reading this Holiday Season, I would highly recommend this novel by Ayn Rand.  It opened up my eyes immensely about architecture and made me think of a lot of people I work and associate with, but as Ayn Rand states in her notes:


"The story is the story of Howard Roark's triumph.  It has to show what the man is, what he wants and how he gets it.  It has to be a triumphant epic of man's spirit, a hymn glorifying a man's "I".  It has to show every conceivable hardship and obstacle on his way - and how he triumphs over them, why he has to triumph."


The FountainheadFor me, it was a great reminder to keep moving forward in life, to be passionate and motivated and not to be let down by the obstacles or failure that hit you, but to embrace them as stepping stones for the future.   And from a psychological point-of-view, Rand provides a whole assortment of characters that provide their own unique perspective on life and on society.  It is a delightful read that can really open the mind in several different facets.

I have been struggling to find great reads like these from current writers.  When I find them, I will be sure to share them.   Many people may have already read "The Fountainhead"If it was many years ago, it might be worth a re-read as there have been some interesting developments in our last decade which parallels this story written approximately 70 years ago.  The themes, especially from a political and psychological viewpoint, still apply today.

If you have read the novel, please share your thoughts and if you take this recommendation, please let us know what you think.


Your New Condo in Northern Liberties: 1147-53 N 4th Street

1147-53 N 4th Street, Unit 4D at the Cigar Factory in Northern Liberties offers a Luxury Loft apartment experience. Large open floor plan with soaring ceilings, exposed timber, factory size windows, and all of the creature comforts you expect for a modern life-style. Private garage parking with elevator access to your floor, fob security entrance, and convenient street parking. This one of a kind condo apartment offers over 1,600 sq feet, leaving plenty of room for furniture, guests, and entertaining or a live/work space for those who need that flexibility. Convenient commute from Philadelphia to DC and NY as well as NJ and Center City Philadelphia. Plenty of entertainment and delicious restaurants serving in walking distance at the Piazza and throughout Northern Liberties. If you want luxury, we encourage your visit today. Contact the Somers Team for more information. 


Back on the Market! 1745 Sepviva Street

1745 Sepviva Street is back on the market! Welcome to this 2 bedroom 1 bath home in the Kensington neighborhood. This home features all new plumbing, electric, roof, high efficiency HVAC and hot water heater with Powervent. Home features stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors with cherry inlays and contemporary bathroom. Top to bottom, this is basically a brand new house located close to Palmer Park and Frankford Arts Corridor.

Ready for a new home for the New Year? Contact the Somers Team for more information. 


Phone: 215.253.6818