Subscribe via Email

Tip Jar: Keep it Moving!

keepitmovingFinding a great moving company just got easier! One of our clients who recently sold a property in Northern Liberties discovered Keep it Moving, a Philadelphia moving company that offers everything from junk removal and packing to commercial and residential moving and furniture delivery.  They also sell moving supplies and offer free shipping for online orders. Our client had this to say: "Best mover ever!"

Moving can be stressful enough, so it's great to find another trusted option. As Keep it Moving says on their website, "Make Ya Next Move Ya Best Move".  Get in touch for your free in-home estimate!


Tip Jar: How to Find “the One”

THE_SOMERS1With all these Websites at your disposal, you would think it would be easier to find “The One” home online these days.

Day after day you search Craigslist and Zillow, hoping “The One” has hit the market.

It’s almost like dating!

Be patient, it will happen. While you continue to search, here are five signs you will know you found “The One”:

5 Signs A Home Might Be "The One"

1. You instantly feel possessive about the property.

When you walk into ‘The One’ no matter how long you’ve been house hunting, you’ll get an involuntary surge of energy to do whatever it takes to make that home yours.

2. You start to see its flaws as adorable quirks.

Smart buyers should be aware of a syndrome some call “Pottery Barn Psychosis,” whereby the aesthetics of a wonderfully staged home with amazing curb appeal can hypnotize a buyer. This syndrome renders buyers blind to the negative property features, which would be glaring or grave concerns if the place weren’t so stinking cute. It’s fine to make a conscious decision that the pros of a place outweigh its cons, and even to consciously re-rank your priorities in light of a particular property’s advantages.

3. You immediately envision your own family, furniture, decor, daily activities or remodeling choices in/to the home.

If you find yourself, during a property viewing, measuring the dining room with your footsteps to be sure your Grandma’s table will fit, discussing whether the wall between kitchen and dining room can be removed or your mind’s eye Photoshopping a given property to insert your bedroom set, your dining table and favorite wall hangings into place it’s entirely possible that the home you’re viewing could be “The One” for you.

4. You lose interest in seeing other homes.

When you find “The One,” your interest in seeing other homes dissipates, instantly - no matter how many homes you’ve seen or how long you’ve been house hunting.

5. The money, time and energy spent feels worth it.

Home buying is an expensive, time consuming proposition. And your years of budgeting of earned you a nice nest egg, but it didn’t come easy, there might be many a Saturday night at home and a brown bagged lunch reflected in your down payment savings. If you view a home that make all of those sacrifices suddenly feel like the best, most worthwhile decision ever? You, my friend, might have found “The One.”

Finding “The One” takes time. It can be a painful and frustrating experience.

Buying a house isn’t just about putting a roof over your head. It’s likely the largest investment you will ever make (besides maybe marriage!).

Don’t give up. Don’t settle.

If you want to look for “The One” right now, we just updated the site with some new listings. And speaking of new, you may have noticed our latest logo above, which will be fully integrated into our site later this month. We think it's "the One" for us. Happy searching!


Tip Jar: The How and Why to Staging a Home

865thompson2Today's guest post comes to us from Paul Benjamin, a District Manager at EZ Storage.

Today's selling market is rough. Though house prices are starting to rebound, the environment remains extremely competitive. Staging your home is an excellent way to help your house stand out, catch the attention of potential buyers, and ensure that it sells for a good price. Whether your house is vacant or still furnished, there are multiple ways to make your house look more attractive and inviting to as many potential buyers as possible. Read on to find out why you should stage your house and to discover some quick house staging ideas.

What are the advantages of house staging?

Staging your house helps it sell faster and at a better price. While house staging can't make your house sell at a price above its worth, it serves as a sort of insurance against the price of the house being forced below its worth.

Selling your house in the current economy means having to compete with similar houses which are likely priced lower than yours. Your house needs to be presented as attractively as possible- and to the greatest number of people.

Staging a house can be done relatively inexpensively (less than a thousand dollars!) and helps to neutralize a house. This is beneficial in eliminating quirks or specific stylistic choices that might put off some potential buyers.

Do you have an old bathroom or ugly carpeting? Home staging can also draw attention to a house's strengths while simultaneously downplaying its weaknesses. Staging a room to draw attention to a large bay window and away from old flooring is much cheaper than renovation, after all.

3 Quick and Inexpensive House Staging Ideas

1. Make sure your house is spotless from top to bottom: It sounds obvious, but many sellers underestimate the power of a de-cluttered house. Making sure that everything is organized and in its place makes a house look larger and more attractive, inevitably attracting more interest from buyers. A key to making a house less cluttered is to get rid of extra furniture; even if a house is spotless, an overcrowded room with one too many chairs or end tables in it will quickly make a house seem smaller and dirtier.

2. Re-purpose unused spaces: Taking empty or unwelcoming spaces and transforming them into usable, attractive rooms is an excellent way to add value to a home. Do you have a 'sewing room' that you barely use? Adding a well-placed book shelf or desk can instantly make a room serve dual purposes. What about a den that just seems dark and gloomy? Bring light in by adding an interesting lamp or a few brightly colored accent pillows-- or even draping bright fabrics on the wall. 

3. Lighting, lighting, and more lighting: As far as house staging ideas, this one is pretty easy. Brightly lit homes always look more welcoming and attractive. Make sure every room is carefully illuminated and potential buyers will automatically find it warmer and more livable. It's not a simple matter of making sure you have enough lamps in a room, however; increase wattage in already existing lamps and make sure the light isn't too glaring or bright; a mixture of soft and harder lighting is best.

Bottom Line: Home staging is one of the most inexpensive ways to up the selling price and appeal of your home. While it won't fix an old kitchen or outdated flooring, it can draw attention away from flaws to ensure as many potential buyers as possible find the house attractive. 

Put the house staging ideas above to practice and watch your home sell!


logoPaul Benjamin is a District Manager at EZ Storage, a self storage company serving the Philadelphia area for over 40 years.


Dollars & Scents: Got Lemons?

lemonsIf you think baking cookies before a showing is a surefire way to sell a home, think again. As it turns out, those homey scents that most agents swear by aren't as convincing as once thought. Today's article in the Wall Street Journal details a study in Switzerland that shows that simpler scents such as orange SELL. From the article:

"Complex scents, even if they're pleasant, can be a distraction because some people subconsciously dedicate time and energy to figuring out what the aroma is. At open houses, "they are not there to process the smells. They are there to process whether this is a place they want to live," Prof. Spangenberg says. Instead, he recommends simple scents, such as lemon, basil and pine, since they're easier to process and less distracting and thus more conducive to spending.

So put down the cinnamon rolls! The article goes on to list baked goods and potpurri among the worst offenders and suggests that scents be congruent with the home. And no, that doesn't mean that aroma of fish in Fishtown, folks! Try something natural and remember to keep it subtle. Essential oil sprays do the trick, simply add 8-10 drops of the essential oil of your choice (we like lemon) to a spray bottle filled with distilled water. Shake before each use. Try cedarwood and tea tree oil mixed in water for a pet deodorizing spray or cinnamon and clove if you still want that spicy "apple pie" scent without being too cloying.

Let us know what scents you think sell!



Readers Ask: Can You Recommend a Lead Paint Assessor?

After our post on the lead paint update, I was asked to recommend a Certified Lead Base Paint Assessor. Since the law has been made effective, there are few people with certifications. Landlords can actually get certified if they know they are providing homes to tenants with young children. In the meantime, while Home Inspectors and other people are getting their certification, I can provide this resource for consumers looking for a certified technician today.

Are you a buyer or a seller with a burning home-related question? Hit up our inbox!


Tip Jar: A Timeless Holiday Gift Idea For The Holiday

The holiday gift buying season is upon us in all of its commercialist splendor. I am pretty certain most of us will be spending our hard earned money on mass produced electronics, clothing, fruitcakes... you know the same old stuff you bought year in year out during the shopping season. These gift items are okay for some of the people on your gift list but you know as well as I know, these items will not last the test of time. Well, maybe the fruit cake will but in general the other gifts are short-lived.

This year I suggest you give the gift that lasts for generations. Give one special someone (or even yourself) the gift of Art. Original art. Paintings, collages, prints, drawings, glass, handcrafted furniture, sculpture, handmade jewelry, ceramics, the list goes on. Artwork is timeless and personal, and when thoughtfully placed for friends and family to admire, will actually transform a space on so many different levels.

Buying original artwork may seem difficult especially if your idea of art is  a poster of a crying unicorn or a glossy of your favorite band taped on your bedroom wall. But it’s actually very simple. In Philadelphia we are so lucky to have tons of artists and work to choose from. I just bought a large collage from a local artist Peter Quinn that I hung in my office along with two other prints by local artist Bruce Reinfeld. I am also really into local artist Chris Clark. To find art for sale check out POSTInLiquid, and the Paper Mill Studio for resources.  Local galleries are also a great place to see examples of work and if the price seems too steep, ask for something within your budget.

Remember: By purchasing art from a local artist, your money is going back into the community and supporting not only the local economy but those talented people that really lead the way in cultural development and progress. Now that’s a gift!

[image via Chris M Clark]


Tip Jar: Hurricane Sandy May Cause Closing Delays in Philadelphia

Today's Tip Jar is weather-inspired:

If Hurricane Sandy results in a Federal Disaster Declaration in the county where your customer is under contract to buy or sell a home, and that transaction requires the buyer to obtain a mortgage please read this.

If the appraiser has already completed the inspection, under Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Government Agency (FHA, etc.) rules, the appraiser must return to the house, re-inspect it and confirm that there is no storm damage. This must be done prior closing.

If you have a closing scheduled for the days immediately following the storm, and there is a Federal Disaster Declaration in the County, there could be mortgage related delays while appraisers get out doing the re-inspections. To reduce closing stress, inform your buyers and sellers of this rule and ask them to prepare to be flexible regarding the closing date. If the Hurricane Irene experience of last year is a guide, delays were seldom more than two days.

Keep in mind that the appraiser will charge the buyer for the return trip. If you have an appraisal inspection scheduled for the days preceding the arrival of the storm, postpone them until after the storm passes. Any appraisals with a site visit date after the passage of the storm will not require a re-inspection, saving your buyer $75 to $150.

Source:  Kelly Nyikita, CB Home Loans

[image via the Weather Channel]


Tip Jar: An Eater’s Guide to Philly!

Metro's Philadelphia Eater's Guide noted some of our favorite foodie destinations beyond cheesesteak purveyors... the often overlooked Philly is full of exciting new restaurant concepts and incredible chefs and dishes that don't often get the recognition that they deserve. So this week's tip? Eat up! Here's a few more places to check out next time you're in town:

In Northern Liberties and Point Breeze:

Circles is the beloved thai BYO that opened a location in Northern Liberties earlier this year, bringing the spice to another hot neighborhood. Try the seitan satay and the best pad thai in the city, then take a stroll over to the Piazza or Liberties Walk to cool off.

In Rittenhouse Square:

Vernick Food & Drink is worth checking out for their delicious "toast" creations, such as the fromage blanc and pickled cherries or the charred spinach and leeks. This bistro knocks out some beautiful dishes and craft cocktails, all with a great view of Walnut Street. Head to Rittenhouse Square or to the Franklin for an after-dinner cocktail.

In Fishtown:

Both Frankford Hall and Loco Pez rank high on our list for excellent scene-watching in the eclectic Fishtown neighborhood. And the food and drink are swell, too! The former is a funky beer garden with enormous pretzels and even bigger beers to work those biceps. The latter pumps out super cheap tacos and margs for a lively crowd. We recommend visiting earlier or on a weekday to get a seat, as wait times can be long on weekends.  Then experience the 14 Reasons to Live in Fishtown.

So welcome! We hope you can squeeze in a visit to one of these essential Philly eateries on your visit.


Tip Jar: Support a Vision!

The show “Visions of Arcadia” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art highlights 3 of the most influential Modern Artists and their process and perceptions of a mystical place called “Arcadia”. Arcadia is an “unspoiled harmonious wilderness” and more than just a place where naked bathers hang out near the woods. The notion of Arcadia is really a reaction to times, perceptions, and forward thinking of of the European culture in the 1900’s. The 1850’s through 1900’s were a time of significant growth in the economy due to advancements in agriculture and technology.

I could not help but to compare and contrast what is happening in my little microcosm of the art world in 2012 amongst my artist friends and acquaintances here in Philadelphia. The catalyst to the movements that inspired this amazing collection of art for “Visions of Arcadia” were actually commissioned works by wealthy patrons for their personal enjoyment in their homes. The housing industry was clearly doing very well at the time and I admit to being more than a little envious of the celebration of prosperity.

As a result of my observations of this special installation at PMA, I felt unusually sad. I was sad because when I look around my Philadelphia, I observe so many artists struggling to do what they were born to do. Artists definitely take the brunt of a weak economy and thrive creatively in a strong economy. “Visions of Arcadia” is evidence that this notion is true. The artists of today that have boldly devoted their lives to pursuing their real purpose make many personal sacrifices to do so. They are, in my opinion, the underdogs and pushers of culture in our city.  Developments in art and culture are stunted during economic downturns. So, “Visions of Arcadia",  though a celebration of a Utopia on Earth, showed me how important it is to acknowledge the art and especially "career artists" in our community. My resolve is strengthened more now than ever to support the arts and artists as best I can today, when they need it most.

In the last year I purchased original works from 2 local artists (Rebecca Jacoby and Nancy Blum) and have my hopes set on one more piece from another local emerging artist! I recently blogged about The PaperMill Artist Community and Karyn Vetter, the owner and manager of this radical Kensington outreach. Her contributions are noteworthy. As a volunteer for 2013's InLiquid Benefit, I hope my time provides benefits to the collaborators as well as the art community.  Volunteering is free for those who cannot contribute financially. And, if you have not supported the art community, I ask you to consider buying an original piece or donating to a benefit or sponsoring a local artist. If you love music or dance, there are plenty of opportunities to support these practices in Philadelphia.

So, get out there, get involved, and play a part in the art world in your community.


Tip Jar: Meet Your Nightmare Neighbor

This week, we strongly advise you to meet your nightmare neighbor.

Meet your neighbor, Eastern State Penitentiary, in the Fairmount section of the Art Museum. This historic attraction/museum is a frequented spot for tourists and local Philadelphians. Being an admitted glutton for the macabre, my tour proved to be a very stimulating experience. If you are a history buff, this place provides plenty of it and apparently Eastern State Penitentiary is believed to be haunted by the very prisoners that once walked the halls and sat in the prison cells you will see in my V-blog.  Visit Eastern State Penitentiary...if you dare, of course.

For more info about Eastern State Penitentiary, visit their website.


Phone: 215.253.6818