I had to ask myself why I love Main Line mid-century modern so much, then I started laughing because I realized I am mid-century modern! 😆
This week’s #FeatureFriday spotlight shines on a renovated mid-century gem located in Gladwyne at 1639 Monk Road designed by Kjell Ingebrigtsen and on the market for the first time after a major renovation. Tell me you don’t love this! 💕
I actually grew up in Victorian gems with wrap around porches, hardwood floors, back stairs to the kitchen and all kinds of fun nooks and cranny’s to play hide and seek. Homes like 227 Lansdowne Ave in the heart of South Wayne Historic District steal my heart too! 🥰
Many times my buyers have conflicting loves as well. One likes historic, the other adores modern.
A great solution for both is a renovated home with modern amenities but historic architectural features like my clients’ recent purchase of their “forever home” at 356 Meadow Lane in Merion Station:
In fact, we closed and I still haven’t seen the home!
Each home purchase is a journey, a unique experience. It’s an honor and privilege to be able to assist my clients, making dreams come true.
It’s not just a transaction – it’s a life changing move and I take my clients’ trust in me to heart.
What the journey looked like
This story starts before COVID-19. In fact, I first met my clients at an open house a few years ago. If you’ve met me, you already know that I’m not a high-pressure sales person but view my role as a trusted advisor with a passion to help people accomplish their goals.
They remembered me “because I was nice” and contacted me when they were ready to upgrade to a larger home due to a baby on the way.
While they have a lovely home in Queen Village, they needed more space but also wanted parking, first floor living area and outdoor space in William Meredith School district for under $1M.
Time to find that “forever” home to be filled with love, laughter, little people and years of happy memories.
Prior to the coronavirus we saw a few that might fit, but something wasn’t just right. When you have buyers that want what we fondly call a “unicorn” (a unique property that’s hard to find) it’s time to get creative!
Finding that perfect match!
You might call me a real estate “match maker,” connecting buyers and sellers to create success for both.
After doing extensive outreach, letter writing and research within their micro-market, I found a narrow selection of possibilities. One was of particular interest and a potential perfect match.
Both the owners and my buyers were flexible on timing, but the little one on the way wasn’t waiting for Gov. Wolf to lift the real estate COVID-19 shut down!
Buying sight unseen
By law, I literally could not physically do any real estate related activities – not even place a sign or lockbox.
The owners did not want to list their home, and in fact had no sense of urgency about selling. However, after a few conversations, emails and Zoom calls, they were open to a potential “match” with my clients.
After a Zoom call and walk through with both buyers and sellers, they loved it! I knew this one would be a huge regret if we let it get away.
Their inclination was to wait for the COVID restrictions to be lifted and then make an offer. We discussed the possibility of a sight-unseen contract but understandably that made them feel uneasy.
As an advisor, it’s my role to offer possibilities and explore options not previously considered. Recognizing that the market would be more competitive after the shutdown, and their rights would be protected by the “sight unseen” contract addendum, the buyers agreed to do what they never thought they would – make an offer without seeing the home in person!
How does a sight unseen contract work?
Because of COVID-19, I suggested to the owners they go under contract as For Sale by Owners rather than have me represent them. By law they could interact with the buyers in ways that I could not, and it would also ‘sweeten’ my buyers offer price by reducing their cost of selling.
We minimized any in-person contact throughout the process. The owner privately contacted the buyers for their walk through during the “sight-unseen” contingency period and they weren’t in the property again until our final walk through on day of settlement.
With all parties grave concern regarding COVID-19, I did not go in the home even at the settlement day walk through but stood by outside to answer questions. Once this pandemic is over, we will all celebrate in person and I’ll love seeing what they’ve done with the place.
I’m so happy for all involved! The sellers found a perfect new home and did a sell/buy double closing on the same day. Everyone was a delight to work with.
Putting my clients needs first is more than a slogan, it’s at the core of my personal and professional ethics. I’m only successful when it’s a positive result for my clients. Your success is my success!
“Susanna Kunkel did a wonderful job of finding our dream home in Queen Village! She went above and beyond in the time of the pandemic to find us a home that wasn’t even on the market. It doesn’t get much better than that! She is a thorough professional who knows the ins and outs of the business and with tons of contacts. In addition she has always been accessible to us and super easy to work with. She genuinely cares about her clients. We highly recommend her without any reservations”
To explore how you can buy or sell using “sight unseen” strategies, or at least minimize your risks during COVID-19, please contact me for a confidential consultation.
Local news and statistical reports haven’t really told the story of what’s happening in Gladwyne luxury real estate. As always with statistics, results vary depending on what you’re looking at and how you’re analyzing data.
Maybe it’s the times, but conflicting reports on the coronavirus, the election, the economy and also real estate can be a bit much!
Quantum physics of market data
Reviewing statistics reminds me of the metaphysical, quantum physics concept that reality changes when observed. Or that one’s observation can change reality.
Especially in the luxury real estate market where one or two large sales in a small community skew results.
However, recent trends in Gladwyne are consistent and dramatic. Enough esoteric wanderings, let’s get to some understandable facts!
Gladwyne Luxury Real Estate
There are really 3 different market segments within any local area that includes luxury real estate; under $1M, $1M to $2.5M and above $2.5M. For this report, we are looking specifically at the $1M+ residential market.
Looking at the $1M+ and especially the $2.5M+ market in Gladwyne, a dramatic shift has happened.
As recently as 6 months ago, walkable locations on the Main Line, such as Wayne, Lower Merion, and Bryn Mawr were preferred by luxury buyers over large Gladwyne estate homes. Maintenance of pools, large 6+ bedroom homes with acreage that require ongoing maintenance were often deal killers. Buyers wanted easy access to transportation and shopping.
Gladwyne has become a desired location for newly mobile executives. The impact of migration from Manhattan to the Main Line along with demand from other areas such as Washington, DC has ignited Gladwyne luxury market values.
Buyers want expansive, flexible space, pools and tennis courts on a gracious private lot. A home that can function for the entire family, work from home and offers resort-style amenities.
Now the qualities that were seen as negative are competitive “must haves” for today’s buyers.
Let’s review the numbers. There’s clearly a dramatic increase in market values as detailed in this month’s Gladwyne Luxury Report:
As noted above, depending on how you analyze statistics, you might miss this story!
If you look at “absorption rates” the Gladwyne luxury inventory has been running at a 5-6 months which normally indicates a balanced market. That doesn’t reflect the hot luxury buyer activity going on right now, or the clear increase in median sales prices.
Greater Philadelphia Area Statistics
No one analyzes local data better than Drexel University economist Kevin Gillan. However as an example of how confusing statistics can be, a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article sourced Gillan :
“While home prices rose in Philadelphia in the second quarter of the year, prices of homes in the suburbs dipped.”
The “suburbs” includes several counties, and many communities. Again, it depends on what data you’re analyzing. Statistics really are only meaningful when looking at micro-market trends – what’s exactly happening in your local market.
The Bryn Mawr market snapshot below shows an example of the upward trends in Montgomery County:
Contrary to Gillan’s analysis, Rittenhouse Square results from the exact same set of data shows a decline in median sales prices:
For insights into market trends in your area, contact Susanna for a private confidential consultation.
Dive deep into data detailed below, and please share your insights in the comments. Be sure to subscribe to receive future blog posts.
After returning to an “open” business environment after three months, the future of Open Houses seems to be bordering extinct. Or more accurately obsolete, like the typewriter.
Can you write with a typewriter? Yes, but why would you? Can you have an Open House? Yes, but with all the restrictions necessary and appointments required, why would you want to go?
Open House Pivot
Pivot is a word often used to express the dramatic and rapid changes impacting the real estate market due to COVID19. Some changes were underway but became accelerated, like virtual selling.
Others, like Open Houses, have completely “pivoted” to something other than what they were.
The non-committal and casual nature of Open Houses was a way to explore local real estate without an agent, or appointment.
Virtual Open Houses were a work around during our COVID19 shut down, using video previously taken or with the owner’s cooperation via Zoom video conference.
The new standard is to present a virtual Open House on Zoom with the agent guiding a tour of previously recorded video or navigating the Matterport 3D layout. Appointments are required, and if you “stop in” late you miss the video tour.
While it’s better than nothing, and a way to get a “peak” at the interior of the home, it’s not the casual easy way to explore real estate that we have enjoyed for so long.
Virtual Selling – the new standard of practice
In today’s market, virtual selling should be a standard of practice. I’ve sold homes virtually using video since 2008. It doesn’t make sense to book an appointment for a video tour that I already have access to, or should.
Every listing should provide a video tour. For my sellers I do a marketing video, think of it like a movie trailer;
Then I do the actual walk through video which takes you through the home as if you are there.
The home buying process has “pivoted.” Home buyers used to wait to interview and hire an agent until they were ready to buy. Now it’s best practice to do that at the beginning of your search.
Likewise, your pre-approval is needed early in the process as it’s required along with a COVID19 form to book showings.
Open House Standards Due to COVID19
Now that physical Open Houses are allowed, understandably there are awkward restrictions. As an example, here are highlights of a current brokerage’s Open House guideline for agents;
1. Sales associates and all open house visitors must wear a mask. 2. Social distancing rules should be maintained. 3. Disinfect all high-touch areas prior to and between each group of visitors; provide hand sanitizer if possible. 4. Sales associates should limit open house attendance to one group at a time to maintain appropriate distancing and accompany them through their tour to minimize unintended touching of surfaces. Additional groups can be asked to wait outside and to maintain social distancing while doing so. 5. Maintain a record of everyone entering the property, including name and E-mail address or cell phone number.
“The worst is to come. Based on research in 84 countries, a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reckons that…without a medical breakthrough, the total number of cases will climb to 200m-600m by spring 2021.”
We cannot just return to “business as usual” as the battle against this pandemic is far from over.
Protecting buyers and sellers from unnecessary public exposure and utilizing current technology to present a virtual buying experience is now a necessary standard of practice – not just an option.
While our local market is now pushed to pivot in this direction, it’s long overdue in terms of providing the highest level of service to our clients.
Home buying is a journey – not a transaction
I provide information, support, advise and guidance from early exploration of the market through negotiations and closing as my personal standard of practice. Sometimes the answer is to not buy, which is perfectly fine. It’s all about what’s best for you!
The rush to provide virtual Open Houses has been a push to generate “leads” or meet prospective buyers. Open Houses have always been more of a networking opportunity for the agent than a true selling tool for the home owner. Virtual Open Houses provide marketing exposure for the agent but present an awkward experience for buyers.
Virtual Home Buying Service
Using virtual selling expertise, I create video walk throughs of properties throughout the home buying process to narrow down selections and fine tune the home search for my clients. That way, the showings we book in person are in reality 2nd showings. This saves time, protects home buyers and sellers from unnecessary exposure and streamlines the home buying process.
Open House Signs – an antique?
When I sold luxury real estate on Kauai, my open house signs were often stolen and used for fighting rooster sheds, an illegal but popular local sport.
One way of repurposing them but not a big demand on the Main Line!
While I haven’t thrown my Open House signs away, they are in the back closet for now! My ‘go bag’ is full of video equipment instead.
I had the honor of recently helping my Manhattan clients purchase this luxury Merion Station home during the COVID-19 shut down.
365 Meadow Lane in Merion Station offered the perfect mix of historic architecture and renovated interior living space. Going to Manhattan 2-3 days a week is easy with a short drive to 30th Street Station.
“Susanna is a total gem. We started looking for homes in early 2020. We had not yet found an agent, but struck up a conversation with her at an open house.
My husband and I immediately noticed how real she was: she was truthful and did not try to “sell’ us, either on the home or on her as an agent. As a result, we asked her to represent us.
Throughout the process, she was incredible: she educated us about the different neighborhoods, prepared fact books for each weekend that we looked for homes, and made sure she never wasted our time showing us homes that were not a fit.
At the end of the process, we found the perfect place. I can honestly say, it was all because of her. I cannot express how amazing she is and how rare as an agent: kind, thoughtful, realistic, honest, easy to work with.
I would work with her in a second if we ever needed to again, and so cannot recommend her more highly.”
If you’re looking for a luxury home or weekend retreat on the Main Line, contact me for off-market options. It’s my pleasure to help.
Staging can be minimalist. Think of theatre – the stage isn’t furnished, just enough to tell the story and your mind fills in the details.
It’s about visual impact and creating a mental and emotional comfort for buyers that their needs are met.
#2 – Resort style outdoor space
Demand for outdoor space has become a premium! I hear from luxury agents across the country that it’s a must have for renters as well as buyers. If you have any outdoor space, it’s critical to showcase it and create an indoor / outdoor flow, with space to work, relax, host conversations and BBQ.
Both with work from home on high demand, and obstacles we face traveling for a quick getaway, homes now need to have a staycation element.
How can we tell the story of your home so that it feels like you’re in the Hamptons?
Pools are in high demand, but you don’t have to have a pool to successfully create an at-home retreat. From small decks to large yards, it’s important to open up the indoor / outdoor flow.
Changing window coverings, rearranging furniture inside and out as well as staging outdoor patio furniture will allow buyers to visualize working from home and soaking up Vitamin D without travel.
#3 – Grand central kitchen
We’ve all found ourselves cooking at home out of necessity during our COVID-19 shut down.
I’ve never understood why as an artist I didn’t feel creative in the kitchen. That broke through during our stay-at-home and I’m loving cooking!
Unfortunate for my daughter that this happened now, instead of when she was little. But it shows that no one’s hopeless. 😁
While restaurants are starting to open, cooking at home is a lifestyle shift for busy professionals that will stay. Meal prep is an event – part of open living with dynamic conversations, not a one-person chore.
Kitchens need to be stylish, inviting, polished, open and have space for fluid conversations.
#4 – Safe and smart tech
Smart features of a home are in top demand. Both for technology connectivity as well as convenience and safety. If your home currently is not wired for today’s tech, let’s explore some modest updates to showcase your home for today’s buyers.
For instance, install a home security system with cameras. You can use a service and have them do the install. This also provides peace of mind while it’s on the market.
A smart app for front door access such as the August App won’t require a complete re-wire of your home but will greet buyers with high-tech security that they want.
While surround sound has been in high demand for new construction, the security and convenience of remote access and control is more important in today’s market.
#5 – Decompress zones
Personally, I cancelled my gym membership at the end of last year and while I thought about signing up in a new location during the New Year’s specials – I’m glad I procrastinated.
The future for gym memberships may be uncertain – but the demand for space to work out at home, and decompress is not going away.
Staging a yoga room is easy and inexpensive. I take an empty bedroom, or odd extra space – add a yoga mat and yoga ball, some calming art or zen like features and it’s done!
For larger homes often a challenge is too much furniture.
Move an extra chair into a sunlit area with a staged open book to attractively tell the story of a reading nook in a bedroom, or part of an open living space.
Staging isn’t an insult to your personal interior design taste. It’s literally theatre – setting the stage for buyers to be able to visualize themselves as the stars of their own show, instead of guests in your home.
When I work with my clients to successfully sell their home, I create a unique PR / Marketing plan to tell the story that will connect the best possible buyers to the home, maximizing exposure, creating sizzle and high demand from qualified buyers.
Our initial consultation can be done remotely using Zoom or FaceTime as we go through the home and construct a room-by-room marketing strategy for your success. Let’s talk!
Traditionally, a 1031 Exchange is used to defer payment on capital gains on investment properties. However, in today’s confusing market it can also be a strategy to minimize risk as well.
How has COVID-19 affected your real estate rental portfolio? Do you find that you are at risk of tenants not being able to pay their rent?
Are you considering taking advantage of the COVID-19 increase in demand for suburban rentals and wonder if a 1031 Tax Exchange can work during a forbearance?
There are several key strategies worth considering to minimize risk and maximize profit. One example is leveraging a forbearance to create a buffer of time to sell and transfer the proceeds into a less risky area, or a HUD guaranteed rental property.
Millennial home buying trends have become a hot topic in luxury real estate. Millennials include anyone born between 1981 and 1996, and they’re quickly becoming a dominating force in real estate. In 2018, millennials represented the largest cohort of home buyers at 37 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors’ 2019 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report.
This group now outnumbers baby boomers, and what they’re looking for in a home is drastically different than what their parents wanted when they entered the market.
Now more than ever, luxury buyers are viewing time as a luxury. How does that translate?
Homes need to be move-in ready. It’s not just about the money. The time it takes to renovate is too “expensive” in terms of what it takes away from quality of life.
So how do you transition a traditional home with stately architecture to attract a modern millennial buyer? My LIVE broadcast guest, Christina Henck, owner of award winning Henck Design shared some valuable tips and insights:
When we talk about “less is more” it relates to a key design element we artists called “negative space” – that’s the “blank” or “empty” space on a canvas surrounding an image, or the space between and around elements of a sculpture. The negative space is as important in design as the “positive” space (image, element – or in this case furniture).
Check out the clean design and flow created in the “negative space” in this luxury home.
The “negative space” creates a visual flow as well as a physical flow for walk through traffic on home buyer tours as well as videos.
Both are important elements of creating the kind of “sizzle” you want to drive buyers to take action!
Let’s talk! Please book a private consult on my calendar, and we’ll look at your home through FaceTime or Zoom and discuss ideas to maximize the market appeal for today’s buyers.
Attorney Michael Daiello shares insights into options to avoid foreclosure when you can’t pay your mortgage.
“I have received a number of phone calls over the past several weeks about the duty of landlords to pay lenders on mortgaged properties. The obvious best outcome is when borrowers and lenders work together for a reasonable solution. But what options are available if negotiations are unsuccessful? Does the current environment trigger a “force majeure” event under a lending agreement?
In spite of the lockdown, there is no general law that grants a borrower entitlement to cease payment. However, the language of any Note, Mortgage or Security Agreement may vary from case to case.
Failing to pay a mortgage will eventually result in a lender initiating a foreclosure action. A property owner receiving a notice of foreclosure often wrongly assumes there’s nothing they can do. Some of the options include applications for modifications of the mortgage, a short sale, a deed in lieu of foreclosure or fighting the foreclosure case in court.”
This month’s guide is a quick reference sheet of potential options for foreclosure defense. Please share this month’s guide with any small businesses or professionals that are concerned about foreclosure.
For more information on how to avoid foreclosure whether it’s your primary residence, vacation home or an investment property, visit FightTheBank.org and let’s talk. I’ve been helping home owners successfully avoid foreclosure and negotiate debt forgiveness since 2008. #fightthebank #phillymarketminute
What used to be a “like to have” on buyer’s wish lists has become a “must have” not only now but into the future as our way of life has changed due to COVID-19. Working from home, remote college classes and public schooling at home make this a very complicated, challenging part of interior design – and a must have as we face an ongoing battle over the next 18-24 months.
Award winning interior designer Christina Henck, owner of Henck Design offers Home Office Design Tips LIVE that can help even the most awkward home office convert to a functional, pleasant space. Check out Christina’s Portfolio of amazing transformations in Center City and the Main Line and click below to view our LIVE broadcast.
Complications of multi-generation home schooling and working remotely can overwhelm and challenge even the best planned home office.
I don’t feel so bad about my home office “studio” in the man cave when I see national late night hosts like Seth Meyers broadcast from his attic! 🙂
Having a well designed home office is no longer just a luxury amenity. Working with luxury buyers relocating from New York recently, we needed to find space for both parents and the kids to be able to work/school from home, along with space for music and art.
Luxury amenities like a home office and home gym don’t have to come at luxury prices!
Two examples for you – both under $300K!
Gorgeous move-in ready Germantown rehab offered for only $219K and includes finished basement perfect for home gym, plus 3rd floor loft that can function as a 4th bedroom or large home office.
For an urban, hip lifestyle – cherish the exposed brick and luxury details in this Fishtown rehab at 2360 E Harold St. Make the 2nd bedroom your home office, gym or art studio and walk to the best food, parks, bars and community activities that make Fishtown a #1 choice.