New construction luxury homes on the Main Line are rare in the predominantly historic communities. To meet today’s buyer demand for modern amenities, older stone homes are often renovated to combine the best of historic architecture with modern design. Homes using these transitional design elements yield high sales results.
For an overview of how luxury new construction is selling, check out this month’s new construction sales results for the Main Line:
Main Line luxury new construction featured sales
Two homes that went under contract this week exemplify the best of what Gladwyne and Bryn Mawr have to offer. One is custom built to maximize on traditional architectural styles, while offering modern amenities. The second is modern inside and out.
1407 Waverly Road in Gladwyne
Designed by Fred Bissinger and built by Tony Ruffo, 1407 Waverly Road went under contract this week at an asking price of $3.5M.
517 S Roberts Road in Bryn Mawr
Sold pre-construction, 517 S Roberts went under contract this week at an asking price of $1.8M with less than two weeks on the market.
Main Line transitional architecture
To better understand transitional architecture, architect Fred Bissinger shares his design approach on his own custom home at 252 River Road in Gladwyne. On the market for less than 3 weeks, it sold last month for $1,575,000 to a cash buyer. Using artisan revival design, he combined historic elements with modern amenities. As Fred describes, living on River Road now is Malibu Beach on the Schuylkill River.
How can you create transitional design in an older home?
Award winning designer Christina Henck shares how transitional design honors historic architecture yet finds that balance of appealing to today’s millennial buyers.
How to sell successfully in today’s market
It can be hard to understand why some homes sell in a matter of days, and others linger on the market for months. To start, check out my 7 tips for sellers to sell for less money and in more time:
Are you out looking at properties, but haven’t had a business conversation yet with your buyers agent? If so, please check out my first time home buying mistakes because that’s exactly what I did!
It’s time to change directions, interview and hire a realtor who will represent you throughout your home buying journey.
What HGTV and a Google search won’t tell you
Easy access to real estate information online can make it seem like your realtor’s job is mostly to open doors.
However, who opens the door becomes your agent during negotiations unless you have a signed Buyer Agency Agreement.
Crafting an offer, negotiating and navigating through the settlement process is where your agent’s knowledge and experience can make or break your success.
Agency and representation during the home buying process is not covered on HGTV or in most online articles. Yet who represents you is a key factor in your home buying success.
What does it cost?
In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, typically the buyers agent commission is paid through a cooperation with the seller’s brokerage. In essence, other than a small administrative fee at closing, it doesn’t cost you anything out of pocket to hire an agent.
It can cost you thousands, however, in lost opportunities or poor negotiations to not select your own representative. For example, learn from my first time home buying mistake below.
Have a laugh on me
In this video, learn from my first time home buying mistakes in the 90’s and why I’m passionate about helping others understand agency:
How to start your home search
Before we open doors, I meet with my clients (on Zoom, FaceTime or in person) to go over home buying goals both for lifestyle and finances.
How you prefer communication, your time frame, and style of negotiations are critical elements of our successful working relationship.
In essence, we interview each other and then make a decision to work together proactively to accomplish your home buying goals.
Did you know?
Unless you have a signed Buyer Agency Agreement, the realtor you book a showing with is not bound to your confidentiality. Your privacy for negotiations is only protected by hiring a buyer agent with a Buyer Agency Agreement.
Also when you visit an open house, if you aren’t protected by a Buyer Agency Agreement, the agent can claim to represent you even if you don’t choose to work with them.
When we meet, I’ll go over this in more detail and explain how it can significantly impact your bottom line.
To get started, click on my Home Buyers Guide with tips on how to interview your agent and prepare for a successful home search.
If you’re a fan of mid-century modern, you’ll enjoy this week’s featured new listings. Main Line luxury is usually associated with large historic homes such as the Montgomery estate that inspired Philadelphia Story. Most Main Line mid-century homes in Gladwyne and Villanova are more modest in size and location. You’ll love the expansiveness and privacy of this week’s featured homes.
670 Dodds Lane in Gladwyne
Built in 1966, 670 Dodds Lane‘s mid-century design has been completely renovated with current luxury amenities and finishes.
Enjoy an open floor plan of 9,532 sf of living space on a private 2.15 acre lot offers 5 bedrooms, 8 full baths and 2 powder rooms. Amenities include a home theatre and private in-ground pool perfectly situated for entertaining. Asking price of $4.3M.
Built in 1976 and beautifully updated, this spacious home is situated on a private 2+ ac lot surrounded by trees and offers 5 beds, 4 full baths plus powder room in 5,503 sf of living space.
The long private driveway and stone entry reflect popular elements of Main Line estate homes, yet mid-century design welcomes you. Featuring an open floor plan and vaulted ceilings that we come to love with mid-century homes.
An open floor plan area flows freely with access to your private deck and hot tub for indoor-outdoor living. Amenities include a home gym and private in-ground pool.
When real estate markets shift, as they always do, it’s confusing to know when to sell. Timing can make or break your success. Add to that a worldwide pandemic impacting different locations in dramatically different ways. It’s easy to understand why so many homeowners are uncertain about when to sell.
Move with the market
When markets shift quickly, this advise is hard to follow. Trying to move with market changes can feel like surfing on a big wave. You want to get on the board at the right time and make sure you don’t fall off.
We are seeing rapid shifts in different neighborhoods, some dramatically positive and some hurt significantly like Center City luxury.
I heard the quote “chasing the market down can feel like catching a falling knife” which is indeed true.
A tale of two luxury homes
During my first year as a full-time realtor on Kauai, I worked with two sellers who both owned luxury Bed & Breakfast properties. The market had escalated significantly due to the mortgage crisis.
These friends both decided to take advantage of the sizzling luxury demand. One listed his property for $1,750,000 and the owner of Aina Manu Place listed his at $1,650,000 with some friendly competition.
In 2005 values were still strong, but demand started to soften, with days on market increasing. We weren’t aware of the pending ‘tsunami’ devastation of the mortgage crisis. But it was evident that prices couldn’t continue to spiral upwards.
The owner of Aina Manu Place was willing to make price adjustments and we got it under contract at $1.5M. However, zoning violations came to light and that deal canceled. We worked diligently on solving the zoning issues, and SOLD it to the same buyers for $1,250,000 one year later in 2006.
This owner was wise to move with the market, and recognize his win rather than focus on the his original asking price.
He bought a distressed oceanfront property in Florida where his family is enjoying life.
Many sellers had a mindset that they “would wait for the market to come back.” What they didn’t understand was the spike in values was a phenomena, not “the market.” The second owner did not adjust his price, the property did not sell and those values have not returned.
Main Line and Center City shifts
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted real estate communities on the Main Line and in Center City very differently, as it has across the country. Suburban home values have escalated while Center City luxury markets are softening.
Market predictions and reports from national leaders repeatedly cite that today’s market is not the mortgage crisis, drawing the conclusion we won’t face some of the same challenges with economic uncertainties.
However, what is similar is that dramatic price shifts in both are driven by external phenomena, not directly related to real estate.
COVID driven market shifts
COVID has made us all look at “home” differently, causing massive movement in all market segments across the country. That’s driven record numbers of sales in some areas, and dramatic price increases with competing offers in others.
I don’t see the COVID driven buying dynamics decreasing until our post-COVID normalcy stabilizes likely in late 2021, or into 2022.
That new normal will not strictly be a return to our pre-COVID reality. Working from home is not going away.
What that means for suburban housing as well as urban values driven by commercial space and restaurants we won’t know in advance. But we can look forward learning from the past.
High demand with low inventory on the Main Line
On the Main Line where prices and demand have skyrocketed, owners who have considered selling should act now. The increase in values is a short-term phenomena driven by the effects of COVID.
Inventory will increase in 2021 and values will adjust as we move towards a buyers market. The new post-COVID market may very well reflect a different price range than we are currently experiencing.
No one can truly call a market until it’s with hindsight. But we can analyze facts at hand, learn from the past and create a plan for success.
Rose Tree Park Festival of Lights – through January 3rd from 5-10pm; Rose Tree Park sparkles during the holiday season with the annual Festival of Lights. Dozens of decorated lit trees and festive displays draw visitors back each year to stroll the glimmering walkways and grounds, linger in the festive atmosphere, and pay a visit to childhood figures such as Charlie Brown & the Peanuts Gang and Santa & his Reindeer. The Festival of Lights opens in early December and runs through the first weekend in January. Admission and parking are free.
The half-million holiday lights here are always spectacular, turning 100 already-beautiful trees into nighttime marvels. Also fun: the 140-foot light tunnel in the Meadow Garden, a tree decorated with foods for native species to eat, model trains, and the fountain show.
Holiday Magic at Brandywine Museum of Art through January 31st. Celebrate the wonder of the holiday season at the Brandywine River Museum of Art! Returning this year with exciting new additions and features, the Brandywine Railroad has been a holiday family favorite at the Brandywine since 1972.
It’s just over an hour long, so grab a cub of coffee and some snacks. Be sure to stay tuned as Council Member Allan Domb adds some important insights you won’t want to miss at the end during the Q&A session.
Telling the story of the current Main Line and Center City real estate market for Q3 2020 is not a simple task. At this particular time, we have a dramatic real-life example of how there are multiple “realities” depending on what numbers we view in which market segments.
Oversimplified reports can lead to bad decisions, especially during challenging times. No one wants to hear “it’s complicated” when dating – or when buying or selling real estate. However, that is the case in the Greater Philadelphia area for Q3 2020.
Now more than ever, it’s important to have detailed information for your particular situation as reported in my Fall 2020 Newsletter.
Fall 2020 Newsletter for Main Line and Center City
This is a unique point in time where each of these market segments has been impacted by our national COVID pandemic, political uncertainties and national news coverage of protests and violence in Center City.
Q3 2020 Market Report Summary
Philadelphia broke records in September for number of sales and median sales price primarily driven by a spike in activity after our COVID shut down during Q2.
While these results can make an amazing story, it’s not clear that this is a sustainable trend. However, the steady demand and consumer confidence during challenging times speaks well for the stability of the Philadelphia real estate market.
Main Line and Center City Luxury
Luxury Market trends on the Main Line and in Center City are best viewed by year-over-year changes. Smaller number of sales at high values can skew statistical shifts month-over-month.
The biggest Q3 2020 shifts are reflected in Gladwyne luxury market with a decrease from an average of 10 months of inventory to 3 months, and a 26.59% increase in median sales price over the past 12 months.
Other Main Line luxury markets such as Villanova and Bryn Mawr remain in high demand with low inventory. However, the shift isn’t as dramatic because these areas were in high demand pre-COVID due to easy access to shopping, dining and regional rail commuting stations.
Will forbearances be extended? Most likely. That may only postpone foreclosures if home owners remain in financial difficulty and are unable to bring their mortgage current.
The distressed property market today is not like 2009. An abundance of forbearances is indeed a different scenario than bad loans. However, a different cause doesn’t negate the results. Much hinges on our economic recovery, and home owners ability to convert their forbearance into a loan deferral.
Like other market segments, there are many layers to this “story” and it’s a trend we need to watch.
How’s the real estate market?
A quote I heard years ago applies now more than ever;
“Asking how’s the real estate market from a national perspective is like asking what’s the temperature in America”
There is technically a temperature for the United States, if you average all the temperatures across the country. However, that won’t help you plan your day or know if you need snow boots or an umbrella.
Similarly, if you ask me how’s the real estate market in the greater Philadelphia area, the answer is “it’s complicated.”
As I reported 10 years ago from Kauai’s luxury second home market, it’s a bit like quantum physics. Multiple realties for various market segments. At this point in time in the Philadelphia area, that’s especially true.
Although real estate shifts are normal, this is a very dynamic time, unlike any other real estate market shift we’ve experienced. The question that’s most important is how to best navigate these changing currents for your success.
What’s the future look like?
Both negative and positive Q3 shifts can be attributed to the impact of COVID and political unrest. What can we expect for the coming months?
No one has a crystal ball to predict the future or how sustainable these trends may be. Even the exodus of New Yorkers to large suburban homes may shift to more of a cosmopolitan lifestyle in Center City communities like Queen Village where you have the best of suburban and urban living.
Dr. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, recently predicted “it will be one of the best winter sales years ever.” Of course, that’s a national generalization. I certainly hope that holds true. However, now is not a time to passively wait and see. It’s a time to apply smart, creative strategies in your particular market to create success for you.
What are your real estate goals?
What’s most important is how we can maximize on current trends to meet your particular short-term and long-term real estate goals.
I’m passionate about supporting my clients with information and concierge, VIP support. As detailed as these market reports are – nothing compares to a personalized analysis for your particular goals.
Let’s talk! Please book a call or Zoom chat on my calendar or feel free to comment below. Your information will remain confidential.
When mortgage forbearances under the CARES ACT were promoted, no one realized 6 months later we would still be in the midst of this COVID crisis with forbearances ending, and no easy answers in sight.
Information was confusing, and many people signing up for forbearances did not realize that the full amount would be due at the end of the agreed upon period in order to become current on their mortgage.
In fact, real estate industry leaders shared incorrect information at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, claiming a forbearance does NOT require a balloon payment at the end, but that the delinquency would be wrapped on the the end of the loan. That’s a deferment and must be negotiated with your lender. You can hear it for yourself in this video:
Experts say it’s important to reach out to your lender ahead of the ending of your forbearance to discuss options. Such as converting the missed payments to a deferral on the end of the loan (see articles below).
Also, you’ll want to check your credit report to see how exactly this is being reported.
Where can you get help? These consumer resources include links for helpful details:
“Under provisions of the CARES Act, if you get mortgage forbearance on a federally backed loan as part of COVID-19 relief, your loan servicer cannot charge extra interest on forbearance repayments or require you to repay excused payments in a single lump sum at the end of the forbearance period.” Experian.com
There are different options on different types of loans.
What’s so confusing are the ‘sound bytes’ shared, when what’s needed is detailed information regarding your particular situation.
How do I negotiate with my lender about my forbearance?
Negotiating with your lender can be scary, and confusing. Two local experts recently offered their insights and availability on my Podcast to help home owners in the Greater Philadelphia and New Jersey areas – Lee Perlman, Bankruptcy Attorney and Michael Daiello, Real Estate Dispute Attorney and Litigator who specializes in helping landlords who face the impact of tenants not paying rent under the CARES ACT rental forbearance protections.
September showed record breaking sales in Philadelphia, but what about the dramatic spike in pre-foreclosure distressed properties? Does the foreclosure market threaten to haunt real estate values in Philadelphia?
Market reports are complicated with what science fiction buffs might call “multiple realities” – especially true in our current national economy. You don’t have to understand quantum physics, but there are many sides to the story of current real estate market trends on the Main Line and in the greater Philadelphia area.
You’ve probably heard me say this before, analyzing real estate markets is a lot like watching the ocean. What appears to be calm water, can have cross currents and under tows to be aware of.
Let’s start with the good news!
September was record-breaking month for both number of sales and median sales price for Philadelphia County.
On the Main Line, demand continues to exceed supply with values on the rise and days on market declining.
“Servicers may report that your account is in forbearance. However, if you were otherwise current on your account and have received relief as defined by the CARES Act, your servicer or creditor is required to report your account as current”
What to do now?
As you can see, I’m a fan of analyzing data. However, when it comes to deciding the right time to buy or sell it’s important to look at the big picture of your goals. History has shown real estate values survive market changes in the long run. It’s all about what’s best for you.
Please contact me for a confidential consultation. We’ll look at the micro-market trends for your particular goals and location.
And if you know anyone facing problems paying their mortgage who wonders what to do now, it’s time to get help! For more information about short sales and options to avoid foreclosure, visit FightTheBank.org.
Be sure to subscribe for future blog updates. Let’s talk!
Have you heard about the exodus from dense urban centers like Manhattan to the suburbs?
There’s been a lot of press covering home buyer demand moving from dense urban areas to more open suburban lifestyles across the country, from San Francisco to New York.
Gary Vee recently posted about how changing work from home trends are going to dramatically impact real estate, now and into the future:
Yes we can contribute this rush to the suburbs as a post-COVID market impact. However, the effect of COVID-19 on the housing market is complex. Much like the ocean, there are trends that appear like a big wave – but there’s also cross-currents and potential undertows.
Okay, you can tell I lived by the ocean for a very long time! I still take my shoes off when I come home 😎🏄🏼♂️
“Moving companies have said they cannot keep up with the demand. Metropolis Moving in Brooklyn said the number of quotes for out-of-state moves jumped by more than 200 percent in May and in June.”
Most of the press highlighted an increase in demand for suburban areas close to Manhattan like Northern New Jersey. However, here in the “6th borough” of Philadelphia, we’ve welcomed a lot of New Yorkers as new neighbors on the Main Line and in Center City.
Main Line suburban living
While a large Main Line 6,000+ sf estate home on 3-5 acres sounds ideal after quarantine with multiple generations all working / schooling from home, the reality of remote large estate living isn’t for everyone.
What sounds good at first can settle into a different set of frustrations, such as upkeep and maintenance. Reminds me of my clients on Kauai who visualized a 5 acre home, only to realize in Hawaii 5 acres is like managing a farm! The lifestyle they desired was in reality better met with a home on a 1/2 acre parcel.
Many people moving from dense urban areas crave more space but still long for a cosmopolitan lifestyle that can be comfortable and safe for the entire family.
The Main Line is comprised of townships which started as villages, and they retain quaint character along with rich history. However, in the heart of Center City there’s a village that offers the best of both worlds.
Queen Village – cosmopolitan, historic and friendly
Philadelphia’s first neighborhood and rich in history, today Queen Village simmers with modern energy, making it an ideal neighborhood if you love fashion, food and fun but want a low-key local village lifestyle.
Hear first hand insights from my Queen Village clients who love the charming, safe, friendly, village lifestyle with cosmopolitan amenities:
Two “suburban” features that are the hardest to find in Center City are a large, fenced yard and 2-car garage.
You’ll find both at 814 S Swanson, the perfect Queen Village luxury home that offers a large fenced yard, 3 outdoor decks, 2-car garage, elevator, home office and in-law suite:
Time will tell if our new friends from New York settle into the large homes on the Main Line for good, or perhaps desire a more cosmopolitan lifestyle and shift towards a different kind of quiet village community with cosmopolitan, funky vibes such as Queen Village.
Please be sure to subscribe for future updates and comment below with your thoughts and insights.