Luxury Short Sale Success

Luxury short sale success

Do luxury short sales work? Yes indeed! As an example, it was my honor and privilege to recently help my client through a very complicated distressed property situation to successfully sell this gorgeous home, with multiple offers, and debt forgiveness.

610 S Front Street – Successful Luxury Short Sale in Queen Village

We closed successfully during our early and awkward COVID shutdown in April of 2020. What really matters is how my client feels afterwards:

“Susanna is one in a million in her field! In addition to her knowledge, her professionalism and ethics are of the highest caliber. I have been a real estate developer for over 35 years and found my self in a short sale situation. I have never been in this situation before but Susanna was able to get the lender to forgive a part of this loan. She is cool, calm, confident and very thorough. I would highly recommend her for any real estate transaction.” – R.K, Seller

Another luxury client with a complicated, challenging situation described me as a classy, demure lady who under the surface is a pit bull 🤩. When I make a commitment to my clients, I follow through and indeed hold on to their goal for success like a pit bull with a bone!

Connecting with the right legal advise, networking for maximum exposure, tailoring the marketing and sale process to fit my client’s needs and goals is what creates success.

Why do luxury short sales fail?

Sadly, I’ve seen too many luxury home owners not get the right advice. No one should face foreclosure, no matter what their situation.

I’ve helped luxury home owners with multiple properties, significant assets and who are not behind on their mortgage successfully resolve under water market values with a short sale and debt forgiveness.

Without the right help, both the home owner and the lien holder suffer. For instance this recent foreclosure in Villanova at 1425 Mount Pleasant Road shows how the bank yielded a much lower amount after taking possession through foreclosure and selling as an REO than they would have with a short sale. Both seller and bank lose in this scenario.

While the final purchase price of this property as an REO listing of $1.3M may seem positive for the buyer, there are more risks with buying a bank owned foreclosure than a short sale.

During a short sale the owner remains involved, is obligated to give a complete sellers disclosure and maintain the property.

The time it takes to legally foreclose, clear title and then offer it as an REO bank-owned listing can be from many months to a year. During that time the home deteriorates and is at risk of vandalism.

For more insights on how short sales work, and whether it’s better to buy a foreclosure vs a short sale, be sure to subscribe to this blog. Check out Top 10 Short Sales Myths for more info, then be sure to book a confidential consultation with Susanna Kunkel, Short Sale Expert.

Is it time to buy a Pied-a-Terre in Philly?

Rittenhouse Square

A resurgence of the once popular Pied-a-Terre at the end of 2020 was highlighted in the December North American Luxury Market Report. Luxury buyers who have relocated to larger homes but are still not quite ready to quit the city for good are adding a Pied-a-Terre to their portfolio.

Condos in Philly’s Center City offer strong possibilities for Pied-a-Terre living. Located centrally between New York City and Washington, DC. Center City condos offer an ideal location for water lovers who enjoy the Jersey Shore and Florida, but want to keep a place in the city.

Best Center City Pied-a-Terre locations

To start, I’ve highlighted three neighborhoods that offer a prime variety of lifestyle options for Pied-a-Terra condos in Center City.

Rittenhouse Square and Mid-Town Philly feature what has historically been the ideal location for a Pied-a-Terre condo due to amenities, shopping and nearby dining.

Condo options along the Delaware River Waterfront offer a third alternative with more open space, garage parking and waterfront views.

Rittenhouse Square

What makes Rittenhouse Square a great Pied-a-Terre location? Dining, shopping and amenity rich condo living all within walking distance to 30th Street Amtrak Station. Enjoy an easy rail commute to Manhattan or Washington DC.

Living on Rittenhouse Square starts under $200K for a studio across from the park at The Dorchester where you can also enjoy an affordable 2 bd on the 20th floor for under $300K.

Although hit hard by fears of COVID-19 and this summer’s social unrest, Rittenhouse Square remains a highly desirable place to live. Amidst the uncertainty this year, Rittenhouse retained its grace and charm for local residents.

Welcome to Rittenhouse Square

While it’s too early to call a recovery, statistics for Rittenhouse Square show an upturn since August when we had 19 months of inventory.

Currently the Rittenhouse condo market remains a buyers market at 8 1/2 months. There’s a slight switch towards a seller’s market for single family homes with 5 1/2 months of inventory.

As with all statistics, it’s not only how you look at it but what you look at. This shift also reflects 66 homes and condos on Rittenhouse that have been taken off the market in the past 90 days.

Mid-Town Philly

Perhaps the most iconic, amenity rich Pied-a-Terre luxury condo lifestyle in Philadelphia is offered by The Residences at Ritz-Carlton.

Conveniently located in mid-town Philly near Dilworth Park, regional rail, dining, shopping and Philly’s theatre district.

Currently the lowest priced offering is Unit 5 G, a 1 bd / 1.5 ba condo listed at $485K.

Owners benefit from top tier amenities and service as well as world-wide travel perks. A great asset for post-COVID luxury living.

Year-end statistics indicate a strong buyers market with 19 months of inventory. Now could be a great time to buy at The Residences at Ritz-Carlton.

Other mid-town favorites suitable for an affordable Pied-a-Terra condo include The Phoenix located a few blocks from The Ritz-Carlton, Packard Grande, The Aria and The Ellington.

Delaware River waterfront

Living along the Delaware River waterfront offers easy access to Center City living, yet a bit more remote with expansive views and parking.

Welcome to Delaware River front living

There are several condo options along the river front.

Waterfront Square is one of only 2 gated communities in Philadelphia. Amenities include 24-hour doorman, valet parking, ocean front lap pool, on site dog park, fully equipped gym and waterfront walking / biking trail at your door.

Built in 2006, different towers offer different views, but all enjoy the remote, secure location with easy access to Center City living. Or a quick commute on 95 or 76.

Photo courtesy of Waterfront Square – click for video preview of upgraded 1 bd unit

As an example of affordability, Waterfront Square Unit RR1106 sold in October for $262,500. This one bedroom on the 11th floor of The Regatta Tower featured stunning city views.

Waterfront Square Regatta Towers
Unit 1105 in The Regatta Towers – sold for $262,500

Other towers overlook the Delaware River. A strong rental history provides an option if your lifestyle changes.

RIVERFRONT Pier 3 and Pier 5 Condos

Also along the Delaware River but walkable to Old City and Society Hill, Pier 3 and Pier 5 offer unique waterfront lifestyles near Penn’s Landing, Spruce Street Harbor Park and Cherry Street Pier. Enjoy nearby shopping and dining with easy access to 76 and 95.

In addition to Delaware River views, enjoy private decks, on-site oceanfront lap pool, secure garage parking and front desk service.

Should I buy a Center City condo now?

As you can see from these trends, micro-markets are shifting quickly as buyers and sellers adjust to a real estate market driven by COVID-19 based demands.

While no one can call a market except with hind sight, this growing national trend could indicate an opportunity to invest in a Center City condo now, before values rise.

To meet your needs, the best information is detailed and specific to your goals. For a confidential consultation, book a chat with Susanna here.

Be sure to subscribe below to stay in touch!

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From New York to the Suburbs of Philly

Moving from New York

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 😎🏄🏼‍♂️

Fleeing Manhattan to the suburbs

One of the big waves that got a lot of press is the huge uptick in demand for suburban living from Manhattan. The NY Times reported in August New Yorkers are fleeing to the suburbs; the demand is insane’ :

“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.”

Moving from Manhattan to Suburbs

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.

Family fun in Center City

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.

How I sold a Queen Village luxury home sight unseen during COVID-19 shutdown

Queen Village Luxury

Buying sight unseen is a bit scary, to say the least. To do it during COVID-19 shutdown took some real courage from both buyers and sellers.

809 S 3rd Street in Queen Village – SOLD for $1,075,000

While I’ve helped clients buy sight unseen since 2008 using custom virtual real estate technology and video previews, this was a very unique experience navigating the COVID-19 shutdown.

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.

Home buying during COVID19

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.

Happy ending

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.

Open House signs antique? like typewriters?

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.

COVID19 is “here to stay” – we must adapt

The Economist recently published – COVID 19 is here to stay. People will have to adapt :

“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.

Manhattan to the Main Line

From Manhattan to Philly

While the migration of New Yorkers to Philadelphia is not new, post COVID-19 we are seeing some interesting shifts in demographics. The New York Times recently reported on Where New Yorkers Moved to Escape the Coronavirus.

Why Philly?

In 2018 The New York Times article, Leaving New York to find the American Dream in Philadelphia, highlights a migration of artisans, chefs, immigrants and business owners to Philly from New York. All with a dream in mind.

Passive Certified Stables
Settlement Day at The Stables – 2013

As an example, learn first hand “Why Philly” from my clients who purchased the first PASSIVE-Certified luxury home at THE STABLES in Northern Liberties in 2014.

They were originally looking at traditional offerings in Society Hill, but were fascinated with this more creative, cutting edge option.

Seven years ago, my clients moved from Manhattan to Northern Liberties where they purchased the first PASSIVE-Certified luxury townhomes in Philly

Center City Luxury

Prior to COVID-19, the largest demand in Philly from Manhattan luxury buyers was for Center City with easy access to Amtrak’s 30th St Station.

Now it’s the Main Line

Remote luxury homes on the Main Line in areas like Gladwyne and Bryn Mawr are seeing a huge uptick in demand from Manhattan buyers.

While once the top criteria for Main Line buyers was “walkability” to train stations and shopping, post COVID-19 buyers want privacy, acreage, and flexible living space. For more details check out “Top 5 new features to sell your home post COVID-19.”

As an example, I had the honor of helping my Manhattan clients purchase this luxury Merion Station home during the COVID-19 shut down.

Another successful Manhattan to Main Line relocation

“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.

Just sold – 23 S 23rd in Rittenhouse Square

How to sell amidst objections? I created a story for this Rittenhouse Square luxury condo that would appeal to New York buyers who love access to Philly’s 30th St Station where it’s an easy commute.

Selling luxury requires successfully sharing the emotional experience of the home’s lifestyle, not just property photos.

This delightful one bedroom has a 800 sf private deck offering a unique indoor / outdoor lifestyle in the heart of Rittenhouse.

What matters is the end result for my clients. In this case they were long distance and we did everything remotely. The market was challenging and didn’t offer what they ideally would want, but we accomplished the highest net possible and here’s the end result which is all that matters.

“We found that Susanna was up-to-date on the market conditions in Central Philadelphia. We appreciate her frankness and honesty about realistic pricing. She was very accommodating arranging contractors, cleaning personnel and staging companies to present our property in the best light. I consider  this a true one stop shopping experience. I must also command Susanna’s staff, for handling the logistics in a smooth and painless manner. This was especially important to us as we do not reside near Philadelphia.”

For more information on how to sell in today’s market – let’s talk!