Bryn Mawr housing inventory – will the frenzy die down?

Bryn Mawr Homes for Sale

Bryn Mawr buyers in today’s Main Line housing market are feeling a little bit like Rocky in the 14th round, beat up by competing offers over asking, waiving of inspections, and all cash buyers. When will it die down?

Bryn Mawr Q1 Market Update

Bryn Mawr housing market results for Q1 2021 reflect the frenzy we’ve all been feeling. Inventory is at an all-time low of 1.5 months and New Pendings (homes under contract) are 150% above the 5 year trend.

Bryn Mawr Market Stats Q1 2021

Is there a glimmer of hope?

A recent national survey conducted for Realtor.com indicates a trend for 10% more homes to be listed this year and at more affordable prices. “There is a brighter light at the end of the tunnel for many weary buyers,” says Realtor.com Senior Economist George Ratiu.

How does that apply for the Bryn Mawr housing market? Surprisingly, there’s a new listing increase of 40% in Bryn Mawr for 2021 vs. 2020.

However, Bryn Mawr buyer demand outpaces today’s supply creating the 1.5 months of inventory statistic noted above.

Bryn Mawr Housing Statistics

How to win in a competing market?

We’ve been facing on average 8-12 offers on new listings within days, sometimes hours of hitting the market on the Main Line.

How to win? There are options that can help you succeed, while retaining your due diligence protections and maintaining compliance with real estate ethics and professional guidelines. Let’s start with 5 tips to help you prepare for negotiations.

5 critical steps to create a win

  • 1) Hire a Realtor – it’s important to work with a professional that you trust. The advance work preparing for an offer helps you strategize and win. Also, select an agent who will prospect new opportunities for you through networking, as well as reaching out to off-market potential sellers. Private match making with off-market sellers is one of my specialties!
  • 2) Financial Strategy – have your financial buying strategy prepared. If you’re buying with cash, your agent will need proof of cash. If you’re taking advantage of today’s low interest rates, work with both your agent and lender in advance. It’s important to know what your offer ceiling is and explore scenarios that work for you, while creating an attractive offer for the seller. You should have those conversations well ahead of time, before you see the home you love.
  • 3) Market Knowledge – be sure your agent is providing you with up-to-date market data. If you face an “above asking” offer situation, you’ll want to be informed and aware of trends to assess what level of risk this may imply for future values for the Bryn Mawr housing market. As you’ve heard me say before…
  • 4) Do your homework – there are documents needed for an offer that should be done ahead of time, to save from the frenzy of making an offer late night on a Sunday night after the first open house. If possible, I like to go over a sample offer with my clients well ahead of negotiations so decisions can be made quickly without losing the opportunity for questions and concerns.
  • 5) Know your “walk away” number – be prepared for the frenzy. Know what your walk away number is to prevent paying more than makes sense for your individual financial strategy. This is unique for every individual, but something I discuss with each client.

Recent win in Bryn Mawr

I helped my clients recently win in a competing offer dynamic for a beautiful home in Bryn Mawr. We previously lost out on 3 offers, but this time used a different, creative strategy which retained their home inspection and appraisal contingencies.

Contact me to discuss strategies that fit for your particular goals whether you’re buying in Bryn Mawr, on the Main Line, Philadelphia or New Jersey. You’re always welcome to browse at LuxLivingGroup.com.

Year-end 2020 real estate report

Year-end 2020 Market Report

Looking back on 2020 to make decisions in 2021 is a bit like driving while looking in the rear view mirror. No pun intended but you know that saying “hindsight is 2020?” While the past may not predict the future, we are seeing trends that can help navigate a quickly changing market in 2021.

To start, you’ll find an overview of the North American Luxury Market for 2020 with highlights and statistics for Main Line and Center City communities in my year-end Luxury Market Report:

Shifting markets

While a market shift was predicted as early as 2017 due to normal real estate cycles, the effects of the COVID pandemic in 2020 created quickly shifting micro-market changes no one anticipated.

The market is hot, except where it’s not. I don’t mean to be sarcastic but for sellers who were on the market in 2020 and didn’t sell – it can be painful to hear how hot the market is when that wasn’t their experience. Even in a hot market, successful selling requires an aggressive, creative strategy with targeted marketing locally, nationally and internationally.

For buyers, many have felt scorched by the heat of escalating values, competing offers and limited inventory, especially in the suburbs.

There’s no one easy answer to “how’s the market.” In complicated times it’s more important than ever to take a deep, consultative look at the specific market trends that can impact your real estate goals.

What does all that data mean?

Main Line market statistics
Click to book a private 15-minute consultation

I’ll cut to the chase and share my personal insights.

Philadelphia and communities on the Main Line survived the mortgage crisis without a dramatic bubble and burst. We’ll weather through this pandemic as well.

Do we have a bubble? Leading economists say price escalations are not a bubble but a market response to high demand and low inventory. That’s reassuring, but it also means values are likely to shift as supply and demand changes in 2021.

Philadelphia’s Center City

We can anticipate the desirability of Philly’s low density cosmopolitan lifestyle to retain value. How much and in what areas is impossible to predict.

Pied-a-terre condo

However, as detailed in my market report, the number of new contracts increased in Rittenhouse Square end of 2020 meaning buyers are taking strategic advantage of a strong buyers market, following a national trend for pied-a-terre condo purchase in metropolitan centers.

Main Line suburban communities

Many Main Line home owners who planned to downsize decided their home actually fits for them long term. However, for those who have considered selling in the near future, now is the time to take action and benefit from high demand and low inventory.

You’ll see below that New York suburban markets began cooling off at the end of 2020 with fewer sales, an early indicator of a softer market.

We cannot assume that escalated suburban market values today will remain the same throughout 2021.

New York buyers on the Main Line

From Manhattan to the Main Line was a common story for 2020. Buyer demand for suburban homes on the Main Line made a huge impact.

Competing cash offers for luxury homes that had previously languished with months, even years on the market literally flipped luxury market areas like Gladwyne with a movement you might call Billionaire’s Row to Billionaire’s Village.

Homes with pools and the ability to add a pool became a top post-COVID ‘must have’ for buyers along with work from home flex space, gyms and media rooms. Large estate homes that were seen as undesirable in 2019 started receiving competing cash offers.

What can we learn from New York’s market changes?

Much of the 2020 increase in demand and values on the Main Line was driven by post-COVID urban flight from Manhattan to the Main Line. When the pandemic hit New York city early and hard, we saw an influx of Manhattan buyers on the Main Line as early as February.

Just as New York was months ahead of Philadelphia facing the pandemic, their real estate market may serve as an early indicator for trends coming in 2021.

A recent New York Times article summarized the complex market effects of COVID-19 for New York boroughs – The Market Collapse of 2020 highlighting trends in Manhattan as well as suburban areas.

Is demand for suburban living cooling?

New York appraiser Johnathan L. Miller who covers Manhattan, West Chester, Long Island and Fairfield Connecticut sees the New York suburban demand cooling;

Suburban demand cooling

“The pandemic didn’t create a new class of suburban buyers — mostly, it accelerated the plans of New Yorkers who were already thinking of moving. And while sales remain elevated in several suburbs, compared to last year, their meteoric rise plateaued in the late summer. I think peak suburb has passed.”

While New York suburban demand is cooling, we still have a strong demand suburban living as we can see in the December statistics below:

Montgomery County 2020 Statistics
December 2020 Statistics for home sales in Montgomery County

Will the Main Line follow New York and cool off in 2021? Perhaps, but I anticipate a spring surge of buyer activity as leases signed during the early COVID urban exodus in 2020 come to an end. Buyers are making a more final decision in 2021 on where and what to call home.

We face the potential of a softening demand by summer or fall of 2021 following the trends in New York suburbs as adjustments to our post-COVID work from home realities settle in as our new normal.

Rental decline

Rents for Center City prime locations struggled in 2020 following similar challenges throughout the country in cosmopolitan locations.

For instance, the median rent in Manhattan dipped lower than 2010.

Manhattan rental trends

As reported on my blog, Paul Levy, President and CEO of Center City District spoke to the Path to Philadelphia Recovery in November. Council Member Allan Domb joined the discussion with comments about about Center City’s soft luxury rental market.

As you can see, the effect of COVID on our housing market on the Main Line and in Center City is complex, and quickly changing.

For more information about your specific market, reach out for a confidential consultation. For an instant home valuation visit HomeValuesbySusanna.com.

From “Billionaires’ Row” to “Billionaires’ Village”

150 Central Park West

You’ve heard of thousands of people moving to Philly from New York City as part of post-COVID market trends. Where are the uber-wealthy moving to? A lesser known migration is from Manhattan’s Billionaires’ Row to Gladwyne’s Billionaires’ Village on the Main Line.

What is Billionaires’ Row?

While many cities worldwide claim the address of Billionaires’ Row for their uber-wealthy, none are more iconic than Billionaires’ Row in Manhattan. Local New York luxury real estate expert, Alexander Glibbery described it as:

“I like to define Billionaires’ Row as New York City’s Monopoly board for uber-wealthy international and domestic titans of industry who come together here to work, play, and do lots and lots of shopping,”

Billionaires’ Row luxury auction

A rarely offered 3-story Penthouse opportunity at 150 Central Park South is currently available through the luxury auction service, Concierge Auctions. Bidding starts today. Offered for $40M with no reserve.

“With pre-approved, construction “shovel”-ready design, plans, and permits held by New York City’s most luxurious, professional, and high-end general contractor SilverLining and lauded SPAN Architecture, the design won the Interior Design Magazine award for the Best of Year residential project in the world for 2018 (on the board).”

post-covid luxury auction
Photos courtesy of Concierge Auctions

Gladwyne; “Billionaire’s Village”

At the opposite end of the spectrum, with large discrete estate homes in remote settings, the village of Gladwyne is home for many billionaires on the Main Line in the greater Philadelphia area.

While all communities on the Main Line have seen increasing values due to strong demand for luxury suburban living, Gladwyne has seen the most dramatic shift driven by post-COVID buyer demands.

Median sales prices for Gladwyne luxury homes are up 98.47% over the past 12 months, and up 31.36% over the past 24 months.

Unique Gladwyne Luxury Estate

An example of Gladwyne’s large luxury estates is Linden Hill, designed between 1928 and 1931 by Edmund B. Gilchrist for stockbroker Rodman Ellison Griscom. The property was owned for more than 50 years by the Dorrance family of Campbell’s Soup Company.

1543 Monk Rd; offered by Kurfiss Sotheby’s for $24M

Linden Hill’s very secluded grounds include fenced pastures and stone outbuildings, reminiscent of the quaintest of French villages. The magnificent manor house and cour d’honneur, are a majestic example of French Normandy-inspired design of breathtaking scale and symmetry.

Modern homes in Gladwyne

While Gladwyne is known for large historic stone homes, mid-century modern and new construction luxury homes are selling quickly to today’s buyers who want modern amenities and finishes.

Gladwyne Mid-Century Modern Luxury

From New York to Philly

Chief economist, Danielle Hale notes that the post-COVID trend towards suburban living has accelerated a shift from hard-core urbanite dwellers towards the suburbs;

“The flexibility to work remotely is accelerating this trend. When the commute’s not a daily thing, it’s easier to justify living farther away from work—especially when you get more for your housing dollar farther away.”

New research shows thousands of people of all incomes are moving to Philly from New York City. Whether it’s a large private estate, or a Pied-a-Terre, contact Susanna for a discreet consultation.

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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.

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What’s the future for Center City real estate?

Welcome to Center Cityt

Center City Philadelphia has had some unique challenges this year to say the least. What’s the future for the business focused Center City real estate market?

Literally just days before Philly initiated the new “safer at home” restrictions to fight rising COVID cases, KW Philly hosted the following dynamic presentation by Paul Levy, President and CEO of Center City District about the Path to Philadelphia Recovery.

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.

Market Reports for Center City

Detailed below are Q3 Center City Luxury market trends, specifically focused on Rittenhouse Square and Mid-Town Philly luxury:

Call me a hopeless optimist, but just like one of Philly’s faves from 2012 – I always have to look at the Silver Lining. In this case, it’s a great time to buy luxury in Rittenhouse Square or in Mid-Town Philly.

In the long run, the livability of Center City Philly with easy access to NY and Washington, DC supports a recovery and resurgence in the area.

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Fall Q3 2020 Real Estate News and Market Reports

Home Office Demands

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

In fact, what started out to be my normal market update turned into various reports covering luxury markets in Gladwyne, Villanova and Bryn Mawr on the Main Line, Rittenhouse Square and Mid-Town in Center City as well as the dramatic spike in pre-foreclosure distressed properties.

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.

Philadelphia Market Report

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.

Gladwyn Luxury Market Report

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.

Conversely the Rittenhouse Square and Mid-Town luxury markets softened to approximately 16 months from an average of 9 months of inventory. Both of these luxury market segments are largely driven by luxury condo sales such as Two Liberty and The Residences at Ritz-Carlton located in the center of the civil protests during the summer.

Does that mean that Center City luxury is dying? Not at all. Life on Rittenhouse Square is thriving.

Demand for mid-sized cities like Philadelphia within an easy commute to New York and Washington DC make Center City a prime destination for relocating buyers and commuting executives.

Gary Vee predicts we are going 100% into a mixed office environment with a standard for work from home with occasional office visits.

This lasting trend will help support the recovery of Center City.

Pre-Foreclosure Spike

The pre-foreclosure market segment has cross-currents as well. Misinformation from forbearance reporting errors adds to the increase in delinquencies. Although this spike cannot be ignored, it may not be what it seems.

Spike in 2020 Foreclosures

Mortgage crisis vs. COVID

News and analysts typically dismiss the increase in pre-foreclosures as not being the same as the mortgage crisis, citing the strong possibility of forbearances being extended into 2021.

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.

What to do when my COVID-19 forbearance ends?

What happens with a forbearance

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:

Also unclear was the impact a forbearance has on your credit and the ability to qualify for a refinance.

What should I do?

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.

Consumer Resources

Where can you get help? These consumer resources include links for helpful details:

What happens when COVID forbearance ends?Freddie Mac
What to do after you receive a forbearance? Consumer Finance
What happens when loan forbearance endsExperian.com

“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

Mortgage Loan Forbearance Options

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.

Take action now!

Please know you are NOT alone; see my detailed market update on distressed properties – Q3 Distressed Property Report ;

Spike in 2020 Foreclosures

The most important thing to do if you’re facing problems with your mortgage is to ask for help right away!

It’s emotionally challenging and can feel overwhelming, but there is hope, and there is help. Doing nothing may put your property at risk of foreclosure.

Start with visiting www.FightTheBank.org for more information about short sales and options to avoid foreclosure.

Please comment below or reach out for a confidential conversation. I’ll gladly connect you with local experts who can help in your situation.

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Pre-Foreclosure Market Update – Q3 2020

Foreclosure Market Report

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?

Multiple realities of quantum physics

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.

Due to changing buying patterns due to COVID along with the exodus from New York and other dense urban areas our small, quiet Main Line townships have literally shifted into prime destinations.

What about October?

In October the number of showings and new contracts declined. However, all indications are that values remain stable in most areas.

Analysts explain “markets despise uncertainty” and it appears people were holding off on buying or selling until after the election.

An “undertow” of loan delinquencies

Looking backwards at September data one might think that it’s time to surf the big waves and catch the ride of your life.

However, there’s an ‘undertow’ most analysts reporting on real estate are not addressing – a sharp increase in loan delinquencies.

The extreme spike in the number of mortgages delinquent 90+ days or in pre-foreclosure is at a level we haven’t seen since 2009.

Mortgage delinquencies spike in 2020 due to COVID

The “backstory”

What complicates delinquent mortgage reporting in 2020 is the surge of mortgage forbearances entered due to COVID-19 CARES ACT.

Incorrect information and bad advise early in the COVID pandemic led to confusing a mortgage forbearance with a deferral. What also wasn’t clear was the impact on credit and ability to refinance.

Many owners did not know full “balloon” payments would be due at the end of their forbearance period and are in a difficult situation confused about what to do as their forbearance ends.

Could the delinquent property data be incorrect?

What the graph above doesn’t address is whether the spike in delinquencies could partially be due to incorrect credit bureau reporting of mortgages in forbearance.

For instance, ConsumerFinance.org advises checking your credit report if you have a forbearance as it should not be shown as a loan default;

“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!

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.

Are Open Houses Safe during COVID-19?

How have open houses changed with COVID-19?

Visiting Open Houses has been a favorite activity of home buyers for decades. Long before HGTV, this was an attractive, non-committal way of exploring neighborhoods, or getting good interior design ideas.

In fact, my husband and I made an offer on our first home after visiting an open house back in the 90’s. I had visited EVERY open house for many weeks to get an understanding of the market. I knew when we saw this one it would go fast and it was priced right.

Open Houses Now

Times change, and home buying in 2020 especially!

With a 2nd wave of COVID-19 lurking around the corner I ask the question- do you feel your safety is protected at open houses?

If you skipped the video, I understand! 😊 Long story short, I’ve been using open houses as an opportunity to preview homes on behalf of my clients.

What are we seeing with open houses post-COVID shutdown on the Main Line and in Center City?

Surprisingly I’ve found a wide range of COVID-19 precautions in use and quite often, lack of.

What are the guidelines?

Just to be clear, the guidelines and requirements from the National Association of Realtors AND the State of Pennsylvania require:
✅ masks for everyone (I also provide gloves)
✅ COVID-19 health questionnaire, filled out, signed with contact info
✅ no more than 3 people in the home at a time

COVID-19 Open House following Correct Guidelines
How I hosted a recent Open House for my sellers; health screening, waiting area outside. Gloves provided!

At recent open houses I’ve hosted at my seller’s request, out of curiosity I’ve asked people what their experiences have been, and how they feel about it. Me playing ‘Jay Leno’s “Jaywalking”, on the street reporter‘ (more 90’s flashbacks) 🤣💥

What I’ve heard from you

Many commented that it was uncomfortable, but also expressed a desire to look at homes casually trying to sort out what their dream buying goals are – and learn neighborhoods. Just as it always has been.

One lady thanked me for providing gloves. She said has had to do the “Molly Shanon” from Superstar to avoid touching anything as she walks through other open houses!

I’m proud to say our broker at KW Main Line requires us to strictly abide by these standards. However, at other open houses on the Main Line, I’ve seen realtors letting unlimited groups of people in the house at the same time, and no COVID questionnaire – but at least they had masks on!

It’s always been my business practice to put my client’s needs first. Providing virtual access via video and live streaming is something I adapted early in my career to make it more convenient for my buyer clients, whether they were early in the process or trying to make a short term decision.

Now, more than ever, this type of VIP, concierge service offers you both convenience (saving time) and safety!

What are your thoughts?

Please share and comment. Are you attending open houses instead of booking an appointment? May I ask why? Look forward to hearing your input.