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

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.

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

For example, amenity rich condos like The Residences at Ritz-Carlton in mid-town Philly that resonate with a Manhattan luxury lifestyle – but less expensive, quieter and a little more friendly.

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.

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.

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

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 criteria was “walkability” to train stations and shopping, but post COVID-19 New Yorkers are looking for privacy, acreage, flexible living space as highlighted in my recent article “Top 5 new features to sell your home post COVID-19.”

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.

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.

IRS Extends Tax Deadlines

If you’re working on your taxes during #stayathome, there’s some good news from the IRS that can dramatically help investors. Please read the update from Pennsylvania Association of Realtors below:

The IRS issued guidance Thursday evening to grant deadline relief for both 1031 like-kind exchanges and opportunity zone investments that are already underway.  Both of these programs are designed to promote economic growth in communities, and NAR made the case that investors in these programs should not be harmed due to the effects of COVID-19.

1031 Like-kind exchanges.  If an investor has taken the first step of a like-kind exchange by selling the old property, and either the 45-day or the 180-day deadline falls between April 1 and July 15, the deadline has been extended to July 15.

Opportunity Zones.  If an investor who sold a capital asset planned to roll over the gain into an Opportunity Fund and the 180-day deadline to do so falls between April 1 and July 15, 2020, he or she can make the investment as late as July 15.  

Tax preparations during COVID-19

Also, sole proprietors who pay quarterly estimated taxes now have until July 15 to file their second quarter payment.  As a result of an earlier IRS notice, first quarter estimated tax payments had already been extended to July 15.  This means that any individual or corporation that has a quarterly estimated tax payment due on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020, can wait until July 15 to make that payment, without penalty.  

For more information on how investors can thrive in the midst of the COVID-19 economic chaos, contact me today and let’s have virtual coffee via Zoom.

High demand for Main Line mid-century homes

You might be surprised to find a high demand on the Main Line for mid-century modern with simple, clean lines and open floor plans.

Three recent listings designed by Robert McElroy all went under contract in less than two weeks. Take a quick preview:

Where were these?

307 Jeffrey Lane, Newtown Square – listed for $749,000. 4 bd / 3 ba, on 1 acre with swimming pool & jacuzzi, built in 1972. Sold above asking for $749,850

596 S Bryn MawrAve, Bryn Mawr – listed for $710,000. 4 bd / 2.5 ba on 1.34 acres, built in 1963. Sold above asking for $730,000.

596 S Bryn Mawr Ave SOLD above asking for $730K

305 Highview Drive, Wayne – listed for $599,900. 4 bd / 2.5 ba, on 1 acre with pool, built in 1970. Sold for $580,000.

If you’d like listing alerts for homes built by Robert McElroy, contact me and I will notify you of coming soon and just listed mid-century homes.

History meets luxury in Lower Merion

Combine Philadelphia history and Frank Furness design with modern luxury upgrades and you create this gem in Lower Merion.

Welcome to 608 Robinson Lane, Haverford

Imagine greeting your guests as you descend this grand staircase where historic architecture meets modern flooring:

Which would be your favorite bath?

I adore the indoor / outdoor flow with so much light!

Relax, entertain, enjoy your private oasis close to Philadelphia – all for the same price as a 2 bd condo in Rittenhouse Square.

Photos courtesy of BHHS


Update – SOLD 12/7/18 for $2,075,000 with $75K in concessions.

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!

Craftsman style homes create value in Philly and Main Line

A recent Philly.com article featured three Philadelphia Craftsman Style homes and indicated these features generate a premium value – equal to 34% increase!

What exactly is a Craftsman Style home? According to Wikipedia:

The American Craftsman style, or the American Arts and Crafts movement, is an American domestic architecturalinterior designlandscape designapplied arts, and decorative arts style and lifestyle philosophy that began in the last years of the 19th century. As a comprehensive design and art movement it remained popular into the 1930s. However, in decorative arts and architectural design it has continued with numerous revivals and restoration projects through present times.

Click on photo for link to HGTV blog article about Craftsman Homes

With our abundance of row homes in Philadelphia, Craftsman features can be hard to find.  What are the best areas to search? Germantown, Girard Estates in South Philly, Manayunk, Roxborough and on the Main Line some of my top picks are in Ambler and Media.

What are your ideal features in a home? Let’s talk and I’ll help you find the right match!

Just sold! Nob Hill Condos in Manayunk

Nob Hill condos offer a quiet, comfortable lifestyle in Manayunk. Two recent sales clearly indicate a positive market shift for Nob Hill.

A wonderful lifestyle! Walkable to dining and shopping on Manayunk’s Main Street, and easy access for Regional Rail or 76. Each loft-style condo comes with it’s own parking.

Like many condos that came to the market during the peak of the mortgage crisis, owners at Nob Hill have weathered through some ups and down. When a condo complex like Nob Hill goes through struggles such as a lawsuit against the developer, unfortunately that negatively impacts sales. And a reputation remains in the local real estate market. 

Two recent one bedroom sales pave the way for increase in values and a resurgence in the local market for Nob Hill. The success with both sales was powered by my smart, strategic marketing drawing out of state buyers.

Unit 603 – SOLD for $150,000 CASH

Similar to my strategy to overcome negative perceptions at 23 S 23rd in Rittenhouse where I targeted New York buyers, I created a successful marketing plan to bypass market doubts about the Nob Hill complex.

My smart marketing included focus on #Match2018 as it’s a perfect fit for medical residents relocating to Philly. We did proactive Facebook marketing to make sure it was visible in strategic areas for potential buyers.

Unit 802 – SOLD in 24 hours at full price!

Originally their home, this unit had been a rental and the owners needed to let it go and sell after the tenant moved out. They wisely chose to list the price in the “bulls eye” of where we could be confident on value, leveraged by my recent sale of Unit 603. My coming soon smart marketing on social media attracted an out of state buyer, relocating for a PhD program, and we had a “sight unseen” offer within 24 hours!

My clients took my advise to have it painted and staged before release publicly. Voila Design did a fantastic job. Not only did we have a full price offer, but generated a great deal of back-up interest with buyers.

Nothing more satisfying that having happy clients!

“Susanna and her team went above and beyond. Very Responsive and great marketing including coming soon which secured an offer within 24 hours of listing”

Selling your home successfully requires a creative, strategic approach to both marketing and pricing. For more info on your home’s value and what the market is offering today, contact me for a private consultation.