R5Realty News and Notes

Market Snapshots and Commentary on Value and Quality of life along the former Main Line of the Pennsylvania Rail Road, up until recently called the R5 Line, and now officially known as the Paoli /Thorndale line. R5Realty runs from Center City Philadelphia through the walkable, Westward outlying Towns & Townships.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Greener Disposal Options in the Philadelphia Suburbs

My TV is Headed for the Trash
I have a 32" LCD Television that works intermittently at best. The picture never looked as cool as the image on left, but it was a fine upgrade for the time.  If it were to be plugged in right now it might work great for a day or two, but then would spiral back into into terminal cycle.
Based on consumer reports, I did quite well to get seven years of reliable usage out the television before it began shutting itself off and refusing to go back on. It seems there is a part that can be replaced to make this television work well, but cost is several hundred dollars before shipping and aggravation, so why bother? Eventually, this 32-incher is worm food.
Proper Disposal Makes for Longterm Profitability

This unwanted tv is going to require a proper resting place soon, so thank goodness for Free Household Recycle and Dump Day. coming end of April at Lower Merion's Publics works facility, as well as related community disposal  events in Darby and Broomall indicated below. 
As much as I would like to see if somebody can squeeze some more use out of this television, I feel it is my responsibility - as an American consumer - to try and despose of this electronic detritus from the first decade of the 21st century in a manner that will do the least harm to the environment.

Spring Clean-Up Weekends Coming
Lower Merion Township of, Public Works Department is offering 
a Spring Cleanup opportunity this Sat., April 30th & Sun.  May 1st at the Refuse/Recycling station on Woodbine Avenue in Penn Valley.
Dispose  unwanted refuse and recyclables — household appliances, textiles, plastic, glass, newsprint, and plain old trash without charge! 

Proof of residency is required (such as a driver's license).  
Township crews will help residents unload.
Recyclable material must be separated from other household trash.

 Household hazardous waste cannot be disposed of with regular household waste. This includes products such as motor oil, antifreeze, turpentine, furniture stripper, household pesticides, drain,oven cleaners and items like pool chemicals. Further info: Regional Household Hazardous Waste Hot Line at 215-238-9991.  2011 Refuse and Recycling Brochure.

Other communities with special colection events upcoming:
Saturday, April 9, 2011 Emergency Services Training Center
1700 Calcon Hook Road
Darby, PA  19079

Computers, printers, fax machines and portable TVs will also be collected at this event.    See Computer and Television Recycling Topic for further information.
Saturday, May 7, 2011   Marple Transfer Station
Marpit Drive & Sussex Blvd.
Broomall, PA  19008


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lower Merion Homes for Sale and Accesss for Philadelphia Realtors

Push Button Combo Lock Box
When you put your home up for sale, you have a host of options regarding how buyers and real estate agents will gain access to view the interior. Some homeowners are not
aware of the myriad of options available. Many listing agents won't explain all of the options because, frankly, some of the methods are just inconvenient and costly from the agent's perspective. Other  methods may just be downright impractical and impede a sale. But each method of providing access to your home's interior has a host of positive and negative qualities depending on your perspective, goals and level of comfort.

Lower Merion & Philadelphia-area real estate agents Ted and Heather Gross with Prudential, are happy to discuss and explore in further detail, which of the primary Lockbox options described below would be the best fit for you. In addition, we can discuss the various other non-Lockbox  methods of allowing agents and buyers access to your home, each with their upsides and downsides depending on your needs. Please dont hesitate to contact us. Our aim - in addition to selling homes - is to educate and make this process as transparent and empowering to the consumer as is possible.

As indicated, this post examines the utility of  LockBoxes, be they Combination (Combo) or Electronic. In our experience, LockBoxes are (by far) the most frequently employed and preferred methods for allowing access to your home-for-sale.

Iconic Dial Combination Box
* Combination LockBoxes are by far the most popular method for giving buyers and their agents access to the keys to your home. A small box is locked to an exterior door or railing and buyers' agents are provided the private code when they request a showing appointment.

(Upside+)  A universally easy to operate Combo LockBox ensures your home gets the greatest number of showings. Agents and buyers need no special equipment - other than a telephone -to call up and obtain the private code for the Combo LockBox containing the keys. Also, busy Buyers/Realtors' appointment schedules are easy to accomodate since the LockBox requires no special equipment and nobody must be home to allow entry.

In this competitive sellers market, volume of showings and Quality of Showings can be a boon to selling at a good price. The Quality of a Showing is greatly enhanced when buyers andagents can view your home when they find it most convenient and welcoming. More importantly, homeowners NOT being present to hand over keys, open the doors, overhear comments allows buyers to feel most relaxed and practically project themselves into the living space. In this environment, a Buyer cB truly focus on the possibility of seeing the home as becoming their home and not yours. That's the end goal, right?

(Downside-) Beyond the obvious fact of allowing strangers and relative strangers access to your home and personal property, once the code to a Combination LockBox is known, the keys to your door are there for the taking by anyone who has the code. What I find most disturbing is that some Listing Agencies use the same code for most - if not every - Lockbox they affix. This means nearly everytime a house has a yard sign emblazoned with For Sale bt "Brokerage Alpha" or "Brokerage Beta," any Agent who has ever done business with these firms has a pretty good idea of the Lockbox code and could unethically gain access at anytime, without registering an appointment.

Electronic Lock Boxes
Key-pad transponder and Electronic blue Lock Box.
(Upside +)  A primary and sometimes preferred alternative to the Combo LockBox is an Electronic LockBox, which is a sophisticated, 21st century device that exponentially raises the homeowners level of security by digitally recording and reporting which registered unlocking device is used, as well as they time and date it is employed to obtain keys from the Electronic Lockbox. The upgrade in security to the Seller is tremendous, as agents must not only pre-register, but they also have to invest a significant annual fee to obtain and keep active the transponder unit required to access keys from an electronice lockbox.

(Downside -) Electronic lockboxes are not very widely used outside the luxury home community, if at all. Since many real estate agents do not wish to subscribe to or incur the cost of this relatively uncommon but supremely secure electronic lockbox service, there is a distinct probability that many qualified Buyers' agents will ignore your listing and you may miss out on lots of quality showings. Bottom line, your home may take longer to sell and eventually attract a lower offer price due to time on market and less demand. This factor can and should  be a huge a consideration in the decision regarding selection of Lockbox system.
For the record, agents servicing R5Realty.com do recognize the professional importance of subscribing to and maintaining an Electronic Lockbox subscription so that our buyers can view every home regardless of analog or digital technology.

Ted's R5Realty.com  Analysis:

Most high-quality real estate brokerages - such as R5Realty.com's affiliation with locally and nationally recognized industry leading firm  Prudential Fox & Roach - will service showing requests via extremely professional appointment call centers, which require Real Estate Agents to verify their credentials and identity when attempting to schedule and appointment and obtain a Combination LockBox code. This screening can't ensure 100% protection from unwelcome or unauthorized access to your home, but it does ensure registration of who gets access to codes and when the access is obtained.  
Eshowings is an Extremely Efficient and Professinal
Agents adore the simplicity of  Combo Lockboxes and the ease of unfettered quality showings they foster. For this reason, I think  a Combo Lockbox gives sellers the best chance of selling in the shortest amount of time, for the highest price. While there is an element of vulnerablility associated with Combo Lockboxes, the consequences of unethical behavior or misuse of access to a lockbox can be devestating and destroy an agent's reputation and livelihood.

A vast majority of Sellers permit their listing Agent to employ the Combo Lockbox/call-center method of providing appointment-based access to help sell your home. I have encountered almost no reports of malfeasance regarding this method, but to not acknowledge some of the unlikely pitfalls described runs counter to R5Realty.com's goal of making the process of selling and buying residential real estate as transparent user-friendly as is possible. Finally, there are some strategies, albeit, a bit time-consuming that can enhance the security of Combo Lockboxes but they require thinking a bit outside the box (so to speak)!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

M. Night Shyamalan's Intern Now Lower Merion Real Estate Agent Haunting Philadelphia and its Suburbs

Lower Merion's Favorite Son: M. Night Shyamalan
 In the mid-1990s, while still transitioning from our unraveling family wallpaper business into residential Real Estate sales with Prudential, I volunteered to work for a then all-but-unknown, aspiring filmmaker by the name M. Night Shyamalan. At the time, Shyamalan kept ground-floor office space in the lovely villa-inspired confines of the Whitehall Apartments (now Casa Del Sol) on Lancaster Avenue in Haverford, Lower Merion, while working on what I turned out to be a wonderful screenplay adaption of  E.B. White's Stuart Little.

With little in the way of other employment prospects or pressing expenses at the time - and under the guise of "do what you like and the rest will follow.' (I like movies!),  I indulged the Shyamalan's  summer "internship" with a similar position at Philadelphia's community non-profit Scribe Video Center.

`Casa Del Sol' Apts. housed Shyamalan's Office
  What followed at Shyamalan's office included several weeks of monitoring then print-only edition of  "Variety" magazine to help keep M. Night and his team up-to-date with industry news and developments. I also assisted in upgrading Shyamalan's internet navigation crew regarding what was, at the time, a mysteriously burgeoning "information super highway" aka The Internet.  Things were going smoothly for a week or so until I was sat down in front of the VCR-TV to screen Shyamalan's first two feature films, his NYU student-feature Praying with Anger, and the in-the-works to be released Miramax family-film "Wide Awake," starring Rosie O'Donnell. and Dennis Leary. Following the viewings I was asked how I liked the films.

I Admit to Having No 6th Sense Re: Hollywood 
With no aspirations of becoming an unpaid sycophant (not that I was pressured to be one), I gave my honest gut reaction to "Praying with Anger" and "Wide Awake"  Thus ended my ephemeral connection to the now world-famous celluloid auteur. I shook hands with he who would become Lower Merion's most famous film-maker of the 21st century, was graciously thanked for my time, and was shown the door. 

Eventually, I really enjoyed Stuart Little and of course, the wonderfully creepy Sixth Sense. I had no idea the diminutive, young director of the two videos which I viewed in the basement of the Whitehall Apartments would go on to produce such majesty and success.

No regrets. I never had any film production chops and no matter how hard I might have tried to ingratiate myself, its wildly unlikely I would have taken a glittery-ride on Shyamalan's coat-tails. The she-bang left with me with an interesting anecdote and an awareness to always keep an open mind about  my own 6th Sense.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lower Merion Realtor to Philadelphia Inquirer: Sellers Seize Momentum by Pricing Your Home Smartly

Sellers: Be Like Bob Dylan (or don't) but Adapt!
 For an upcoming feature, the Philadelphia Inquirer  queried local real estate agents:  
What advice would you give Home Sellers in the Philadelphia area?

My reply, with homage to Satchell Paige, D.A. Pennebaker and Bob Dylan, is geared toward Sellers who aim to sell and then Buy a new home in the current market.

Don't look back. Be bold. Be empowered. Realize Things have Changed and be the one in charge by adapting to the current realities of today's marketplace. Those who sold in the mid-2000s seller's market and got 10-20% more than today's prices likely gave that gain right back when paying an inflated price for a new home in that heated market. Same principal applies today but in reverse.

Price your home to aggressively to sell based on 2011 market values and use the momentum to re-energize your home-ownership investment by getting a great deal when you buy in today's value market. With interest rates so attractive, there is no reason you can't make out as good or better than ever by recognizing the synergy of today's residential real estate realities. You don't need a Realtor to know which way the wind blows but R5Realty's Ted and Heather Gross would be happy to help you test the wind, set sail, and Let's Get Movin.'

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Lower Merion Home Prices February 2011

Chart below includes Lower Merion Township home prices paid up to 1 Million from late Jan to late Feb 2011.  The "Offered At" price below reflects each home's asking price at the time a deal was contracted.  
Frequently the Initial  "Offered At" price was significant higher when property was first listed,  and it was reduced over time to what you see below. For details, questions, inquiries, we'd like to hear from you. Email Us info@R5Realty.com

Street Address Beds Bath Offered At Sold Price Town - Station
148 Saint Pauls Rd 3 1 $239,900 $225,000 Ardmore
340 Inwood Rd 3 1.1 $278,500 $261,000 Ardmore
315 W Spring Ave 4 1.1 $279,900 $270,000 Ardmore
228 Edgemont Ave 4 2.1 $329,018 $317,000 Ardmore
120 Sibley Ave #306 2 2 $429,000 $415,000 Ardmore
42 Conshohocken 7B 1 1 $155,000 $138,000 Bala Cynwyd
600 Belmont Ave 3 2.1 $259,900 $228,000 Bala Cynwyd
700 Belmont Ter 4 2.1 $296,500 $275,000 Bala Cynwyd
12 W Dartmouth Rd 4 2.1 $399,000 $393,000 Bala Cynwyd
532 Cynwyd Cir 3 3 $450,000 $423,950 Bala Cynwyd
28 W Amherst Rd 4 2.1 $550,000 $502,500 Bala Cynwyd
190 Presidential  613 2 2.1 $579,000 $535,000 Bala Cynwyd
124 N Merion Ave 4 3.1 $499,000 $507,700 Bryn Mawr
1012 Broadmoor Rd 3 3.1 $699,000 $700,000 Bryn Mawr
227 Pennswood Rd 6 4.1 $995,000 $960,000 Bryn Mawr
1148 Maplecrest Cir 3 1.1 $375,000 $370,000 Gladwyne
364 Youngsford Pl 3 2.1 $599,000 $575,000 Gladwyne
432 W Montgomery 201 3 2 $275,000 $230,000 Haverford
130 Avon Rd 3 2 $495,000 $485,000 Haverford
134 Rockland Rd 3 1 $175,000 $156,600 Merion
170 Idris Rd 3 1.1 $315,000 $305,000 Merion
534 Hamilton Rd 4 3.1 $659,900 $627,000 Merion
717 Woodfield Rd 5 3.1 $575,000 $545,000 Villanova
211 Harrogate Rd 2 1 $175,000 $135,000 Wynnewood
1219 W Wynnewood  504 2 2 $172,000 $164,000 Wynnewood
1416 Westwood Ln 3 2 $214,900 $175,000 Wynnewood
1001 City Ave WA205 3 2.1 $245,000 $210,000 Wynnewood
225 Haverford Rd 3 2.1 $249,900 $225,000 Wynnewood
1515 Brinton Park Dr 4 1.1 $299,900 $308,800 Wynnewood
106 Rolling Rd 3 1.1 $319,000 $310,080 Wynnewood
1351 W Indian Creek Dr 4 3.2 $400,000 $377,300 Wynnewood
121 Anton Rd 3 2 $459,000 $435,000 Wynnewood
634 Greythorne Rd 4 2.2 $499,000 $509,000 Wynnewood
414 Minden Way 6 5.2 $975,000 $763,000 Wynnewood