Monday, April 9, 2012

A Mystery Solved - At Least For Me.

I'm always having these fights - well maybe just discussions - when recycling day comes along.  Do we or don't we recycle pizza boxes?   It makes sense that we should, after all, they are boxes.  But I remember hearing that they can't be recycled because of the delicious, greasy pizza that comes in the box.  Well, I found this article that I'd like to share with all of you because I can't believe that I'm the only confused person here.  Read the attached article and hopefully this will clear things up for you too.

A Mystery Solved.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Important Home Buying Information

I've worked with home buyers who have wondered if it's really necessary to do a home inspection. They feel they have the sellers disclosure, why should they waste the money on the inspection?  There's a very good reason to get a home inspection:  sometimes sellers unintentionally leave very important things out of the report.  Or they just aren't sure about certain things like the age of the roof or the heater.

I alway recommend getting the inspection.  It could save you a lot of money and aggravation in the long run.  Let a professional go thru the house with you, explain what's going on with the electrical box, the crack in the wall, etc., etc., etc.. 

Here is a list of things you should look for during the home inspection.

What to Look for During a Home Inspection

Tip 1: Check structural aspects
Tip 2: Inspect plumbing
Tip 3: Examine heating, cooling and ventilation systems
Tip 4: Inventory major appliances
Tip 5: Scrutinize the roof
Tip 6: Don't forget attics and exterior components
Tip 7: Wiring and breakers

What to Expect During a Home Inspection

Your home inspection should take a few hours, depending on the house size and number of accessories. Many times, you'll be invited to tag along, so the home inspector can verbally explain what he or she is looking at and for. In addition, you'll be given a detailed, written account of everything within a couple of days of the inspection. Some of the more tech-savvy inspectors take photos or videos of issues and supply electronic files along with a written report.
These services do not come cheap and there is really no set rate for buyer home inspections. Most will cost at least several hundred dollars depending on the region, size of home, age of home and extras such as septic systems and wells, but it is worth it not to cut corners and pinch pennies.
Hopefully everything will check out, and you can shake hands with the seller and start moving in! If not, though, you will at least have a professional opinion of anything that might need fixing or replacing before you sign away your bank account.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tree Planting in Queen Village

It's that time of the year when trees through out Philadelphia get planted by the area tree tenderers with the help of the local communities.  The city is getting geared up to plant lots of trees and is looking for tree tender groups like the one here in Queen Village to help it locate spots where trees can be planted.  Well, we've located the spots, and we have the trees.  Now we have to plant them.

This Saturday, Nov. 19th,  at 9 am we are assembling at Weccacoe Recreation Center in the 400 block of Catherine Street.  Weather sounds as if it will cooperate.  Bring gloves, shovels and brooms if you have them and let's get those trees into the ground.  Everyone is welcome.  It's a fun way to meet your neighbors and keep Queen Village beautiful.

Of course after the trees are planted they need to be cared for.  Here is a list of things that need to be done to keep our trees alive.

(a)    Pit maintenance (weeding, loosening compacted soil, mulching, removing old ties and stakes)
(b)    Pruning
(c)    Be a “Tree Checker”—these are emissaries who stay in touch with homeowners who have recently received trees to encourage them to care for the trees; twice a year, the tree checkers inventory trees that have been planted in the last two years and submit the information to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.  A critical task because it allows us to get replacement trees quickly for those that have died.
(d)    Watering trees (critical in the first two years), which also includes putting tree gators on trees and removing them before winter
(e)    Identifying opportunities for new plantings and signing people up to receive new trees
(f)    Inventory of empty tree pits and dead trees

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has also rolled out a tree yard program where residents can acquire trees for planting in yards for $10.

I hope to see you there on Saturday. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cost of living: How expensive is Philadelphia?

Just read this great article on Flying Kite about my favorite subject that I want to share with you.  And no, it's not about food, it's about Philadelphia.


Sometimes Philadelphia feels like a closely kept secret -- urban character, excellent food, cultural capital and low, low rents. Time to spill the beans. Tell your friends. Buy them a cheap local brew at happy hour. Give them a tour of your surprisingly-spacious pad, perfect for potlucks and bike storage. Take them to a BYOB. Get them a great coffee and a Wednesday-night ticket to the Ritz.

It's true: for a city of its size and geography, Philadelphia can be had on the cheap. It's no wonder artists, entrepreneurs and independent workers are making homes here. There is also a growing community of young people coming for school, and deciding to stay. And for entrepreneurs looking to test-drive an idea with low overhead and an adventurous clientele, the city offers an excellent option.

When talking about cost of living, it's important to talk about context. Living in a major coastal city is never going to be cheaper than moving to a less-dense area inland. The Northeast in particular is home to some of the priciest areas in the country. But the reasons people pay those premiums comes down to quality of life -- opportunity, energy, culture. Looking at these more intangible factors makes Philadelphia feel like even more of a bargain.

Young people are taking note. According to the most recent U.S. census data, the overall population of Philadelphia rose .6 percent, the first increase in more than a half century. Meanwhile, the population of people ages 20-34 rose 14.7 percent (from 342, 473 to 392,779).

Recently named the No. 1 U.S. city for culture by Travel & Leisure magazine, Philly is also easily approachable for arts lovers. According to the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance's 2011 Portfolio report, median ticket price for arts and culture events throughout the region was $15.

Yet Philadelphia hasn't been able to project the same hip factor as New York, San Francisco or Portland. It suffers from a bit of an image problem -- little sister syndrome to traditional post-college meccas. Some who arrive seem surprised by the combination of urban character and cheap living. Carly Goodman, a recent New York transplant (and grad student on a tight budget) says, "Philadelphia is paradise. And your life is better because the city is smaller. Commutes are shorter. Your friends live nearby." Ironically, it might be that underdog status that helps keep costs low. "Philadelphia is great," adds Mason Austin, a recent transplant from San Francisco. "You can actually afford a home. But a lot of the specialized industries are drawn elsewhere."

Home Free
The ACCRA Cost of Living Index is an excellent tool for looking at these issues. (Here is a particularly useful calculator from Looking at the city-by-city statistics, rent remains the main budget coup in Philly. Average rent in the metro area is $1,314.41. That's far less than Manhattan ($2,776.33), Brooklyn ($2,249.13), Washington, D.C. ($1,783.13) and Los Angeles ($1,840.75). A bit more surprising, it beats out Seattle ($1,364.60), Chicago ($1,455.39) and even the Baltimore-Towson Metro area ($1,414.68).

Home ownership also remains within reach for most people, even in desirable, developing neighborhoods like Passyunk Square, Pennsport and the Baltimore corridor in West Philly. Home prices are affordable, and they are also steady. A depressed area is often cheap, but the interesting thing about central Philadelphia is that there is underlying health to the market. For deal-seekers, there are an increasing number of attractive and vibrant neighborhoods.

 As visible on this map of local home prices (compiled by Econsult Corp. of Philadelphia and The Philadelphia Inquirer), the majority of the region's thriving neighborhoods are within the city limits. With the exception of the most traditionally affluent (and inflated) areas -- Rittenhouse, Washington Square -- prices in the urban core of Philadelphia are on the uptick. People do want to be here.

From 2005 through 2011, a time of immense turmoil in the national housing market, Philadelphia actually fared pretty well. And while the overall metro area experienced stagnation or even a drop in prices and demand, Center City and its vicinity remained remarkably strong. If anything, the frontiers of our urban core continue to expand. Areas in the city's near-northeast (East Kensington, Fishtown; up 16 percent) and Graduate Hospital (up 43 percent) have been experiencing development, but prices still remain incredibly reasonable in relation to other major Northeastern cities.

Business School
You can't talk about quality of life without talking about a place's opportunities for entrepreneurship and new businesses. Barriers to entry are significantly lower here than in other East Coast hotbeds. Brother and sister team Kriti and Kunal Sehgal experienced this contrast personally. The pair faced a stark decision when they were conceiving Pure Fare, a grab-and-go cafe with an emphasis on healthy recipes, sustainably-sourced products and an innovative online nutritional interface. Kunal is based in New York and his sister in Philadelphia. They chose Philly for their first location, and opened at 21st and Walnut in April.

"Our reasons were number one the cost thing," explains Kunal. "(Rittenhouse Square) is basically Union Square. Hypothetically speaking, our rent in New York would be like 15, 20 grand. Here, it's a lot less than that. From a practical standpoint, to get the business off the ground, it made sense."

They also felt Philadelphia, as a developing foodie haven, was ripe for their thoughtful, from-scratch food and high-end coffee. Operating out of a bright, fresh space fitted with vintage accents and salvaged wood seating, Pure Fare has tapped into a local love of value -- premium products for a doable price. The Sehgals recently purchased a food truck, a low-cost way to up their brand recognition and bring their homemade soups, sandwiches and salads to local college campuses, parks and special events.

"I love Philadelphia," says Kunal, who still commutes from New York. "It's a very nice change from New York, in terms of what I'm used to day-in-day-out. It's not as hectic. It's an area where people take their time. And it's not as money driven."

LEE STABERT is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia.

Monday, October 24, 2011

5 Steps to Avoid Buying a Money Pit

Here's some great advice to follow if you're planning on buying a home.  I personally believe the most important tip is to get a home inspection and make sure you are there for it.  Ask the home inspector as many questions as you want.  And choose one that you can speak to after you get his/her inspection report.

Read and learn.

Avoiding A Money Pit

Sunday, October 23, 2011

5 Ways to Know If A Home Is "The One"

I've worked with many buyers.  They all have one thing in common - they know when they've found their dream home.  As soon as they walk in the door they know. First thing they do is decorate the place.  The couch can go there, the dining room table will fit perfectly in this spot, etc, etc, etc.

Here's a great piece that I found that talks about this very thing.  I wanted to share it with you.

Enjoy and good luck finding your perfect home.

5 Ways to Know If A Home Is "The One"