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What to Ask Your Philly Home Inspector


When you’re buying a Philly home, it’s smart to get a home inspection before closing on your new space. Whether it’s a condo or single-family home, an inspection allows you to find out if anything is wrong with the space and how serious the issues are. This will help you determine if it’s worth either negotiating the price, negotiating the terms, or finding a different home.

Our Stephen Sells Philly real estate team is here to offer you suggestions on what to ask your home inspector, so you’re sure to get the most out of this step in the home-buying process. They key is to not be shy. No question is a stupid question when you’re talking about what may be the biggest investment of your life.

Things to ask your home inspector as a Philly homebuyer:

1.  Can you explain? You can walk through the Philly home with your home inspector, and chances are, they’ll mumble off their findings as they go. You might not always know what they mean, like if they say they found rotten boards or rusty pipes. Ask for more information then or at the end, so you understand what the findings mean for you and for the space.

2.  Is this a major or minor issue? What might sound major to you might be a quick and easy fix, and vice versa. Don’t be afraid to ask if something is major or minor, so you can get a better feel for where you’re at. This can prevent unnecessary stress after the inspection, or serious consideration on the price or purchase of this home. An inspector can’t tell you whether you should buy, but you can discuss your options with your Philly real estate agent after learning how serious the findings are.

3.  Did you see that? Perhaps you noticed a water spot on the ceiling, or a light switch that flickers when you flip it on. An inspector is a professional, but that doesn’t mean that they'll definitely catch everything. If you noticed something you’re wondering about, don’t be afraid to point it out and ask.

4.  How do I maintain this? If something is new to you, the inspector can give you some basic information on how you should care for it. For example, if you’ve never owned a home before, you might be curious how to maintain a HVAC system. This is your chance to ask a professional for some basic maintenance advice!

5.  What are your biggest concerns? Once the inspection is over, ask the inspector what stood out the most and what you should be most concerned with. A written report might sound overwhelming if lots of minor issues were found, but what really matters are the major issues, and what it will take to fix them. You might even need to call in a more specific expert to take a look at the issue at hand.

A home inspection is an important step in the home-buying process, so you know exactly what you’re buying! We’re here to help guide you through the entire buying process, and to help you negotiate per the inspection findings. Give our Stephen Sells Philly team a call for help in the Philly real estate market this fall!

Stephen Ferguson, REALTOR | 267.377.9344 Mobile | 215.558.2429 Office
Follow me on Twitter @SSellsPhilly |
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Fox and Roach, REALTORS | 215.546.0550

Where to Drink This Summer in Philly


Our last blog post was all about the best deals and newest places for food in Philly. Well, you’ve got to wash down all that food with something cool and delicious, right?! Our Philly real estate team is here to fill you in on where to find great drink specials this summer in Philly, because let’s face it, the sun and high temps can make us thirsty!

Here’s where to clink some glasses and toast to health, wealth and happiness in Philly right now:

A.Kitchen has special weekday happy hour deals Monday through Friday, 4 to 6 p.m. Head out after work and enjoy bottles of Spanish rose for $25, $8 red and white wines by the glass, $5 season draft beer and a rotating $6 aperitif cocktail. Chow down on $6 snacks as well!

On Wednesdays, Center City Sips bring you $5 cocktails, $4 wine, $3 beer and half-priced appetizers from 5 to 7 p.m.! This only runs through Aug. 30, so you’ve got two more chances to choose from more than 80 bars and restaurants in Center City that participate!

PHS Pop-Up Beer Gardens host drink specials at not one, but two beer gardens, through October! Stop by the South Street or University City locations for themed happy hours, such as Margarita Mondays, Wine Wednesdays or Thursday Yappy Hours, which your dogs are invited to!

Parks on Top is another traveling beer garden program, popping up in green spaces throughout the city until Oct. 1! Two trucks supply everything you could need, one with food, the other with craft beer and other adult beverages. Check out the schedule for current dates, times and locations!

It can be hard to find weekend happy hours, but Mission Taqueria delivers on Saturdays during the summer! Head over there between 4 and 6 p.m. for frozen cocktails, tequila coladas, fish tacos, ice cream and more at discounted rates. Drinks are $6 and snacks are $3-4.

Hop Sing Laundromat is the place to go for top-shelf spirits! Tuesday through Friday, from 5 to 8 p.m., and Saturdays from 5 to 7 p.m., stop by for happy hour deals on top-of-the-line shots of whiskeys, bourbons, ryes and tequilas. Shots start at $4.49. Who’s ready to party!?

Beer gardens are extensive in Philly during the summer months, as this list from Visit Philly proves! We’ve mentioned the beer gardens at Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest, Spruce Street Harbor Park and The Oval in past blog posts of ours.  Check out the whole list and visit a new one each week!

Enjoy a glass of your beverage of choice while catching up with friends or meeting new ones in Philly this summer! As always, drink responsibly. When ready to achieve your Philadelphia real estate market goals, contact us, your Philly real estate team! We are here to help make your dreams of buying, selling or both happen this year. Give us a call!

Real Estate Reality TV vs. Real Philly Real Estate Market


If you love to binge watch your favorite real estate reality TV show, we totally get that! Some of those HGTV shows are so addicting – Property Brothers, Love it or List it, House Hunters – the list goes on. As your Stephen Sells Philly real estate team, we just want to make sure that you realize that reality TV isn’t always as close to reality as you might think!

Here are some of the ways that what you see on TV differs from the actual reality of the Philly real estate market right now:

Buyers look at one to three homes and decide which one to purchase. While some Philly homebuyers are lucky enough to fall in love with one of the first homes they look at, and then have their offer accepted on it, this isn’t always the case. Inventory is lower than average right now, so it could take buyers longer than usual to find a home. The National Association or Realtors found that the average buyer tours 10 homes as part of their search. In the shows, the buyer often already knows which house they are buying before the show airs. The other two listings are just for show and comparison.

The houses the buyers are touring are still for sale. Have you ever fallen in love with a home on ta show and wished you found it first? Yeah, those homes are already off the market. Can you imagine if a character from the show decided they loved that house and wanted to buy it, and then it turned out someone had snatched it up, or the seller declined their offer, end of show? Not much ehappy entertainment there. First the buyer buys a home, then they stage the setup of the episode to make it seem like they are still searching.

When you list your home, it always sells at the open house. There is only so much a reality TV sow can air in a 30-minute timespan. Therefore, it always appears that a seller finds a buyer during one open house. In reality, open houses are just one important piece to the home-selling puzzle. Our Stephen Sells Philly team loves hosting open houses, to get your home the most exposure possible to prospective buyers. But we also host numerous open houses, and private showings, and market your home in lots of other ways. So do the houses in the TV show. They just don’t have time to show all of that! Also, these sellers have thought about selling their home for a lot longer than the five-minute conversation shown.

These are just a few of the ways that reality TV is different than real estate in the real world. If you’d like to buy and/or sell in the Philly real estate market this fall, give our real estate team a call! We will answer all your questions with honesty and will help guide you through the process every step of the way.

Parkway 100 Celebrates Benjamin Franklin Parkway’s Centennial


Benjamin Franklin Parkway turns 100 years old this year! To celebrate, Parkway 100 kicks off, which is a birthday party that lasts 14 months in Philly! As your Philly real estate team, we’re here to fill you in on some of the upcoming events you can look forward to as part of this centennial celebration.

But first, let’s give a rundown of Benjamin Franklin Parkway for those of you who are new to Philadelphia. It was originally modeled after the Champs-Élysées in Paris. The one-mile thoroughfare runs from around City Hall to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, with art institutions, public squares, green spaces and more. Some of Philly’s biggest festivals take place here as well!

Parkway 100 kicks off on Sept. 8 and continues through Nov. 16, 2018 with individual, pay-as-you-go events taking place throughout the next 14 months. From public art exhibits to festivals and concerts, the schedule is pretty jam packed.

Here’s a rundown of some of the biggest Parkway 100 highlights coming up:

We Are Connected Kickoff Festival – Parkway 100 kicks off on Sept. 8 from 4 to 10 p.m. with 100 free activities along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and at the museums along the way! Enjoy after-hour performances, free or discounted admissions, community art projects, mural unveiling, pop-up outdoor beer gardens, food vendors, tango dancing, photo walks and so much more.

Public Art Installations – Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies begins Sept. 15 and runs until Oct. 8. This interactive artwork consists of 27 luminous pedicabs lit by lanterns that you can ride for free! Take rides up and down the parkway in these moving sculptures that travel between Sister Cities Park and Iroquois Park. Winter Fountains will open Dec. 1, which will consist of five winter fountains, each illuminating the dark winter surroundings with animated video projections.

Themed Exhibitions – Numerous Parkway museums and attractions will host individual themed exhibits. For example, the Barnes Foundation will host a special exhibit about the French architect who designed the original Barnes Foundation. Parkway Central Library will host a free exhibit on the history of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Many more can be found in the full schedule!

Thanksgiving Parade – As always, the oldest Thanksgiving Day parade in the country will take place at Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Nov. 23 this year. It begins at 20th and Market streets. Enjoy massive floats, giant balloons, local performers, and of course, Santa, who ushers in the holiday season in Philadelphia. Get there early for a great spot to watch, like the Museum of Art’s steps or Logan Circle.

Enjoy celebrating Philly’s great Benjamin Franklin Parkway for the next 14 months! When ready to achieve your buying and/or selling goals in the Philadelphia real estate market, contact us. Our team of Philly real estate agents is here and ready to answer all of your questions and to help you achieve your real estate goals this fall!

How to Make a Stellar First Impression as Philly Home Seller


Studies have shown that people form opinions about other people in a matter of seconds, so it’s no surprise to learn that potential homebuyers do the same about houses in the Philly real estate market. If you’re planning to sell your Philly home this fall, it’s time to consider how to make a great first impression with buyers. Our Stephen Sells Philly real estate team is here to help!

You might think that in a seller’s market, you’ll score a buyer no matter what. But, truth is, buyers know how fast homes are being snatched off the market. Therefore, if your home doesn’t grab their attention immediately, they’ll head right to the next listing.

Here are some tips on making a stellar first impression with your Philly home for sale:

Emotionally detach. Before you begin the preparation of listing your home, detach from it emotionally as much as you can. This may be hard, as you formed memories in this space. But the sooner you can, the easier it will be to neutralize the home décor and make decisions based on fact and data rather than from an emotional place.

Focus on curb appeal. Unless you live in a condo, where the curb appeal is out of your control, spend time improving the look of the outside of your Philly home, as this is typically what buyers see first, either in a listing picture or in person. Even in a condo, you can decorate your front door or your outdoor space, whether it’s a backyard patio, balcony or just a sweet view of Philadelphia.

Ditch your stuff. Remove as much as your stuff as possible, so that all that remains is basic furniture and appliances that will help a buyer imagine living there. Remove at personal photos, knickknacks or pet toys. Hang only neutral, noncontroversial artwork. Remove clutter from closets, cabinets, everywhere a buyer will look, and only display one or two things on the counters, like a bowl of fruit or flowers.

Fix what’s broken. Tackle minor issues that may turn a buyer off for no good reason. Walk through your house like it’s your first time seeing it, or hire an inspector, as it’s easy to look over faults that you’ve gotten used to. At the least, fix and water leaks or drips and water stains, repair any loose handles, cabinet hinges or creaky doors, caulk around tubs and sinks, and replace light bulbs.

Some more ideas include planning small makeovers, such as repainting the walls or staining your floors, combatting any stinky odors and keeping your house clean and organized indefinitely, ready at a moment’s notice for a showing or open house.

Our Stephen Sells Philly team will help you impress buyers with your home every step of the way! This is what we do for a living! Contact us with questions or to get started on the home-selling process in the Philly real estate market. There is no better time to begin than right now!

Best Brunch Spots in Rittenhouse Square


When it comes to brunch, Philly knows what it’s doing! There are so many brunches to choose from all over the city, from famously popular options with lines out the door, to new options popping up every month. As your Philly real estate team, we’re going to focus on just Rittenhouse Square, as there are too many amazing options to cover the whole city in one list!

Next time you’re out in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood of Philly, here’s where to grab weekend brunch with friends or family:

If you sometimes wish you were in Paris, hop on over to Parc! Their French-inspired cuisine is perfect for first thing in the morning, including croissants and other pastries, steak and eggs, sparkling cocktails and so much more. If you’re lucky, you’ll score prime al fresco seating!

Harp & Crown offers an all-you-can-eat selection of egg dishes, pastries, cheeses and more at the brunch bar, so arrive hungry! Cost is $28, with an extra $15 for five breakfast cocktails. This place doesn’t mess around! Sit in the bright sunroom, or meet new friends at a communal table.

Another cultural option is The Dandelion, a British-inspired pub with creative takes on brunch! For example, order the Scotch pancakes with maple-glazed apples, and a signature cocktail, like the Queen Mary or Pimm’s Deluxe.

Two words that instantly make your mouth water: taco brunch. That’s what you’ll find at Mission Taqueria, with a half-dozen types of tacos to choose from, among many other dishes! Bring a group and order the three-for-$9 or five-for-$14 salsa deal. Ever tried coconut hazelnut salsa? You’re about to!

While Ruth’s Chris Steak House is a national chain, the Philly location was one of a first to roll out a brunch menu! Grab a seat in this swanky space and enjoy New Orleans-style dishes, such as lobster ratatouille-stuffed omelet or Cajun tenderloin eggs Benedict.

If you brunch often, head to Day By Day, where the menu is constantly changing! Some dishes you can count on, but other specials come and go, like smoked salmon and onion omelet with dill sauce, or stuffed French toast with lemon curd and blueberry sauce.

Lacroix is located in the Rittenhouse hotel and serves a prix-fixe Sunday brunch that is never a disappointment. From raw bar specials to house-cured charcuterie, this is one fancy brunch menu that you won’t forget.

Where is your favorite place to brunch in Rittenhouse Square, or elsewhere in Philly? Give a shout out in the comments! We love food, so we love to check out new brunch spots on the weekends! Don’t forget to also check out our last few blog posts with where to go for happy hours and some of the latest restaurant openings around Philly.

When ready to accomplish your Philadelphia real estate goals, contact us. We’re your Philly real estate team, here to fill you in on the Philly local scene, and here to help make your home-buying and home-selling goals a reality! We look forward to hearing from you.

What to Research About Philly Before Relocating


If you are thinking about relocating to Philadelphia, for a job, relationship, family or just because you love the city, allow us to fill you in one what to research about the city before deciding where to live. As your Stephen Sells Philly real estate team, we know Philly like the back of our hands, but we realize that not all of our buyers do, so we’re here to help you decide where to relocate to!

Research the neighborhoods. The house you choose to buy is important, but the neighborhood is what makes your living experience what it is. Spend a lot of time researching the different areas in Philly. If you can’t visit in person, check them out on Google Maps to get a feel for the layout. Decide what is most important to you, and look that up. For example, if you don’t plan on having a car, how close and easy is public transportation? If you need your morning coffee or after-work happy hour, what kind of businesses are located in the neighborhood to walk to? If you have a dog, check out the local dog parks.

Look up local activities, events and festivals. Philadelphia’s calendar is loaded with fun local attractions, events and activities. Many of the events and special attractions come around annually. See which events you want to be closest to, such as ones with a pop-up bar and restaurant that you could meet friends or coworkers at after work. If there is a particular activity you’re into, such as biking, check out the areas of Philly that are most bike-friendly. If you love history, check out the local museums. If you love healthy food, see if there are local establishments that serve what you need!

Consider costs. It’s important you find an area of Philly that you could happily see yourself living in! It’s also important that while researching, you also think realistically and look within your financial means. If a neighborhood if way over your budget, move onto the next one. Get preapproved, or find out how much you’ll be able to spend on a Philly home purchase, and work within that budget. Consider fees as well, such as HOA fees, parking fees, homeowners insurance, repair/upgrade costs, etc.

As your Philly real estate team, we can help you find the home of your dreams in the neighborhood that makes the most sense for you! Whether you’re searching locally or remotely, we can help you determine which neighborhoods fit your needs, and what homes and condos are listing for and selling for in those areas. If you’re not ready to buy yet, we can help you find a rental in the meantime that fits your budget.

If you want to move to Philly, now is the time to search the Philly real estate market! We are here to answer your questions and help guide you through the entire home-buying process. Give us a call today!

Oktoberfests in October All Around Philly!


Whether you’re German or not, every beer drinker and bratwurst eater in Philadelphia loves a good Oktoberfest, and Philly has tons of them! If you missed out in September, you’re in luck. There are loads more of them coming up this October. Your Philly real estate team is here to fill you in!

King of Prussia Beerfest Royale is coming up this Saturday, Oct. 7, in the King of Prussia Mall parking lot. Choose the afternoon or evening session, which features more than 100 craft and international beers to sample, restaurants, live music, and even a cigar lounge!

Celebrate Columbus Day weekend at the 23rd Street Armory Oktoberfest, Oct. 6-8! Bavarian blues and whites will paint the ceiling of the Munich-like festival tent, and you’ll sit on authentic benches imported from Germany. Enjoy Hofbrauhaus beer, German fare and more. Choose from five sessions!

Fall Fest at Morgan’s Pier takes place on Oct. 7, were you can enjoy an Oktoberfest on the waterfront! Purchase a ticket and then enjoy open bar, unlimited soft pretzels, live music and a glass stein for the first 200 attendees. Plus, you can pick and carve a pumpkin every Saturday and Sunday during Fall Fest!

If you don’t love German beer, The Institute Bar’s Pumpkin Beer Festival is the place for you to be on Oct. 7! It’s the largest pumpkin beer fest in the world, but they also serve ciders, lambics and sours. Stop at the two indoor bars, outdoor draft trailers and outdoor food stations.

Dilworth Park hosts its Octoberfest celebration on Oct. 11. From 5 to 9 p.m., enjoy warm and hearty food, beers and cocktails, live music and DJs. There will be plenty of German food options, beers and season cocktails to choose from!

Graduate Hospital’s Bloktoberfest takes place on Oct. 15 on South Street. Sample craft beer from around the country, enjoy food from local restaurants and food trucks, listen to live music and entertainment, and feel good that beer proceeds go right back into the community!

Thirstoberfest is Memphis Taproom’s rendition of Oktoberfest, with flagship and limited release beers, food trucks and an outdoor beer garden to enjoy the fall weather on. Head there on Oct. 21 for the celebration!

Attending an Oktoberfest celebration is a great excuse to drink delicious beer and hearty food with family or friends while enjoying the great fall temps! But there are plenty of other events and activities going on this fall in Philly as well. Keep up with our Facebook page for information on loads of upcoming events, and keep out for future blog posts!

We also love keeping you updated on the Philly real estate market and all of our current listings! When ready to buy, sell or both this fall, contact us, your Philly real estate team. We’re here for you! Prost!

Philadelphia Real Estate Facts/Tips for First-Time Buyers


If you are thinking about buying your first home in Philadelphia this fall season, but would like to know more about the current Philly real estate market, we’re here for you! The Stephen Sells Philly real estate team can answer all of your questions, point you in the right direction for additional help, like mortgage lenders, and help guide you through the entire home-buying process!

Here’s a few common questions that first-time buyers have, and what to know when buying in Philly:

Work with an agent – You may believe that you’ll save money if you try to buy a Philly home without the assistance of an agent. However, agents do more than you may realize! We find listings based on what you’re looking for and your budget, so you don’t waste time. We can get you in to see them far faster than you could on your own! We can send you off to a reliable lender, answer all your questions, and we negotiate on your behalf, which is very important when inventory is low and bidding wars are common.

Factor in closing costs – First-time buyers often don’t realize how hefty closing costs can be. They are typically 5 or 6 percent of the purchase price, and Philly’s closing costs can be higher than the norm because it includes city and state real estate transfer tax. For a $200,000 home, you’re looking at $10,000 in closing costs, aside from your down payment. It’s important to work with a lender that not only tells you your rate, but also your total cash outlay, which is what you can afford when factoring in all of the home-buying costs.

Choosing a neighborhood – A common thing you’ll hear when buying: Location, location, location! You can change a home to your liking, but you can’t change the location. Philadelphia is home to dozens of neighborhoods, each with its own flair! If you aren’t familiar with the neighborhood of a potential home, spend time getting to know it. Visit the area at different times of the day to see how noisy or busy it gets and what commute levels will look like.  Check out local businesses and events and don’t be shy, ask locals what they like or dislike about the area!

Stand out – Inventory is tighter than usual right now, so it may be hard to find a home in your price range, and you may find yourself in a bidding war with other buyers once you do. Have patience, get pre-approved ahead of time, be ready to compromise with your wish list and have a flexible schedule to view properties as soon as they become available. Stand out by offering your best price first, being flexible with settlement dates, financing terms, etc. and writing a personal letter to the seller. Every little bit helps!

If you have more questions, or you’re ready to get started on the home-buying process in Philadelphia, contact us! The Stephen Sells Philly team is here and ready to make your homeownership goals a reality!


Home-Buying Tips For Pet Owners in Philly


If your roommate is a furry friend, there are a few things you should take note of when buying a home in Philly. While your pet might be satisfied with any home you choose, as long as you’re there, the neighborhood or building might feel otherwise. It’s always best to double check! Our Stephen Sells Philly real estate team is here to fill you in on some of the questions you should ask when buying with a pet!

Not all buildings and homeowner associations allow pets, so the most important first step when house hunting is to ask if pets are allowed. This is true when buying or leasing a property. Luckily, Philadelphia does not have any breed-specific laws, but some HOAs and condo developments have a restriction on the number or type of pets you can have. Ask away!

If you have dogs, notice where your friend will be able to do its business outside! If you purchase a home with a yard, find out if fences are allowed. If you are purchasing or leasing a condo in Philly, walk around the building and check out the green spaces. Find out if dogs are allowed on them, and try to find another local dog owner that you can question about how many dogs are in the area and how dog-friendly the building and outdoor space are.

Give the neighborhood a pet-friendly review. If you’ve got dogs to walk, take a walk around the neighborhood and scope out what routes you could take, what shape the sidewalks are in, how many other dogs you see, and the amount of foot and vehicle traffic. Do some research to see if there are any dog parks around, along with regular parks, trails and so on. If you let your cat out to roam, take note to how close a listing is to highly trafficked roads.

Notice how pet-friendly the actual listing is. For example, hardwood flooring, laminate, tile and basically anything but carpeting is best for pet owners! When you go to resell, carpeting will most likely look worn or have an odor to it. If you don’t mind replacing the carpet before you sell, it shouldn’t be a problem right now. Also, consider the floor plan. Is the home large enough for your dog’s breed? Are there windows for it to look out of? If you’ve got stairs, will your pets be able to handle them as they age?

These are all great things to consider when buy a Philly home with pets! Lucky for you, the Stephen Sells Philly real estate team loves furry friends, so we love helping pet owners search for their perfect home for them and their pets. We always let buyers know when a condo is pet-friendly, and we will gather as much information as we can for you on the subject!

 When ready to buy, or when ready to sell, contact our team! Let’s together accomplish your Philly real estate market goals this fall season.

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