Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Our House Hunt, Pt. 3

Good afternoon Bloggy Friends,

When I last left you our new realtor Jim had suggested we move our search further south to Passyunk Square. At first we were put off by the idea, but after spending time there we realized it may not be such a bad idea.

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Passyunk Square is Philly Cheese Steak sandwiched between Broad Street on the east and 6th Street on the west. It is bordered on the south and north by Tasker Street and Washington Avenue. Traditionally an Italian populated district, Passyunk Square has recently started to attract a younger, hipper set. It has especially become a popular place for young gay couples to buy their first homes. In a recent article entitled, "Go South, Young Homos," Philadelphia magazine even went as far as to coin it "The New Gayborhood." Like Graduate Hospital, many investors have purchased derelict properties in Passyunk Square to renovate and sale to these incoming hopefuls. There has also been an increase in business in the neighborhood, as new restaurants, cafes and boutiques have begun to pop up along busy Passyunk Avenue. But through all this new development, the neighborhood still manages to retain its Italian charm. The locals are extremely friendly, stopping to help if you seem to be lost, or offering suggestions on which off-the-beaten-path restaurants you should try instead of the "fancy" ones on Passyunk Ave.

We were thankful to Jim for opening our eyes to this thriving new area, but we were still hesitant about living there. We were concerned about transportation options, and being too far removed from our usual hangouts in the heart of Center City. Once we walked over there a few times, though, we realized that it wasn't as far away as we thought. There were also locations that were literally a block from the main subway line on Broad Street, which would be only one or two stops farther south than where we are now. Another important issue Jim opened our eyes to was the fact that we were way off the mark on what we thought we could afford. We had utilized some of the online calculators to get an idea for potential mortgage payments, but they failed to add in additional costs, such as homeowners insurance, property taxes and private mortgage insurance (PMI). Suddenly the homes in Passyunk Square, which were going for 30-50K less than those in Graduate Hospital, were starting to seem much more desirable. So we set off to see what we could find.

Jim showed us several homes in Passyunk that peaked our interest. The problem was, however, that Alan and I weren't always on the same page about what we liked. For instance, I would love one place because it had a huge walk-in closet, but Alan would be disinclined because it had a small patio. For the most part we possessed similar expectations in a home, but we tended to weigh some of those options differently. Right at the moment when our frustration levels were about to climax, Jim took us to a house that cooled us both. 1230 S. Juniper Street was the first home that gave both of us that "butterfly in the stomach" feeling. At a little over 1100 square feet, the home was completely renovated with a brand new kitchen, exposed brick walls, two good-sized bedrooms and one and a half bathrooms. The layout was pleasantly open, allowing many different options for furniture arrangement and room for the animals to roam. To top it off, it was located on a quiet, dead-end street, which was located right around the corner from the subway. It felt so right. This was it.

When we returned home that evening we decided to call Jim to put in an offer. He drew up the comparables so we could formulate a bid that was realistic and fair. We decided to ask for $10K off the listing price, with an additional $10K in seller's assist. For those who don't know, seller's assist is funds from the seller that go toward closing costs. We had to spend about an hour with Jim initialing, signing and going over the contract before we finally sent it to the seller's agent. This was our first bid. We could hardly sleep that night, due to the anticipation of hearing the final answer. It wasn't until around noon the next day that Jim called with the news.

"Hello?" I eagerly answered, unable to rein in my enthusiasm.

"Hi Josh, it's Jim," came the reply. "I talked to the seller and........."

To be continued....

I hope you guys have a great day. I'll chat with you soon.

Love, Josh

Here are some of the other homes we looked at in Passyunk Square:

1228 Federal - We never considered this house because it's hideous on the outside, and it's located on an ugly street. The inside is a good example, though, of the rehab jobs in many of the houses in Passyunk Square.

1503 S. Clarion - I loved this house. It was beautifully redone, but this is a classic example of the disagreements I spoke about between Alan and I. He didn't like it because the patio was tiny. In all honesty, though, it was also priced much higher than we felt was reasonable for the area.


Bill Fogle said...

I actually thought the house on Federal had good bones. What happened to the front part there (i.e., what's with the plywood facade)? Hate the concrete slab parking in the back (vs. "back yard") but the windows on the 2nd and 3rd floor front are large and bootiful.

Well, you're just having fun stringing us along. You're what I call a "stripper journalist," taking everything one tiny piece at a time. Shame on you! (Do it again!)

Rick Watson said...

I love the second home here. I remember it from a prior blog. It caught my eye then.

girl.... stop with the madness! i wanna know!

Rick Watson said...

The house on Juniper is the best one yet! It's very well done with the updates. The colors are very nice. The first floor openness is awesome! I love the facade. Is it not brick? It's stucco or concrete right? I prefer that over brick.

Casey said...

Oh, Josh. I really like the place you guys made an offer on! It's really cute. I really like the kitchen.

Can't wait to hear the rest of the story. Making an offer and negotiating with the seller is soooo nerve-racking!

Bill Fogle said...

OK, I'm back (after "dinner" at a sucky mezze place ... OMG, somebody pass the FOOD).

Josh, I have no idea why I failed to make any comment on the listing for the house you DID put in a bid on. You must have thought me rude!!! I'm sorry, blueberry.

First, I love the exterior (front), which is, in a word, classy. Here is atmosphere!

The interior shots are just as lovely, with the beautiful and relentlessly updated kitchen and that lovely, lovely brick wall. Gary and I had an exposed brick wall in an apartment on Capitol Hill. It added such an element of richness.

I love the house, Josh. I love, love, love it!