Archive for January, 2010

Friday, January 29th, 2010

RE/MAX Access Welcomes Marta Roman !

RE/MAX Access Welcomes Marta Roman !

We are proud to announce that Marta Roman recently joined RE/MAX Access.


marta-roman-profile_1Marta Roman holds a degree in business management and is a seasoned real estate broker with exceptional bi-lingual skills. As an agent /broker and an accredited staging professional, her extensive background in banking and real estate development, enable her to provide the most efficient service available in today’s real estate market.

As a former executive for Wachovia Bank, her understanding of the inner workings of the banking industry and her 203k designation will save her clients, who are interested in purchasing a home and making renovations, time and money. Clients who are in the market of selling a property will enjoy the benefits of working with an accredited home staging professional. According to, national statistic show that 95.6 percent of staged homes are on the market an average of 37 days.

As a native Philadelphian, Marta has successfully purchased and developed several projects in Philadelphia, including a 100 year old three story home in the East Fishtown section of the city. Marta is an active member of the National Association of Realtors, National Association of Hispanic Realtors, and Rebuild America.

We are growing our market share rapidly and are ahead of the curve in technology and innovation and we are proud that Marta chose RE/MAX Access.

Please welcome Marta to RE/MAX Access! If you are thinking of buying or selling in the Philadelphia area be sure to contact Marta at

Originally posted on The Philadelphia Real Estate Blog



Friday, January 29th, 2010

RE/MAX Access Welcomes Chankia Hourn-Quigley !

RE/MAX Access Welcomes Chankia Hourn-Quigley

We are proud to announce that Chankia Hourn-Quigley recently joined RE/MAX Access.


chankia-quigley-for-blogChankia was born in Cambodia and is part Chinese, Thai, and Cambodian and is fluent in her native Cambodian language and speaks enough of the Vietnamese language to hold a conversation. She came to America at the age of 12, and grew up right here in the heart of this wonderful city of brotherly love, around the Philadelphia International Airport area. She graduated from Georgia Tech and has been in the field of Social Services via the Commonwealth of PA for the last 15 years.

Thinking about working and making money in the real estate industry, making new friends and helping people find their dream home truly excites me.

Due to our office recently moving to our new location in Northern Liberties, our being ahead of the curve in technology and innovation, and the marked benefits of the RE/MAX model, the decision for Chankia to join us and launch her real estate career was an easy one.

Chankia’s philosophy is that with her special talents as a people person, failure will not be an option! She plans to conquer name recognition within the Asian community and much more.

Please welcome Chankia to RE/MAX Access! And if you are in Philadelphia, reach out to her to say hello! I am sure she would love to speak to you about buying or selling a property or email her at

 Originally posted on The Philadelphia Real Estate Blog

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

26 Low Cost Home Improvements that Add Value to Your Home: Tips and Pics for sellers looking to spruce things up !

Call The Somers 215-400-2620, RE/MAX Access, Northern Liberties, Philadelphia

As a Realtor, there is nothing more frustrating than standing in the pouring rain and struggling with a stubborn lock while the prospective buyers get drenched.Or wanting to show off the beautiful brick paver patio while stepping over Fido’s land mines. You know what I am talking about! Do Not think that buyers do not open closets, look at your chatchka, or critique your choice of wall color. They do! A buyer formulates their opinion of a home within the first few minutes of their visit. Your house guests do the very same. In the spirit of the current economy and being aware that remodeling may not be in the stars for you right now, we have compiled a list of 26 low cost home improvements that will add value to your home and create a positive lasting impression on prospective buyers and house guests.

26 Low Cost Home Improvements

(Photos below are examples of areas that need work next to photo samples of homes that have been improved)

1) Clean it up by removing leaves, stray branches, trash, weeds, broken furniture, etc.

2) Adding some plants or exterior pottery for color.

3) Mulch where you have dirt and weeds and around trees and shrubs.

4) Paint or touch up areas around the entrance and front door especially if the paint is chipped.

5) Pick up dog doodie, toys, tires, or or anything else that does not belong in the yard.


26-low-cost-home-improvements   26-low-cost-home-improvements-2

6) De-clutter ! Bag it ! Box it ! Donate it ! Re-gift it ! Trash it !

7) Fix the doorbell and locks that do not work or are stubborn.

8) Shampoo rugs, replace, or remove rugs to expose hardwood floors.

9) Follow the “No More Than 3 Rule” meaning no more than 3 decorative items on a surface.

10) Add lights and replace bulbs to brighten dark areas.

 bathroom1   bathroom-2

11) Put the lid down and loose the fuzzy toilet seat cover ensembles. Less is more even if the bath is a bit dated.

12) Make the beds because it looks good.

13) Change cat litter and add a scented plug-in so it smells good.

14) Add a mirror to any room or hall to create the illusion of space.

15) Add inexpensive items such as light fixtures, white switch plates, and new hardware.

before-you-sell-read-this   before-you-sell-read-this-2

16) Remove all cuter on work spaces and store the blender, mixer, and canisters out of sight.

17) Keep the sink, tub and surfaces clean and put away dishes.

18) Think Martha Stewart and put linens on shabby tables for a fresh seasonal look.

19) Remove broken furniture to create more space.

20) Straighten up your closets and organize them to maximize the closet space.

21) New faucets and shower head in the kitchen and bath can make a big difference.

 tips-for-sellers-looking-to-spruce-things-up   tips-for-sellers-looking-to-spruce-things-up2

22) Replace ripped window screens and doors and if you are handy tackle the bigger projects yourself.

23) Fix closets that do not open or close properly or oil the hinges if they squeak.

24) Replace broken windows, cabinetry, and hardware.

25) Repair all leaky plumbing, drippy faucets, and shower heads.

26) Get rid of outdated wallpaper and add a fresh coat of neutral color paint on the walls with bright white trim.

 go-for-neutral-colors   go-for-neutral-colors-2

The key to successfully preparing a home for a “spruce-up” is to tackle one room or project at a time.Make a list and prioritize the projects. Determine how much money you can comfortably spend. Then limit the dollar amount you want to spend for each project in order to stay within your budget. For supplies and bargains we suggest shopping on-line at Overstock and craigslist. We also find great values at Target and TJMax. We thoughtfull chose photos above of homes that are not “shaow case” material in order to drive the point home, a little elbow grease goes a long way. There are so many home improvements that add value to your home. These 26 tips for sellers looking to spruce things up for buyers can be used by anyone looking to improve the the look and feel of their home.

If you want a laugh, you may want to check out this episode “Leslie’s House” on NBC’s Parks and Recreation. Leslie needs to spruce thing up at her house to impress her date by throwing an elaborate dinner party.

Originally posted on The Philadelphia Real Estate Blog


Monday, January 25th, 2010

5 Predictions for the Philadelphia Real Estate Market 2010: Step Aside Psychic TV Network !

The Somers Team, RE/MAX Access, Northern Liberties 215-400-2600

I admit it. I love the Sy Fi Channel. I am riveted by the shows about the Clairvoyant Mom’s and Ghost Hunting Graduates, and Multi dimensional Universes. I know that Predictions are better left to daytime TV’s Montel Williams and Sylvia Brown but just for fun, Chris and I decided to put together a list of our 5 predictions for the Philadelphia Real Estate Market. We do not have any paranormal supernatural powers. We are more like the Crime Scene Investigators on CSI. We examine the evidence and study the science and make our best educated guess.

Below are our 5 Predictions for the Philadelphia Real Estate Market 2010

1) Home Prices Stabilize in Philadelphia. We believe that the home prices will continue to stabilize. People who have 5-predictions-for-the-philadelphia-real-estate-marketequity in their home can and will enter into the market with some confidence. They will take full advantage of the lower prices on the buy side. Sellers are just beginning to wrap their minds around the reality that the market determines the value of a home not their mortgage or their bank appraisal from 2006. Thus “price to sell” homes will sell fast at fair market value.

2) Expect a Housing Shortage in Parts Of Philadelphia. Buyers will hasten to get under contract by the end of April in hopes to benefit form the $8,000 tax credit. Therefore we suggest Sellers put their homes on the market by February. There will be a shortage of single family homes early Spring due to the $8,000 Tax Credit in many of the surrounding Center City neighborhoods. The condo market will remain slow but steady, the inventory will remain relatively abundant. There will be some great condo deals to be had but condo buyers, you must keep on top of the inventory! Choose a Realtor who will have eyes on the back of their head so you are the first to know about those great deals.

3) Buyers Will Be Qualified and More Demanding. Buyers that remain in the market through the rest of the year after the $8,000 tax credit expires, may bump into a wave of motivated sellers wiling to negotiate that great deal which will just about make up for the tax credit opportunity they lost out on in April. A note to the sellers: Those buyers will be well qualified and motivated yet they are willing to wait for a great deal. Now is not the time to test the market ! Price your home to sell !

4) 2010 will be a great year for investors looking to purchase with cash in Philadelphia. That goes for the Rent and Hold as well as the builders and rehab specialists. But word to the wise, investors doing rehabs must work fast and do their homework. Know what the resale values are and know what the consumer is looking for. No more shoddy rehabs! Consumers want high quality for less. Looks like our predictions are getting a little help… FHA guidelines regarding seasoning rules are getting softer.

5) The Rental Market will continue to be strong for Renters in Philadelphia. Many of the homes that could not be sold will go on the market as rentals. For those future buyers who want to wait a year or so to save some money, rental prices are affordable.

Related posts:

Discover what the industry leaders have to say about the 2010 Real Estate Market in our blog “5 Predictions for the 2010 Housing Market: 5 Suits Speak 5 Different Perspectives” .

And learn 5 tips to a Better 2010: Is it a good time to buy, sell or invest in a Philadelphia Home ?

Orginally Posted on The Philadelphia Real Estate Blog


Sunday, January 24th, 2010

5 Tips To A Better 2010. Is it a good time to Buy, Sell, Rent or Invest in a Philadelphia Home ?

Just Call The Somers Team (215) 400-2620 RE/MAX Access

In preparation for the ultimate question, Is 2010 going to be a good time to buy, sell, rent, or invest in Philadelphia ?”, we have compiled 5 Tips to a better 2010 that does more than just simply answer the question, it provides you, the consumer, an opportunity to be part of a solution that will change you and the world around you. To gather the information we needed, we traveled to “the big apple”! That’s right folks, NYC, for a conference to get a little insight, and dare I say “5 Predictions of the Future of the 2010 Housing Market”.

NYC is absolutely the city that does not sleep! 


5 Tips To A Better 2010

It is a great time to enter the housing market if you can do so with confidence. If you might Buy, Sell, Rent, or Invest in a Home in Philadelphia, these tips will contribute to your knowledge, financial health, and the state of the Philadelphia Housing Market.

1) GO LOCAL ! Support your local businesses because you will benefit from their success. The salvation of the economy and the strength of the housing market is on the backs of your local entrepreneurs ! Where business thrives so do jobs and it is a fact that the most telling indicator of the health of the housing market is JOBS. Jobs drive the market. We LOVE this message !

2) Put Equity Back Into Your Home ! Negative Equity. It is like a curse word and it is one of the largest problems for Philadelphia and all over the United States with no immediate solution for 2010. One not so fun and exciting but simple suggestion for homeowners who are thinking of selling but owe more than the property is worth is to focus on putting equity back into your home.

3) CONSUME LESS ! “Just Say No !” Stop living like it was 1999 and tighten your belt. The interest rates will go up and if you are planning on buying in the future, you will need to have some savings. The days of 100% financing and stated income are so 2007. Pay your bills, your taxes, and when you want to buy a home you will get a great deal.

4) SAVE MORE !I alluded to it in #3. Just do it ! Investors, if you have cash you will reap the rewards in this housing market. Buyers that save will be resilient with substantial down payments. You gotta love that !

5) BE MORE LIKE YOUR GRAND PARENTS, but please do not dress like them ! Think RETRO. Look to the “old days” and the” old ways” and integrate those simple life-style concepts into this extremely New World in which we live. Those that can master and balance the art of fiscal moderation (not deprivation) in this consumption obsessed world will be the winner.

Living and working as Realtors in the Philly Neighborhood, we are always being asked if is is a good time to buy, sell, rent, or invest in a home in Philadelphia. And we do not take that question lightly. Our answer is formulated from personal experience as residents and Realtors in our great city of Philadelphia, and we glean a lot of information from the industry experts and their view of the bigger picture across the US and abroad. 


Originally Posted on The Philadelphia Real Estate Blog


Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Whats going on @ RE/MAX ACCESS Today?

Busy day here at RE/MAX ACCESS!

Marvin Vargas & Pat Lopez, our in-house mortgage broker discussing some business


Alex Jerry meets with clients in one of our conference rooms overlooking the skyline


Shirlene Goff is busy taking sales calls


Jimmy Zanaras takes a call and gets some fresh air on our office balconysat-office-007

Ryan Straub looks over some paperworksat-office-009


“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.” –Mario Andretti



Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Beautiful Saturday At the Piazza in Northern Liberties !

farmers-marketAs I walked into the office this morning I couldnt help but notice the activity that was going on right outside at The Piazza. The Piazza welcomes local farmers who will feature the best local produce, meats, poultry and dairy products available in the city of Philadelphia.

The Piazza Farmer’s Market is unmatched in size and variety with a contingent of more than 20 farmers. And—all of the farmers are one or more of the following: local, sustainably grown, ethically raised, free range, hormone free, pesticide free, organic, raw and/or grass fed. Products include winter vegetables and fruits, rabbit, veal, beef, quail, pheasant, raw milk, artisan cheeses, and heritage breed free range chicken eggs. Also featured are delicious prepared foods ready for shoppers to enjoy as they browse!

This photo was taken from the balcony of our office this morning-the farmers are working hard setting up their stands for the market!

The Piazza’s Farmers Market will be here every Saturday from 10am-2pm-weather permitting.

And remember, while you’re in the area come visit us at our new office located in The Rialto building, 5th floor !


Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Want to Know Whats Happening in the New Kensington Section of Philadelphia?

Click Here to Find Out!

logonkcdcNKCDC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to revitalizing the East Kensington, Fishtown, and Port Richmond neighborhoods in Philadelphia. Their mission is to strengthen the physical, social, and economic fabric of the community by being a catalyst for sustainable development and community building.

This is a great site and community that gives you updates and keeps you in the loop about whats going on in your neighborhood. Check it out!




Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

FHA Toughens Down Payment Rules

mortgage_calculator1It will be harder for some borrowers to qualify for a Federal Housing Administration-backed mortgage, and it will cost all FHA borrowers more, under new guidelines designed to minimize the agency’s exposure to unqualified borrowers.

The Federal Housing Administration will raise the minimum down payment for its least credit-worthy borrowers, the agency announced Tuesday.

The change is among a number of major changes the FHA is making to ensure its long-term financial soundness.

Borrowers with credit-rating scores below 580 will be required to put down at least 10 percent. Those with a credit score above 580 will be able to continue to put down only 3.5 percent. The changes are intended to shore up the agency’s finances.

The FHA also will increase its upfront mortgage insurance premium from 1.75 percent to 2.25 percent. The agency is expected to seek congressional approval to raise annual mortgage insurance premiums, paid by borrowers over the life of the loan, above the current 0.55 percent maximum. The amount it will seek has yet to be announced.

 Source: Reuters News, Corbett B. Daly (01/19/2010)


Friday, January 22nd, 2010

5 Predictions for the Future of the 2010 Housing Market: 5 Suits Speak 5 Different Perspectives

The Somers Team Remax Access (215) 400-2620

When I went with Chris to NYC, the Big Apple, to attend Real Estate Connect sponsored by Inman News, it came as no surprise to me that that the leaders in the housing industry were all men and of course they were all wearing suits. Nice ones ! Very handsome. But what did take me by surprise was what these 5 men predicted for the future of the 2010 housing market. Below is a shot of the stage and our 5 featured speakers with Brad Inman leading the pack to the far right.



There they were. 5 glorious men in their corporate uniform, steeped in the minutia of their profession, being challenged to make 5 Predictions for the future of the 2010 Housing Market. The panel included Carter Murdoch (Bank of America), Sean O’Toole (CEO, Greg Rand (CEO Better Homes and Garden Real Estate), Nishu Sood (Research Analyst Deutsche Bank Securities) and Patrick Stone (Chairman of The Stone Group).

Their answers ranged from pessimism to conservative optimism. No one on this panel was doing cartwheels and spinning rainbows. I never saw one of them pull a crystal ball from their breast pocket though that would have been pretty funny. These 5 men spoke the truth as they saw it. In fact, their answers, though not earth shattering, will provide a simple and agreeable message for everyone including Buyers, Sellers, Investors and those who are “on the fence” or just plain old curious.

The Question: What is your Prediction for the Future of the 2010 Housing Market ?

The Predictions (prefaced and slightly dramatized by me)

Suit #1 The Alarmist– There is still too much risk in the housing market. The $8,000 tax credit is just not enough to solve our long term problems. We are in for an uphill climb once the tax credit is gone. Run for the hills!

Suit #2 The Realist- There is a “New Normal” in the mortgage industry. Suck it up, brush it off, and get used to it. Your going to need more money to buy a home. So stop spending like it is 1999, “plan accordingly”, save your dollars now and plan for the future.

Suit #3 The Optimist– The vacancy rate of properties will continue to improve through 2010. Affordability of homes has improved and will continue to improve through the year. The investor market is booming now and will continue for those who have cash and want to hold and rent.

Suit #4 The Redundant – Properties will continue to have declining values in 2010. Banks will continue to hold back on foreclosures. More home loan modifications will continue to happen. In short, same stuff, different day.

Suit #5 The Obvious There was never a meltdown. It was just mass hysteria. The problem was predictable. What goes up must come down and what goes down will level off. Duh!

I have to say, panelist number 5 resonated with me most. What goes up must come down and what goes down must level off because that is the natural cycle to the Housing Market. We are moving toward a norm of sorts. That is something we lost over the last decade of excessive loans and inflated home prices. There was no normal. But now we are creating a “New Normal”. The collapse of the housing market may well have been predictable as panelist #5 mentioned in his response. I guess hind site is always 20/20.

What are your thoughts or predictions for 2010 ?

Which answer did you agree or disagree with ?

Also, please see 5 Tips to a Better 2010 !

Originally Posted on The Philadelphia Real Estate Blog