philly: Great Article on Temple Student Housing - 10/15/10 03:53 AM
This article from today's Philadelphia Inquirer gives a nice overview of the world of student housing around Temple University - a must read for investors in this area:
New Temple student housing stirs a renaissance west of Broad Street

philly: Good News for Powelton Village and Mantua - 10/06/10 06:43 AM
Drexel University's new president, John Fry, announced a goal of improving the neighborhoods surrounding Drexel's campus. Given that he was part of Penn's initiatives to improve University City during the 1990's and 2000's I think it's safe to be optimistic that he will have a positive impact on the Powelton Village and Mantua neighborhoods just north of Drexel. Along with expanding Drexel's security presence, Mr. Fry announced plans to encourage Drexel employees to purchase and maintain homes in the neighborhood, and also spoke of cracking-down on sub-standard off-campus housing, a serious problem that too often flies under the radar throughout Philadelphia.

philly: Center City Auction Gives Pulse of Local Commercial Market - 10/06/10 01:41 AM
Yesterday's auction of 1441 Chestnut - a parking lot in Center City that has been awaiting redevelopment for years - gave some good indications of where the local commercial real estate market stands. The property traded hands for $12,000,000, with the winning bidder being one of the partners in the group that already owned the property and had been trying to develop it as a hotel and condo tower.
The main conclusion to be drawn from auctions like this one is that there is still very little demand for speculative properties in Philadelphia, especially vacant land. Even in one of the … (0 comments)

philly: Vacant Land A Major Problem and/or Opportunity in Philly - 09/30/10 11:28 AM
Since I work with a lot of real estate investors in Philadelphia I'm frequently asked about the vacant land parcels you see scattered about the city. Even in some of the nicest neighborhoods of Philadelphia you can find large chunks or single plots of vacant land that have been sitting for years without any change. Anyone who's lived near a vacant lot in the city knows the trouble they attract, and any developer who's ever tried to acquire land in Philly knows what a pain that can be. I found two articles from (see below) that are do a great … (0 comments)

philly: Are Buyers Starting to Re-Emerge? - 09/23/10 05:00 AM
The summer of 2010 will be remembered by folks in the real estate business as a long vacation from serious, qualified buyers. Since the tax-credit deadline of April 30th, the number of active buyers in my market, Philadelphia, has been very slim, and I've heard similar stories from people in other parts of the country. This has been great for the few serious buyers who were looking this summer - they were able to negotiate great deals in a once-in-a-lifetime buyers' market. On the other hand, sellers have been having a very tough go of it the last few months with … (2 comments)

philly: Breakdown of July's Existing Home Sales Data - 08/30/10 04:22 AM
The release last week of July's existing home sales figures from the National Association of Realtors was all over the news, where it was spun mostly as a sign that we might be headed for a 'double dip' recession driven by a continuing weakness in the housing market. If you dig a little deeper into the numbers though you see that what we're seeing isn't so much a weakening housing market, as a tale of two housing markets: the market with the $8,000 tax credit and the market without it.Home sales in the first six months of 2010 were VERY strong … (0 comments)

philly: Back from Vacation to Find LOW Mortgage Rates - 08/27/10 07:22 AM
I'm back from a long vacation and catching up on what I missed. There's a lot to cover, so check back for more blog posts over the next few days, but I'll start today with the REALLY good news for home-buyers or homeowners looking to refinance: interest rates are at all time lows! I'm seeing 30 year fixed FHA loans quoted as low as 4.0% which means your monthly mortgage payment (principal and interest) for a $200,000 house would be only $921.41 with only $7,000 down! And that payment is locked in for 30 years!
If you're currently renting and having … (4 comments)

philly: Read up On Philly's Past, Present, and Future - 08/10/10 12:20 AM
I'm headed out of town for a couple weeks - but before I leave I thought I'd share a few recent articles that might increase your knowledge of Philadelphia's past, its present, and its likely future. All are at least somewhat real estate related and I learned a bit from each one.
I'll be back in town on the 24th of August, but if you need expert real estate advice before then I highly recommend contacting Tim Garrity at my office. He can be reached at 215-825-2250 x.1007 or
Read up on the recent "condo boom" in Philly - we're … (1 comments)

philly: A Good Reason to Buy Now - FHA Increasing Fees in September - 08/06/10 09:16 AM
Starting September 7th, the Federal Housing Administration will raise the annual fees it charges FHA borrowers for mortgage insurance. Lately a huge percentage of buyers have been using FHA loans since they are one of the few options left for a low-down-payment purchase. The annual mortgage insurance fee will initially rise from 0.55% to 0.85% of the loan amount, but is authorized to go as high as 1.5%, at which point it could make housing less affordable to many buyers. To help ease the pain of higher annual fees, FHA is going to reduce the up-front mortgage insurance premium from 2.25% … (0 comments)

philly: Good Reading for Buyers and Sellers - 07/28/10 04:00 AM
We're supposed to be headed out of the great recession right? The worst of the housing market is behind us right? That's the general story coming from the media lately, and to a large extent I agree. Foreclosure rates are gradually creeping down in most areas as banks streamline their systems for dealing with troubled borrowers and job losses seem to be moderating, even if new jobs aren't being created as quickly as we'd all like. So yes, nationwide things are getting better when you look at the big picture.
On the ground in the world of real estate though, the … (1 comments)

philly: Does Developer Distress Equal a Good Reason to Buy a Condo? - 07/20/10 03:32 AM
According to this article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer, there is some Miami/Vegas style drama going down with yet another Philadelphia condo building. This time the financial distress involves the highly visible, newly constructed 10 Rittenhouse Square building that's still receiving finishing touches to its ground floor retail areas. Control of the building has been seized by a local pension fund that acted as a mezzanine lender on the project and is owed about $57 million by the building's developer. The senior lender on the project, IStar Financial, can also be expected to make a play for control of the building as … (0 comments)

philly: Where Have All the Buyers Gone? - 07/14/10 06:49 AM
According to this article purchase-money (as opposed to refinance) mortgage applications last week were at their lowest level since December of 1996. If you just woke up from a five year nap and read that you might think interest rates had soared up to the double-digits, but surprise, interest rates are at all time lows as well with 30 year mortgages coming in around 4.5% for qualified borrowers. So if mortgage rates are so attractive why aren't more folks applying for mortgage? Based on my personal experience there are two key reasons:
1. All the motivated buyers bought early this year. … (1 comments)

philly: Interesting Mortgage Option with SUPER Low Rate - 06/17/10 03:15 AM
I received an email today from INGDirect touting a new mortgage product that they're offering. It's not for everyone, but for the right buyer it could be a sweet deal. The basic terms are as follows:
5 year loan term, with option to extend for 5 more years at then current rates 30 year amortization Free Bi-weekly payments to help pay down principal more quickly 25% down-payment required No points Available for loans up to $750,000 Ridiculously low 3.524% APR interest rate! I see this loan program as being ideal for a very specific type of borrower who fits the following … (0 comments)

philly: As Temperatures Rise Prices Drop! - 06/14/10 09:45 AM
I've noticed asking prices coming down more aggressively than usual on properties throughout Philadelphia over the past month. I think this is largely due to the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit which caused a lot of buyers to rush to get their deal done in April, leaving a dearth of buyers out in the market right now and forcing sellers to compete aggressively with price reductions. Two of my listings have seen price reductions in the past week, and they were reasonably priced to begin with, so I certainly think the tax-credit hangover is a real effect.
Check out my … (1 comments)

philly: New Mixed-Use Development Near Temple University - 06/07/10 05:30 AM
New York-based developer Jonathan Rose Companies is joining with local non-profit Asociacíon Puertorriqueños en Marcha to develop a 200,000 square foot mixed-use development near the Temple University transit center at 10th & Berks in North Philadelphia. According to this Philadelphia Business Journal article the development will consist of 164 mixed-income apartments, as well as parking, retail space, and a community technology center. The published cost of the project is $48 million, about 1% of which is federal funding with the rest being funded by Jonathan Rose Cos.
Jonathan Rose Cos. has a long track record of successful transit-oriented development (TOD) in … (0 comments)

philly: City Pools Get Funding Just in Time for the Summer Heat - 06/03/10 04:16 AM
In today's inquirer, there was a bit of good news from the worlds of Philadelphia weather, politics, and banking - how often do you get that triumvirate? Just as temperatures are starting to regularly hit the high 80s & low 90s First Niagara Bank, which recently acquired Harleysville National Bank and has been quickly expanding its local presence, donated $400,000 to the city of Philadelphia to cover the costs of opening and operating all of the city's 72 outdoor public pools. This will provide welcome relief to Philadelphians in need of a place to cool down this summer, and it provides … (1 comments)

philly: Mortgage Rates at Their Lowest Point of 2010, Great Time to Buy! - 05/21/10 07:59 AM
According to this article mortgage rates are at their lowest point so far in 2010 with a national average rate of 4.84% for 30 year fixed loans and an amazing 4.24% average on 15 year loans. One local lender here in Philly is even offering 30 year fixed-rate FHA loans at 4.25% for buyers with qualifying income (under about $60,000 per year). With rates like these it's a great time to buy a house and lock in a low monthly payment for years to come.

philly: As Gas Prices Rise Location Becomes Even More Important to Real Estate - 05/20/10 08:44 AM
Everyone knows that the three most important things in real estate are location, location, and location. Well I have just decided that the fourth most important thing in real estate guessed it, LOCATION! Why do I think that location is even more important now than ever? Because gas prices have just topped $3.00/gallon again here in Philadelphia, and I wish that my home, office, grocery store, favorite restaurant, etc. were all located even closer to each other so I could spend less money on gas and less time in transit between one place and the next.
Not that I can … (0 comments)

philly: States Picking Up Where Federal Tax Credit Left Off - 05/17/10 08:13 AM
With the expiration of the $8,000 federal tax credit for first time (and some repeat) homebuyers, a few states are trying to enact similar programs on the state level to continue boosting their local real estate markets. First California set aside $200 million for first-time and repeat homebuyer tax credits. I thought California was broke, but I guess if the measure gets the housing industry back on track it could go a long way in stimulating the Golden State's economy.
Now New Jersey is considering a tax credit of up to $15,000 for homebuyers who buy in 2010. With a total … (2 comments)

philly: In Great Company - 05/07/10 12:57 AM
If you ask real estate professionals or urban-studies nerds to name some of the most dynamic and successful big cities in America you'll find that Philadelphia is often low on the list. However, in one respect Philadelphia has joined ranks with three cities that are always near the top. According to this article from the Philadelphia Business Journal Philadelphia has just joined Boston, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. as the only cities out of America's twelve largest with an industry other than "trade, transportation and utilities" as the largest source of employment. In Philadelphia the education and health services industry, often … (3 comments)

James Yoakum, SFR (US Spaces, Inc.)

James Yoakum


Philadelphia, PA

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US Spaces, Inc.

Address: 2043 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19103

Office: (215) 829-8850

Mobile: (267) 496-7739

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Observations from my work in the wide world of real estate with a frequent focus on the Philadelphia market.



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