Tourism for Natives : Philly

As a longtime member of the Philadelphia community, it’s easy to overlook all of the gems that reside right within the city’s limits. No matter what neighborhood you find yourself wandering through, there is a unique history and present culture of today that made that area what it is. Whenever friends from out of town visit, I find out something new about this place that I have called home for so many years when looking for exciting activities for my guests.

That being said, whether you are a longtime resident, or just passing through for a brief while, I strongly encourage you to explore the city and learn as much as you can about this unique place. To learn more, visit the city’s tourism board.

Real Estate Trends in Philly Today

adrian rubin philadelphia real estateAlthough I primarily focus on residential real estate development these days, the growing trends within Philadelphia’s real estate market are clear. Because Philadelphia is becoming such a destination city, in addition to the growing demand for condominiums, other trends are also starting to clearly emerge within this exciting market. Below are the top 3

1. Retail

Although 2008 was an incredibly difficult year for all markets across the US, since then the demand for retail space has absolutely exploded in Philadelphia. Now more than ever, merchants are purchasing more and more retail space throughout the city. This high demand is in turn driving up the cost of renting space – particularly in ideal locations that center around commerce. Rent on Walnut Street has never before seen such heights when it comes to the cost of renting space there. This spike in demand for rent in these high-shopping areas is matched by the growth in hotel and occupancy as well as in the spike of young and wealthy professionals that have started to migrate to this neighborhood.

2. Hospitality

As mentioned, it comes as no surprise that the city has seen huge jumps in the number of hospitality services and accommodations that have started to populate Philadelphia. New ground-up developments as well as redevelopment projects have captured the imaginations of many a real estate developer. These developers have come from all over the country in order to seek out these potential properties. 

3. Office Space

With such a boom in retail and hospitality, it makes sense then that commercial office space would also be a hot commodity in today’s real estate market based in and around Philadelphia. Although the market for office space isn’t quite as explosive as those of hospitality and retail, this market has seen huge gains since 2008’s downturn. This steady growth suggests an upward trend in businesses wanting to move to Philadelphia for years to come.

A Loss for Real Estate : Julien Studley

adrian rubinWhile the name “Julien Studley” may not sound familiar to some, if you live in the US or have ever been to New York, it’s likely that you have been impacted  by his work. Julien Studley was a giant and extremely innovative in the world of New York Real Estate, and unfortunately he passed away on Thursday October 15th at the age of 88.

Studley’s story is an interesting one. Though he was born in Belgium, he came to the US as a teen after a brief stint in Cuba, as his family fled ahead of the Nazi takeover.

After serving in the Korean War, he returned to the US and opened his own brokerage firm in 1954.

Studley’s firm only represented companies that wanted to lease office space – not the landlords. At the time this was almost unheard of in terms of commercial real estate.

Perhaps it was this practice of clear allegiance to the company seeking space that helped Studley build his business into the success that it would later become. 

By the early 1960s, Studley also reshaped the New York real estate market when his firm started to publish a monthly listings report that explicitly listed available spaces instead of just anecdotal information about the available residences. This popular listing was known as the Studley Report.

In addition to building a successful firm, and creating a new model for real estate firms in New York, Studley was a philanthropist and enjoyed dedicating his time to numerous causes outside of real estate.

For many years, Studley served as a trustee at The New School, a progressive university in New York City that prepares students to understand, contribute to, and succeed in a rapidly changing society. The relationship between Studley and the institution is memorialized through the Studley Graduate Program in International Affairs. The program was named in his honor and also acknowledges his large financial contribution to the school. 

Whether you work in real estate or love all that New York has to offer, remember that Julien Studley likely helped shaped some small part of it.

Big News from Zillow

Adrian RubinZillow is indisputably a leader in the overlapping sectors of tech and real estate when it comes to the US residential marketplace. Zillow is paving the way for apps and services for the discerning potential home buyer or purchaser. The site itself curates a direct B to C environment that enables the customer to gather information about a place they are interested in, and to take the reigns of their home-owning or renting future. The former startup based in Seattle claims that it is  “dedicated to empowering consumers with data, inspiration and knowledge around the place they call home, and connecting them with the best local professionals who can help”.

While this particular marketplace may seem somewhat intimidating to professionals initially, in truth, Zillow can be an incredible tool that allows you to generate more business and leads with very little effort. In some ways it may seem like a more competitive landscape owing to the number of users and types of professionals, but I think that you also have the power to leverage this particular medium as an asset to your own business.

And most recently, Zillow made headlines because they announced a new app for their services.

The company’ s CEO, Spencer Rascoff revealed that the company will release  a new app for real estate agents as well as a virtual assistant program. The virtual assistant program is intended to aid agents in closing when the opt to advertise their business through Zillow. 

With the new expectations of immediacy, convenience and 1 swipe problem resolution, Zillow believes that their marketplace and tools will aid the real estate agent in better understanding and utilizing the new dimension added to the agent-client relationship through the integration of smartphone technology.

While it may seem difficult for agents to better connect with their client who is so comfortable navigating this digital real estate marketplace, Zillow is putting a lot of emphasis on how their products and services are advantageous to both the customer and the real estate agent. Instead of seeming like a competition, Zillow is making a point to highlight all of the positive aspects of the company for all parties involved.

Top Tips: The Pitch

Pitching yourself as a real estate agent can be difficult. It’s true. But what the video below emphasizes is how you can situate yourself and your company in a way that will connect with your consumer and eventually translate into more sales. In today’s noisy and crowded marketplace, it’s important to not only be good at what you do, but to be good at showing off and packaging what you do. It’s not enough to do  a great job at your work, but you must showcase your strengths. The video below is a great example of agents who are out there today that can showcase their competitive edge. Even if you and your firm don’t have the same level of expertise, this video is great to think about, not because it’s perfect, but because it presents a strong voice and conviction of ability. Definitely worth thinking about.

ESP Up Close

Not surprisingly, Eastern State Penitentiary has become somewhat of a property legend. From its origins as a solitary prison to reports of supernatural sightings, of course it ranks as one of the scariest pieces of real estate in Philadelphia. However, for those that are not faint of heart, I recommend that you explore this haunted place through the “Terror Behind the Walls”. This haunted house experience is like none other, but if it sounds like a bit too much for you, then you can always check out the history of the museum by visiting the museum or taking a guided tour…during daylight hours. Additionally, the prison has been featured on many television shows that seek out the supernatural so you can always check that out too. This is a historically and architecturally significant building, and it’s worth looking into the history of the property’s development for those interested in the complete history of Philadelphia’s real estate and property development. Enjoy the video below!


Office Design for the Real Estate Pro

Adrian RubinIt’s true, we all have different methods when addressing our creative and professional work. But what are the must have items for real estate agents of today? While many work from a home office and spend the majority of their time with prospective buyers and homeowners, there is something to be said for maintaining a tidy, welcoming and professional office environments both for yourself and for taking meetings. Below are three tips to create a functional and professional workspace that will help keep you organized and impress your clients.

1. Organize This is key. No matter what your system is or how you function best, make sure that you keep yourself organized. There are so many tools that can help you organize your work life better, there is no reason to have a messy or unhelpful office space.

2. Invest in Your Tools Make sure that your office supplies are functioning and necessary. If you have a small fridge, printer and computer, ensure that those are also fully functioning. You want your office line and all electronics to be in working order, as technical problems should be the last thing on your mind. If you are working independently or your firm is on a budget, look into a communal work environment as those offices are well kept, chic and often offer a number of amenities.

3. Furnishing Details If you have any say in the matter, oversee the design process to your space. You want this to be an area where you can work comfortably and stay focused, but you also want it to project the right things about you to people who visit you there. Help decide the color, the theme, what types of furnishings will go in there. Avoid low quality pieces that are uncomfortable and cheap looking. Instead, spend some time finding quality pieces that are slightly used or come from other office spaces. This should not be coming out of pocket, but is a business expense, make time to talk with human resources to establish a budget and what they are and are not willing to cover. Remember that your office is a reflection of you, so it better look good!

Eastern State Penitentiary – Real Estate at its Spookiest

Adrian RubinWith Halloween just around the corner, many a thrill-seeker are already purchasing their tickets to the infamous prison turned haunted house experience – Eastern State Penitentiary. While this may not be the first sort of project that people think of when they consider the historical properties and developments located in and around Philadelphia, every Halloween, this is a crowd-pleaser. The former prison based in Philadelphia first opened its doors in 1829, and was designed by the city’s famed nineteenth century architect, John Haviland to house criminals. Haviland was a major contributor to the noted style known as American Neo-Classical architecture. 

This impressive piece of gothic architecture took 8 years to complete construction. But the concept behind the building took much longer to come to fruition.

Borne out of Good Intentions

In the late eighteenth century a number of prominent members of Philadelphia’s elite gathered at Ben Franklin’s home and discussed their concerns for the welfare of the inmates in public prisons. These group members of “The Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons” talked about the need for reform within European and American prisons. These thoughts were related directly to the tenets of Enlightenment en vogue at the time, and provided a marked departure from earlier periods .

Eastern State Penitentiary was the ultimate outcome of these ideas. Instead of simply punishing inmates, the focus shifted to “move the criminal toward spiritual reflection and change”. Not surprisingly, the prison addressed this by enforced isolation of the prisoners. The thought was that this extreme isolation would force the prisoner to truly reflect on their crimes and change their ways, or ” become genuinely penitent”. Thus the new word, penitentiary.

A Notable Decline

By the early 20th century, though, overcrowding forced prison officials do abandon this method of confinement, and eventually the prison closed in 1970.

ESP Today

The facility is now a museum, and thousands of visitors tour the museum and site each year. However, since its closing in the ’70s, there have been many reports of supernatural  activity. This has led to the amusement aspect of the prison. Every Halloween Season the prison opens its doors at night as a haunted house known as “Terror Behind the Walls”! To learn more about this unique and historical piece of real estate property visit them here.

Instagram for Real Estate Agents

US News and World Report recently reported that the rise in social media can now be tracked in the successes and new client base of real estate agents. Real estate agents are already on Facebook and Twitter, but are starting to reach out to potential clients through other social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. This new experimentation in social media is an attempt to reach out to younger clients on platforms where they already spend a significant amount of time.

Many of these new social media platforms lend themselves to the work of real estate agents. Sites like Pinterest and YouTube are great for showcasing new properties and providing agents with great outlets to showcase their professional brand as well.

Being creative but intentional with hashtags, and handles is important these days in building up the professional brand of a real estate agent in today’s shifting market. While not every real estate agent will be extremely active on all social media outlets, it is a great idea to find the platform that makes sense for you. Below is a video that takes you through the basics of how to make social media work for you as an agent. I would start around the seven minute mark if you just want the tips and less of the backstory of the company. Enjoy!

When Real Estate Meets Cinema : Glengarry Glen Ross

Glengarry Glen Ross is maybe one of the most classic stories about sales since Death of a Salesman. The film reveals a world completely led by sales and bottom line numbers. In the film, the boss of a real estate firm reveals that at the end of the week all but the top two salesmen will be fired. Clearly this creates a very tense and cutthroat atmosphere and as the week and film progress, things really start to burn. Jack Lemmon’s character, Shelley Levene plays the protagonist who has a sick daughter to care for, and is determined to do everything in his power to get the best leads from his boss, played by Kevin Spacey. Lemmon’s coworker Dave played by Ed Harris devises a plan to steal the best leads, and naturally things get very complicated as the story unfolds. While the film paints sales and the real estate (particularly in New York) industry as a particularly bleak sector, the film is incredible. While the film is known for having an abundance of profanity, once you get past these words, the film gets at something very dark in the american psyche. To this day, people ask me about this film, and I’m lucky that this doesn’t reflect my own experience with real estate, it’s still an incredible movie worth watching. Below is the film’s trailer.