Making a move? Find the right person to help you buy or sell with confidence
by Jennifer Updike

With a winter as challenging as the one that has currently has buried the Philadelphia area beneath inches of snow and ice, most of us have developed a severe case of spring fever. We’re ready to get outside and expose ourselves our skin to sunshine, to have our eyes once again feast on colors other than white and gray. And, with the return of fairer weather, many of us will also look to migrate elsewhere—changing street addresses, if not ZIP codes, in our never-ending pursuit of happiness.  

There is good reason for confidence to be high in the Philadelphia area. In the city and suburbs alike, developers have heaped considerable dollars into the commercial and residential real estate sectors. Although home prices have not recovered to where they were prior to the economic meltdown of 2008, values have stabilized and risen slowly.

By 2018, the median price of single-family homes will be close to the peak reached in 2006, according to the study from the Demand Institute, a nonprofit operated by The Conference Board and Nielsen. Markets that experienced the biggest climb in prices before the collapse—and, as a result, the steepest drops—have a much longer road ahead to regain their former highs, the study suggests. Furthermore, the study predicts the national median price for an existing single-family home will rise at a much slower rate in the coming years than in 2013, when prices rose 11.5 percent. As supply and demand even out, according to the study’s authors, prices will grow at an annual rate of 2.1 percent between 2015 and 2018.

The question remains: Where should an inquiring homeowner buy? Center City and its surrounding neighborhoods remain popular destinations for homeowners of all ages, from millennials just getting established to wealthy baby boomers looking to capitalize on the city’s vast cultural, culinary and entertainment offerings. Outside city limits, the region’s most affluent residents living have flocked to suburbs such as Dresher and Media, as well as across the river in Mt. Laurel and Sewell, N.J., according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Regardless of where a homeowner decides to put down roots, working with the right real estate agent is essential. For a seller, a qualified agent knows how to maximize a property’s curb appeal, while buyers will benefit from an agent’s ability to determine whether a prospective property will be the home of one’s dreams or an investment to avoid.

Agents of Change
Through our websites, and, readers shared their choices for the best real estate agents in the region. Looking to buy? Looking to sell? If so, start here.

Nancy Alperin
Maxwell Realty Co., Philadelphia

Kit Anstey
The Kit Anstey Team/Fox & Roach Realtors, West Chester

Ben Arce
Chelsea Blasko
Guarav Gambhir
Benjamin Oller
Michelle Palumbo
The Condo Shop, Philadelphia

Paul Augustine
The Paul Augustine Team/Keller Williams Real Estate, Horsham

Dave Batty
Keller Williams Realty, Wayne

Tom Burlington
Duffy Real Estate Inc., St. Davids

Elaine Ciofani
Keller Williams Real Estate, Doylestown

Mary Cissne
Quinn & Wilson, Abington

Mike Coleman
Mike Coleman Real Estate/Keller Williams Realty Group, Limerick

Nancy Dubin
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices/Fox & Roach Realtors, Haverford

Michael Duffy
Holly Goodman
Duffy Real Estate Inc., Narberth

Elizabeth Facenda
RE/MAX Preferred Realtors, West Chester

Drew Ferrara
RE/MAX Total, Yardley

Kristen Foote
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices/Fox & Roach Realtors, Philadelphia

Selma Glanzberg
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices/Fox & Roach Realtors, Gladwyne

Cheryl Gunning
Brettney Gunning-Rausch
Gunning Real Estate Team, Lansdale

Betsy Hamilton
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices/Fox & Roach Realtors, Haverford

Reggie Hunt
Long & Foster Real Estate, Wayne

Sue Jones
Keller Williams Real Estate, Doylestown

Anne E. Koons
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices/Fox & Roach Realtors, Cherry Hill, N.J.

Jack Lacey
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices/Fox & Roach Realtors, Newtown

Susan Langenstein
RE/MAX 440, Doylestown

Art Mazzei
Addison Wolfe Real Estate, New Hope

Mike McCann
The McCann Team - Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices/Fox & Roach Realtors, Philadelphia

Todd McCarty
Coldwell Banker Hearthside, Doylestown

Damon Michels
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices/Fox & Roach Realtors, Wayne

Lynne Nicander
Duffy Real Estate Inc., St. Davids

Chris Nisbet
J. Carroll Molloy, Doylestown

Pamela Owsik
Duffy Real Estate Inc., Narberth

Lisa James Otto
Lisa James Otto Country Properties, New Hope

Richard Parke
RE/MAX 440, Skippack 

Laurie Phillips
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices/Fox & Roach Realtors, Philadelphia

Nigel Richards
Coldwell Banker Preferred, Philadelphia

Denise Schwanbeck
Weichert Realtors, Jenkintown

Koleen Carr Seits
Century 21 Alliance, Drexel Hill

Thomas Skiffington
RE/MAX 440, Perkasie 

Lisa E. Silveri
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices/Fox & Roach Realtors, Philadelphia

Flo Smerconish
Flo Smerconish Realtor, Doylestown

Lavinia Smerconish
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices/Fox & Roach Realtors, Bryn Mawr

Hazel Smith
Keller Williams Realty Inc., Langhorne

Jay Spaziano
Addison Wolfe Real Estate, New Hope

Mark Malfara
Kaite Mancini
Michael Sivel
Christopher Walls
The Sivel Group - Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices/Fox & Roach Realtors, Philadelphia

Jayne Thorsen
RE/MAX Action Realty, Maple Glen

Beth Vopper
L.V. Real Estate Advisors, King of Prussia

Michael White
RE/MAX Preferred Realtors, Newtown Square

Dana Zdancewicz
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices/Fox & Roach Realtors, Devon

Above and Beyond
Through service, amenities and location, the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia offers an elevated standard of living

When the city’s much-ballyhooed reimagining of Dilworth Plaza opens later this year, Philadelphians will have unfettered access to smartly designed space that includes tree groves, a programmable fountain and works of public art, as well as room for special events, movies and concerts. The $55 million renovation, due to be completed by summer’s end, will shape the park in the shadow of City Hall into one of the city’s most dynamic hubs.  

Inhabitants of one property in particular—the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia (—will have a bird’s eye view of the goings-on below. As much as 80 percent of the building’s units will overlook Dilworth Plaza, with unobstructed views from the lobby to the 48th floor, according to Craig A. Spencer, president and CEO of The Arden Group, which developed the property.

The view, however, is just one benefit of living in one of the property’s 270 units. At more than 500 feet tall, the 48-story Residences at the Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia offers amenities such as a 7,000-square-foot fitness center, full-service spa and underground parking, all besides its strategic location with proximity to the countless boutiques, restaurants and cultural attractions. In fact, with equity of more than $100 million, the property is the most expensive residential building constructed in the city’s history, according to Spencer. Having opened in January 2009, the property is maintained at the highest level to ensure the standards of Ritz-Carlton, a two-time winner of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, which recognizes U.S. organizations for performance excellence.

The building’s amenities are exceptional and the location is among the city’s best, though the greatest value to residents may very well be the extraordinary level of service. In addition to 24-hour concierge services, valet parking and chauffeur services, the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia offers child care and pet-walking services, among many others.

“The service level is certainly far beyond any other condo property in the city,” says Spencer.  “Ask anybody there without any filter what it’s like to live there, and they will say they have never experienced anything like it—better than living in a five-star hotel. The staff is well educated, well experienced and service oriented. From the buyer’s perspective, the service is par excellence.”

Of the 270 units, approximately 125 remain available, which Spencer prefers because “we don’t want to be sold out; we want to have the best available inventory when the market is fully recovered.” The price point for a one-bedroom unit is approximately $600,000, according to Spencer, while the 10,000-square-foot penthouse units on floors 46, 47 and 48, when available, could fetch as much as $13 million.   

“We held back nowhere,” Spencer says. “It’s easy living.” —Bill Donahue