A little over a week ago, Young Involved Philadelphia held the first of what will be a three-part series of Commercial Corridor Tours. With the help of Joanna Winchester from the New Kensington Community Development Corporation, we got an intimate look into some of the businesses along Frankford and Girard that are really helping the neighborhood make a strong comeback.
In Philadelphia, the allure of homeownership can be more intoxicating than the drinks at Franklin Mortgage (Ed. note: and only slightly more expensive). You may have started looking at houses, either online or as you drive through your favorite neighborhoods. You probably dream about what it will be like to own a house. You start to notice aspects of architecture and landscaping that never caught your eye before. You start to recognize what you’re looking for, whether it’s a swanky condo downtown or a row home in a more residential neighborhood.
There are plenty of reasons to want to own your own place. Instead of paying someone else rent, you can build equity in an investment. Homeowners never need to worry about a landlord deciding to sell. You may just simply want to plant some roots, or .may only be thinking about money-making investments. No matter what motivates you, buying a home is still single biggest financial investment most people make. It’s not a decision to make lightly.
So, thanks to YIP, I’m here to offer some advice.
First, let’s discuss whether you should even think about buying a home at this stage in your life. For some people, it makes more sense to continue renting. You may still be thinking of relocating to follow your lifelong dream or reconnect with that old flame (Ed. note: that’s a terrible idea, by the way: (s)he is long gone), It doesn’t make sense to buy when you’re going to leave in the near future, due to the large transaction costs in buying and selling a house. Housing costs also play a major role in this decision. In cities like New York and Los Angeles, paying rent is almost always cheaper than paying on a mortgage. But in most parts of Philly, buying a home is a more fiscally responsible decision. Do your homework: if it’s cheaper to pay rent, then pay rent. You can then save your money to put a hefty down payment on the property of your dreams.
Second, check yourself before you wreck yourself: you need to know your credit score before getting serious about buying a home. This will influence a great many aspects of the process for any home buyer, like whether you can even qualify for a mortgage. Avoid hurting your credit score by avoiding bad habits like maxing out credit cards. You also want to keep your debt-to-income ratio (how much you make versus how much you pay towards debt) as low as possible so it shows that you actually have money left over to pay your monthly mortgage amount. If you think closing out old credit cards is a good idea, think again! The better and longer your credit history, the better candidate for a loan you become. Once you’re pre-approved for a loan, you should consult with your real estate agent and lender to discuss which loans best fits your unique financial situation.
Once you’ve got your financial house in order, its time to decide how much house you can order: You need to realistically think about how much you want to pay monthly for a mortgage. This is totally necessary to avoid the dreaded situation of being “house poor.” Sometimes thinking outside the box with living situations, like renting out your basement or having roommates, can also help keep you from living under water (and if they’re good people, you might even find a new friend). You can also consider buying a multifamily property, where you live in one unit and rent out the other, allowing you to cover most of your mortgage.
The best way to determine if you can afford the house of your dreams is to start making the payments: Determine what your monthly payment would be for your mortgage, and if that amount is more than what you’re currently paying for rent, start putting the difference in a savings account. If your future mortgage would actually be less than what you’re currently paying, then you can start to imagine those savings going back into your pocket. You will quickly see whether this amount works for your lifestyle, and you can start determining what you have to sacrifice, if anything. You might just find that having a larger house is worth cooking at home more often or getting rid of cable TV.
Cherise “AGENT LADY” Wynne is an experienced Philadelphia Real Estate Agent that helps clients buy and sell throughout Philadelphia with a focus on Center City and surrounding areas. She loves dancing, karaoke, playing a good game of spades and helping first time Home Buyers. She can also be followed here on Twitter.
Who doesn’t love to eat butterscotch krimpets, drink beer, and watch men in drag? (Ed. note: No one I ever want to meet, that’s who.) On Saturday, July 12th, Eastern State Penitentiary will bring the French Revolution to life for its 20th annual Bastille Day festival, where spectacle goers will have a laugh, snag some free Tastykakes from the sky, and enjoy a night on Fairmount Avenue at one of the largest free theatrical events in Philadelphia. The Bearded Ladies, an experimental cabaret troupe, will retell the storming of the Bastille through song and dance (and with the help of a rather realistic guillotine). The performance will feature familiar faces such as Napoleon, Joan of Arc, a 6-foot-tall French Baguette, and Philadelphia’s own noted Francophile, Benjamin Franklin. But perhaps the character that will bring the most applause is Marie Antoinette, played by Terry McNally, co-owner of London Grill and Paris Wine Bar. (Pro Tip: Be on the lookout when she cries, “Let them eat Tastykake!” It’s every man for himself when more than 2,000 Tastykakes are flung from the prison’s towers!)
Après-beheading, Fairmount restaurants will feature French-themed entertainment as well as food and drink specials, and the penitentiary will reopen for rare twilight tours. Twilight tour admission is $10 for adults and $5 for seniors, students and kids (ages 7-12).
The performance begins at 5:30 pm in front of Est Pénitencier de l’État, at 22nd and Fairmount. Did we mention this event is free and open to members of the Third Estate (i.e. the public)? For more information, visit the Bastille Day website.
About the Bearded Ladies
Bearded Ladies Cabaret is a troupe of artists who insist that art can be both intellectual and accessible, entertaining and meaningful, stupid good and just plain stupid. They fuse cabaret and theater to tackle the politics of gender, identity, and artistic invention with sparkle and wit. Bearded Ladies are always live, always smart, and never quite what you expect. Bearded Ladies are currently the cabaret company in residence at The Wilma Theater. Shows include No Regrets: A Piaf Affair, Wide Awake: A Civil War Cabaret, Beards Are For Shaving: A 007 Cabaret, and Marlene and the Machine.
About Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site
Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world’s first true “penitentiary,” a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of convicts. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America’s most notorious criminals, including bank robber “Slick Willie” Sutton and Al Capone.
Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site is located at 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue, just five blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The penitentiary is open seven days a week, year round. Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $10 for students and children ages 7-12. (Not recommended for children under the age of seven.) Tickets are available online at easternstate.org or at the door, subject to availability. Admission includes “The Voices of Eastern State” Audio Tour, narrated by actor Steve Buscemi; Hands-On History interactive experiences; history exhibits; and a critically acclaimed series of artist installations.
Carly Harris is a Marketing & PR Intern at Eastern State Penitentiary, a Penn State Student and a full-on Francophile. She tweets @CarlyHarrisPSU.
Isn’t quizzo the greatest? Whether you are a New Deck purist who spells it with just one ‘z’, or prefer to win “adult” toys at a round of Kinky Quizzo, you can’t help but to love the thrill of being the only person at your table who knows who made that statue of William Penn on top of City Hall‡.
To celebrate my love of quizzo (which is one of the reasons #whyilovephilly), I give you a Philly-focused trivia question every Tuesday. Answers after the jump.
This week’s trivia question: In high school, my friends and I were obsessed with the Simpsons. While removed from the prime years (Seasons 3-10, if you ask me), they were still producing some of the most hilarious television on, well… TV. So, for this week’s Tuesday trivia, a Simpson’s challenge – In Season 11’s Episode “E-I-E-I DOH!”, the Philadelphia Flyers are thanked during the credits to THIS movie. (If this were actually quizzo, I’d accept anything close.)