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June 27th | Posted In Uncategorized

Commitment Issues: Are You Ready To Buy a House?

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.

January 31st | Posted In Uncategorized

More Arrows in the Quiver

In case you missed yesterday’s Daily News, YIP’s very own Stephen St.Vincent (no relation to the singer, which is oh so cruel), wrote one hell of a letter to the editor in response to the tone of the tabloid’s coverage of the Pew report on Philly’s millennials.  Read it here.

My favorite line in the letter: “[R]ather than seeing these Pew statistics as representative of failings of our city, we should see them as opportunities to improve, and more arrows in the quiver in our fight for fair school funding.”

As St.Vincent notes, what millennials want isn’t exactly diametrically opposed to what other generations want.  Our concerns – jobs, schools, crime and public transit – are largely everyone’s concerns.  We just need to work together to fix them.  Millennials cannot – and will not – sit on the sidelines and wait for our elders to fix the city’s problems.

That’s why YIP is holding our “Ward Politics 101“.  YIP President Nick Marzano described it best: “To change the city, you need understand the city, and YIP’s goal is to make that palatable and approachable.” Don’t wait to get your tickets here, folks, because, as Nick noted “We’re anticipating a sell-out, and there’s not much we can do after that. As you might imagine, a place called Ladder 15 takes fire code seriously.”

January 15th | Posted In Uncategorized

Looking to Get Involved? We can help

Every month, Young Involved Philadelphia partners with some of the city’s best nonprofits for a happy hour meet-and-greet we call the Get Involved Happy Hour.

We’re trying to make this more than just another networking happy hour by focusing it on connecting young professionals with nonprofits.  When I first moved back to Philadelphia, I knew I wanted to get involved with a civically engaged organization, but didn’t know how.  I looked on some websites, emailed some contacts, but that didn’t get me face-to-face with actual people who could describe what their organization did and what they were looking for from volunteers.  It wasn’t until I stumbled across YIP that I found a group right for me (and even with YIP, it took me a long time to find out how to get involved).

Young Involved Philadelphia believes that helping our civic institutions connect with young professionals, and each other, provides a tremendous benefit to those institutions and, therefore, the city itself.   The Get Involved Happy Hour is one way we try to help make those connections.  For us, its more than just a happy hour.  It’s where we hope a meaningful relationship can get its start.

So, join us at Field House January 23rd from 5:30 to 7:30.  We will be joined by PhilaSoup, which brings together diverse sectors of the Philadelphia education community and supports initiatives that enhance the learning experience of Philly students, Rock to the Future, which provides music education to Philly’s underserved youth at no cost to the families, and the Asian Arts Initiative, which uses art as a vehicle to explore the experiences of Asian Americans and their diverse communities.

Admission is only $6.25 if you sign up online ($7 at the door) and includes your first drink free and some appetizers (beeteedubs: the main reason we charge is because people RSVP for free events but then never show, which is lame.  Consider that your event planning pro-tip of the day: charge a tiny fee if you want an accurate RSVP head count)

January 14th | Posted In Uncategorized

Trivia Tuesday – Name that Famous Philadelphian

To celebrate my love of quizzo (which is one of the reasons #whyilovephilly), I offer you a Philly-focused trivia question every Tuesday.

This week’s question:  We all know that Philadelphia is a city full of firsts.  We made the first cheesesteak.  The Phillies were the first professional sports team to hit 10,000 losses.  Penn is home to the world’s first business school, the first computer, first endowed professorship named after a daytime talk show, and first century old building named after a gossip columnist.

We also had a number of famous folks live here who were the first American (or person, period) to do many an amazing thing.  One famous Philadelphian served as first director of the United States Mint, but is perhaps better known for his contributions to astronomy (he was the first American to view Uranus, observed the transit of Venus, and completed two advanced orreries).  Some historians believe that the stars on Flag of the United States of America are honor of this man.  Who is he?  Check out the answer after the jump.   Read more

November 1st | Posted In Uncategorized

Young Involved Philadelphia Hosts 4th Annual “State of Young Philly” October 25 – November 2

Organization Promoting Engagement Among Young Philadelphians Expects More than 1,000 Attendees


PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Oct 17, 2013) – State of Young Philly, the annual event series hosted by Young Involved Philadelphia, returns for its fourth year on Friday, October 25. Based on the success of prior years, Young Involved Philadelphia expects more than 1,000 participants over the course of the series, which consists of six events over eight days.

“State of Young Philly is an event series for young people, by young people – demonstrating to both ourselves and our elders that the future of this city is in good hands,” said Josh McNeil, President of Young Involved Philadelphia. “Young Philadelphians stand ready to take leadership in the city, to come together to put our energy and passion to work for the city we love.”
Fittingly, the series kicks off with words from State Rep. Brian Sims, whose first year in Harrisburg clearly demonstrates the ability and passion that younger generations can bring to important issues. Based on the initial response to the event series, Sims’s commitment to Philly represents a growing trend in Philadelphia’s young population. “In the first 48 hours since the tickets went live, more than 150 people signed up to take part in our Opening Reception,” says McNeil.
McNeil says State of Young Philly in 2013 is about knowledge and skill building in addition to creating lasting connections among attendees and partnering organizations.

Events during the series include everything from lightning talks on politics and policy, to environmental action, to a resume workshop in partnership with Campus Philly. The week will culminate with a Civic Engagement (un)Conference, featuring content crowd-sourced within three different areas – Personal Growth, Professional Development, or Civic Change.

The lineup of events for State of Young Philly 2013 is as follows:

Opening Reception and Civic Engagement Fair

Friday, October 25 | 5:30 – 8:00 p.m. | National Museum of American Jewish History

State of Young Philly kicks off with a high-energy event exposing participants to the work of 30 innovative non-profit, governmental, and advocacy groups working on education, sustainability, equal rights, public services, and other vital issues.

Monday, October 28 | 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. | National Mechanics

Fascinated by the 2015 Mayoral Race? Curious about the state of our schools? Want to tap into Philly’s growing beer culture? Join Young Involved Philadelphia for a drink and an education delivered to you in quick 5-minute segments from some of our city’s most dynamic leaders.

Tuesday, October 29 | 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. | WHYY

Join Young Involved Philadelphia and Keep Philadelphia Beautiful to become part of the solution as the City of Philadelphia, private industry, and nonprofits work together to move the city to more sustainable waste disposal.

Wednesday, October 30 | 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. | Benjamin’s Desk

Finding a job in Philadelphia is tough- jobs are scarce and the competition is qualified. Get Hired, brought to you by Campus Philly and Young Involved Philadelphia, will help participants navigate the employment landscape and hone resume and interview skills so they can land that next opportunity, grow, and thrive in Philadelphia.  Philly employers will offer one-on-one resume advice to the first 50 attendees to register.

Thursday, October 31 | 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. | Pennsylvania 6

New to Philly? Want to get more engaged in your community? Join Young Involved Philadelphia for a fun and informative happy hour on Halloween.

Saturday, November 2 | 11:00 – 3:00 p.m. | Impact Hub Philly

State of Young Philly isn’t a statement or a proclamation – it’s a movement. It’s about connections, collaboration and shared knowledge. At State of Young Philly’s culminating event you won’t hear keynotes from distant experts.  Instead, the conference wraps up with a crowd-sourced unconference powered by the voices of actual young Philadelphians.

“State of Young Philly is a time to celebrate and highlight the great strides being made year-round, to rally young people around new ideas and proven solutions, and to set our sights high for Philadelphia’s next great milestones,” McNeil concluded.
For more information on State of Young Philly visit