Killer Views – Assessing the value of a Philadelphia Condo View

If you are of a certain age, you recall that Eva Gabor on Green Acres just “Adores A Penthouse View” for which she and her husband no doubt forked over some big bucks to accommodate her desire. And who wouldn’t love such a view? The question is- Are you willing to pay for such an amenity- and how do you know what dollar value to assign to such a Killer View? While it makes good sense that Center City condo views can greatly affect value, not all views are created equal, as many Center City condo shoppers quickly discover. Rarely will the cost associated with any given view be properly addressed in terms of value- by developers and condo shoppers alike, and assessing the value of any given view for a High Rise Center City Condo can be a daunting task and can often leave a potential buyer scratching ones heads.

For many Center City condo buyers- it is all about the view of living on a very high floor, and they are willing to pay as much as $50,000 per floor level above the next. Valuation of Center City condos based upon floor height is a tricky equation. A fair rule of thumb is that newer high rises value floor height at $10,000 per floor. But will that premium pan out in a resale scenario- say five to ten years from now? The Questions concerning value and view (and/or floor height) are numerous, and the answer is usually on a case by case basis. But Here are some General Guidelines:

1) A floor height is of little consequence to value if you are still looking into a brick wall of the neighboring building. If you see a brick wall no matter if you are on the 4th floor, or the 19th floor, why pay for an obstructed view from a higher floor?

2) To face (say) Rittenhouse Square, or to not face Rittenhouse Square can be a costly determination. A premium is always highly touted in the Real Estate ads for those with a “Square View”. If a condo on Rittenhouse Square doesn’t mention a view of the square in it’s ad- you can pretty much guarantee that it doesn’t face the Square- And should be priced accordingly.

3) If a great view can be had on the forth floor of any given Center City high rise condo building, is the same view any more of a premium from the twentieth floor?

2301 Cherry Street View - Rivers Edge Condos

4) North v South views and East v West views- Pure buyer preference, and Center City buyers generally have not shown any willingness to pay more for directional views, should all other aspects be deemed equal. The Hopkinson House Condominium illustrates this point as south facing units get great sunlight, while north facing units view Washington Square- And units facing either direction are usually equal in terms of value and resale price.

5) A tree-top View, or over the dumpster area? This is a tricky equation. Many buyers do not want a high floor, and enjoy the tree-top view. Not uncommon in Center City, and a tree-top view can command a premium, unless that view is located over the dumpster area.

6) Lower floors in a new Center City High Rise tend to be value based, and upper floors can be heavily weighted for the views they possess. Most buyers will not balk at a mid-point within the building- Anywhere from the ninth through the fifteenth floors are often seen as a good compromise between the two extremes.

7) The premium pricing paid for floor height in a new Center City building will tend to diminish in time. Mid level floors can garner as much in price as the higher floors in existing construction throughout the city. The exception I have seen to this rule is at the Murano at 2101 Market St. here in Center City Philadelphia.

8) In a low or mid-rise condo building, the amount of natural light is as important to value as the view, and corner units tend to sell at a premium as a result.

9) In a Philadelphia Brownstone Conversion styled condo (sans elevator) the second floor tends to be the most desired. Many Center City buyers will object to living at street level on the first floor, and a third floor walk-up will need to be priced accordingly to attract attention.

10) Most buyers believe the view from the 23rd floor vs the 25th floor is negligible. Unless of course, the 25th floor happens to be the Penthouse. Expect to pay more for anything labeled as a Penthouse. Especially one with private patios, a private elevator, or private pool.

The desire and willingness to pay for a view will vary greatly in Center City, and a condominium with a high floor view can be seen as a status symbol. Many developers will ask a premium based upon floor height, but that premium tends to diminish over time in the resale market. All buyers Adore a Penthouse View….but the question is- Are you willing to pay for that view?

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