Putting a Value on Philadelphia Pre-War Condominiums Cache

If the adage location, location, location were as etched in stone as it is etched in many buyers minds, then there would be little price difference between The Wanamaker House Condos at 2020 Walnut St., and its high-rise condominium neighbor, “2135” Walnut St. If size dictated values alone, then The Ayer and the Aria could easily be priced similarly. And if being a newly constructed building equated to similar pricing structures, then Two Liberty and Waterfront Square would roughly pull the same dollar per square foot. Sure, location, size, and amenities do play a role in the value of a Philadelphia condominium, but clearly, this is not the only litmus test of value.

Over the past generation or two, the condominiums at 1830 Rittenhouse Square has had a perception amongst the high-rise set as the epitome of elegance and sophistication. Known simply as “1830” this pre-war condominium on Rittenhouse Square houses some of the most prestigious condos in Philadelphia, and few would debate its exclusivity. Stately and proud, 1830 Rittenhouse rules the roost in the eyes of the pre-war buying public. Usually marked with more buyer than seller interest (in any given state of the condo market), 1830 is touted as having one of Philadelphia’s strongest locations, most ornate interiors, and is simply viewed as Philadelphia’s most exclusive address.

Not but a block away sits the lovely 250 S. 17th St Condos. Noted also for its pre-war charm, lack of parking, ornate interiors, and some very large units- This high rise, pre-war, doorman building doesn’t sell at nearly the same dollar per square foot as 1830. Which begs the question- if location, style and amenities don’t dictate price structure, then what does?

One could easily argue that a portion of the price is based on the fact that 1830 sits on the square, as 250 S. 17th does not. That certainly would account for a some of the difference in value. But the difference stops there- at least on the surface. 1830 has long been the perennial favorite of many Philadelphians, is very well known and holds a strong position in the eyes of the Philly condo buying set as being the benchmark of quality, cache, and taste. The perception of the strength of the building, especially in the eyes of most Philadelphia Realtors is that 1830 is ground zero for being a top pre-war destination for many buyers. Though I would hardly argue this point, it is valid to ask, how did the building become such a benchmark, and why does it sell at a significantly higher dollar per square foot than similar buildings with many of the same attributes? Again, I believe the answer to be perception. And perception is a strong motivator in many decisions made by the buying public- regardless if you are talking cars, clothes, or condos. Perception rules. Period.

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