Nearly 40 people turned out on an April Wednesday night to attend the Philadelphia
Chapter’s “First Time and Next Time Home Buyers Workshop,”
at Maggiano’s restaurant in downtown Philadelphia. They learned about
home ownership opportunities, asked questions about mortgage financing, and
spoke with a financial advisor and realtor about the buying process.
“The apartment rents here in Philadelphia can run from $1,500 to $2,200 a month,”
said Prince Thomas ’99, social activities director for the Philadelphia
Chapter and a financial planning specialist with Citigroup, Smith Barney.
“With a little work, alumni can transfer those $1,500 rental payments
into $1,500 mortgage payments which means about $300,000 of house. By
doing all this, they get a nest egg and an investment that has the ability to
appreciate in value.”
According to Thomas, real estate in the Philadelphia area has appreciated in
value an annual average of 15 percent over the last two years. And, he says, there are many other reasons to buy. “Because you own it, you
don’t have to worry about rent increases, losing your home to a landlord
who wants to give the property to someone else, or throwing away money on a rental that you might not ever own. Finally, interest on a mortgage is tax-deductible so even if you’re
paying the same amount you were paying on rent, you’re saving what you’d
pay in taxes while investing in your future.”
Thomas should know. He made his first home purchase last December. “I
bought the home for about $158,000 and had it appraised in April. I was floored
when the appraisal came back at $258,000.” But Thomas had a little help.
His fiancée is in real estate and her boss, George Cahill, helped him
find his home. Cahill, a realtor with Coldwell Bankers, is also the host of an afternoon talk show on Philadelphia's “Money Talk” radio station,
which features programs on investments, real estate, debt consolidation, insurance,
and other money matters.
So when Thomas started thinking about hosting a home buying workshop for the
Philadelphia Chapter, he knew just who to ask. “Cahill agreed to share
some of his considerable knowledge about the real estate market—the importance
of a pre-approved mortgage, how to negotiate, what to do if an appraisal comes
back low or high, home inspections, and more. It was great to have his expertise,”
As the activities director of the Philadelphia Chapter, Thomas was pleased with the event turnout
and the enthusiastic response he got from alumni, “we have so many
things to compete in the Philly area in terms of culture, sports, restaurants,
music,” Thomas said. “Because we have that competition, we felt like
we needed to take a step back and develop some events and activities that were
outside of the norm. This was a great one.”
For more information on the Phildadelphia Chapter of the Penn State Alumni
Association, go to www.psualum.com/chapter/philadelphia.