By Ivanna C. Sukkar
Photo: Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau and Jim Mc Williams
Although Pennsylvania’s largest city saw a population decline and a housing-market slowdown in the past decade, its Center City neighborhood is on
Since 2000, the downtown neighborhood has had a 14-percent population increase, reflecting the nationwide
trend of people moving away from suburbs and into urban areas. It also has seen more than 10,000 housing
units added to its boundaries in the past decade,
spurred in part by a 10-year tax abatement
approved in 1997.
This growth could continue. This past June,
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter endorsed a
10-year redevelopment plan for Penn’s Landing
along the Delaware River in Center City. Nutter
also proposed 5,000 new homes for the riverfront,
with a park and a walking and bike path.
What the Locals Say
“There’s a lot of new construction in the Center City area
and surrounding areas. Unfortunately, there are strict
zoning requirements for buildings, which have slowed
things down, but people are still pushing through.”
— Natasha Larson, manager, First Financial Solutions
On the whole, experts say that Philadelphia is fairly steady because it hasn’t seen the major jumps or drops
other areas have experienced. Many attribute its steadiness to factors such as job growth in more-stable
sectors such as education and medicine, of which Philly has many employers.
Population: 1.4 million
n Population in 2000: 1.5 million
n Rank (U.S.): 6th-largest
n Metropolitan-area population: 5. 8 million
n Metropolitan-area rank: 5th-largest
Average commute: 31. 4 minutes
n Average commute in 2000: 32 minutes
n U.S: 25 minutes
Median household income: $33,229
n Median household income in 2000: $30,746
n U.S.: $48,451
Median age: 35. 4 years
n Median age in 2000: 34.2 years
n U.S.: 36. 4 years
Inflation (Consumer Price Index): 4. 4 percent
n Inflation in August 2007: 1.1 percent
n U.S.: 5. 4 percent
Unemployment: 7.2 percent
n Unemployment in June 2007: 6.2 percent
n U.S.: 5. 7 percent
Licensing: Effective Nov. 5, Pennsylvania will be part of the
National Mortgage Licensing System. Licensed mortgage
originators must be employed by a licensed lender, broker
or loan correspondent and work in the employer’s licensed
location. Originator applicants must pay a $200 application
fee; brokers pay $1,000 for their principal place of business
and $250 for each additional branch. Mortgage brokers
who accept advance fees must have a surety bond of
$100,000; those who do not are exempt. At least
12 hours of education and testing required for licensing,
with six hours of continuing education required each year.
Number of licensed mortgage brokers:
n Philadelphia: 300
n Pennsylvania: 3,950
Median home price (July): $235,000
n Median home price in July 2007: $240,000
n U.S.: $212,400
Median monthly housing costs: $1,088
n Median monthly housing costs in 2000: $800
n U.S.: $1,402
Housing units (including one-unit, two or more units, and
mobile homes): 660,389
n Housing units in 2000: 661,958
Housing inventory: 15,126
n Housing inventory in September 2007: 19,581
Total home sales (June): 805
n Total home sales in June 2007: 5,311
Homeowner-vacancy rate: 2.8 percent
n Vacancy rate in 2000: 1.9 percent
n U.S.: 2.7 percent
National foreclosure-volume rank (state): 17th (out of 51)
n Rank in July 2007: 39th
Foreclosure rate: 1.1 percent
n Foreclosure rate in June 2007: 0.7 percent
n U.S.: 1.6 percent
Single-family-residential building permits (July): 524
n Permits in July 2007: 696
45 percent black, 43 percent white,
7 percent other, 5 percent Asian; 10 percent identify as
Hispanic or Latino
Largest area employers: School District of Philadelphia,
Jefferson Health System, University of Pennsylvania,
University of Pennsylvania Health System, Merck & Co. Inc.
5th-most walkable city ( Walk Score)
9th-most stressful metropolitan area ( Bizjournals.com)
U.S. capital, 1790 to 1800
Ivanna C. Sukkar is an associate editor at Scotsman Guide. Reach her at (800) 297-6061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
First-person accounts from
By Mark Milam,
residential loan originator, Sunshine Mortgage Corp.
People often ask me why I left an 11-year career as a commercial airline pilot to enter the mortgage industry.
For starters, I was much closer to the events of Sept. 11 than
most people. In fact, I was about to take off from Ronald
Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C.,
with 142 passengers in tow when the attack on the Pentagon
occurred. As we taxied from the runway back to the terminal — flight canceled — ash and debris fell from the sky.
Aside from the physical and emotional devastation caused
by that day, the following months and years were some of
the most-challenging ever for the airline industry. During
that time, I had an upclose view of the action.
Four years after Sept. 11, I quit. Although many airlines
were emerging from some of their more-difficult challenges, I ultimately decided that the enjoyment of flying
wasn’t enough to fulfill my professional desires. For me, the
advantages of working as a loan originator far outweigh the
thrill of takeoff.
Here are some of the reasons why:
1. The mortgage industry is a meritocracy. You earn
it, every day. Success in many other professions — commercial-airline pilot included — is based on seniority. The
mortgage industry, however, is based on personal performance and a commitment to being better than the rest.
Even with the current reduction in available products and
the tightening of underwriting guidelines, you can still
succeed. If you don’t, look in the mirror first.
2. The mortgage industry is about people. Flying is about
people, too. But as a pilot you rarely see or speak to those
who place their lives in your hands. Interpersonal communication in the mortgage industry, on the other hand,
can be paramount to success.
3. Clients are No. 1. Although some industries remain
beholden to interests such as labor unions and high-powered executives, mortgage brokers’ primary concern
is their clients. That’s not to say that events beyond our
control don’t affect the way we do business. It just means
that clients should always come first.
For years I thought that being a commercial-airline pilot
was the height of my professional ambition. I survived the
years following Sept. 11, and I will never forget how close
I was to those horrible events. I learned a great deal from
my time behind the yoke, and the excitement of flying will
always be in my blood. Ultimately, however, that profession didn’t fulfill me.
While some may cock an eyebrow and wonder why I would
quit flying in order to sell loans, they don’t understand the
satisfaction derived from helping people better their lives —
a feeling I’m reminded of each day as a loan originator.
Today, I feel just as proud about helping clients reach
their dreams of homeownership as I felt relieved to return
142 passengers safely to Reagan National on a day when
the United States changed forever.
Mark Milam is a residential loan originator for
Sunshine Mortgage Corp., one of the Southeast’s
largest privately owned mortgage banks. He has
earned numerous awards for excellence in mortgage
banking, including the Mortgage Bankers Association of Georgia’s rookie of the year award in 2006.
Contact him at email@example.com
or (404) 395-1102.
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