Destination Realty News: November

Happy Election Day to all of our friends and loved ones! We hope that wherever your political sentiments might lie, you’re taking time today to get out and rock the vote.

October marked an exciting time for us here at Destination, as we participated in the inaugural Pumpkin Palooza on the 500 block of Penn Street, brought to us by the good people at the Reading Downtown Improvement District, on October 22nd. The festival included live music and entertainment, a pumpkin pie eating contest, scarecrow making, pumpkin carving, mummy wrapping, a pumpkin seed spitting contest, horse-drawn wagon rides, and of course, the annual DID scarecrow contest!

The contest encourages entrants to create humorous, entertaining, mischievous, or lovable scarecrows as a way to bring together local businesses, organizations, families, churches, and schools in a delightful autumn event downtown. We’re very proud to announce the Destination Realty scarecrow, in the form of Despicable Me’s Gru, along with a host of Minions, took second place in the contest!

The Penn Street Market included special seasonal goods and produce from the vendors to accompany the Pumpkin Palooza’s events, and if you were in attendance, you might have noticed Destination Realty sponsoring the craft zone for families with two of our lovely volunteers. Donations for the craft zone were generously provided by Weaver Orchards, Home Depot, Opportunity House, and the Reading Eagle.

With hundreds of local residents turning out to enjoy the music and carriage rides, the Pumpkin Palooza was definitely an amazing event, and we’re so honored to have been part of it! We’ll be looking forward to seeing you at the next one!

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A Very Reading Christmas, right down to the tree!

This month, some very special preparations for the holidays in Reading are in full swing, with the usual parades and the annual tree-lighting ceremony on the agenda, but also a unique nod to last year’s “Charlie Brown Christmas tree”, which was featured on news stories worldwide.

The annual holiday parade will take place next Saturday, November 21st at 9:00 am. It will begin at the intersection of Penn Street and 11th St, and proceed down Penn until 2nd St. In the event of rain, the parade will be postponed until the 28th of November at the same time and location.

This year’s tree, a 25-foot concolor fir, is already standing tall and proud in Penn Square. Its official lighting ceremony will be held the night before the parade, Friday November 20th, at 6:30 PM. The tree itself was donated by two Berks County residents, Barb and Pat Emmett, the owners of Godfrey’s Welcome to Dogdom in Brecknock Township, and is considered by many to be a significant improvement over its predecessor.

Whatever happened to that ugly tree, anyway? The fate of the tree, which sparked a nationwide debate over whether it was too ugly to display or the perfect way to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas, was influenced by Luke Schultz, a foreman in the city public works department, and Steve Weber, a carpentry instructor at the Reading-Muhlenberg Career and Technology Center.

Both felt that last year’s tree did a great deal to bring positive publicity to Reading, and Schultz, a former student of Weber’s, thought that his teacher could help commemorate the tree in a very special way. So, with the help of the students in the carpentry program, Weber fashioned the wood from the “ugly tree” into a commemorative bench that will be featured in this year’s holiday display.

The city itself has given a nod to the 2014 viral news event by putting up a doghouse, constructed by the Public Works Department, resembling Snoopy’s own residence, as part of its holiday display. The doghouse was placed at the corner of Fifth and Penn streets, representing the Charlie Brown story of which last year’s tree became symbolic.

Pretzel City Productions brings the party to June with Berks Country Fest

If you’re not already familiar with Reading Eagle’s new venture, Pretzel City Productions, they’re the folks that brought us the amazing Fire + Ice Festival in January of this year. This month, inspired by the Berks Jazz Fest, one of the city’s most popular annual events for the past 25 years, Pretzel City Productions brings a new type of music festival to the city: the Berks Country Fest.

Pretzel-City-Productions-Logo-ColorPretzel City Productions was the brainchild of executive director of circulation and promotions for the Reading Eagle Company and president of WEEU 830 AM, Dave Kline. Kline believes that the City of Reading could experience its own renaissance, fueled by events like this month’s Country Fest, January’s Fire + Ice Festival, and the Reading 120, a 120-mile cycling event sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale, the Switzerland-based governing body of sports cycling, which takes place on September 21st.

As Kline stated in this speech earlier this year, “We have a lot of great hotels here, a lot of great places to put on shows and tons of venues. […] We’re going to be showing people all around the world how awesome Reading and Berks County is, and we’re going to bring them here as tourists.”

The Berks Country Fest runs from June 15th-21st, providing you the perfect opportunity for Father’s Day plans, and celebrates the diverse musical genres that embody the melting pot of America, including country, acoustic rock, Americana, folk, bluegrass, jazz, world and orchestral music. Major headliners include Ruthie Foster, Mary Fahl, Bill Staines, and Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, as well as a variety of local bands and musicians. There are loads of great events going on for the duration, and it all starts with a kickoff on June 15th at 3PM, at local favorite restaurant, The Peanut Bar.

In addition to these special performances taking place throughout the festival, there will be two free concerts featured as well. The Common Chords Concert for Unity & Peace will be taking place on Saturday, June 20th, along Reading’s Restaurant Row; and the Reading Pops Orchestra with special guest Dave Cullen will perform Music of America, their annual Father’s Day concert, at Cacoosing Meadows Park in Sinking Spring (bring your own lawn chair!).

The full schedule of events, as well as tickets to purchase, are available from the official Berks Country Fest website: http://www.berkscountryfest.com. We hope to see you there!

Happy Birthday to Us! Destination Realty Turns Four

As some of you might already know, last month marked four years since the founding of Destination Realty, LLC. When we started out in 2011, the only employees were Sean Moretti, the founding realtor & broker, and one part-time administrative staffer to handle real estate sales and commercial leasing. We started with one client, a property owner who had a few rental properties in the city of Reading to be managed for rent collection and city codes inspections.

Since then, Destination Realty has grown to a staff of five employees covering the marketing, accounting, leasing, and administrative departments. Furthermore, we now proudly provide property management services to over 20 owners and almost 100 rental units in Reading, West Reading, Birdsboro, Mohnton, and other municipalities throughout Berks County.

Along with our commercial and residential property sales and leasing services, we also provide the following services for property owners and investors:

  • Collection tactics to ensure timely collection of rent
  • Complete applicant screening and approval
  • Institute legal proceedings, evictions, lock outs
  • Record tenant and owner requests for service
  • Create and track work-orders to completion
  • Manage/engage contractors, tradesmen to ensure satisfactory work
  • Attend City Inspections, schedule follow up work
  • Pay bills, contractors, hardware/home improvement supplier

While we’ve invested in some advertising along the way, we owe the majority of our growth to word-of-mouth and referrals from past & present clients as well as fellow realtors. We’re proud of our relationships with both the property owners whose units we manage, and the prospective owners & renters that come to us to help them find a place they can be happy to call their home. Those relationships have brought us to where we are today, and we are so grateful to continue to grow and develop with all of you in the coming years. Thank you for choosing Destination Realty, LLC, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Iconic Reading: The Pagoda, Yesterday & Today

One of Reading’s most iconic landmarks, the Pagoda can be seen for miles beyond the city limits, regardless of season, a mountaintop sentinel of sorts, keeping watch over the city. It’s even been featured in at least one major motion picture! However, despite its prominence, many people are unfamiliar with its history, or are unaware of the myriad of activities and events that are currently offered there. Whether you’ve never seen it up close, or you’ve visited plenty of times, there’s lots to do at the top of the city!

Originally intending for it to serve as a luxury resort atop Mt. Penn, and more importantly, cover up the damage his quarrying operation had done to the mountainside, William Witman, Sr. commissioned the Pagoda in 1906 for $50,000. The Pagoda was designed in the fashion of a battle castle hearkening back to the Shogun Dynasty in Japan, complete with an antique bell, cast in Obata, Japan, in 1739. Construction was completed in 1908; however, because of an unfortunate series of events involving bank foreclosure and Mr. Witman being denied a liquor license, he never actually opened it.

In 1910, the Pagoda and its 10 acres of surrounding land were deeded to Jonathon Mould, a local business owner, and his wife, Julia, who proceeded to sell the property to the City of Reading for the grand sum of $1. Since then, it has undergone repairs and restoration twice, once in the late 60s, due to fire and weather damage, and again for its hundredth anniversary in 2008-2009.

Currently, the Pagoda is open from 12-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays. The Pagoda Café on the first floor offers free WiFi, along with snacks, hot & cold drinks, locally brewed sodas, Berks Hot Dogs, and other treats. The second floor offers a 20’x30′ room that can accommodate up to 50 people, which is available to rent for meetings, small weddings, or parties. The top floor, of course, features the observation deck, and the famed Japanese bell.

On the first Saturday of every month, the Pagoda Writers meet in the café from 1-3pm, and just last week, the city held Groundhog Day at the Pagoda. Twice a year, in June and August, the Blue Mountain chapter of the Sports Car Clubs of America hosts the Pagoda and Duryea Hillclimb Races. There’s also plenty of volunteer opportunities, if you’re looking to give a little something back!

For a full schedule of upcoming activities and information on rental rates, tours, and volunteer opportunities, visit the Pagoda website at www.readingpagoda.com. All images (except antique bell) property of photographer Justin Jermacans, who has an entire series of gorgeous Pagoda pictures worth checking out.

Stay frosty at the hottest event this season: the Reading Fire + Ice Fest!

Free up your schedules for this weekend, because the Reading Fire + Ice Fest is the place to be! The event, brought to you courtesy of the Downtown Improvement District, runs from Friday, January 16th, to Sunday, January 18th, and offers a wide array of indoor and outdoor activities that everyone can enjoy. Not only will there be a 5-alarm chili cookoff and a Snowfall Ball at the historic Abraham Lincoln Hotel, but the streets will be filled with live music, salsa dancing, interactive ice sculptures, an ice bar, as well as an ice-carving competition.

Ice-carving competitions are few and far between, so the City of Reading is very lucky to be able to present one for the enjoyment of all in attendance at the Fire + Ice Fest. The ice providers for the event are the good folks at Sculpted Ice Works, a group of incredibly talented individuals, all certified by the National Ice Carving Association, located outside of Scranton, PA. From their website:

Sculpted Ice Works creates wedding ice sculptures, seafood displays, color logos in ice, ice luges, ice bars, live ice carving demonstrations for any event, team building courses, custom designs for photo shoots, fashion show backdrops, hanging sculptures and more.

The full schedule of events can be found online at http://www.readingfireandicefest.com/events.html. Sponsors of the Fire + Ice Fest, including Destination Realty, will also have their logos (or iconic symbols from their logos) carved in ice and displayed during the event, so keep an eye out for us while you’re enjoying all the festivities! We look forward to seeing everyone there!

“Two-Tree” controversy shows there’s something for everyone in Reading

As many of you are well aware, Reading recently made its way into the national news scene again with the arrival of the city Christmas tree. The tree harvested from a city park for Reading’s annual tree-lighting ceremony was deemed by many residents to be “too ugly” to put on display, but because it was too late to do anything about it, the tree-lighting ceremony was held anyway.

In response to the protest from residents regarding the “ugly” tree, the city received a donation of a second, more “aesthetically pleasing” tree to replace the first one, only to be met with more protests from those who had gone fond of the so-called “ugly” tree. These protesters thought it would be going against the spirit of Christmas to take down a tree because it wasn’t “pretty” enough; after all, if it worked for the kids in Charlie Brown, shouldn’t it work for our city?

So, now the city of Reading has two Christmas trees. The original tree still stands in its place in Penn Square, and the more visually appealing tree stands at the entrance to the city, giving both sides a tree to meet at for their holiday festivities that suits their tastes. Though it may seem foolish to many, this situation is a perfect example of the variety of needs to which the city is capable of catering. The same can be said of the myriad of real estate opportunities available within the city limits: there’s a little something for everyone here.

Investors tend to split into a similar two groups when it comes to commercial properties: some prefer to invest in those properties which are immediately visually appealing and ready to sell, while others prefer the properties that require a little more rehabilitating before going back on the market.

Fortunately, within the city of Reading, there are plenty of both types of investment opportunities currently available. In 2014, multi-unit properties sold for as low as $12,500, with other properties of the same type selling for as much as $299,000. These multi-unit properties (housing anywhere from two to nine apartments) offer a healthy range in sizes: from 1200 to 4400 square feet. At this very moment, there are 80 multi-unit properties on the market in Reading priced between $10,000 and $100,000, and 53 between $101,000 and $1,000,000.

Whether your tastes run to properties that need a little TLC before they can go back on the market, or properties with a quick turnaround; whether you’re a fan of the Charlie Brown tree or the more attractive tree, there’s something for everyone here in the city of Reading.