Mountains Real Estate
permission from USA Realty Poconos office.
Pocono Real Estate Scene - The straight scoop
on how to purchase a home in the Poconos from a veteran of
the Poconos Real Estate Business. USA Realty
you've decided to move to the Poconos? Great!
Seriously... you're gonna love it here. There is a lot to
do, or if you are moving for the peace and quiet, this is
available, too. IF you know where to live.
Rules of Thumb:
every mile you drive west from the Delaware Water Gap you can expect
to pay about $1,500 less for the same exact house. This
is because of the demand created by New Jersey and New York commuters.
with dues are not necessarily a good or bad buy. You should
purchase a home in a community when you are absolutely sure the
amenities will provide value for you and/or your family over time.
Think of dues as additional taxes. Taxes are to provide services.
If you don't use the services, why pay the tax? And what is important
here is to consider the future. If you find value in the pool, tennis
court and clubhouse for your children, weigh in your decision just
how long you expect them to be living with you. If only for a few
years, you might be better off living outside a community and joining
a local YMCA. Selling the house after you find they are gone and
you are not getting value for the amenities can be costly, with
transfer taxes, commission and etc.
woods or in town? There's not much suburbia here in the
Poconos, with the large amount of State, Federal and local parklands
and unbuildable property because of terrain and wetlands, we all
seem to live either in the woods or in town or in a "community".
If you want to live in town, you'll probably end up in an older
home requiring more maintenance. If in the woods, well.... there
are animals to contend with along with a drive of a few miles for
the basics. Communities are scattered across the entire 2 hour drive
across the Poconos Mountains. Finding just the right community will
take you months (or maybe even years). This is where you will need
help from an experienced agent. Note: I say experienced because
newer agents just haven't the depth of experience and time to visit
all of the hundreds of communities. Plan on paying for a fairly
new car that you will keep in top condition if you choose to live
outside of town. At least two if you have 2 or more drivers.
or new? If you would never buy a used car ... the decision
is already made... you are going to build. If you enjoy tinkering
and fixing, a resale is more likely your choice. But, some of you
fixers are going to find out you just can not find the house you
want in the resale market... and you'll be converted to building.
Here in the
Poconos there is very little cooperation between real estate brokers
and builders. This is unlike the rest of the world. Here, if you
ask most Real Estate Brokers to guide you through the maze of builders
.... you'll just get a blank stare and an offer to show you another
farmhouse. Find the right Real Estate Broker, though and he/she
can be invaluable in helping you find the right builder for your
lifestyle and help you understand, objectively the pricing structure.
See Poconos Builders Showcase for a Brokers perspective and recommendation
of the best builders. Rule: there are almost no new homes in town....
So to get a new one, you're going to have to drive. (You'll be in
With a Real Estate Agent To Buy a Pre-Owned Home:
real estate agent or a good real estate agent? Almost any
agent can show you almost any home (We have a Multiple Listing Service)
So, if you find an agent who you suspect is not experienced....
move on. The question is not to be taken too literally, but the
concept is important, you will want to ask your potential agent
how long have you lived here?" We get a lot of people
moving to the area who fancy they would like to sell homes.... yet
know little about the roads, neighborhood amenities, community restrictions
and zoning, building codes and etc....if the answer is "less than
10 years"... move on and find another agent.
how many buying transactions have you handled?" If the
answer doesn't come back in the hundereds....move on and find another
agent. Or ask he/she to partner with a more experienced agent to
handle your transaction.
"Agent... where should I go for a mortgage?" If the first
answer is "a mortgage broker ?" and not "your current bank" or a
"local bank".... be careful there may be an affiliation and you
may not be getting the best deal. Many mortgage brokers just process
your package, add fees on top and send the information to a local
bank anyway. You don't want to pay the extra fees.
Should I use an attorney?" The answer should be "Yes, let
me recommend a few for you to contact, and at least, have them review
the agreements" AND he/she should recommend at least three.
a New Home:
earlier, Builders and Real Estate Agents, traditionally are at odds
here in the Poconos. But, I think that you SHOULD have an agent
work with you through the process of purchasing a new home. Just
be sure to have the right agent. One with experience in new construction.
He/she can help you understand the process, the financing issues,
and provide some guidance through the selection of a neighborhood
and builder. If you've selected the right agent he/she will know
the market, location issues and reputation of the builder. You might
consider reading our column on Buying
a Poconos Home for additional advice.
Select an agent
prior to registering at any new home model you visit. Discuss with
your agent whether the home you want must be new or whether you
can find a similar home in the resale market for less. Then have
your agent accompany you to the new home neighborhoods and models.
He/She can offer advice about the home and neighborhood, insulate
you from any pressure in the sales process and suggest other communities
or builders for you to consider.
a Vacation or 2nd Home in the Poconos
to Buy -- House too small? Just need to get away more
often? Coming to the mountains a lot and want to save on hotel bills?
Down The Shore too expensive? Need a tax deduction?
are plenty of reasons folks buy a vacation home in the mountains.
Some suggestions to make your purchase easier and more profitable:
or Personal Use: Decide in advance if renting the home
is important to you. (Or if you need to, to afford it.) If so, the
location of your new rental home is the most important factor to
consider. The best grossing rental homes are next to ski mountains.
This is a supply and demand issue. Skiers will pay more to be near
the slopes and since, in the summer, most ski areas have activities
like waterparks or festivals, homes adjacent are also, in demand.
Conversely, if you have a "house in the woods" or in a "lake community"
there may be some "one season" demand but, if that season is the
summer ... there is, also, a much larger supply of homes available
for rent and the rental rates are substantially lower. See CamelbackRentals.info
for information on seasonal variations in rental rates. Unlike other
areas, there are only a few real estate brokers that "makes a market"
in rentals. Other than Baxter at Lake Naomi, and USA Realty at Camelback
most brokers are unsuccessful with rentals and shy away from renting
homes other than as a method to get homeowners in the door to establish
a contact for a later sales listing. Many, many homes are rented
by the homeowner's themselves by placing ads in newspaper and online
sites like www.PoconosBest.com.
to Buy -- Location Determined By Amenity Choice. Lakefront,
lake rights, river front, view, proximity to ski slopes, stream
side, tennis courts, social activities at a clubhouse are some of
the amenities that might drive you to a particular home. You can
expect to pay a premium for these choices.. it seems to run in this
hierarchy Lakefront, Long view, Golf Course, short view, riverfront,
streamside, lake rights, access to tennis and pool. Currently large
lakefront lots are in hundreds of thousands for the lot, long views
around $150,000, ski slope $125,000 and if any view is combined
it will be more. Add this to the cost of the home (anywhere between
$90 per sq.ft.to $200 per sq. ft.) and you can estimate what you
can expect to pay.
are scattered about the mountains with only two or three of any
size that allow boats with motors.
are five ski areas with homes adjacent (in order of size of ski
area) Camelback, Shawnee, Jack Frost, Big Boulder, & Alpine
Mountain. The vacation homes, near skiing, experiencing the most
appreciation seem to be at the ski resorts in the same order.
homes are mostly in second home communities scattered throughout
front homes are generally on far east (The Delaware) or the far
West (The Lehigh). These both run high risks of flooding ... so
there are very few available (with not a lot of demand).
"gated" communities and a few ungated "Vacation" neighborhoods have
tennis and pool(s) some indoor and some out. The important thing
to be aware of if you buy in a neighborhood with these tow amenities
is that a pool (especially and indoor pool) is expensive to maintain
and operate. Due will be substantially higher in these neighborhoods
and others. So... If you can do without the pool.. you should probably
not consider a community with one.
to Buy - Find an agent who has been around the Poconos
a LLLLLLooonnng time. Someone who is familiar with all the neighborhoods
and their amenities and reputations. Expect to spend sometime looking,
unless you have specific desires (lakefront, long view, close to
skiing, or distance to DWG Bridge. If you are wanting one of these,
there will only be a few on the market and you will want to act
somewhat quickly when you find one that suits you.)
to pay more for financing than you would on a primary home. -- Most
banks require either more than 20% down or a higher interest rate
on a second home. They also like to see the term about 20 years.
This is to reduce their risk. Many, Many people purchase a second
home with an equity loan on their primary residence. (Costs are
less and the rate is usually better) IF they have the equity available.
There may be some tax advantages, (see your accountant).