Mountains Real Estate Buying Advice
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.
the 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.
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 the woods)
With a Real Estate Agent To Buy a Pre-Owned Home:
young 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 some questions:
"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
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.
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
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
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
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
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).