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August 2008

Should I Sell My Pocono Home Now?

Unless you are in one of the few areas that are almost bullet-proof market-wise (if you aren't sure if the area you are in is bullet-proof, you aren't in one =) ), I recommend that you don't sell now unless you have to. If you do have to sell, you may need this sign out front:


What's Going On Here?

My opinion about the state of the local market is that we are a victim of our own success. Because we are not one of the areas of high appreciation that have taken a big hit in values, like CA, FL, AZ and other states, buyers looking here are confused. They've been waiting for prices to drop dramatically, and they haven't. So they are hesitant to buy because they are being told that real estate is a risky investment, especially now. Obviously, no one wants to buy and then have their property lose value, so they are waiting to see what will be 'the bottom' before they make their move.

However, the bottom they are looking for isn't coming because, as I've written before, bank foreclosures are nothing new for us here in the Poconos. Years before the latest trend of foreclosures experienced elsewhere, we have had a steady supply. (The reasons for this are a whole 'nother article.) Fortunately for us, we have had a steady supply of investors and bargain-hunters coming in to the area, so these homes have always sold well and the impact on our market has been minimal.

A simple drive around Monroe County will illustrate the growth we continue to experience despite the oft-reported and ill-named 'national' real estate market troubles. We enjoy strong commercial growth and development, a revitalized vacation industry along with its companion the vacation home market, and we continue to attract people wanting to live here and commute to NY and NJ because of our competitive cost of living, home prices and property taxes.

So Why Should I Wait?

Here's why now may not be the best time to sell your home in the Poconos:

  • Property inventory is high Inventory today stands at 2,967 listings in the Pocono Mountains Association of REALTORS MLS, which is a 15 month supply when using the 2007 absorption rate of 195.25 homes sold per month.
  • Home buyers are skittish Negative news in the media, rising fuel and heating prices and job insecurities all take their toll. Plus, election years traditionally see buyers less active in anticipation of changing policies with changing government.
  • Mortgages are tougher for buyers to get Banking policies and regulations are tightening up in reaction to the foreclosure problem brought on by lax lending policies of the past. Also, appraisers are ultra conservative right now. Fewer homes are selling which gives the appraisers fewer comparable sales to use, and declining prices force them to be conservative.

So, if you CAN wait, please do. It will be better for your pocketbook and better for the market overall if we have fewer homes competing for the attention of the buyers who ARE out there looking.

Home Buyers ARE Looking & Biding Their Time

Hits on this blog, my website and all of the sites where my property listings are syndicated tell a story of buyers looking, shopping, waiting for a reason to buy. Some of them make their move when they see a listing that is too good to pass up and some of them are waiting for whatever bit of good news that will restore their confidence in the real estate market. The home selling environment will get better very soon, we just cannot know exactly when, unfortunately.

If You Do Have To Sell Your Pocono Home

It will be difficult but not impossible to sell your house, so be prepared to accept the realities of the market as presented to you by your listing agent. As fellow real estate blogger, Jay, the Phoenix Real Estate Guy, advises consumers in his area:

“Realistic” is the key word there, and it is very difficult for many home sellers to come to terms with reality. That is understandable as it is hard to separate emotion from fact. Selling your home is a very emotional experience, but it is critical to look at it as the business transaction that it is. I realize and understand that it is hard to get past the, “but if I sold it two years ago. . .” thoughts and feelings. Get past it you must. This is not the market of two years ago. Homes can be (and are) sold every single day. They need to be in pristine condition, and priced and marketed appropriately. If you need to sell, it can certainly be done.

Reality Check

Fewer homes are selling - 30% fewer residential properties sold in our area this year than during the same time period last year. And, average sale price is down, probably because only the obvious values are selling (cut-rate priced homes, like foreclosures and distress sales, and not much else) the average sale price of homes in Monroe County is down by 9%. Of course if you have to sell, your agent will provide you with a detailed market condition report and comparable market analysis specific to your property, as markets vary greatly by neighborhood, community and/or municipality.

(Statistics for this article were gathered from the Pocono Mountains Association of REALTORS MLS on August 28, 2008, for Residential homes in Monroe County only.)

Still need to sell your home in the Poconos? Contact me via email [email protected] or give me a call 888.794.5589 to discuss your situation and schedule an appointment for a no-cost market analysis of your property.

I Love The F Word!


The F word is the most important word in the world of real estate transactions. The F word will help you tremendously. The F word is your friend.

From the very beginning of your real estate journey...before you look at homes, before you talk to a lender, before you do ANYTHING more than browsing around the internet, you should be thinking about the F word. Why? Because the F word can save your A**!

The F Word = Fiduciary

"The fiduciary duty is a legal relationship of confidence or trust between two or more parties, most commonly a fiduciary or trustee and a principal or beneficiary...In a fiduciary relation one person justifiably reposes confidence, good faith, reliance and trust in another whose aid, advice or protection is sought in some matter. In such a relation good conscience requires one to act at all times for the sole benefit and interests of another, with loyalty to those interests.

"A fiduciary is someone who has undertaken to act for and on behalf of another in a particular matter in circumstances which give rise to a relationship of trust and confidence."

A fiduciary duty is the highest standard of care at either equity or law. A fiduciary (abbreviation fid) is expected to be extremely loyal to the person to whom he owes the duty (the "principal"): he must not put his personal interests before the duty, and must not profit from his position as a fiduciary, unless the principal consents...."  ~ Wikipedia definition of fiduciary duty

There is only one party in the real estate transaction who is legally obligated to work in your best interest, who owes you Fiduciary Duty. Yes, the lender, the home inspector, the title agent and all the people you work with will (probably) be smiling and nice to you and all, and will probably even do the right thing by you. But they do not owe you fiduciary duty. The only person well-versed in the F word in your real estate transaction and legally bound to your best interests (aside from your attorney, who usually gets involved AFTER you find 'the house' and after several critical decisions are already made) is your Buyer's Agent.

This is huge. This means that the first thing you need to do, before doing ANYTHING in regards to your upcoming real estate transaction, is to locate, interview and hire a professional Buyer's Agent. This may or may not involve a fee, but the peace of mind and savings you will realize in costs, stress and heartache are priceless.

The F Word. Enough said.

For more information on the F Word, Buyer Agency and/or anything real estate in the Pocono Mountains area, contact me at [email protected], via toll free phone 888.794.5589 ext. 103, or IM PoconoBuyersRep

More Tips for Buying a Home

Rare Split Level Design - And Check Out The Landscaping!

Welcome to 199 Harmony Drive, located in 'The Summit' section of Penn Estates. The over-sized corner lot has been meticulously landscaped and manicured, providing a park-like setting which is the envy of the neighborhood.

Check it out and contact me via email [email protected] or phone 888.794.5589 ext. 103 for more information or an appointment to see this or other Pocono homes for sale.

5 Things About Home Inspections Every Pocono Home Buyer Should Know

You_might_want_to_read_this Here are few things you, the Pocono home buyer, should know about your home inspection. Keep in mind that this advice is intended as an overview of the process and it is not by any means a comprehensive list of everything you need to know, nor is it meant to minimize your need for representation in your real estate transaction or to negate any advice given to you by your Buyer's Agent and/or Attorney. Most of this advice assumes that the PAR (Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS(r) ) Standard Agreement of Sale has been used, including the pre-written home inspection contingency. As always, please read your contract to be certain that all of this applies. Also, if you are purchasing a foreclosure or REO property from a bank or other such entity, read the bank's Addendum carefully as there can be many variations to home inspection contingencies on these forms.

1) Time is of the Essence

There is a time limit involved in this process and you need to read your contract to see what this time limit is. Usually, inspections and any subsequent negotiations need to be completed within a couple of weeks. Check your documents to be certain about how much time you have, as ignoring the deadlines could expose you to additional risk like not being able to to cancel the sale should major defects be revealed. This is NOT a situation you want to be in.

2) It's Your Choice

You choose your inspector and accompany him/her during the inspection. Your agent will probably provide you with a few names, but the choice is ultimately yours, subject to the criteria spelled out by the Pennsylvania Home Inspection Law. Download consumer27s20guide20to20hi.pdf If someone tries to convince you to choose any particular one, be very wary and find out why. If they try to dissuade you from using one in particular, again, find out why. It is an unpleasant fact of life that some agents (not all and certainly not me) recommend and/or push inspectors who they know will sugar-coat the issues and save their 'deal'. Obviously this is not in your best interest.

3) Read the Report!

You and only you need to be satisfied as to the condition of the property, so please attend the inspection and please read the written report given to you afterwards. Do not expect your agent to tell you what to worry about because that is beyond the scope of her duty and expertise, and only you know what your comfort level and expectations are with regard to the condition of your future home. Of course, you can and should discuss the report with your agent in order to determine negotiating strategies and the next steps. And, if there is a major item that comes up during the inspection and you seem to have overlooked it or don't have a proper understanding of the implication for future resale of the property, etc, she certainly should point it out. But the rule of thumb for you to follow is, this is going to be your home and you need to be comfortable with it in all its glory, flaws (which every home has) and all.

4) Be Reasonable

The inspection is not your opportunity to take another swipe at the Seller's bottom line. More than likely, many of the items an inspector will point out are things you saw when you looked at the home and have already been used in the negotiations. Just because it is written in the inspector's report does not mean the price has to come down again, even if seeing it there written in black and white makes it seem scarier than it is.

However, if the home inspection reveals major defects, or more issues than you honestly anticipated when you first made your offer, negotiations are in order. But remember, the Seller is not required to make repairs, just as you are not obligated to buy the house if you are not satisfied with its condition (this is, of course, subject to any 'deductible' specified in the AOS if you chose Option 2 on the Inspection Contigency).

5) Requests in Writing

If you choose to negotiate repairs, make your request in writing to your agent and reference the applicable sections of the inspection report to ensure the issue is clearly and completely communicated to the other parties. Also, express your preference of the work being completed before you take possession of the property, the seller giving you a credit so you can do the repairs yourself, or money being placed in escrow so the money is there for the repairs as they are done post-closing. Be as specific as possible with your request, including specific dollar figures if possible or applicable. It may be necessary to obtain estimates from qualified contractors to ensure that these figures are accurate.

This part of the process can become quite tricky if there are substantial issues to address. Hopefully you hired a knowledgable Buyer's Agent to help you navigate through alll of the different aspects of this situation. For example, credits and escrows at closing can become issues with your lender, so you need to discuss these things thoroughly to avoid a problem later on that could jeopardize your ability to close on the property or worse. Further reading on your options in negotiating inspection issues here.

As always, this is offered as information only and none of the advice I give is to be considered legal advice. Please consult an attorney for legal issues.

For more information on home inspections, Buyer Agency or anything real estate in the Poconos, email me at [email protected], or call me at 888.794.5589 x103.

House for Sale. Cheap.

House for Sale. Cheap.
House for Sale. Cheap.
Originally uploaded by Lisa Sanderson

Please click through to flickr to see the notes I've added to this photo of the outside of this great home for sale. The price has been reduced and the seller says, 'sell it immediately.'

You know value when you see it, so c'mon, take a look and make an offer. You know you want to.

Contact me via email [email protected] or phone 888.794.5589 ext. 103 for more info, an appointment to see the home live, or to discuss any questions you may have.