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December 2008

Happy Homeowner Tip: Track Mortgage Amortization & Pre-Payment Effects

The 'Principle': Every Little Bit Counts

Despite the news these days, I am pretty certain that there are a few people out there who are current on their mortgage, plan to stay that way, and continue to manage their financial lives with some degree of responsibility. Actually, I talk to people like you every day in person, on the phone and online.

Some of my friends over at Pocono Commuter Club recently discussed online mortgage calculators and we found a few that look pretty helpful. These are not plain-old versions that help a potential home buyer determine monthly payments based on a certain sale price and interest rate, but rather these are a little more sophisticated as they allow you to enter extra payments and calculate how this affects your payoff date and interest paid.

You see, people who know how to manage their money realize that even a small extra payment on your mortgage now and then can save you lots of money and time off the life of your loan, and increase your equity faster. And a homeowner with equity is happy indeed!

Calculate Your Savings of Money & Time

So, if you make regular extra principle payments on your mortgage, or even just throw a few extra bucks in whenever you can, check these mortgage calculators out. Or, if you are wondering if it is even worthwhile to go to the trouble of making an extra payment or two a year (it is!), enter your information and see how beneficial it is to pre-pay on your mortgage loan. Even if you aren't now or don't plan on prepaying your loan, you may want to generate an amortization schedule to keep track of where you stand.

All you need to know is your loan term (30 year, 15 year, etc), interest rate, amount borrowed (loan amount) and the dates you want to work with. For example, if you want to track your principle and interest payments over the life of your mortgage, use the original figures and dates from when you obtained the loan. If you want to start from now, you can do that too...just check your monthly statement for what you owe and go from there.

Handy Mortgage Calculating Tools

This calculator looks like it would be the most flexible and easy to use for most circumstances. If you like to compare and make your own choice, try this one or this one.

Please note: I do not recommend you use any of these sites to apply for a new loan, refinance, etc. You will see lots of links and offers on some of the pages but do not be tempted. Best practice (especially in today's rocky lending environment) when shopping for a mortgage is to get recommendations of local lenders from your friendly real estate agent or some other trusted source. Feel free to call 570.421.8950 ext. 394 or email me [email protected] to discuss your needs and get a customized recommendation based on your situation. 

FSBO / Agent-Assisted Marketing Primer: Great Advertising Sells Homes

Selling a home takes a little finesse. From advertising and marketing, to staging and showings, to negotiating offers and beyond, there's a lot to it and many little things that can make a sale, or break it. Whether you decide to hire a real estate agent or go it alone FSBO-style, you should have an idea of what's involved every step of the way. Congratulations...stopping by here at the Poconos Real Estate Blog is a great start!

Here's a quick marketing tip to help you when you are interviewing agents or when you are selling your home on your own and need to create an advertising campaign. Free information. That's how we roll around here! :)

Seriously, I think you should read this article. Not only because my marketing piece is featured, but because I think that Sarah explains very clearly how thoughtfully created marketing can draw in buyers and make your house stand out from the crowd.

(For more information on selling your home in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, contact me at [email protected] or 570.421.8950 ext. 394. I have lots creative ideas and know how to market your home to sell!)

Townhouses in Lake Harmony, PA

So, you want a vacation home but are concerned about maintenance? Who wants to head to the mountains for a ski weekend and have to worry about shoveling snow or other outside tasks. You want to relax. And ski, or hang at the lake, or whatever. 'Nuff said.

I'll break it down by area for you. This time I'll work on communities in Lake Harmony, which is the area near the lake of the same name and Jack Frost and Big Boulder ski areas. I will cover some other developments and options in future posts, like stuff near Camelback Mountain, Shawnee Ski Area and others. For now, though, let's look at the choices available in this area of Carbon County.

One last note: there are lots of single family vacation homes available in this area of the Poconos too (i.e. Towamensing Trails, Lake Harmony Estates, Brier Crest Woods and many others). If you need information on those, contact me at [email protected] and I'll set you up with a customized Listing Search Portal. For free :)

Townhouse and Condominium Complexes in the Lake Harmony area include:

Snow Ridge Village:
Prices start in the $120,000's for a 1 or 2 bedroom townhouse and go up from there. Dues/maintenance fees here are in the $2,500/year range. Amenities here include a pool, tennis courts and the new Jack Frost National Golf Course.

Laurel Woods:
You may be lucky enough to find a 3 bedroom home here around $170,000. Dues are around $3,000 per year. Enjoy the beach at Big Boulder lake as well as new pool facilities which are nearby (membership at Lake Mountain Club may be required).

Blue Heron Village:
A furnished two bedroom unit is listed right now for $185,000, but the prices go up from there. Dues are around $3,000 per year. Amenites are nearby and available by joining the Lake Mountain Club.

Ridgewood Country Estates:
Starting around $150,000 for 1300 -ish square feet. $3,600 yearly maintenance fees include water, sewer, trash removal, exterior maintenance. Join the Lake Mountain Club and use their beautiful community pool, tennis courts and other fine amenities.

Boulder Lake Village:
Brand new lakefront condominium development from the mid $350's. Recreation center 'to be built' after 48 units have settled within one year to include exterior pool, hot tub, exercise room, grill area. Dues $4,300 per year.

Mid Lakes:
Lakefront condominiums for around $250,000 to $350,000. Usually sold with furnishings. Maintenance fees around $3,000/year. Pool for use by condo owners. Lake club membership available.

**Please note that information about these communities is subject to change. As communities change and grow, dues structures and amenitiy offerings do too.**

For information on townhouses, condominiums or single homes in Lake Harmony or other vacation home areas in the Poconos, please contact me via email [email protected], or by phone 888.794.5589. Or, if you prefer to help yourself for a while yet, search the Pocono Mountains MLS for properties here.

Stay & Play in the Poconos: Mount Airy Casino Resort

Mount Airy Casino Resort opened awhile ago. I, unfortunately, haven't been there yet but I wanted to write about it - mostly to share this great photo graciously provided by Stephen Lippay. Check out his beautiful photography here.

Mount airy casino resort

The casino in Mt. Pocono does not have live-dealer table games but does have lots of slot machines and electronic table games like poker, roulette and blackjack. There was a pretty big winner at the Casino back in February...over $100,000 won! Rumor has it that a resident of Penn Estates, a local single-family home community, won a few bucks earlier this year, too, but she's too shy to brag about it. :) Also, there are always promotions and giveaways going on. Maybe you could be the next big winner !?!?

The facility offers five restaurants, a spa, salon and nightclub on site. They offer special packages for short getaways, making this a great choice for a quick winter trip to unwind, ski or just enjoy the amenities of the casino. In the heart of the Poconos of northeastern Pennsylvania, the Mount Airy Casino Resort is an ideal 'home base' for enjoying all that our mountains have to offer, in any season! And, since the building is brand new, you can bet (pun intended of course) that the accomodations will be first-rate.

Other things to do while you're here (all within minutes of the Resort):

Search for Long Term Rentals in the Poconos

Long term rentals

Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Wilkins & Associates has a large inventory of homes to rent throughout the Pocono Mountain area. As a matter of fact, we offer one of the largest inventories of single family homes, apartments, townhouses & condos available throughout the entire Poconos, Monroe & Pike Counties, the Stroudsburgs and Historic Milford.

Click here to search for rental listings in the Monroe County Poconos and beyond

Search here by school district, number of bedrooms, rental price and more. If you are looking for a certain community, like Penn Estates or Country Club of the Poconos for instance, you can search by that criteria too.

As always, if you have questions or need personal assistance, contact me via email [email protected] or via toll phone 800.252.4601 ext. 394