Previous month:
January 2009
Next month:
March 2009

February 2009

What's Your Kitchen Vision?

Most of the Pocono home buyers I talk to have something to say about the kitchen they want in their new house. This makes perfect sense because whether you like to cook or not, the kitchen is often your home's most valuable asset. So utility of function, convenient layout and pleasing design almost always figure in to the equation. Whether you are picking out your first home, locating a house in which to retire, or shopping for a 2nd home to vacation in or rent out, the kitchen ranks high on the list of considerations. Take some time to think about it. What is your kitchen vision?

Here are some pictures of kitchens and some thoughts to consider as you prepare for a future real estate purchase:

White Kitchen

A popular choice, white kitchens appeal to many people: clean & bright and easy to dress up this neutral color with bright accessories.

Jan 2009 006

Step Saver Kitchens

These rooms are often a little smaller but laid out in a way that ensures an efficient work flow. You'll usually find the famed 'working triangle' of sink-refrigerator-stove in these layouts, along with a breakfast bar that doubles as a nice big preparation counter or buffet.

(Stroud Township Built in 2007 5 Bedroom $333,500)

Stainless Steel Appliances

For many, nothing says 'nice kitchen' like gleaming stainless steel appliances. Usually the most costly choice when replacing older units, if you find a home that has them already, it's a real budget saver.

Center Island Kitchen

These large specimens are great for those who love to cook and for households that revolve around the kitchen. They usually offer attached breakfast areas and lots of work space, cabinets and elbow room for more than one person to work at a time.

Galley Kitchen

Modest sized kitchens are preferred by some. Easy to navigate and keep clean, these are also usually associated with modest price tags.

Use my exclusive Pocono MLS / IDX property listing database search to find the perfect kitchen for you! If you need further assistance, I am always available by email [email protected], or by telephone 570.421.8950 ext. 394.

Related Reading:
How To Create Your Dream Kitchen

This Is Your Year, First Time Home Buyers!

H.R. 1: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

It was signed by President Obama yesterday...that famed Economic Stimulus Package that has overtaken the news lately is finally done. I will spare you the commentary and analysis of all the different provisions. I am here only to tell you about how this affects you, home owners, home buyers and home sellers in the Poconos.

Today I will discuss the Homebuyer Tax Credit, and hopefully be able to give you information on other facets of the Act that affect private property rights and homeownership later. However, if you are bored and can't wait for me to summarize for you, here is a nice handy list of the real estate related provisions of the Bill, outlining many of the grants, tax incentives and programs aimed at home owners, neighborhoods and local governments, provided by the National Association of REALTORS. Enjoy! :)

Find Out If You Have Been Stimulated!

So, without further ado, I present to you the checklist to see if you qualify for the 2009 Homebuyer Tax Credit. If,

___ You are a first time home buyer (have not owned a home in the past 3 years), and

___ Your adjusted gross income is less than $75,000 (single) or $150,000 (joint return), and

___ You purchase a primary residence between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2009, then

You probably qualify for an income tax credit of 10% of the purchase price or $8,000, whichever is less. This tax credit IS refundable, so it could very well mean you will get more money back at tax refund time.

Another bonus, if you keep the home for 3 years or more, you will not have to repay this money back!

(This Tax Credit is similar to the $7,500 one passed last year, but with several major improvements. If you would like to compare them, read this.)

Please check with your accountant for detailed information on qualification for this tax credit and to discuss any other issues related to this. This post is for informational purposes and not meant as financial advice.

So, what are you waiting for? Find the perfect first home for you in the Pocono Mountains Association of REALTORS MLS / IDX Database, or contact me via email [email protected] or by phone 570.421.8950 ext. 394.

I <3 First Time Home Buyers!

1st Time Home Buyers Love The Pocono Real Estate Market!

The Wall Street Journal reported today about how falling home prices across the country are luring first time home buyers in to the market. Affordability has returned to sweeten the deal that home ownership offers to those who have, until recently, rented homes someone else owns.

Home Affordability

Here in the Poconos, first time buyers have a great selection of properties they can afford. Our area has always been pretty affordable, especially when compared to house prices in nearby New York and New Jersey, but the recent value dip beckons to those still not quite convinced. A quick search of the Pocono Mountains Association of REALTORS MLS/IDX, the database which offers the most accurate and up-to-date property listing information, will show the skeptical just what kind of deals are available in the under $200,000, the under $175,000, and even the under $150,000 price ranges.

Availability of Financing

Better still, the recent expansion of the FHA loan program has made purchasing a home here in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, even easier yet. Higher loan limits mean that most properties that first time home purchasers want to buy qualify for this low 3.5% down payment program. So, those with decent credit and a little cash saved have opportunities like never before!

Cash Incentives

And...if that STILL isn't enough to convince you, keep an eye on the Economic Stimulus Package which is on the verge of being approved by Congress. There is a $15,000 tax credit (which does NOT have to be repaid!) included in the latest version of the Bill, which will make buying that first home an absolute no-brainer as it will provide a $0 net out of pocket expense to the savvy buyer.

Opportunity is knocking, people. Will you answer?

Related Reading:

I Love The F Word (Explains the Buyers Agent's legal responsibility to you, the client)

5 Things About Home Inspections Every Pocono Home Buyer Should Know

Minimizing Risk and Reducing Stress While Buying a Foreclosure in the Poconos

Are Smaller Homes En Vogue?

Home small home

Demand for huge houses is waning. It seems that the average house being built in the third quarter of 2008 was 2,438 square feet, down to almost the size demanded in 2005. Several factors have gathered in what seems like a perfect storm in the housing industry...a rising environmental consciousness, a struggling real estate market and economic pressures on household budgets, all contribute to new attitudes regarding our homes. People are starting to really take stock as to what is important and what can easily be maintained and paid for over the long term and downsizing their housing requirements.

This article, on The Simple Dollar, reveals such self-reflection, assessment and prioritization:

"...the square footage shouldn’t be the primary factor when choosing a house. Although there are times when it feels good to have room to spread out, most of the space is completely unused most of the time (except for storage of things we probably don’t really need to keep). Even more important, choosing a lower square footage usually means much less expense over the long haul - you don’t really lose living space, but you do lose storage space, which means that you can’t accumulate as much stuff, which thus means you’ve got less money invested in material items that are just tossed into storage."

I imagine that many future home buyers will be similarly taking a hard look at what they really need. Also, I imagine many current home owners are re-evaluating their needs as well. The age of practicality is here.

This is good news for the Pocono real estate market. We have plenty of modest-sized housing available. The homes built for vacation use in the 1980's and 90's may experience a shift in demand by primary home-buyers (in addition to the steady supply of vacation home buyers) once again. Perhaps first time home buyers will once again start buying small and 'move up' as the household needs change, like our parents and grandparents did...allowing the natural growth of home equity fund their eventual purchase of 'the dream home,' starting small and graduating to something bigger the good old fashioned way. Yes, this is good for the real estate market and the socio-economic health of our area in general. After all, financially stable households require less support from the community. Less pressure to pay that huge housing expense may mean commuting to New York City for higher wage work is not as critical for all breadwinners in the house, allowing for more time to focus on household and family needs.

How much house do you really need?

New PA Contractor Registration Law

SB100 is here. Under this new consumer protection law, all home improvement contractors must register with the State of Pennsylvania by July 1, 2009. Yes, this means you: landscapers, handypeople, roofers, remodellers, etc. If you earn $5,000 per year or more from your home improvement business, you qualify.

This new law not only requires registration with the state but also includes regulation of the contracts that contractors use for jobs over $500. It also establishes criminal penalties for home improvement fraud. Here is the summary from the Attorney General's Office. This link also contains information for consumers with a home improvement dispute.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Pocono Builders Association is hosting a Presentation by Louis Biacchi of the Pennsylvania Builders Association. This will cover an overview of the Home Improvement Contractor Registration Law (SB100) in order to properly prepare home improvement & repair businesses for the changes coming July 1st.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Pocono Township Fire Hall
Route 611, Tannersville, PA
4pm - 6pm

Free for PBA Members
$25 Non-members

Contact: 570.421.9009 or [email protected]