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March 2009

Homeowner's Insurance Explained

Check out this quick tutorial explaining homeowners insurance, what it is, why you need it and how to shop for it. Even if you already have homeowner's insurance, you may benefit from a quick look-see at the video as there are quite a few golden tips packed in to three little minutes!

If you are buying a property, you will need a policy in place before closing in order for the mortgage company to fund your loan, so don't wait until the last minute to start shopping for your policy.

Insurance Agents in the Poconos:

Lansdowne Insurance Agency (Nationwide Insurance)
Offices in Mt. Pocono & East Stroudsburg
Email David Lansdowne

The Whitewood Insurance Agency (Erie Insurance)
Office in Downtown Stroudsburg
Email Adrian Whitewood

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me via phone 570.421.8950 ext 394 or via email [email protected] with any questions, concerns or assistance requests!

Look Out Poconos, Real Estate Just Got More Colorful!

Welcome blue team

Merger Announcement-Real Estate Leaders Unite

Yesterday, we agents at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Wilkins & Associates were summoned to a surprise meeting where the company announced it's merger with Coldwell Banker Phyllis Rubin Real Estate. The agents from CBPRRE, now known as The Blue Team, will be assigned to various offices within the company which best suits their market area, and Broker/Owner Heather D'Adamo will work out of the Stroudsburg office as Executive Vice President.

This is an unprecedented collaboration creating the largest residential real estate company in the Pocono Mountains, with 135 agents and 25 employees representing approximately 25% of the property listings currently available for sale. The move positions the new company to ride out the current economy while expanding its pool of exceptional real estate agents, managers and support staff. Real estate buyers and sellers in Monroe County and surrounding areas can expect better than ever exposure and service during this time when they need it most.

Green & Blue Work Well Together!

This is an exciting time for all of us here at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Wilkins & Associates and I would like to take this opportunity to welcome all of my new Associates to the team. Being a fairly new member of the company myself, I know what a big step this is and can relate to all of the emotions and flurry of activity associated with a change such as this. I offer my moral support and am always here if you need anything. Most especially, if you need advice about Facebook or Twitter, I'd love to help! =)

Please help me welcome and congratulate The Blue Team in the comments!!

More Valuable Advice From Pocono Real Estate Attorneys (Part II)


As I wrote in Part I of this series, the Attorney Panel that gave this year's presentation to us members of the Pocono Mountains Association of REALTORS was excellent. Attorneys William Cramer, Louis Powlette and Jane Roach Maughan enlightened us on many timely topics. It is always interesting to hear about the real estate business from another point of view, and with all of the hot topics boiling around in our business these days, it's even more riveting. Part I of this series addressed Attorney Cramer's presentation about common pitfalls in real estate transactions. This installment will discuss Attorney Powlette's discussion of Title Insurance Issues and Short Sales:

Seller-Paid Title Insurance

It is very common for bank- and relocation company- sellers to offer a paid title policy to a home buyer in a transaction. This seems, at first glance, to be a pretty good can save a buyer a substantial amount of money if they don't have to pay for title insurance themselves. The catch is that the seller chooses the title company, which is not standard practice. Buyers have the legal right to choose their own title insurance company, and usually do this based on recommendations by their real estate agent and/or their attorney.

Attorney Powlette says, "Accepting a title policy from the seller is not a good idea," and he gave several reasons why a buyer should say 'no thanks' and purchase their own title search and title insurance.

  • These banks and relocation companies buy their title work in bulk and the overburdened companies that are doing the searches and issuing title policies do a sloppy job. Also, these title insurers are almost never local companies and so they are not well versed in the intricacies of the local public records, closing procedures, etc.
  • There are myriad examples of properties being sold with title defects that were overlooked because of shoddy title work. Large real estate liens and previous owners who have not relinquished their claims to properties are some of the things that could threaten a buyer's standing as the true owner of the property after closing. Attorney Powlette cited a specific example where he did title work that revealed a federal tax lien. The prospective purchaser canceled the sale. After the property was put back on the market, a second buyer tried to buy (coincidentally using Powlette too!) and the same lien was still present. The seller was hoping to sell without a buyer questioning their title policy!
  • Another reason to decline the seller's offer of 'free' title insurance is, a real estate purchaser should have some assurance that the title policy underwriter is sound and stable. Should the underwriter ever go out of business, the title insurance policy becomes worthless. This is a great reason for a buyer to retain control of this aspect of the transaction.

Negotiating a Short Sale

These days many sellers are hoping to negotiate a short sale, that is ask their mortgage holder to accept less than what they are owed in order to allow the seller to sell the home at today's prices. Unfortunately, some owners who have their homes listed for sale through the Pocono Mountains Association of REALTORS MLS owe more than what they can currently get in today's market.

Attorney Powlette's recommendation is that a seller facing a short sale situation retain legal counsel to assist with the process. Yes, it sounds a bit self-serving of him to say that, but that's just not Lou's style :)...AND there are good reasons for his advice. A seller who tries to negotiate a short sale on their own, or a real estate agent who does it on the seller's behalf, assumes a lot of risk and liability. There are tax implications to selling short (shortfall can be considered income and therefore is taxed, for instance), and there are many legal issues surrounding the balance of the mortgage and the mortgagors remedies. A seller pursuing a short sale should have proper representation to be sure that their interests are served in the process.

One other caveat from Attorney Powlette: If you must cancel an Agreement of Sale because of unsuccessful short sale negotiations, a seller could be held liable for the buyer's expenses related to the transaction if the documents for the sale are not drafted properly. Always be sure to include the right contingencies when selling a property.

Contact Attorney Powlette at:

Louis D. Powlette Law Office

Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania 18360
Telephone: 570-424-8037
Fax: 570-424-0920
[email protected]

Please Subscribe to the Poconos Real Estate Blog to ensure that you don't miss the rest of this series. Part III will cover Attorney Maughan's inspiring presentation on avoiding foreclosure.

Related Reading:

Valuable Advice From Pocono Real Estate Attorneys (Part I)

Locust Lake Village Lot & Street Map

(Read below for a street and lot map of LLV)

Locust Lake Village is located in Pocono Lake, very near its sister community, Arrowhead Lake. The Village is an excellent choice for vacation home buyers and offers a laid-back, woodland setting. Home prices here range from $90,000 for a rustic cabin getaway to $500,000 for an elegant lake front home and everything in between. Dues are reasonable and the community is well maintained.

Here is a very handy lot and street map of the community which also shows the locations of the lakes, beaches, ski area, tennis courts and other community amenities. The map also shows lot numbers and allows you to see which lots adjoin the Brady's Lake State Forest.

Click here to see a street and lot map of Locust Lake Village

For more information on Locust Lake Village or other vacation home areas in and around Pocono Lake, PA, please contact me at 570.421.8950 ext. 394 or by email at [email protected]. Also, feel free to use my Pocono Mountains Association of REALTORS MLS / IDX Search Tool to find the perfect vacation getaway.

Valuable Advice From Pocono Real Estate Attorneys (Part I)


I attended the Pocono Mountains Association of REALTORS' Annual Legal Seminar in February and thought I would pass on the excellent information that was presented by the Attorney Panel, made up of William B. Cramer, Esquire, Louis D. Powlette, Esquire, and Jane Roach Maughan, Esquire, three highly regarded real estate attorneys (and, coincidentally, all Villanova University graduates!) based in Stroudsburg, PA. The Association hosts this seminar every year and inevitably we agents are treated a wealth of timely information to enhance our ability to provide service to our clients, and/or we get the pants scared off of us from hearing about some of the perils and lawsuits going on with regard to real estate. This year was a doozy because we got an earful of both! As you will read, the subject matter was timely, indeed.

Since there is so much information to share, I will split it in to three articles, each of which will cover the presentation by one of the attorneys on the panel. This is the first part of the three part series: Common Pitfalls of the Real Estate Transaction

Attorney Cramer, who I'd like to point out has served as Counsel to the Pocono Mountains Association of REALTORS since the 1980's, gave us an overview of some of the most common issues he observes in working with buyers and sellers in real estate transactions here in the Poconos:

Agreement of Sale & Related Documents

Real estate contracts and related paperwork need to be filled in properly, legibly and with dates, etc that make sense. Time is of the essence in Pennsylvania and transactional difficulties can be largely avoided by paying close attention to the paperwork. (This is a pretty basic Pennsylvania real estate concept, but we hear this every year. I guess it must be an ongoing problem.)

Proof of Property Ownership

Take the stress out of the transaction by getting documentation with regard to property ownership at the time the property is listed for sale. Sellers need to provide Death Certificates, Powers of Attorneys, Articles of Incorporation, etc at the signing of the contract, proving ownership and signing rights for properties owned by Heirs, Estates and Corporations. These documents will be required at the closing so it is best to have them ready and in the file early on. A common scenario here in the Poconos is that an owner of a property lives in New York or some other State. If that owner dies and in order for that property to be sold, you need an authorized signatory for the Estate. If you don't know this ahead of time and wait until it is time to close, you can often be faced with long delays as these details are worked out and the proper paperwork is produced. Ownership Documentation that is recordable, or in other words, legally acceptable as proof of ownership, is necessary for clear title to the property to be conveyed.

Certificates of Occupancy

These are now required in the Borough of East Stroudsburg. A Code Enforcement Inspection must be ordered at least 15 days before closing to ensure that the property complies with eight specific requirements. Be aware of this new law as failure to do so can hold up and even sometimes prevent closings. Things can get a little tricky when the property being conveyed is a foreclosure, as these sales are often done on an 'as-is' basis. The Ordinance does allow for these scenarios, but there are specific conditions to be met. So being well aware ahead of time is in everyone's best interest, whether they are buying or selling the home. Ordinance § 122.14: Download Prop. Ordinance Requiring CO Upon Sale of Property

Contact Attorney Cramer at:

Cramer, Swetz & McManus, PC

711 Sarah Street
Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania 18360-2196
Telephone: 570-421-5568
Fax: 570-421-5720
[email protected]

Please Subscribe to the Poconos Real Estate Blog to ensure that you don't miss the rest of this series. Part II will cover Attorney Powlette's eye-opening presentation on title insurance and short sales. Part III will cover Attorney Maughan's inspiring presentation on avoiding foreclosure.