Good Advice

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

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.

The Latest Real Estate Myths Explained

You Want the Facts, Right?

Check out this video entitled '5 Biggest Real Estate Myths' which details several of the most common misconceptions surrounding the real estate industry today. Whether you are thinking of buying or selling a home, or refinancing a mortgage in the Poconos or anywhere, this information is invaluable.

Watch it, even if you just want to sound smart at cocktail parties!

Fun Factoids at Your Fingertips (Watch & Learn!)

1. How to spot a desperate home seller
2. Timing your real estate purchase for a great buy
3. How much money you *don't* need for a down payment
4. Why now just might be the right time to sell your property
5. Where to get the best deal on a mortgage loan refinance

Presenting: 5 Biggest Myths of Real Estate

Thank you to Ines Hegedus-Garcia, of and mojito fame, for sharing this at AgentGenius.

And of course...if you have specific questions or concerns about Pocono real estate, don't hesitate to contact me via email or phone 570.421.8950 ext. 394.

Top Ten Home-Selling Tips

This video provides some great advice for selling your home, in the Poconos or anywhere. It's a good idea to start preparing now if you plan on putting your house on the market in the Spring, and this little production is just the ticket to get you headed in the right direction. Yes, I know it's only January, but a well-prepared seller is a happy seller with a sold home in her future!

Oh, and if you're a big Elvis fan, you might want to sit down before hitting 'Play' ;)

If you have any questions or need some detailed and personalized advice on preparing your home for sale, don't hesitate to contact me via email or phone 570.421.8950 ext. 394.

(A big thank you to Lani Rosales at Agent Genius for finding this gem and making me post it!!)

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 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 or 570.421.8950 ext. 394. I have lots creative ideas and know how to market your home to sell!)