Did you know Northeastern Pennsylvania has a wine trail? With autumn upon us, there are several hotspots in NEPA that you need to visit if you’re a wine lover. Though all the varieties may not be to your liking (and let’s face it, most of us have a preference!), you’re bound to discover some wines to enjoy.
Blue Ridge Vineyard & Winery
A great place to start is Blue Ridge Vineyard & Winery located in the Poconos. This wine tasting facility overlooks the vineyards as well as a Christmas tree farm. Born only eight years ago, this winery has more of a veteran-feel than that of a rookie in the region. I love its mission: “to simply add value to people’s lives.” Good wine, sights, sounds and friends will do that!
Visit them here: 239 Blue Ridge Road, Saylorsburg, PA 18353
Heading closer to the Greater Scranton area, we discover Wood Winery located in the North Pocono region. This establishment boasts smaller batches through the use of Pennsylvania-grown products. You get a sense of the love and dedication of family and craft here at their winery and rustic tasting room. They even feature the one-of-a-kind Chambourcin grape here.
Visit them here: 3491 Hornbaker Cemetery Road, Madison Township, PA 18444
Lucchi Family Wine Cellars
This winery located in Scranton’s West Side is the best Scranton has to offer! Three generations of vinters with over thirty-five different varietals, produced in an old-fashioned, homemade style. The original vines were planted by the family in the 1970s. They also feature PA brewed beers on site and pride themselves on great customer service.
Visit them here: 134 North Main Ave Scranton, PA 18504
Case Quattro Winery
This winery, established in 2015, is expanding fast. Recently, the Sebastianelli family opened a second location in Dunmore (its original location is in Peckville). The name of the winery is derived from their four family homes in Italy. To the best of my knowledge, they also host DIY wine glass craft nights at their locations. Check out this family-operated winery in the Greater Scranton area.
Visit them here: 1542 Main Street, Peckville, PA 18452 or 702 North Blakely Street, Dunmore, PA 18512
Maiolatesi Wine Cellars
Enjoy this private, tranquil setting with some great views of the sunset and countryside, from Maiolatesi’s extended deck. Much of wine tasting is about the experience, and this family has elevated that experience for wine-lovers over recent years. Looking to have a private event/party? Have this winery host it.
Visit them here: 32 Cabernet Drive, Scott Township, PA 18447
I can talk about wine forever. Personally, I love many of the Chairman’s Selections that the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board offers, but there’s something mystical about visiting wineries and having a taste for yourself (especially in the autumn season).
I would also like to bring your attention to these three wineries on the Endless Mountains Wine Trail, in the north and western parts of NEPA:
If you’re up for a drive and day trip, I highly recommend the following. They are some of my absolute favorites:
Maria Muchal Berta, an ambitious REALTOR® for over five years with our firm, has earned her Associate Broker’s license in the state of Pennsylvania.
“I always have a strong determination to succeed in anything I do,” emphasized Maria. “I’m a leader and always have been.”
This Northeastern Pennsylvania native, born and raised in Jessup, is driven by working and succeeding in the real estate. She has an affinity for learning more about the business, something that certainly benefits her clients along the way.
In the past, Maria attended post-secondary school at NYC’s Parsons, The New School for Design, where she landed an internship with Sony Music Group doing marketing and graphic design. During her school years, she worked at Express as a fashion expert and spent a summer assisting local designer, John Mackey. Over eight years ago, she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business majoring in Design and Management. Her passion for design pointed her toward real estate. While studying to become an appraiser, she earned her license to practice real estate. In 2016, she became a Certified Residential Appraiser and currently works for O’Hara Appraisal Group as an appraiser.
Maria loves to set goals for herself and then achieve them. She loves helping her clients succeed as well. “Besides the fact I love houses, my favorite part about this job is getting to know my clients,” remarks Maria. “Believe it or not but most I still keep in touch with and I consider them my friends.”
She’s also heavily involved in the community: Chairwoman of the Jessup Hose Company Wine Fest, Citizens for a Healthy Jessup, Ronald McDonald House, St. Joseph’s Center, among others.
Recovery of home values across the nation since the Great Recession has been uneven to say the least. Roughly half of the markets have recuperated. Of the major metros, the top 5 to nearly recover all their value over the past decade are Denver, CO (99.6%), San Antonio, TX (98.8%), Austin, TX (98.7%), San Jose, CA (98.7%) and Nashville, TN (97.9%). Whereas, the bottom 5 major metros to experience only a small fraction of their pre-recession values are Baltimore, MD (8.7%), Riverside, CA (6.5%), Orlando, FL (5.4%), Hartford, CT (3.7%) and Las Vegas, NV (0.8%). From a quick glance, one discovers these rebounds and severe deficiencies aren’t specific to a particular area of the country. Instead, the numbers are geographically sporadic at best.
The same goes for Northeastern Pennsylvania. Markets in the Greater Scranton area have fluctuated since the Great Recession. As a whole, Lackawanna county has been stable, similar to those top five major metros, rebounding roughly 98.2% of its pre-recession value.
Within our county (Lackawanna), here are how the school districts stack up against one another in either exceeding or falling short of those pre-recession home values:
|School District||% change in closed sales||% change in average sales price||% change in days on market|
|Forest City Regional||-33.9%||-29.6%||-19.2%|
Lackawanna County Home Values – All data from the Greater Scranton Board of REALTORS® (GSBR).
Since a decade ago, Lakeland has exhibited the best bounceback in home values: $143,397 (June 2007-June 2008) to $163,735 (June 2017-June 2018). It also had 40 more closed sales: 96 sales (June 2017-June 2018) versus 56 sales (June 2007-June 2008). Valley View experienced the most significant drop in market time: 58 days on market (June 2017-June 2018) versus 91 days on market (June 2007-June 2008). Lakeland, Dunmore and Valley View all appear to be very good shape in relation to where they were ten years ago.
Dianne Montana Named Managing Broker of Realty Network Group
Ann E. Cappellini, former President and managing Broker of Realty Network Group, officially turned her leadership responsibilities over to Dianne Montana, formerly an Associate Broker with the same firm. “I’m looking forward to working closely with Dianne to help grow the company. Dianne has the experience and creativity to move Realty Network Group forward through a very challenging market,” Cappellini said. “She has been an invaluable company resource and brings a fresh perspective to our firm.”
“This is a unique time to enter the real estate market, whether you’re a homebuyer, seller or real estate professional,” revealed Mark DeStefano, CEO and an owner of Realty Network Group. “We’re lucky we have the experience and dynamic leadership we do, here at Realty Network Group. Though Ann Cappellini is stepping down as the managing Broker of our agency, her ongoing presence through our network is invaluable. She’s a top-notch executive with thirty-seven years experience in our business. Dianne Montana likewise brings experience to our firm with a tremendous understanding of today’s players in the marketplace – homeowners, homebuyers and REALTORS®. She also has a skill for connecting with her colleagues as well as other professionals in the field. We’re excited about her leading our agency into the future.”
Dianne Montana has been with the company from the beginning and was previously acting as both an Associate Broker and the Director of Finance and Accounting Services for the firm. With a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and several real estate designations, she’s always looking to further her education. “Working with Ann over the past five years has been a constant learning experience,” reflected Montana. “Every transaction in this business is different and having a mentor like Ann has made this a natural transition for me. I love being part of this company and I’m excited about what’s to come.”
Northeastern Pennsylvania shares a challenge not too different from other areas of the country, in that housing inventory levels are some of the lowest observed in sixty years (according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City). There’s an inventory shortage as active listings in the Greater Scranton area are down 10.7% year-over-year, calculated through June 2018. Locally, new listings coming on the market over the past year have been down by over 6% year-over-year.*
* market statistics from the Greater Scranton Board of REALTORS®
Summer is almost here! The official start of summer, that is. I’ve never been more excited for summer time as I am this year: Weddings, summer fun with my children, parties, yard work, pool relaxation, escapades and the like. Alright, maybe I’m embellishing the yard work! You might even have a summer vacation planned soon as well.
Whether you’re seeking to update your yard for personal enjoyment, to entertain or to list your home on the market; we’ve put together five ways to help you achieve your summer goals. Planning a party or selling your home are night and day, so we’ve put together a simple starter list which will cover both.
Be mindful that after a long winter, which bled into spring (like the one we just had), it’s important to attend to some basics first before enhancing your property’s exterior. Observations such as foundational cracks, chipping paint, improper drainage and tree/shrub maintenance should all be addressed prior to giving your yard a facelift. Are your downspouts diverting water at least three feet away from your home’s foundation? Are your gutters free and clear from debris? Are your roof and foundation leak-free? Is there a safe distance between tree limbs on your property and powerlines? Is your family’s swingset still safe? These questions can easily be addressed and hopefully, if any of them pose an issue, they can be resolved ASAP over the summer months, depending on its severity.
Welcoming guests to your home can excite many of us. Repainting shutters, front door, side door or garage door can certainly accentuate curb appeal. It can provide a much needed facelift for potential homebuyers or put party goers in the mood to celebrate. If you’re selling, let this be an important idea you don’t soon forget: “[A] home’s first impression is its curb appeal, so when it comes time to sell, a well-manicured yard can be just as important as any indoor remodel.” (NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall)
Don’t Underestimate Mulch
When you’re planning to enhance your grounds, mulch is perhaps your #1 go-to. You’ve weeded, now what? You’ve edged, now what? Mulch, of course. It deters weeds from springing back into action and help your flower beds retain that much needed moisture. It’s make-up for your yard, if you ask me! Even out your old mulch and add more or go with a completely different look this season (cocoa mulch anyone?).
Score Huge With Plants
Plants and flowers can really add color and life to the “palate” of your neighborhood. Yes, a well-kept lawn is ideal, but even that can lack flavor and diversity. For that you can lean on a burst of color, which vibrant summer blossoms can provide. Wherever your main entry space is, grab attention with two large planters showing off purple wave petunias, marigolds, coneflowers or something of your choosing. Plants, like other outdoor furnishings, are a wonderful way to hide potential eyesores while adding color to your setting.
Whether you’d like to brighten and/or clean your siding, deck or patio; power-washing can go a long way in making others notice you care about your property. Though it shouldn’t be thought of as restoration per say, a pressure washer can transform the exterior of any home. This is a great option to invest in, especially if you’re seeking a budget-friendly one. You can even power-wash your outdoor or poolside furniture.
Finally, another great way to cover up blemishes around the exterior of your home is lighting. While having the right balance of lighting is important (you don’t want guests stumbling around in the darkness), it can hide some of your home’s less desirable exterior features, especially when summer entertaining. And while interior lighting might be more important than exterior when placing your home on the market, exterior lighting has the ability to set the ambient tone for prospective homebuyers during the late afternoon/evening hours.
We hope this list of five is straightforward enough for you to approach this summer season, whether you’re hosting a barbecue, placing your home on the market (shameless plug – we can do that for you!) or simply enjoying your yard. These points can help you transform your outdoor space in no time and provide you a sigh of relief this summer.
At Realty Network Group, we’re very excited to announce that Michael Joseph Sipsky III will be joining our network of real estate professionals. Michael comes to us with extensive knowledge in the field of behavior mental health, graduating from Sacred Heart University in Connecticut with a Masters degree in Applied Psychology. His experience and education have bolstered his ability to actively listen to the needs of others and help them achieve their goals.
Though real estate is a newer career path for Michael, he’s been interested in real estate trends for many years now. “I’ve always been fascinated with assessing a home’s value, discovering how location, trends and factors affect its value,” indicated Mr. Sipsky “Being mindful of ways to increase a home’s value for resale purposes or to enhance one’s enjoyment have also piqued my interest.” He has the skill set which will enable him to produce results for his clients. Active listening is often downplayed in our business, but as many a real estate professionals will tell you, it’s vital in today’s market. The bottom line is this business is about the people, not the agent.
In his free time, Michael enjoys hiking and landscaping. He was born and raised in Northeastern Pennsylvania and is very familiar with the surrounding communities as well as the resources and perks they offer. He’s looking to grow his business by using his knowledge of the region to find his clients neighborhoods and homes that are suitable for both their needs and desires.
Why choose Michael as your REALTOR? Considering that consumers need someone who will work tirelessly on their behalf in this unique market, while actively listening to their situation, he’s an asset to our firm and its clients.
For more agent information, listings and more, click here.
Realty Network Group is very proud to welcome T. J. Finley as the latest addition to their real estate agency. After successfully working with another local company, where Mr. Finley had many hands-on encounters in the real estate marketplace, he decided it was time for a change. After carefully considering numerous options, he chose Realty Network Group primarily due to the resounding endorsements received by real estate professionals at the firm. “The enthusiasm for the support provided by management, the in-house marketing and graphic design assets and company camaraderie, were integral reasons for my decision,” remarked Mr. Finley.
Over the last twenty years, he’s built an extensive portfolio as a designer, builder and developer of single-family residential, multi-family, commercial and industrial real estate projects. A real estate purchase is typically the largest investment a person will make in his/her lifetime. For that reason, it makes sense to engage a REALTOR® who understands the intricacies of construction and possesses an intimate knowledge of Northeastern Pennsylvania – someone who can help you navigate the process, in this market, from start to finish. In life, Mr. Finley applies the same proven and pragmatic techniques he’s utilized throughout his successful business and consulting career. He’s a multi-dimensional REALTOR®, who brings the joy he has experienced over the years into this business.
Education & Honors
Mr. Finley attended the University of Scranton, received an AS in Business Administration from LaSalle University and completed the National Apprenticeship and Training Council of Sheet Metal Workers – Four year Journeyman Certification program. He’s a graduate of the Penn State University real estate program. He and his wife Liz reside in the East Mountain section of Scranton and are the proud parents of three Penn State graduates and one beautiful granddaughter.
Real estate can be daunting, many even hesitate when considering if now is the right time for them to buy or sell. When the time comes to take the plunge, please consider Realty Network Group and T. J. Finley for your real estate needs.
“I know it, because I’ve done it!” emphatically states Mr. Finley.
For more agent information, listings and more, click here.
She’s a perfect home finder, or she doesn’t sleep, and she has a knack for mentoring up-and-coming professionals in our local real estate market. Realty Network Group is very excited to welcome Amy L. Kiesinger Bohenek back to the fold!
Ms. Kiesinger Bohenek has a long record of connecting buyers and sellers throughout the Greater Scranton area. With over sixteen years experience in this market, she’s closed numerous deals in real estate, which rests upon thirteen years of customer service experience, prior to her entering the real estate profession. She exemplifies hard work, integrity and creative negotiation in her transactions. She earned a degree in Real Estate Management from Luzerne County Community College and has enjoyed being an Associate Broker for over three years. Furthermore, she holds the Seller Representative Specialist (SRS) in addition to the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation. “I consider myself a lifelong learner and pride myself in furthering my knowledge, especially in the field of real estate,” asserts Ms. Kiesinger Bohenek.
“The wealth of experience Amy possesses is rare in our local market,” reflects Dianne Montana, Associate Broker of Realty Network Group. “We’re very excited to welcome her back. The reassurance she’ll offer our up-and-coming REALTORS® goes without saying.” Ms. Kiesinger Bohenek will be supporting and training these emerging professionals. Bringing peace of mind to both her peers and her clients, who might have struggled in one form or another in their real estate past, is a strength of hers as well. She’s truly passionate about the needs of her clients!
She has a passion for Penn State, traveling, family and enjoys the simple pleasures in life. In her free time, she’s involved in enhancing the local communities throughout both Lackawanna and Luzerne county by volunteering for worthwhile causes.
Have you struggled recently with achieving your real estate goals, whether you’re buying or selling? Are you hesitant to work with another REALTOR® after a less than optimal experience? Speak with Ms. Kiesinger Bohenek first to discover the options you have before make a decision you may later regret.
For more agent information, listings and more, click here.
The task of home buying is often a mysterious one. Many begin the process months or sometimes even years in advance. They’ve done their homework. They’ve combed the market, investigated various neighborhoods and have a grasp on the differences between one school district over another. Perhaps you can relate. As a prospective homebuyer, you may have seen over a dozen properties with your REALTOR® and you’re pre-qualified (with a mortgage lender) to make your move. You’re getting close.
In the excitement of purchasing a home, you can overlook things which might rub you the wrong way. Make sure to thoroughly review your inspection report, pay attention to your timetable and consult your agent for advice on how to stay grounded throughout the process. It’s not uncommon for the parties to a transaction in haste to mistaken certain items as being included in the sale, which are not part of your purchase.
Don’t get caught under the assumption that these are part of your deal. Keep your radar up and when in doubt, spell it out… in your sales agreement.
Before we go any further, we should clarify one important point with respect to fixtures. In real estate, fixtures are defined as physical property that are permanently fixed to real property, therefore becoming part of the property. Black’s Law Dictionary provides a succinct explanation of what fixtures are: “personal property that is attached to land or a building and that is regarded as an irremovable part of the real property.” For furtherer clarification, click here.
Here are six items some buyers wished were included in their home purchase that aren’t:
Flat-screen TVs aren’t going away any time soon. In fact, smart, Internet-ready televisions are presently part of the American dream. Netflix, Hulu and the like, in some ways, have elevated the home entertainment experience. Part of the experience includes things like responsive LED backlighting and wall-mounts for your TV. Unlike the backlighting, these mounts can create problems for buyers and sellers alike. Does the mount constitute a fixture or not? Taking the TV-mount off the wall almost certainly creates damage to the property that would need to be amended prior to the final walk-through. It’s definitely a source of debate between both parties.
You’ve fallen in love with that strange shower curtain in a home you’re attempting to buy. I get it, the curtain feels like the perfect fit and it’s already in place. Usually they’re in need of replacing and may have met their match with mildew over the months/years. But if you must have it, don’t hesitate to ask the seller and go from there.
Believe it or not, I’ve come across transactions over the years where sellers wanted to take the lighting fixtures with them. Perhaps a chandelier was a family heirloom or an antique that couldn’t be replaced and the homeowner never had any intentions of selling it with the home. Regardless of the reason for wanting to remove it, the seller must spell this out ahead of time to avoid fire and fury. Sandy Gadow has a good post regarding this issue. Of course, I think the best advice for any owner who plans to keep a lighting fixture is to remove and replace it with something appropriate prior to the home being placed on the market.
It’s no secret, we brought this news story to your attention last summer – millennials love their pets. With millennials now constituting over one-third of the homebuyers in the national market, I believe we’ll witness even more situations where sellers and buyers want pets included with the home purchase. Do you want Sadie or Duke to live in the only home they’ve ever known even after you move? It wouldn’t be the first time that request has been made.
Yes, even the hot tub can become a source of trepidation between the parties to a real estate transaction. As a buyer, you don’t want to assume it stays only to complete your pre-settlement walk-through or worst yet, move into your new home to discover the hot tub is missing from the property. Hot tubs and spas come in all different shapes and sizes. There are so many variations to tub design and how they are hooked up to a property that what truly constitutes a fixture in these situations can be quite complicated.
If staged right, many homes, especially in the luxury market can inspire home shoppers to act. They can even feel compelled to want everything included in the sale of the home. At times such as these, it’s important for homeowners and buyers to negotiate the terms of their agreement. Furniture isn’t usually included, but there are instances where a homebuyer will desire particular pieces of furniture as part of the sale. Antique furniture is more closely associated with the real property, but even in those cases, clarification is needed.
The moral of the story is this: Be as detailed as possible when creating the terms to your agreement of sale for real estate. Sellers need to give some hard thought to items they intend to take with them when they move. Homebuyers need to likewise never assume an item, which may or may not be considered a fixture will be left behind for their use. The easiest way to avoid anger and confusion is by writing it out in the agreement.
The excitement of homebuying can sweep you off your feet (like that first time you saw Empire Strikes Back). In fact, it’s quite easy to lose your cool when you fall in love with a home. And why not? It has most everything you’ve wanted in your ideal home since you began looking five months ago. Everything is peachy… perfect!
You’re now in a very dangerous place. Your emotions are high, your defenses are down. It’s easy to pass over a home’s flaws when you’re ‘all in.’ As journalist Cathie Ericson best puts it: “It was your dream home – until it wasn’t.” When you’re in the hunt for a home, pay close attention to issues that appear to be very costly or seem potentially larger than only your surface observations. Be mindful of possible issues that can extend beyond the walls of the home too.
We’ve pinpointed eight telltale things below you simply cannot neglect when actively searching for a home in today’s market.
Larger cracks in the structure of a home shout ‘enter at your own risk.’ They can even flash in red and say ‘don’t buy me.’ A cracked foundation can be a mess and usually isn’t worth your time or resources. Are there doors in the home which don’t close as they should? When you walk through the property, do the floors feel uneven? These can point right to structure or foundation issues.
Water Where There Shouldn’t Be
When I first delve into real estate well over a decade ago, I was told water in a home was the root of all evil. Though not often overlooked by homebuyers, emotions can blind us to this potential problem, until we find ourselves knee-high in it. Are you aware of the probable signs of water damage when you walk through a home? Do you see any signs of discoloration? Do you sense a musty or mildew smell? Are the home’s systems/storage elevated off the basement floor? These may all be signs that water is the culprit and a bigger problem than the seller disclosing.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Many prospective homebuyers don’t give this much thought, but they should do their due diligence and survey the neighborhood. They should talk to neighbors, if they can. Quiet is a very subjective term in real estate, yet you may be concerned with the decibel level on the block? Sometimes neighborhood conditions at day or at night vary greatly.
The Windows Won’t Budge
If you’ve looked at numerous homes you’re bound to come across this issue. In Northeastern Pennsylvania between the weather changes, homeowners painting their frames with the windows shut and their age, you can really be in for it. Don’t overlook your outlets to the outdoors. If you do, it can cost you energy efficiency, money and comfort-ability.
Don’t Forget About Resale
You may live in your home for ten or twenty years or you might need to sell three or four years from now. You may not think purchasing a two bedroom home is a big deal, but the next buyer might. The traffic on your street may not bother you, but it might be a deal-breaker for the next buyer. When purchasing a property, always take into account its resale value.
A Specialist Is Needed
Sometimes you need to call on a professional. There are times when a home inspector will be all a prospective buyer requires for reassurance, but there will be other times when an uneven floor, dead trees on the lot or a septic system, for instance, may require a more thorough investigation and the proper specialist to do that.
One In Five Could Fall Victim To This
Did you know that 20% of homeowners are members of a homeowners or condo association? If you have serious interest in a property, which is part of a homeowners association (HOA), make sure to obtain a copy of the covenants and restrictions for that association. Your REALTOR® can provide you with a copy. It’s important to know what the HOA does and does not permit before you make a commitment to purchase.
Don’t Get Overwhelmed
The process of homebuying is a wonderful one, filled with adventure to say the least. It’s a solid investment where you can live and make memories, but don’t let your emotions override how you would normally handle most other situations. Buying the wrong home can set you back. When you find a home you love, step back from the front lines and give it serious thought (remember, this is a large investment). Analyze what you can afford based upon your budget. Think about the surprise costs that might come your way on any given year for maintenance and repairs. Consider the home’s condition. Consider the utility bills. Throughout this process, it’s important to remind yourself not to be overwhelmed.