The Winners Are – Readers’ Choice Awards 2014

The Winners Are

The readers have spoken! Or should I say the voters have spoken?! In any case, the people have voiced their opinion, the votes have been tallied and the winners are in…

…and it’s not Tinker Bell:

But in all seriousness, though REALTORS® don’t have pixie dust to get around, they do have their clients’ best interests in mind. Any good agent will tell you this is enough to keep him/her going. As real estate consumers, it’s okay to dream about that perfect fit, in an ideal neighborhood, with a school district that makes the grade and home you can call “home.” At Realty Network Group, we attract a qualified pool of buyers looking to take the plunge into the Northeastern PA real estate market. It’s our job to connect these buyers to sellers, preferably (and we make no secret about it) to our own sellers, if it’s the right fit.

The winners are our clients! We hope they think so too. If they find what they were looking for, over a reason period of time and our company (their REALTOR®) can facilitate the sale with ease, beyond the settlement date; and our clients are happy, then we’ve reach our goal.

And The Winners Are

Recently, we’ve been awarded three honors through the Times-Tribune’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2014:

Best Real Estate Company – Realty Network Group

Best Real Estate Website –

Best Real Estate Agent – Jamie Hape, Realty Network Group

(you can read more about Jamie here)

We would like to take this opportunity to send heartfelt thanks for your support in helping us be one of the best real estate firms in NEPA!

All the winners for the Readers’ Choice Awards will be posted here as well as a special Sunday winners section in the Scranton Times on September 28, 2014.

Top Five NEPA Activities To Pursue Before The End Of Summer

Top five NEPA activities: There’s about four weeks left until we’re greeted by the unofficial end of summer.  What have you accomplished this summer?  Have you completed that spring cleaning yet?  I haven’t.  Maybe you’ve already been on vacation, but you’re looking to do a few smaller activities with family or friends.  Or perhaps you want to get out there to simply enjoy this wonderful little microcosm of New England, aka Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Here are five stops you should definitely consider before this summer comes to a close (These top five NEPA activities are in no particular order):

  • Sharks! Exhibit (Everhart Museum, Scranton) – This exhibit runs through September 8 and features your favorite friends from the sea.  The museum has had many good exhibits in the past, but this is perhaps one of their best.  Alessandro De Maddalena, an acclaimed shark scientist, photographed some of the earth’s most feared monsters (South African Great Whites to be exact).  To get the full effect, click here, close your eyes and listen.  You can find out more information about this daily event here.
  • “Flutterarium” (Bear Mountain Butterfly Sanctuary, Jim Thorpe) – This hands-on educational center has a butterfly flight room, frog room, kid’s art space, nature-based gift shop and more.  Many people love butterflies and this sort of thing.  I get it, but let me just say locusts are only winged-insects that give me more of the willies than butterflies (thankfully spiders don’t have wings!)  You can visit the center Thursday through Monday from 11a-5p (6p on Friday) and Tuesday/Wednesday 2p-6p.  For more information, visit their site here.  If you live closer to Wyoming County, then the Butterfly House at Creekside Gardens in Tunkhannock might be more to your liking.  Click here for more information.
Top Five NEPA Activities

Countryside Conservancy


  • The Great Outdoors (Lackawanna State Park, North Abington Twp) – Don’t worry, nothing to fear in this activity (well, okay, maybe black bears)!  If you’re seeking something to satisfy your nature cravings, then the state park is for you.  Swimming, hiking, fishing, camping, cooking out, children’s play areas and more is offered at this state park approximately ten miles north of Scranton.  On the fringes of the Lackawanna State Park, the Countryside Conservancy features some hidden gems for you to enjoy.  They’re my favorite thing to do at the state park – hiking, walking and mountain bike trails.  Check out the site here, which also includes a map of the trails.



  • When You Wish Upon A Star (Thomas G. Cupillari ’60 Observatory at Keystone College, Fleetville) – This is hidden gem in NEPA!  Who doesn’t like to look at our universe?  The observatory is a short drive from Keystone College’s La Plume campus, just off Route 107.  Observatory lectures and observations of planets, stars, nebulae, etc. are available free of charge to the public.  For more information, go to the observatory’s site here.
  • Let’s Play Ball! (PNC Field, Moosic) – The summer is quickly coming to a close and we’ll get more of that white stuff soon.  (You know it’s coming!)  The new stadium is really a treat.  In my opinion, there’s not a bad seat in the house.  It has a new open feel to it and there are many activities for the family to do.  Did you know there’s a birthday room there too?  There are only six home series left.  Go out, catch a game and support your Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.  For more information about the team, stadium or their schedule, click here.

I hope you enjoyed these top five NEPA activities and recommendations.  Please let us know your thoughts and where you’ve gone this summer.

This is My Scranton

This is My Scranton.  Scranton has quite a history through its golden age in the 1950s to today.

Similar to my family roots, many came from various parts of Europe in the search of a better life in earlier part of the twentieth century.  Heck, my grandfather was even named Americo.  He left a world behind in Sassoferrato (le Marche region), Italy, which is about 145 miles north of Rome, Italy.  [Learn more about this tiny Italian town here.]  My grandfather comes to America with three of his four brothers in 1917, leaving much of his family behind for Scranton.  This is My Scranton.

This is My Scranton








It’s the story of many of us.  Though we might not remember the minute details of our ancestors, our family tree or perhaps why they even settled where they did, the fact remains that our roots are theirs.  In many instances we became Scrantonians, because they were first.  We love Steamtown USA, because they loved it initially.  My grandfather lived in Scranton, close to Tripps Park, my father grew up in a funeral home, left for Pittsburgh for more post-secondary schooling, but eventually came back to… you guessed it, Scranton!  I grew up in North Scranton.  Some of my earliest memories are of this town.  This is My Scranton.

This is My Scranton

There’s a wonderful video contest happening, which you can take part in (about three weeks remain for entry submission).  For more information about the contest and to find out how you can enter before time runs out, go to MyScranton’s site.  Also like the campaign’s Facebook page today.

I also really encourage everyone to recapture your fondest memories of Scranton and more importantly how your family and friends have impacted this region of Northeastern Pennsylvania.  For more information on what the area has to offer, you can VisitNEPA, area attractions or even call one of our professionals at Realty Network Group.  This is My Scranton.  Tell us why you love Scranton!

Realty Network Group Welcomes Jamie Hape

Realty Network Group Welcomes Jamie Hape: Realty Network Group, a premier real estate firm in Northeastern Pennsylvania, predicates itself on connecting buyers and sellers in the marketplace.  While this is one of their primary goals, it only can be achieved through consistency in matching their clients’ needs, in order for them to receive the best care possible.  Goals are reached through open communication and REALTORS® who foster a high touch, high tech approach to marketing and selling homes.

Jamie Hape, a life-long native of Northeastern PA, is devoted to such an approach.  Realty Network Group welcomes Jamie to their network of professional agents and believes she will complement their team, while fostering their mission of placing the clients’ goals paramount.

Realty Network Group Welcomes Jamie Hape

She is excited to start her new career path in real estate, hoping to exceed her clients’ expectations.  She recently earned her license to practice real estate.  Prior to that, her main focus was home staging and interior design, where she worked directly with clients to understand their desires and interests, creating a picture perfect result.  She’s well-qualified to consult and create in this arena – she graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh as well as the Haverhill Institute of Home Staging & Design.

Jamie prides herself on customer loyalty and satisfaction.  She has over four years of customer service experience working for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (SWIF).  In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering at local animal shelters, spoiling her two Shih Tzu’s (Savannah and Marley), restoring/refinishing furniture, hiking and exercising.

She looks forward to new challenges and building valuable relationships.  Home buyers and sellers, Jamie is dedicated to fulfilling her clients’ needs through a high touch, high tech customer experience.  Contact me today with any questions you have about real estate, which are important to you.

Realty Network Group welcomes Jamie Hape!

Three Reasons Why Millennials Are The Key To Economic Growth

Here are three reasons why Millennials are the key to economic growth – Last year was a solid year for real estate in Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) in addition to numerous areas throughout our country, but there are multiple factors to look at in projecting future achievement.  And although, predicting real estate success is more accurate than weather forecasting (even with the use of Doppler radar and weather satellites), there are also several variables found in the winds of change in the real estate landscape.

Among homebuyers, the largest group for housing consumption is the Millennials.  This population is well versed in the use of new technologies, martial arts and is beginning to outnumber the baby boomer generation.*  Alright, I was joking about their martial arts abilities!  How is the largest age generation since the boomers impacting real estate growth?  Why could they hold the key for a brighter future in this industry?

Three Reasons Why Millennials Are The Key To Economic Growth

Millennials are directly impacting the real estate industry.












Here are three reasons why Millennials are the key to economic growth:

  • As national home sales continue to rebound, we’ll begin to see the National Association of REALTORS®’s (NAR) 2011 claim that for each home sold two jobs will be created within that local economy.  Millennials (aka Generation Y), who are those under the age of thirty-four, compose 31% of recent home purchases.**  This group can directly impact job-creation, and in effect, aid their our cause.  Many Millennials have post-secondary education, but no job where they’re able to support themselves living on their own.  It’s not uncommon that a significant portion of this generation still resides with one or both of their parents.  If this year is anything like last, many real estate markets will stabilize.  This stabilization will cause a decrease in unemployment and positively influence economic growth.  This generation is absolutely involved in this process, and again, a major player.
  • According to Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, Gen Y is poised to invest further in real estate as they see worthy assets when purchasing property.  He stated that they’re aspiring to make long-term investments in home ownership and within this group there was “a potential for strong underlying demand.” **  I believe the influence of the law of supply and demand, as it pertains to real estate, is often underestimated.  Here in NEPA, we have a stable inventory, but one whose months’ supply of homes (absorption rate) is at its lowest since the end of 2008.  If absorption rates continue in this manner, markets throughout the country create good situations for themselves. reported that although inventory levels at the end of last year were approximately the same as compared to those at the end of 2012, homes were selling faster.  We’re seeing this in NEPA as well.  The combination of a high demand consumer (in the Millennial) with a shrinking inventory will produce positive economic growth.
  • Realistically, there are several factors that could negatively affect these upward trends: Mortgage rates that are beginning to creep up, declines in home affordability index and high debt loads just to name a few.  This generation fines themselves smack dab in the middle of it all and often is unable to cope with these challenges in comparision to the baby boomers or even Generation X (the age group typically identified as being born between the early 1960s and the late 1970s). If Millennials can overcome many of these hurdles, they’ll become huge factors to real estate markets nationwide.  I believe these potential obstacles mean the difference between short term success for the economy or long-term stability and growth.
Three Reasons Why Millennials Are The Key To Economic Growth

Generation Y will be major players in your real estate market.


All in all, it does look promising here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  We’ve seen a 5.7% year-over-year increase already in the number of properties that have gone under contract through March 14, 2014.  Sold properties are also on par with those from last year (year-over-year).***  Last year was the Greater Scranton Area’s strongest year in real estate growth since 2008.  All indications look positive and we believe the Millennial generation will play a significant part in boosting our local economy and we’re hoping our national economy as well.



We hope you enjoyed reading “Three Reasons Why Millennials Are The Key To Economic Growth.”  Please share your thoughts with us.


* Over the next fifteen years, Millennials will outnumber baby boomers seventy-eight million to fifty-six million. (Better Homes and Gardens 2014 annual report/survey)

** 2014 National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Home Buyer & Seller Generational Trends study (

*** Greater Scranton Board of REALTORS® (GSBR) FlexMLS statistics from 1-1-13 to 3-14-13 and 1-1-14 to 3-14-14

Do You Know How Technology Is Changing New Construction?

Do you know how technology is changing new construction? Technology is becoming more stream-lined nowadays, stripping away the peripherals and many add-on devices we’ve been accustomed to over the years.  Instead, there’s more collaboration and with that comes engagement.  Tech is finding its way into our minute-to-minute lives: Smart devices, automobiles that now brake for themselves, and from what I gather, Nike has just announced “self-tying” sneakers to be released in 2015 (reminiscent of Marty McFly’s shoes in Back To The Future II

Do You Know How Technology Is Changing New Construction?

Marty McFly’s “self-tying” sneakers

Houses are no exception.  The integration of technology systems into the home has shown its face in recent years.  What has begun to facilitate security and safety is now very much catering to a home owner’s entertainment and leisure desires.  What began as a toy for the wealthy is becoming a reality for everyone.  Today, more consumers are aware of the possibility that tech systems can be incorporated into their homes.  This is one of the factors driving the industry.  The demands are higher: People want to experience streaming media at a moment’s notice, wherever they are, but especially in their residence!  And it is more than only media.  The user wants to control their lighting, appliances, other devices, surveillance systems and the like.

Recently, I visited family in Maryland and surprisingly had my first experience with Apple TV.  The reason I say surprisingly is because I own numerous Apple products, but I had yet to see one of those boxes in action.  Rumors are now flooding cyberspace that Amazon is making a “smart home push” by early spring.  If these whispers are true, Amazon TV will be the response (and threat) to Apple TV.  Amazon is a beast when it comes to value.  They understand how to undercut all the competition and have a consistent, successful track record of delivering on their promises.  You can read more about their upcoming TV box here:

Do You Know How Technology Is Changing New Construction?

Smart Home Technology

This smart home technology is simplifying people’s lives.  Real estate buyers, who have the means, look to simplify their lives.  The smart home push, albeit a big one, is another step in the home comfort and efficiency process.  The evolution of TV boxes, such as Apple, Roku, Amazon, and perhaps soon Google too, will completely revolutionize the American home entertainment industry.  Do you know how technology is changing new construction? New home construction will certainly mimic and compliment this evolution.  What changes in real estate construction do you foresee being adapted?  Do you agree this technology is simplifying consumers’ lives?  Share your thoughts with us.

Adorable Retriever And Real Estate – What Do They Have In Common?

An adorable retriever and real estate – What do they have in common?  No, I’m not referring to a competitor’s former mascot (but that would be a good guess).  A cute little puppy is enjoyed by all, especially by the children in our families.  There’s something about those little floppy ears, their uncoordinated swagger and their pure innocence.

Real estate does for the family what the puppy does for the family – Provides many wonderful memories, which can last a lifetime.  I still remember and miss my only dog, Daisy, a toy fox terrier who was named after Daisy Fuentes, believe it or not.  Inevitably, every time I recall my dog, I think of her as a puppy, because she was always a puppy to me (even in her older age).  Memories of my dog almost always draw me back to life on my parents’ ranch.  All these years later – roughly two decades, Daisy still reminds me of home and brings a smile to my face.

This Sunday night, during the Super Bowl, we’ll all be reminded of how puppies can soften our heart and enhance our family: Budweiser will be featuring a new commercial titled “Puppy Love.” It will bring a smile to your face (see below).  Yes, there still is a place for canines on the home-front!


Budweiser’s ‘Puppy Love’ Super Bowl Commercial Is Irresistibly Heartwarming

Richard Feloni (Business Insider) – January 29, 2014, 10:00 AM

Adorable Retriever And Real Estate - What Do They Have In Common?

Photo courtesy of YouTube/Budweiser

Budweiser is once again poised to win over the hearts of Super Bowl viewers with “Puppy Love,” the sequel to last year’s incredibly popular “Brotherhood.”

The actor Don Jeanes returns to his role as the head of Warm Springs Ranch in Missouri, where the beer company raises its iconic Clydesdale horses. Actress (and former swimsuit model) Melissa Keller is introduced as the owner of a puppy adoption center next door.

A wily little Labrador Retriever manages to keep escaping to the horse farm to see his best bud, a Clydesdale.

Eventually, a man arrives to buy the 10-month-old pup. He’s wearing sunglasses and is on his smartphone when the beautiful manager of the puppy center tries to hand over the dog. See what happens when this city slicker tries taking our hero away from his special friend, and the song “Let Her Go” by Passenger starts getting you misty-eyed:


The agency Anomaly produced the 60-second ad, as well as last year’s “Brotherhood.”

Budweiser and Anomaly have another emotional 60-second commercial running during the game, also featuring Clydesdales. “A Hero’s Welcome” is about the parade the company gave 1st Lt. Chuck Nadd when he returned home from a tour in Afghanistan in early January.

(Story taken from


Realty Mobile Alerts

Realty Mobile Alert: Local Real Estate Firm Continues Mobile Offerings, Connecting Home Buyers & Sellers

CLARKS SUMMIT, PA (September 20, 2013) – More consumers are beginning to rely on their mobile devices for real estate news, data, agents, but most especially for listings. According to the latest statistics from the National Association of REALTORS®, home buyers make use of the Internet in their home search ninety percent of the time, a slight increase over last year’s numbers [National Association of REALTORS® 2013 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends]. There’s also recent evidence of similar numbers with respect to mobile Internet search usage: Ninety percent of smartphone users employ the Internet daily from their mobile devices [“Ignoring Mobile Search… Think Again!” via Marketing Exchange, September 2013 infographic].

Mobile offerings for real estate consumers, especially the younger generation, are critical. Real estate, like many other industries, has done a better job over the last few years of meeting the home buyer and seller where they are! They are on the road; they are shopping; they are working; they are raising a family (or taking care of one); they are socializing in organizations, restaurants and bars; they are never home or they are always home; they are renting; they are dreaming; they are saving and they are spending. Wherever they are, chances are, they are connecting to family and friends through their smart device. It is here that they are connecting to businesses there as well.

“Real estate needs to meet the consumer on their terms and on their playing field,” stresses Greg Solfanelli, Director of Marketing & Consumer Experience at Realty Network Group. “Our company has recently released a product, Realty Mobile Alerts, designed with the home buyer in mind, where those who sign up for the service will receive the latest and greatest listings to hit the market daily. In addition to the obvious advantage for buyers in the community, this service will also profit our sellers – giving their listings more exposure in the marketplace.” “There’s been such advancement in real estate technology over recent years,” emphasizes Realty Network Group’s President/Broker, Ann Cappellini. “Since its beginning, our company has embraced this high tech approach of connecting buyers and sellers. Realty Mobile Alerts is the next step in our evolution. We remain committed to leading real estate innovation in Northeastern Pennsylvania.”

Realty Mobile Alerts - The Abingtons

Initially this service will benefit those looking for new listings in the Abingtons, but in the not-so-distant future, Realty Network Group will be expanding their product to include other communities. In order to be the first to know when a new home hits the market in the Abington Heights School District, sign up today for Realty Mobile Alerts. Anyone with a smartphone can register for this service [*message and data rates may apply]. There’s no obligation and you can cancel at any time. Sign up today by visiting

Lead You The Way Home

Maria MuchalLead you the way home: Maria Muchal is one of Realty Network Group’s recent additions.  Maria is a life-long resident of Jessup and a graduate of Valley View High School (2006).  Her diverse skill set led her to pursue marketing, public relations and design at Parsons The New School for Design located in New York City.  There she received her BBA in Design & Management (2010).  She’s a freelance designer for both graphic and interior, whenever she has free time.

Besides her passion for fashion, Maria spends much of her day immersed in real estate.  As a pre-service residential appraiser, she mentors under Barbara J. O’Hara at O’Hara Appraisal Group.  She’s in the process of working toward becoming a full-time appraiser and full-time REALTOR®.  Her interest in design also fuels her interest in homes: “I love everything about them; their styles, interior components, architecture, but most of all, I love what many buyers love about them – walking into a home and envisioning adding my own personal touch.”

When asked why she chose our firm, she stated: “I’ve always had an interest in the local real estate market and in Realty Network Group’s marketing and advertising. I sense this is the right place to start a career.  It’s a company with a very friendly Broker and associates who are willing to help each other and work as a team.  Through these relationships, the company conveys confidence to its clients.  I want to be part of that!”

If you need someone who’ll work hard for you, helping you to realize the possibilities of a home, contact Maria Muchal today at or 570.335.4469 (cell).

“I’ll lead you the way home.”

Learning Where To Live

Learning where to live: I fondly remember my childhood “back to school” trips to the store in August.  I was always the nervous kid.  I resisted, like many of us, change in all its ugly forms, especially a change in academic subjects, school buildings or worst yet – a change in school districts.  There was always the adventure of school shopping though.  We were able to purchase pencils and those erasers in the shapes of your favorite sports or cartoon characters (I vaguely remember my Thundercat erasers) among other things.  I would often attempt to justify, to my parents, items I couldn’t live without for the upcoming school year.

It’s an exciting time for students, but it can also be somewhat intimidating or frightening.  I know, I was in those shoes!  I bounced around to a few different schools and I’m sure, like many of you, had to make friends all over again.  It was nerve-racking.  Going back to school can be anxiously anticipated by parents as well as their children.  A recent survey by highlighted the how important school districts are in the home search process.  Pertaining to home purchases, 91% of those surveyed said school boundaries matter.  For more information on this survey and learning where to live, click here.

Back To School

How do school districts play into your home buying habits?

A majority of buyers will go over budget to find the right school district for their family; therefore it shouldn’t come to us as a shock when many use this as a barometer on learning where to live.  Though perhaps it’s a little late to find a new school district (home) this fiscal year, this is an important area which shouldn’t be overlooked if you have a family or your family is growing.  There are many tools available for comparing school districts in Pennsylvania such as the PA School District Statistical Snapshot Database. There’s also a comparision tool for SAT scores broken down by school district.  It doesn’t end there though, our network of REALTORS® have many other resources to share in order for you to find the right district and the right home.

Learning where to live can be challenging and should not be left to chance.  Call or email us today to find the right fit.  Now for some cake!

Back To School Cake

Yum! (photo credited to Mari Hernandez-Tuten)