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 REALTOR.com 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)

Finding The Perfect Match

Finding the perfect match in real estate can be just what you’ve been missing!  Yes, the search can be frustrating at times even with the best circumstances in play (i.e. your trust REALTOR® working hard for you, qualified buyers who are actively searching, reasonable/motivated sellers in the market, mortgage monies available, etc.).  Other factors like inventory and amenities exist, which depending on availability, can motivate home purchasers to act quickly.  With that being said, I believe a home’s personality can clash with the buyer’s tastes.  A home has a personality?

What I mean by this that each property has a profile and based how in ranks in key areas (such as location, age, square footage, roof’s condition) or subsequent, but no less important, categories (like décor, amenities, acreage, bedrooms); we understand there’s a match component for a particular buyer.  Though I’m unaware of any home compatibility scores out there for consumers, there are questions (when properly reviewed with your agent) can shed light on a particular home’s compatibility.  What do you desire in a home?  What top features are on your wish list?  What do homes in your market offer in the neighborhoods or school districts you desire?  These are honest questions most home buyers begin asking themselves in the “dreaming” stage of owning a home.

I’m hopeful that research for this technology is underway.  Finding the perfect match can be formulated from mapping essential MLS data over consumer survey information on an individual basis.  Home buyers would input their wants, preferences, budget, desires and the like and be able to find listings (aka matches).  Yesterday was the release of Twine (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/twine/id586164302?ls=1&mt=8), a social networking – dating match app.  This service, apparently claiming to be unlike any other app, matches people (who are geographically nearby) based upon their shared interests and not their looks.  Although a property’s curb appeal is important, I believe the key to home compatibility for any buyer can be discovered in how it matches up with MLS and survey data.  In other words, do the home and the consumer have shared interests?

home compatibility

Do the home and the consumer have shared interests?











Residential real estate sales are both emotional as well as logical purchases.  In today’s market, they are sought on a high touch, high tech playing field (or should be).  Finding the perfect match, like dating, can be aided with finding the perfect REALTOR® and utilizing an app which can analyze and break it all down for the purchaser.

REALTORS® Need To Lead The Way

REALTORS® need to lead the way: A trial has begun in California this week which sheds light on how something toxic, which has been around for more than a century in this country, is still showing its ugly face (or chipping walls) — lead-based paint.  Five major corporations: Atlantic Richfield Company, ConAgra Grocery Products Company, E.I. du Pont de Nemours, NL Industries, Inc. and the Sherwin-Williams Company are facing a civil trial where ten cities and counties are seeking $1 billion in costs to reverse some of the harmful effects of this “public nuisance.”

lead-based paint

Peeling paint can be hazardous if it contains lead











Lead-based paint has been this nuisance, since before 1978.  Thirty-five years ago, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission banned paint containing more than 0.06% lead.  Since then sellers and landlords are required to fully-disclosure the potential of the existence of this paint, whether or not they have knowledge of it being used, and that it may exist if the home was constructed prior to 1978.  REALTORS® and their firms must assist and provide full-disclosure of this to their customers and clients as well.

This is important stuff!  The first line of the lead warning statement, provided to our clients, declares: “Housing built before 1978 may contain lead-based paint.”  It seems like a harmless statement, but according to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (in 1991), lead was “the number one environmental threat to the health of children in the United States.”  Last year, the CDC had gone on record as saying that “even at the lowest levels, lead causes permanent neurological damage to children, decreasing IQ and causing other serious health consequences.”

Regardless of how this court case turns out, our children need to be protected from this harmful substance.  It can affect them in addition to adults when it deteriorates and goes airborne.  Our team of professionals at Realty Network Group and those associates in the Greater Scranton Board of REALTORS® have a duty of doing everything in their power to protect families and their children throughout the homeownership process.

For more information about lead-based paint, its harmful effects and what you can do to protect your loved ones, please download the Protect Your Family From Lead In The Home pamphlet.

Don’t be “MisLEAD,” lead-based paint is not a joke.

How Selling Is Everything In Real Estate

Selling is everything…

In case you missed it, last week the Valley View Girls’ softball team won the Pennsylvania AAA State Title, defeating Fort LeBoeuf (located in Waterford, PA in Erie County).  They cruised right along on the way to their state championship, displaying their Cougar colors and making NEPA proud!

Image taken from The Times-Tribune's High School Sports Blog

Valley View Softball 2013: Valley View’s Gina Chieffallo continues to perform at a very high level for the Cougars.

You can check out WNEP 16 TV’s coverage of their state title here: http://wnep.com/2013/06/15/valley-view-defeats-ft-leboeuf.  We also have a congratulatory message coming out in a few days on local television (ESPN, Fox News and HGTV).  Please check back for more information.

Although this was a wonderful feat, winning isn’t everything.  I’m certainly not trying to diminish what they accomplished.  I know it can be cliché and I know you probably heard your parents or perhaps coaches say this hundreds of times in your life.  Well, I’ll say it again – Winning isn’t everything.

Realty Network Group sells homes

In real estate, selling (NOT winning) is everything!

In real estate, selling (not winning) is everything!  And yes, there is a difference.  Unfortunately in sports, the runner-up is rarely remembered.  In fact, last week I couldn’t even remember who won the 2012 World Series (and I call myself a baseball fan?!).  I had to look it up.  Though I’m not a baseball historian like my father, apparently I need to start popping the ginkgo biloba!  But even if you didn’t have a memory lapse, like myself, would you have known that the Detroit Tigers lost to the San Francisco Giants last year on baseball’s biggest stage?  Do you remember who Obama defeated for his election to the Presidency in his first term?  Can you recall who lost to the Baltimore Ravens this past year in Super Bowl XLVII?  I think most of you honestly understand the amnesia that shadows a runner-up.

The runner-up is remembered in real estate.  Their services are used and very much needed year in and year out.  Our company for instance, is having a wonderful year – our per agent production is right at the top, but we’re not the top selling company in the area.  And we don’t have to be.  Our network of REALTORS®, twenty-five in number, continues to over perform.  Our clients recognize our associates’ strengths/experience and use it to their advantage.  It’s not about winning.  The name of this game is selling!  Winning isn’t everything in real estate.  Unless you connect buyers and sellers and deliver on that connection to achieve results, it doesn’t matter if you win, lose or draw.  We look forward to getting more properties SOLD in 2013 and we truly appreciate our clients’ confidence in helping them achieve their goals of homeownership.

Do You Even Need Real Estate Apps?

What’s your favorite real estate app?  You don’t have one or?… Oh wait, you don’t currently have one on your phone.  Do I need one?… You ask.  Well, that’s an excellent question!  Do you even need real estate apps?

Let’s keep in mind what the real estate consumption process entails for the average consumer.  In Northeastern PA, like many other areas throughout our great nation, there exists a process whereby the person goes through certain stages in hopes of reaching his/her goal, namely buying or selling a home.  Before purchasing it, most will begin to fantasize about their future home.  At times they may be daydreaming, but everyone needs to have a little fun sometimes!  Next he/she really begins to dissect location, school districts and neighborhoods; think about the type/style of home he/she would prefer; interior specifications and the like.  Many will begin their online search right away.  Some will contact their REALTOR® (you know… the very knowledgeable one whom you love, whose picture still graces your refrigerator!) to get an inside perspective on the local market and the areas and specifications they desire.  Once consumers understand the market better, they can make wiser decisions about the fair market value of homes on their radar, and this is certainly an area where a real estate agent can be invaluable.

Whether the person has begun the pursuit right away or is utilizing his/her REALTOR® at this stage, chances are there’s an abundance of searching going on.  There’s over 3,000 apps available related to real estate, most of which assist with this process.  The top apps include REALTOR.com, Trulia, Zillow, HomeFinder, just to name a few.  One of my personal favorites, offering an element of fun, is Homesnap.  You should experiment with it.  Three that you should definitely have on your smart device are Google Maps (Android version), Quick Scan (an efficient way to read QR codes) and CalcsFreePictNote is also an app that can be quite useful when house hunting.

Homesnap House

Homesnap image of a house in Dunmore, PA

So let’s rewind a bit.  The question you asked: Do I need one?  You don’t absolutely need real estate apps on your phone, but if you’re seriously hunting for your next home and desire to have all the tools at your fingertips, in addition to your trusty REALTOR®, then my suggestion would be yes, you need one (probably more than one!).  Recent studies by Flurry, an apps analytics firm, and Experian Marketing Services, a smartphone research company, show all indications that mobile usage is increasing ‘slowly and steadily’ toward TV usage.  Flurry measures smartphone and tablet usage only for apps.  Their numbers indicate that the average app user spends 127 minutes/day using their mobile device’s apps.  According to their most recent study, Experian’s user, through talking on the phone, texting, using social media and gaming, spends just under one hour per day on his/her smartphone.

The numbers are astounding if you ask me.  Before the advent of the iPhone in 2007, these numbers (six years later) would have seemed a little absurd.  Average mobile device users are interacting with others or entertaining themselves for one to two hours each day.  When augmented reality, or as I like to say “augmented realty,” becomes more popular and useful, we’ll see neighborhoods come alive through the portal of our phones or tablet devices.  You’ll have even more information at your fingertips (literally) and will be able to make sound, investment decisions after also consulting and relying on your real estate professional.  Real estate apps can be important. Google, like Layar and Acrossair, is making strides in these areas in relation to our industry.  It’s the next big thing!

Stay tuned and download those real estate apps!

Memorial Day Quite Frankly Makes Us… Remember!

Every year, I have one of those moments on Memorial Day where I take a break from my holiday plans with the family (it sometimes can be hectic, although a blessing, from time-to-time for any father with children to regain composure).  I always have that pensive moment, where I reflect on how very lucky I am: My family, my community and of course, our military.  I have similar reflections as this throughout the year, but Memorial Day is a little different.

It could be special for any number of reasons.  Many of you have your own reasons why this federal holiday is atypical.  Besides the fact that both my grandfathers served in the U.S. Army, I also recall participating in a special way, throughout my young adult years, in Clarks Summit’s parade as a volunteer firefighter.  Though I’ve always been thankful for the sacrifices of our armed forces serving throughout our country and abroad, in a unique way, I now root on my stepsons’ father who is serving overseas in Kuwait and Afghanistan.


Freedom isn’t free.  United States history can attest to that.  Occasionally, it’s even attacked from within – 911 and the Boston Marathon Bombing immediately come to mind.  On the battlefield, it’s often stated that soldiers are not permitted to mourn the loss of their fallen comrades for fear that it could jeopardize the mission or put their unit in harm’s way, but Memorial Day does given them a temporary release of sorts… to mourn, to pay their respects, to pause and to remember.

Off the battlefield here on homeland soil, we are surrounded by the fruits of these sacrifices.  We have homes, holiday barbeques with family and friends, (assuming we’re registered American citizens of age eighteen) voting rights, not to mention many others freedoms.  So whether you’re catching a local baseball game or spending time with someone you love this holiday, please take the time to stop (i.e. take a walk or visit the cemetery), remember and say thank you.

Memorial Day 2013.  We honor their sacrifice!

Less than a month away from the opening of North Pocono’s new public library…

There were whispers about it for years, okay maybe a couple of decades, but come Tuesday, June 4, the new library will be open to the public.  As a member of the Gen X family, I must admit libraries have really changed over the years.  They have fascinated me.  Over the last two decades, the modifications have been drastic – as drastic as the differences in movie theater sound from 1982 to 1983.

The new North Pocono Public Library will offer an “experience.”

Back in my college days, I remember thinking the Weinberg Memorial Library had everything I needed to get virtually any project or assignment completed.  And in many ways it did.  Heck, I could even enjoy a coffee in the Pro Deo Room with its panoramic view of the Commons area of the University of Scranton.  At that time though, what my alma mater was missing was the close-knit feeling of ‘giving birth to a concept’ through study, within a library setting.


This new library, located at 1315 Church Street in Moscow (with great access to Interstates 380 and 81), will be 8,000 square feet in size.  It will be a one-stop, knowledge-enhancement space for people of all ages within the community.  It will feature everything from a “business entrepreneur center,” for those who don’t like to bring their work home with them, but need to get out of the office, to tutoring/testing areas to a community room to study areas to meeting areas to a large children’s room.  It appears this library will offer content across many forms of media (hardcover books, paperback, audiobooks and electronic resources) and of course, free WiFi for everyone.

Today, this ideal set-up for sharing community and being productive is also favored to some extent in certain industries.  One example that immediate comes to mind is the culture Google relies on for their employees.  We see it in other businesses as well, especially in metropolitan areas, such as bookstores (the few that remain), Internet cafes and the like.  In real estate we see these things as perhaps luxury conveniences, but they do exist.  Take new construction, for instance: Consumers surveyed over recent years have favored smaller homes with a more intimate layout, the added bonus of a multi-media, entertainment center, playroom, great room for entertaining, large eating area off the kitchen and patio/deck for leisure time or parties.  In other words, these would be homes having many of the same offerings as we’d find at the new North Pocono Library.  I’m sure there will be entertainment at the library, no?!

With that being said, homes like these are few and far between.  At least for now, while you’re fantasizing about your dream home, you can enjoy the many amenities the new library will offer to the North Pocono community.  Heading up this initiative has been our one of our owners, Terry Barrett, who is also the President of the North Pocono Public Library Board of Trustees.  Congrats to him and the Board for all their hard work with improving their community and Northeastern Pennsylvania!

Realty Network TV Celebrates The Big 5-0!

There is one thing that is getting consumed more than pizza these days and you can find in most corners of the world: Video.  As the cliché goes, “if a picture is worth a thousand words” then words, as they pertain to video, could be a new currency — their value has soared.  The power of video has continued to show its true colors and whether its content is TV series, music, sport highlights or real estate, it will not be vanishing any time soon.

Collaborating with Vid Your Biz, Realty Network Group recently produced its fiftieth video tour since the launch of its innovative channel, Realty Network TV.  These tours highlight residential properties, commercial investments as well as neighborhoods and are featured through RealtyNetwork.net, Facebook and YouTube to name a few.  “Professional video can be a difference maker in selling your home,” emphasized Frank Deom, Owner-Operator of Vid Your Biz.  “Realty Network Group is clearly the leader in providing this very important content.”

Grand Victorian In Green Ridge Section


According to the 2011 National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers, 88% of purchasers still use the Internet when searching for a property.  Many of these consumers, empowered with their smart device (i.e. Android, iPad), long for a top-notch real estate buying or selling experience.  They seek a trustworthy company that will keep their best interests at the forefront, but they also hope to establish a relationship with an experienced, knowledgeable agent who keeps a pulse on the local market.  Real estate videos give consumers insight into what a company can offer and if a connection exists between them and the featured associate.  From the same NAR survey, we discover that 72% of home sellers want their REALTOR® to use video in marketing their home, but yet only 3% actually use it.  Data compiled by Postling also shows similar findings (you can see the infographic here: http://mashable.com/2011/04/06/real-estate-social-media-infographic).

“YouTube continues to be one of the greatest indicators of what consumers desire online and through their social network: Valuable video content,” asserts Greg Solfanelli, Director of Marketing & Consumer Experience at Realty Network Group.  “Our company remains fully committed to providing our clients with valuable exposure, through video, print, SMS tools and other forms of high tech.”

Maps App & Real Estate: How Is It Changing?

Hopefully by now you had a chance to download the new operating system for your iPhone and/or iPad device, which you’ll need to launch from iTunes if you currently don’t have 2.5 GB of free space.  Maybe you’ve even had a chance throughout the craziness of your day at work, at school or with the family to discover some of the hidden gems of iOS 6 [You can discover them here – http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/09/ios-6-tips-and-hidden-features.]

One feature which is getting much attention, both good and bad, is the new Maps app from Apple, which has replaced the old Google Maps app.  We knew this was coming for some time now and obviously Apple has been working hard to release a good product without any kinks, right?  Well, unfortunately for many this new release has its share of problems; the duplication of the Diaoyus Islands near Taiwan is reportedly one of a world of problems Apple will need to correct.  And though Apple will be on top of what they do best, through revisions, until they get the product right, the question will remain: Can they compete with Google’s mapping technology which they been fine tuning for over the past decade?

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of a portion of Clarks Summit through Apple’s Maps plot versus roughly the same plot of Google Maps version…

Real estate consumers will undoubtedly find Apple’s mapping tech slightly more challenging and less detail oriented from the onset, but the turn-by-turn voice navigation will surely be of some value to them (this baby is powered by TomTom!).  People often look for landmark sites when navigating unchartered territory in search of a restaurant, a store or potentially the neighborhood they’ll soon call home.  In my opinion, this will be one area of tremendous growth as it relates to your local real estate market over the next five to ten years and augmented reality will be sure to add another dimension to the fold.

The question still remains: Can Apple stay ahead of the “mapping” curve with their customers using their app?  If they don’t Google will surely reap all the rewards!

The Team Within ~ We Welcome Lisa Mackrell

Welcome Lisa Mackrell to the team of REALTORS® who continue to make a name for themselves in Northeastern PA: Realty Network Group.  Lisa’s career in real estate will afford her many wonderful opportunities, but none more than the chance to collaborate with her husband, Paul Mackrell – also with the company, to sell real estate in the region they love!

Lisa brings a wonderful skill-set to the table: Her experience in marketing, sales and public relations will enhance the company goal of providing quality, immediate attention to the needs of its customers.  She obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Pennsylvania State University.  She clearly understands the demands of a real estate professional in today’s local economy where real estate is a business requiring negotiating, networking, administrative, marketing, and most importantly, excellent people-to-people skills.  “For that reason, Paul and I decided to put our individual skill-sets together to form a team,” emphasizes Mackrell.  “We each have a role, working together through our strategic plan, providing our clients with the best possible service.  We create property searches that best meet our buyers’ needs, generate/negotiate contracts and ensure all loan requirements are completed in a timely manner.  Ultimately, our goal is to close the transaction and follow-through for our clients.”

This lifelong resident of Scranton, chose to pursue a career in real estate because she has a passion for working with people, assisting consumers find the home of their dreams.  She looks forward to evolving with the market as well as continuing to educate herself for the benefit of her clients’ short and long-term objectives.  “Working alongside my husband, who has eight years of experience in real estate, has helped me make a smooth transition into the business,” states Mackrell.

She currently resides in the Green Ridge area with her family.  She has an in-depth knowledge of the Scranton area in addition to surrounding communities.  Contact Lisa Mackrell today for your very own customized marketing plan and put her extensive knowledge of our local market to the test!  She can be reached by phone at 570.877.3555 or via email at lmackrell@realtynetwork.net.