Tag Archive for: Greater Scranton area

There’s more uncertainty in the national real estate market than we’ve seen in some time. We’re two years beyond the onset of COVID and while we’re past many of the main health concerns of the virus, obstacles still remain. Remote work is likely here to stay, thus there are adjustments to housing post pandemic, which continue to unfold and impact the market. Is time running out for sellers to take advantage? Will buyers have a better chance of acquiring real estate being that their purchasing power has somewhat diminished? What’s in store for our market in the Greater Scranton area?

The future of real estate isn’t as dark as some would have you believe. The chance of a housing crash, the likes of 2007-2010, lacks much supporting evidence. In fact, the exact opposite might be true. Many experts are calling for a busy spring market this year and even Zillow projects home appreciation to hover around 9% for 2022. Many of the conditions, which existed prior to the housing bubble, simply aren’t present. When the market began to tank fifteen years ago, there was a surplus in housing inventory, mortgage lending resembled the Wild West and foreclosures occupied their fair share of the market.

Today, the narrative is quite different. There are shortages in markets throughout the country. Here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, our month’s supply of homes continues to unimpress buyers: year-to-date we sit at 1.29.* A magnifying glass would be required if the inventory got any smaller. In the four years, which consisted of the housing bubble, the market was heavily in favor of buyers and saw surpluses of housing between 7.3 and 9.6 month’s supply, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Furthermore, lending restrictions are much tighter than those that existed fifteen years ago. In 2010, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act became law with its eye toward consumer protection and a reform of the lending industry, especially riddance of predatory lenders. In general, those who are approved for a mortgage in 2022 are much more qualified than those approved even a dozen years ago. Finally, negative equity in the national housing industry has reached its lowest level over this same period of time. Much fewer homeowners are underwater than were during the housing bubble.

The future of housing post pandemic is not scary. Actually, 2023 will probably resemble 2019 more than it will last year. Inventory will bounce back, but that might take a year or two. The immediate future for sellers does pose a threat to them receiving top dollar for their investment. “There’s a little insanity in our market right now,” maintains Amy L. Kiesinger Bohenek, an Associate Broker with Realty Network Group. “Listing agents are faced with multiple showings and offers, sometimes over asking price. The appraisal process can be cause for a headache from time-to-time too. When a home doesn’t appraise, where does that leave both parties, especially the seller?” Despite this, the window for bidding wars and high price appreciation is closing. Despite climbing mortgage rates, demand for housing remains strong. Price appreciation will continue to trend up, albeit home prices shouldn’t be in the neighborhood of 18%, like much of last year. Sellers in our region should act sooner than later if they want to take advantage of this market they find themselves firmly entrenched.

Buyers must hang in there if they have a desire to pursue real estate anytime soon. The question remains, how can you sit tight when your purchasing power appears to be vanishing? Homebuyers have seen the average thirty-year fixed mortgage rate increase to roughly 5.3%, which is about 2% higher than it was at the beginning of the year. Many first-time buyers are already struggling to get their foot in the door and compete with others, including investors. Higher rates, for those who require a mortgage, generally mean they’ll have less to contribute toward a monthly payment. That’s why it’s important for buyers to have a plan, stick to a budget and know what they can afford.

In addition to the factors listed above, real estate in Northeastern Pennsylvania continues to have affordability as its ally. Year-to-date, the median home sales price is $179,000 (up 7.7% from the previous year).* New listings are down slightly, but inventory is expected to pick up. The groundwork for homes to appreciate at a slightly slower pace with small improvements in inventory is being laid. With an increase in buyer and seller competition that’s sure to come this spring and summer, being too conservative, will surely impact homeowners thinking about selling.

 

* Greater Scranton Board of REALTORS®

This weekend marks the 17th Annual Festival of Ice in Clarks Summit and the first ever during a pandemic. There are many “firsts” over the past eleven months in addition to new ways of working toward a solution, given certain restrictions. We’d be remiss if we didn’t take a moment to thank those in our community who’ve made a difference in the Abingtons and the Greater Scranton area. Of course, our clients and our agents have been difference-makers in 2020, our company had a tremendous year in large part due to them. With that being said, our real heroes – those who don’t often get the credit they deserve – are police officers, nurses, firefighters, doctors, other emergency medical personnel, cashiers, clerks, truck drivers, postal employees, daycare employees and other key members of our community who sacrifice for us daily.

As we thank and remember them, we invite you to celebrate winter this year at the Clarks Summit Festival of Ice: Hometown Heroes as we honor those on the frontline who make a difference. The festival, taking place February 12-14, 2021, is giving a “frozen salute” to our heroes on ice. The safest fun this year is “outdoor fun” and it should be an ideal weekend for it – not too cold nor too hot! So we hope to see you there.

This year’s festival will feature more than 50 ice sculptures, including one sponsored by Realty Network Group and Thirteen Olives (located at 222 Northern Boulevard; in the same plaza at PA Wine & Spirits). Hometown Heroes will also include eight live ice carvings performed by Sculpted Ice Works of Lakeville. Those live carvings will take place at the following locations:

Friday, February 12th:

  • 11:40 AM: Met Life (1028 Morgan Highway)
  •   2:00 PM: Noteology (312 South State Street)
  •   4:00 PM: The Ice House Wedding Barn (500 block of State Street)
  •   2:00 PM: Pocono Axe Works (Downtown Clocktower)

Saturday, February 13th:

  • 12:00 PM: City Market and Cafe (200 North State Street)
  •   2:00 PM: The Waverly Community House (1115 North Abington Road)
  •   4:00 PM: Met Life (Downtown Clocktower)
  •   6:00 PM: State Street Grill (114 South State Street)

We also need to give a big shout out to the Abington Business & Professionals Association who pulled this all together this year. Without them as well as the sponsors for this year’s event, there wouldn’t be a festival in 2021. Remember, admission to the festival is free, so don’t miss a great opportunity to enjoy winter (spring is right around the corner – we think?!).

Our hero: Letter Carrier (Postal Service)

As the postal service’s motto states, “We deliver through rain and sleet and snow and hail…” However, no one could have predicted what the postal workers had to face with a global pandemic. They have adapted and persevered, despite so many obstacles along the way. The U.S. Postal Service implemented strategies recommended by the CDC and kept on, even when COVID caused their workforce to be much smaller and the daily contact with others made their jobs risky. They never considered a mail shutdown and were out there every day making sure that people stay connected and businesses had all deliveries to stay open.

 

Take the Clarks Summit Festival of Ice quiz and you could win a prize!

It’s another first for our firm: RealtyNetwork.net is the first real estate website in the Greater Scranton area to be Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant.

Our company is making finding your next home even easier! Those who have visual, auditory, mobility or cognitive impairments will find our website, with its new accessibility menu, of huge benefit. Access to this menu is found on every page along the right edge of our site (see image below).

“[W]hile technology has the potential to create a more inclusive future, it has also created further barriers. With technology so embedded in our lives, digital accessibility isn’t something that would be nice to have, but is a right for everyone.”

These barriers (i.e. homebuyers not properly being able to access information in real-time) are what Realty Network Group is seeking to eliminate for each and every individual who enters our platform. Furthermore, the ADA accessibility menu could even be utilized by consumers who don’t have any impairments. “This new tool on our website affirms we’re committed to easing concerns for buyers and sellers, who are actively pursuing real estate,” emphasizes Greg Solfanelli, Director of Marketing & Consumer Experience at Realty Network Group. “It’s another reason why I believe our clients continue to trust us. We understand how important compliance is in our business, not only for our professionals, but also for our clients and their assets.”

Realty Network Group’s website continues to lead the way in Northeastern Pennsylvania. ADA compliance is another step in the right direction.

 

 

“The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990. It was created in an effort to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities and ensure accessibility to all individuals, regardless of their physical limitations. Now, thirty years later, our world has changed tremendously, especially in regard to technology. Now more than ever, ADA compliance expands far beyond a simple handrail or parking space. It encompasses all public-facing entities, which includes most websites.”

Baked goods can stimulate those wonderful memories from our past, reminding us of people, places and occasions we hold dear to us. Behind these delicious treats we find the puppeteer, the one responsible for creating the experience or the memory. For the Religious Nuns and Friars of Saint Roger Abbey, the ones pulling the strings are looking to alleviate some of the pain the disadvantaged undergo. (More on those sweets later!)

This order of religious men and women (aka the Fraternité Notre-Dame) find their origin in 1977 in Fréchou, located in southwestern France, north of Lourdes. The order’s founder, Jean Marie Kozik, a Frenchman of Polish descent, was inspired by an apparition of the Virgin Mary. This inspiration propelled him to begin humanitarian efforts in France and beyond. Though this traditionalist Catholic order is not in union with the pope and the Church, they carry on a large part of its mission and continually pledge to help the most vulnerable throughout the world, including Paris, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Ulaanbaatar (the capital of Mongolia), to name a few. Charity travels, as the nuns and friars of Fraternité Notre-Dame have demonstrated over a period of only a few decades.

Recently, this young order has set its sights on Northeastern Pennsylvania, spreading its mission to Scranton in under fifty years. It’s remarkable, really! Their work has impacted the poorest of the poor in various regions of our country. Their mission is carried on through soup kitchens, after school programs, orphanages, schools, clinics and food nutrition services. They lift up the homeless, the suffering, families, care for lepers and prisoners. Their founder gained inspiration from God to help the poor and needy and that’s been their mission from day one. This worthy cause has arrived in the south side of Scranton.

How do they raise the funds for these works of charity? The nuns and friars of Saint Roger Abbey are able to serve through the generosity of their benefactors as well as many self-sustaining operations, such as breweries, wineries, gift shops and bakeries, to name a few. These religious, who have taken a vow of poverty, use their culinary talents and time to feed the outcast in society. They do it with much more than just physical food – In the spirit of Saint Teresa of Ávila, they are the hands, feet and body of Christ in this world.

They’ll be that in the Greater Scranton area too! Roughly two months ago, the Religious Nuns and Friars of Saint Roger Abbey closed on the multi-use commercial complex, located at 421 Hickory Street in Scranton, which they’ll use to cater to the less fortunate. The property sold for $650,000 through the efforts of nineteen-year veteran REALTOR®, Cheryl Gerrity, Realty Network Group. “I am thrilled to see these architecturally magnificent buildings being brought back to life and used for their intended purpose,” asserts Mrs. Gerrity. “The residents and business owners of South Scranton will most certainly benefit from the activity the Fraternité Notre-Dame will bring to our area.”

When you buy pastries from Saint Roger Abbey, you’re purchasing authentic and traditional French recipes, using the best organic ingredients available. These quality baked goods are virtually baked with love. When you buy from them, you provide relief to the physical and spiritual suffering of the destitute. See their catalog of freshly baked goodies here. They feature everything from macarons to French madeleines (reminiscent of Italian ciambrelli orange cookies) to chocolate croissants to tartlets to breton cakes and much more. Take a peek today and see all the great things the nuns and friars of Saint Roger Abbey will soon be doing for our community in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

In France they say, merci à l’avance, which means thanks in advance!

Over the years, we’ve been thankful for support from our clients as well as our professionals, who’ve been instrumental and vital to our success. They certainly are motivation through the obstacles brought on from this pandemic. As we can attest, connecting buyers and sellers requires new approaches in order to be successful during this surreal year. So far in 2020, the Greater Scranton market has shifted from being balanced to one now highly in the seller’s favor. The absorption rate (the rate at which homes are selling over a specific period of time) has dropped from 6.44 (last July) to 4.02 (this July), while inventory continues trending downward.* Though housing in Northeastern Pennsylvania is among some of the most affordable in our nation, affordability is dropping in many markets and difficult challenges for both buyers and sellers lie ahead.

Our network of REALTORS® will help you navigate these obstacles and put you on the path toward homeownership or vice versa, if you need to sell.

Please spread the love and vote our firm, Best Real Estate Agency and Best Real Estate Website in this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards. [<– This has since ended, but you can see past winners here.]

We sincerely appreciate your time and support!

* Greater Scranton Board of REALTORS® stats
Readers’ Choice Awards – Times-Tribune

Over a decade ago, the Great Recession was coming to an end. Mortgage lenders were beginning to tighten their requirements as they were sifting through the mess of an influx of foreclosures. Housing prices began to plummet. Millennials, anyone who was then ages 13 to 28, obviously didn’t have much of an impact on the housing market, many will still in school. Over the course of the past decade, home prices as well as the impact this generation has had on housing have steadily increased. The question remains though: What sort of effect have they had?

A recent article from Fortune written by Shawn Tully discusses the challenges millennials have encountered in recent years in a slightly volatile real estate market. Although housing experienced cheaper prices relative to the previous decade, millennials had little impact until two years ago. “[M]illennials had loads of college debt, and many had bad credit,” as the above mentioned cites. Until 2017, this generation became the “lost generation” when it came to home ownership. Last year, they made a big impression accounting for half of new homes sales. Now it appears with under-building in home construction, diminishing home affordability and rising rates on home loans, sales could be shifting back to more affluent buyers (Gen-Xers and baby boomers). We may once again witness a drop in homeownership rates for millennials.

This is concerning for the state of affairs in many markets throughout our nation: multiple locations such as California, Nevada, New York, Florida, just to name a few. The cost of housing has spiked so much in recent years that first-time homebuyers, many of which are millennials, don’t stand a chance. Yet, not all millennials are fighting this battle. In Northeastern Pennsylvania, the “lost generation” continues to be found in the first-time homebuyer market.

The Greater Scranton market presently carries with it an absorption rate of 6.34 year-to-date and 5.82 year-over-year (YOY) for December. Absorption rate is “the rate at which homes are selling in a specific area.” I bring this up, because this market is actually slipping into a seller’s market. Absorption rates between 6-9 (months of inventory) signal a balanced market, whereas rates between 3-6 indicate a normal seller’s market. Millennials are actually the catalyst. They’re buying up homes now.

Millennials, the largest generation in our country, lead the charge to homeownership and improved financial stability in Northeastern PA. As family formation increases in our area this year, we’ll see the effect this “lost generation” has on the growth of our local economy.