Want to Buy a House in the Poconos? You’d Better Move Fast

Buying a chalet ain’t what it used to be. If you want to win in a heated Poconos real estate market, you’ll need to come prepared.

house for sale Pocono Pines contemporary exterior front

One home recently on the market in the Poconos. | Pocono Mountains Association of Realtors MLS images via Dombriski Realty Company

First things first: Make sure your wallet is fully loaded. As agent Bev Waring of Keller Williams’s Stroudsburg office puts it, when you go house-hunting in the Poconos, “You have to be ready to buy a house that day, because it may not be around tomorrow.” That’s because while you’ve been drooling over Zillow listings of bargain mountain chalets, so has everyone else — and the Poconos real estate market is in a COVID-fueled frenzy.

Once houses go on the market, “They go under contract almost immediately, with multiple bids,” says Bev’s husband Malcolm, also an agent with Keller Williams Stroudsburg. Figures supplied by Nicole Murray, association executive of the Pocono Mountains Association of Realtors, back those warnings up. According to PMAR data, median days on market fell from 84 in 2020 to a mere 22 this past March. That’s in part due to a supply crunch: In March of last year, there were 1,093 houses for sale in Monroe County; this March, there were only 365. As a result, prices have shot up dramatically. The median sale price in Monroe County rose from $155,000 in March of 2020 to $234,000 one year later, and prices continue to climb. But take a good look at those numbers: Those suffering sticker shock over Jersey Shore houses will find they get a lot more — for less money — in the Poconos. (New Yorkers contemplating homes in the Hudson River Valley have discovered the same thing, by the way, and you’ll be competing against them.)

That’s especially true if you buy in developments like Lake Naomi or Buck Hill Falls — private communities that provide amenities such as golf courses, tennis courts, beaches, boat ramps, and clubhouses with restaurants and a full calendar of activities. But be prepared: Many of these communities require you to join the club when you move in, in a homeowners-association-like arrangement, and according to Bev Waring, annual dues can run as high as $15,000. (In some communities, like Lake Naomi, club membership is optional; just don’t expect to hang out on the club beach if you don’t join.)

Another driver of demand up here: Professionals who no longer have to commute to the office have found the outdoorsy lifestyle highly appealing and are looking to commit to the area full-time. Imagine staring out at pine trees from your home office and going for lunchtime hikes in the woods. And if you still feel the need for big-city excitement, Philly’s only two and a half hours away.

Published as “Find a Place Of Your Own” in the “We’re Going to the Poconos!” guide in the June 2021 issue of Philadelphia magazine.