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Quality of Life in the Lehigh Valley

As a fiscal conservative and small business owner keeping my eye on the bottom line is something I must do if I expect to stay in business.   However, living in the Lehigh Valley and selling homes here as a Realtor, makes quality of life as important to me as quality of schools, proximity to major […]

As a fiscal conservative and small business owner keeping my eye on the bottom line is something I must do if I expect to stay in business.   However, living in the Lehigh Valley and selling homes here as a Realtor, makes quality of life as important to me as quality of schools, proximity to major highways and employment.   Who wants to live in a place that has nothing to do, no place to go and no entertainment?   We are lucky to live in an area where local government has budgeted for and is aware of how good quality of life can affect the economy of the region as a whole.

First, let us talk about parks and recreation, starting with the biggest amusement park in the area, Dorney Park.  Wow has that changed since I was a kid and you could drive right through it.  Now it rivals any amusement park in the state if not the country.  Not a bad deal either, if you get your kid a season pass and take advantage of some of their promotional deals.

Trexler Nature Preserve is an outdoor park on 1,100 acres with the Lehigh Valley Zoo near its center. The preserve provides a habitat for elk, plains bison, and whitetail deer. There are miles of trails for hiking, walking, mountain biking, and bird watching. The Lehigh Valley Zoo is a big attraction all by itself within the preserve. The zoo features penguins, giraffes and loads of other animals.   Another scenic state park is Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center which is a 1,186-acre PA state park near Wind Gap in Bushkill Township.  The park offers 18 miles of cross-country skiing trails, fishing, and hiking

How about Lehigh Valley Rails to Trails which are former railroad beds converted to trails for biking, walking or jogging.  The Saucon Trail runs about 7 miles from Hellertown to Coopersburg ending at the Living Memorial Community Park.  Ironton Rail Trail is a 9.2-mile course that includes a 5.2 mile almost fully paved loop through developments and parks.  If you love nature and enjoy outdoor fitness, find a trail near you.  You won’t be disappointed.

Next, let’s talk sports.  If you have not seen an Iron Pigs game at Coca-Cola Park, you don’t know what you’re missing.  From the great food to the live music to the entertainment between innings.  It’s great fun, and the baseball is not bad either.  If hockey is your thing, you have to go to a Phantom game.  They play at the newest arena in the area, the PPL Center.  You can catch Villanova play Lafayette in hoops or catch an Elton John concert.  If winter sports are what you’re into, then we have two outstanding resorts, Bear Creek Mountain Resort in Macungie and Blue Mountain Resort in Palmerton.  Both have skiing, tubing, restaurants and banquet facilities.

Golf anyone?  Boy, do we have the golf courses.  I think we are spoiled here in the Lehigh Valley. We have about 12 courses within 25 minutes of Allentown.  The prices are reasonable for a round and average from $25.00 to $70.00 per round.  Try finding those prices closer to Philly.  You can’t!

If you’re a car enthusiast, the valley has some great places to visit.  America on Wheels Museum focuses on the history of transportation technology.  See some iconic automobiles and learn about the history of the industry.  Held at the Macungie Park, Das Awkscht Fescht is one of the country’s largest antique and classic car shows for over the last 50 plus years.  Also held at the Macungie Park the weekend before Labor Day, is the Wheels of Time Rod & Custom Jamboree. The car show boasts over 2,000 street rods and custom vehicles.   There is live entertainment, games for the kids and plenty else to see.

I’m just scratching the surface with what I mentioned.  I left out the State Theatre, the Crayola Experience, Sands Casino, SteelStacks, the wineries and micro-breweries, and all the great restaurants.  The Lehigh Valley offers such a variety of things to do, places to go and things to see, making it a great place to live and work.  What does that do for all of us you ask?  Well, it keeps your property values up.  It makes it really inviting for companies and industry to move here which keeps unemployment down and disposable income up.  It helps the tax base which provides for good schools and good government.

The Lehigh Valley is an exceptional place to live!!

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The Benefits of Home Ownership

Still the American Dream! TAX BENEFITS 2.5 kids and a home in the suburbs, the proverbial American Dream.  Well, there are a few excellent reasons for wanting to own your home that back this statement all the way.  The first, and in my opinion, the biggest is financial.  Forbes Magazine gives seven financial benefits of […]

Still the American Dream!

TAX BENEFITS

2.5 kids and a home in the suburbs, the proverbial American Dream.  Well, there are a few excellent reasons for wanting to own your home that back this statement all the way.  The first, and in my opinion, the biggest is financial.  Forbes Magazine gives seven financial benefits of owning your home and first and foremost among the Realtor community is the Mortgage Interest Deduction.  The IRS allows homeowners to deduct interest paid on their mortgage to be deducted from their income.  This deduction can be quite a substantial deduction in the early years of a mortgage when most of your payment is going toward interest.  It seems every year there is a proposal in Congress to remove this from the tax code and every time it is on the table, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) fights to keep it.  Any time you make home ownership harder and costlier, fewer people will be able to afford to own a home. This will have negative effects on the American economy and economic growth.   Another tax advantage of owning your home is being able to deduct property taxes on your primary residence.  These benefits are strong motivators for people who rent to seriously considering purchasing a home.

INVESTMENT

Your home is like a savings account.  Every time you make a mortgage payment on your home, you bring down the principal of what you owe.  In the early years of a mortgage, only a small portion goes to the principle, and a larger portion goes to interest. However, over the years more and more will be going to the principle which will build valuable equity for the homeowner.  At the same time, your debt is going down, and your home should be appreciating, (going up in value).  This will increase the equity in your home even greater.  We can define equity as the amount your home is worth versus the amount owed on your home.   This equity could be used for future investments like a rental property or to pay down other debt you may have accumulated.  Essentially your home becomes a bank that you can use to borrow against.

SOCIAL BENEFITS

One of the best parts of being a Realtor is helping a first time home buyer find their first home.  There is nothing like seeing the faces of a young couple, just starting out, receiving the keys to their new home.  The same could be said for a person who has rented their whole life and finally made the decision to own their first home.  They now have roots in the community.  Homeowners move far less than renters.  According to NAR’s Research Division, from 2010-2011 only 4.7 percent of owner-occupied residents moved as opposed to 26 percent of renters.  What this means for the community is that people who own their home stay in the community longer and make social ties.   There is a greater sense of belonging.  They will find themselves involved with community events, schools, local sports, and politics.  They believe the community they purchased and invested in will be a great place to raise a family, further entrenching them into the community.

LOWER CRIME RATES, EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENTS, AND HEALTH BENEFITS

People who own their home are less likely to be victims of crime because they have more financially to lose. A stable neighborhood promotes less crime. The educational achievements of children whose parents own their home are much higher than those who do not. The school dropout rate is lower, and so are the teenage pregnancy rates.  Studies also show that homeowners are happier and healthier because they have higher self-esteem and higher perceived control over their lives.

You can see why owning your home is the American dream.  It helps you to become a valuable member of the community.  It gives several tax benefits, putting money back in your pocket and is an excellent investment.  Owners are happier and healthier than renters.  Their children do better in school, and owners are less likely to be victims of a crime.

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