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Old 08-22-2007, 06:01 PM
 
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Question Newberry Estates In Dallas, Pa

I am thinking about buying a condo in Newberry Estates in Dallas, PA. Does anyone have any thoughts about this complex? How is life in the Dallas area? Are property values skyrocketing, plummeting, or holding steady?
I am a New Yorker so I can use comments from locals to get a better idea of what's going on in Dallas, PA. Thanks for your input!
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Old 08-22-2007, 07:09 PM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
26,217 posts, read 45,870,912 times
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Talking Ready for a NOVEL?

Good evening, and welcome in advance to Northeastern Pennsylvania!

Newberry Estates was developed in the 1970s and is home to a 9-hole golf course. There is security personnel on-premises, but crime in the community is non-existent. There are other bonus amenities there as well, such as ligthed tennis courts, an inground pool, and facilities for special events.

I don't personally know of anyone who lives in Newberry, so I can't give you any "insider" information. However, I have numerous friends/acquaintances in the general area, so I'm very familiar with Dallas. Newberry Estates is located in a large suburban area of 30,000 residents known as the "Back Mountain." Everyone funnels onto Route 309, which is also known as the Memorial Highway, to access Wilkes-Barre, the area's principal city (pop. 40,000+). As such, rush-hours can be congested on Route 309 if you're heading outbound towards Wilkes-Barre in the mornings or inbound towards Dallas in the evenings. Then again, coming from New York (I'm assuming the city of New York, since that's where most of our new residents are coming from), you'll probably laugh out loud at what we call "gridlock." Heavy traffic along Route 309 is having to wait through two traffic light cycles to pass through an intersection. Heavy traffic in New York City might be taking 45 minutes just to get from the east side of Manhattan to the west side. It's all relative.

Aside from the traffic issues on Route 309, there aren't many other "vices" that accompany the Back Mountain. Shavertown, which is the gateway to the Back Mountain, is kind of cheesy-looking with fast-food restaurants, gas stations, banks, pharmacies, etc. and a whole host of neon signs and asphalt parking lots to accompany them, but you need only travel a short distance off the Memorial Highway (Route 309) to pass into some truly desirable residential communities. There's a plethora of upper-middle-class tract-housing-style subdivisions sprouting up in the Back Mountain, but most have larger lots and are keeping a lot of their trees intact (think Southwestern Connecticut). Wilkes-Barre, which is about ten miles away, is the county seat, and while it has taken great strides lately to revitalize its downtown area, it is still viewed as being "sketchy" for violent crime issues, which is what is causing the growth spurt in the Back Mountain, which continues to push property values upward (they're rising steadily though---not unsustainably high like the "bubble" markets did a few years ago). A typical home in the Back Mountain might average around $200,000 with some executive-style homes and lakefront homes with boathouses fetching $750,000+ and some mobile home communities in the outlying areas and cottages at Harvey's Lake fetching under $100,000.

There isn't really much of a "downtown" area in the Back Mountain. Downtown Dallas consists of just two blocks or so and doesn't have much to offer other than a hardware store, clock tower, and historic theater (that I believe is in the process of restoration to be reopened). College Misericordia (renamed Misericordia University last week) is located in Dallas and is growing steadily in terms of enrollment and programs/services offered. Then again, Dallas doesn't really have a "college town" feel to it---Misericordia is largely a commuter school where students only visit to attend classes. The campus is also isolated in relation to Downtown Dallas (something I feel should be addressed to help infuse some youthful vitality and nightlife into the community).

Harvey's Lake, which is about 10 minutes away from Dallas, is awesome. A narrow, windy 8-mile road, which is popular with runners and bicyclists, follows the lake's permiter, which is lined with boathouses and a blend of reasonable summer homes and prominent mansions. Real estate values in Harvey's Lake are outrageous near the lake (think $350,000+ for a smaller 3-bedroom, 1-bath home), but they become more reasonable as you climb the hills away from the shore. In recent years some wealthier New Yorkers have been purchasing small lakefront homes and cottages and tearing them down in order to build new, larger retirement homes. Harvey's Lake is nice in that it has a quiet, rural atmosphere, yet it is still commutable to Wilkes-Barre for employment, shopping, nightlife, etc. There is a new townhome community at the lake's entrance known as Marina Pointe, and some of those units feature rear boatslips (and are priced accordingly in the $300,000+ range, which I feel is outrageous for an attached dwelling). Some popular attractions at the lake include Grotto Pizza and Jones's Potato Pancakes.

The Back Mountain has a growing shopping/dining scene, but most here still head to Wilkes-Barre on a daily basis. Some popular businesses in or near Dallas include Hillside Farms (working dairy farm), Blue Hydrangea (gift shop), Bathologie (skin care products), Buka (women's apparel), Connor's Grillroom (restaurant), Rave's (garden center), Outrageous (gift shop/WiFi coffeehouse), Starbucks (self-explanatory), Humphrey's Bootery (shoes), Pickett's Charge (restaurant), and Mark II (restaurant). At the intersection of Routes 118 & 415 between Dallas and Harvey's Lake, there is major construction going on. Over one hundred townhomes are being constructed in a project that will also include several stores, including a Wal-Mart (or so I was told by a developer).

Wilkes-Barre Township is a quick jaunt down Route 309 to Exit 1 and features a suburban area that houses Lowe's, Home Depot, Wal-Mart Supercenter, Target, Dick's, Bed Bath & Beyond, Pier 1 Imports, Barnes & Noble, Wegman's, Sam's Club, Kohl's, Staples, Office Depot, Office Max, Best Buy, Old Navy, and just about every other chain store you could imagine. It also features the Wyoming Valley Mall, which is home to nearly 100 stores and is anchored by Macy's, The Bon-Ton, Sears, and JCPenney. Finally, you can also find just about every chain restaurant imaginable here, including Applebee's, Ground Round, TGI Friday's, Bennigan's, UNO Pizzeria, Lone Star Steakhouse, Olive Garden, Ruby Tuesday, Outback Steakhouse, Friendly's, Perkins, McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Starbucks, Bob Evans, Cracker Barrel, and many, many others.

Wilkes-Barre proper is home to a very large historical district featuring tree-lined streets and Victorian dwellings that I just love to saunter around in on nice Spring days. It has a well-defined downtown that is anchored on the north end by North Street and the King's College campus, on the south end by South Street and the Wilkes University campus, on the west by the Susquehanna River, and on the east by the heavily-traveled Wilkes-Barre Boulevard. In the "bull's eye" of town is Public Square, which has a fountain and a surrounding park. Within a short walk of the square is a Barnes & Noble, Starbucks, Campus Square Billiards, FUSE Martini Club, Club Mardi Gras, a 14-screen movie theater, Boscov's Department Store, and more restaurants that have recently announced openings. There are also several mixed-use projects coming downtown that will feature loft housing, condos, and more retail/restaurant space. As the downtown continues to rebound, I'm confident that the city's criminally-nefarious reputation will likewise subside (at which point the Back Mountain's rapid housing market might cool off in a few years as people reconsider living nearer to the city).

Sorry for the long rant, but I'm a current college student and strong proponent of this area's revival. If you have any more questions concerning the area, feel free to let me know!
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Old 08-22-2007, 07:14 PM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
26,217 posts, read 45,870,912 times
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Smile Photo Links

Here are two photo tours I snapped in the past of some areas of the Back Mountain. The first one (Part Four) highlights the area around Sutton Road, Bulford Road, Bulford Farms, and Woodridge in the Shavertown area. The second one (Part Five) highlights the area around Demunds Road and Glendalough. I'll be doing future tours of the Back Mountain as well, so be sure to search for them. Please excuse some of my anti-Back Mountain remarks in those two tours---I've been trying to overcome my previously-held abhorrence for suburbia.

Northeastern Pennsylvania Photo Tour: PART FOUR

Northeastern Pennsylvania Photo Tour: PART FIVE
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Old 08-22-2007, 07:22 PM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
26,217 posts, read 45,870,912 times
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P.S. If it serves as any help, here's a link I found to a unit currently for sale at Newberry that also gives you an overview of the community, Back Mountain, and Wilkes-Barre area.

110 Orchard East (broken link)
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Old 08-22-2007, 08:25 PM
 
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Wow, you are really into this area and I appreciate your information and pictures. Do you know if there has been a steady rise in housing prices in the area or has it leveled off? I know here in NY prices are cooling down substantially. Quite honestly I am very surprised at the prices of the condo's I've seen listed as well as the high taxes and carrying costs. It would seem to me that the area is booming based on what I have seen, but not being a local I don't want to jump in and find out otherwise. I will hold onto the property for almost 10 years then look to buy a lake house in the area. If you think of anything else please let me know. The link to 110 Orchard East is a great one. Thanks.
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Old 08-23-2007, 05:49 AM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
26,217 posts, read 45,870,912 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by movin on2 View Post
Wow, you are really into this area and I appreciate your information and pictures. Do you know if there has been a steady rise in housing prices in the area or has it leveled off? I know here in NY prices are cooling down substantially. Quite honestly I am very surprised at the prices of the condo's I've seen listed as well as the high taxes and carrying costs. It would seem to me that the area is booming based on what I have seen, but not being a local I don't want to jump in and find out otherwise. I will hold onto the property for almost 10 years then look to buy a lake house in the area. If you think of anything else please let me know. The link to 110 Orchard East is a great one. Thanks.
The Back Mountain's property values have traditionally been rather high ever since 1972, when the remnants of Hurricane Agnes stalled out over the region and ravaged Wilkes-Barre, Kingston, and other low-lying communities along the Susquehanna River, which spilled over its banks and flooded thousands of homes and businesses. After the flood many people became fearful of the river and sought to move to higher ground, which is why there are a lot of 1970s-era subdivisions in the Back Mountain, Mountain Top, Laflin, and Bear Creek areas. (Ironically Bear Creek was ravaged by a freak flash flood several years ago as well).

Growth and housing prices cooled a bit in the 1980s, but they picked back up in the 1990s as Wilkes-Barre's image continued to take a nosedive with a rising crime rate and schools that were perceived as being sub-par. This has caused another growth spurt to occur from the 1990s-Present as people from the city are moving to the Back Mountain to what they perceive to be a better quality-of-life for their families, as well as most newer transplants to the region opting for either Dallas or Mountain Top (Crestwood) based upon the strong performance of either school district.

Wilkes-Barre has been rapidly-revitalizing its downtown area, and there has been an increased interest in people living, working, and playing downtown. The Back Mountain offers very little in the way of older architecture other than bland 1970s bi-levels and ranches and 1990s two-story vinyl-clad McMansions, so those seeking historic nuances such as turrets, wraparound porches, hardwood flooring, stained-glass windows, French doors, etc. are starting to rehabilitate homes in the city, which are (in my opinion) undervalued due to the city's continued "sketchy" reputation.

How long will the Back Mountain's housing market continue to be on the "hot" side? Well, I think demand there will always be strong for new residents. Even if Wilkes-Barre manages to make a full recovery, most families today want large yards, two-car garages, great schools, etc., and Wilkes-Barre, for the most part, can't offer these sorts of amenities, which will leave people packing for Mountain Top and the Back Mountain. We've seen that the trend in people moving back into the city has largely been from singles, couples without children, and empty-nesters---families want nothing to do with the city proper (although the new Pine Ridge subdivision in the city's northern end is welcoming younger residents).

I think in the very long-term (10-20 years perhaps), Luzerne County's housing market is going to literally boom at a pace not seen in decades. As of right now, Monroe, Pike, Carbon, and Wayne Counties in the Pocono Mountains are exploding in growth from permanent residents in the way of NYC/NJ commuter transplants and those simply seeking a lower cost-of-living and slower pace of life. As these counties continue to experience problems related to growth in terms of congestion, rising housing prices, crowding schools, rising crime, etc. (which we've already seen in Monroe County), the next logical place for the new transplants to scout out for relocation is the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area. When (and if) the commuter rail is ever established between Scranton and Hoboken, NJ, this area's real estate market should truly take flight. Bear in mind though that they've been talking about the commuter train now for many years without much progress to show for it (but I have seen Lackawanna County realtors just now touting the "upcoming commuter train" in some of their advertisements). As a 20-year-old who will be graduating from college in a few years, the prospect of purchasing a home or condo in the city of Scranton just before real estate values there rise in association with the new train is a blessing for me.

To answer your question in short---who knows? The Back Mountain has traditionally been a VERY sought-after area for young families, which is why its population will soon equalize that of the city proper. However, I'm hearing increasing complaints from newer residents about the worsening traffic congestion on Route 309, rising housing prices, and high taxes, all of which may combine to cause the market to "cool" shortly. As of right now though, there are about 1,000 new lots, homes, townhomes, etc. under development in the Back Mountain, mostly in just three large planned communities (Saddle Ridge, Goodleigh Manor, and that large townhome community at the intersection of Routes 118 & 415). I have been noticing a "glut" as of late in terms of there being more homes for sale in the Back Mountain than at any other point that I can remember, but whether this is related to the fact that the area is now so large or if it is an indication of the market there "cooling", I'm not sure of. Unfortunately there aren't any Luzerne County realtors on this forum (yet) who can provide us with clearer information as to whether or not they're seeing a decreased interest in the Back Mountain.

If anything, though, you won't lose money on your investment. Don't worry about that one.
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Old 08-23-2007, 09:03 PM
 
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Thumbs up thank you

Thank you for taking your time to write. I hope things work out and that someday my kids will be as enthusiastic about the Wilkes Barre area as you are. In my opinion it is a wonderful improvement in lifestyle compared to Long Island. I'll miss the beaches but I won't miss the LIE traffic and overall congestion in the neighborhoods. Thanks again!
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Old 04-03-2008, 07:41 PM
 
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Default Newberry

Newberry is great. I have a lot of friends that live there. I am a transplant. I enjoy life here. 2 hours from NYC, 2 hours from Philly. You should view this video to see a skit about being transplanted here: [url=http://www.onelaughatleast.com]http://www.onelaughatleast.com/[/url]. They have a video that was on youtube. Good luck!
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Old 04-04-2008, 08:49 AM
 
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i didnt bother to read the long posts but Newberry is horrible in my opinion. the architecture is hideous but the landscape is awesome.
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Old 04-05-2008, 01:37 PM
 
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Default Nice on Inside

The homes are beautiful on inside and not on the out but I know severalpeople who are very happy there.
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