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Commonwealth Real Estate Your Way continues growth in the Poconos


Mt. Pocono, Pa., — (April 12, 2010) –Long-time area real estate professional and associate broker, Libbie A. David, has returned to work alongside Vickie Brockelman, broker/owner of Commonwealth Real Estate Your Way, LLC., with offices in Stroudsburg and Mt. Pocono, Pa..

David started her real estate career in the Valley Forge area of Pennsylvania and moved to the Poconos in 1998 joining Coldwell Banker Phyllis Rubin Real Estate. She earned an associates degree from Coldwell Banker University and received honors in the Coldwell Banker Multi-Million Dollar Club and the Coldwell Banker Sterling Society, both honors reserved for the very best of the best. She is a graduate of the REALTOR® Institute and holds membership in the Council of Residential Specialists and the Real Estate Buyer’s Agency Council. She is an active member of the National Association of REALTORS®, the Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS® (PAR) and the Pocono Mountains Association of REALTORS® (PMAR) having served on the board of PAR AND PMAR in 2008 through 2009. In 2008, David was named the 2008 REALTOR of the YEAR by the Pocono Mountains Association of Realtors.

Among her many honors and distinctions, David holds the Accredited Buyers Representative (ABR) accreditation through the National Association of REALTORS®; the Accredited Home Stating Specialist (AHS) accreditation, the Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE) and the Certified Short Sale Professional (CSP) designations all from Realty University; the Certified Seller Representative from the Seller Agency Council and the Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) from the Council of Residential Specialists. Each of these credentials is the result of hard work and commitment, experience in the field and extensive testing. Whether buying or selling, her depth of knowledge and expertise in these various areas of real estate offer her customers a wide variety of skills and services from which to draw upon to meet their real estate goals.
Commonwealth Real Estate Your Way, LLC., offers flexible options to buyers and sellers in terms of marketing plans, commission structures and levels of support. For more information, visit or call 570-839-0411 or toll free at 1-888-333-0464.

Commonwealth Real Estate Your Way, LLC..... RB# 066860..... Office: 570-972-0155

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Spring is in the Air and we in the Poconos are getting ready.

March is always the time of year when we get those few warmer days and everyone starts to get excited and ready for the coming beautiful weather. It is also a time when more buyers come out to look at homes and when sellers list their homes in anticipation of the onslaught of buyers. This year because of the extended tax credit which expires on April 15, the next 30 days will be super-busy with buyers wanting to close before the expiration and sellers who want to showcase their home to those excited buyers.

With the spring season close at hand and the anticipation of the tax credit coming to an end, it’s a great time to share some home ideas for spring cleaning and prepping and staging a home for sale.

The agents at Commonwealth Real Estate Your Way pooled their ideas learned over decades of real estate selling along with some Pocono area home staging experts for our three-part series to help you clean and fix your home, inside and out.

The first step and the best way to prepare a home to sell is a thorough cleaning.
• De-clutter, purge and organize first
• Clean rooms to spotless
• Empty and wipe closets
• Shine Appliances
• De-clutter counter tops in kitchen and bathrooms
• Clean leather furniture to remove scratches
• Polish wood furniture
• Clean windows to sparkle
• Find the dust in places you have forgotten – refrigerators tops, under sofas, inside bookshelves
• De-gunk kitchen cabinets, microwave, oven, tile, inside refrigerator
• Dust drapes, mattresses and bed frames
• Dust framed art and ceiling fan blades
• Wipe window panes and home baseboards
The whole house presents better when wiped, vacuumed and mopped.
Some projects will require a little more time but will have big impact especially cosmetic touch ups:
• Professional carpeting cleaning (or, in high-impact area, a new, neutral carpet
• Wipe and touch up paint throughout the home (or put a full fresh coat everywhere)
• Install crown molding
• Install a new kitchen or bathroom countertop

Other items that might not bother you but would indicate poor home maintenance to a potential buyer are the little maintenance problems that you always want to get to, but never do. Now is the time to really pay attention to those little annoyances.
• Fix leaky faucets
• Lubricate windows and doors
• Fix loose handles
• Repair nail pops in dry wall
• Fix weather stripping in doors and windows
• Re-caulk tile near tubs and sinks, windows and doors

You’ve heard the saying “Curb Appeal” – well, you never get a second chance to make a first impression and that impression starts outside of your home.
In early spring:
• Throw the windows open to get the spring smell indoors
• Neaten and trim any damaged winter landscaping
• Add fresh mulch
• Plant some pretty spring flowers already in bloom
• Clean up and arrange patio furniture
• Spray paint chipping planters (even if empty)
• Spray down driveways
• Sweep and clean cement pathways
• Clean and stain decking
• Clean gutters

Now take an objective walk in and around your home. Be a potential buyer. What would you think of this home?

Commonwealth Real Estate Your Way, LLC..... RB# 066860..... Office: 570-972-0155

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Keith Gilpin Spirit Award

Keith Gilpin

Keith Gilpin

Three years ago a friend and real estate colleague, Keith Gilpin, passed away.
At first, it seemed like such a horrible time to go. It was right before Christmas. But on reflection, we realized that Christmas seemed the most appropriate time for Keith to pass – a time of great giving, joy and peace. When better to celebrate a life lived for giving, joy and peace?

Not long after his death, I renamed what was then known as the Coldwell Banker Phyllis Rubin Real Estate Spirit Award (I was broker of the region’s Coldwell Banker offices) to the Keith Gilpin Spirit Award. The award recognizes professionalism, positive attitude, a willingness to serve the community and the customer and make them the priority each and every day. It also recognizes excellence, team spirit and creativity.

Although we didn’t call it the Platinum Rule three years ago, the Keith Gilpin Spirit Award recognizes efforts of working within the Platinum Rule, which is one of the founding principles of Commonwealth Real Estate Your Way, LLC. The Platinum Rules says to treat the customer (and everyone else) the way they wish and need to be treated……It’s amazing to me how far ahead of his time Keith was. He personified the Platinum Rule long before it became a popular business and lifestyle model.

Keith taught us that life is to live and embrace every day, and most importantly, he taught us being a real estate agent and helping people find the place where they will lay deep roots and live is humble and important work.

Keith had an amazing passion for life. He would start projects and assignments strong — with creativity and fresh ideas, intent and energy and he would finish strong – - getting things done, delivering what he promised, giving more than was expected and he did it with energy, integrity and professionalism. For all that he was …. Keith remains the embodiment of the Award.

Commonwealth Real Estate Your Way, LLC, will continue to recognize an agent each year at this time with the Keith Gilpin Spirit Award.
We are honoring this year’s recipient on December 21, the anniversary of Keith’s death. This individual is always on, always at the ready to serve, whether community, customer, friend or colleague. This individual is diligent in the practice of real estate; will try new ideas with gusto and courage; always chooses to see the positive and understands that to accomplish great things, we must act, dream, plan and believe. With a great attitude and passion to serve, this individual has “Keith Gilpin’s style”; is a strong finisher and is the living personification of the Keith Gilpin Spirit Award.

This year’s recipient is Karen Wagner.

Karen Wagner
Karen Wagner

Karen Wagner has been marketing residential real estate in the Pocono region since 1995. She is an award-winning, full-time realtor whose specialties include e-marketing and new construction. Her customer focus includes first-time and single home buyers and older adults. Karen puts the needs of her clients individuals first and applies the Platinum Rule to all her real estate relationships making her a perfect fit for Commonwealth Real Estate Your Way, LLC. She is a member of the National Association of Realtors, the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, and the Pocono Mountain Association of Realtors.Karen is originally from Indianapolis, Indiana, where she graduated from Indiana University-Purdue University of Indianapolis. She and her family moved to Pennsylvania from Pensacola, Florida. Prior to real estate, Karen had a successful career in advertising and marketing.

Karen’s free-time passions include people, joy, life… and Indianapolis Colts football!

Commonwealth Real Estate Your Way, LLC..... RB# 066860..... Office: 570-972-0155

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Connie, Dawn & Jeff

Vickie & ConnieA DAY IN THE LIFE OF COMMONEWEALTH REAL ESTATE YOUR WAY REALTORS. Working hard for you and having a little fun too.

Most of the gang

Kris & Clarice

Joan and Melanie

Commonwealth Real Estate Your Way, LLC..... RB# 066860..... Office: 570-972-0155

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Wisdom Gained from Experience in Real Estate

August 24, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

What Life Teaches

In a world where everything’s done at Internet speed, there’s valuable wisdom to be gained from past experience.

By F. Harry Stowe June 2009 (Source REALTOR® Magazine)

One is a former minister. Another spent years perfecting crème brûlée French toast and other signature dishes at his Austin, Texas, restaurant before taking the plunge into real estate sales. Two others have spent more than 30 years in the real estate business.

What all these real estate pros share is life experience. That experience, they say, plays an important role in their success. Their sales tactics may not differ greatly from those of our “30 Under 30” class of 2009 But with richly varied resumes and memories that predate Internet communications, they have important lessons to offer about cooperation, patience, and taking the long view.

Patrick Dixson has been in residential real estate just four years (after a stint many years ago in commercial). But the 56-year-old owner of RE/MAX Capital City in Austin, Texas, is leveraging his 20-plus years in the restaurant business in New Orleans and Austin.

“In a restaurant, you have to have a good relationship with your customers in order to support and grow your business,” he says. “That takes constant work, constant tinkering.”

Dixson began his restaurant career working in New Orleans for famed chefs Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse. There, he learned quickly how word-of-mouth referrals could fill restaurant seats. When he and his wife, Sharon Watkins, opened Chez-Zee Bistro Grill in Austin 19 years ago, he would work the room by night and build a customer database by day.

His wife still operates the restaurant; meanwhile, he’s applying that experience to his new career. “In the restaurant business, you’re on stage. And it’s the same in real estate. Once you learn the technical side of the business—the contracts, the legal requirements, and those sorts of tasks—the biggest part of this business is relationships. You have to build a network and then do such a good job that your customers refer you to their friends and associates.”

A thousand miles north of Austin, Mike Royce, 56, has been plying his trade for 31 years. When he started in real estate, Jimmy Carter was president and a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage carried an interest rate of about 18 percent. But, like Dixson, Royce says the lessons he learned early in his career inform his work today.

“Back then, it was all about having a clear understanding of your market,” says Royce, CRS®, the broker-owner of Realty World–Royce & Associates in Dayton, Ohio. “Fundamentals were the key then and they are now. If you let that get away from you, you’re going to struggle in any kind of a market.”

In addition to knowing the market, these business veterans say, you need to:

  • Set goals.
  • Hold yourself accountable.
  • Manage your time well.
  • Be devoted to customer service.
  • Have a laser-like focus on business planning.
  • Know when and how to adapt ideas that are shaping this and other industries.

You can’t keep up on all those fronts alone. That’s why Royce is a member of the Mason Mentoring Group, named for the Ohio town where he and about 10 colleagues from Ohio and Kentucky meet roughly once a month. Members found each other as they pursued their own educational needs.

“We’re in the same region, but we aren’t really in competition,” Royce says. As a result, they’ve referred business to each other on a number of occasions. “The referrals are nice,” he says, “but they’re actually just a side benefit of this group. Our first goal is education.”

Networking is essential, agrees Vickie Brockelman, 53, especially at a time of tremendous turbulence and great technological change. Brockelman is a sales associate with Commonwealth Real Estate Your Way in Mount Pocono, Pa., a growing market west of New York. “Meeting your colleagues in informal groups is one of the best ways to test ideas and grow your network.”

Listen to This One

But even more important than sharing your ideas is being a good listener, Brockelman says. “When I talk to people who are new to this business, I emphasize how important it is to listen to their colleagues and their customers,” she says. “It’s really one of the most important skills anybody can have in this business.”

After recently meeting with someone who wanted to list a property, Brockelman advised the prospective seller to reconsider. “The more I heard, the more I realized that he might be better off waiting to list the property. It was the best option for him.” She advised him to go to his lender and try to modify his loan. “It was right for him, and I hope he comes back to me when the time is right for him to sell,” she say.

When it comes to being a good listener, Lynda Conway sees a strong parallel between real estate and her earlier career, leading a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). “As a minister, I learned that, to get to the bottom of an issue, I had to carefully ask certain questions and then listen to each side.

Often, I was faced with very emotional situations,” says Conway. For 13 years, Conway’s full-time gig has been selling real estate as a partner in The Turner Team, affiliated with J.B. Goodwin, REALTOR®, also in Austin. She and partner Bettye Turner close between $10 million and $20 million in sales annually, she says, and she regularly draws on her background to help people facing tough real estate decisions—and to counsel colleagues.

Lately, Conway has been advising other sales pros to become more financially savvy now that lending and borrowing has become more difficult. “Our clients are expecting us to help them in this time of difficulty, and we should be able to answer their questions about finance. They’ll know if you’re trying to fake it.’’

That’s where Elise West Greenberg’s college economics degree comes in handy. Greenberg, ABR®, CRS®, is a practitioner with Weichert, REALTORS®, in the Philadelphia suburb of Blue Bell, Pa. She offers mortgage trend information at her Web site, with a clear explanation of why now is a great time to buy.

“It’s very important that you provide useful information that is easy to access,” she says. The 50-year-old has been in real estate sales only five years, but her economics background and previous career marketing high-end kitchens have served her well in real estate.

Use Down Time Wisely

Randy Keleher, too, learned valuable lessons in another arean that he applies in real estate. For 30 years, Keleher operated a ski shop in Connecticut. Today, he’s a sales associate with William Raveis Real Estate, Mortgage and Insurance, in Shelton, Conn.

At his ski shop, he learned the importance of making your marketing plan fit “both the overall market conditions and the individual client.” He also learned how to prepare for both busy and slow times. Off-peak months in the ski business, he says, taught him the value of sharp business planning and operational skills.

“We’re in a tight market right now, but we still see opportunity,” says Keleher, who has been in real estate six years. “If I had any advice to give, it would be that people in our business should use this time to their advantage—to educate themselves about their market and work on building their client base. It’s really a time to lay a good foundation for when things turn around.”

Keep Learning

Although experience is a great teacher, it’s important to never let your knowledge get stale. Dixson has spent considerable time recently focusing on the art of negotiation. He has even begun formal training to be a Certified Negotiation Expert, a designation offered through the Phoenix-based Negotiation Expertise LLC.

“It’s a tool that many of us need to work on,” he says. “My experience has been that many people not only have a tough time saying what they want to say, but they also have a tough time actually understanding what the other person wants.”

In addition to seeking out training opportunities, Dixson has paid attention to developing real estate mentors, who’ve helped him get beyond the basics and set stretch goals. His highest priority, he says, is to talk to 50 people every week.

Whatever your age or past experience, “mentors are critical in this business,” says Elise West Greenberg. For the past three years, Greenberg has been a corporate trainer for Weichert, REALTORS®, training associates in 20 offices. Her first bit of advice to students is to develop a business plan—but she realizes that’s easier said than done. “There are plenty of people out there who will gladly help you create and monitor your plan. Go to meetings of your colleagues. If you build a network, you’ll start to get referrals.”

One area where experienced practitioners might benefit from reverse mentoring—that is, seeking advice from younger practitioners—is in the use of new technologies.

“To be very honest, I don’t know how Twitter can be useful to me and my clients,” Charryl Youman, a practitioner with Prudential Florida Realty, in Venice, Fla., says with a laugh when asked about the microblogging service that allows users to send and read short messages on computers or other Web-enabled devices. Those short messages, known as “tweets,” are shared with communities of users around specific topics, and have been adopted by some in real estate as another means to stay connected with clients and prospects.

Although she’s a LinkedIn user, Youman says Twitter is still over the horizon for her. But that doesn’t mean she’s dismissing it altogether.

“During my days in marketing in the legal profession I was expected to keep learning,’’ she says. Youman spent 25 years in legal marketing, including seven years at a national law firm that specialized in real estate. “There is no difference in this profession. It’s all about adapting and growing, and thinking like a business executive.”

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CRE finds success with social networking and blogging

The numbers don’t lie. Real estate customers are on the internet and Commonwealth Real Estate You Way is making sure that those interested in Pocono Real Estate get a chance to find available properties by using social media and blogging to the fullest potential.

For sellers, Commonwealth Real Estate Your Way listings are averaging a mere 39 days on the market before closing. According to the broker, the CRE web site, blog entries as well as the agency’s YouTube channel and social media efforts are primary reasons for that.

Our agents are out front in terms of social media. They work together to drive a heavy social media marketing agenda. They Tweet on Twitter about listings, great homes, second homes, foreclosed properties and they have also built an enormous following on LinkedIn and Active Rain to ensure they are giving their customers what they need to satisfy their real estate goals.

Here are some interesting facts:

  • The majority of our buyer leads are coming from our online efforts.
  • Since going live, we average about 200 new visitors to the CRE web site daily and attribute that to our social media methods.
  • Customers can count on us to help them meet their Pocono real estate goals and we will continue to gauge our social media presence for their success.
Commonwealth Real Estate Your Way, LLC..... RB# 066860..... Office: 570-972-0155

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Short Sales – great options in some cases – Fodder for Fraud in others

Short sales are a hot topic in today’s real estate world. Individuals who are behind on their mortgage payments or who see that the value of their home is less than what they owe on it might think that foreclosure is their only option. But, another option is often a good choice – the “short sale.”

A short sale allows for the sale of the property at the lower value, and though it may be less than what is owed, the lender has previously agreed to take the “short” amount. In these cases, the lender has agreed to taking less than is owed on the home so the individual can get out of the bad situation without still owing additional funds on the mortgage after the sale. The typical pattern is that a REALTOR lists the home below the mortgage pay off, with the contingent that the lender approves a “short sale.”

That’s the good news.

The bad news is there is room for fraud so be careful. (You can learn more about this at

Don’t forget – most short sales are very good opportunities for the savvy buyer. Today, there are many Pocono real estate properties being sold for six figures less than their actual value. These are new homes in good condition. What a great opportunity for a buyer who waited and can snatch up one of these short sale homes for a “steal.”

Commonwealth Real Estate Your Way, LLC..... RB# 066860..... Office: 570-972-0155

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PA First Time Home Buyers – Get an advance on your tax credit to use for closing

June 11, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Now there are even more reasons to buy homes in Pennsylvania.

We blogged recently that the federal government gave first-time home buyers incentive to buy a home because they added an opportunity to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act tax credit of up to $8,000 by first-time buyers to use the tax credit as a down payment or for closing costs. (Check out our recent blog post from June 8th – More reasons to buy Pocono Real Estate)

Then, today, the Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS announced that Gov. Edward G. Rendell created a plan to award a portion of the $380 million in federal economic recovery funds to assist Pennsylvania home buyers. According news from PAR, nearly 1,000 families will receive thousands of dollars to help make down payments on new homes, more than 5,000 families across Pennsylvania will find affordable housing and jobs will be created for some 3,000 workers.

These down payment and closing cost assistance programs will come in the form of advances on the tax credits and will be administered through the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency Tax Credit Advance Loan Program (TCS) and Keystone Assistance Loans (KAL).  Borrowers can use a portion of the tax credit in the form of a second, short-term, low to no interest loan to fund the down payment or closing.

There is plenty of Pocono real estate available. If you have always wanted a home of your own and have never had a chance before, now might be the perfect time.

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Commonwealth Real Estate Your Way, LLC, Sees Success, Movement In First 100 Days

June 8, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Mt. Pocono, Pa., – Open since February 16, 2009, Commonwealth Real Estate Your Way celebrates its first 100 days (May 26) in operation with smiles and a long list of accomplishments and successes.

Since opening their doors in February, this new and innovative style of real estate agency has hired 12 area REALTOR agents each with a specialty area in residential or commercial real estate and all who are considered at the top of their profession.

“These are the most sought after agents in the area and they are all housed here under the Commonwealth umbrella,” said Commonwealth Real Estate Your Way, LLC broker/owner Brockelman. “This wouldn’t work without these individuals. Our mission is to provide innovative, customized services in the area real estate market by applying the Platinum Rule, of treating others the way they want to be treated, in all of our transactions. It’s a whole new way of thinking and of applying the rules of our profession.”

Top performing Commonwealth Real Estate Your Way REALTORS have transacted more than $2 million in closed business and under contract business during the first 100 days.

“We couldn’t be more pleased. Clearly we are giving the customer what they want and probably have wanted for a very long time,” said Brockelman. “It would appear that the newest name in town is fast becoming the people’s choice.”

According to Brockelman, some noteworthy numbers from Commonwealth Real Estate Your Way include: more than 60 listings secured in 100 days with 6 closings and 10 additional properties currently under contract. The company also launched a customer friendly Web site about a month after opening. Reports indicate that in the less than 70 days since going live, the web site has secured nearly 10,000 page loads, with more than 5,000 unique and new visitors combined, which according to the web company managing the site for Commonwealth is an uncommon success.

For more information, visit the Commonwealth Real Estate Your Way, LLC, Web site at, or call 570-839-0411 or toll free at 1-888-333-0464.

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April is Fair Housing Month

April 14, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Mt. Pocono, Pa., — (April 15, 2009) – April 2009 marks the 41st anniversary of the 1968 landmark Fair Housing Act. Each year, REALTORS® recognize the significance of this event and reconfirm our commitment to upholding fair housing laws as well as our commitment to offering equal professional service to all in their search for real property regardless of physical disability, income level, age, etc. .

At Commonwealth Real Estate Your Way, LLC., we want to provide information and resources to individuals looking for or already owning Pocono real estate as it relates to fair housing. Information on Fair Housing Month is available through the following links:

The History of Fair Housing

For Realtors®, Every Month is Fair Housing Month

What Everybody Should Know About Equal Opportunity in Housing

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CommonWealth Real Estate Your Way, Brodheadsville