Good News For Mainers?

 Posted by at 7:15 am
Oct 272007

Forbes magazine took a look at which U.S. cities are the priciest for anyone trying to keep the home fires burning.

To determine this, the magazine examined expected temperature patterns, historical energy demand and projected heating commodity prices (oil, propane, natural gas and electricity). Then it calculated how much an average family of four with a 2,100-square-foot house would spend to heat their home.

Maine didn’t make the list!! The “top” city was Boston Massachusetts at $1635.94. Doesn’t that make you feel a lot better?


What Spooks Buyers?

 Posted by at 7:04 am
Oct 272007

I confess; this made me chuckle. A realtor from Southerrn California recently published an article regarding the “six things that spook buyers” when they are looking at property.

First on her list? Water damage. Yep, I can agree with that. Roof leaks and wet basements are surely worth some careful examination and it’s my experience that buyers rightfully pay attention to any sign of water damage. Sellers, if the chimney flashing leaked and you’ve repaired it, please repair any signs of the damage too!

The next two are “missing permits” and “code violations.” That’s the first time I chuckled. So where are the permits for that 1850’s farmhouse? Without getting too political, the bigger question here is Continue reading »


September Sales Down

 Posted by at 6:09 am
Oct 252007

In a press release to the media today, the Maine Real Estate Information System reports sales of homes in Maine statewide dropped 16% in September after two months of positive statistical data. The median sales price for those homes dipped to $190,000, reflecting a change of just over one percent. Median sales price indicates half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less. NAR reports national single-family home sales are down 19.8% from September 2006.


Buyers’ or Sellers’ Market?

 Posted by at 6:41 am
Oct 232007

Okay, I haven’t exactly kept count. But this has got to be the number one question I get asked in the grocery store, at the bank… on the phone… Is it a buyer’s or seller’s market? It’s starting to feel like the “hot enough for ya?” question in the summer and the “cold enough for ya?” question in the winter. And I’m occasionally tempted to answer all three questions the same: “YES!”

Now I suspect some economist out there has created a text book definition or some reasonably objective index by which we might determine whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market. I also suspect it would be mildly interesting to discover and apply it. Notice I said “interesting.” I didn’t say “useful.”

Is it a buyer’s or sellers market? The answer is “yes.” More accurately the answer is “it depends.” And to get much beyond that answer we have to start with the observation that “markets” are really about supply and demand. 

We generally think of  buyer’s markets as indicated by an abundant supply — at least more homes for sale than being sought by buyers. So currently the “typical” buyer has a lot of choices, right? It must be a buyer’s market! But wait. Continue reading »


Okay, okay!

 Posted by at 10:15 am
Oct 222007

I think this qualifies as an “oops.” The really short version is that I apparently had a setting wrong and it has been impossible for people to post comments. (I thought it was kinda quiet!) I do believe that’s fixed now! You’ll have to “register” but it’s fairly simple; just provide your email address (it won’t be published) so I know who you are. (Requiring folks to register also cuts down on “spam” or “junk” comments.)

I even know what I did wrong so if it gets too “noisy” I can change it back!


What Is A Wetland?

 Posted by at 8:04 am
Oct 192007

Here’s the textbook definition (according to the Army Corps of Engineers and US Environmental Agency): “Those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas.”

There are three characteristics of wetlands to consider when making determinations: vegetation, soil, and hydrology. According to the official definition, indicators from all three characteristics must be present during some portion of the growing season for it to be considered “wetland.” Of course “official” definitions are best made by officials, but here are some general guidelines:

  • Areas where water stands at or above the soil surface during some part of the growing season
  • Areas where plant communities include common “standing water” plants (cattails, bullrushes, etc.
  • Areas that include soils with an abundance of peat or muck.

Any such areas deserver further exploration! Oh… by the way… Moose are not considered indicators of wetlands, but they sure do like them!


An Obligatory Recipe

 Posted by at 7:45 am
Oct 192007

When I first posted my original site one of the first visitors asked, “Where are the recipes?” It does seem that real estate folks like to mail out recipes… Personally, I don’t get the connection. But here’s one for Fawn Doo!

Submitted by Jackson J. Johnson, Jackman Junction 1937*

1 pound of small deer droppings
1 pound of American Cheese

Collect about two handfuls of small deer droppings… the ones that look like “raisnettes.” Sneak these back to the Deer Camp and melt the American Cheese over the woodstove.

Serving Instructions:
Since you haven’t bagged your buck yet and the more successful hunters are ribbing the bejabbers outta ya, offer them some Authentic Fawn Doo. Arrange with toothpicks around bowl of melted cheese and set this mess down in front of your buddies who are playin’ poker. Set back and watch the shinnanagins!

This recipe is from King Shag’s Wicked Traditional Downhummah Recipe Book with text by A.J. Cambpell and Drawrin’s by Bill Harris. Copyright 1993 by A. J. Campbell, the King Shag Canning Company, Box 127, Shagg Landing, East Boothbay Maine 04544

Walter’s note… I have been unable to find any current reference to the publisher or the King Shag Canning Company. That’s unfortunate, because this little recipe book contains some hysterically funny stuff! If anybody has information… please post or let me know!


Heating Costs Continue To Rise!

 Posted by at 8:40 am
Oct 172007

Homebuyers… we talk a lot about “prequalification” and what’s affordable and that is an important part of buying your home. The formulas are fairly straight forward and a meeting with your lender should give you a reasonably good idea of how much home you can afford based on your  mortgage, taxes, and insurance. But we also have to look at the total cost as well.

It’s certainly not new news that heating costs are rising dramatically. Heating oil customers will pay an average of $319, or 22%, more this winter than last in large part because Continue reading »


What is staging?

 Posted by at 8:32 am
Oct 172007

I have been known to joke that staging means “picking up the dirty underwear and taking out the trash.” Of course in a more serious venue staging means putting your listed home into an arrangement that appeals most to buyers. Yet another definition is that staging means different things to different people!

In the ultimate example of staging, all personal possessions including furniture disappear. You create a “model home” that has the maximum universal appeal. That isn’t going to be practical for most sellers.

So what can we do? Some of the more simple steps include “de-cluttering” and creating a spacious look. Some sellers might consider renting a storage unit and packing away things… leaving curtains open… turning on lights… creating pleasant smells (bake some cookies—your agent will love you!).

Speaking of your agent, one of our tasks (besides eating the cookies) is to help buyers see beyond what’s there and consider various possibilities. Your help is appreciated! During a recent showing with buyer clients, Continue reading »


Here it is!

 Posted by at 5:56 am
Oct 152007

You knew it had to happen… many know that a few months ago I developed a basic personal web site that included a special section regarding real estate. The initial reactions were very good and, while traffic hasn’t been overwhelming, it seems a number of folks found the site at least mildly interesting!

Without going all technical, there were a few problems—the biggest being the difficulty with adding information and a related difficulty for users in finding it. So I decided to go with the “blog” format. I went “whole hog” (“whole blog?”)  and even have established my own domain. If you are technically inclined you’re welcome to contact me about the details.

From a less technical perspective, let me explain why I made this effort and what it means to clients and friends. I believe (bear with me, this will sound like a keen grasp of the obvious) the business of real estate is undergoing some major changes.

One change is simply that information is now readily available to consumers.— thanks in a large part to the Internet. It used to be that you had to call a licensed agent just to get a list of what houses were on the market in a given area. Now you can pretty much get the same information with a few mouse clicks. I find that many buyers actually know more about the properties they are interested in than I do — at least at first! But this information explosion creates several new challenges and opportunities.

Consider for a moment what real estate is… or perhaps more importantly, what it is not. For most buyers, real estate is not a commodity. That means there’s a process associated with aquiring real estate that’s a lot different than stopping by the local store for a gallon of milk. The value of a realtor is now (always has been, really) helping with the process. That’s why it’s called “real estate brokerage.” It’s not just about the milk.

So my intent with this site is to provide “tips, tactics, and thoughts” as well as develop a resource for clients and customers. You won’t find listings (or milk!) here; there are many other places (including the Maine Choice Realty site) that can do a great job with that information. But when you want more than a property, this is going to be the place to visit.