At The Core…

 Posted by at 3:52 pm
May 292008

At the May 22 meeting of the Maine Real Estate Commission (MREC), they approved the outline for the new core course titled “What Am I – Why is it Important.”  As an instructor, it’s been my honor to be part of the Committee challenged to develop the course outline and material for this new course. For the benefit of those not familiar with the “inner workings” of the real estate industry, every couple of years the Commission looks for patterns in consumer complaints and uses an educational forum in an attempt to reduce those problems and give consumers a higher level of confidence in real estate brokerage.

This new course has a number of objectives centering around the roles and responsibilities of licensees to the parties involved in a transaction. A quick search of this site will no doubt demonstrate the emphasis I place on this with customers and clients. Previous articles on this site like “About Real Estate…” and “Real Estate Industry Bashing…” are just several of my attempts to encourage consumers to understand who the players are, what they are roles are, and why it’s important. Those of us familiar with the industry tend to use  terms like buyer’s agent, transaction broker, and disclosed dual agent easily. If you are involved in a transaction, you should know why those terms are important, and licensees should be able to explain it to you!

Instructor training is scheduled for June 16, 2008.  The course should be available to licensees shortly thereafter. Say, here’s an idea for you… if you are looking to buy or sell this summer, ask the licensees you talk to if they’ve taken the new Core Course!

Note to licensees and students: Continue reading »

May 232008

Yes, I will be working! Actually, I am the “on call” duty broker this weekend! I do want to take this opportunity to editorialize a bit regarding one Holiday that is particularly meaningful to me. If you will, please take just a moment to visit this Memorial Day Tribute site.. There are a number of quotes, poems, facts, songs to stimulate your thinking.

We do owe a debt of gratitude to so many. Take a moment to salute the flag… shake a veteran’s hand… buy a poppy… or simply reflect. Oliver Wendell Holmes described the day as one that “…celebrates and solemnly reaffirms from year to year a national act of enthusiasm and faith.”

That was in 1884. Not a bad idea now, either.


Cautions While Searching…

 Posted by at 5:12 am
May 172008

This is the time of year when more and more prospective buyers call and announce “we’re coming up next weekend and would like to drive around to look at some properties…”

We’ll set aside the fact that this may not be the most effective approach to finding a property to buy and share a couple of cautions. The first comes courtesy of State Representative Pete Johnson from Greenville. In his most recent newsletter he reminds us that “there are more moose colisions recorded in June than in any other month of the year.”

Moose are hard to see because of their dark brown color… because of their size there is a potential for serious injury. They consume leftover salt from the plowing season and enjoy the lush grass usually found new the roadside.  There have been nearly 2000 moose colisions in the past three years, 80% happening after sunset. Stay alert!

The Maine Forest Service has some advice for those headed into the “boonies.” As most folks know, we had some severe weather this year and it’s created some road problems. Roads have been undermined. Some bridges are unstable. The worst areas are in Aroostick County and you can check for road conditions.

No comment about the black flies…


Statistics Not Encouraging…

 Posted by at 8:34 am
May 152008

Please note the numbers in this post have changed. MREIS admitted (to me, anyway) that the statistics they sent in their email newsletter were for one month only, not the rolling quarter.

Sorry for any inconvenience and confusion!


 Well… as the saying goes, I don’t make the news, I just report it. MREIS has just released some market statistics. Statewide, units sold for March were down some 25.89% from a year ago.

We also have some “rolling quarter” (the three months of January, February, and March) figures by county, now corrected. Looking at three the three “local” counties yields some interesting numbers. Unit sales in Penobscot County (includes Bangor) are down 12.93%. Somerset County (includes Skowhegan) was down 23.08%. Piscataquis County (includes Dover Foxcroft) was down a whopping 50%! But to put that into perspective, we’re not exactly talking about big numbers in Piscataquis County… in the first quarter of 2007 there were some 40 properties sold, in 2008 there were 20. That’s less than two per week.

The median selling price data doesn’t really tell us too much, especially when the units are down. All it takes is the sale of one property at the high or low end to affect it. With that disclaimer, the statewide median selling price for March was down 1.88%.

Source: Maine Real Estate Information System, Inc. Note: MREIS, a subsidiary of the Maine Association of REALTORS, is a statewide Multiple Listing Service with over 5,800 licensees inputting active and sold property listing data. Statistics reflect properties reported as sold in the System within the time periods indicated.

May 122008

Actually, as I thought about a headline for this post the quote that came to mind was, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Oh, by the way. The squirrel will make sense if you stay with me…We’ve got at least two or three major changes taking place in the real estate industry that are certainly giving us fits—not so much because they are good or bad, but because they require adjustments to the way business gets done. The changes brought by the Internet almost go without saying. Of course this hasn’t only affected the real estate business… look at the changes in how we bank and arrange travel – or shop in general. I remember back in the 1990’s we talked a lot about the “information superhighway” and “information-overload” became something of a dreaded curse. I don’t know if it’s gotten better or worse, but it’s definitely gotten “more.” In a bit of a good news/bad news way, information is king.

The percentage of people who say they began the search for their home on the Internet is growing by leaps and bounds. I occasionally joke with clients that it’s possible for them to know more about the houses (at least in terms of facts) they are interested in than I do. That’s not a bad thing. It has intrigued me that in some cases buyers who’ve been “surfing the ‘Net” come to the process much better prepared. In other cases, there’s been a need to “un-do” some of the impressions and misperceptions.

In the end a real estate transaction is always large and complex. Part of the good news is that consumers can gain information somewhat anonymously and not get distracted by a “salesperson.” Part of the bad news is that it’s easy to over-emphasize the property and forget the important details of the process.

One example of this is found in the financing. A question we need to face early in the actual process is how the purchase will be funded. While I haven’t kept statistics, a lot of Internet shoppers haven’t thought much about that – they’ve been looking at houses. (Surprise, surprise – you don’t need to find a house before arranging financing. I’ve seen several buyers “lose” a house Continue reading »


Who’s Buying Maine?

 Posted by at 4:59 am
May 052008

The Multiple Listing System information has been capturing buyer’s previous zip code for a few months and summary statistics were recently released. For all property types, statistics show that in that time period 74% of buyers are already in Maine, 25% are from out of state, and less than 1% are International. 

Buyers from MA represented 7.5% of Maine sales, NH 3.4% is and CT 1.8%.  The were buyers from every state in the country, but WV had smallest representation with only 3 total sales. Well, like the song says… “Almost heaven, West Virginia…”

Most sellers believe (or maybe hope is more accurate!) that “some out of stater” will buy their property, but statistically there’s a one in four chance of that happening.