2008 Sales Figures Released

 Posted by at 3:01 pm
Jan 292009

Single-family existing home sales in Maine fell 15.8% in December 2008 and 20.9% for all of 2008. According to MREIS (Maine Real Estate Information System), 9,502 homes sold last year, compared to 12,014 in 2007. Nationally, sales of single-family existing homes dipped 1.4% in December 2008. According to NAR (National Association of Realtors) nationwide sales for all of 2008 dropped 11.9%. In the Northeast, home sales decreased by 14.3%.

On a more localized level, home sales in Penobscot County were down 21.1% in 2o08 from 2007. Piscataquis County was down 30.9% and Somerset County down 14.4%.

Remember, all real estate markets are very local… if you are buying and selling you’ll want to dig deeper.


I agreed to what??!

 Posted by at 10:41 am
Jan 262009

Online privacy as it relates to selling your home is a simmering issue just waiting to boil over. Safeguards side, once information is on the Internet, current wisdom is to consider it public because controlling where that information goes and how it gets used becomes almost impossible.

Most consumers are, at some level, familiar with the “Multiple Listing System.” Actually, there is no one system, but they all tend to follow certain patterns and practices. Understand that the original purpose of the MLS was to provide a way for Realtors to exchange information amount themselves about properties they had listed for sale. We used to carry around a large book (catalog). Thanks to technology we now access that information on the Internet.

Technology has also opened the door to making much of the information available to the public. In the rush to provide value to listing clients, consumer sites such as Realtor.com have exploded in popularity and numbers and all are vying for the buyers’ attention. When your property is listed and “inputted” to the MLS, the information often “flows through” to these consumer sites automatically. Buyers from around the world can “check out” your home for sale.

Like all good things, there’s a downside. Some of those sites are trying to attract buyers by offering additional capabilities and services. Initially, “area information” and satellite views were the features. Recently, some of these sites started offering “estimates of value” based on available data and the ability for the public to post comments regarding properties listed.

This ought to give you pause.

The good news is that current regulations require you to give your permission for many of these “enhancements.” It might not matter to you that people can view a satellite photo of your property. You might want to think twice about inviting people to write personal comments regarding it.

It’s important to remember that your listing agreement is supposed to be what you agree to, not merely a form you sign after checking boxes. I would offer you the same advice I give students in classes: “READ the contract!” (Repeat that three times.) Don’t just agree or check “yes.” THINK!


Educational Opportunities…

 Posted by at 9:22 am
Jan 152009

Here’s some “non-real estate” educational opportunites I’m offering in conjunction with the Piscataquis Valley Adult Education Cooperative… for many more opportunities and information, call P.V.A.E.C. at 564-6525 or visit their web site

Sales and Influencing Strategies Workshop
Do you need to be more persuasive?  The techniques you will learn have been applied in situations including advertising, public speaking, customer service and even parenting.  This is an action-packed and information-crammed program that’s fun to boot!  You’ll learn, for example, that cows don’t give milk; you actually have to take it!  Or at least you need to know some basic techniques for getting those cows to yield the precious fluid.  We won’t be milking cows, but we will be learning techniques to increase the returns from our sales and influencing efforts.
Instructor:  Walter Boomsma     Fee:  $25
Dates:  4/6 & 4/13   Time:  6:30 – 8:30 pm
Day:  Two Mondays    Location:  SeDoMoCha

Brainpower… Discovering Your Mental Abilities
Mental patterns and routines allow us to take in, categorize and handle great amounts of information, but they also account for most of our “stupid mistakes.” With awareness, we can manage the process and increase mental flexibility. After experiencing first-hand the flexibility and potential of the mind, participants learn how they can develop important mental skills such as fact-finding, fact-detecting, problem-solving, and “happying.”
Fee:  $25
Dates:  5/11   Time:  6:30 – 8:30 pm
Day:  Monday    Location:  SeDoMoCha

Jan 152009

Just a quick note to let you know that the Arthur Gary School of Real Estate Spring Schedule has been released and can be found at www.arthurgary.com. For the benefit of former and future students in the area, I would call your attention to two things:

First, in conjunction with P.V.A.E.C. we are offering the “core course” in Dover Foxcroft again… for information about that particular course only, contact Kathy at 564.6525.

Second, an exciting “Education Spectacular” is scheduled in Bangor during March 12-14. This is a huge opportunity get your CE credits! Vist www.agsre.com or call the school at 856-1712 for more information. We are also offering the Sales Agent and Associate Broker classes in Bangor — details are also on the web site. Sales Agent Exam Preparation classes will also be available based on requests. If you have a need or interest, let me know!


Now Is The Time To Steal A House!

 Posted by at 2:36 pm
Jan 022009

Here’s a trend that as yet seems to be unnoticed by the media:  Foreclosure listings taking HUGE price reductions. In the past few days I’ve seen properties already priced well below market taking 30 to 50% listing price reductions overnight. Are we seeing a year end sale?

One of my buyer clients (you know who you are) offered a very plausible explanation this morning as she signed an offer to steal one herself. In short, many of these mortgage companies are receiving their bailout checks. Now that their checkbook has a positive balance they can afford to take some more losses. (One of the easiest things to do in business is “lose money.”)

I know–to the average person it’s not very logical. But very little about foreclosures is logical. Since it’s a “requirement” of the bailout that these lenders demonstrate they can become solvent and profitable… without getting all technical, they are “bailing out” of the foreclosures they own now that they’ve been bailed out. There’s been plenty written about owners “walking away” from their mortgages. When they did, the lenders ended up with property. So now the lenders are “walking away” from that property!

Get your checkbook out. If you have the cash and stomach for it, you just might steal one yourself.
But you’ll find yourself in situations where you have to act fast. If you don’t have the cash I’d talk to

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Jan 022009

Most sellers understand they have a role to play in making their house more “saleable” – particularly in a buyer’s market. It’s important to note that increasing salability does not always increase value. Simply stated, buyers may be attracted to certain features but not willing to pay for them.

It’s difficult for most sellers to objectively analyze whether or not certain activities or projects will contribute to the sale. One rule of thumb is that major changes and improvements to the property rarely make equivalent changes in salability and value. That becomes doubly true in our current “buyer’s market.” In general, prices have declined and it might be tempting to renovate or make significant changes to the property you are trying to sell. Before considering any changes, it’s a good idea to consult with a real estate professional and/or appraiser.

It might not seem logical at first, but be warned that some renovations can actually decrease the value of your house. While most people in Maine won’t be considering an in-ground swimming pool in January some might think about a hot tub. Both of these are energy users and high maintenance items that will likely be considered a negative by all but a few prospective buyers.

New additions will certainly add potentially valuable square footage, but at a price and a hassle. The same can be true of converting existing space to new uses and finishing a basement. These changes simply may not have value to a prospective buyer. There are often simple things that can be done to create the feeling of more space at very little cost.  

At least for the time being, nearly every buyer is to some extent shopping price as much as features—in some cases more! The balance you’ll want to achieve is just that – features and price. Thanks to a burgeoning foreclosure market we are seeing houses sell for less than the price a new car or truck. Admittedly these properties are fraught with hazards and problems (somebody stole all the plumbing??) but they are competing for your buyers.