Orange Isn’t Just For Pumpkins

 Posted by at 9:50 am
Oct 262009

The Irish have the wearing of the green; Maine has the wearing of the orange. When venturing into the woods some orange clothing is always a good idea, but it becomes a requirement during hunting season. In fact, for a few dollars you can pick up a vest, clip a compass to it and maybe carry a small survival kit in one of the pockets. You carry a spare tire in your car, right? Do you think more of your car than you do yourself?

Fall means shorter days, colder weather and a number of hunting seasons. Deer season is open the entire month of November and there will be a lot of hunters in the woods. Think orange! Be safe and be smart.


Partaking of Foreclosures

 Posted by at 7:01 am
Oct 252009

According to a recent article in RIS Media, the Treasury Department predicts we’re in for another wave of foreclosures next year. Some parts of the country are already seeing “distressed” sales (foreclosures, short sales, etc.) account for 65% of real estate transactions. The author of the article described some agents who “sniff imperiously and decline to partake in such unpleasant things as foreclosures” and noted that others are “laughing all the way to the bank.”

Anyone who has read this blog or my newsletters knows I’m not a big fan of foreclosures. I’m not sure, however, that I “sniff imperiously” at them. I rather think I choose to keep them in perspective and encourage buyers to do likewise.

In simplest form, I’ve chosen not to change the fundamentals of my practice. I’m in the real estate business; not the foreclosure business.

For most buyers, looking at real estate makes sense. Given the current state of affairs looking at real estate may well include looking at foreclosures–they are a significant part of our market. But buyers should focus on finding the right property. It doesn’t make sense to discriminate at the start.

Historically buyers have been encouraged to buy as much house as they can reasonably afford. That’s still sound advice, but the “reasonably afford” aspect is critical in this economy. Many smart buyers are buying less than they qualify for because of job insecurity and other economic uncertainties. As a result “price” has become a very important aspect of finding the right property. “The bank says I can afford… but I really don’t want to spend more than…”

And that’s when foreclosed properties become attractive because foreclosures are always about price. People love a bargain and there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s important to understand that foreclosures may be anything but a bargain. There can be a certain amount of “you can pay me now or you can pay me later” theory at work here.

The sale price is not (and never was) the only cost of homeownership. One of the values of a professional home inspection prior to purchase is that it provides at least a sense of what costs the buyer may face over time. This can be important for any home, but becomes critical when considering a foreclosed property where, typically, maintenance has been nonexistent and in many cases the home has been “stripped” of basic systems.

In today’s market, there are many “bargains” to be found that are not foreclosures. So I’m still encouraging buyers to look at what’s available and find the right house at the right price. That’s one bit of advice that still makes sense.


Good News, Bad News?

 Posted by at 5:35 am
Oct 242009

MREIS (Maine Real Estate Information System) has released a three month statistical report based on information from the statewide Multiple Listing System. This report compares a three month average (July 1 through September 30).

There’s good news. Statewide, unit sales were up 14.68% for the period. The median sales price, however, is down 9.59%. In other words, we are selling “more” properties, but at lower price points. (The median price dropped from $182,500 to $167,000.)

While statewide numbers are certainly encouraging, looking at local county data indicates there’s some “bad” news as well:

Penobscot County showed a unit increase of 21.45% with a corresponding median price decrease from $149,000 to $121,000 (8.51%).

Piscataquis County showed a unit decrease of 2.13% with a corresponding median price decrease from $108,000 to $67,500 (37.73%).

Somerset County showed a unit increase of 15% with a corresponding median price decrease from $125,000 to $104,900 (5.72%)

Now I would be the first to admit that the median price number is a fairly “spongey” number with limited value, but a decrease does suggest that Continue reading »

Oct 082009

Friend and colleague Jack Falvey recently shared a great sales tip comparing selling to getting on a roller coaster. I think he’ll forgive me if I borrow his comparison so we can talk about buying and selling property.

A real estate transaction pretty much follows a predetermined track—although it may not always seem that way! Once you climb in the car, you are going to go follow the tracks.

What sometimes “gets us” are the ups and downs as we travel. In life and real estate they do level out and eventually we drift (some would say “screech”) to a stop at the end  (in real estate that’s called “closing”).  Sometimes the ups and downs are funny. Sometimes they are downright scary.

I often tell clients that we have a rule while we are working together: “You are not allowed to panic until after you’ve talked to me.”  More often than not, things look a lot scarier than they are—it’s really not that far down–or up.  My role is, in part, to make it possible for you to enjoy the ride. I do my best to help push you up the hills and help you keep perspective.

Jack suggests sales people should “let go and scream a lot.” I’ve pondered that comparison. I suppose if you enjoy terror and screaming that’s okay. I’d prefer you not scream at me, though. I’ll be sorta busy making sure we stay on track and everything levels out. You can sit in the front seat where you get the best view and the most excitement.  Enjoy the ride.  Don’t panic. We’ll get there safely!

(In the interest of honesty, I’ll admit that I might scream later when I’m alone.)