Where’s Walter?

 Posted by at 5:25 am
Dec 262009
 

Just a quick note to let folks know I’ll be traveling out of state and working a bit of a reduced schedule during the week between Christmas and New Year’s… I should be reachable by cell phone and email but it might require a bit of patience. If you have an immediate need, contact Dan Costain, Designated Broker (207 852-1932) or Sanger Davis (207 341-0140).  Dan in his role as DB keeps an eye on me anyway, and Sanger has much to recommend him–including the fact that we tend to work a lot alike. Just let them know how we are working together when you call.

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Greetings of the Season!

 Posted by at 9:10 am
Dec 212009
 

Christmas MooseWhile it has become traditional, it is not habitual! The holidays are a great time to say “thank you!” I’ve enjoyed your confidence and friendship this past year and it is satisfying to know that a lot of people—buyers, sellers, colleagues, affiliates and students—are achieving success as a result of our work together.It’s a great time to look back and a great time to look ahead—although looking ahead doesn’t necessarily make us feel all warm and fuzzy when it comes to the economy and the real estate market!

As a matter of curiosity I read back over the past few year’s letters I’ve written. My fundamental theme hasn’t and isn’t going to change. While I think it’s important to be aware of what is “happening” in the marketplace, the bigger question is “What are you—we—going to do?”As I said at this time  last year, my focus hasn’t changed, but it has increased and it continues to do so. Attention to detail has always been important; it’s now critical. Diagnosing problems and understanding clients’ needs has always been important; given the increasing complexity surrounding the buying and selling of real estate, now it is vital. Working with clients as partners and providing information and options is a major component of good real estate brokerage. Now more than ever you need a partner who knows how to learn and who knows how to teach.

Thanks for your confidence and the opportunity to work with you. Do let me hear from you… and have a meaningful holiday and a new year filled with health, happiness and prosperity. 

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My Dad’s Better Than Yours!

 Posted by at 8:25 am
Dec 212009
 

Three boys are in the schoolyard bragging of how great their fathers are. The first one says: “Well, my father runs the fastest. He can fire an arrow, and start to run, I tell you, he gets there before the arrow.”

The second one says: “Ha! You think that’s fast! My father is a hunter. He can shoot his gun and be there before the bullet.”

The third one listens to the other two and shakes his head. He then says: “You two don’t know anything about fast. My father is a real estate agent. He stops working at 4:30 and he is home by 3:45!”

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Dec 202009
 

One important consideration in the process of purchasing your home is an inspection by a qualified “Home Inspector.”  In order to determine whether or not you should have one, it’s important to understand the purpose. Many people think the point of a home inspection is to discover problems not readily seen and — to some extent — that is true. But that is also a very narrow view and doesn’t include the full benefit of this service.

A professional home inspection is really another important piece of determining the total cost of purchasing the home. The final report should include a list of maintenance items and repairs that are time-phased. “Here are some things you’ll need to do immediately… some things you’ll need to do in the next year or two…”

Much like taking the used car you are considering to your own mechanic, you hire a knowledgeable (and insured) professional to look at the home you are considering from “top to bottom” and report his or her findings to you.  Most inspectors/companies allow you to customize the inspection to include or exclude certain things. Fees are typically based on size of the home and scope of the inspection.

If you are represented by a real estate licensee, he or she can Continue reading »

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Landowner Liability in Maine

 Posted by at 11:21 am
Dec 072009
 

One of the joys of owning land in Maine is that Maine’s Landowner Liability Law offers owners some strong protection. Basically, if someone uses your land for outdoor recreation you assume no responsibility or liability for injuries–whether or not you give permission.

There’s a great brochure developed by the Maine Department of Conservation and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife on this topic. You can find a copy (along with some other great information) under the landowner relations program web site.

There are, of course, exceptions to everything… and the standard caveats (check with your insurance company, attorney, etc.). One caution to landowners is that you avoid creating clearly dangerous conditions that could be considered “mailicious” failure to guard or warn (or correct) a highly dangerous situation.

A caution to “land users” is that this law does not imply that you have the right to use other people’s land. Access to private land is a privilige, not a right, and you should aways seek permission.

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Tax Credit Info from I.R.S.

 Posted by at 6:25 am
Dec 062009
 

I’m at least mildly curious how many pages of tax code are involved in the current Home Buyer’s Tax Credit. You won’t find the answer to that question on the I.R.S. site but you will find a lot of answers to “commonly asked” questions.  I waded through some of them until my head started aching. I still like the advice “consult a tax professional”–particularly if your situation is not mainstream.

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Get Fresh Coffee…

 Posted by at 7:13 am
Dec 022009
 

Get some more coffee, I’m going to editorialize a bit.  And I’m not even going to pretend this has anything to do with real estate. (Although anything that improves the area…)

As many of you know, I’m a card-carrying member of Valley Grange in Guilford. Among my favorite community service projects we do are the ones involving kids… Words For Thirds involves giving dictionaries to every Third Grader “from Monson to Milo.” Some of us are also “bookworms”–volunteers who visit school and listen to the kids read to us.  I often go to recess with the kids when I “bookworm.” I do it mostly because I have fun, but also because it gives me a chance to talk to the kids and encourage them and hopefully help them. Yesterday it was pretty cold and I ended up helping what seemed like a lot of kids with broken zippers on their coats. It’s still pretty early in the season for coats to be tattered, torn, and zippers broken and you know some of these are hand-me-downs and thrift shop purchases. (You should see some of the creative “zipper fixes” kids come up with!)

This morning I looked at the Piscataquis Santa Website and I am heart sick. As of last Saturday, there were 574 kids throughout the county registered as needing help… and 155 have “sponsors” working on fulfilling their wishes… I wonder how many of the 424 that haven’t been adopted are kids I read with… and I play with… and fix zippers for… So I’m asking reader to finish reading this and then go to the site and read the list. You should be struck by the number of children whose list includes only coats and clothes—no toys. Folks, this just isn’t right.

The Santa Site makes it fairly easy to find and “adopt” a kid. If you need help figuring out how to do that, you can call Jim Macomber or Sheree Brown at the number listed on the site. If you can’t adopt a kid, do what you can… how fast can you knit some hats and mittens or make some toys? Send a small check or a big one (information on the site)! Let’s try to make sure “our” kids experience the spirit of Christmas, okay?

And thanks to my colleagues at Maine Choice Realty for their generous help with this… they’re out shopping for a three year old boy…

UPDATE: As of December 17th there were some 650 kids signed up and all but 65 have been “adopted” or sponsored, so it’s looking pretty good… still not too late to help, though! Let’s not take any chances that a child will get left out or forgotten!

FINAL UPDATE: A WABI-TV5 news story on December 22nd announced the Piscataquis Santa Program met its goal! Way to go, people! Over 65o kids had a happier Christmas because of this community effort.

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