Real Estate Stress Syndrome

 Posted by at 3:05 pm
Jan 272010

I wish I’d been the one to coin this… and, unfortunately, when I wrote my note about it I failed to credit the source. So now I have to start with anonymous realtor who observed that he’s had several buyers walk in to his office with P.T.S.D. or “Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.” His diagnosis was based on their demeanor which included an opening apology for a suspected personality disorder based on their previous realtor relationship. He cited examples of buyers saying they “must be too picky” or “too nervous” or have “unrealistic expectations” of their agent. (You don’t suppose the agent had any unrealistic expectations of the client, do you?)

If it weren’t so tragic, it would be funny. I’ve seen the same thing with sellers–now “former” clients of another agent who are convinced somehow that they are responsible for everything that went wrong with the last relationship and attempted transaction. Convincing clients they are to blame for failings is a skill I seem unable to develop, let alone Continue reading »


Should I be a little nervous?

 Posted by at 10:03 am
Jan 062010

This article was originally written as a “Buyer’s Tip” for TheDailyME — an excellent source of local news and information in the “greater Dexter” area.


If you are considering buying a home, it makes sense to be a little nervous. You’ve probably seen the ads or heard people say “it’s a great time to buy!” Like all generalities that’s true, but there are also some reasons to be cautious. Unless you’ve been out of the country of living under a rock, you know the economy and housing markets are uncertain. Just how much this uncertainty affects your decision making will depend on a number of factors all relative to your personal situation. If we change “nervous” to “cautious” we begin to see the need to make decisions deliberately. For some people in some circumstances it actually may not be a good time to buy.

One important consideration is how long you will own the home. Putting down roots with a long term commitment does suggest this is a good time to buy. If you expect to own the home for a relatively short period of time caution is in order. The reasons for that are beyond the scope of a short article like this largely because we’re again dealing in generalities.

One reason it’s an excellent time to buy is that prices are down to historic lows. As a buyer you might be attracted to the lowest priced listings. It’s important to understand the total cost of purchasing and owning a home as that should be your primary consideration.

Another reason it’s an excellent time to buy is mortgage rates are at historic lows. It is true that lending standards have increased, but most lenders have money to lend. The caution here is that it’s also a good time to “shop around” both lenders and loan types to be certain you are borrowing in a way that is most beneficial to your circumstance.

The theme here is “Knowledge is power.” The more you know and understand about your personal situation, loan programs, the market, etc. the more power you will feel. And that feeling won’t be an illusion; you’ll have power. The right agent will help you explore your situation, build a team that makes your purchase decision truly in your best interest, and find that power. One generality that can’t be argued with: this is not a “one size fits all” market. You want to work with people who are more interested in you than they are in selling a house.


How High Is Up?

 Posted by at 2:12 pm
Jan 042010

One of my “Mooseprint” subscribers sent me an email that included this headline from a recent Maine Association of Realtors press release:

Maine Home Sales Up 48.55% in November 2009

He added that he was quite sure I’d be explaining this in my next newsletter. Given his penchant for satire, I replied that 48% of nothing is still nothing but pledged to do some further analysis and post it on my blog. Rather than write a lengthy editorial, here’s a few “brain leaks” on the topic.

  1. My attempt at satire has a thread of truth in it… it’s important to remember that the economy was taking some of its hits a year ago—in essence we are comparing this bad year to a horrible year.
  2. Yes, there are signs of some general improvement. One of the things that makes statistics such as these challenging is the very nature of real estate. Markets (and properties) are unique and local. Some markets are improving; some are not.
  3. In smaller print the same press release notes the state wide median sales price is down 4.88% for the same period. So as previously noted, the low end market is where the action is–in general.
  4. Our state-wide statistics are dramatically affected by York and Cumberland Counties. For the rolling quarter (September, October, November) these two counties account for 41% of the sales. What happens in these two counties will dramatically affect “state wide” statistics.
  5. In the interest focusing a bit on local markets, the rolling quarter statistics show that Piscataquis County hasn’t fared so well with a 5.13% increase in unit sales and a 5.26% decrease in median price. Somerset County, however, shows a 48.65% increase in unit sales with a slight increase in median price.

Personally, I think it’s too early to predict what the impact of the expanded tax credit will mean… but, as noted above, there are some indications that activity is increasing. At the same time, however, interest rates continue to creep up—not a good sign.

Occasionally when folks ask me about listing property they end observing that I’m not very encouraging. I do think it’s important to have a realistic outlook and remember that your property and your situation is uniquely yours. Statistics and my “editorials” can perhaps make you think, but in the end it’s about a specific buyer and a specific seller. “In the history of mankind,” Tom Peters once observed, “a market has never bought anything. People buy things.”