Piscataquis County Does It Again!

 Posted by at 5:30 am
Dec 282010

Without making too much fun of the spin placed on November Maine Real Estate Information System (MREIS) statistics, it’s exciting to note that Piscatquis County’s rolling quarter average is once again bucking the state and national trend. Unit sales from September 1 through November 30 were up nearly 10% for 2010 versus 2009. The only other counties in Maine showing positive numbers were Franklin (4.29%) and Lincoln (1.01%). As noted last month, we’re not talking huge numbers here, but it’s still pretty exciting!

Statewide the number of units sold is down nearly 24% for the month of November. The spin doctors are focusing on the fact that the median price continues on an upward trend and claiming this indicates some stabilization of the marketplace.

Perhaps ironically, Piscataquis County continues to buck the trend with a 20% decrease in the median price during the rolling quarter cited. This suggests there is an increase in the number of lower priced properties being sold.

If you promise to remember that this is a huge county, I’ll share another generality regarding  the state of affairs. As of this morning, Piscataquis County shows 427 active listings on MREIS (aka Multiple Listing). These are residences of some sort—we’re not talking any land parcels. In the past six months there have been 93 sales. That’s not great, but it’s not horrible either. And it’s actually an improvement. During the previous six month period there were only 70 sales. If we ignore seasonality, unit sales in Piscataquis County are up nearly 33% for the second half of the year!

It might not seem that way if you have an unsold  house on the market, but there are properties selling and there is reason for hope!


Season’s Greetings!

 Posted by at 6:26 am
Dec 232010

Greetings of the Season!

While 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—and this year there’s plenty to talk about! 

As I think about this year’s news I’m reminded of the truism that “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Before we talk about change, let’s review what has and will remain the same. My focus hasn’t changed, but it continues to increase. 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.

We could write a book about how much the real estate market (and business) has changed. My crystal ball is no clearer than anyone else’s Will the market improve? Yes. When? Darned if I know, but I do think it’s going to be a long time coming.

I also believe that the market shouldn’t control us; we should look ahead and consider what we need and want to accomplish. If you are going to be involved in a real estate transaction, I want to be in that transaction with you!

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


Moving to Mallett!

 Posted by at 6:25 am
Dec 202010

            After nearly a decade of serving clients, Maine Choice Realty is being “absorbed” into the Realty of Maine Organization. Also committed to excellence in client service, Realty of Maine has over 100 agents and seven regional offices including Newport. All of us associated with Maine Choice Realty were invited to become part of this new office starting with the new year.

            This change provided an opportunity for me to revisit my own personal goals and how I’m approaching my business. Most readers know that instructing is my first love—I’ve even joked that I only practice real estate brokerage to gain stories to tell in class, I don’t do it for the money!  (Good thing based on the way the market has been!)

            For the past year or so I’ve been reporting an opportunity to get “more focused” and as I’ve look at the brokerage side of the business over the past few years, I’ve concluded that this is a good time to get even more focused. To the end, I’ve decided to move closer to home, further reduce my costs, and target my participation in the market. I’ve accepted an offer to place my license with the Mallett Real Estate Agency in Dover Foxcroft. This independent agency has a long-standing leadership position in the Dover Foxcroft and Piscataquis County Market. I’ve known Neil and Patsy for a number of years and we’ve always worked well together.

            Active clients have already received several communications regarding this transition. Maine Real Estate Law is quite specific on a number of points. The most important point for those who are not currently “under contract” as a client is that you have the right to choose where you do business.  Note that my email address and cell phone number will not change should you wish to discuss this or any other real estate matter. So there’s a minimum of confusion, you will be dealing with me as a licensee of Maine Choice Realty through Monday, December 20th. Starting on Tuesday, December 21st my affiliation will be with Mallet Real Estate Agency.

            You can perhaps appreciate there’s a lot that has to happen in conjunction with this. From a “business” perspective the good news is this is all scheduled during a relatively slow time—the week between Christmas and the start of the new year. Of course the good news is also the bad news in that we are all busy with the holiday season. I’m doing my best to make this efficient with the least amount of intrusion and inconvenience possible. If you have any questions or concerns drop me an email or give me a call!

Dec 062010

Staying with a statistical theme, I chuckled at a recent industry press release. In large bold print it announced “Maine Median Sales Prices Up 0.9% in October 2010.” If it escapes your attention that 0.9% isn’t a very big number, perhaps you’ll notice the sub-headline announcing that the number of homes sold was down 29% for the same period.

Before we go too far, let’s just clarify “median.” The median price is the middle price; it is not an average. One particularly high priced or low priced sale can dramatically affect the median. Do not be confused. Contrary to the headline, prices are not necessarily increasing. What may be happening is higher priced homes are being sold. (Maybe I’m not a statistical nihilist after all!)

Regular readers know that I like to “drill down” through the numbers. So I went past the headlines and looked at more localized data. While I’m not sure I would claim a trend, I was pleasantly surprised when I looked at Piscataquis County. The number of homes sold  from August through October 2010 was actually up a little over 11% above the same period a year ago. (The median price was up as well.) Admittedly we’re dealing with some small numbers, but I’ll label that “good news” without putting much of a spin on it.

Not so much so in Somerset County where unit sales were down 28% and the median price was down 15%. Penobscot County sales were down as well—approximately 25% in units and 6% in median price.

Who wants to write the headline? “Piscataquis County Real Estate Sales Are Up, Bucking the State and National Trend!”  (That’s not an untrue statement.)

And I’m probably guilty of writing more about journalism than real estate. In the interest of returning to the topic at hand I’ll offer two pieces of advice.

One, sometimes you have to listen very hard at what’s not being said. Two, there is no rule I know of that says you have to fit into the statistical pattern. We can debate whether or not Piscataquis County’s sales in October are an aberration or we can simply acknowledge the number and move on from there. The fact is that unless there are zero sales property is being bought and sold.  If you are buying and selling and the trend is down you figure out how to beat it. If it’s up you figure out how to take advantage of it.

Simple; not easy.