Don’t Get Confused!

 Posted by at 8:39 am
Jun 252012

This post is primarily for students of real estate courses.

You are likely to begin seeing reminders and warnings regarding  the “Quadrennial Ethics Cycle Requirement.” This references the REALTOR® requirement for completing Code of Ethics training within given four year cycles. (The current four-year cycle ends December 31, 2012.) This is a requirement of your REALTOR® membership and is not a licensing requirement.

Do not confuse with this Maine Real Estate Commission continuing education requirements which include the core course requirement. (The current core course is entitled “Promoting Public Confidence.”) The Code of Ethics training does NOT fufill the core course requirement. If you have any questions check with your Designated Broker, Board of REALTORS®, or the Maine Real Estate Commission.


May Sales Information

 Posted by at 8:06 am
Jun 242012

I found it mildly amusing that the MREIS (Maine Real Estate Information System) issued their monthly press release regarding May sales at about the same time I announced my vacation. Were I inclined to feel self-important I would speculate this is not a coincidence and there was concern that my vacation announcement might impact expectations regarding sales in July. (“Walter’s not working; sales will go down.”) I assure you my contributions (or lack thereof) will not significantly impact the sales data of either the county of the state.

Of course you’ve probably heard that statewide unit sales of residential property were up 32%. That’s certainly good news, but is tempered by the fact that comparing this year to last means comparing this year to a “bad” one. If a picture is worth a thousand words, the graph will show that the overall sales trend for May from 2007 continues a downward slant. But also do not forget this only represents one month–basing a trend on one month is not especially valid statistically.

Of perhaps more interest is the localized version… these releases include a “three month rolling average” by county.  For the months of March, April and May Piscataquis County Sales were up by nearly 13%–but understand that 13% represents four additional properties sold this year versus last and a median sales price this year of $60,000. (The median sales price indicates that half the homes were sold for more and half for less.)

The truly “bright spots” (measured by largest percentage increases) in our state are Washington County (162.5%) and Lincoln County (78.6%). Franklin County was the only county showing a loss (1.7%).

What all this means probably depends on your own bias and interest. Logically, with interest rates and prices this low, demand should (and will) increase–eventually. My instincts suggest that the road is a long one and I would be prepared for plenty of ups and downs.


Help Wanted–Cheap Brain Surgeon

 Posted by at 7:51 am
Jun 022012
DIY Brain Surgery

I’m looking for a cheap brain surgeon. Actually he or she doesn’t have to be a brain surgeon–a secretary that works in the office of a brain surgeon would probably do–after all, I only need minor surgery.

Ok, first off–I don’t really need brain surgery. (There are surely some who would disagree with that statement!) But I’m going to ask you to consider your reaction to that opening paragraph. I suspect it sounds a bit ludicrous to you.

And yet this is exactly the sort of decision people are making everyday where any number of professions are concerned. Nobody wants to pay for the help they need–first of all the help isn’t really THAT much and second it’s too expensive.

Just recently I received an email that began, “If you are still in the real estate business we would like to mention your services on our website. Our site is an informational website about real estate deeds and many of our users are in need of real estate services…”

I visited the site. While the site appears to be “informational,” it actually is commercial–a sort of “do it yourself by filling in a standard form to create your own deed” site. There is some information there–some good general information and, of course, you can purchase “guidelines for filling out” the blank form you can also purchase. As an instructor (not pretending to be an attorney) I found the information too general and in some cases misleading–one reason I’m not giving the link here and also did not list my services on the site.

A bit oversimplified, but I like to think I’m in the business of helping people make wise choices. Making a choice based solely on cost is typically not a wise choice. In this business of real estate I find myself way too often in the position of “fixing” problems that were created by a desire to “save money”–particularly where an attorney’s service is indicated. I had one case, for example, where I was contacted to list and sell a property that had been the subject of “do it yourself” deed writing. When I started my research, it turned out the seller did not appear to actually (legally) own the property. The story at least has a happy ending–after two years of working with a real practicing attorney the title was cleared and we were able to list and sell the property.

I won’t ask you to like the system, but we have to live with it. When you find yourself tempted to ask your friend who works in an attorney’s office for advice, you might think about brain surgery done by the surgeon’s secretary. Or, try this exercise I use with students who are tempted to take the business of law (and filling out paperwork) lightly. Google “million dollar contract comma.” It’s a Canadian case–the United States doesn’t have a monopoly on complicated legal language–that demonstrates the placement of a comma in a contract made a million dollar difference in it’s interpretation.

Missing commas and a slip of the scalpel. How much risk should you take?