Seller Financing Caveat

 Posted by at 12:26 pm
Nov 102010

The Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act of 2008 (SAFE Act) was passed in 2008 as part of the federal Housing and Economic Recovery Act. The act required states to establish a registration/licensing process for loan originators. Maine enacted its versionwhich will take effect January 1, 2011.

 There are exemptions for seller financing of the seller’s principal residence and for financing provided to family members. Thus owner financing of the sale of the owner’s home is exempt and parents financing a child’s purchase are exempt. But a buyer who is fixing up and reselling homes would need to be licensed to take back financing. Previous exemptions based on a maximum number of transactions are gone. The purpose of the law is clearly to disallow or at least discourage private, unregulated financing.

Those considering seller financing beyond the previously noted exemptions should check with the Office of Licensing and Registration.


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.


I Approved This Message!

 Posted by at 8:12 am
Sep 052008

Actually, not only did I approve it, I wrote it! Ok, that’s a pretty lame way of attempting to piggyback on an incessant political phrase, but I couldn’t resist the temptation to “blow my own horn” in much the way the politicians do.

Just a bit of background: Inman News is a national news aggregator featuring financial and real estate related industry news. Several weeks ago they ran a story about JD Powers Associates Customer Service Awards to several large real estate companies. Subscribers are invited to comment on stories and this particular one generated some interesting comments. I, of course, couldn’t resist a few observations of my own.

Last night’s Inman News Digest included an article headlined “Anyone Been ‘Burned’ By Their Realtor?” I couldn’t resist reading that one… and it immediately started sounding familiar. Hey, I wrote that! My observations had been posted and emailed to the masses as one of the “Inman News Headlines!”

Anyone been ‘burned’ by their Realtor?

This link will by-pass the headline message and take you straight to the article.

Forgive me if I feel a little honored…

Update, October 2013… sorry to say I’ve been advised this link no longer works and as been removed.


Can You Afford To Heat It?

 Posted by at 7:20 am
Jul 102008

We’re not talking about it much–yet–but these crazy energy costs are impacting the real estate market. Potential home buyers are affected because heating costs will impact how much house is affordable.  The house a buyer could have afforded last year might cost $2000 more to heat this year. That’s like taking a $2000 net salary reduction. On an annualized basis, that’s a loss of about forty dollars per week that’s got to come from somewhere or the house is beyond financial reach.

I’m wondering if lenders will start making adjustments to prequalification standards. The last thing buyers should do is buy a home they can’t afford to heat and that’s getting easier to do without really trying! Maine buyers should be very pleased that heating fuel consumption is a required disclosure. Granted, individual habits and preferences can have an impact, but at least there is often some sense of the potential costs, although who would have predicted these prices a year ago?

Home sellers are affected for exactly the same reason. Energy efficiency and multiple fuel heating systems are becoming Continue reading »


Darn Bugs!

 Posted by at 9:54 am
Jul 032008

“Tell me about those Maine black flies…” is a question every real estate agent gets on a regular basis. I suppose I should work on a snappy answer, but honesty is an important quality. Would it be dishonest to reply, “Well, the trout love ‘em.” That’s probably true, but I happen to believe avoidance of the truth smacks of dishonesty. They are miserable little creatures; if only for a limited time.

Speaking of bugs, farmers know that if you grow it, the bugs will come. Without inciting an environmental debate, let’s observe that most farmers and gardeners can generally predict what will arrive when and the potential damage. They also know that after-the-fact killing is not usually very effective and efficient so they spend time and money upfront to defend their crops.

It’s the same (or should be) with real estate. If you are buying or selling, there are certain “bugs” can be generally predicted. In many cases we know when to expect them and we know the potential damage. That makes most of the avoidable—often with only a minimum of effort.

Otherwise we find ourselves mumbling “I knew that was going to happen!” and that gives rise Continue reading »


Home Hazards…

 Posted by at 5:14 am
Jun 242008

Good, bad, or indifferent… as a society we are certainly becoming more conscious of health hazards around the home. The Environmental Protection Agency provides an abundance of information regarding such substances as lead-based paint, radon, asbestos… and best of all in language non-scientists can understand. For resources and an education visit — for most people there’s way more than you want to know! But if it’s not, you can always check out the Maine Department of Environmental Protection at — you might find navigation a bit challenging, but much of it will be “state specific” and wide-ranging. Remember, for example that the DEP is responsible for Shorelands Zoning and you’ll track down some great information regarding what you can/can’t do with waterfront property.

Feb 252008

A lot of calls from prospective buyers start with “I don’t really know much about buying real estate…” It’s always tempting to be relieved when I hear it, because known ignorance is actually a great quality. What more often gets folks in trouble is when the think they know something and don’t.

My short response to that buyer’s statement is “That’s okay because I really don’t know much about you!” We have lots in common! We’re both “ignorant” so let’s start learning together!

Getting started requires that we both learn a lot — hopefully in a relatively short period of time. One decision we need to make before moving too far down the road to a purchase is the relationship we are going to share. For a further explanation of this process, see About Real Estate.

But let’s talk quickly about some things buyers need to know, particularly in the current market conditions. We are still hearing lots of talk about “buyers’ markets” with buyers being encouraged to “take their time.”

You can do that, certainly, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be ready to decide. If you are shopping for real estate, make a little note and look at it often: Regardless of the market the best properties sell first.

I’ve seen it happen; it’s not pretty. A potential buyer starts Continue reading »


Realtor and Friend…

 Posted by at 7:21 am
Feb 022008

Those of us who knew and worked with Ron Matheson thought he’d live forever. Ron was a bit of a fixture in Piscataquis County real estate for years, and the “joke” was that whenever he was rushed to Mayo Hospital in the ambulance he’d use his cell phone to call clients on the way!

Ron passed away several days ago. For the past few years he and Opal lived in southern
New Hampshire near one of their children. Details should be available in the week’s Piscataquis Observer.

I remember… some very esoteric and intense discussions with Ron about “disclosed dual agency.” I’m not sure I ever figured out how Ron always listed property “where deer and wildlife abound” and every trickle was a “trout laden stream.” I’m not sure anyone ever fully understood his relationship with the Wampanoag Indians but it was easy to talk with Ron and to relate to his colorful descriptions of people and places.

It’s hard to have a favorite Ron story because there are so many. But he was one of the best.

Dec 142007

The only way I can make this about real estate is to allude to the last piece of real estate we occupy…

Every year I seem to get one or two emails (usually forwarded multiple times) about the project started in 1992 by Morrill Worcester of Worcester Wreath Company here in Maine. I like telling people that it’s one of the many things “us Maine folks” are proud to have associated with our state.

It started as one man’s dream to honor the memory of our veterans by placing Christmas wreaths on graves in Arlington National Cemetery. This year (2007) saw the formation of Wreaths Across America as a non-profit organization in response to the many requests from folks around the country who wanted to get involved. The results are astounding — this year wreathes will also make their way to 24 military cemeteries on foreign soil.

If you get the email, you can forward it to me – it’s one of the ones I really don’t mind getting over and over. Also, you can visit and learn more about this great project!

Dec 052007

What a wonderful quote! I came across it while doing some poking around on one of my regular sites. It’s attributed to Tom Waits in a book called Step Right Up.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with an attorney friend. I was describing how students of real estate seem to develop a tolerance for shades of gray as their experience grows. Newer students approach nearly every question with a need for the “right” answer.

Dave’s comment was, “Until we have litigated every phrase in every contract, there can’t be a right answer.”

One might think that’s a bit extreme,  but contract-type questions do require some lateral and option thinking. Occasionally when students ask me those stump-the-instructor questions like, “What will happen if…?” I suggest Continue reading »