" " " Maine's Waterfront Real Estate News: 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Some Christmas Cheer -- Zero Interest Rates !!!

In an action that was unprecedented in its 95 year history, the Federal Reserve cut its benchmark interest rate (the rate banks charge each other) to as low as zero Tuesday, a surprisingly strong move that should make it cheaper to borrow money and pay some obligations.

The Fed hopes lower borrowing costs will entice people and businesses to spend more, helping the economy. Citing "weak economic conditions" the Fed said it expected to keep its funds rate at "exceptionally low levels...for some time to come.

For consumers, the Fed move essentially means money is now on sale. Most observers now expect mortgage rates to get to 4 1/2% next year, maybe even lower.

The Fed also cited a program it announced late last month to buy $600 billion in debt and mortgage-backed securities from mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which has already pushed mortgage rates down.

And early next year the Fed, in another previously announced program, plans to roll out a $200 billion program to boost the availability of auto loans, student loans, credit card loans and other lending to consumers.

The Federal Reserve's statements yesterday can give us all something positive to take with us over the holidays...evidence the Fed will take steps next year to drive down mortgage rates and help home sales and prices.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Waterfront Buying: Top 10 Tips from Agents

By Shannon Petrie, FrontDoor.com | Published: 9/24/2008

Before purchasing that dream home, master these tips from the experts.

From pre-approval to paying points, buying a home is always a complicated process. But throw "waterfront" in the mix, and things get even more complex. Fortunately, real estate agents who regularly deal with waterfront properties know the ins and outs of this process. These 10 tips from the pros will give you a heads-up on what to expect when purchasing a home by the water.

1. Find a real estate agent who's a true waterfront specialist. The average agent won't have the detailed knowledge of waterfront properties in your area to help you find the best deal on a property that's right for you, says Ramara Garrett, owner of Waverly Property Group in Daytona Beach, Fla. "You may think you've found a great deal, but the reason it's a great deal is because there are oyster beds and people can't get their boats in and out," Garrett says.

2. Consider the property more than the structure. "Oftentimes, people fall in love with a house, but after they buy it, they realize the swimming is mucky, the view's not very good, it's difficult to get down to the water, or the place is not very private," says Tom Ferent, a broker with Mr. Lakefront, which specializes in lakefront properties in Maine. You can change the house, but you can't change the location, so buy a property that you really love.

3. Choose a property that truly fits your lifestyle. You may find a beautiful property for sale, but it's half an hour away from getting out to the ocean. "If you love to go out deep-sea fishing, that's going to make a difference in how often you actually do it," Garrett says. Focus on the activities you're passionate about and choose a property accordingly.

4. Look into loans early. Since many waterfront properties are more expensive than other properties, loans will often fall into the jumbo mortgage category, Garrett says. Lenders will therefore only consider very qualified buyers. "Buyers ought to start that process before they start looking for a property because that can take a lot longer than a normal home loan," Garrett says.

5. Make sure the structure can withstand the weather. Waterfront homes receive more abuse from the elements than the average home, so extra measures should be taken to protect them. For instance, Garrett recommends investing in storm shutters for homes in hurricane-prone areas and stainless-steel locks to avoid corrosion from salt air.

6. Insurance can be costly and complicated. Look into this early to make sure you know what you're getting into. For instance, Garrett says waterfront homeowners in Florida have to buy three policies (a wind policy, a flood policy and a general hazard policy) typically not all through the same insurer.

7. Find out what you can do with the property. If you want to make any changes to your waterfront property, such as adding a dock or a seawall, start this process early to ensure that these alterations will be possible. "Government agencies are very strict to deal with, and you don't want to commit to purchasing a million-dollar home without knowing that you can really do what you want to make it your own," Garrett says. Also find out what kind of activities are allowed on the body of water, as some areas have restrictions on jet skis, speedboats and other watercraft, says Les Taylor, principal broker of Waterfront Properties of Maine.

8. Talk to neighbors. Get insider information from neighbors by asking if they enjoy living in the community, if they have any issues with the property you're thinking about purchasing, or if there are any waterfront-related problems, Taylor says.

9. In rural areas, look into utilities. Waterfront buyers who are accustomed to the convenience of suburban life may assume that electricity, clean water, an adequate septic system, cable and Internet will be readily available at their new property, but this is not always the case. Bringing these services in to remote areas can be very expensive, says Taylor, so investigate these issues before buying.

10. Get to know your responsibilities as a waterfront homeowner. If you're part of a homeowners association, find out what kind of upkeep and maintenance of the property will be required from you by reviewing the conditions, covenants and restrictions, or CC&Rs, and talking to the HOA's management company, says Gordon Baker of Re/Max Elite in Chandler, Ariz.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Home Resales Rose More Than Forecast

Home resales in the U.S. rose more than forecast in September, aided by foreclosure-driven declines in prices that indicated the market was stabilizing before the latest slump in financial markets.

Purchases of existing homes jumped 5.5 percent last month to a 5.18 million annual pace, the highest level in a year, the National Association of Realtors said today in Washington. The median price dropped 9 percent.

Economists said sales figures for this month and next will be critical in determining whether sales have reached a bottom as predicted by the Realtors' group.

Resales were forecast to rise to a 4.95 million annual rate from a 4.91 million pace in August, according to the median estimate of 66 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. Projections ranged from 4.7 million to 5.11 million.

One-Year Increase

Sales rose 1.4 percent compared with a year earlier, the first year-over-year increase since November 2005. Resales totaled 5.65 million in 2007.

Today's figures compare with the 4.86 million level reached in June, the lowest in a decade and 33 percent down from the record reached in September 2005.

Foreclosure-related sales accounted for 35 percent to 40 percent of last month's total, the agents' group said. Of those, about 80 percent were for primary residence, higher than the average of about 75 percent and signaling that investors are not a primary reason for the jump, said Lawrence Yun, the group's chief economist.

``In terms of sales, I think we have bottomed out,'' Yun said in a press conference. ``The first step to housing-market stabilization is rising home sales. Hopefully, this trend can continue.'

Friday, September 12, 2008

An Invitation From Maine...

With the crisp air of autumn comes the chance to experience a quintessential fall weekend in Maine. For starters, you’ll be amazed at the glorious colors on display across the state. From quiet coastal villages to lakeside golf courses to scenic mountain passes, Maine offers a variety of settings for nature’s brilliant show. Another fall favorite is heading to an orchard for apple picking and a glass of cider fresh from the press. Or perhaps do a little fly fishing at one of our famous rivers. And be sure to leave some time for antiquing. A one-of-a-kind treasure is the perfect souvenir from your trip to Maine.

For more details and information about Maine's Fall events, go to www.visitmaine.com.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Congress Gives Home Buyers a Unique Opportunity

If $7500 would help you buy a home, the Housing and Economic Recovery Act, passed by Congress at the end of July, is definitely something you should investigate.

If you:

a) Haven’t owned a principal residence in the past 3 years

b) Don’t have an adjusted gross income of more than $75,000 ($150,000 if you file a joint return).

c) Buy a home costing more $75,000 or more before July 1, 2009.

you will probably qualify for the maximum tax credit of $7500 –which is in essence an interest-free loan from the government. (you do have to pay it back – but over 15 years, at about $500 per year for the full credit)

As with all government programs, the devil can be in the details, so be sure to visit Congress’s website at http://www.jct.gov/ and look for the publication JCX-63-08 on the home page.

There are several other tax breaks and options for homeowners and first-time buyers you can find out about in Publication 530 at http://www.irs.gov/.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Interactive Mapping ?

So what, you may ask, is interactive mapping???

It's actually a nifty new service offered by Google, which we have just added to our website. To see how it works, just go to www.WaterfrontPropertiesOfMaine.com, click on one of the waterfront property categories (coastal, islands, lakes, rivers. etc.) and voila! -- there is the "Interactive Map Locator" for that category.

This feature allows us, when adding a new listing, to automatically position a marker for the property on the map of the state of Maine.

It allows you to see where properties are located in the state and, when you click on any marker, a window pops up giving you a "thumbnail" photo and brief description of the property. Then, if it looks interesting to you, you can click on this window, which will take you to the full listing with several photos of the property, a location map, a topo map, local town information, body of water information -- and in some cases -- a "virtual tour" of the property.

As I recall, it was IBM that coined the term "Information Age" in the early 1970's, and it seems that since then we have been getting more information, on more things, and more rapidly, every year...alot of it over the internet

Which, if you don't let it submerge you, is OK.

I believe this is what visitors to our website want -- as complete and accurate information about waterfront real estate as they can get before they take the time to go visit it -- which is why we keep working to improve our website.

We are pretty happy with this new mapping feature, because this is one is one of the most frequent questions we get: where, exactly, in Maine is the property located ?

Now, you can know...


Interactive Locator Map
(please wait for the interactive map to load)