Thought it would be nice to post some photos from the recent Realtor of the Year dinner at the Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield. I certainly had a great time with the wonderful dinner, great company, lots of laughs and a funny song written and sung by Carol Noonan. Thanks to everyone for their effort in making this a special evening, especially our sponsors and to Michael Berube of Maine Virtual Home Tours for bringing his camera and taking photos.
When measured against the previous five-six years, 2014 was a very good year for local housing and so far, 2015 appears to be headed in the same direction. Overall buyer traffic is about the same but the big difference, to me, is the degree of confidence that people have. Confidence that their jobs will continue and confidence that the economy will continue to expand; maybe not robustly but certainly not retract! (Sales of New U.S. Homes Rise) At this point, home prices seem to be holding steady and I don't expect any big gains until some of the excess inventory is sold.
So as we leave winter behind, here are two new listings that Kezar Realty is proud to represent:
1898 Main Street, Lovell (MLS # 1206175). Visit the Virtual Tour here.
487 Main Street, Fryeburg (MLS # 1206365). Visit the Virtual Tour here.
Photos and virtual tours by Michael E. Berube, MaineVirtualHomeTours.com
Having two settlements in one day may be commonplace for the big city realty firms, but it is always exciting at Kezar Realty! Especially at the tail-end of February, when the cold and the snow are still with us and it doesn't feel like home-buying season just yet.
As we know, modern technology is advancing rapidly where smart phones and tablets are used to communicate. However, in the real estate and the mortgage world, paper is still king! Although contracts with electronic signatures are prevalent, original signatures are still required for all legal papers, particularly those that need to be recorded at the registry.
Today's first settlement had a pleasant mixture of the old process and a touch of the new technology. The buyers for this Lovell property were scheduled to be out of the country so a Power of Attorney was provided ahead of time to sign on the behalf of the buyers. Thanks to the magic of Skype, the buyers were able to watch the settlement, answer questions and participate all the way from Thailand! Betsy Meredith, the settlement agent for Market Street Settlement Group, was able to explain various forms to the buyers and answer questions as we went along.
Thanks to the listing agent, Linda Nista of Paris Cape Realty and to Market Street Settlement for agreeing to have the settlement in Lovell!
And thanks to Jeanne Bonner of Kezar Realty, the listing agent for today's second settlement. This property was located in Stoneham and the selling agent was Susan Moore of Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate in Gorham.
It is always rewarding to see happy buyers and sellers and to be a part of the team that makes it happen! Today was one of those days. :)
Since the great economic collapse of 2007-2008, there have been occasional periods of optimism that perhaps the bottom had been reached. But year after year, those hopes were dashed as economic activity either retreated or remained flat. However, towards the end of 2013 and into the beginning of 2014, I began to sense a change. People felt more secure with their employment. My belief has always been that until that improved, people were not going to be making investments, whether it be cars, homes, vacations, etc.
I wouldn't say that there was a marked increase in the number of buyers looking at homes but that the people who were looking were serious. And that was reflected in the number of Kezar Realty's transactions. We had 25 settlements totaling more than $4.6 million, our best year ever. To me, the most significant aspect of last year's business was that 15 of those homes were sold to year-round residents. During the recession, we just did not see that level of year-round activity and it appears that we are building a solid fundamental foundation going forward. Property values may not be going up rapidly but they are no longer declining and we do not seem to have a problem with appraisals. There are now plenty of mortgage programs available and FHA, a program usually used by first-time buyers, is becoming competitive again.
WordPress puts together a nice summary of KezarLife's 2014 activity which you can see here.
Here's hoping that 2015 will be a good year for everyone and if you have any real estate needs, please do not hesitate to contact Kezar Realty.
Although there were weeks of site preparation and the pouring of the new foundation and there is still plenty of finishing work to be done, the actual lifting and moving of the structure took a little more than a week. I must say, Mighty Impressive! And it won't be long before it will look like the house is in the original spot.
Over the next few months, KezarLife is looking forward to following a property's transformation where an older Maine lakeside cottage will disappear and a new year-round residence will be constructed. Kezar Realty is interested in following the change in this specific lot, as it was the Agency's very first settlement in November 2009.
I am reminded of a line in Robert C. William's book, Lovewell's Town, where he says that "...history is the story of change over time, as well as continuity." Over time, more people have come to see Kezar Lake, and Lovell, as a place for a year-round residence rather than just a spot for summer recreation. I believe that the lake, the town and the region are all beneficiaries of this change.
When the property was purchased, the new owners did so with an eye to an uncertain date in the future when they would leave their overseas home and transfer back to Maine. During that the time, the camp was used by family, friends and renters but plans for a new home were always being worked on.
Prior to returning to the United States, the time-consuming task of surveys, construction estimates, planning board presentations, reviews, site visits and finally, approval, all had to take place. Once completed, it was on to the sharpening of the pencils with the builder and the mountains of paperwork requested by the lender.
Over the next few months, I think it will be fun to follow the building of a new Kezar Lake home.
Although not yet formally listed for sale (it will be soon with another Agency but Kezar Realty does have access for interested parties), the old Lovell Hardware property is now being shown to potential buyers. The main building, in surprisingly good condition, offers numerous opportunities.
It is true that since the store's closing, contractors and homeowners have found it frustrating to buy needed supplies in Bridgton, Fryeburg or North Conway. In the absence of a Lovell store, contractors have developed new buying habits and might be reluctant to change their patterns. Plus, I would bet that the established stores are in a stronger position to compete on price. For this reason, the return of a full-service hardware store and lumber yard might not be profitable.
One local investor sees a strong opportunity to create something new and different, a multi-use commercial and residential building. He has taken significant steps to make it happen, including preliminary commitments to create several one and two-bedroom apartments on the upper floor. Believing that a need for a small hardware store, similar to Trumball's, still exists in Lovell, space for a retail store will be reserved. Another portion of the building is slated for a Subway-type food store. Sufficient space remains for other uses.
It is possible that the rear sheds behind the main building can be transformed into storage facilities. The developer is now soliciting suggestions from area residents. What would you like to see there? A fitness center? A laundromat? A Landscaping and Garden Center? A Putt-Putt course and batting cages? Send your thoughts to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will pass them along.
Happy April Fool's Day!
For many years, the dominant real estate firm was William E. Severance in Center Lovell (located in what is now the Harvest Gold Gallery). Not only did they sell properties on Kezar Lake but they had listings throughout western Maine and New Hampshire.
Before the age of the internet and information spreading internationally within seconds, Severance published an annual 'Property Guide' that included not only listing details but info on local attractions and activities. It is my understanding that this booklet, filled with photos, was anticipated by many and was mailed throughout the country.
It is a lot of fun to look through the booklet and see properties that we recently sold or have listed currently and see the significant increases in prices. Just might show that an investment in housing, over the long haul, does pay! Buy a four-season home, with 200' of frontage on Kezar Lake, for $82,500. Listing No. 2593J--Call before someone else scoops it up.
I also enjoyed the firm's proud announcement of their new up-to-date computer system which will help them plot maps and calculate acreage.
One other interesting property was found in the 'Commercial' section--The Lovell Village Olde Country Store! Real estate and all equipment for $98,000.
Thanks to Sue Hamlin for sharing this gem from the family archives.
Asked any local Realtor about 2013 business and you will receive similar answers. The year started robustly with a large number of land sales (relatively quiet for the past several years) and home purchases to first-time buyers. To me, both trends suggested confidence in the future and that folks felt their jobs were secure. Expectations were that summer would sizzle. What happened was more like a summer fizzle. More inquiries and showings did not lead to contracts. Many blamed the sudden jump in interest rates. While that may have been a contributing factor, I sensed a return to the economic uncertainty that has hovered over us for the past several years.
Having said that, the past month has been busy with a mix of land, primary homes and second homes going 'under agreement' and to settlement. I am not sure what has started this burst of activity but I do know that buyers are taking advantage of the inventory and getting some very good deals while interest rates are still historically low.
May I suggest taking a look at one prominent Center Lovell home? Conveniently located at the top of Old Stage Road, with 1.6 acres and beautiful White Mountain views, this is the perfect year-round or second home. Please click here for additional photos and detailed information. We would be pleased to show you this exceptional property.
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