Newsletter :: June 2016
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“Jealousy is all the fun you think they had”                                             
                                                                                                                  :: Erica Jong

How do you know what you know about your friends, family and colleagues? Do face-to-face, FaceTime, or phone conversations inform you, or does most of your catching up take place passively through social media?  Does it matter? 

There's some evidence to suggest it does. In fact, social networking sites appear to foster an increase in self-comparison and dissatisfaction. In one Italian study, "Keeping up with the E-Joneses: Do Online Social Networks Raise Social Comparisons?", "users have a higher probability to compare their achievements with those of others" and in Western countries, "this leads individuals to a lower satisfaction with their economic conditions." Even though we know social media is a very biased view into someone's life, often slanted towards the sunny and successful side, it can be difficult to keep this truth in mind. 

With all of the social networking sites available, we have a tendency to absorb a great deal of information about others without context. We also do it without much thought as to what we're even doing. How many times have you found yourself scrolling through your feeds in the grocery store, in between baseball innings, or even at a red light? Was it intentional, or was it automatic? The behavior tends to be automatic. Our devices have practically become an extension of our bodies. 

Many experienced professionals, nonetheless, know there is still a a premium in the human connection, and while you may use social media for a variety of streams of information and communication, there's much to be gained by being more mindful about your use of technology. 

As the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, "The human voice is the organ of the soul." Look for opportunities to reinforce your real connections. Where can we all upgrade our human interactions, downgrade our distractions, and be more mindful? 
Problems with Lawn Equipment
June 2016 Newsletter | Maine Home Connection

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Real Estate Sales Update
Record Setting Results Continue

Across the country, sales of existing homes in May were at their highest rate in almost a decade. While the increase in demand was influenced by the normal spring market coupled with tight inventory levels, the median sales price nationwide approached an all-time high.  According to statistics prepared by NAR, all regions of the country, except for the Midwest, experienced strong sales increases last month. 

Total sales grew in May 1.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.53 million from a downwardly revised 5.43 million in April. With last month’s gain, sales are now up 4.5% from May 2015 (5.29 million) and are at their highest annual pace since February 2007 (5.79 million).

Our Backyard

Maine real estate reflects, and in some cases exceeds, what is happening nationally.  Statewide sales of single family homes are up an impressive 20.1 % year-to-date while the median selling price of $180,000 represents an increase of 4.3%.  The monthly price of $190,250 was the highest since August 2007.

In Cumberland County YTD sales are up 15.9% while the median price of $251,000 represents an increase of 7.3%.  The monthly median price of $267,000 was an all-time record – and one that seemed almost impossible to attain several years ago.

Like always, the graph below highlights results for many local communities.   The city of Portland still continues to be on pace to set a record for annual sales.  Unit volume is up 43% YTD while pricing is up 5.8%.   Only a few communities are reporting lower sales and price levels in 2016 versus 2015. 

Inventory & Pending Properties

Nationally, total housing inventory at the end of May rose 1.4% to 2.15 million existing homes available for sale, but is still 5.7% lower than a year ago (2.28 million). Unsold inventory is at a 4.7 month supply at the current sales pace, which is unchanged from April.

Interestingly, pending properties (homes under contract) actually declined in May for the first time in two years.  The decrease, while marginal, was not anticipated.

In Maine, inventory increased slightly in May.  In Cumberland County, unlike the national results, pending homes increased from 60.7% to 61.8% of available inventory.  Not surprisingly there is a vast difference in the strength of the market in southern Maine versus the entire state.  In May, only 29% of all available inventory was pending statewide. is updated each month with the latest sales statistics.  You can access this information by town at Local Communities, or try our Interactive Sales Chart. If you don't see what you are looking for, we can prepare a custom report for you. 
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182 Island Ave
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Portland Expands Apartment Capacity
Over 1,000 Units to be Added

By most accounts, development and growth in the city of Portland is strong. As of the first quarter of 2016, downtown Class A office vacancies were at 4.52% – the lowest in years; retail vacancies were at 3.6% compared to 12.6% nationally.  Additionally, 1,134 new apartments are in the pipeline, with 269 currently under construction.  New projects underway include an 8-story, 139 unit apartment complex on the site of the former Joe’s Smoke Shop on Congress St; a 53 apartment project in East Bayside at 89 Anderson St; a 55 unit project at 117 Preble St and a 63 unit project at 101 York St.

On top of this will be the Miami-based Federated Company's long-delayed mixed-use Midtown project with 450 market rate apartment units, which was reported to be back on track just last week as an important parcel of land (a long strip running along Somerset St between Pearl and Elm and parallel to Marginal Way) was sold by the city to Federated for $2.3 million.

And it certainly doesn’t hurt that Portland regularly gets mentioned in national “top city” rankings for its abundance of award-winning restaurants, as a great place to raise a family and for having a lively arts scene that’s appealing to empty nesters and millennials.

Yet despite all this positive news, change in Portland can still be a struggle.  It was less than a year ago that a city-wide referendum nearly derailed the proposed redevelopment of the historic Portland Co. complex at 58 Fore Street. Although the effort failed, it clearly provided ample evidence that Portland is experiencing some growing pains as architects, developers, municipal officials and residents struggle to find common ground on the city’s growth challenges and potential solutions. Continue Reading
R + L = J
The Rightful Claim to the Iron Throne

Jon SnowWhile Rhaegar Targaryen, son of the Mad King (Aerys) and older brother to Daenerys, has never been seen on GOT, not even in a flashback, fans of the program (and the books) did get a look at Lyanna, Ned Stark's younger sister, in the finale.

Supposedly Lyanna, betrothed to Robert Baratheon, ran off with Rhaegar and and secretly gave birth to their lovechild, Jon Snow.

If true, this could make Jon the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.

While not a universally accepted theory, there has been a considerable number of hints dating back to season one.  For a review, visit: R+L=J
Greed, Corruption & Mismanagement
Pharmaceutical Disaster ......... American Style

Valeant Pharmaceuticals, under the leadership of former CEO Michael Pearson, grew into a behemoth of the industry. By 2015, the company had an equity market value of almost $90 billion. Within six months, 90% of that value was gone.

This story, written for Vanity Fair, examines the rise and fall of Valeant, as well as the chief executive who oversaw its unruly expansion and destructive collapse. 

A cautionary tale of greed and corruption:  Read Article
Drone Video with Green Screen
182 Island Ave | Long Island Maine Real Estate

We are now using a drone to improve our home videos.  This recent example includes a combination of green screen, drone and images to tell a compelling story. 

When it comes to marketing homes, no real estate agency in Maine does more to ensure that your home is seen by the most potential buyers - in the best possible light. Imagine More!
Mortgage Rates Offset Higher Home Prices
Refinancing at Lower Levels 

June numbers show that low mortgage rates are keeping housing on track despite increasing house prices, according to recently released data from Freddie Mac. The report examines current projections of homeownership rates in the years to come from among various experts, as well as the latest results on refinance statistics from current homeowners. So far, homeowners aren’t using cash-out refinances to over-leverage themselves.

The house price appreciation forecast for 2016 has increased by 20 basis points to 5.0%, and in 2017 by 40 basis points to 4.0%. During the first quarter of this year an estimated $10.9 billion of home equity was converted to cash during the refinance of conventional prime-credit home mortgages, down from $11.0 billion in the fourth quarter of 2015 and substantially less than during the peak, when cash-out refinance volume reached $84.0 billion during the second quarter of 2006.

According to Sean Becketti, Chief Economist for Freddie Mac, there is little risk of over-leveraging in the current conventional conforming prime market.  The median loan-to-value ratio for all prime conventional cash-out refinances was 69% in the first quarter of 2016 compared to 74% in 2000 and 73% in 2001.   While these percentages may appear small, they are trending in the correct direction. 
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Consider if Apple or Nike sold homes - what would that look like?  Our goal at Maine Home Connection is to deliver a level of premium marketing services that set a new standard in our local market.

Engaging HD videos, outstanding HDR photography, uncompromising online exposure, community networking, business relationships - all combine to deliver a customized and integrated marketing effort.

If you are thinking about taking advantage of current conditions and putting your home on the market, let's discuss how we can help you.  Or visit ......... My Home's Value
At Maine Home Connection
We Believe ........

............. that clients deserve more - more expertise, more care and more focus. We believe that real estate should be about you.  We believe in giving back.  We believe marketing should be memorable and meaningful.  We believe in premium coffee and premium real estate service.  We believe we can change real estate in Maine for the better - and every agent in our company is committed to these ideals.

Laura & Michael Sosnowski
Brokers | Owner
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19 Commercial St | Portland ME 04101 | 207.517.3100