Newsletter :: July 2016
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Constable's Wisdom 

“I never saw an ugly thing in my life: for let the form of an object be what it may, -  light, shade, and perspective will always make it beautiful”                                             
                                                                                                            :: John Constable (1776 - 1837)

John Constable was a painter with an enormous appreciation for "his own neighborhood." During his life he painted so many scenes nearby his home in Dedham Vale (UK), the area is often referred to as "Constable Country." He was, in some senses, a shining example of how one can find peace and discern beauty through a degree of mindful attention. 

I'd like to touch briefly on Constable's "light, shade, and perspective" as elements which can make any form beautiful. Perhaps my interpretation of his words will help you frame your own ups and downs this week. 

Light is another way of saying context. We often hear "in light of recent events" as a way of reinterpreting an experience or piece of news. Light helps us see more clearly, and it can illuminate details we may have overlooked. 

Shade could be thought of as the element which lends depth. Complexity, nuance, and a little darkness can often aid us in valuing our gifts, appreciating what we have, or making memories even sweeter once circumstances have changed, or we've experienced a loss. 

Perspective is the grand unifier. Considering light, shade, form, and our disposition towards them, we get a handle on our own perspective. Is a home a money pit or an investment opportunity? Is the neighborhood prime for gentrification, or a center of urban blight? Questioning and shifting our perspective is often required to give us the energy or hope we need to keep going. 

While you may not be a fan of English Romantic landscapes, Constable's wisdom holds true: Let the form of an object be what it may. It is up to us to endow it with beauty. 
Light, Shade & Perspective
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July 2016 Newsletter | Maine Home Connection

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June Real Estate Sales Update
Halfway Done - How Did That Happen?

Boosted by a greater share of sales to first-time buyers not seen in nearly four years, national existing-home sales maintained their upward trajectory in June and increased for the fourth consecutive month, according to a report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).  Only the Northeast saw a decline in closings in June. 

Total existing-home sales climbed 1.1% percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.57 million in June from a downwardly revised 5.51 million in May. After last month's gain, sales are now up 3.0% percent from June 2015 (5.41 million) and remain at their highest annual pace since February 2007 (5.79 million).

According to Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist: "Looking ahead, it's unclear if this current sales pace can further accelerate as record high stock prices, near-record low mortgage rates and solid job gains face off against a dearth of homes available for sale and lofty home prices that keep advancing."

The Maine Experience

June existing-home sales in the Northeast declined 1.3% to an annual rate of 760,000, but are still 5.6% above a year ago. Maine has performed better as single family home sales were up for the first six months of 2016 17.1% but down slightly from last month (rate of increase).  Interestingly, Cumberland County sales were up only 10.5% and down 5.4% from last month's YTD results. 

The city of Portland continues to lead the way in annual growth.  YTD sales are up 37.6% and are well on their way to establishing a second consecutive annual record.

Pricing continues to improve.  The YTD median price for Maine increased from $180,000 in May to $185,000 in June, representing a six-month year-over-year improvement of 5.1%, exceeding the national average.  The median price in Cumberland County for the month of June was $280,00 – the highest level ever achieved.  The YTD median price of $259,925 is up and impressive 7.5%.

The graph below includes sales for many local communities. Only South Portland, Falmouth, Cape Elizabeth, Kennebunkport and Brunswick are recording lower sales in 2106 vs 2015.  For the most part, this is the result of record sales in the prior year and a current shortage of available inventory.

Inventory & Pending Properties

Nationally, total housing inventory at the end of June dipped 0.9% to 2.12 million existing homes available for sale, and is now 5.8% lower than a year ago (2.25 million). Unsold inventory is at a 4.6-month supply at the current sales pace, which is down from 4.7 months in May,

Focusing on Cumberland County, inventory levels for June were at the lowest level (for that specific month) since 2005.  However, the percentage of homes under contract has declined for the last three months, reflecting an upcoming small slowdown in the immediate upcoming period. Pending homes were 42% of all inventory in June in Cumberland County; 32% in York County; and only 19% statewide, reflecting the large aberrations  that affect Maine real estate.

Home Sales 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. 
Featured Listings
Redlon Park
28 Redlon Park
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8 Classical
8 Classical Lane
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70 Neal St
370 Neal St
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Back Cove to Get Neighborhood Restaurant
Owners of Central Provisions Expanding

Central Provisions is expanding.  Paige and Chris Gould, the owners of the popular Fore St restaurant in Portland have purchased 182 Ocean Ave in Back Cove for $667,500 in a sale completed at the end of June.  In 2015 Central Provisions was a James Beard Award finalist in the category of Best New Restaurant. 

The building at 182 Ocean Avenue dates to 1951 and is 2,720 sqft and is considered to be a turnkey restaurant location, complete with a wood-fired oven — perfect for Neapolitan-style pizza.  The site formerly housed the Borealis Bakery & Bistro, which closed in February as the owner, Jim Amaral, decided to focus on the wholesale bread business. 

To make it more interesting, it is reported that Mike Smith, executive chef at Scales, will be leaving his current position and joining the Goulds.  In addition to pizza, the menu is expected to include handmade pastas, crudo and salads – all with a local neighborhood atmosphere.

The expected opening is December or January – and for now the name and décor are a closely guarded secret.   
Portland Art Scene in Flux
Changes in How Art is Made, Sold and Shared

Art, like love, is a fickle business.  Today competition comes from iphones and Facebook, as potential buyers and aficionados no longer find it necessary to visit artwork in person. Sadly, this sounds familiar if you are trying to run any type of retail enterprise.

Portland's art gallery scene is changing (again), with one gallery being sold, another already closed and a third due to close in August.

According to a story reported in the PPH, the Fitzpatrick Gallery, a mainstay of the city's arts district, is closing in August due to the retirement of its 78-year-old owner.  Maine College of Art, which owns the Fitzpatrick gallery space at 522 Congress St, is evaluating how the space will be utilized going forward.  

Adding to the changes, the Susan Maasch Fine Art Gallery, located at 4 City Center, had closed in June, while the Greenhut Galleries, located at 146 Middle St, is being sold by its owner, Peggy Golden, to a couple from California.  The price of the transaction is undisclosed. 

Greenhut Galleries is the oldest commercial art gallery in Portland and home to dozens of Maine’s best-known painters.   The Fitzpatrick Gallery has been in operation since the early 1990’s.  Since 2014 a half-dozen prominent Portland galleries have closed or been sold.

For additional insight into the pros and cons of Portland's turbulent Portland art scene, visit the original article at: Portland Galleries.
The Man Who Created Bigfoot
50 Year Later is Bob Gimlin a Prophet?

In the fall of 1967, Bob Gimlin and Roger Patterson explored Northern California’s thick forest as they searched for evidence of Bigfoot. Their journey culminated in a 59.5 second video, during which they filmed a “hulking gorilla-like figure covered in dark hair.”

For over 40 years, the footage has been scrutinized exhaustively, and yet, no one has ever conclusively debunked the images. This article, written for Outside Magazine, looks at Bob Gimlin’s life before and after his name became synonymous with the never-ending hunt for a piece of American mythology 

Bigfoot, alive and well:  Read Article
Next Stop - HGTV
Engaging Videos Make a Difference
182 Island Ave | Long Island Maine Real Estate
Over the last few years we have produced over 140 videos that have been watched by close to 50,000 people.  Many feature Laura and Julia providing a walk-through tour of homes we list, highlighting all the important features.  While we may cringe looking back at some of our earliest efforts, no doubt our technique has continued to improve.  Here is one of the latest! 

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!
Brexit One Month Later
The Impact on Mortgage Rates 

BrexitJust over a month ago, the United Kingdom decided to withdraw from the European Union in a decision commonly known as Brexit. At that time there was a lot of speculation on how that decision would impact the U.S. residential mortgage market. Today, we want to look at the impact of the first 30 days.

Most believed that the Brexit decision would drive mortgage rates down and keep them down for some time. As CoreLogic reported:

“First-time buyers can count on continued low mortgage rates to help with affordability issues. Similarly, re-setting adjustable rate loans will have less of a rate shock, and in some cases may even go down.”

What has actually happened?

Initially, rates did fall. However, Freddie Mac has reported that rates have stabilized and have actually increased marginally each of the last two weeks. This prompted Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Beckett to say:
“Post-Brexit volatility tapered off over the last two weeks, allowing interest rates to bounce back a bit from their near-record 30-year mortgage rate lows.”
And, Capital Economics Property Economist Matthew Pointon believes rates will continue to increase:
“Given we expect Brexit will have a minimal impact on the U.S. economy, we see no reason to change our forecast for mortgage rates to reach 3.85% by the end of this year, and 5.0% by the middle of 2018.”

We will continue to follow the effect of Brexit on the U.S. housing market. But for now, it appears the impact is not as dramatic as some thought it could be. 
Premium Real Estate Service
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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
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Laura & Michael Sosnowski
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