Phil McPhail

Snowmobile News from Maine DIF&W

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                             January 19, 2016

AUGUSTA, Maine  - Snowmobilers will have the opportunity to enjoy the trails in neighboring states for free during a special weekend shared by Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. This annual three-day event will take place January 29 - 31, 2016 and allows all legally registered Maine snowmobiles to be operated in New Hampshire and Vermont without being registered in those states.

"This means that all snowmobiles legally registered in New Hampshire and Vermont can be operated in Maine without a current Maine registration," said Governor Paul R. LePage. "We welcome these snowmobilers to explore more than 14,000 miles of Maine's interconnected, groomed and marked trails. As always, we encourage them to enjoy Maine's beautiful outdoors, but also urge them to ride safely."

The Maine Warden Service reminds snowmobilers to ride with caution at all times.

"With the increased traffic anticipated during the reciprocal snowmobile weekend, we remind all riders to obey laws of prudent operation, do not drink and drive, and be mindful that this is a family sport, so please keep our trails safe," said Maine Warden Colonel Joel Wilkinson. "Pay extra close attention to ice conditions on all Maine waterways especially when travelling at night, and ride with caution. We hope that enthusiasts participate in this great opportunity to discover Maine's tremendous snowmobiling opportunity."

Snowmobilers should stay off roads, ride at a reasonable speed, use hand signals and ride to the right.

If you need to register your snowmobile in Maine, visit:  https://www10.informe.org/ifw/atv-snow/.

For information about snowmobile laws and rules in Maine, visit: http://www.eregulations.com/maine/atv/snowmobile-laws-and-rules/.

For trail condition updates and trail maps, visit the Maine Snowmobile Association at: http://www.mesnow.com/

On The Trail to Increasing Your Land Value

There is something special about a walk in the woods. Inspecting the tracks of forest animals, listening to the distant "wack-wack-wack" of the pileated woodpecker, watching a busy beaver putting the finishing touches on her dam, these and many other woodsy events are just a few reasons why we own land. To better care for and use our property we enjoy creating and improving multi-use trails. Building trails improves our outdoor experience, while at the same time increases the lands value.

Before starting the physical work of trail building take some time to mentally plan the construction. What are the intended uses of the trail? Is it for accessing a location such as a hunting stand or scenic place, hiking and cross country skiing? Do you intend to have vehicles on it like ATV's, snowmobiles,  tractors, mountain bikes or others? How much traffic will your trail support? Asking yourself these and other questions will help you design a trail that meets your goals and will save you time and money.

Google Earth and the Maine office of GIS provide free solutions which can be used to plan and map your trail system. If you are not familiar with these programs see our post on using Google Earth. for some basic information. The topographic overlay from the Maine office of GIS in conjunction with Google Earth is especially useful.

Once you decide for what purpose and where you want the trail now is the time to get out on your property and scout out the best route. Online mapping got you a good start but it won't show you all the variations in the land like micro elevation changes or the best place to cross a creek for examples. Priorities when choosing the best route should include minimizing soil disturbance, protecting riparian areas and require a minimal amount of future trail maintenance. When done well trails enhance the recreational and economic use of the land today and for years to come.

You will need a few tools to create your trail. The following will get you started and may be all or more than you need.

  • Flagging Tape
  • Lopping Shears
  • Rake
  • Shovel
  • Lightweight Chainsaw
  • Brush Saw
  • Lawnmower

If I am out alone clearing trails to be used primarily for hiking, a good pair of shears and safety glasses are what I will bring. When making larger or wider trails power equipment is a big time and back saver. If you plan to use power equipment be sure to get good safety gear to protect yourself from injury.

Building trails is hard but rewarding work. So get out there and enjoy your land.

ARE YOU PREPARED TO BUY MAINE LAND

Are you planning on buying a parcel of Maine land this year? If so, you need to know a few things before you start, especially if you are not from here and/or have never purchased land before.

FINANCING

Before you fuel the car or buy the plane ticket, have you considered how you will pay for it? Obviously, if you have cash this item can be checked off your list. If you intend to get a loan to complete the purchase, you should know it is not the same process as getting a home mortgage. Most US banks do not do land loans. So if you planned on using the BIG bank you have a credit card or your home loan with, save yourself a lot of time and money by asking if they will finance raw land. Ask them questions like:

  • What down payment would be required?
  • Is there a limit on how many acres they will accept?
  • Do they do business in Maine?
  • Do they have approved appraisers and title companies in Maine?
  • Is your credit score high enough for their land loan program?

If you find out they will not do the loan, you just saved yourself hundreds of dollars in travel expenses. There are a few solid lenders who finance raw land in Maine. So if you need financing give us a call to get the list. Also, many sellers will consider owner financing their lands.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Maybe before calling the lenders, you should ask yourself why are you buying land? What is your intended use of the property? Did you get all the information on your target properties to be sure the ground will meet your needs and desires? For example, if you intend to use the land for raising cattle, is the land zoned for that use? If not, you are going to waste time and money coming to see it. Make a list of your concerns and get the answers before you come, a few example as follows:

  • Is the zoning in line with your intended use?
  • Is the property in a tax program that prohibits your intended use?
  • Are the soils OK for your use?
  • Does the property have utilities to it? If not and you require them, how far and how much to extend them?
  • Does the property have year round access?

CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT

The next item of preparedness that I nearly always forget to tell my customers before they get here is the appropriate clothing to wear for a visit to Maine. If you are looking at forested land, for example, and are unfamiliar with Maine, the forest here can be very dense and the ground uneven. Here is a checklist of the minimum gear you should have with you when you come.

  • Good pair of boots - waterproof if you have them
  • Sun or safety glasses to protect your eyes from tree branches
  • Layered clothing options for changing weather conditions
  • A waterproof coat

If you are working with one of us to show you the land, the above list will get you by. If you intend to do some exploring on your own, think about the following items:

  • A good compass
  • GPS
  • Maps of the areas of interest
  • Backpack
  • Water bottles
  • Snow shoes in winter

CUSTOMER OR CLIENT

The final question to ask yourself is are you confident enough to represent yourself or should you hire a broker to help you with the process. If you have the time you can do your own research and represent yourself in the process, but if you do not have time a good land broker is worth a look. Maine does require a real estate agent representing a buyer as a client to have a written buyer brokerage agreement, so if you do decide to go this route be sure to carefully review the contract to see what the agent's and your obligations are to each other.

How To Choose A Logger

Is it time to harvest your timberland in Maine? If so and you do not have the experience, equipment or desire to do it yourself, do you know how to find someone to do the harvesting for you?

Choosing a logger is a very important process in the management of your timber investment. Done properly, harvesting will pay a return on investment with competitive stumpage checks, improve the growth of the remaining trees, protect sensitive areas, provide habitat for game animals, open views and possibly make road improvements. An improper harvest may do just the opposite of the above. So how do you go about finding a logger you ask?

If you have a forest management plan you should start with your Maine professional forester who prepared your plan. He or she should know some reputable loggers who they could refer to you. Once you have a couple of names ask some questions.

  • Ask for references from other land owners that the logger has worked for. Call them and ask how the job turned out.
  • Ask for their certifications. The better loggers in Maine will have been through the Certified Logging Program (CLP) or the Master Logger Certification (MLC). Both of these credentials show that they have some working knowledge of proper forestry and safety techniques.
  • Ask them to show you that they are insured for workers compensation in case of an accident. You do not want an injury on your land to become your problem.
  • If you can, visit a couple of their past jobs sites to see how they left the land.
  • Once you have decided on a contractor get a signed contract for the job. This will give you and your logger have a clear understanding of how the job will be done and what and when you will be paid for your trees.

If you get an unsolicited offer in the mail or over the phone be cautious. That logger may or may not be good at what they do, to be sure use the above questions.

As always I would recommend that your independent forester be part of the process. Their assistance in the process will most likely pay dividends for the future of your forest.

For more information on timberland see http://investintimberland.com/

 

Buying Maine Land With A Self-Directed IRA

If you are like many of our customers concerned with having all of their retirement investments tied to the stock market you may want to look into a self-directed IRA. With a self-directed IRA you will be ready to act when you find that Maine land for sale that you know is a good investment.

What is a self-directed IRA?

The Individual Retirement Account or IRA has been around for many years as an incentive for individuals to save money tax deferred for their retirement. A self-directed IRA is simply an IRA that gives you complete control over what you invest in.

What can you invest in?

Unlike most IRA's offered by banks or custodians the self-directed IRA can be used for nontraditional IRA investments like real estate, notes, precious metals and many others. Maine timberland, farmland, land with development potential, waterfront and more could be a great diversification to you investment portfolio.

Pros

The best benefit of the SDIRA is the ability to have control over what you invest in. No one cares more about your retirement than you do. You can invest in what you know instead of letting others have control of your future. You can partner with friends and others on new investment opportunities. Your investments will grow tax deferred.

Cons

All investments have risk and a self-directed IRA will require you to do your own due diligence to mitigate risk.

Because this type of tax deferred account could have a lot of potential tax advantages for you the IRS has a lot of rules that need to be followed.

Is it right for you?

You will need to decide if the ability to control your own destiny is something you are comfortable doing. If you do not have time for researching your own investments you may want to stick with a traditional IRA. If you are one of a growing number of individuals concerned with the course of traditional banking and investing, the self-directed IRA is worth a look.

 

Update on Waters of the United States

The senate recently passed an amendment to limit the EPA and Army Corp of Engineers play to bring additional waters into their jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. This was hotly contested last year by concerned parties from home owners to industry as overreaching the intention of the Clean Water Act.

The provision was introduced by Senator John Barrasso of  Wyoming and co-sponsored by Roy Blunt of Mo.

For more information about the amendment see Senator Blunt's site linked HERE

 

New App for Woodland Owners

At the annual meeting of SWOAM a discussion came up about a new app for smartphones called About My Woods.  I down loaded it immediately and have used it for the past few weeks. It has some great features.

The mapping menu is cool. You will find terrain, satellite, soil, water shed and land cover mapping all showing your location on the earth.

The app has a decent description of plants, trees, wildlife and invasive plants and insects. I like the quality photos and description making identification much easier.

A "who can help" menu has contact information for district foresters, local mills and more.

The app is from the North East State Foresters Association (NEFA) and the best part is it is free.

To get the app go to http://www.aboutmywoods.org/

Maine Land Market Trending Up

If you have been thinking about selling all or part of your Maine land, now might be the right time. In the past 2 weeks we have noticed a marked increase in the volume of inquiries and offers for our land listings. A quick check of the MLS land listings in the State of Maine show an increase of nearly 12% in the number of pending listings from 1/1/15 - 1/22/15 versus the same time period in 2014. A very positive indicator this January is the average days on market of the new year pending listings. This time period has decreased by over 140 days! A statistical change of note is average lot size. So far this year the number has decreased to approximately 14 acres, nearly half the acreage from the 2014 pending sales of land. With only 7 of the 2015 pending listings successfully closed, it is too early to compare the sale price to list price ratio, but the average list price increased by about 8% to over $103,000 in 2015. Sales are definitely looking up across the state. The number of transactions in early 2015 are up nearly 35% from the same time period in 2013. If a sale is in your future you need to know that every market is different with prices varying greatly from county to county, even from town to town. Buyer preferences for lot sizes, locations, offers of owner financing, permitted uses, access and other factors will determine the potential value for your property. Call us to get an estimate of your land value today.