Sellers

2016 Waterfront Land Sales Big Improvements

What a difference a year has made for Maine waterfront. Coming into the end of 2016 it appears that the waterfront land market is heading in the direction of a sellers market. The indicators are a 20% increase in the number of waterfront land sales in the past 12 months as compared to the 2015 numbers and an average market time reduced by nearly 50 days . Depending on the part of Maine you are in you are seeing prices, that were flat in the beginning of 2016 caused by an excess of inventory, now starting to creep up a little.

Factors in our markets contributing to the increase in sales are a combination of a number of things. Asking prices being lowered by sellers who have realized that the values of the mid 2000's are in many cases unobtainable, low interest rates offered by some of Maine's land lenders and owner financing increasing in popularity.

We are seeing new lakefront, riverfront and other waterfront parcels in both approved subdivisions or divisions of existing properties coming into the market. Strong interest from buyers both prior to and after the presidential elections leads me to believe that waterfront prices will continue to increase slightly in 2017 assuming that inventories continue to dwindle.

Is it time to sell your land? All market areas are different, give us a call and we can give you an idea what your property might be worth on the market today.

To Post or Not to Post Your Maine Land

Maine has a long tradition of landowners allowing reasonable public access to private lands. As a Mainer I want to thank all of those land owners who allow this. I do not post my land as we also enjoy using lands of other landowners who also allow access for recreation on their lands.

If you wish to keep your land for your own use, Maine does protect the landowners rights to privacy. Title 17A Section 402 explains how the landowner must post their land with signs or paint to legally restrict access over their property. Signs or paint must be within 100 feet apart and be visible so that a potential intruder can see the restricted access. Signs must be specific as to the restriction ie. no trespassing, access by permission only, no hunting etc.

Painting is the easiest way to post your land, a vertical purple painted stripe 1 plus inch wide on trees 3-5 feet above the ground means access by permission only. These stripes need to be no more than 100 feet apart and need to be maintained so that they are conspicuous to any person who may approach your boundary lines.

A verbal warning to a trespasser is also a legal means of enforcing your property rights. If you confront a hunter on your land you have the right to inspect their hunting license to determine who they are, if they refuse they have violated Maine law. If convicted they can loose their hunting rights for a year and possibly forfeit their firearms to public auction.

If a hunter wounds a game animal which then enters your property the hunter does not have the right to enter your property to retrieve the animal. If you are concerned about the access please contact the local game warden and allow the hunter to retrieve the animal to prevent the waste of the game.

We are often asked by landowners that if they post their property to restrict access if they can still legally hunt their property. The answer is yes. The landowner does still need to purchase a Maine hunting license and abide by all applicable hunting rules and regulations. We are also asked about landowner legal responsibility for keeping their property safe for recreational users. The answer is no as long as you do not willfully or maliciously fail to guard or warn against a dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity.

We hope this helps Maine land owners manage the land they way in which they want to. To understand that if they wish to keep it for just themselves that is a right that they are entitled and protected. For those who leave their land open for public use this Mainer and many others say thank you and respect your property rights.

 

Conservation Vs. Production in an Off-Grid Power System

I've produced most of my homes electricity for several years now.  Seven years ago I installed a 10 Kw Bergey wind turbine and three years ago I added an additional 3000 watt solar array with battery storage and inverters.  At peak production with both devices I am producing 13,000 watts of power on a sunny and windy day.  On a monthly basis I have seen as much as 1200 kilowatt hours of production from my turbine and an additional 360 kilowatt hours of power from my solar array.  The average home uses 600 kilowatt hours of power on a monthly basis, so at times I am able to produce more power at my home than two average homes in the U.S. consume. This production ability came at a pretty steep upfront cost.  I have around $60,000 in my turbine and about $20,000 in my solar array with its associated inverters, batteries and top of pole mount.

 

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3 Kilowatt Solar Array

 

I have read in various places studies showing the costs for energy conservation compared to the costs of energy production.  The number that I have seen is on the order of for every $1.00 spent in conservation, it would take about $8.00 spent to produce that amount of energy.  So what does this have to do in real life when thinking about building an alternative energy system?  Well quite simply the less energy you really need to produce to live comfortably, the smaller the investment you need to make to produce that energy.

A well thought out off-grid home is going to be well insulated as well as well positioned to take advantage of passive solar heating, natural lighting and have efficient electrical appliances and lighting.  The lifestyle of the inhabitants of that home will be different as well.  They will turn off lights when not in the room.  If they watch television, they will turn it off when it is not being watched.  Pretty common sense items you would think, but not in reality.  It is amazing the people that I have had as guests in my home that leave the lights on, leave the television playing and just waste electricity.  I guess they either believe since I produce my own, it is free to waste it.  It just takes a second to turn off appliances not being used, and all that conservation adds up pretty fast when you figure it is an eight to one return.

 

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10 KW Wind Turbine

 

The inhabitants of a well designed off-grid home will most likely heat with wood, cook with propane or natural gas, and use efficient LED lighting in the home.  The electrical appliances will be energy star rated and they will decide what is truly important to them.  The home will probably not have a dishwasher, although it could.  It depends on what they consider necessary for their lifestyle.  I have seen some pretty amazing properties that were built off-grid and produce all their own electricity.  I have also seen some pretty modest homes with modest energy production investments with above average energy consumption as well.  Utilizing a conservationists approach to living your life will yield large dividends in money saved and still living comfortably in an off-grid home.  Decide what is important to you, what you could use less of, what you can get by without entirely and have an appropriately sized system installed for your home.  A good friend of mine with hundreds of off-grid system installations under his belt has stated that he never tells anyone that it can't be done, what he says is "how large is your budget?"  Eight to one adds up pretty fast.

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

 

Realtor Land Institute Conference 2015

This past week Peter McPhail and I attended the Realtor Land Institute National Business Conference in Tucson Arizona. We were among a contingent of United Country Real Estate ALC's and RLI members from Maine to California to attend the conference. The 3 day event featured national expert speakers on the economy, instructors on new real estate training and technologies plus networking opportunities with over 200 of the best land brokers in the country.

 

economist at RLI

Dr. Mark Dotzour Speaking at 2015 RLI Conference

 

The conference opened with Lawrence Yun, The NAR's chief economist, KC Conway Senior VP of Sun Trust Bank and Dr. Mark Dotzour of Texas A&M. The three gave the group their predictions on what we should expect from the economy in 2015. Here are some of their predictions; o The U.S. GDP will underperform again this year staying below the historic norm of 3% growth, while Europe will remain around ZERO. o Interest rates will remain low but will increase slightly midyear. o Farmland prices are expected to fall with lower commodity prices o Foreign investment in US dollar assets will increase o Supply chain will switch from West Coast to the East Coasts more modern and efficient ports o Oil prices should remain low throughout this year, but gas predicted to hit $3 per gallon because of a lack of refining capacity to keep up with demand o None of the three are concerned with inflation with one predicting deflation for 2015 All three economists feel that the recovery is being slowed by the 2010 Dodd/Frank legislation that came in the wake of the banking meltdown of 2008. All agree that the legislation should be loosened to exempt smaller local banks from much of the restrictions intended to keep TOO BIG TO FAIL BANKS in check. Small banks simply can't afford the legal army needed to wade through this complex law. They have become more selective than they want to be in making loans because of fear of the new laws. These banks were not at the core of the financial crisis and most are doing well. Ask your state senators to get behind reforms to Dodd/ Frank which will encourage lending to home builders and new home buyers.

Maine Waterfront Real Estate Market in Full Recovery

In 2006 and 2007 Maine experienced the hottest waterfront market in history.  Ocean, lake, pond and river properties for sale were benefiting from the boom of real estate values in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and the rest of New England.  Out of state buyers were flocking to Maine with cash from home equity loans on their primary residences.

In 2011 the waterfront market bottomed out based on the number of sold transactions.  Since 2011 we have seen a slow but steady increase in the number of single family waterfront transactions per year.  For example, in 2014 Penobscot County had seen an 80% increase in the number of sold transactions compared to 2011.

Maine Bold Coast

What are some of the causes for the increase in the number of Maine waterfront properties sold?

  1. Record high levels of available inventory. Buyers have had a great selection of properties to choose from.
  2. Prices are at the most affordable levels since the great recession started. Some locations are seeing properties selling for 25% less than the peak values of 2006-2007.
  3. Record low interest rates. Current 30 year fixed rates are under 4%.
  4. Record Stock Market Levels. Buyers are taking stock market gains and investing in Maine waterfront property.
  5. Pent up demand. Buyers are starting to see the changing tide in the Maine waterfront market and are getting off the fence to take advantage of these conditions.

Why buy now?

Buyer activity for the winter months of 2015 has been the strongest we've seen at United Country McPhail Realty since 2007.

New listings coming on the market for the first two months of 2015 are down 11% compared to 2014 and down 7% compared to 2013.

If you are a buyer that has been sitting on the fence watching Maine waterfront for sale, timing is everything.  The balance of supply and demand is moving away from oversupply to a more balanced market.  These conditions will help to provide an upward pressure on values, especially on those waterfront properties that are priced aggressively and have the popular features buyers are looking for.

Maine Lakes and Ponds

If you are an owner looking to sell your waterfront property, it is more critical than ever to hire the right Realtor.  What makes for the best waterfront realtor?  The following are some of the criteria to consider:

  1. A real estate company with a strong online marketing program that focuses on lifestyle property types. A generic, cookie cutter, one size fits all marketing program will not work well.
  2. A company with a strong print advertising campaign designed to reach buyers of lifestyle properties. Another part of a strong foundation. Affluent buyers still like to read print.
  3. A brokerage that understands SEO and can help your property stand out from the crowd. It takes more than just a standard web site to be found first among the many.
  4. A real estate company with a large database of buyers that can be marketed to from day one.
  5. A real estate company that is part of an international network of lifestyle brokers.
  6. A real estate company with years of experience that understands the best marketing, pricing and negotiating strategies to best serve their client's needs.
  7. A real estate company that is continually staying on the cutting edge of new marketing ideas and technology.

For a free, no obligation consultation, give the United Country McPhail Realty team a call at 207-794-4338 to see the power of a custom lifestyle marketing program for your Maine waterfront property.

Recreational Land Investment For Sale Somerset County

This newly listed forested lot for sale in Concord Township, Somerset County has all of the components for quality recreation and investment. When buying land many of our customers have a list of similar requirements. Here is a list of the most commonly requested features which this lot enjoys.

  1. Good Access - A parcel of land that you cannot legally get to has reduced value. The savvy buyer will be sure the acreage they are looking for has a good deeded right of way or fronts on a maintained public road. Care should be taken to certify an apparent access is a legal one.
  2. Power - Some customers will consider off grid locations, but the majority of people like the convenience of being on the grid because it is simply cheaper and easier.

     

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    136 +/- acres Concord Twp - Little Houston Brook Road frontage with electric at street.

     

  3. Dry Land - Maine buyers know that finding a large parcel of property that is completely free of wetland is probably impossible with all the streams, ponds, vernal pools and forested wetlands in our state. They look for a good percentage of dry land with soils that promote the growing of trees and other plants. The dryer the land the more options for building sites and future development there will be.
  4. Water Frontage - Almost every potential buyer either wants to be on or near some kind of water. Man is naturally drawn to wild rivers, streams, lakes and ponds for the recreation, views and resources.

     

    Frontage on Houston Brook in Winter 2015

    Lots of Frontage on Houston Brook

     

    Interior Roads - On larger tracts of land having a road or trail system is a great advantage to better use the land. The best parcels have a road through the property that makes available different building sites and a reduced cost for managing the timber on the property.

  5. Views - It is difficult to put a value on great views, but most customers hope to find them on the parcel they purchase.

     

    Nearby Kennebec River in Bingham Maine

    Nearby Kennebec River in Bingham Maine

     

  6. Nearby Recreation - When buying a property location is a big consideration. For those investing in land for recreation, things like maintained trails for snowmobile, ATV riding and hiking are a big benefit. Nearby waterways for fishing and boating appeal to the outdoor minded buyer. Another important  consideration is the culture in the area. Do the local residents also appreciate the natural environment and are there nearby businesses and services catering to the rec buyer.

     

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    Nearby Groomed and Maintained Snowmobile Trails

     

  7. Timber - Not all buyers are focused on commercial timber value, but few desire to own a recent clear cut. As an investment, timber has always been a pretty safe bet for the long run. Healthy stands of trees of various ages, quality soils for better growth and the proximity of nearby markets for the harvested timber all will be considered by the educated investor.

If you are reading this and are like many of our other customers looking for the features listed above, this new listing in Concord Township has all of these features. It contains 136 +/- acres of wooded land with frontage on a 4 season road, electric at the street, frontage on a mountain trout stream, some quality trees, interior road and just minutes from the Kennebec River and other recreation. See more details at our LISTINGS or call or email for a complete property information package.

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.

Why We Don't Use Drones For Aerial Photography

Unmanned aerial vehicles also known as drones are some amazing pieces of engineering. The photographic and videography capabilities of these units offer a unique view of our world. Real estate agents are naturally drawn to this technology as an exciting way to show a property, especially large acreages and expansive buildings. When these units first came out I immediately started shopping for a unit for our business.  However, we received very quick warnings from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to not use them.

Recently I have seen agents around the country and locally advertising and promoting the fact that they offer this service to prospective sellers. I sent an email to MAR legal counsel Linda Gifford, asking her if the FAA had lifted the ban. She told me without a doubt, as of this date the FAA prohibits the use of these vehicles for any commercial use, including the promotion of real estate. Linda advised me not to use them. As a Realtor, I am thankful for my affiliation with the Maine Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors. These two organizations keep its members up to date on rules and legislation both state and federal.

The commercial use of UAV's  could draw the attention of the FAA with expensive fines for the real estate agent and their agency, but what kind of liability do their sellers have should an investigation take place? What if one of these agents accidentally crashes the UAV into a home, moving vehicle or another aircraft while using a tool that the federal government tells us not to use? I am no lawyer, but I would wager that the lawsuit the agent (and vicariously the property owner who hired them) would have filed against them would be a slam dunk for the plaintiff.

So why is it that we are seeing blatant violations of FAA and NAR warnings? Non Realtor agencies and agents may have an excuse (though not a very good one) because they could be ignorant of the rules. But for the Realtors who are using the devices, shame on you. As Realtors we should be setting the example.

United Country McPhail Realty will continue to get its aerial photography the old fashioned and legal way by hiring professional pilots and shooting photos from FAA approved aircraft. Once the FAA lifts the bans and approves the use, we will begin using this exciting tool.

I welcome your comments.

See the video from NAR explaining the FAA position and that of NAR.

Comments

  1. Tony Cesare on

    Very interesting article. I can imagine that at the pace the FAA works it could be a few years before they develop the rules for UAV's. Until that happens we will be happy to provide the flying your business needs to help with your marketing of properties.

    Owner Financing Maine Land

    If you are interested in buying Maine land with owner financing find some great land parcels at our listing page. Are you trying to sell your land? Maybe you should try financing your Maine land sale. Why should you consider this option? Because owner financing can help get your land sold faster and earn you more money. Here are a few reasons why and other things you should know.

    Most Banks Don't Offer Land Financing

    When a buyer for Maine land is looking for options to finance their purchase they usually start with the bank that holds their checking and savings accounts. In many cases, if the acreage of the parcel is larger than a simple house lot, the lender will not consider the loan. If they do interest rates may be high, or worse, the down payment requirement is not reasonable.

    Specialty property types such as Maine timberland investments, hunting/fishing/recreational land, larger waterfront land parcels, farmland and other large acreage properties can be difficult to secure financing for. In Maine there are traditional banks and credit unions that offer attractive terms for land. However, the average buyer looking to purchase land will not know who those lenders are and will often get frustrated with the search. They will naturally look for ways to make the process cheaper or less complicated.

    Buyers Prefer Owner Financing

    Many buyers prefer the ease and speed that owner financing allows them to purchase land, so they search land for sale with such offers. This gives the land owner who is offering financing terms competitive advantage over other sellers. Although owner financing interest rates are usually higher than a bank rate, the lower down payment requirements, fewer required fees and closing costs combined with a less hassle process are often preferred by potential land buyers.

    Amortization

    Not only does it help get your land sold faster, another good reason to finance your land is the interest you can earn. When your Maine land sells, what will you do with the proceeds? If you said "put it in a savings account" why? Unless you need the liquidity cash, your money could be working better for you with amortized payments for the land. The front end of an amortization is mostly interest. Even if the borrower pays off early, you will be assured to collect a return on your investment. Looking at all of the options out there, owner financing can be hard to beat.

    Less Risk than other investments

    If done properly, holding a first mortgage on your land is a safe position to be in. Should the buyer/borrower default on repayment, you will have the land as security. There will be costs to pay for the foreclosure action should the borrower default. To reduce your risk, require enough down payment to cover your legal expense of recovering the property.

    Things to consider

    How much down payment should you require? That depends on many factors. Among others these are a few: how much risk are you willing to take, the interest rate you will receive, the buyers qualifications and standing timber values that could be removed.

    The process for lending has become more complicated for the land owner than it was just a few years ago. The reason is the need to be in compliance of new federal regulations on lending. You will hear a lot of different opinions from lawyers, land owners, buyers and others about these regulations. We advise our clients to consult with legal counsel and private lending loan originators regarding owner financing to be sure that all legal documents, lending processes and disclosures are complete.