Feb. 26, 2018

Hard Work Pays Off

I was at the bank last week waiting in line behind a young man.He was wearing his college fraternity sweatshirt and the teller asked him, "Back so soon?"He replied, "Yeah, my grandfather gave me another $200.00!Boy are we going to have a party this weekend!And my other grandparents are visiting on Saturday!I'm going to hang around and see if they will give me some money too!". The teller was very excited for him and said, "You should have a great weekend!"

As I approached the teller, I told her when I was a boy my grandfather, who was the foreman at the Bar Harbor bus garage used to pay me $5 to sweep out the school buses.And my other grandparents paid me $20 to mow the lawn at their business, The Northern Lights Cabins in Salisbury Cove, Maine. I can still feel my hands, arms and shoulders shake after pushing that lawn mower for 5 hours! It was striking to me, how different the lessons I learned from my grandparents were from what this young man was getting from his grandparents!

The final reports are in for 2017’s real estate market.305 single family homes sold in South Portland.The average length of time on the market was 9 days and the selling price compared to the listing price on average was 98%!There were also 88 condos that sold after an average of 44 days on the market at 98% of list price on average.

Looking at the details, there were many homes that sold over their original list price and a bunch that sold under the listing price.Where would you want your property to fall on that list?Above or below?After studying the whole market, I found a very distinct pattern. Most of the homes that sold below asking price were listed with less experienced agents.Many of the homes that sold above asking price were sold by experienced agents mostly from this area. And of all the agents that sold homes in South Portland in 2017, only 3 of them listed more than 10 homes each.I am proud to say we were in that top 3 again!

The lesson I learned from my grandparents at a young age was, if you work hard, you get paid well.That lesson holds true in the real estate market.

Many less experienced agents get a listing, take pictures, put the property on the MLS, install a for sale sign, hold an open house and the homes sell!Mostly because we’re in a strong seller’s market.More experienced agents do a lot more and work very hard to maximize the sale price for their client. 

Last year we sold 88 Scamman Street.The home was in need of major updates and renovations.Our initial analysis showed the value to be in between $270,000 and $280,000 based on it's condition and the most recently sold homes in similar neighborhoods.We put together a strong marketing plan and promoted the home extremely hard.The first day on the market, we received multiple offers and we were able to sell the home for more than $50,000 above our initial analysis! I'd love the opportunity to share what we do differently than most realtors to get such a great price.

At what price would you like to sell your home?An average realtor will get you an average price. We’ve all heard the phrase, "You get what you pay for."We are not average and we believe strongly in our obligation to maximize our client’s return on one of their largest investments! Call to learn about our marketing and what we’ll do to help you sell for much more than the average agent.

Enjoy 2018! It's going to be another very strong year for South Portland real estate!

Posted in A Word From Brian
Jan. 31, 2018

South Portland’s 2017 Real Estate Numbers Are In!

MREIS has released the November 2017 statistics that shows the number of homes  sold,  percent change and median sale prices.  It doesn’t break the data down to YOUR neighborhood though!  But we have all the numbers!  Average days on the market broken down by neighborhood and price ranges, average list to sale price ratio by price range.  Most expensive homes sold.  Least expensive homes sold and much more.

We know that a lot of you follow the real estate market closely and we can provide you with the data that impacts your property and is important to you.  For a free detailed report call, text or e-mail us today.

Office 207-767-3366, txt 207-329-2915, or email brian@horizon-maine.com

 

Posted in Market Update
Jan. 31, 2018

What My Dad Taught Me

My Mom and Dad had kids at a very young age.  They were actually kids themselves.  My sister was a surprise and I, well, I wasn't expected either.  After 5 years of marriage my parents divorced. My Dad lived 10 miles away and we saw him every other weekend, but I don't remember doing much with him as he worked so much.  He married again and had two other kids, so his time was spent working trying to support everyone.

 

I do remember working with my Dad.  In the early days Dad had "Linscott's Dairy" and drove a school bus with my Gramp in Bar Harbor.  Dad would also drive around the MDI High School sports teams to events and games.  My Aunt told me when my Mom came home from the hospital after I was born, there was a football game my Dad was playing in at Bar Harbor High School.  She parked the car and left me in there as I was sleeping so she could watch the game and see my Dad play.  I do remember some of the games Dad drove the school bus to as I went along once in a while.

 

Seems like every time we visited Dad was working.  So, I kind of missed out on playing catch with Dad, helping him fix the car, watching him paint the house and other Father/ Son things.  I did watch Dad work though.  He worked hard.  He worked long.  When I was old enough, he hired me to help him work on the milk truck delivering door to door and filling up the coolers at the stores and restaurants in and around Bar Harbor.  I worked 3 days a week, 8 to 10 hours a day for the summer.  I just did the math and it comes out to 42 cents an hour!  Call DHS!

 

Dad bought an apartment building with his second wife.  It had a big cooler on the ground floor to keep all the milk.  My stepmother and Dad opened a sandwich shop at Kebo Golf Course and my sister and I would sit at the 9th hole during tournaments and sell sandwiches, chips, soda and cookies to the golfers.  I loved hearing the fire horn at noon time as it meant Linda and I could have lunch. The sandwiches were so good! 

 

Dad then bought the "Ocean Drive Dairy Bar" in Bar Harbor and left the milk business.  My sister and I also worked there, and I remember him always telling me I gave away too many French Fries on dinner plates, but I always wanted the customers to be happy.  Every night after we closed, I could make my own ice cream sundae and believe me, I used most of our 18 flavors of Gifford’s Ice Cream!  Dad kept working and sold the Dairy Bar, bought a wrecker, and opened Mount Desert Towing.  At that time, his younger kids were in middle school and Linda and I were in college.  Dad still worked 60-80-hour weeks.  He started plowing snow and I remember him having 100 driveways!  I plow right now and have just over 30 and it’s really hard work!  He eventually sold the wrecking company and retired.  He and his wife still go Florida in the winter, but the first spring Dad was back he joined a tour company in Bar Harbor and drove a trolley while giving tours in and around Acadia National Park.  He still does that today. 

 

While I never spent a lot of time with my Dad, I learned some really important lessons just watching him.  I learned if you work hard enough, treat people with respect and kindness, and maintain a healthy lifestyle, you can provide a good lifestyle for your family and you'll be able to retire and enjoy your later years without too much stress and worries.'m not sure if I have developed such a good work ethic in life watching my Dad work so hard or remember living in a trailer all those years with my Mom, sister and brother and barely scraping by and not ever wanting to go back to that lifestyle.  Ever since high school I've worked hard in every job I've ever done.

 

There is no difference in real estate.  Many people think that this job is so easy.  Did you know that over 80% of all real estate agents quit within 3 years?  We've been in this area for over 30 years and we are entering into our 22st year in real estate.  We have been so fortunate to work with so many great people and work very hard for those people.  Being respectful and working hard is what I am used to doing. 

 

It's going to be a great year in real estate.  If you are planning a move this year or know someone that is, please call us.  We love referrals and will work very hard for them. Real estate is not easy but if you would like to work with someone that is not afraid of hard work and doing what is necessary to do a great job, give me a call.  

 

 

 

Posted in A Word From Brian
Jan. 15, 2018

They Way We Are

Gabby is home from her first semester of college. This past snow storm, the Bomb Cyclone, she rode with me as we were plowing and shoveling out our people’s driveways.

She asked me why our family seemed to adopt certain people in our city. I told her t’s just the way we are. Through 14 years of law enforcement and over 21 years in real estate, I’ve come in contact with so many people. It just seems some people need us here and there to do things.

As she said this, we passed one of our client’s homes. Our client was shoveling with her son and gave us a big wave. We waved back and kept going. Fifteen yards later I stopped in the middle of the road and backed up to where she was. There was a certain look upon her face that said she wanted some help! Sure enough, she asked if we could help clear the driveway and would pay us. I told her pay wasn’t necessary and plowed half of the driveway until she said they could finish the rest.

One of our clients was moving and couldn’t figure out how to take her 12’ indoor plant to her new place. I told her we could help. We put it in the back of her Subaru and I laid down next to the tree and held onto it for the four-mile journey to Portland.

We were closing on a condo and the owner couldn’t get her family to help her with the last few items to take to Goodwill. Of course, I volunteered and brought Jackson with me. Unfortunately, it was 92 degrees out, and the condo was on the 3rd floor. After two full truck loads and two soaked shirts, we were done. Would I volunteer again? In a heartbeat!

I showed up at 9 am to do a final walk-through at our client’s home. Our closing was at 10 am that day. They were supposed to be completely moved out, but everything was still inside. I called Melissa and our kids and within the hour, we had them all moved out and ready in the driveway when the movers arrived!

The last few snow storms I plowed out the end of a neighbor’s driveway, but I didn’t tell her about it. She lives there alone, so taking a few minutes to help was a no-brainer. A day after the storm I got an e-mail from her. “Are you my secret Santa and my new best friend?” I had to admit it. She then asked me to plow out her nephew’s driveway and offered to pay me for it. Of course, I said I would.

A little bit of care makes this world a much better place. Take a look around. Help out your neighbor once in a while or better yet, help out a stranger! Whenever you help someone in our community it makes this community a better place to be!

 

Posted in A Word From Brian
Dec. 1, 2017

Are Your From Away?

Melissa and I were at a Holiday Party last week and I was talking with a long-time resident of South Portland about living here and she commented on getting our newsletter for the last 17 years or so.  She loved the newsletter; hearing about our local news, our family and schools and said the newsletter made her feel more connected to South Portland.  She said she was “From Away.” I told her I was “From Away” too (coming from Seal Cove, Maine) and I found out she was from Kennebunk!  From Away?  I thought that was so funny!

25 years ago, I bought a two-family home on Alder Street in South Portland.  I remember it well.  At that time I was working for the Maine Marine Patrol and was on my own with my black lab, Bo.  I loved the Willard Beach area and Bo did too!  Melissa and I met shortly after I settled in and I still feel very lucky she said, “Yes” when I proposed.  My smaller apartment was not big enough to support a family so Melissa and I started thinking about where we wanted to raise the family we hoped to have one day.

We looked in Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough, Portland, Westbrook, Falmouth, Cumberland,  Yarmouth and South Portland. We considered school systems, local government, local activities, amenities and community recreation. We were and still are very active in biking, running, and walking, and love visiting local beaches, eating at great restaurants, and shopping at local businesses. We had a list going of pluses and minuses for each town and put serious thought into which one was going to be best for all that we love doing. 

It was an easy decision and we settled of course in South Portland.  We bought a home in the Sylvan Sites area while keeping my two-family on Alder Street to rent out.  And we later added our office building right next to Hannaford and City Hall on Cottage Road. 

It wasn’t South Portland’s location that was the overwhelming deciding factor. It wasn’t even the amenities, recreation opportunities, schools, restaurants or shops.  The biggest factor it turned out was the people!  Walking, biking, and running around the neighborhoods for 5 years prior, I had gotten to know so many people and they are the main reason we have stayed in our home for the past 20 years!

We’ve loved sitting on Broadway to watch the Memorial Day Parade, going to the Willard Square block parties, watching the fire works at Bug Light, enjoying performances at Mill Creek and the holiday Tree Lighting and being able to walk to just about everything.  Over the years we’ve volunteered in the schools and have gotten involved with the soccer program coaching.  Melissa was honored to serve a term on the City Council and I have sat on a few community boards here and there.  It really is the people here that make South Portland a great place to live and we are always looking for way to be involved and give back to the people that have made this home for us.

We have been so fortunate to live here, bring our family up here and serve the people of this community.  We really do feel grateful to be able to work with so many people in South Portland even those who are originally “From Away!” 

Enjoy the holidays with your family and friends and always smile when you’re in your neighborhood, in your local shops and restaurants and say hello to your neighbors. Happy Holidays from our family to yours!!

Jackson, Gabby, Melissa and Brian and Hadley the dog!

Posted in A Word From Brian
Nov. 15, 2017

October 2017 Market Data

MREIS has released the October 2017 Real Estate Statistics.

At the national level:  Overall sales as compared to one year ago dipped 1.2% while the median sale price increased 4.2% to $246,800.

At the regional Northeast level: 1.4% fewer homes were sold and the median sale price declined 4.8% to $274,100

At the state level: Maine’s median sale price for single-family homes was $207,225 up 10.2% from a year ago and there were 2.31% more homes sold.

At the county level: In Cumberland County, during the months of July, Aug. and Sept., 1301 homes sold as compared to 1249 homes the previous year.  During the same period the median sale price of homes increased 7.27% to $295,000.

At the local level: In South Portland 104 single-family homes sold with a median sale price of $307,380.  86 of those properties sold in less than 30 days!  In Cape Elizabeth 55 homes sold with a median sale price of $559,408.  36 of those sold in less than 30 days. Inventory in certain neighborhoods is still very tight.  Multiple offer situations are still common but we have seen an increase in inventory since spring. Being prepared to compete in this market  before you start your home search is more important than ever!  And rising values make now a great time to be listing your property.  If you’re thinking of selling or buying a home, call on a local expert who can help you navigate this changing market! 

Posted in Market Update
Nov. 1, 2017

It's All About Family

At times this business makes my hair gray(er)! There have been many ups and downs over the past 21 years. It can be very emotional at times but there seems to always be a central theme to all that Melissa and I do. It’s all about family.  

Autumn Duguay just bought her first home and she just turned 23 years old! She is an inspiration to my kids!  It took almost a year to find her a great home at the right price. She just closed on one in Portland and is now painting out the rooms to make it her own. The neatest part about working with Autumn was watching her parents (who traveled 45 min each time) view each home with her. They were so proud of her and certainly have ever reason to be! It was all about family.

We just sold 88 Scamman Street in South Portland.  The Howard brothers were selling it for their Mom and traveled from Idaho and Georgia to help pack and clean up after she moved.  I was fascinated listening to Frank’s stories of pitching for the White Sox and beaning my childhood hero Carl Yastrzemski! He got a great laugh out of telling that story. I found out later, from our local baseball expert, Al Livingston (who I hear was a great local baseball talent too!) that Mike Howard also played triple A baseball for the Boston Red Sox!  Two local brothers playing professional baseball!  What a family legacy!

We held an open house when we first listed the house. There was one couple that talked with me about their family for a long time. They were so nice. We later received two offers; one being from that nice family and the Howard brothers felt they would be a great addition to the neighborhood!  As we all sat at closing I talked with them and learned the husband coaches baseball and had coached my nephew Sam for the last 3 years in South Portland!  The baseball tradition at 88 Scamman Street continues on!  It’s all about family.

We had been working with Justin since early spring.  He was looking for a home in Scarborough, Portland, South Portland under $300,000. That was a tough price range as the inventory had been so low.  We found some great listings from April through July, but so did other buyers in the market and we were outbid each time- sometimes by $40,000 over the asking price!  I kept telling Justin that the right one was coming soon, and it sure did.  He saw a sign going up on Mussey Street.  We acted quickly and learned it was being sold “By Owner”. We made an offer before anyone else, and Justin now has his first home!  A week after closing I was driving by and saw a woman painting the exterior of the house. I suspected it was Justin’s Mom who had been so supportive through his home-buying  process.  She had traveled from Ohio for a week to help Justin settle in to his first house! We all need Mom’s like that!  It’s all about family. 

As we pause our lives to celebrate Thanksgiving, I’m thinking of all the things I’m thankful for—family, friends, and all the freedoms we enjoy. Be sure to stop and be grateful for all the good things in your life an if we know someone that is celebrating alone this year, knock on their door and say hello.  You may be what they’re most thankful for this year!  

Posted in A Word From Brian
Oct. 15, 2017

A Tale of Two Buyers

How long does it take to find the perfect home?

We work with many buyers and each one is different with their timing.

We started working with Christina a year ago. She is a 24 year old, first time home-buyer and looking for a home  in South Portland, Portland or Westbrook and her budget was under $180,000. We looked at 30 homes over 12 months. During that time, we made offers on 4 homes that she loved but they were all multiple offer situations and she was not the winning bidder.  We had a fifth property  under contract but the deal fell through after the inspections revealed issues the seller was not willing to repair or compensate her for.  Then last month we found the PERFECT home and she is preparing for closing  this month. Of all the homes we looked at, it’s the best value and was  worth the wait! She is so happy!

Last month I met with Jan and Michael. They wanted to relocate from NH to be closer to their family. We set their search up for Portland, Westbrook, Scarborough, Cape Elizabeth and South Portland under $350,000.  After studying listings online for 3 weeks, Jan made the trip to Maine to see 8 homes. Last Friday we toured 6 of them and on Saturday Michael joined her to look at the last 2.  They fell in love with one of the homes in Scarborough and made an offer on it that afternoon. By 7:30 pm Saturday they were under contract on their new Maine home!

Whatever your timeline is we’d love the opportunity to talk with you about your goals and learn how we can help.  Give us a call today!  And be sure to ask for your FREE report “How to Be a Rock Star Buyer”.

Posted in Client Stories
Oct. 1, 2017

It's The Little Things

I was raised in Seal Cove in rural Downeast Maine.  My Mom was a single mother of 3 but made time to teach us some very simple lessons that I carry with me today.  Always say, “please” and, “thank you”.  Open the door for others.  If you see trash on the ground, pick it up!  Be respectful and polite.  Do something nice for someone everyday. We didn’t have much growing up but we did learned how to treat people right. I was in law enforcement for 14 years and I used those lessons daily.  My 21 years in real estate have been the same. Treat people with respect and be polite. 

Life is so busy.  Family and work take up most of our time.  Attending as many events for our kids as we can is something my wife and I always made a priority.  We’ve also volunteered for community events and boards including the Chamber of Commerce, City Council, Board of Assessment Review, have coached baseball, soccer and hockey and have of course hosted numerous events at our office including our Annual Community Yard Sale, Octoberfest Celebration, pictures with Santa and the Easter Bunny, job shadows for Mahoney and Memorial Middle Schools, an occasional car wash and have helped out with our local tree lighting ceremony and Winterfest.  We believe in our community and there is much that we are thankful for.  

When Gabby left for college I found myself with extra time at night so I began refereeing soccer.  I was at South Portland High School for a game and 3 of the kids I coached in the South Portland Strikers program came up to shake my hand and asked how Jackson and Gabby were doing.  As I began lining up for the game kick off, another player came up, shook my hand and said, “nice to see you Coach Linscott.” I coached Strikers for 5 years and now many of those boys are playing for South Portland’s varsity soccer team who are 13-0-1 heading into the playoffs!  During Strikers practices back in the day, we had team rules.  Homework and studies come first.  Say “thank you” to your parents.  Be on time! (or your parents will have to run! This only happened 2x and the parents learned to drop their player off way up the road so they wouldn’t have to run!).  Be respectful and polite to the officials and other players and have fun! 

I went to watch a varsity game last week and one of the Strikers parents patted me on the back and said, “Now there’s a coach.”  It’s been amazing to watch that group of boys grow and to witness and be a part of their success.  I’m happy to have been able to pass on some of the simple lessons my mother taught me.  

In real estate the market is constantly changing and can be very challenging.  We’ve had our share of easy transactions this year but we’ve also had a few that were very difficult.  We had a closing last week and when the buyers did a final walk through, they reported some items left behind by the seller.  I called Melissa and she went right over to the house and gathered everything in a pile at the end of the driveway for me to pick up with our truck.  The sellers did beat me to it but were happy to have the help.  It’s small gestures like these that most agents would not do that help to make life a bit nicer. 

Our day is filled with decisions.  We all have them.  As I was dropping Jackson off at school today I said, “Do something nice for someone today.”  He knew I meant it.  He’s heard it from me as many times as I did from my mother. 

It truly is the little things that often mean the most.

 

Posted in A Word From Brian