Friday, November 21, 2008


Two weeks ago the news reported that a number of large companies had filed for bankruptcy, but today another hard working American couple is closing on the home of their dreams without complication.
Last week the papers printed that the initial “bail out” would not be enough to stimulate the economy, but another hard working American family obtained the financing they needed for a larger home to accommodate their needs.
Two nights ago the evening news reported that the housing industry “slump” continued to plague homeowners, but we Realtors who work directly with sellers and buyers continue to bring folks together. We are reducing the inventory that historically slows the market, and both the government and the banks recognize that they must not permit another million foreclosures to add to that inventory. Toward that end, they are taking the necessary steps to avoid that additional complication. I know that the outcome will be successful not despite our American way of life, but because of our American way of life.
While we continue to teach the world how to turn challenges into opportunities, our strength and generosity of spirit springs from our free society that is bought and paid for by our military.
Recently, a young Veteran graced our office with his presence. He had served his country well and since his return, he had been renting nearby. He had never owned his own home in the country he had protected with his life. He wondered aloud if he ever would now, given the “news” of our economy. His question begs another…, “if not our precious Veteran, then who?”
After listening to his aspirations, one of our Realtors took him to the home of his dreams. As of this writing, one of America’s finest will likely be sitting in front of his own fireplace before the first snowfall.
Everything and anything can and will happen in America. We remain the greatest experiment in the history of the world and no matter when, how or why we stumble, we rise up stronger for the struggle and the whole world knows it.
Every single property sells at the right price and time. For some sellers, there will be no profit, but rather a mitigation of damages. Over the past few years, whole regions of the country have realized the collective loss of 20% of housing equity. A myriad of increasingly common catch phrases have become all too familiar to Realtors. “This is not a fire sale.” “We’re not going to give it away.” “I’ve already reduced the price too much.” “That offer is insulting.” “But I NEED to get…”
For many sellers the home selling and the home buying experience will be a wash as all values reduce or increase across the board. For many buyers, you will still be purchasing properties at fair market prices. You will not be financed for more than the property is worth and you can take that fact to the bank. Some of you will tell your friends that you “Got a steal.” Some of you will be right. At the end of the day, however, we Realtors will have MOVED THIS INVENTORY thereby unclogging the economic pipe.
Based on our front row seat and our expert opinion, our best advice to our family, friends and clients is to avoid negativity at all costs. Change the channel. Roll up doom and gloom papers for kindling. Listen to music that makes you feel good. CHOOSE to view the glass as FULL and it will overflow.
You live where the whole world wants to be. If you own a piece of this magnificent rock, do whatever you can to hold onto it. If you can not hold on to it at this time, know that these times are changing even as I write about them and you will own another piece of the rock again. The banks are not going away. The houses are not falling into the earth. The circumstances today are fluid and they will change as do our seasons.
While our precious young Veteran puts another log on his very own fire, find your own Veteran and from the bottom of your grateful heart, wish him or her what we here at REMAX Country Crossroads wish everyone of you…….a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING.

PS. In answer to readers’ questions from my article 2 weeks ago about the energy producing mansion, its owners and their company, with their permission, they are Ralph and Stacey Sevinor of Wayne Alarm, 781-595-0000.


Media hype sells to some of the folks some of the time, but propaganda does not rule the day with all of the folks all of the time. I recently attended a huge company seminar at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro where the giants in our real estate industry flew in to address us New England Realtors and Broker Owners on market perspective. They came all this way in order to dispel some of the annoying myths and rumors that may sell papers, but frighten consumers.
One of the executives is in charge of all company franchises in Canada; another is in charge of our franchises in 69 other countries all over the world. These two men who have lived through several “down markets” over a thirty year period offer an amazing world perspective that is most instructive to those of us in the business. In my opinion, it is our business to share it with you and it comes from the top of the real estate world.
When the executives arrived at Logan Airport, the morning headlines in a major newspaper fresh off the press read in large bold letters “Housing BAILOUT”. Another headline read “Real Estate-Economic Disaster”. In tiny print on page 27, however, they found evidence of what they knew… “Housing market up 7.4%”.
In Europe, the rules and regulations as well as the practice of real estate is vastly different from our real estate industry in the USA and Canada. We know, for example, that when we put our photos on our yard signs and marketing, that the consumer will take notice more so than when we do not. In Europe and other countries outside North America, the men in the real estate industry tell women NOT to put their photos on their signs for “safety” reasons. It is no coincidence that the men as a rule have more real estate business than the women in these other countries.
In the USA and Canada, we are licensed as agents, Realtors and Brokers. In Europe and other countries, there is no licensing requirement. In the USA and Canada, we do more financing of property. In Europe and other countries, “cash is king”. In the USA and Canada, we require that clear title be passed from the seller to the buyer. In Europe and other countries, the title can be “foggy” as a result of the wartime deaths and displacement of 45 million deeds. One can never be sure that his title is secure. In the USA and Canada we practice “exclusive listings” whereby the seller contracts with one Realtor to market the home for sale to everyone. In Europe and other countries, they practice “open listings” that result in a free for all with no true representation of the seller.
Europe and other countries are now experiencing far more difficulties than we are today in the USA and Canada in large part due to a system that does not lend itself to clarity. The economic crisis is worldwide. It will not be resolved until the housing crisis is resolved. The housing crisis will be resolved only when the inventory on the market is reduced. The market inventory is reduced by selling the homes. The homes ARE selling despite what these annoying little dweebs are “reporting”.
What would hamper the recovery would be the “dumping” of more bank owned properties (REO’s) onto the market thereby increasing the inventory and diminishing the value of all properties even further.
As a result of lawsuits against a major lending institution, a major bank announced a strategy that would keep millions of families in their homes by lowering the interest rates, reducing principle, and forgiving penalties. If this strategy is adopted by other lenders, the housing crisis will not be exacerbated by the millions of foreclosures that would follow were these measures not employed.
If you are threatened by foreclosure, you may find yourselves in a better place if you qualify for the loan modification. If you are a homeowner who struggles to pay down your debt and you do not qualify for such a program, you may be understandably resentful and frustrated. Know, however, that if your neighbor’s home forecloses, it will directly impact the value of your home and the housing crisis will proliferate if we can not keep these foreclosures to a minimum.
Presently, because we must at all costs avoid growing inventories that slash and burn our home values and equity, the whole world has turned to the Realtors and implores us to “SELL THESE PROPERTIES.” As a Realtor, I turn to you and say “WHEN WE PRICE THEM CORRECTLY, THEY ALWAYS DO.” Just don’t look for it on the front page of most media.


“Kwitcherbellyaching!” That’s what I heard for much of my youth from parents who had suffered and worked harder than most of the generation they produced. There was plenty of life between “Kwitcherbellyaching” and “Use your head for something besides a hat rack.” That life was chock full of love, laughter, tears and a strong work ethic. It was rooted in family who passed through Ellis Island and suffered fools badly. There is a common thread that runs through families like my own, although it seems a bit harder to find on the news these days. I wonder what has happened to personal accountability.
I sat glued to the news this week as hundreds of politicians, industry captains and economy experts offered opinions about the state of our economy and country. I heard frightening words. I saw panicked expressions. I watched hands in the air and fingers pointing across party lines. I listened with a Realtor’s ear as I heard one accounting after the other of how we “ended up” like this with the housing market and that we “ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO BAILOUT THIS INSTANT” to survive as a nation. I then heard somewhere within my “hat rack”……nearly unperceivable, but definitely thick with a familiar old brogue…… “Kwitcherbellyaching!”
The ability to obtain financing for housing has always been inextricably linked to one’s ability to pay. The process of lending responsibly is central to safeguarding the American dream for those who have worked hard enough to achieve it.
Within the past recent years, however, two things happened. First, a “Ponzi” scheme developed whereby if a consumer had a pulse, he was granted money that he would never be able to repay. Certain “Ponzi” conspirators who are responsible for this abomination made a lot of money from bad loans. Secondly, too many Americans who have a duty to protect all Americans did not “use their heads for something besides a hat rack.”
We Realtors are not in the business of housing just anybody. We house Americans who have more opportunity to realize dreams in the most extraordinary “experiment” in the history of the world we call the Constitution of the United States of America. We walk Americans up the steps to their first homes. We open the doors to second and third homes as the family dynamic changes over years of working hard to advance through the housing market in America.
Our democracy based on capitalism works and it works like a charm in the housing market. If you want to own a home, work hard, save as much as you can and pay your bills on time. If you want to own a bigger home, work harder, save more and pay your bills early. Following that age old philosophy will put you on the road that leads you to the bank, to me and to your own new front door.
Those who would conspire and collude to take from those who have to give to those who have not would fair better somewhere else in the world with a society that does not encourage and reward hard work.
The housing market has reacted normally to the bacteria with which it has been infected. What we have witnessed is not the “bursting of a bubble”. We are seeing first hand the draining of a purulent boil. As one who has practiced in both the healthcare field and the real estate industry, I know that the healing starts when the puss has been drained and the wound is cleaned.
Even as I write, the banks will not give money to anyone unless they have demonstrated even more carefully than ever that they can pay it back. As a Realtor, I know that the festering boil is over and that is a good thing for my business and for my country. There will never be a property that can not be sold and there will never be a bank that can not lend to a buyer who is qualified to buy that property, so “Kwitcherbellyaching” and “Use your head for something besides a hat rack.”


One of the largest and most beautiful homes in Rowley is located in the most desirable location of this precious town. About one year ago the owners called me and asked that I assist them in the sale of their most valuable asset .Their many children had filled the rooms with love and laughter for most of the several years they had lived in the home that they built, but the laughter stopped when an impossible interest only second loan came due and the value of their property plummeted as the rate rose.
Several Real Estate agents before me had tried to sell the property, but the market was dropping at a faster rate than the home was reducing in asking price. It languished on the market as a result until it grew cold as over priced properties always do.
By the time I listed the property, the banks were closing in on a family whose credit had been pristine throughout their lives. They were now facing bankruptcy and foreclosure with a home full of children and an elderly family member. The large family found themselves with no where to go.
While the property remained on the downsizing market, another family had visited the home, loved it, and had been monitoring the price. They hoped against hope that the property would reduce to within their price range. It did. This family, who also had several small children, put their home on the market for the sole purpose of purchasing the big beautiful home they loved. They priced their home for less than they had hoped to realize, but they knew they would have to price aggressively to sell it in order to move on to the home of their dreams. Their strategy worked. Ecstatic, they began packing for a closing the following month.
In order to pass ownership of a property from one family to another, there must be clear title, that is, no liens or other claims may exist on the property. When there are two mortgages (liens), there are often two different banks involved and each bank must release the lien it holds on the property. If the lien is not voluntarily released, it is either paid in full, or the bank agrees to accept a lower payout. The lower price agreement is called “short sale”.
Although both families were represented by competent Realtors, and Attorneys, all parties and professionals were caught in the sticky web between huge banks whose combined liens exceeded the value of the home by close to a quarter million dollars. After countless communications with the second bank whose lien had been discharged by the Bankruptcy Court, the sellers, Realtor and closing Attorney had all been told by the “decision maker” that the releasing of the lien had “passed all levels of approval” and the last approval, from the “investor” should be “emailed by 5pm.” It never came.
Months of impossible complications with the banks passed as both families moved into rentals with the hardship and disappointment that was palpable within the walls. The second bank “decision maker” could not find the file and none of the many bank representatives including management personnel could recall the representations made to the family, the Realtor or the Attorney. Moreover, the bank itself was “downsizing” and hundreds of employees were “let go”.
The heartbroken family whose purchase of the big home would have saved the other devastated family from foreclosure and further damage to their credit had no choice but to withdraw from the transaction.
Almost half a year had passed since the time when two banks could have agreed to a plan whereby everyone would have benefited had everyone given something to make it work for all.
As I write, the aggrieved seller, Mother of five, with an indomitable spirit, responded to an ad about foreclosures that she saw from one of our Senator’s Office this week. She hopes that by sharing the financial and emotional nightmare that she experienced first hand with bank incompetence and indifference, another family may fair better than hers.
After hearing her story, the Senator’s Office called for the file on this big and beautiful Rowley home. He will not like what he sees has happened to these two lovely families for no good reason. As difficult as it has been to witness such indifference to the clients we grow so close to, I would much rather be the Realtor than the bank right now. This young Mother is a force to be reckoned with and the Senator’s Office, I suspect, is a mere starting point.


Like airplanes following one after the other, the season’s hurricanes are coming in for landings. When those storms beat their angry wet fists on New England homes, the damage and turmoil can be frightening and heartbreaking. There are many things we can not control, but let’s take a look at what we can do for our families and our homes to prepare for these events. Many of the following suggestions derive from FEMA and

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale classifies huricanes into 5 Categories (#5 being the worst) according to their central pressure, wind speed and the potential for damage.
Generally, we here in New England do not experience the Category Three and higher storms, but the Category Ones and Twos are dangerous enough with wind speeds up to 110 MPH. Such sustained winds damage mobile homes, roofs, vegetation, signs (PROTECT ALL REMAX COUNTRY CROSSROADS SIGNS AT ALL TIMES), small crafts and cause flooding from torrential rains.

To prevent broken glass, cover your windows with plywood. (Tape does not prevent windows from breaking) Stay indoors and away from windows and glass doors. Close all interior doors and secure outside doors. Do not leave any outside objects untethered as they could be propelled through the air by the winds. Trim trees and shrubs well to guard against breakage, falling limbs and damage. Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts. Turn the refrigerator to its coldest setting and keep the door closed. Turn off propane tanks. Fill large containers and/or the bathtub with a supply of water for sanitary use such as flushing toilets and cleaning.

Include non-perishable food, water, a battery powered radio, maps, extra flashlights and batteries. The kit should include copies of prescription medications and medical supplies as well as bedding, clothing, sleeping bags and pillows. In areas where the major storms cause such severe damage, residents are urged to make copies of important documents like social security cards, driver’s license, wills, deeds, birth, and marriage certificates as well as proof of residence and tax records. Pet supplies and prescriptions as well as unique family supplies such as infant formulas belong in such emergency kits.

Have a plan in place for how you will make contact and get back together with your family and/or friends should an emergency event occur. Cell towers can be compromised during storms, so establish agreed upon places both inside and outside your immediate neighborhood where you will meet. Agree upon a central phone contact number. An out of town long distance contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated parties than one who is at a phone number right across the street. Identify several places you could go such as a friend’s home, Keep at least a half tank of gas in your car at all times. Take your emergency kit with you.

We are superbly lucky to be living in New England where the seasons afford us the spectacular colors and climate changes that keep us energized and our beautiful surroundings the envy of those who can only visit. It is most sobering, however, to see the news coverage of hurricane damage suffered by others a thousand miles away and look around our own New England homes one more time before we retire for the night.

Stay safe and be prepared this season. Know who and what you will cling to when the winds blow.


This week a woman came to see to me about a career in Real Estate. It took no time to recognize her keen intellect and good heart. Two decades ago she had earned a scholarship to a fine college, but her parents who had come from the “old country” discouraged her and she did not pursue her dream. She does not hold anything against them. “They did not mean any harm.”
Because she had always loved houses and people, she obtained her real estate license as soon as she graduated high school. At the tender age of 18, she joined a small company and sold three properties in her first year. Although she loved it and would have been hugely successful, she left the industry to marry and raise several children. For years she helped make ends meet by running a children’s day care out of her home. She also managed offices for companies part time and did their books and accounting at night.
For all of these years this lovely woman continued to love houses and people. She was drawn to open houses where she soaked up all she could learn like a sponge from Realtors she studied. She read the classifieds and studied the prices and trends “out there”. She researched market values and different companies on line.
She sat forward as she listened to how the industry has changed over the years when she was changing diapers. For someone who had not practiced in decades, she had an impressive handle on the rules, regulations, laws and standards of practice.
Moreover, she knew her surrounding markets and I found myself engaged in a conversation as stimulating as any one I have enjoyed with the Realtors I most admire.
She wondered if she would be “right” for the profession. She still had one more child at home, but did I think there was a possibility of her re-entering the world of real estate she loved? Would it be worth it for a company like ours to “take her on”? She would certainly understand if it took “too much time” to bring her “up to speed”, and she thanked me for even taking this amount of time with her. She “knew how very busy” I must be.
When you need a Realtor, you look for certain qualities that assure you that you are in the hands of a trusted advisor. When you are a real estate company, you look for the exact same qualities in a Realtor. Many folks can pass a test. Many licensed folks can practice within the rules and regulations. Not everyone earned a full scholarship to a college she was forbidden to attend, yet still hold no ill feelings toward parents who meant “no harm”. Not everyone has sacrificed professional and economic advancement for decades in order to contribute to a more perfect world by raising good and decent new inhabitants. Not everyone has self taught herself to organize and run the businesses of others. Not everyone has such passion about homes and such genuine warmth for those who wish to sell or seek homeownership.
This beautiful and intelligent young lady who sat “wondering” in my office this week is your neighbor. Her children have played with your children and she has wiped their little noses in her day care center for years. She is the curious guest who showed up at your open house, but was “just looking”. She is the “go to” person who stays up all night with sick children, whose schedule rivals the busiest CEO’s schedule all day, who pays the bills, negotiates better deals with office vendors, and manages budgets with creditors. She is also exactly what we look for when we say “trusted advisor” and we can hardly wait see her pretty face on her own yard sign soon. You’re going to love her!


It is not uncommon to feel completely alone with a difficult set of circumstances. Sometimes the challenge of making it through another week can be so overwhelming, that paralysis sets in thereby exacerbating the problem. There is always a road that leads into a problem and there is always a road that leads out. Here are some sets of circumstances in Real Estate with corresponding roadmaps “out”.

You can not sell your home now for what you owe the bank.

First, know that the number of folks in your exact situation is so enormous, that the Federal Government has been moved to act in order to avert a national catastrophe. The “bail out” may or may not apply to or be timely for everyone, but each homeowner should contact the Loss Mitigation Department of his respective lender and begin dialogue that helps pave the way. As importantly, you should contact a Realtor who can act as your trusted advisor and work with the banks. Not all Realtors have the unique experience and contacts to clear the road ahead, so be sure your Realtor is one of us who does.

You want to sell your home, but you do not know if you should “wait till the market is better”

The first question to ask your self is always “What is my motivation to sell?”
If your starter home walls are closing in around you and you need a larger home, it is not likely that any market itself will hurt you. Generally, properties sell at higher prices in a sellers’market, and they sell at lower prices in a buyers’ market. That means that if you sell your starter home for a lower price in a buyers’ market, you will turn around and buy your larger home for a lower price in the same buyers’ market. You may also consider the fact that when you buy a more expensive property than the one you sold, any appreciation that occurs over time can be far greater than that which you would have realized had you remained in your smaller home waiting in line for the bathroom.
If you are considering “downsizing”, your motivation for change may be different, but the principle is similar. If the maintenance and costs of your larger home no longer meet your needs, it is time to find a property that does. Although there will be less equity to realize from the sale of your larger home, you will likely not be spending as much for the smaller property.
If you own multiple properties, you must figure in the carrying costs and overall maintenance to hold onto the properties. There is no guarantee associated with the market rising again. While you wait an indefinite period of time for real estate to “start appreciating” again some day, the carrying costs may never be offset by a future sale.

You are waiting for the market to “hit bottom” before you purchase a property.”

No market is stagnant. Sellers sell to buyers in any market. Buyers buy from sellers in any market. The market for the past few years has undergone its natural correction and the “bottom” is determined in large part by the level of activity, days on market, and final sale price. We are now looking up on this rollercoaster ride as evidenced by what we Realtors see and hear before the media ever has any idea what’s going on. The pricing is far more realistic. The sellers are far more receptive to learning from their Realtors how to “prepare” the property for sale.
The buyers who have been “watching” certain properties now find they are too late. The properties they desired have sold. Buyers who tell us they “can’t go see the newly listed property for a few days” lose their opportunity to those who did make the time and are scheduled to close.

The news on this “road” is positive and exciting for both sellers and buyers. For directions “home” use the map with which your experienced Realtor provides you. For swatting insects, lining bird cages, starting BBQ’s, and training puppies, use the negative newspapers.


The young couple was expecting their third child and they found the larger home they wanted. Because they could not sell their smaller home in time, however, the larger home was sold to another family who was ready to buy.

The couple’s disappointment from the failed transaction was palpable and to add to the stress, the young father’s job security was tenuous at best. As the tension within their small but happy home was mounting, the young mother began having symptoms that threatened the pregnancy for which the doctor ordered strict bed rest.

Within weeks the couple’s Realtor had their little home under agreement for full price and only days later, had them under agreement for a far better home than they had “lost”.
Life was good again and the young mother’s symptoms were improving. The sellers were moving to Colorado with their five small children and they were also thrilled to be “on their way.” There would be back to back closings of both homes and the movers had been scheduled.

Days before the closing, the young couple’s Realtor received a late night call from the sellers’ Realtor whose voice was shaking over the phone. “The deal is off. My clients can not go forward with the sale. You will likely see it in the papers tomorrow, so I’ll tell you that the wife is in jail. The husband just called to say that he will not be moving to Colorado. His wife ‘snapped’, was wielding a huge knife, and had to be taken in a straight jacket from the home. The children are with the grandparents and he is a mess. He won’t make any more changes right now and he told me to return your client’s deposit. I am so sorry for all of this.”

The young couple’s Realtor listened quietly to the distraught Realtor on the other end of the phone. Even as she listened to the heart wrenching details of a family in terrible crisis, she knew that nothing short of a meteorite demolishing that home would stop the transaction. She said “The closing will take place exactly as the parties have agreed.” The caller was incredulous and said “The seller told me the deal is off and he will not under any circumstances sell this home to your clients. The wife is in jail! What am I supposed to do?”

What that Realtor explained to her caller is important for all buyers and sellers to understand before they enter into a contract as serious as is the Real Estate Contract to Purchase. The Real Estate Contract exists to protect the parties and it comes with its own teeth. Two of these legal teeth are called “Specific Performance” and “Lis Pendens”.

These legal remedies derive from old English law during such times when the economy was rooted in the land. The remedy for breach of contract is almost always money. Real Estate, however, is so very unique, that money is not always an adequate remedy and the courts will order “Specific Performance” ……. “Hand over those keys as you agreed to do”.

Once a buyer has been informed that the seller intends to breach the Contract, the buyer can file a “Lis Pendens” (notice of action pending) with the Registry of Deeds. Title companies are not likely to underwrite a policy for the property in dispute in that event and the seller will not be able to close with anyone else.

The young couple’s Realtor said “I can only imagine how very difficult your clients’ lives are at this time and I can tell by your voice that you are beside yourself. My clients, however, have already lost one house and my young Mother has almost lost a pregnancy that has been made worse by the stress from near job loss as well. Their own home is now under agreement and they will be homeless themselves if your sellers do not meet their obligations and vacate that house before the closing. Tell your seller that life as he knows it will become far worse for him if he does not comply and if he has any doubt, he should check with his lawyer immediately. His home has already been sold, but he will face all the additional court costs and attorneys fees that will result in his challenging these laws.”

The closings occurred back to back and the family in crisis found adequate temporary housing.

The stories are endless and they are written under the subtitle “Life”. When the story involves Real Estate, however, understand that the Contract into which you enter is written under the subtitle “Law”.

Home Inspections I Have Loved

Over the years, there have been some home inspections that will forever be etched in my memory. One such experience occurred several years ago with an old Victorian mansion in an exclusive community. The buyers, a young married couple, had lived in the middle of a bustling city outside of the state. Now they had found a property that was located on ten acres of green velvet lawn and the pond to the side of the home added the perfect touch to this story book setting. The sellers accepted their offer.

As the buyers walked around the outside of the home during the inspection, the inspector continued to comment on the excellent condition of the exterior. The buyers could not have been happier with this exquisite home on this perfect sunny day. The buyers, however, were not the only ones who were enjoying the sun. What appeared to be an old brown fallen tree trunk lying across a miniature bridge in the pond began to change shape when the buyers approached.

“The roof looks ok from here, but I’ll have to check the attic as well.” said the home inspector. The buyers and the Realtor stared up at the roof. “The sills look like they’ve been well protected by the gutters.” the inspector said. The buyers and the Realtor looked at the sills. “I wouldn’t worry about the pond over flowing in a storm or causing any basement problems because you are far enough above it.” he continued. All eyes focused on the sweet little pond and the huge brown tree trunk that now moved its bulk almost in perceivably.

“Is that…is that a… you see that…..…..?” The city slicker was nearly incoherent as she mumbled to her husband. His face had a tortured twist to it as his mind raced to determine if he would ever see the property he loved again. As he took his wife’s hand to lead her away from the pond, he said “That’s the fakest looking snake I ever saw. Boy, these folks have a weird sense of humor, don’t they? I just love this place.” No one seemed to notice the cloud of dust left behind by the Realtor as the wife said “Imagine buying a fake snake like that for such a pretty pond? What’s wrong with these people?”

We Realtors have a legal obligation to put our clients’ interests before our own. Some circumstances, however, cause us to wonder what we were thinking when we took such an oath.

Several months ago, there was a home inspection where the buyer was extremely superstitious. He never walked under a ladder. He took care around mirrors. He was very wary of black birds, as they represented bad omens to him. As his Buyer Realtor explained to the Listing Realtor, the buyer would be doing an exorcism immediately after the closing incase there were any evil spirits in the home.

Just as the buyer came back inside from walking around the back yard, his Realtor came running into the house to find the Listing Realtor. “Quick!! Hurry!!!”..”the patio” he whispered. The Listing Realtor looked out onto the patio and there to her horror was a huge dead black bird that had apparently just dive bombed into the sliding glass doors. Some would cite the Law of Attraction as evidence that the buyer’s own fearful thoughts brought the black bird to the home inspection. The Law of The Realtor, however, dictates that we do whatever it takes to put our client’s interests before our own.

The Listing Realtor still has nightmares about raking a huge dead black bird from the patio across a ½ acre of land as quickly as its bobbing beak would allow in as casual a manner as possible so as not to draw unnecessary attention given the fact that there was an exorcism planned anyway.

Whether the basement floods, the pipes burst, the roof collapses, the ants come marching a million by a million, the toilet overflows, there are mushrooms growing in the attic, or the Rottweiler goes into labor on the oriental rug, rest assured that the undaunted Realtor will find a way to rise above Anacondas and Evil Spirits.


Foreclosure rates in Massachusetts and New England are rising, but that does not mean that each of these homes will be foreclosed upon. The term “foreclosure rate” means that a homeowner’s loan is in the very first stage of foreclosure because of overdue payments. (There were 799 foreclosure deeds in January of 2008 compared to 350 in 2007, an increase of 128% in Massachusetts).
We Realtors are now seeing that many of the distressed homeowners are able to sell the home just in time to avoid the foreclosure, thereby avoiding further damage to their credit. While we would much rather see our neighbors and friends remain in the homes they love, when between a rock and a hard place, the goal must be to make decisions today that protect your options for the near future.
Home ownership is the American Dream. It should never be out of an American’s reach for too long. Presently, if a foreclosure is on one’s credit record, some lenders say that it will be at least ten years before that applicant will be granted another home loan. While there is legislation intended to improve the harsh repercussions of our times, the cavalry is still over the next hill.
One such homeowner is a proud and hard working husband and father. He purchased a beautiful home just as the market prices began to decline and he got caught in the crossfire. Like many homeowners, it took him several months before he had reason to understand the mounting pressure of increasing rates and the declining value of his home. By the time he called a Realtor, he was overwhelmed by the cannons in front of him.
It is not easy to discuss sensitive matters with another and he was hesitant to disclose how bad things were to a Realtor he hardly knew. We Realtors wouldn’t like it either, but please let us help now because time is of the essence. We must know certain details in order to map the way home again.
Information critical to a successful outcome include among other details:

Exactly what is the bank owed? In order to close on a property, the bank must release the lien. If there is a second lien, both banks must release both liens. In the event that you owe more to the bank(s) than you can get for the sale of your property, it is best that the Realtor you choose be familiar with the process of “short sale” also known as “debt forgiveness”.
Exactly what is the property worth? The Realtor you choose must interpret that price correctly despite a figure that you would rather hear. It is essential that you not waste valuable time reaching for a price that you will never be able to realize while the cannons are rolling toward your front door.
When the house sells, where will we live if we can not obtain financing right away? Your Realtor should be right by your side throughout the process of transitioning from homeownership to temporary accommodations until the smoke clears. (Fox holes saved my Father’s life in World War Two, so stay put till the bullets stop zinging by overhead). Presently, there are properties on the rental market because the owners have not been able to sell them for the prices they want and they have the option of taking them off until such time as the market changes. In addition, several large hotel chains have answered this growing need for rentals with larger units that are comparable to small homes. Many of these units are pet friendly and this office is providing our clients with the details they require in increasing numbers.
How do I protect or improve my credit after this difficult period? The Realtor you choose should have the names of reputable professionals who can help you with credit repair if you need a referral.
Do not ever lose faith in yourself or your absolute right to the American Dream. Arm yourself with those who know what they are doing and take that leap of faith that bonds us to each other in times of need. We’re standing right on the front line with you.

A Realtor’s Happy Father’s Day Message

This Father’s Day, REMAX Country Crossroads would like to honor the many Fathers whose dedication to their families, homes and land has left a lasting impression this year.
Although the actual names can not be disclosed, this Realtor hopes you and those who love you will recognize exactly who you are.
“Kyle”, a Father of several small children faced a world of hardship this past year. He lost his job, equipment, vehicles and the bank was closing in on his first and only home.
When I met with his wife and him, it was to sell his home as quickly as possible before it was foreclosed upon. They had no where to live and no chance of obtaining financing for another home. Despite the enormous disappointment and relentless stress, he always greeted his family and this Realtor with a smile.
During the hottest days of last summer, he worked like an army to tidy up the large yard and transport unending loads to the dump as he cleaned out a century full of “stuff” from in and around the home he was losing. He scraped and painted in the heat. He spackled and shoveled. All the while, his children were watching and the lesson they learned from this good man? “Life may come at you hard, but you work just as hard to come through.” “Kyle” would leave a new owner with a neat clean home because it was the right thing to do. “Kyle” also would leave a lasting impression with this Realtor.
“Tom” is a well respected man within the community. He has worked very hard for the success he has achieved in business and he has a well deserved reputation as an honest man. “Tom” also has an adult child who suffers from a chemical imbalance that has held the family hostage in a world of hurt. “Tom” has made every effort to give his child an opportunity to live as normal a life as possible. Toward that end, he purchased and furnished a small home for his troubled child and let much of his business go as he struggled to meet the increasingly difficult demands associated with such illness. The life altering sadness has not diminished “Tom’s” devotion and dedication to maintaining his child’s home for as long as he could. He never complains and he never loses faith.
“Tom” is another giant who greets each morning and this Realtor with a smile.
“Jacks” and “Georges” and “Bills” and “Mikes” and “Charlies” and “Jims” have plowed long driveways and shoveled icy walkways when their backs were breaking at the end of long days. They did so because their families needed to be safe and their Realtor had scheduled an open house for the next day.
“Patricks” and “Ralphs” and “Waynes” and “Alans” and “Davids” and “Nicks” have worked overtime shifts and second jobs to pay for interest only loans with increasing
payments that have wreaked havoc on the family life. They have never complained and they have done everything they have been asked to do to prepare their homes for sale in a market that has been most unkind to many. They greet this Realtor with a smile and this Realtor wishes them the BEST FATHERS’ DAY EVER.

Great Deal or Great "STEAL"?

The sellers’ home is gorgeous. The location is most desirable. They lowered their price twice and just in time. As evidence that they are well priced, two offers were about to be written up and faxed over to the listing Realtor. The listing Realtor advised both of the buyers’ Realtors that they were in a multiple offer situation. (Multiple offers are rare in a buyers’ market unless the property is a great deal.).
One of the buyers’ Realtors said “My buyers have been looking for over one year with me for just the perfect home. If they don’t get this house they’ll be crushed!” The other Realtor called to say “Oh, no. You might know it. Just when the perfect house for my guys comes along, there is another offer.”
Both buyers’ Realtors advised their buyers accordingly and they both submitted their “best and final offers”. To the surprise of the listing Realtor and the sellers, neither offer came close enough to the now under market price of the property that these buyers “just had to have.”
As evidence that sellers in increasing numbers have had just about enough of buyers still looking for a great “steal” rather than a great “deal”, the sellers rejected both “best and finals” outright to the surprise of the buyers and their Realtors.
Within days, the same listing Realtor received an offer on another property. The buyers explained how they had arrived at their low offer by sharing their “personal perspective” on the market as well as their “unique mathematical formula” by which they had “calculated the true value” of the property they desired. The sellers responded to the buyers’ “personal perspective” and “unique formula”. The buyers need not “calculate” in the cost of a moving van too soon.
When the print, TV or radio media report conditions in the real estate market, they do so after researching many factors that are most often out dated by the time they are reported to the public. The true test of real estate market success can be found in the “sold” statistics. The word “sold”, however, is past tense and so, by definition, is that report. By the time the report appears, it is often based on the last two or three quarters, not on what is currently happening.
In order to take today’s real estate market pulse accurately, the stethoscope must be placed directly over the beating heart of the market. Realtors sit at sellers’ kitchen tables and take those pulses. Realtors report disappointing news back to their buyers and take those pulses.
The market is shifting right in front of all of us.
Sellers and buyers have grown used to the vernacular that reflects the buyers’ market. Buyers commonly use the term “low ball”. Sellers say they will not “give it away”. As a result of the pricing correction we have all experienced over the past few years, the property values stand corrected. The feeding frenzy is over and it’s time to recognize the signs of a normal market shift. Unreasonable offers are being rejected outright rather than being countered by the sellers.
The rates are down as expected as are the property prices. It’s an excellent time to get a great deal. It is also an excellent time to reflect on the 7th Commandment rather than lose an opportunity to own the home you “just have to have.” Good luck, shoppers!


This week a Realtor called me to schedule a showing for one of our properties. When I told her that it had just gone under agreement, she said “Oh, no! Another one?” She told me that it is her practice to schedule several properties 48hrs in advance, and she had made appointments to show 10 homes. Within that two day period, however, 6 of those homes were no longer available. They had all gone under agreement with other buyers.
Last week another Realtor called to tell me that he was still stunned by a series of failed offers he had submitted on behalf of his buyer/client. The Realtor wrote up a full price offer for a home that was fairly priced and “just what the buyer wanted”. The seller’s Realtor, however, received two other offers and the seller chose the best of the three. The buyer’s Realtor and he found another well priced property, submitted a full price offer, and lost the property to an offer that was “over the list price”. The buyer’s Realtor could hardly explain these two failed full price offers on properties that were not in any stage of short sale or foreclosure whereby one may see multiple offers close to, at or over full price.
The buyer had been “looking around” for over one year with this Realtor, but had just become serious about purchasing a property. The Realtor and buyer found a third property that would work “just fine” for the buyer. This time the Realtor and the buyer submitted an offer that was “over the asking price.”
When the call came from the seller’s Realtor that the seller had chosen a better offer, the buyer’s Realtor said he sat and just stared at the phone. ARE WE NOT IN A BUYER’S MARKET? Just when the Realtor thought he’d never see his client again, the third property agreement fell through. This time the Realtor and his client were carried by the real estate gods over the finish line.
Many of the higher end homes that have been on the market for well over one year are also experiencing a level of activity that heralds changes in the real estate industry. This week a Realtor with a multimillion dollar property was responding to three different buyers who have been “watching” the property for over a year. As of this writing, the parties are in negotiations and nearing agreement.
Something is happening all around us. Those who choose to look backwards and continue to broadcast gloom and doom will publish “sky is falling” articles that should be used to line birdcages.
Just this morning, I turned on the TV and instead of hearing about murders, fires, explosions, political infighting, gang wars, and steroid injected athletes, I sat transfixed to a story about a college girls’ softball game. With two on base, a rather diminutive and not so distinguished player hit the ball over the fence. As she rounded first base and her teammates were heading home, her ACL tore and she fell in agony to the ground. Several of her team members approached the umpire and asked if they could carry her around the bases. The umpire gave his ruling that the moment her own team touched her, she would be out. On hearing the ruling, the opposing team members asked the umpire “What if we carry her around the bases?” The umpire said that the rules would permit that. Gently, two members of the opposing team lifted the injured girl. They carried her to each base and by reaching home plate, they had lost the game and would not be advancing to the series.
When the injured player said “Thank you”, they answered “You hit it out of the park. You deserve it.”
While we can not always control the circumstances with which we are presented, we can choose how we perceive them and operate within them.
Sellers and Realtors have been working very hard to understand the market changes and adapt to them. The buyers are responding accordingly. There is a growing sense of wellness returning to many markets within the North Shore area. Every time a transaction comes together as a result of fairness and good will, the parties will have “hit it out of the park” and everyone will have won.


When one party sells a home to another party, the process of coming together on price and terms can be emotional. We Realtors see and hear much of those feelings some of which can be uncomfortable, but most of which are understandable and can be short lived. Communication and expectations between the parties must be clear, reasonable and respectful.
In a sellers’ market where there are few properties from which to choose and a surplus of buyers looking for homes, the seller generally has more control over the price and terms because of the supply and demand. When several buyers are competing for that one property available on Maple Street, as long as the asking price is not over the bank’s financing guidelines, the seller can get “over asking” for the home in what we call a “bidding war”. Moreover, the seller is not likely to see any additional demands such as “leave the dining room set, Waterford chandelier, and the Lexus as gifts when you move out”.
In contrast, in a buyers’ market where there are many more properties than there are buyers, the dynamic shifts especially if the property is overpriced. In this buyers’ market it’s critical that all parties embrace the basic tenants of fairness and respect when engaging in the process of the transfer of home ownership from one to the other. Stubbornness, insensitivity and inflated egos can squash a deal in a heartbeat, so if you really want to BLOW the opportunity to own the home of your dreams, here’s how to do it:
Convince yourself that “The seller is desperate, so I’m going to LOW BALL my offer.” While there are some circumstances where sellers are not in a position to remain on the market until a reasonable offer comes along, they are few and far apart even in a strong buyers’ market. Sellers have been paying attention to the market and their asking prices now reflect that intelligence. While there is value to working with the buyer you have, there is little to no value to working with a buyer whose “LOW BALL” offer is unreasonable and evokes feelings from a seller who will remember the buyer’s name should the buyer “try his luck” again.
“Offer a fair price, but PLAN to RENEGOTIATE the price after your home inspection.” Once an agreement has been reached, every buyer should have a home inspection. A home inspection should be done by a competent professional of the buyer’s choice for the purpose of allowing the buyer to obtain information about the property so that he may learn among other things, if there are problems that were not known at the time of the agreement that substantially impact the value of the home. The deliberate practice of using the inspection clause in the agreement to come back for a second bite of the apple for issues that do not impact the value of the home is both unfair and antagonizing to the seller. Just when the buyer thinks he’s got the seller “over a barrel”, the seller often will direct his Realtor to “Give the buyer back his deposit. I do not want to deal with him again”.
“Ask for many items such as furniture, fixtures, appliances whether you want them or not to create ‘bargaining chips’”.
Let’s just hope the noises stop in your head in time.

The very best closings I attend happen when buyers and sellers have shown each other the mutual respect and understanding they deserve throughout the process. Many times good friendships have developed that last years between folks who came together over the most valuable asset in their lives. What more could one have in common with another but to love the other’s home? Be good to each other and “happy sales to you.”


They love us unconditionally. They protect us without regard for their own lives. They are creatures of habits that directly correlate to their sense of security. After all they do to keep us happy and safe, we make decisions for them that can be terribly unsettling and frightful for them…..we MOVE. The very least we can do for our beloved pets is to learn how we can diminish the trauma of moving.

For most of their lives, our pets’ experience is limited to the inside of our homes or to the boundaries of our property line. They learn to regard the sofa, the overstuffed easy chair and the family room rug as known and safe territory within their world and their world is about to be turned upside down.

There are tips to minimize trauma to our special family members during the moving period, some of which derive from the Movers Directory and the Humane Society such as:

Make certain that the pet is wearing proper identification and required tags in case he gets lost.
Obtain a copy of your pet’s medical history and be sure all shots are current.
Consider boarding where possible during very hectic periods of the move to avoid increased stress that can lead to illness.
If you move across state lines, check with the State Department of Animal Husbandry to assure compliance with entry laws. Some states require up to date rabies certifications. (Hawaii for example, requires a 120 day quarantine for dogs and cats that have just moved from another state).
Pack over a longer period of time rather than wait till the last minute. You may be able to handle last minute panic far better than your pet. Moving day should be as relaxed as possible.
Because they live best by routine, try to maintain as normal a life as possible for them by walking and feeding them at the same times and in the same places during the week before the move.
A few days before the move, designate a special room for your pet and let your pet get used to the “pet room” that should have familiar toys, feed bowl and pet carrier with the door opened. Your pet should have favorite objects around him that have that familiar smell. Place a sign on the door that says “Pets. Do Not Open” and instruct the movers not to disturb your pet.
On moving day, keep your pets in their carriers, board, or ask a friend to care for your pet during the actual move itself. Your pet can easily panic in the midst of such turmoil.
When moving into the new home, choose a small room again to be the “pet room” where your pets are less likely to panic as the movers come and go in the hectic operation that is hard to avoid. Have bowls, toys and furniture in place as much as possible before you let your pet out of the carrier or crate.
Although dogs adapt more quickly than cats to their new surroundings, don’t let them outside without restraints to avoid panic and running off. It’s best to allow several days to a week of slowly letting them get used to the new smells in the new territory.
If the process of moving does not permit you to give your pet the level of attention you wish such as walking or other routine activities, know that there are those who truly love animals and who make it their business to help you keep your pets as safe and happy as possible during difficult times.

If you need help maintaining a normal routine walking, feeding, playing with your beloved pet during the moving period, you may call 978-618-8301 and speak with Judy about details.

Tell your pets “We’re moving”.We know without question that your trusted pets will be busy getting all the new smells sorted out so that they can protect and love you unconditionally as we must love them right back.