Lakes Region Profiles — Now is the time

If asked what the optimal time of year is to list a home, most real estate professionals would answer that market activity increases in the warmer months and that now is the time to list property for sale. Explanations given for this surge of activity are varied and interesting. But first let us see if the facts match up with conventional wisdom.

Here are the monthly totals for residential property closings for the last two years in the combined Belknap and Carroll County areas: For 2014 and 2015, respectively; January – 119/126, February – 110/101, March – 152/133, April – 145/153, May – 235/224, June – 210/262, July – 195/315, August – 284/297, September – 240/293, October – 296/290, November – 192/213, December – 203/223 [data compiled from New England Real Estate Network. The numbers speak for themselves. The closings in June, July, and August, for instance, were 2 to 3 times the numbers of those that took place in January and February. Interestingly, sales in the Lakes Region still held strong through the fall months. This may be attributable to the fact that Lakes Region activities draw buyers to the area in all four seasons. Keep in mind, too, these numbers represent closing dates where the sales agreement would have been signed a month or two earlier. In any event, it is clear that if you want to list your property for sale, now is the time to contact a real estate agent to take advantage of the upcoming season.

Another factor to consider is that it is generally believed that sellers receive the best prices during the prime season. Even though the inventory may be greater in the spring and summer months, this is counterbalanced by a large influx of buyers. Seasonal buyer activity is attributed to the idea that spring and summer months are the most convenient time for buyers to view properties and to move, particularly true for families with school age children who are relocating or second-home purchasers looking for vacation homes. With a greater pool of buyers, bidding wars are more apt to occur – a definite advantage for sellers who are looking for top dollar. "Bidding wars mean more money in your pocket. They also usually mean buyers are less likely to make repair requests or other demands," according to an article by Craig Donofrio, posted on realtor.com.

Another factor in higher prices is the belief that most properties show better in the spring and summer – greater curb appeal. "If you're selling in winter, especially in snowy areas, your house will have less of that colorful pop it might have in spring," Donofrio writes.

Do statistics support this idea that a home will sell for more in the prime season? Numbers generated by NEREN seem to back this conclusion. In their report Residential Sales and Inventory History, including data throughout New England over the past five years, the percentage difference between sale price and listing price rose slightly in spring and summer months. In 2015, for example, the percentage differences were as follows: January – 95 percent, February – 95.9, March – 96.2, April – 96.7, May – 96.6, June – 99.1, July – 97, August – 96.7, September – 96.3, October – 96.3, November – 95.9, December – 95.9. So this means that in June a seller received on average 99.1 percent of the asking price whereas in January the seller received only 95 percent of the asking price. Are these percentage differences significant? For a home listed at $250,000, if sold in June the seller would receive $247,750. If sold in January, the same seller would receive $237,500 – a difference of more than $10,000, which for most sellers is significant.

Whether the theories as to why sales are more robust in the prime season are valid or a generally accepted idea has simply gained momentum and affects people's activity, there is no question that NOW is the time to list your house. The statistics do not lie. For a seller, it makes good sense to take advantage of the spring and summer surge of buyers looking for real estate.

How is the 2016 market looking thus far? Data recorded by NEREN for closings in Belknap and Carroll County show January and February 2016 significantly higher than the last two years (January closings – 154 in 2016 as compared to 126 in 2015 and 119 in 2014; February closings – 136 in 2016 as compared to 101 in 2015 and 110 in 2014) – all the more reason to contact your real estate agent if you plan to sell your home. Indications are that 2016 is going to be a good year.

Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Mary O'Neill is a sales associate at Roche Realty Group in Meredith and Laconia, and can be reached at 366-6306. www.rocherealty.com

 

Lakes Region Real estate

Pictured is one of the 1,959 residential properties currently for sale in the Lakes Region's Belknap and Carroll Counties. (Courtesy photo)

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Pat Buchanan - A rebellion of shareholders

"If his poll numbers hold, Trump will be there six months from now when the Sweet 16 is cut to the Final Four, and he will likely be in the finals."

My prediction, in July of 2015, looks pretty good right now.

Herewith, a second prediction. Republican wailing over his prospective nomination aside, Donald Trump could beat Hillary Clinton like a drum in November. Indeed, only the fear that Trump can win explains the hysteria in this city. Here is The Washington Post of March 18: "As a moral question it is straightforward. The mission of any responsible Republican should be to block a Trump nomination and election."

The Orwellian headline over that editorial: "To defend our democracy, the GOP must aim for a brokered convention."

Beautiful. Defending democracy requires Republicans to cancel the democratic decision of the largest voter turnout of any primaries in American history. And this is now a moral imperative for Republicans.

Like the Third World leaders it lectures, the Post celebrates democracy — so long as the voters get it right.

Whatever one may think of the Donald, he has exposed not only how far out of touch our political elites are, but how insular is the audience that listens to our media elite.

Understandably, Trump's rivals were hesitant to take him on, seeing the number he did on "little Marco," "low energy" Jeb and "Lyin' Ted." But the Big Media — the Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times — have been relentless and ruthless.

Yet Trump's strength with voters seemed to grow, pari passu, with the savagery of their attacks. As for National Review, The Weekly Standard and the accredited conservative columnists of the big op-ed pages, their hostility to Trump seems to rise, commensurate with Trump's rising polls.

As the Wizard of Oz was exposed as a little man behind a curtain with a big megaphone, our media establishment is unlikely ever again to be seen as formidable as it once was.

And the GOP?

Those Republicans who assert that a Trump nomination would be a moral stain, a scarlet letter, the death of the party, they are most likely describing what a Trump nomination would mean to their own ideologies and interests.

Barry Goldwater lost 44 states in 1964, and the GOP fell to less than a third of Congress. "The Republican Party is dead," wailed the Rockefeller wing. Actually, it wasn't. Only the Rockefeller wing was dead.

After the great Yellowstone fire in the summer of '88, the spring of '89 produced astonishing green growth everywhere. 1964 was the Yellowstone fire of the GOP, burning up a million acres of dead wood, preparing the path for party renewal. Renewal often follows rebellion.

Republican strength today, on Capitol Hill and in state offices, is at levels unseen since Calvin Coolidge. Turnout in the GOP primaries has been running at levels unseen in American history, while turnout in the Democratic primaries is below what it was in the Obama-Clinton race of 2008.

This opportunity for Republicans should be a cause for rejoicing, not all this weeping and gnashing of teeth. If the party in Cleveland can bring together the Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich forces, the White House, Supreme Court and Congress are all within reach.

Consider. Clinton was beaten by Bernie Sanders in Michigan, and pressed in Ohio and Illinois, on her support for NAFTA and the trade deals of the Clinton-Bush-Obama era that eviscerated American manufacturing and led to the loss of millions of factory jobs and the stagnation of wages.

Sanders' issues are Trump's issues.

A Trump campaign across the industrial Midwest, Pennsylvania and New Jersey featuring attacks on Hillary Clinton's support for NAFTA, the WTO, MFN for China — and her backing of amnesty and citizenship for illegal immigrants, and for the Iraq and Libyan debacles — is a winning hand.

Lately, 116 architects and subcontractors of the Bush I and II foreign policy took their own version of the Oxford Oath. They will not vote for, nor serve in a Trump administration. Talking heads are bobbing up on cable TV to declare that if Trump is nominee, they will not vote for him and may vote for Clinton.

This is not unwelcome news. Let them go.

Their departure testifies that Trump is offering something new and different from the foreign policy failures this crowd did so much to produce.

The worst mistake Trump could make would be to tailor his winning positions on trade, immigration and intervention — to court such losers.

While Trump should reach out to the defeated establishment of the party, he cannot compromise the issues that brought him where he is, or embrace the failed policies that establishment produced. This would be throwing away his aces.

The Trump campaign is not a hostile takeover of the Republican Party. It is a rebellion of shareholders who are voting to throw out the corporate officers and board of directors that ran the company into the ground.

Only the company here is our country.

(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

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Froma Harrop - How the West was shunned

There's a not-insignificant part of the United States known as the West Coast. It includes such prominent states as California, Oregon and Washington.

These states have yet to hold a single presidential primary or caucus. But at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Tuesday, this population center of 50 million-plus souls was informed that the Democrats have a "prohibitive front-runner" and the Republicans a guy who seems unstoppable by primaries and caucuses alone.

As of this late date in the process, not a single voter in a state bordering the Pacific Ocean has been asked to choose the "winner" — except for Republicans in Hawaii and Alaska.

Washington will have its Democratic caucuses later this month, its Republican primary in May. Oregon doesn't hold its primaries until May, and California's are in early June.

When these states do go through the motions of expressing their preference for the next president, they will have done so without months of public agony over matters of regional concern. Their voters will have heard only sketchy talk on issues related to shipping, fisheries or water shortages plaguing the eastern parts of the three states.

And even if the delegate counts remain close, voting late in the season leaves the electorate with a reduced list of possibilities. On the Republican side, there's no more Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio. On the Democratic side, Martin O'Malley is gone. Bernie Sanders will probably still be running, but his West Coast supporters can no longer affect the perception of his being in a close race with Hillary Clinton.

Noting this unfairness, Washington state officials, backed by The Seattle Times, are calling for a new system that would give every part of the country an even shot at choosing the parties' nominees. A "rotating regional primary system" would group states into four regions. Every four years, a different region would kick off the voting.

Both parties already encourage regional primaries, notes Kay Stimson, spokesperson for the National Association of Secretaries of State. But they have hesitated to endorse a system of rotating regional primaries, which the association first proposed in 1999.

Because some regions tend to be highly liberal or highly conservative, some worry that clustering primaries by region would skew the results toward one political bias or another. Another concern is that holding large regional votes at the same time would put poorly funded candidates at a disadvantage.

Interestingly, the rotating primary plan would retain first-in-the-nation privileges for Iowa and New Hampshire. The association members saw value in the retail politics of both states, Stimson told me. It lets average people vet the wannabes — and gives poorly funded candidates a chance to grab a foothold.

A competing proposal is to set a national primary date for everyone to vote. The problem here, Stimson explains, is it vastly favors the most heavily endorsed front-runner candidates. In this year's race, she said, the choices would have been Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton "and that's that."

A rotating regional primary system still seems the fairest and simplest way to avoid the rush to the front of the line we see today. And it remains utterly crazy that giant California can become an afterthought in the selection of party nominees.

If this is any consolation, other big-population states — New York, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Indiana — have yet to hold primaries or caucuses. And the very last group of Americans to choose delegates will be Democrats in Washington, D.C. Their primary will be held June 14.

(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

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Nothing like a native to show you real estate

By ROY SANBORN

I was surfing around the real estate world on the Internet and I happened across an article about "native real estate apps." I don't know why, but my first thought was about Tonto getting down off his pinto (whose name was Scout, naturally) to look at hoof prints in the dirt, looking up at the Lone Ranger on Silver, and saying "Hmmm, they went that way, Kemosabe!" I guess the word "native" translated immediately to "Indian" in my demented mind rather than what they had intended. Having an Indian guide or tracker on your side when you are looking for the bad guys or even real estate is a smart idea. It's kind of what the native real estate app is intending to do but falls a little short in many areas especially when it comes to war paint and moccasins on the ground.

Apparently, "native app" is an app developed for a particular mobile device whether it's a Droid, iPhone or iPad and is downloaded to the device itself (thus native to the device.) It can then take advantage of GPS and camera technology to do some amazing things. I have written about these apps before. Every real estate company has one. I use our Four Seasons Sotheby's app all the time when I am out and about on my pinto and I come across a house for sale on the frontier and want to know the price. All you gotta do is hit the button and the GPS zeroes in on which house you've got your reins hitched up to. Websites like REALTOR.com and Zillow also have apps that will help you find the home of your dreams while you are driving around neighborhoods. But be careful of apps made by the Zillow tribe, as some Indians are known to embellish a little when it comes to providing additional info like estimated property values. They might have been drinking a little firewater when they developed the algorithm to calculate those.

I would strongly recommend that in conjunction with a "native app" you employ an Indian real estate guide to help you. Get an agent that is "native" to the area and knows it like the back of his hand, knows the market personally, and has actually seen many of the tepees for sale in person.

Indian real estate guides have been around forever. One of the first and most famous was Sacagawea, who worked for the Lewis and Clark Expedition way back in 1804. She was likely the first woman Indian real estate guide in the U.S. Lewis and Clark's so-called Corps of Discovery would likely not have discovered all the new real estate from the Dakotas to the Pacific shores if Sacagawea was not with them to guide them along the way. There were no apps then or today that could have done what she did. And while all of this modern technology on the Internet and apps on your mobile device make searching for real estate a lot easier, there is no substitute for a good old Indian real estate guide with his, or her, moccasins on the ground. You will benefit tremendously from their personal experience, knowledge, and expertise. This kind of stuff can never be put into an app, native, or otherwise. Call your Indian real estate guide today and have a pow-wow. You'll thank me for it.

There were 61 single family home sales in February in the 12 communities covered by this report. Seven of those sales were on Feb. 29, or the Leap Day, which means ... absolutely nothing except that you might remember which day you bought your house. The average sales price came in at $280,073 and the median price point was $205,000.

 

Pl​ease feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data compiled using the NNEREN MLS system as of 3/15/16. ​Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012.

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E. Scott Cracraft - 'If it looks like a duck. . .'

In a recent issue of Der Spiegle, Germany's main news magazine, a writer wrote that Donald Trump "is the leader of a hate-filled authoritarian movement. Nothing would be more harmful to the idea of . . . world peace than if he were to be elected president." Perhaps we should listen to the Germans. If anyone knows the dangers of hate-filled authoritarian movements that threaten peace, it is the Germans.
Recently, there has been a lot in the media comparing "Trumpism" to German Nazism and Italian Fascism. Of courses, no analogy is perfect, but the comparisons between Trump, Hitler, Mussolini and their fans are just too frightening to ignore. This writer once wrote that the Tea Party was the closest thing to a mass fascist movement the country has seen in awhile. He now takes that back: Trumpism is much more dangerous but remember, many supporters of Trump are the same Tea Partiers, "patriots," and gun freaks that were bashing President Obama and spreading lies about him. Trump's followers are likely more dangerous than Trump himself.
First, all three movements had the same sort of "base:" disaffected, angry, middle-class (usually male) citizens who wanted to blame someone for their countries' problems. They all just wanted to make Germany, Italy, or America "great" again. Many simply wanted to return their countries to "traditional values." Remember, Mussolini, at least at first, had the support of the Catholic Church because he promised to defend Christian "family values."
Second, all three leaders were narcissistic, sociopathic politicians who preached platitudes but offered no real platform while seeking power. Initially, at least, Hitler had no clear message other than that Germany could be great again and his followers could not do it without him and that he could not do it without them. His brainwashed followers were left to take whatever meaning they preferred from those platitudes.
Others in these movements saw their leaders as a chance to push through their own agendas and ultimately gain power themselves. All were "populist" movements that promised everything to everyone and sought to create "national communities" where anyone, with the exceptions of the chosen scapegoats, could be a member.
Third, all three movements looked for someone to blame. Mussolini blamed communists. Hitler blamed communists and Jews. Trump and his supporters blame liberals, minorities, Muslims, and immigrants.
Moreover, all three leaders incited their followers to different levels of violence. Hitler had his brown shirts, Mussolini had his black shirts, and now Trump has his own thugs. Hitler probably never personally beat up a Jew. Trump tells his supporters to beat up his opponents. Doesn't that constitute the crime of "inciting to violence?"
Finally, none of these movements were "top down." Indeed, they were populist, "grass roots" movements which sought to gain power constitutionally. A lot of Germans liked Hitler.
Even many liberals make the mistake of not taking Trump seriously. Yes, he is a buffoon but he is a serious, dangerous buffoon. Many Germans made the same mistake and thought Hitler was a just a windbag who would tone down his rhetoric once he won office. Many think what happened in Europe could never happen here. But, no one thought it could happen in Germany, one of the most cultured, educated and civilized countries in Europe.
Of course, Trump is facing a lot of opposition from his own party but only because he has become an embarrassment. Many, including many on the "Christian" Right, prefer Ted Cruz as a "sane" alternative. But, is Cruz any better? Another analogy: if Trump and his supporters are like the KKK, then Cruz and his followers remind one of the White Citizens' Councils.
In the Jim Crow South, the "nice" white folks who supported segregation joined the councils which fought civil rights with "non-violent" harassment. Few of these segregationists would have ever burned a black church or burned a cross on someone's lawn like the Klansmen but their agendas and goals were basically the same. Trump is simply trashier that Cruz.
Some think comparing Trump or Cruz to European fascists is unfair. But, as someone once wisely said "if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and likes to swim, it may well be a duck."
(Scott Cracraft is a citizen, taxpayer, veteran, and resident of Gilford.)

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