How to pick an agent...

By Roy Sanborn REALTOR®

Four Seasons Sotheby’s International Real Estate

 June was a great month for single family home sales in our Lakes region communities with 112 transactions taking place at an average sales price of $325,548. That brings the total number of transactions for the first half of 2015 to 417 at an average price of $309,625. That is up from last year's first-half total of 408 transactions at an average of $299,623.

How do you choose a real estate agent to work with you to buy or sell your house? There are a thousand or so agents in the Lakes Region, so there's plenty to choose from. And, like any other group of people, the agent pool consists of a wide cross section with diverse personalities, talent, and dedication to the profession that they have chosen to be in.

So where do you start? Do you choose a top producing agent, or would you pick someone new? Do you pick someone because you liked their photo? Or, do you go with your sister's cousin that just got into the business and you want to help get her started? Do you pick a national franchise agency or a locally owned agency? After all, buying or selling a home is likely the biggest transaction you are going to do in a while, so picking the right agent is really a pretty big deal. It's not like you can send the uncooked fish you were just served back to the kitchen or play a second game of one on one basketball with your 16-year-old after he whips your butt. A real estate transaction is monumental and you don't get do-overs.

There are a lot of articles about how to pick a real estate agent on the internet that you can read. They point out that you could base your choice on how many houses an agent sells or how long he (or she) has been in the business. But just because someone hasn't sold many houses yet doesn't mean he is not a great agent and wouldn't do a fantastic job for you. The agent may be just getting started and is smart as a whip and will do a better job than the agent that's been in the business for 20 years who perhaps hasn't kept up with new technology and marketing strategies used today.

Educational credentials are always a plus and make sure the agent is a Realtor as it signifies he is a member of the National Association of Realtors and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.

So, yes, while these are good things to check, get some recommendations from friends, acquaintances, or family members and pick three agents to interview. An agent with a good personality that you can relate to is a pretty key component. You could be looking for a home or trying to sell the house you own for months, so you better like who you have hired to do the job or it could be a long row to hoe. Interview the agents, pick one you like and work with him or her for a while. If you are buying a house you don't have to sign a buyer agency agreement right away. Get to know each other and see if it is a good fit. It's a partnership. It has to work for both parties. If it doesn't, find another agent.

If you are selling a house, the choice can be a little harder. You need to really be choosey because when you list your property you are entering into a contractual relationship right away. You really want to know what the agency is going to do for you and what they and the agent bring to the table.

First find out how and where the agency markets properties. The agent's listing presentation should spell it all out and leave no doubt in your mind that his is the agency that can do the best job for you. Does the agency have a great web presence? Do they produce great marketing materials? Do they provide professional photography, virtual tours, and color brochures?

Find out what the agent does above and beyond the services offered by the agency. Find out if he embraces new technology (today's buyers do...), does he know what it takes to sell a home in this market, does he invest in and promote himself as an agent and you as a client, is he visible on the internet, is he hungry for business? How well does he communicate? Does he assist all showings or are showings unassisted? Find out what he has sold and what he currently has listed. Has he sold similar properties? Does he know your area?

Lastly, is the agent full-time or is he part-time? While a part-time agent can do a good job, remember he is only available part time. That not only limits your access to him but also limits other agents from being able to reach him. If he is part-time, does he have an agent that covers for him when he is at his other job?

To me that's it. Pick someone you really like that has talent, is personable, and a real dedication to his craft and you should be in pretty good shape!

P​ease feel free to visit 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 7/20/15. ​

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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Susan Estrich - Real rape

As the revelations of Bill Cosby's disgusting behavior over the last four decades have finally trickled out, the question I keep getting asked, as someone who's been fighting in the trenches against sexual assault for as long as Cosby has allegedly been committing such acts with impunity, is how and why so many women kept silent for so long. To put it another way: how did he get away with it for all these years?

In a must-read cover story in this week's New York Magazine, 35 of those women, many of them now in their 50s and beyond, give their own answers. While the details differ, the melody is the same.

You see, "no" didn't used to really mean "no", even if you could prove you said no (not easy, since rapes are rarely committed in front of witnesses), especially if you knew the man.

"You're not claiming that's rape?"

I'll never forget one of my then-colleagues asking me about my "tenure piece" and its focus on sexual assaults by men the victims knew. This was 1983. Oh, yes, I was. "Real Rape", I called it, because it was only after being informed in some detail that I was raped by a perfect stranger wielding an ice pick in my parking lot in broad daylight that most people would accept that I was "really" raped.

That's how I learned that 9 percent of all women are raped by men they know, and that often these women don't report the crimes because they know they'll just be victimized again by the system. As if it hurts less, somehow, to be injured and invaded and abused when it's by someone you know — even someone you admire.

That's also how I learned what happens when you refuse to be silent. My mother told me no man would ever have me, to tell no one, lest the "shame" somehow attach to me permanently. I was 20. I think I believed her.

There is a line in the New York Magazine story that brought tears to my eyes. After explaining that in the 1970s (and the 80s and 90s, I'm sorry to say) women who spoke out, particularly against men with status and power (the kind of "appropriate men" who treat hotel employees like toilet paper) were liable to be attacked themselves (the "nuts and sluts" defense, I started calling it in the 80s, i.e., she must be a nut or a slut and therefore it's not real rape), the author goes on to describe the attitudes of a new generation of women. "But among younger women, and particularly online, there is a strong sense now that speaking up is the only thing to do, that a woman claiming her own victimhood is more powerful than any other weapon in the fight against rape."

When I wrote my tenure piece, the first line was "A man held an ice pick to my throat and said, 'Push over, shut up or I'll kill you.'"

"Put the date in", my friend, colleague and now Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow said, "because this book is going to be around for a long time."

It has. But the Harvard Law Review — of which I'd been president, the first female to hold the title, coming up for tenure — rejected it because the "tone" was too personal. Could I just drop the first section, the one entitled "My Story"?

I could not. Yale published the article and Harvard Press published the book and I started getting death threats.

Today's younger women are right. I have been a woman claiming my own victimhood for the last 35 years. It has not made the pain go away, because it never really does, but the thought that all of our pain — the silent screams and the ones you can hear — has finally begun to penetrate the fortresses of denial; that young women are being supported when they speak out and not told "no man will have you" or to "just drop the personal stuff"; that the usual shove-it-under-the-carpet investigation now at least triggers an investigation of the investigation; all of it helps explain why, as one of Cosby's alleged victims put it, "I'm no longer afraid." I wish I could say the same. I will spend the rest of my life afraid, as so many of us do, but we will not be silenced.

(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)


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Froma Harrop - Get government out of marriage altogether

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states must recognize same-sex marriages, dissenting Chief Justice John Roberts wondered whether polygamy will be next. Some legal scholars have responded that yes, the arguments for gay marriage could apply to relationships among more than two partners, as well. William Baude, a law professor at the University of Chicago, wrote, "By those lights, groups of adults who have profound polyamorous attachments and wish to build families and join the community have a strong claim to a right to marry."

There's a more basic question here: Why is government in the business of conferring a right to marry at all? What is it about this thing called marriage that justifies a grab bag of legal benefits? That would include tax advantages, inheritance rights, hospital visitations and the ability to make end-of-life decisions for one's spouse.

The recent Supreme Court case disposed of the idea that only a man and woman can provide a stable home for children. Many gay couples do a better job of raising children than some heterosexual pairings. And in any case, children have never been a requirement for marriage.

Baude inadvertently points to the illogic of tying any benefits to state-sanctioned marriage by using the word "polyamorous" in referring to polygamous relationships.

Merriam-Webster defines polyamory as "the state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time." It makes no sense that having a romance (or two or three) should entitle one to leave an estate to a partner tax-free or get in on another's company health plan.

We can be totally in tune with the notion that such benefits help families. And we can agree that children tend to be better off in households headed by devoted parents.

Marriage is a wonderful institution, but it does not follow that government should be defining it. Let ministers, priests, rabbis, imams and ship captains tie the marital knot. And have government recognize civil unions only.
Civil unions need not be between romantic partners. The pairing could be close friends, cousins, office mates. And of course, it could be a church-sanctioned spouse.

Sorry, polygamists, only one civil union partner at a time. If your lawyers should design plausible legal group arrangements, we'll reconsider.

At the time of the high court's decision, Roberts opined that "people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today." In an ideal world, the opposite would be true. Religious authorities would have greater control over the terms of holy matrimony. They would control the definition of marriage and decide whom they will or will not join. More than one clergyman has confided to me that he would just as soon not be conferring legal benefits when he marries people.

The Catholic Church does not countenance divorce, and an annulment is difficult to get. The church makes its rules. Other faiths make their rules according to their creeds. The state should have no business here.

If a couple want to register their silver pattern and have a guru marry them at dawn on Mount Tamalpais, that should be their choice. If they want to be partnered with the legal rights of a civil union, as well, they should be able to find a bureaucrat in downtown San Rafael to do the paperwork.

Everyone would win. People of faith could continue to enter into marriages with, if anything, more powerful rules. Those wanting a less intensely religious union could get one. And best of all, we would end the odd custom whereby government grants financial and emotional advantages on the basis of an implied romance.

(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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Pat Buchanan - Can Trump win?

The American political class has failed the country, and should be fired. That is the clearest message from the summer surge of Bernie Sanders and the remarkable rise of Donald Trump.

Sanders' candidacy can trace it roots back to the 19th-century populist party of Mary Elizabeth Lease who declaimed: "Wall Street owns the country. It is no longer a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, but a government of Wall Street, by Wall Street, and for Wall Street. The great common people of this country are slaves, and monopoly is the master."

"Raise less corn and more hell!" Mary admonished the farmers of Kansas.

William Jennings Bryan captured the Democratic nomination in 1896 by denouncing the gold standard beloved of the hard money men of his day: "You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold."

Sanders is in that tradition, if not in that league as an orator. His followers, largely white, $50,000-a-year folks with college degrees, call to mind more the followers of George McGovern than Jennings Bryan.

Yet the stagnation of workers' wages as the billionaire boys club admits new members, and the hemorrhaging of U.S. jobs under trade deals done for the Davos-Doha crowd, has created a blazing issue of economic inequality that propels the Sanders campaign.

Between his issues and Trump's there is overlap. Both denounce the trade deals that de-industrialized America and shipped millions of jobs off to Mexico, Asia and China. But Trump has connected to an even more powerful current.

That is the issue of uncontrolled and illegal immigration, the sense America's borders are undefended, that untold millions of lawbreakers are in our country, and more are coming. While most come to work, they are taking American jobs and consuming tax dollars, and too many come to rob, rape, murder and make a living selling drugs.

Moreover, the politicians who have talked about this for decades are a pack of phonies who have done little to secure the border.

Trump boasts that he will get the job done, as he gets done all other jobs he has undertaken. And his poll ratings are one measure of how far out of touch the Republican establishment is with the Republican heartland. When Trump ridicules his rivals as Lilliputians and mocks the celebrity media, the Republican base cheers and laughs with him. He is boastful, brash, defiant, unapologetic, loves campaigning, and is putting on a great show with his Trump planes and 100-foot-long stretch limos. "Every man a king but no man wears a crown," said Huey Long. "I'm gonna make America great again," says Donald.

Compared to Trump, all the other candidates, including Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, are boring. He makes politics entertaining, fun.

Trump also benefits from the perception that his rivals and the press want him out of the race and are desperately seizing upon any gaffe to drive him out. The piling on, the abandonment of Trump by the corporate elite, may have cost him a lot of money. But it also brought him support he would not otherwise have had. For no group of Americans has been called more names than the base of the GOP. The attacks that caused the establishment to wash its hands of Trump as an embarrassment brought the base to his defense.

But can Trump win?

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. For if Trump is running at 18 or 20 percent nationally then, among Republicans, it is hard to see how two rivals beat him.

For Trump not to be in the hunt as the New Hampshire primary opens, his campaign will have to implode, as Gary Hart's did in 1987, and Bill Clinton's almost did in 1992.

Thus, in the next six months, Trump will have to commit some truly egregious blunder that costs him his present following. Or the dirt divers of the media and "oppo research" arms of the other campaigns will have to come up with some high-yield IEDs.

Presidential primaries are minefields for the incautious, and Trump is not a cautious man. And it is difficult to see how, in a two-man race against the favorite of the Republican establishment, he could win enough primaries, caucuses and delegates to capture 50 percent of the convention votes. For almost all of the candidates who will have dropped out by then will have endorsed the last man standing against Trump. And should Trump be nominated, his candidacy would make Barry Goldwater look like the great uniter of the GOP.

Still, who expected Donald Trump to be in the catbird seat in the GOP nomination run before the first presidential debate? And even his TV antagonists cannot deny he has been great for ratings.

(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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Bob Meade - Return the government to the people

The Federal Government has ceased functioning as the founders intended. There has been disrespect for the separation of powers, and state's rights have been usurped by the federal government. Federal bureaucracies have grown out of control and, in a number of cases, have disregarded and/or stonewalled the oversight requests of Congress. Some agencies have abused their powers and grossly intimidated, and denied citizens their legal rights. Numerous attempts have been made to bypass or alter the rights guaranteed to the citizens in the Constitution.

Those candidates, who desire to attain the office of the President of the United States, should make a compact with the people to work diligently to return the government to them. In doing so, the following five areas are a few of the things that should be part of that compact:

1. Restructure the federal bureaucracies
— Review each department to determine if its existence complies with the Constitution, or if the department's function usurps the rights of the states, or if it has failed to meet the objectives for which it was established. If it is found that the department fails in those areas it should be eliminated.
— Strong consideration should be given to eliminating the Internal Revenue service, and its over 95,000 employees, replacing it with a consumption tax, a flat tax, or some other simple and fair tax measure.
— Eliminate collective bargaining for federal unions and enact the laws necessary to be able to terminate the employment of federal workers who have breached their trust or have abused the citizens they were supposed to serve.
— Transition federal workers to pension plans that are more like those in the private sector, where both the employee and the employer contribute to the plan, the employee is "vested" and has ownership that can be carried forward to other employment positions.
2. Eliminate the "professional" politicians
— Put forth a constitutional amendment to limit the number of terms for House of Representative members. Either include limiting the terms of Senators in that amendment or consider repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment so as to return to the various state legislatures the responsibility to appoint their senators.
3. Propose and enact the laws necessary to have any "regulations" issued by a federal department, if they are to have the "force of law", to first be approved by the Congress and signed by the president.
4. Recognize that Congress has not issued a declaration of war since World War II, and it has therefore left the decision to make undeclared war up to the Executive Branch. Take the steps necessary to enact a law or institute a constitutional amendment so that the decisions to engage in "limited military confrontations" or full scale war are made by the Congress.
— Such law or Amendment shall require that the president, as commander in chief, at such times as the Congress makes a decision to initiate a confrontation or war, will direct the military to the successful completion of the confrontation or war as specified by the Congress.
— Such law shall give the Congress the power of review, requiring that the commander in chief, or his senior military commanders, shall provide the Congress with full and accurate briefings on the status of the confrontations or wars, and of the strategies and tactics yet to be employed.
— Such status reports to the Congress shall allow the commander in chief or his senior commanders to advise the Congress of their resource needs, and it shall be incumbent on the Congress to either provide for those needs, or to modify their confrontation or war decision.
— After thorough and thoughtful review, if the Congress determines that the duties of commander in chief are not being met in a satisfactory way, the amendment must have a provision allowing for a new commander in chief to be named by the Congress.
— If the Congress determines the president has otherwise not committed any impeachable offenses, the president shall remain in office and fulfill the other duties of the office, but shall not direct the military.
5. Restore the sovereignty of our country by controlling the entry of non-citizens at our borders.
— Implement an effective method of controlling the nation's borders.
— Implement an effective method of tracking those who enter the country on visas, so as to ensure that those who overstay their visa may be found and deported.
— Eliminate so called "sanctuary cities".
— Develop and implement an effective plan to monitor those companies that are most likely to employ undocumented laborers, and impose sufficient penalties to inhibit such employment.
— Develop and implement a guest worker program with sufficient controls to ensure those workers return to their home countries at the appropriate time.

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)

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