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Roy Sanborn - Going to the dogs

I got a call from an agent last week that was concerned that the last article I did called "Home Thefts Increase in the Lakes Region" might be misconstrued by the general public. The article was as a tongue in cheek recap of some really, really great deals that happened in April. She was very concerned, however, that people might think that there was some hanky-panky going on with some of the transactions that occurred either on the part of the agents or lenders and that someone wasn't doing their job. Trust me, that definitely isn't the case and it was not the point of the article.
If any of you have bought or sold a house in the past year, you understand that you'd have a better chance of stealing the Mona Lisa today than pulling off some kind of shady real estate transaction. Things are just that strict right now in the real estate world. All of the transactions were at arm's length and the agents involved are some of the very best and knowledgeable professionals in the business. These "deals" or "steals" are just a function of where we are in the market place today. My point was that now is the time to take advantage of these great prices and great financing opportunities. I apologize to anyone that might have thought otherwise.
We got a new Boxer puppy this week to keep my older Dobe company and it got me thinking. Mostly about, "what was I thinking?" But what if things take a turn for the worse and my wife throws me out with the dogs. Where would I go? She loves the dogs as much, if not more than I do, but after a sleepless night with a 12 week old puppy anything could happen. It's more likely that she would throw me out before the dogs, but I am considering the worst case scenario here. Anyway, as we always have had a dog and sometimes two or three. We have always put our critter's interests at the very top of the list when we were looking for property. If you love dogs, you know what I mean. You truly believe that a house is not a home unless you have a dog. And, more importantly, you understand that your dog is gracious enough to allow you live with him (or her) as long as you bring home the bacon, so to speak.
For us, a home has to have an adequate yard for the dogs to run and have relative seclusion or privacy. The biggest thing is that the yard has to be fenced and that's hard to find. While an invisible fence works fine for many people, I like to keep the other critters out of the yard. I'm not saying that you should rule out a property that is not fenced if everything else works, but fencing in a half acre or an acre of land can get a little expensive.
So, what's out there for property that you could consider "pet ready?" The open concept ranch at 35 Regan Way in Laconia does have a nice, but small, fenced in back yard. This place is probably more suitable for miniature and small breeds of dogs. Mastiffs should look elsewhere. I mentioned this property a few weeks ago as it is in "move in ready" condition for humans, too. This 1,560-square-foot, three bed, two bath home was built in 2007 and features hardwood and tile floors, cathedral ceilings, an eat-in kitchen, a deck, full basement, and a two car garage. This home is offered at $269,900. I showed the MLS sheet to my Dobe and she rates it Two Bones Out Of Five. Our new Boxer has not seen enough property yet to rate anything.
A truly pet ready property is located at 200 Parade Road in Meredith. It is so ready that you can run your own pet boarding and grooming business there. Currently operated as the Four Paws Pet Inn, this property consists of a 1,248-square-foot, open concept three bedroom, two bath home on four acres. It has a converted 800-square-foot horse barn serving to keep fido comfy and three fenced in play yards. This contemporary style saltbox has a large great room with vaulted ceilings and stone fireplace, hardwood floors, a nice kitchen with granite countertops, a screened porch, and a sun deck. This sounds like a great opportunity for someone to take over a going concern and make a living off us crazy dog lovers that think nothing is too much for our furry friends. This property is priced at $315,000 and is rated Four Bones.
My Dobe really liked the property at 241 Intervale Road in Canterbury as it is on a five acre lot with about an acre fenced in. She also liked the fact that it is an energy efficient, Crockett panel, log home with post and beam construction. I had to explain that it was not the Davy Crockett she saw on NetFlix the other day. But the house looks fantastic with 2,684-square-feet of living space, three beds, three baths, great room with cathedral ceilings and stone fireplace, kitchen with granite counter tops, three season porch, and separate guest quarters. There's also a kennel, but she thinks the guest quarters are more appropriate. We'd rate this property at Four Bones. It is on the market for $339,000 so take your pup for a ride and go take a look.
Lastly, there's a Five Bone home located at 261 Clough Hill Road in Loudon. This property has 164 acres with 20 acres of pasture for the pups to roam on, a nine stall dog run, in-floor heat so they stay toasty warm, and a gas fireplace to curl up to. The high quality house was built in 2004 and has 4,328-square-feet of living space, five bedrooms with a first floor master suite, four and a half baths, a custom kitchen with granite counter tops and stainless appliances, library, a sunroom, and even a 48' x 48' four stall horse barn for what my Dobe thinks are very, very tall dogs. As this property is on the market for $995,000 it is obviously not in every dog's price range. Do you know how many bags of dog food you can buy for that much money?
Please 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 was compiled using the Northern New England Real Estate MLS System. Roy Sanborn is a REALTOR® at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.

Last Updated on Friday, 24 May 2013 10:46

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'Skinny' health insurance isn't really insurance at all

Would you like to have a "skinny" health insurance policy? Probably not. But if you're employed by a large company, you may get one, thanks to Obamacare.
That's the conclusion of Wall Street Journal reporters Christopher Weaver and Anna Wilde Mathews. They report that insurance brokers are pitching and selling "low-benefit" policies across the country.
You might be wondering what a "skinny" or "low-benefit" insurance plan is. The terms may vary, but the basic idea is that policies would cover preventive care, a limited number of doctor visits and perhaps generic drugs.
They wouldn't cover things such as surgery, hospital stays or prenatal care. That sounds similar to an auto insurance policy that reimburses you when you change the oil but not when your car gets totaled.
You might ask how Obamacare could encourage the proliferation of such policies. It was sold as a way to provide more coverage for more people, after all. And people were told they could keep the health insurance they had.
As Weaver and Mathews explain, Obamacare's requirement that insurance policies include "essential" benefits such as mental health services apply only to small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.
But larger employers, they write, "need only cover preventive service, without a lifetime or annual dollar-value limit, in order to avoid the across-the-workforce penalty." Low-benefit plans may cost an employer only $40 to $100 a month per employee. That's less than the $2,000-per-employee penalty for providing no insurance.
"We wouldn't have anticipated that there'd be demand for these type of Band-Aid plans in 2014," the Journal quotes former White House health adviser Robert Kocher. "Our expectation was that employers would offer high-quality insurance."
Oops. It turns out that Friedrich Hayek may have been right when he wrote that central planners would never have enough information to micromanage the economy.
It's probably true that businesses trying to attract and retain high-skill employees for long-term positions have an economic incentive to offer generous and attractive health insurance. Otherwise they'd lose good people to competitors.But the kind of businesses mentioned in the Journal story — restaurants, retailers, assisted-living chains — tend to employ lower-skill workers who typically work there only temporarily.
In a high-unemployment economy they may not need to offer gold-plated health insurance to get the workforce they need.
Such employers would have to pay a $3,000 penalty for each employee who buys insurance on Obamacare's health insurance exchanges. But it seems likely that many workers, especially young ones, would opt not to pay the hefty premiums for that.
The problem here is that Obamacare's architects seem to misunderstand the concept of insurance.
People buy insurance to pay for low-probability, high-cost and undesirable events. It doesn't make sense to hold onto enough cash to replace your house if it burns when you can buy an insurance policy that will cover that unlikely disaster.
But Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has a different idea of what insurance is.
In response to an American Society of Actuaries report that health insurance premiums would rise 32 percent under Obamacare, she said, "Some of these folks have very high catastrophic plans that don't pay for anything unless you get hit by a bus." Her idea apparently is that insurance should pay for just about every health care procedure.
In her defense, the World War II decision to make the cost of health insurance deductible for employers and nontaxable for employees has moved things in that direction. Many people have come to expect that. But as the Daily Beast's Megan McArdle commented, "Coverage of routine, predictable services is not insurance at all; it's a spectacularly inefficient prepayment plan."
Some Obamacare architects, including its namesake, want to move toward a single-payer system in which government would pay all health care costs.
Many Obamacare opponents want a bigger role for markets, allowing consumers to choose insurance that covers catastrophes and paying for routine costs with tax-free (and in some cases subsidized) dollars.
But if large numbers of employees are enrolled in "skinny" health insurance plans, as the Wall Street Journal article suggests, Obamacare will have produced an unanticipated outcome no one wants. People stuck with these policies will have insurance that pays for the equivalent of oil changes (up to six a year!) but not for the equivalent of wrecked car. Just the opposite of real insurance.
(Syndicated columnist Michael Barone is senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Henry Limpman - An open letter to our Belknap County House Delegation

As a community, we Granite Staters can do better when it comes to balancing our state budget and improving the communities we live in. Typically, efforts tend to get stifled by ideological positions in our Legislature that discount the reality of New Hampshire's condition and how public policy affects it. The needs of our communities that can be addressed by additional state revenue must be balanced with the concerns raised by a casino. It is understandable why the House has concerns with the Senate version of the casino bill, but rather than nix it, the House should fix it. I am calling for the Belknap County Delegation to move beyond their current positions and face the reality of where we are as a state; it is time to govern!
It is no secret that for some people, casinos carry a stigma. Furthermore, it is understandable that some could feel that gambling will tarnish the image of New Hampshire tourism. However, we have many problems afflicting our communities that truly tarnish our state's image. Homelessness is on the rise in many communities, signifying our failure to care for those in need, especially the mentally ill. This shortcoming is of further concern when it involves children, which has increasingly become the case. We simply do not have the resources to adequately care for these people who need and deserve our help, and revenues from a casino could contribute to improving our capacity to do so. It would also help the county government avoid the costs of a broken mental health system which end up being down-shifted into our local property taxes.
Another objection to casinos is derived from their capability of possibly inflicting social damage via gambling addiction. This is worth considering, but it is also worth considering where else the state already generates its revenue. Tobacco and alcohol, as well as the lottery, have high potentials to be abused. Yet, we rely on those vice-based commodities to generate a large amount of the state's revenue. I would argue that profiting off of a casino is in a similar vein.
An additional concern is that the Senate version of the casino bill predisposes a specific casino license. Although a single license poses a legitimate concern for the Belknap County Delegation, there is much more at stake, such as the mental health crisis and the capacity to absorb more state budget down-shift. Revenue from a casino could help address these issues as well as the state's reliance on the Medicaid Enhancement Tax which contributes to health insurance inflation and the undermining of health care access.
Lastly, there is the perspective that businesses that rely on tourism and entertainment as part of their business model will be hurt. This is a rather pessimistic stance that implies a certain level of scarcity in the consumer market. Another view is that a high-end destination casino will bring more people to our state, much like the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
In the end, the question really becomes whether it is a bigger "gamble" to govern and get something done to help people in need and deal with the budget down-shifts, or do nothing once again to solve our problems, allowing them to fester.
(Henry Lipman represents Ward 3 on the Laconia City Council. He is senior vice president for Financial Strategies and External Relations at LRGHealthcare of Laconia.)

Last Updated on Friday, 17 May 2013 11:55

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Roy Sanborn - Home thefts increase in Lakes Region

There were 77 residential homes sold in the twelve Lakes Region of N.H. communities covered in this report in April of 2013. The average sales price came in at $299,681 with a median price point of $192,500. Last April we had only 61 sales but the average sales price was a bit higher at $324,580. With 56 percent of the sales below the $200,000 mark last month it is bound to have an effect on the average sales price.
Just like last year, there were a number of home thefts in April in the Lakes Region. I am not sure if the local authorities are going to be able to do much about it. Just like last year these thefts occurred in broad daylight and the perpetrators seemed to have inside help on most of them. Some of these heists required some patience though and they had to be carefully planned and executed to be successful while other used the art of surprise to pull this caper off.
Take for example the case at 351 Horne Road in Belmont. This three bedroom, two and a half, 1,400-square-foot, split level (disguised as a raised ranch) with a D.O.B. of 1989 was whisked away sometime after 9:00 a.m. on April 26th for the criminally low price of $135,000. Where's the crime? Well, this was a short sale in progress, or a "211" Sergeant Joe Friday said. It took only a total of 71 days for this swindle to come down and the thief got away with this property for 58 percent of the tax assessment of $235,500. Now this old girl needed some TLC and was stolen "as is," but the super location, the two car garage, the heated workshop, a 1.46-acre level lot, and an in-ground pool make this a home with a lot of upside. I just hope the new owner doesn't launder money in the pool.
A few weeks earlier at 49 Pinecrest in Gilford another seller got shorted so that the buyer could literally walk away with a whole bag full of equity. This crime scene is a 1967 1,393-square-foot, three bedroom, two bath contemporary home that is in good shape, is situated in a great neighborhood, and has a really nice half acre lot. This crime took a little longer to unfold in this case with the subject property being on the market 426 days and under contract for 161. It took a while for the underworld lawyers to work out the details and how much their cut was going to be. But with a sales price of just $145,000 and a tax assessed value of $218,900, this culprit's patient really paid off.
Another property theft occurred at 171 Sarah Circle in Laconia. This area is known as a very nice part of town and people there just aren't use to this type of criminal activity. Sure enough though, no area is safe. This four bedroom, two and a half bath, 2,261-square-foot cape is a quality built home constructed in 2005 on a .37 acre lot with beach rights to Winnisquam. An agent known as the "undertaker" was involved in this short sale transaction. He enabled some lucky chump to walk away with this fine property for only $197,000 which was way under the current $293,200 assessed value. Six feet under, to be exact. It took him a total of 343 days to mastermind this operation, but the "undertaker" is always willing to wait. It's part of his training.
A bank owned property at 201 Red Hill Road in Moultonborough also got lifted. This contemporary home built in 1994 has 3,468-square-feet of living space, a dedicated second floor master suite, two guest bedrooms, three baths, a beautiful great room with gas fireplace, great deck with mountain views, and guest quarters in the walkout lower level. This home sits on a nice 2.4 acre lot with mountain views in a quiet location that would be perfect for a family meeting if you get my drift. Now this had to be an inside job. Most bank jobs are. I actual sold this property back in 2004 for $496,000 and now even though it is assessed at $350,500 someone managed to steal it for $266,000. There had to be people on the inside on this one.
I am not sure that local law enforcement agencies are equipped or trained to stop this. There were at least 21 sales in April that sold for three quarters or less than their assessed values! Some sold even as low as 26 percnet! When will this crime spree end?
Please feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. . Roy Sanborn is a REALTOR® at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.

Last Updated on Friday, 17 May 2013 10:14

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Pat Buchanan - Obama got only 39% of white vote & it mattered not

Has the bell begun to toll for the GOP?
The question arises while reading an analysis of Census Bureau statistics on the 2012 election by Dan Balz and Ted Mellnik. One sentence in their Washington Post story fairly leaps out: "The total number of white voters actually decreased between 2008 and 2012, the first such drop by any group within the population since the bureau started to issue such statistics."
America's white majority, which accounts for nine in 10 of all Republican votes in presidential elections, is not only shrinking as a share of the electorate, but it is declining in numbers, as well.
The Balz-Mellnik piece was primarily about the black vote. Sixty-six percent of the black electorate turned out, to 64 percent of the white electorate. Black turnout in 2012 was higher by 1.7 million than in 2008. Hispanic turnout rose by 1.4 million votes.
But from 2008 to 2012, the white vote fell by 2 million.
This is the crisis of the Grand Old Party: Minorities, peoples of color — Hispanic, black, Asian — gave 80 percent of their votes to Obama. And while the minorities' share of the electorate was 26 percent in 2012, minorities constitute 36.3 percent of the population. And their share of both the electorate and the population is inexorably rising.
Obama won only 39 percent of White America, lowest ever of any victorious presidential candidate. But he did not need any more white votes, when he was carrying people of color 4 to 1.
Any good news in the Census Bureau report for the GOP? Only this: The tremendous turnout of black Americans in 2012 was surely due to Obama's being under ferocious attack and in peril of being repudiated. Black folks turned out in record numbers to rescue the first black president. That situation will not recur in 2016.
Yet the bad news for the Republican Party does not cease. While the total Hispanic vote rose by 1.4 million between 2008 and 2012, some 12 million eligible Hispanics did not bother to vote. And when one considers that Romney lost Hispanics 71-27, any Democratic effort to get out the Hispanic vote is going to be problematic for the GOP.
Only 48 percent of eligible Asians voted. But when they did, they went 70 percent Democratic. Asians' numbers, too, are growing, and as more go to the polls, the GOP crisis deepens.
The Republican response to this gathering disaster?
Led by Senators Marco Rubio, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, Republicans are pushing for amnesty and "a path to citizenship" for the 11 to 12 million illegal aliens in the country today.
Who are these folks? Perhaps half are Hispanic, but 90 percent are people of color who, once registered, vote 4-to-1 Democratic. One would not be surprised to hear that the Senate Democratic Caucus had broken out into chants of "Go, Marco, Go!"
Setting aside the illegals invasion Bush 41 and Bush 43 refused to halt, each year a million new immigrants enter and move onto a fast track to citizenship. Between 80 and 90 percent now come from the Third World, and once naturalized, they vote 80 percent Democratic.
This brings us back around to the Electoral College. After Richard Nixon cobbled together his New Majority, the GOP carried 49 states in 1972 and in 1984, 44 states in 1980 and 40 in 1988. In four elections — 1972, 1984, 1988 and 2004 — the Republican Party swept all 11 states of FDR's "Solid South."
Such were the fruits of that evil Southern Strategy.
But when conservatives urged Bush 1 to declare a moratorium on legal immigration in 1992 and build a security fence, the politically correct Republican establishment fought tooth and nail to keep the idea out of the platform. So, where are we?
Eighteen states, including four of the seven mega-states — California, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania — have gone Democratic in six straight elections. Two others, Florida and Ohio, have gone Democratic twice in a row. And white folks are now a minority in the last mega-state, Texas.
In Ohio, which produced seven Republican presidents, more than any other state, Republicans are dropping out, and may be dying out. "Eight years ago, blacks and whites voted at about the same rate (in Ohio)," write Balz and Mellnik. In 2008, "the participation rate for whites dropped to 65 percent, while the rate for blacks rose to 70 percent. Last November, the turnout rate among whites fell to 62 percent, while the rate for blacks ticked up to 72 percent."
From these Census figures, white folks are losing interest in politics and voting. Yet, whites still constitute three-fourths of the electorate and nine in 10 Republican votes.
Query: Is the way to increase the enthusiasm and turnout among this three-fourths of the electorate for the GOP to embrace amnesty and a path to citizenship for 12 million illegal foreign aliens? Or is it to demand the sealing of America's borders against any and all intruders?
Just asking.
(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.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

Hits: 463

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