Sanborn — The six senses used to buy a home

As of October 1, 2014 there were 1,220 residential homes for sale in the twelve Lakes Region communities covered in this report. The average asking price was $595,399 with a median price point of $269,000. Last October first there were an even 1,200 properties on the market with at an average of $502,146 and a median of $259,948. The current inventory represents a 15 month supply of homes on the market.

Real estate agents market properties utilizing a conventional and uniform format called the Multiple Listing Service. A listing basically has three components. First there is the visual aspect which includes pictures and video tours. Second, there is the listing data itself which includes the home square footage, year built, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, type of basement, etc. I would also include the Seller's Property Disclosure, deed, tax cards, and all of the other pertinent data in this category. The last component would be the description of the home itself. You know, either the flowery description that goes like "This finely crafted, single owner, high quality lake home has been lovingly maintained by...." or the simple and direct "This three bed, two bath, ranch style home has 1,245 of living space that is sure to please..."

But buying a home is really a personal experience. We utilize our senses to determine what to buy. The first component, the pictures, is what really attracts a buyer to the home in the first place. Sometimes, on arrival to a property, a buyer is surprised to find that the house is actually way better or much worse than he saw online. I guess it could be the quality of the pictures. What we like to hear is that "It looks just like the pictures!"

We give little thought to the four other senses we have and how they play a part in purchasing a home. Touch, smell, sound, and taste. These senses all play a part. Stay with me here...

Smell obviously is clearly important. If, on arrival, a house smells horrible it will kill a deal faster than anything else. Smell is that powerful. Smoke, pet odors, or moldy, musty odors turn people off immediately and can also be a sign of other problems. Conversely, the fresh smells of new cut grass, flowers, or fresh baked cookies can sway a buyer to the positive. I even like the smell of fresh paint or new carpet. Things need to smell fresh and new! So, what does your home smell like?

Sound plays a role, too. The neighbor's barking dog or the traffic noise from the highway behind the house will definitely lose out to the sound of chirping birds, the buzzing wings of a hummingbird, the call of the loon, and the silence provided by a pristine meadow. Every, single time.

The sense of "touch" could be interpreted both literally and figuratively. After all, how a home "feels" is often what makes someone buy it. High end material and finishes literally feel better to some buyers. An expensive carpet with a premium pad feels better than the less expensive grades. High end cabinetry feels more solid and well built. High end doors just feel better than hollow core ones. It is not that buyers generally go around groping the house mind you, but a well done home regardless of cost, figuratively speaking, feels better. A tasteful decor feels better than...well, better than avocado appliances, z-brick, and plastic flowers. Homes can feel comfortable, homey, cozy, campy or luxurious. They can also feel dark, cold, sterile, and uninviting. It is all about the feel.

Now, it may be difficult to equate a home to what something tastes like but I know I have been in a few homes that have left a very bad taste in my mouth although I am not sure what it was. I am sure you can equate an antique restored colonial to a fine aged wine. But good taste in reference to design, choice of materials, accessories, and furnishings can make even the simplest of homes much more desirable and saleable. If a home cost a million dollars to build, but it is done in bad taste or in a decor that is a little extreme or not prevalent in that area, the owner might not recoup his investment. Conversely, a simple well executed design with pleasing decor enhances even a relatively inexpensive home and makes it more desirable.

Oh yeah, there is a sixth sense that is needed when you are buying real estate and your realtor can help you with that. It is called common...

Please feel free to visit 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 as of
​10/1/14. Roy Sanborn is a realtor at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012.

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 648

Pat Buchanan - Outside agitator

In his U.N. address, President Obama listed a parade of horrors afflicting our world: "Russian aggression in Europe," "terrorism in Syria and Iraq," rapes and beheadings by ISIL, al-Qaida, Boko Haram.

And, of course, the Ferguson Police Department.

That's right. The president could not speak of war, terrorism and genocide without dragging in the incident in a St. Louis suburb where a white cop shot and killed a black teenager: "In a summer marked by instability in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, the world also took notice of the small American city of Ferguson, Missouri — where a young man was killed, and a community was divided."

What, other than its racial aspect, can explain why Obama is so hung up on Ferguson? At the Congressional Black Caucus dinner Saturday, he was back stoking the embers. "Too many young men of color feel targeted by law enforcement, guilty of walking while black or driving while black — judged by stereotypes that fuel fear and resentment and hopelessness."

Obama is here implying that Michael Brown was profiled, judged "guilty of walking while black," when shot and killed. But that is false, and Barack Obama knows it is false. Brown had just knocked over a convenience store after collaring the clerk and was walking in the middle of the main street in Ferguson, blocking traffic, when officer Darren Wilson confronted him.

Did Wilson shoot Brown in a racist rage? Or did Wilson, face battered and eye socket smashed in a fight with the 290-pound, 6'4" Brown, empty his gun in self-defense? We do not know. And neither does Barack Obama.

For weeks, a grand jury in St. Louis County has been hearing testimony, trying to sort it out. But by implying the shooting was done for racial reasons, that Brown may have been "targeted" for "walking while black," Obama is stoking the fires of racial resentment.

Why is he parroting a party line about America that he knows is more myth than truth? White cops are not the great lurking danger, nor the leading cause of violent death, of black teenagers and men. That role is fulfilled by other black teenagers and other black men. And the statistics on the ugliest forms of racial violence in America — interracial assaults, rapes, murders — reveal that such crimes are overwhelmingly black-on-white.

Obama said that "young men of color" are too often "judged by stereotypes." But behind those stereotypes are FBI statistics that show that black males between 16 and 36, two percent of the U.S. population, commit a vastly disproportionate share of all violent crimes.
Where are the stats to sustain Obama's stereotype of cops?

And what did the Ferguson police do to deserve to be invoked as exemplars of what is wrong with law enforcement in America, while the Ferguson protesters get a presidential pass? Since Michael Brown was shot in early August, rocks and Molotov cocktails have been thrown at Ferguson cops, stores have been looted and smashed, police have been cursed and threatened, and a mob tried to shut down I-70 at rush hour.

And what are the outrages perpetrated by Ferguson's cops? After a riot in Ferguson, the next night St. Louis County cops showed up in riot gear, helmets and body armor, with an MRAP. Now some Ferguson cops are wearing wristbands reading, "I am Darren Wilson," to show solidarity with their fellow cop who is in hiding for fear of his life.

This set off Eric Holder's minions in the civil rights division at Justice, whence one Christy Lopez fired off a letter to the Ferguson police chief saying the bracelets "upset and agitated people."

So what. If police baiters can raise hell in solidarity with Brown, cannot cops peacefully wear wristbands in solidarity with Wilson?

Last week, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson released a video, apologizing to Brown's parents for their son's death, and for not moving the teenager's body from the street for four hours. Unartful, perhaps, yet it seemed sincere.

The response: The Ferguson mob cursed the chief and Brown's father brushed him off saying, "an apology would be when Darren Wilson has handcuffs, [is] processed, and charged with murder."

Understandably, this is what Michael Brown's father wants. And this is what the protesters demand. But that is not the way the law works in America, where crowds get the indictments and convictions they demand under a threat of civil disobedience or violence.

Saturday night, a Ferguson cop was shot in an incident unrelated to August. But Chief Jackson and State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson have told the Washington Post their officers have been repeatedly threatened and, since August, have come under gunfire.

If a St. Louis officer is wounded or killed in revenge for Brown, President Obama will deserve a full share of the moral responsibility. It is time he started acting like a president of all the people, and dropped this role of outside agitator.

(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.)

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 645

Sanborn — A tax on light and air

It almost goes without saying that we have some really exceptional and outstanding homes in the Lakes Region. They come in many different architectural styles and designs, use many different types of building materials and construction techniques, and vary tremendously in quality and price points. We live in an area of unique homes. You don't find many large tracts of cookie cutter residences here. But one thing that many homes have in common is the use of lots of windows.

Because we live in such a beautiful area with mountain and lake views most people will want to have as many windows as possible in order to enjoy those views. Homes are sited and constructed today making nature and the view the focal point. Walls of windows adorn lakefront homes, mountaintop retreats, homes in valleys looking up to the hills, or homes with pastoral garden views. Our surroundings are very important to us. Homes with lots of windows feel larger and are much brighter inside and most of the home buyers today desire that light and the airy feeling.

But, what if the government taxed you on light and air? What if they taxed you on the number of windows you had in your home? Preposterous, you say? Well, if you had lived in England between 1696 and 1851 there was exactly that, a tax on windows. Its many opponents called it a Tax on Light and Air! The tax was enacted as a way around an income tax. Because windows were so expensive to make, it seemed only reasonable that the wealthy would have more windows than the poor folks. They started out with a flat-rate house tax of two shillings per house and then a variable tax on the number of windows over ten in the home. If you had over twenty windows you paid yet another rate. Over the years the number of windows where a tax was incurred was changed to seven in 1766 and eight in 1825.

Now if that weren't bad enough, there was also a glass tax based on weight. This Glass Excise Tax was in effect from 1745 to 1845. It was originally a tax on raw materials only, but in 1811 it was changed to apply to the finished glass goods including everything from bottles to windows. So, in essence, homeowners with lots of windows were being taxed twice for the same thing. Though wildly unpopular, this did not stop the well to do from having large windows and custom built green houses. The affluent had the money and the more windows you had signified your wealth to the community.

Of course, the tax did have an effect on those least able to pay it. People avoided putting windows in new structures and they bricked up windows in existing buildings and painted them to look like windows. The use of "bulls-eye" glass became prevalent in this time. A piece of bulls-eye glass is very recognizable as it looks like...well, it looks like a bulls-eye. It comes from the process of making "crown" glass and it is where a glassblower's pontil (blowing tool) is attached to the glass. The glass is spun on a flat plate to make a sheet and when the tool is removed from the center of the pane it leaves a bulls-eye mark in it. That portion of the glass was deemed flawed and therefore not subject to the tax. You can't see through a bulls-eye window very well, but it does let light in. These windows were commonly used in the backs of houses or businesses as a cost cutting method.

With the invention of cast plate glass in 1848 windows became a lot less expensive. The continuous improvements and innovations in the glass making industry since then have changed the face of architecture worldwide. Today, walls of glass to bring in our astonishing views are commonplace. So while many folks now complain about a view tax, can you just imagine what would happen if we went back to a Tax on Light and Air?

Please feel free to visit 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 603-677-7012

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 704

Froma Harrop - Dems should be nicer to the South

MOBILE, Ala. — It's been noticed by just about everyone except what we call the "liberal establishment" that of the eight Senate seats now up for grabs, four are in the South — Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and North Carolina. H. Brandt (Brandy) Ayers, the publisher of The Anniston Star in Alabama, has certainly noticed the neglect. And boy, is he frustrated.

Ayers is both a staunch liberal and Southern to the core. If the Democratic Party wants to establish a healthy dialogue in the Southern states, he told me, it has to first say, "We like you." Liberals can't just sigh at the troublesome region's sharp move right and say, "That's a Southern thing."

Now pushing 80, Ayers has suffered many heartbreaks. He recounts them in a book, "In Love With Defeat: The Making of a Southern Liberal."

Southerners do know how to tell a story. How did a region once devoted to FDR and his New Deal turn into a conservative Republican stronghold? With eloquence and wit, Ayers describes the warring forces — above all, the central role of race. Key to this is understanding the Southern way of experiencing the universe.

Ayers was born into a bubble of Southern white privilege so tightly sealed he didn't know he was in it. In 1953, the headmaster at his Connecticut boarding school asked whether he had heard of a school desegregation case then winding through the Supreme Court. It was Brown v. Board of Education, and no, he hadn't.

"I ultimately chose the liberal side," Ayers said, "but it was long in coming."

Journalism was Ayers' calling, but he didn't stay north to become a Southern sage on The New York Times. He returned home, first as a reporter on The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina. There he saw the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed and the birth of the "New South" — centered on the booming economies of Atlanta and North Carolina's Research Triangle Park.

His father died, and Ayers returned to Anniston to take over the family newspaper. "Home was on old South time," he recalls.
In 1965, a drunken gang of Ku Klux Klan members shot up a Pontiac carrying four black laborers from the late shift at a pipe factory. One of them, Willie Brewster, was hit and died. Ayers raised a $25,000 reward from local donors, who signed a full-page ad condemning the attack. These were tough days.

"The FBI told me not to go to certain places for beer after work," Ayers said, "and that the Klan had stolen an enormous cache of munitions from nearby Fort McClellan."

Alabama Gov. George Wallace, then a primitive segregationist, referred to The Anniston Star as "The Red Star."

Time moved on, and the South took on a mellower "Sun Belt" persona. "The South was a newly discovered kingdom," Ayers said, "where the sun shines and nobody is mean anymore."

But politically, the golden age of the New South — with its new people, new money and progressive governors — ended in the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. In Ayers' view, the all-Republican South was built on a core of racial resentment that pulled in many working-class Southerners.

Today's liberals add to his frustrations, especially their weak-tea prescriptions for confronting a growing economic insecurity.

"The liberalism of FDR's time was not an airy-fairy philosophy," Ayers said. "It was about something: a right to a job, a place to live, a bit of joy and self-respect."

Democrats need to channel that passion and return to the South. And it shouldn't be that hard. He concludes:

"The first rule of politics is showing up. The second is to be nice."

(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.)

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 576

Pat Buchanan - Is Burger King an economic patriot?

"Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains."

Jefferson's brutal verdict comes to mind in the fierce debate over inversions, those decisions by U.S. companies to buy foreign firms to move their headquarters abroad and renounce their U.S. citizenship — to evade the U.S. corporate tax rate of 35 percent.

U.S. executives who engineer these inversions are undeniably acting in the best interests of their shareholders and companies.

But are they also lacking in economic patriotism? Are they also guilty of economic treason against the nation that nurtured them? Are they, in the phrase tossed out by Barack Obama, "corporate deserters"? Adds our president, "I don't care if it's legal, it's wrong."

But are inversions wrong? Or are these relocations abroad neither more nor less moral than Boeing's decision to save hundreds of millions in labor costs by shifting 1,300 engineering jobs out of Seattle and Southern California to St. Louis, Charleston and Huntsville?

Is it morally permissible to leave your home state or region for economic reasons — as the textile mills left New England for the South — but unpatriotic to leave the land of your birth?

If so, was it not unpatriotic for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Fortune 500 to lobby for NAFTA and GATT so companies could shutter their factories here, lay off their U.S. workers, and move their production to Mexico and Asia?

Was it not unpatriotic of Congress and Presidents Clinton and Bush to facilitate the departure of tens of thousands of plants and millions of manufacturing jobs?

Where were the economic patriots then?

What has concentrated the mind here is the decision by Burger King, backed by shareholder Warren Buffett, to buy Tim Hortons in Canada. Burger King will move its headquarters to Canada, declare itself a Canadian company, and begin paying the Canadian corporate tax rate of 26 percent.

Ireland, with its 12.5 percent corporate income tax has proven a particularly attractive residence for companies shopping for lower tax rates. Before this year, Apple had used Ireland as a tax haven to shelter $40 billion in revenue.

Britain, too, has proven a magnet. U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer made a $118 billion bid this year for AstraZeneca so it could move its tax domicile there, but was rebuffed by the target company.

Forty-nine U.S. companies have completed tax inversions. Twenty more are looking at them. The prospect that a lame duck Congress may take up legislation to end the practice and stanch the bleeding of tax revenue from the U.S. Treasury could cause a stampede.
Treasury is talking of a December law, made retroactive back to May, to strip the tax benefits from inversions. The prospect that the loophole may disappear could accelerate corporate flight out of the high-tax USA.

Some $2.1 trillion in corporate profits, subject to U.S. taxation, is already being held abroad, parked, and not repatriated, lest the holders get hit with the U.S. tax rate. Some U.S. companies are borrowing these funds from abroad and deducting the interest payments.

At bottom, the inversions issue is not only about corporate tax rates and competitiveness, but also about loyalties in conflict.

Actor Gerard Depardieu renounced his French citizenship rather than pay the 75 percent income tax rate imposed by the Socialist regime of Francois Hollande. Though denounced, was Depardieu being disloyal to France, or to the Hollande regime and its socialist ideology? Can one love one's country and hate its government? In 1776, that was surely true of Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton and Washington. And their rebellion had something to do with taxation.

Are New York City cops and civil servants who retire and take their pensions to Florida being disloyal to the Empire State because they want to stop paying the 12 percent state-local income tax bite? When states like Texas eliminate corporate income taxes, are they engaged in beggar-thy-neighbor politics against fellow states of the Union?

"Taxes are what we pay for civilized society," said Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. But is Ireland less civilized than America because her corporate tax rate is one-third of ours?

Judge Learned Hand had another take: "There is nothing sinister in so arranging one's affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everybody does so, rich or poor; and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands: taxes are enforced exactions, not voluntary contributions. To demand more in the name of morals is mere cant."

To our transnationalists, Judge Hand got it right. But whether one is an economic patriot or a libertarian, to keep the U.S. corporate tax rate at the highest level in a global economy of ferociously competitive nations would appear to reflect the thinking of an incorrigibly stupid and stubborn government.

(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.)

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 520