Friday, February 1, 2008

The local story isn't quite so bleak ...

These excerpts from a Bangor Daily News OpEd written by Jane Irving: "The national news is replete with stories about low consumer confidence and the subprime mortgage crisis. But the local story isn’t quite so bleak. Last week in "Bangor: Real estate trade ‘fairly stable’ despite dip" (BDN, Jan. 19), the Bangor Daily News correctly reported that the Bangor real estate market is showing evidence of good health in the face of the larger storm . Realtors Earl Black and Jon Dawson referred to stability and opportunity in the market. While I sit in my lender’s chair, I see the root of some of that stability.

As a local bank, we are experiencing consistent growth, and this is an important bellwether of our local economic conditions. Our mortgage lending team is meeting with business and home buyers alike at all hours of the day and night. From coffee before work to phone calls well after hours, Maine people are still looking for mortgages. Fortunately, banks are still very much able to lend, because of a significantly greater stability than many of the mortgage lenders who have had so much trouble this year.

Should Mainers be worried?

Bankers field calls from home buyers who find themselves stuck in "dry closings" because of mortgage lenders who have no money to lend. Though this causes great hardship and inconvenience to people all over the country, many people in Maine are finding that this does not mean that the loan they need is inaccessible.

There are still a variety of stable lending sources and innovative lending products that can help all types of buyers: first-time home buyers, experienced buyers and those looking to refinance.

Because Maine residents have access to stable financing, and we tend to be less susceptible to the swings of the market that are roiling places like Florida, real estate has the potential to be a bright spot in Maine’s economic health. Even as the speculative market continues to contract this year, buyers may find themselves well-positioned for sensible investments …

Despite daily reports of the tough situation around the country, the Maine market is holding its own. At our bank, we are not seeing major foreclosures, and we continue to help new customers with a variety of stable loans and services … "

Note: Jane Irving is a senior vice president at Bangor Savings Bank

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