Friday, December 12, 2008

Why the Code of Ethics Class Matters ...

Bangor Board PRESIDENT'S LETTER by Board President Mary Kuykendall:

I've been surprised by a couple of occurrences recently. The first one was when I checked on our website and discovered that there are [still] members of the Bangor Board of REALTORS® who are within two months of having their membership privileges suspended in the National Association of REALTORS® because they haven't been able to fit in a 3-hour Ethics class at sometime during the last four years.

The second incident involved a conversation I had with a client during which I expressed concern about whether some information should be disclosed or not, and, that if it were not disclosed, it would, in my opinion, be a breach of ethics. My client was quite amazed, but impressed to discover that REALTORS® not only have adopted, but abide by, a Code of Ethics.

He actually asked me questions about the Code of Ethics and listened thoughtfully to my answers. "Wow!" he said. "I had no idea."

Now, suddenly, I began to see how sad a situation both of these discoveries were. Most of us would certainly consider ourselves to be ethical people. And, for the most part, I've no doubt that we are. But in your daily routine in which you are looking out for the best interests of your clients, is it possible that there might be some instance where you may not be totally sure of your actions?Are you willing to risk your reputation and pay a fine, or worse, for taking that chance? You could commit a breach of ethics without even being aware of it.

These classes remind you of those nuances which can so easily trip you up. They also help you brush up on the hazards of short cuts and of assuming things. And they'll help you be a bit less casual about thinking, "Oh, it'll be okay to do that." Or not do that.

I take the Ethics class once a year. It isn't that the Code doesn't stick with me, but, rather that I like to be reminded, and am reminded, quite often, that I am not infallible, that I can't remember every twist and turn, and that I must be on top of things in order to serve my clients, my company, my boss, and, above all, myself, to the best of my ability. I don't know about you, but I like to sleep at night and having taken the class as frequently as I can makes that a little more likely. Don't wait until you have to be bullied into taking it. And don't be afraid to tell people about our Code of Ethics. It would be very nice if future clients were not surprised to know that we have one. Take the class!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

E. Pat Foster is Maine's REALTOR of the Year

Here's a picture of E. Pat Foster (center) at the National Association of REALTORS Annual Convention's Grand Assembly. As Maine's 2008 State REALTOR of the Year (ROTY), she was honored along with the nation's other ROTY's onstage in front of many thousands of attendees.
E Pat Foster is the owner of E Pat Foster Real Estate in Mount Desert. She served as 2007 President of the Maine Association of REALTORS and also selected by her peers as the 2008 ROTY of the Acadia Council.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Republican National Convention - Day 4 Report

Andre Cushing reports: Well here we are at the final day of the GOP Convention ...

It's hard to believe as I sit here in the airport writing this that so much happened in so short a time. Another delegate said it well, “it feels like we have fit three weeks into one.” Our final day breakfast briefing was hosted by former Governor John McKernan and his wife Sen. Snowe. Our guest speaker was Frank Donatelli, Deputy Chair of the Republican Nat’l Committee. Frank served in two White Houses. He shared information on the historic nature of this election and what the results may mean to history.

During the day I went back to Civicfest to view more of exhibits and buy some convention memorabilia. I bought buttons, apparel, gift items and books then packed up 37 lbs of goodies and shipped them home (no lugging extra heavy bags on the plane.) I also went to a special appearance and book signing by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his wife. I even got to ask him a question during Q&A! It was about his thoughts on the comparison of Gov Palin to another young reform Governor who was nominated VP, one of my favorites Teddy Roosevelt.

I then attended a reception for hosted by the group Republicans for Environmental Protection, where Theodore Roosevelt, IV was the featured speaker. I was really looking forward to meeting him but our transportation bus got stuck in rush hour traffic and I arrived just after he left to catch a plane back to NY. Well maybe another time.

Onto the convention and the concluding night. Things started off with a host of speakers, one of special note was Maine’s own Charlie Summers, running for Congress in the 1st Congressional District. A host of other speakers took the stage leading up to the finale where our presidential nominee would speak.

A video shared parts of Sen. McCain's life story and service to his county. It was a moving look at the man and set a special mood for the evening. Following it, Sen. McCain stepped onto the stage and strode to a podium set on a runway which allowed him to be in the crowd while he spoke (something he is fond of doing.) After his speech he was joined on stage by his whole family and Gov Palin & family. The evening climaxed with lots of confetti and balloons. It was a remarkable night that left us both energized and then exhausted.

As I mentioned in my Day 1 blog this was the third National Convention I attended. It was an incredible experience and I would urge some of you to also consider attending a convention some day. It leaves you with a special feeling and a better understanding of this unique process by which Americans choose their leaders. It is fascinating to many in the world that our elected leader willingly subject themselves to such pressure and scrutiny to get the position; and then will voluntarily relinquish it at the end of their term. It gives one a greater appreciation extraordinary system of government that we live with.

Andre Cushing is a REALTOR with ERA Dawson Bradford in Bangor

Republican National Convention - Day 3

Andre Cushing reports: Hello again from Minneapolis/St Paul! Today was a full schedule of events starting with our Maine delegation breakfast briefing.

I visited Civicfest - which is a vibrant civic festival celebrating Minnesota and American history, democracy, and the U.S. Presidency. The event, produced by the Minneapolis Saint Paul 2008 Host Committee, features more than 35 exhibits including: historic memorabilia and artifacts, a scale model of the White House, a re-created Convention floor, a stage featuring live performances, an actual President’s official limousine, a full-scale replica of the White House Oval Office, multimedia and interactive exhibits featuring significant historical objects, an interactive kiosk that explores the lives and administrations of the twelve Presidents, and a 60,000 square-foot Marketplace.

This venue definitely will call for another day to explore it. I'm a real history buff and love looking at the displays and listening to the recordings of presidential speeches. There also were some great exhibits about Minnesota, history of businesses and noted figures. For example General Mills (who we all know for cereals) also was into aerospace and developed the ALVIN, the first deep diving submarine. Also the pacemaker, Post-it notes and Rollerblades were developed in Minnesota!

Today also is a full schedule of receptions. First at the invitation of Governor McKernan we attended “Republicans Supporting Higher Education," held at the Art Institute International Minnesota. The hurricane was still on our minds so I took some time to help with preparing comfort packs for delivery to the Gulf region. It was amazing to enter this big hall and see so many fellow delegates joining local volunteers at hundreds of tables assembling and pack these bags.

Then onto meet with my fellow REALTORS at the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) Reception where I met members of the NAR board and fellow delegates who are REALTORS. NAR President-Elect Charles McMillan welcomed us and shared that approximately 200 attendees to the convention are REALTORS which proved that we take public service very seriously and are willing to get involved. He also mentioned that several members of Congress have been or are REALTORS. Here's the link to the NAR site with information on both conventions, including interviews with attendees.

I attended a reception hosted by AT&T for the Maine & Vermont delegations where I met Vermont Governor Jim Douglas. Then time to go to the Xcel Center for the evening events. We heard from many speakers including former Maryland Lt.Gov. Michael Steele, who now chairs GOPAC. A special note: my daughter Grace (a senior at Simmons College) took a year sabbatical to work on his U.S. Senate race in 2006 and when she told his staff she was coming to the Convention he wanted her to work with him this week! She was able to help out and is really enjoying the convention (from a different perspective) travelling to media appearances and helping with his other speaking engagements.

The evening also saw NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Govs. Mitt Romney & Mike Huckabee and former Senator Fred Thompson take the stage. Finally the featured event - Gov. Sarah Palin addressed the convention and what a powerful speech she offered!! It was a great coming out for this interesting and energetic VP candidate. From what I have read her speech had the largest television viewership of its kind in history.

This was also the night that nominations are made by the different state delegations. Rep. Josh Tardy (Newport) is the Maine delegation chair and got to make the nomination speech for us. We all cheered when Maine came up! Here's a picture of us on the big screen!

Andre Cushing is a REALTOR with ERA Dawson Bradford in Bangor

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Day 2 Report - Republican National Convention

A Maine REALTOR's Report from Day 2 at the Republican National Convention:

Andre Cushing reports: Greetings again from Minneapolis. We opened the second day with a more traditional schedule. Now that the imminent danger from the hurricane has passed the focus transitioned to getting to know our candidate's background. We started with a breakfast meeting where we heard from several people who know John McCain: Carly Fiorina (former CEO of Hewlett Packard), Andy McCain, Dorcas Hardy (former commissioner for the Social Security Administration) and two military veterans, Retired Major General Ed Mechenbier (a fellow POW) and Captain Thomas Hudner spoke of his remarkable service.

Later in the day I attended a luncheon reception for legislators and candidates (I am running for a seat in the Maine House of Representatives to represent Hampden, Dixmont & Newburgh). I then did an interview with a blogger and a reporter for the Bangor Daily News on my campaign and my experience as a Mainer at the convention. After which it was time to head to the Xcel Center for the evening program.

The Tuesday schedule follows the theme proposed by Senator McCain of “Country First” and highlights the word “Service” in its offering of speakers, which included President George W. Bush (via satellite), First Lady Laura Bush, and others.

The most moving presentations to me were a special appearance by a gentleman Wes Gullett and his daughter, Mickey. They told the story of how Cindy McCain, while travelling in Bangladesh, stopped at Mother Theresa’s orphanage and was moved to adopt two babies with severe medical conditions and return them to the U.S. She and John adopted Bridget and their friends, the Gulletts, adopted Mickey. It offered a glimpse at the personal side of the McCains that we don’t always see in politics.

The politics heated up when featured speaker Sen. Fred Thompson took the stage and offered an energetic comparison of Senator McCain and Senator Obama. He brought the crowd to its feet repeatedly with his comments. Then Senator Joe Lieberman offered his endorsement and issued a call to Democrats and Independent voters to join him in supporting the McCain-Palin team. Another special moment came when Former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush entered the hall. The entire convention paused as they were led to their seats to a warm ovation from those in attendance.

I must say this was a day was great experience even for someone like myself who has attended previous conventions.

Andre Cushing is a REALTOR with ERA Dawson Bradford in Bangor; pictured with Republican strategist Karl Rove

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Maine REALTOR Report from Republican Convention

MAR asked two Maine REALTORS attending the major political party conventions to report on their activities there. Both agreed. [Note: NAR and MAR do not take positions on presidential races, but housing and other real estate related issues are part of major party discussions.]

Here's the Day One report from the Republican Convention:

Greetings from the 39th quadrennial Republican Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My name is Andre Cushing and I am a REALTOR with ERA Dawson Bradford in Bangor, Maine. This is my third time attending a national convention (in 1980 I was a guest at the Detroit convention, 2004 I was a delegate in New York City, and this year I'm an alternate) and it is exciting to be at such a historic event.

This year's convention has been overshadowed by concern for events in the Gulf region as it has pummeled by Hurricane Gustav. Activities were shortened Monday at the request of Senator McCain to show respect for those who were facing adversity from the storm. The McCain campaign chartered a DC9 to ferry any delegates who wished to be back home to their states in the Gulf region to attend to their families and personal needs. A special response program has been set up at the Minneapolis Convention Center to prepare comfort packages which will be distributed to those displaced by the hurricane.

Minneapolis and St. Paul (where the Xcel Center is located) have done a great job in preparing to welcome the thousands of delegates and supporting casts for the convention. These are beautiful cities and the friendly attitude of all who we meet and deal with from shuttle drivers, hotel employees and service personnel to those related to the convention itself have been really great. They are wonderful ambassadors for their communities.

It is an exciting atmosphere and a unique dynamic where so many people from different walks of life, different ages and places come together to select our nominee for President and Vice President and conduct the other business necessary as a political entity.

Monday the convention opened with some basic housekeeping required in order to legally hold a convention and place the nominees names on the ballots in all fifty states and the U.S. territories. We had very few speeches out of respect for the focus on the hurricane's impact. The headline was a special appearance by First Lady Laura Bush and Cindy McCain who both took the stage to welcome the attendees and announce a special effort to raise funds for the five states that may most be impacted by the hurricane. I include the websites here (at this link) in the event any of you may wish to make a contribution to those efforts.

Stay tuned for more information as the convention continues through Thursday.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Our New Mini-Sessions

MAR is creating mini-sessions on video to provide member updates. Our first two are Linda Gifford explaining the recent changes to the MAR forms (August 2008). Note: on the first video Linda references 3 videos, but we did them on 2; and the second video cuts out before her last sentence which was basically saying thank you. (The video camera MAR used can only do videos of no more than exactly 10 minutes in length.)

Here's the link to the handout to make it more helpful to follow the changes discussed (requires log-in).

The first video is P&S changes; the second reviews other changed forms.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pics from NAR Leadership Summit

NAR Leadership Summit - Developing as Leaders and FRIENDS

Cornelia Stockman reports: Each year NAR brings together the president-elects of the state associations, local boards and multiple listing services in Chicago to learn industry trends, new programs, and an outlook on the coming year when each will serve in president positions within the REALTOR organization.

Eight Maine REALTORS - the president-elects of Local Boards/Councils, MAR and MREIS - and 3 Association Executives (administrators) gathered for this year's NAR Leadership Summit in Chicago.

In the process of learning, listening and sharing, we developed as FRIENDS. There was the inspiration, the achievements, and the invitation to reach higher and grow stronger as individuals and as a group.

Instead of the media's "doom & gloom", we heard the real facts and forecasts from the best people in NAR. Reality testing by looking into past performance and designing for the future, remember there is “pent up demand” for housing was emphasized by speaker after speaker.

The quality of the speakers' presentations and the strength of authors reached into the past from Aristotle to Eisenhower and displayed the "big" picture. I loved the new NAR programs such as "Selling Green" and the “FHA Toolkit" to support what REALTORS in the present need; adapting to change, accommodating to the possibilities. The excellence of changes in are a great source of in-depth information.

To sum up the NAR Leadership Summit:

F – Facts, FHA, Food, FUN
R – Responsible, resources
I – Innovators & innovation
E – Encouragement & enthusiasm
N – New programs of NAR
DDo's & don'ts – legalities
S – Style & Success

The best of the best was all around us for the 2 days.

REALTOR Cornelia Stockman (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Kennebunk) will be the 2009 President of the York County Council of MAR. Pictured above: Chicago skyline; Tim Dunham (Pres-Elect, Androscoggin Valley); Kathy Townsend (Pres-Elect, Gr Portland), Kristine Triglione (Pres-Elect, Western Maine); Kelley Craig (Gr Portland AE), Cornelia Stockman; Tim Dunham, Helen Fox (Pres-Elect, Merrymeeting), Marcia Bartol (Bangor AE). Not pictured, but attending: Rita Yarnold (MAR Pres-Elect), Jack Taylor (MREIS Pres-Elect), Ken Duke (MREIS), Delores Landry (Bangor Pres-Elect)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Greater Portland Board: An Alliance Supporting the Arts

From the Greater Portland Board of REALTORS®:

The Greater Portland Board of REALTORS® (GPBR) is beginning an initiative to create and continue the relationship between the local arts community and REALTORS®. The rich art community in Southern Maine makes the area a very desirable place to live.

To kickoff our efforts, the Greater Portland Board of REALTORS® is hosting an evening social at the Portland Museum of Art. We will be inviting local artists as well as REALTOR® members to come and stroll through several galleries while enjoying refreshments and each other!

Features live music from the popular Jerks of Grass and a raffle for original works from local artisans.

This event is different than any we have held before. There will be no cost to attend and no formal program. What a great way to spend a warm Thursday evening!

Event: Portland Museum of Art
Date: September 4, 2008
Time: 6-8pm

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ready, S-E-T, Go

From Mary Kuykendall: I admit that when the proposal to move to electronic lockboxes first came up, I, like many others, balked. I flung my weight around and voted against them at every opportunity. None of that stuff for me!

There we were, happily slapping those little bronze boxes on anything with four walls and a doorknob. We didn’t even have to re-configure a new combination for each use. A three-letter code had been good enough for our grandparents, and it was certainly good enough for us.

So what if there were, at least, 6000 current and former agents who knew “The Code”? No matter; so did anyone who had ever seen, listed or sold a property in the state. Not to mention their neighbors, family members, paperboy and meter reader. Come to think of it, why did we even bother?

The fail-safe, back-up three-letter code, was used by some of the more venturesome of us, and the cutting edge policy of using Our Own Initials was the choice of only the most daring.

Then, a little over two years ago when we were still comfortably and blissfully ignorant of the world of technology and security available to us and following a convenient 8-hour tutorial, our lives began to change. Well, eight hours and a few brush-up sessions, e-mails, webinars, conferences, and frantic phone calls originating from freezing front porches.

While Mainers are, historically, a tolerant lot, change is accepted with speed outdistanced only by the pace of the Mendenhall Glacier. Never mind that these new gizmos would increase security, provide data regarding access, keep track of our CE credits, save gas, save time, save money--save your breath, because there wasn’t going to be any convincing of some of us. Myself included.

So. I grudgingly went to the training. I asked obnoxious questions. They were answered politely and patiently. I harrumphed. I turned the clumsy thing over in my hands and sighed. I got up and got myself a cookie. You can’t say I wasn’t going to get something out of the session. I followed the instructions in the little booklet and practiced. I mumbled to my neighbor at the table. I practiced some more. The darn thing seemed to work just like they said. That was discouraging. I went into the next room and picked up my card. Pretty cool. Had my picture on it. Hmm. Got a little retractable clip-on for my belt. Even cooler.

Back I went to the office. I still was far from convinced this was even an acceptable idea, and I certainly wasn’t ready to endorse it as a good one.

I put one of the boxes on my very next listing mainly because I had told my DB that I would give it a try, and because I was supposed to be setting an example for my co-workers. I was the first one in our office to use one. There’s always some cachet in that.

It went on easily and looked pretty nifty there on the front of the nice, new house. Kind of gave it a smart, “now” look. I liked that. The neighbors were curious and seemed impressed.

I was right proud of myself. Then while showing it off to my husband who was putting up my sign in the yard, I discovered I’d forgotten my PIN. What was it? The year my house was built? No, that didn’t seem to be it. Oh, wait a minute, a quick call to the handy number on the back of my keycard, a chat with a personable young man and I was shortly back in business.

A week passed and I got a phone message from the elderly gentleman whose home had the new lockbox. He was visiting from out of state and wanted to have the locks changed. Could I come down and get the new keys for the box? Sure. When I arrived with a client in tow, the owner was gone, but the new lockbox (which, as we all know, would cost me dearly if lost), was, as he had promised, on the back porch--still attached to the old doorknob and lock mechanism and part of the old door. In retrospect, I don’t know who changed his locks, but they surely did a thorough job of it.

I could tell it was going to get tricky from here on.

Removing the shackle from the lockbox (and you will have to admit that, love them as much as you may, they are heavy) while simultaneously keeping my keycard in the slot (I had to thread it through the steering wheel in order to fit the bulk still attached to the house’s lock into my car), reading and remembering the phone number, punching in the numbers, listening to and following the instructions being given over the phone, and swatting blackflies in the front seat with my client resignedly awaiting the outcome and probably wondering why she had ever been interested in this property and most assuredly doubting her choice of REALTOR, required significantly more than the two hands and one brain I had with me.

When the shackle did finally come out, flying across the front seat of my car and narrowly missing my client, her quick reflexes and good humor were all that saved a potentially-disastrous situation.

Given my extreme hesitation at the onset of this change in our lives, I have to say that this has been my only unpleasant encounter with the new contraptions.

I know that the more they are used, the easier it will get. I certainly agree that in some circumstances, they aren’t the best idea. I totally understand and empathize with those who have issues with them.

I wish the renewal was for more than 8 days. I wish they weren’t so heavy. I wish I didn’t have to remember yet one more PIN. I was glad to get the refund. I wish there was no cost involved at all in using them.

I really can’t say enough good things about the technical support that is available. AND, ok, I have to admit that I’ve changed my mind about them. I always hate to admit it when I’m wrong about something that I feel so strongly about.

I guess I’m S-E-T in my ways.

REALTOR Mary Kuykendall is President of the Bangor Board of REALTORS

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What's hyper local blogging?

Maine REALTOR Jim Cosgrove's company blog (Newcastle Square Realty, Damariscotta) was recently featured on a popular business blog as an example of "hyper local blogging" -- Meaning, providing content that shows many features of a local area - neighborhoods, towns, events.

Jim explains in the comments section: "We quickly decided that writing about homes was just going to be more of the same old same old so we started to talk about our area and that seemed to resonate. We have a lot of summer residents and they let us know that they really enjoyed keeping up with the goings on here in the winter. To date our most commented on post is still the one where we complained about the small size of the town Christmas tree one winter. (I think I used the phrase 'size does matter')."

Are you showing and/or discussing your local area in your blog?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

NAR's RPAC Contributes to Maine Economy

The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) REALTORS Political Action Committee (RPAC) Trustees met in Maine to make a few million dollars worth of political and candidate contribution decisions. They stayed at the Portland Regency and Portland Harbor Hotels; and quite a few Trustees extended their meeting stay to take a Maine vacation. Special thanks to NAR President Dick Gaylord for his support in selecting Maine as a location for a NAR committee meeting. Here's his blog post about the event.

NAR Past President Sharon Millett (Coldwell Banker Millett Realty, Auburn) hosted the RPAC Trustees, NAR staff, NAR officers, and several other NAR Past Presidents, and guests at a lobsterbake at her lakeside home.
Pictured: NAR President Dick Gaylord; group (left to right) - Jerry Millett, NAR Treasurer Jim Helsel (PA), NAR President Dick Gaylord (CA), NAR Past President Sharon Millett, and NAR President Elect Charles McMillan (TX); and entire group outside at Sharon's.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Maine REALTOR in "Next GAC Star" Competition

Maine REALTOR Kelly Sue Parker (Real Estate Exchange, Inc., Falmouth) is competing in Music Nation's "Next GAC Star" country music competition. She needs your votes.

They are currently on Round 7. It takes about 10-15 minutes to do this ...

1. Go to
2. Click on the left hand side, Next GAC Star Competition
3. Go down to Popular Artist - she has been in the top 10 artists for the past few days OR at the top of the page go to “Find Artist” type in name Kelly Sue Parker and go to her profile. (IF NOT in the Popular Artist category)
4. Listen to the song entered in the competition “Something In My Eyes”
5. Then go to the top of the page and click on the Voting section “Click to Vote”

Once you get into the “Head to Head” you will see two artists that will load “Head to Head”. Once loaded:

1. Go to the top of your Browser and click the Back Arrow Button
2. Then Click the Forward Arrow Button
3. Continue to do so until you see her name come up in the “Head to Head” ready to compete
4. Click on the “Start Head to Head” listen to her song and listen to the other song
5. Then Click on “I prefer this one”… to VOTE…
6. You can check your votes at the bottom in the section of “My Votes”

Let's help get Kelly Sue Parker selected!

Monday, June 30, 2008

A Night of Winners ... well, except the Sea Dogs

Cindy Butts reports:
MAR announced the winners of the "Your Piece of Maine" YouTube contest during the pre-game of the June 28 Sea Dogs game ....

Driving towards Portland on Saturday afternoon it was clear the rain was going to continue. A cool, continuous rain .... which doesn't encourage arriving early for a game. "Your Piece of Maine" tee shirts and a giant cardboard check were in danger of being drenched by the rain, but fortunately it was also Hannaford employee night -- they had a TENT set up, and generously let MAR staff store everything someplace dry.

It was fairly easy to find the contest winners, as many of them starred in their winning videos (we told them to meet us out front - a good idea when it's NOT raining) -- Grand Prize winner Brett Slater, Second Prize winner Lorraine Aromando, one of the Third Prize winners Jon Wadick (with ADORABLE son Logan who starred in the "Logan's Piece of Maine" video), and Callie Pecunies, the REALTOR winner.

Our YPOM Spokesperson Michelle Flaherty immediately knew to put the script in waterproof plastic ... and joined MAR Patti Lawton and the contestants on the field for the presentation. Michelle sounded GREAT over the stadium sound system (she has been a STAR in this whole experience) - and told everyone in the stands she hoped they too found their Piece of Maine.

The contestants clearly THRILLED to get their checks from Patti .... And then the GRAND PRIZE video played on the BIG screen. It was really, really cool to see it there - And as I sat in my very wet General Admission seat saw the row in front of me (the public) SWAYING along with the song!

Big thanks to the REALTOR members and Kelley Craig, AE for the Greater Portland Board, who braved the rain, sat ON their dry YPOM tee shirts (a very welcome use!), and cheered on our contest winners!

A NIGHT OF WINNERS ... well, except the Sea Dogs ... (they lost 7-4) .... and except my husband ... (who lost a beer when the uber-enthusiastic Sea Dogs mascot Slugger ran by - accidentally hitting his "beer arm".)

MAR looks forward to what the members might do in the future with video to help people get their own piece of Maine ....

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Winning YPOM Contest Videos - Watch Now

Here's a link to see the list of winning videos: Click here.
Grand Prize is Brett Slater (first video); Second Prize is Lorraine Aromando (second video); Third Prizes are in random order (but names as their videos appear on the playlist) - Aaron Megquier, Jon Wadick, Oakley Dyer, Tim Gagnon, Tim Hart, Kristy Ferran, Mike LeVecchia, Holly Austin; and REALTOR winner - Callie Pecunies (last video).

To watch by viewer: (note: We can't figure out why the Grain Surfboards video isn't working on the viewer playlist below)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

hoMEworks: 10 yrs of home buyer education

Sherry Gregory reports: At last week's quarterly meeting of the hoMEworks Board of Directors, USDA Rural Development State Director Michael Aube presented the group with an award. It reads, “In recognition of your dedication and efforts in assisting rural Maine families in achieving the American Dream of Homeownership.”

The hoMEworks organization is celebrating 10 years of offering home buyer education throughout Maine. The goal is to provide a "standardized, comprehensive homeownership education program to be delivered by a network of industry professionals in neutral environments throughout Maine." Educators at classes are prohibited from making marketing or sales presentations. To date, more than 12,500 potential Maine home buyers have learned the ins & outs of buying a home, and responsibilities of owning a home, by attending classes offered through non-profit hoMEworks organizations. For example, MaineHousing requires borrowers using the agency's downpayment and closing cost assistance program to take a hoMEworks class.

Save the Date: hoMEworks is the planning stages to hold a Homebuyer Fair in Lewiston on Saturday, August 9 from 9-2. Will include opportunities to purchase exhibit space.

One of the most rewarding quotes includes this: “The hoMEworks course was excellent. It helped us understand the home buying process. The quality of our lives will forever be changed for the better … we are homeowners."

Sherry Gregory is Chairman of the MAR Foundation and a hoMEworks Director

Friday, May 30, 2008

The YPOM Images in Real Life

From our "Your Piece of Maine" print campaign and commercials ... here's the back story on Ben, the actor; and Wiley, the dog. Ben is also one of the 5 judges for the video contest. Wiley isn't.

MAR Shout Out at Sox Game

Join us at the Sea Dogs on June 28 for our "Your Piece of Maine" contest announcement day!

Picture from REALTOR Michelle Flaherty's Facebook page

Monday, May 26, 2008

MAR's Meeting with Senator Snowe

Pictured: front row - Cindy Butts, Matt Cardente, E Pat Foster, Mike LePage, Barbara Berry, Linda Gifford, Patti Lawton; second row - Carroll Fernald, Mikie Perry, Jenny Chop, JoAnn Higgins, Mary Kuykendall, Michelle Flaherty, Rita Yarnold, Ann Parker, Helen Fox, Georgia Chomas, Gail Rizzo, Senator Snowe; last row - Shawn Roy, Marie Flaherty, Joe Wright, Bart Stevens, Jeremy Payne, Pete Clark, Sherry Gregory, Ed Getty, Drew Sigfridson, Kyle Rogers

Gas prices impacting real estate world ...

Thoughts from MAR past president E. Pat Foster:

Gas prices have definitely impacted the real estate world ...

* Attendance is down at broker open houses ... and educational and board meetings
* Some agents are starting to more clearly define their "territories" with buyers, and referring them instead of driving long distances
* Listing agents more inclined to use lockboxes ... and, although typically continue to show their listings … are now starting to embrace the lockbox concept (no driving to get keys)
* Carpooling to meetings/events now being offered more often
* Caravan type schedules for open houses are being coordinated
* Noticing more people walking to the bank and post office ... and starting to notice buyers asking how far a property is to area amenities (buyers considering distance too)
* Traveling distances for state meetings can be quite a stretch; coordinate multiple live meetings/events, offer more webinars, and email voting instead of ‘face to face’ meetings

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A great way to spend 25 minutes ....

Want to be inspired about real estate? Take 25 minutes to watch the NAR videos at this link showing NAR President Dick Gaylord's interview with REALTOR Ebby Halliday of Texas during the NAR Mid-Year Meetings in DC. Ebby owns one of the largest firms in the country, and still working at age 97. Truly inspirational ....

Or start with this 6 minute segment, and you'll be hooked ....

Sunday, May 18, 2008

5 Presidents at the White House

Pictured: Merrymeeting Board President Kyle Rogers; MAR President Patti Lawton; Greater Portland Board President Mike LePage, Androscoggin Valley Board President Georgia Chomas; and Bangor Board President Mary Kuykendall

Returning from a week in DC ...

Mary Kuykendall reports: I have just returned from a week in our magnificent nation’s capital, that gorgeous city of white marble and 92% of the country’s dark grey and black suits.

The event which took more than two dozen of us there from the Maine Association of REALTORS was what the National Association of REALTORS calls the “Mid-Year”, or that week in May when REALTOR organizations from all over the USA send representatives to speak with congresspeople and/or their staff on issues pertinent to the real estate industry.

There are also forums during the week addressing many aspects of our business from dealing with short sales to new laws affecting our buyers and sellers to maintaining REALTOR morale in the current economy.

Like everyone else in this bustling city, the number #1 tourist destination in America, we had an agenda. Luckier than most, we actually got to sit down (well, in the case of Rep. Tom Allen we did have to stand, but in the beautifully-appointed Rayburn Room in the Capitol) with both of our senators and representatives for exchanges of ideas and information which lasted anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour and ten minutes.

All were incredibly gracious, patient, understanding, and, seemingly, eager to help. They asked us many questions. Our talking points were well thought out, organized, and presented in a logical, conversational manner. We felt quite good about our Hill visits.

Washington is a walking city, and we surely did our share. Shuttle buses and the Metro, the amazingly clean, reasonably priced, and most of the time efficient, subway system helped us cover some of the major distances and kept us together, but walking is a big part of any trip to Washington, both indoors and out.

I know I walked sixteen miles inside the Capitol Building alone, and that doesn’t include the 400 steps up to the Gallery, down to the tram, up to the Rotunda, down to the…You undoubtedly get the idea.

We learned a number of things.

We learned that the NAR national headquarters is a very green building—both in color and in Earth-friendly construction.

We learned that the Red Sox don’t have to be in Fenway to lose a game.

We learned that, while the Department of Homeland Security may slip up occasionally and let a nail file into a federal building, our country is absolutely safe from attack by hard-boiled eggs.

We saw many things.

We saw hundreds of law enforcement officers from all over the country gathering in full dress uniforms to honor their fallen comrades with flowers, photos, plaques, music, solemn processions and testimonials over the course of the week. We saw them all over town and in great masses gathered in Judiciary Square at the Law Enforcement Memorial.

We saw pandas at the zoo and sleepy river otters suddenly come alive and almost dance for joy at the prospect of a mid-afternoon treat of smelt. We saw the new elephant habitat being built for those large, sad, but wise-eyed giants who tolerate our stares with such resignation.

We saw several billion of the several trillion school children on their annual pilgrimages to see the wonders of awakening springtime in our nation’s capital and the wonders of awakening hormones in each other.

We saw tourists of all ages and nationalities demonstrating, once again, that the inspiration and beauty that is Washington is universal and that Nikon, Canon and Olympus are probably in less financial stress than most other sectors of the economy.

The Mid-Year is a terrific experience. I learned, saw, ate, walked and experienced so much in this week. Ask me about it when you see me, and I’ll tell you what I saw in the West Wing. You’ll have to forgive me if I talk to you while I’m soaking my feet.

Mary Kuykendall, President, Bangor Board of REALTORS

Pictured: REALTORS Joe Wright, Helen Fox, and Carroll Fernald at Red Sox game in Baltimore; and Mary Kuykendall with U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe

The Second Commercial

Check out our second commercial for "Your Piece of Maine", which starts to air this week. You can also add it to your company site.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

"You know how Mainers love their mulch ... "

Cindy Butts reports: A sign of Spring is the raffle prizes at today's Mid Coast Board / St. George River Council local membership meeting: car washes, rounds of golf, and mulch. To quote Council President Elect Mary Bumiller (Jaret & Cohn Real Estate, Rockland), "you know how Mainers love their mulch!"

Local membership meetings bring an opportunity to network and learn. For example, at today's one-hour lunch meeting:

1. Reminded recent changes to the MSHA loan programs. Sponsor will present info at office meeting - but 20 minutes can need 90 minutes; 2. Village Soup explained they started as local online news source, and branched into print too. Which is opposite of many news publications; 3. Decided approach to announce local open house info;

4. Announced upcoming courses on "Intro to Commercial Real Estate"; and free Code of Ethics courses; 5. Gave initial information about a September fundraising event; 6. Recognized Executive Officer Linda Davis for her continued assistance with the Board; 7. Collected funds for MARPAC (Maine Association of REALTORS Political Action Committee) - thank you REALTOR John Bragg for assistance; and 8. Received MAR Updates from MAR CEO Cindy Butts.

If you're not attending local membership meetings, think what you might be missing?

Pictured: John Bragg; Mary Bumiller with Linda Davis

Your Piece of Maine: In the Media, on your sites

MAR's "Your Piece of Maine" campaign has kicked-off with much media and member attention, including:

1. TV: Channel 13 (WGME) and Fox included the YouTube contest as lead story on Sunday night's news; and Channel 8 (WMTW) attended the press conference and aired a report.

2. Print: Newspapers included stories about the YouTube contest.

3. Blogs: Thank you to the REALTOR bloggers who included details in their personal or company blogs.

4. Posting video on sites: Here's an example of a company that included the video on web site; and the Bangor Board of REALTORS site.

You can help spread the word too!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The next MREC Core Course ...

Sherry Gregory, who serves on the Maine Real Estate Commission (MREC) core course committee relays they held their (potentially) final meeting last week; and gives the following report:

CLARIFICATION: This is one step in the process for MREC to approve a new core course. It's also/still subject to review and approval by the MREC Commissioners, and subject to change or further revision should the next step(s) in the process require further meeting or discussion.

The MREC Core Course committee will present a "Train the Trainer" class on (tentatively) June 16 at the MREC building in Gardiner. The committee has been working all Spring to format the new core course on real estate brokerage relationships. The working title is "Who Am I and Who Cares?" Real life case studies will be incorporated into this 3 hour mandatory class.

The MREC looks at complaints that they've received to help determine the thrust of each new core course.

The committee consists of Walter Boomsma, Kim Coit, Edie Fontaine, Arthur Gary, Sherry Gregory, Geoff MacLean, Elaine Richer, Don Turner; plus MREC staff Karen Bivins, Marilyn Lugner and Director Carol Leighton.

Pictured: Sherry Gregory (Homestead Realty, Winthrop) is a past president of MAR and current chairman of the MAR Foundation

Saturday, April 12, 2008

YPOM: Watch, Post, Send our Commercial

This is the first of two commercials MAR produced for "Your Piece of Maine". It airs on cable television and posted on You Tube and Facebook. You can post it too - on your blog, web site or any other site that allows embedded video. It's easy to do. You can upload a video, as shown here. Or sites have "code" that you can just copy/paste onto your site (like YouTube). Or there's a "share" feature on some sites where you can send to friend, family, network group, etc. It's much easier to do than you might think.

A reason to put a video on YouTube is it can give a world-wide audience. For example, if you make a video that highlights Boothbay Harbor, you can tag it "Boothbay Harbor" so if anyone searches "Boothbay Harbor" on Google or on You Tube the video will be among the search results.

Please click the video play button to watch. And consider making a short video "My Piece of Maine" for our contest too!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Your Piece of Maine Launches

The "Your Piece of Maine" (YPOM) social media campaign launched today. Media announcements on April 15. Significant components:

1. Television commercial (put on your web site/blog too)
2. You Tube Contest - $20,000 grand prize
3. Facebook Group
4. LinkedIn Group
5. Print ads (coming)
6. Email blitz
7. Blog
8. Press Release
9. Palm cards distributed at events

How you can help:

1. Post the commercial on personal/company site and blog
2. Announce "Your Piece of Maine" You Tube contest to others
3. Make a YouTube video for the contest
4. Ask Maine notables you know to make a video for YouTube
5. Blog about it
6. Hand out cards /talk about contest at homes shows, meetings
7. Join the Facebook Group ... and invite others to Join
8. Join the LinkedIn Network
9. Ask local media to report on the contest

My Piece of Maine: Greater Portland Board

Check out the Greater Portland Board of REALTORS headquarters building, located at 2271 Congress Street in Portland. Ooh la la.

Pictured at desk: Greater Portland Board Executive Officer Kelley Craig

MAR Foundation selects competitive grant recipients

Sherry Gregory reports: The Maine Association of Realtors Foundation met on April 3 to determine the recipients of the Competitive Grant process. Applications from organizations across the state set forth their requests to help their cliental. 30 groups requested money this year. We distributed $49,700 to 16 different groups.

In past years, our income has allowed as much as $75,000 to be shared and we have had more applications. The committee scored each application with an eye to our mission as well as community involvement in each project and where the aid would make a difference. We felt very good about our decisions this year and are pleased that we can continue to help people leverage money across the entire state.

In attendance: (pictured) Carol Goodwin, Bill Darling, Executive Director Suzanne Guild, (not pictured) Barbara Coleman, Jim Cosgrove, Patty Eddy, George Greenwood, Sherry Gregory, Cindy Hiebert, Stephen Mooers, Trish Ohler, Mary Sherwood, Joe Wright and Debrah Yale. Not attending: Mark Walker & Ed Suslovic

Sherry Gregory (Homestead Realty, Winthrop) is Chairman of the MAR Foundation

Monday, April 7, 2008

Coming Soon ...

MAR is finalizing details on our major public relations and social media effort, "Your Piece of Maine", which kicks off April 15. And a new acronym: YPOM. Here's a first look.

Thank You, Senator Snowe

MAR continues to applaud and thank Senator Olympia Snowe for her leadership and ongoing efforts to improve health insurance options for small businesses. On April 2, she was among the original cosponsors to introduce the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Act in the U.S. Senate.

The SHOP Act offers tax incentives to encourage states to reform poorly functioning small group insurance markets to make health insurance premiums for small businesses and the self-employed more affordable and predictable, and encourages the development of state purchasing polls backstopped by a voluntary, nationwide pool.

Many of the largest concerns on Maine's REALTORS, such as health insurance availability/costs, can only be significantly solved with Congressional, legislative and/or regulatory action. Be sure to thank Senator Snowe!

Pictured: Maine Senator Olympia Snowe with REALTOR Shawn Roy (Vallee Real Estate, Hallowell)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Coming up Roses ...

Among the floats in the next Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena (CA) will be a REALTOR float. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of NAR, and the role the organization has played for real estate - making it a "Great American Institution", the parade organizers approved the inclusion of a float. Announced by NAR President Dick Gaylord at today's NAR Association Executives Institute in Boston.

President Gaylord also thanked association executives for their dedication, hard work, being the glue that can hold the organization together, and commitment that ensures volunteers can make a difference. He also showed a preview of an 8-minute online video on "top 10 tips for boosting business" that will be emailed to the entire NAR membership in mid-April.

Association Execs Conference

Most of Maine's Association Executives are participating in NAR's Association Executives Institute, held this week in Boston. Over 1300 REALTOR association executives from across the country (and Internationally) participate in professional developments programs that includes 45 education courses, along with NAR and policy updates.

Pictured: Tammy LaPierre (Kennebec Valley), Beverlee Beers (Hancock-Washington), Marcia Bartol (Bangor), Nancy Lawson (Mid Coast), Cindy Butts (MAR) and Kelley Craig (Greater Portland). Not pictured: Tanya Sirois (MAR)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Able to buy the house of their dreams ....

This from an article in the Kennebec Journal (3/27/08):

"Thanks to a drop in prices, favorable interest rates and a glut of houses to pick from, the Hamels were able to buy the house of their dreams. Their offer was accepted a few weeks ago, and they will be moving in soon.

'We found a deal,' Wendy Hamel said.

For buyers who felt shut out by the booming housing market for most of this decade -- and who can still obtain loans in this time of tightening credit requirements -- the downturn in the economy has presented new opportunities.

That's one bright spot to be found in the slowdown. And despite the parade of bad news making headlines recently, there are others."

Monitoring, Negotiating, Amending, Stopping

This time of year things really heat up in the Legislature, especially as the budget process wraps up and bills need to be reported out of legislative committees. A huge amount of MAR time is spent monitoring bills we don't believe we need to be concerned about (but learned from history have a way of changing if don't actively watch them) and working on bills we know we're concerned about. Some bills require substantial negotiation to get language amended or removed - and that doesn't just happen by asking for it. Frequently research, documents and deep explanation are necessary. In addition, many regulatory agencies consider issues that impact real estate, and those require monitoring and sometimes action too.

MAR even briefly saw another suggestion by the Taxation Committe to remove the Mortgage Interest Deduction as part of "Tax Reform" this week. But looks like that's dead (again).

Today's MAR E-NEWS (our electronic membership newsletter) includes updates about advertising issues at the Maine Real Estate Commission, and legislative updates on lead paint registry, septic system inspection requirement, building codes, vernal pools, historic properties tax credits, protecting sellers when buyers don't pay future taxes, and statewide energy and building codes. Be sure to read it.

What happens in the legislature, at regulatory agencies and in Congress can impact you and your business.