RE/MAX of New England Names New Executive Vice President and Regional Director

NATICK, MA (May 7, 2012) – RE/MAX of New England officially announced the appointment of Dan Breault to Regional Director for New England. Breault most recently served as Regional Director of RE/MAX of Indiana and replaces Jay Hummer.

“I’m pleased to announce Dan Breault as Executive Vice President and Regional Director of RE/MAX of New England,” said Pamela Alexander, CEO and Managing Director, North American Operations. “Dan is a demonstrated leader growing our market share in Indiana by more than twenty-five percent and our Agent productivity by thirty-eight percent in a down economy. His decades of leadership, sales and major brand experience will be an asset to the New England market.”

Dan’s background spans more than 25 years serving in leadership, performance improvement and sales positions, including experience with Johnson & Johnson, a nationally-known independent homebuilder, and as a consultant to industries with operations spanning six continents and 68 countries.

“I’m looking forward to getting back to my New England roots and working with the talented brokers and agents in the region,” said Breault. “The New England housing market regularly outperforms the rest of the nation and I’m confident we can continue to grow the RE/MAX brand.”

A native of Connecticut, Breault is a graduate of Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Dan has also served on the Board for the Salvation Army in Indianapolis.

Dan’s contact information is below:
Office: 508-655-9400
Email: Dan@remax-newengland.com

RE/MAX of New England ‘Recognize & Remodel’ Promotion Provides Maine Family with New Windows for their Home

South Berwick, ME – April 25, 2012 – RE/MAX of New England recently awarded a South Berwick, Maine family with new windows valued at more than $2,500.00. Paul and Bailey Agakian were the lucky winners of the RE/MAX promotion, ‘RE/MAX, Recognize & Remodel,’ in which an Agent recommends a homeowner to receive a room makeover. The Agakians decided to remodel their windows rather than choose a room inside their home for a makeover.

“We couldn’t be more pleased by the outcome of this promotion and we’re thrilled to present these new windows to the Agakian family,” said Jay Hummer, Executive Vice President and Regional Director of RE/MAX of New England. “It’s incredibly rewarding for everyone involved in this promotion to know that these windows will benefit the family for many years to come.”

At the end of 2011, RE/MAX of New England launched the ‘RE/MAX, Recognize & Remodel’ Associate promotion to reward a family who had purchased or sold a home with a room makeover gift. Associates were tasked with asking their clients to create 60-second videos describing their positive experience working with the Associate while buying or selling their home. The client who submitted the video and received the most Facebook “likes” would win a $2,500.00 room remodel.
The Agakian’s Agent, Pam Gray from RE/MAX Coast to Coast, was the person who encouraged the family to submit their wining video entry because of the couple’s unique and touching story. Diagnosed with brain cancer, Paul has undergone several surgeries since becoming a homeowner.

“I couldn’t think of a family more deserving than the Agakians to be the winning recipient of this promotion,” said Pam Gray. “I’ve worked with the family for many years and I’ve seen them persevere through many challenging obstacles.”
As an additional surprise to the Agakians, friends, family, employees from RE/MAX Coast to Coast, RE/MAX of New England, contractors from Glazier Builders and members of the community who helped complete the home renovation donated vegetable, herb and flower pots to the family to create a relaxing outdoor oasis.

Indications Of A Healthy Spring Market With Stabilizing Home Prices In New England

The RE/MAX of New England March Monthly Housing Report indicates an uptick in sales and decrease in inventory across New England, month-over-month and year-over-year. In addition, median home prices also increased month-over-month in each state. However, Maine and Massachusetts were the only states to show significant increases in median home prices year-over-year.

“For the first time in months, we are seeing a stabilization in median home prices,” said Jay Hummer, Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of New England. “Couple this with diminishing inventory and it’s a good indicator of moving toward a healthy spring market.”

To read the entire report, click here.

Mortgage Rates Go Up – Will Home Sales Follow?

By Jay Hummer

Those who operate in the housing market have been watching with cautious optimism in recent months as a number of factors in the economy – the stock market and the unemployment rate in particular – have showed slow-but-steady signs of improvement. Now, an article in Sunday’s Boston Globe speculates that rates for 30-year fixed mortgages may have finally reached the bottom and are starting to rise.

According to government-backed lender Freddie Mac, the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit 4.08% last month. However, it did not stay above 4% for long. Rates once again dipped back in the 3s, averaging 3.99% for the week ending March 29.

The article goes on to point out that Freddie Mac forecasts 30-year fixed-rates to hit 4.5% by the end of 2012, and 5% by late 2013.

What does this mean?

In a best-case scenario, this is, at long last, great news for anyone selling a home. There should be many potential homebuyers that have been sitting on the sidelines, waiting for interest rates to bottom out before buying a home. And that moment may have arrived.

Even though after years of free-fall, rates may be heading up, they are still incredibly low. Although rates may begin to creep up as activity in the housing market continues to grow, it could be a year-and-a-half or more before we see 5% again. Even then, 5% remains well below the historic average of 7%. This has the potential to create a situation where demand escalates in a way we haven’t seen for years, as these potential homebuyers decide to get in on the action while rates remain favorable. Essentially, we’re talking about a potential newfound sense of urgency from homebuyers.

The housing market is at its best when there’s an equilibrium between supply and demand, and when every home that’s sold leaves both buyer and seller walking away saying, “I got a good deal.” Here’s hoping that as mortgage rates go up, that home sales, consumer confidence, and the economy as a whole go along for the ride.

Signs of Improvement for the New England Housing Market

By Jay Hummer

March Madness has reached a fevered pitch, baseball is back, and the Celtics and Bruins are in the playoff hunt. That can only mean one thing: spring has arrived in New England.

Spring is an exciting time to work in real estate as it traditionally marks the unofficial beginning of the house-hunting season, and if local home sales in recent months are any indication, this spring should shape up to be one of the best we have experienced in recent years.

According to our most recent RE/MAX of New England Monthly Housing Report, home transactions experienced a significant year-over-year increase in February. Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island all experienced double digit increases. Vermont was also up while Connecticut remained essentially flat.

New England has experienced very strong real estate transaction numbers each month since fall, and that is helping to improve confidence in the housing market. Just last week, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors® released a report which said confidence among real estate agents is up 40% year-over-year.

On a national level, confidence is also improving. The Associated Press reports that building permit requests for new homes have reached the highest level since October 2008. This is an important measurement of the optimism for home sales later this year.

Less than two weeks ago at our annual Spring Agent Conference at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, we heard a lot about optimism and hope, especially from our keynote speaker, Aron Ralston.

Aron is the author of Between a Rock and a Hard Place, which describes his ordeal while trapped in a remote Utah canyon. His arm was pinned by a falling boulder, and after several days he was forced to do what many of us would consider unthinkable: he amputated his own arm to survive. Aron’s inspirational tale was turned into a major motion picture, 127 Hours, and he shared with us his message of turning boulders into blessings.

During the conference, Aron challenged many of us to consider the boulders we have in our life – the immovable objects which have trapped us from being as successful as we’d like to be. That could be almost anything. Then, he challenged us to do the things that we don’t think are possible, and to succeed by not quitting until we have met our goal.

That’s an extremely powerful message. One of our primary goals at RE/MAX of New England is to help you turn your boulders into blessings. Whether it’s an ambitious sales goal, a challenging listing, or another obstacle, we want to provide our agents with the tools needed to succeed.

Our second keynote speaker shared with us one such tool. Steve Harney is the Founder and Chief Content Provider of Keeping Current Matters and talked about the importance understanding the current and future real estate market.

Information is an incredible tool. Imagine having the right insight to help move a potential seller off the fence, or the right analysis to show your buyer that they are truly getting the best deal possible. That’s a great competitive advantage, and I encourage every RE/MAX agent to strongly consider Steve’s program to improve their sales this spring.

Improvement is something we are hoping to see this year. Agents in many communities have already reported a very strong market. Many say they are receiving multiple offers on their listings, and see a dramatic change from the past five years. Many signs for continued growth and improvement are present, too.

Unemployment is gradually decreasing in many states. Both small and institutional investors continue to be very active, taking advantage of great deals. Pent up demand is also growing, with household formulations taking place at a dramatically slower rate than normal. Historically low interest rates are still available and pricing remains very competitive.

These are all positive signs, and we hope they point to one of the most exciting spring real estate markets New England has experienced in a number of years.

Significant Increase in New England Home Sales For February

The RE/MAX of New England February Monthly Housing Report indicates that more houses were sold this year than last, further decreasing the inventory of homes on the market. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine and New Hampshire all experienced a significant increase in sales, while Vermont and Connecticut remained relatively flat. Year-over-year, every state in New England saw average home prices fall, however.

“Increased sales across New England indicates a strengthening market,” said Jay Hummer, Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of New England. “With the Obama Administration reporting that we’re seeing the lowest national inventory of
homes for sale since 2006, we should see pricing start to adjust accordingly.”

To read the entire report, click here.

Sharing Good News

By Jay Hummer

Real estate professionals are community ambassadors. Whether our clients are first-time home buyers, a growing family or empty nesters, we often bring them into a new city or town during their home search. We provide important advice on the most desirable neighborhoods, the trendy new restaurants, and the best schools. It’s a responsibility all RE/MAX of New England agents take very seriously, but our commitment to community doesn’t stop there.

Part of our role as community ambassadors is to also improve the communities where we live and work. We do this through being active residents, by participating in community service and by using our position as the number one real estate franchise in New England to help provide opportunities that truly make a difference.

One of my favorite programs each year is the RE/MAX of New England Home Court Program with the Boston Celtics. It’s hard to believe, but this program is now in its seventh year. Once again this year, three lucky winners will receive their very own Celtics branded home court, which includes a newly paved driveway, a new basketball hoop, equipment, as well as a Celtics bedroom makeover. The winners will also shoot hoops with Celtics guard Avery Bradley and Celtics legend Cedric Maxwell, and attend a basketball clinic in their town. Submissions can be made on Celtics.com through May 15th, and I would encourage you to share this contest with your family, friends, clients and your online social networks.

One of the great things about this program and others like it that we participate in throughout the year is the excitement and pride that it generates. One of the best parts is seeing the excitement on the face of a young fan when they get to meet a Celtics star. But, another great part is to see the pride displayed by our winning families. Whether they rent or own, they beam with pride as they show off how a makeover like this enhances their home, their street, and their community.

With the economy still sputtering along and struggling to grow, it can sometimes be easy to forget that homeownership should be a source of pride. Instead of talking about possible home improvements, we’re stressed about paying the mortgage or refinancing to get a better rate – and understandably so.

The good news – simply put – is that there is a lot of good news to share. Within the last few weeks especially, there have been a number of positive events we can all look to and say with confidence that the economy is showing signs of recovery.

According to our RE/MAX of New England Monthly Housing Report for January, year-over-year home sales for that month were up in every New England state except for Vermont. New Hampshire and Rhode Island posted the largest gains, up 16.8% and 17.8% respectively.

Just a week after our report was released, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released a report which stated January experienced a nationwide 4.3% increase in home sales. The report also said that national real estate transactions had increased during three of the last four months.

The good news kept on coming in February. On Tuesday, February 21st the Dow Jones briefly climbed above 13,000 for the first time since May 2008. It only stayed there for a few moments, but a week later, on Tuesday, February 28th, the Dow closed above 13,000 for the first time since May 2008. (Just four months later the investment bank Leman Brothers collapsed, marking what many agree was the beginning of the financial crisis.)

This is an important milestone in the nation’s economic recovery. According to many experts, the Dow was catapulted by a new report that consumer confidence is on the rise, and that Americans are feeling better about the economy.

I frequently talk about how consumer confidence and the housing market are connected. When people feel better about the economy, they are more likely to buy or sell a home. And when they feel better about their home, they are more likely to make another big ticket purchase. It’s a cycle which helps to propel our economy.

We are hopeful that we will continue to see more positive signs of a recovery in 2012. Many small victories like these will begin to add up, helping to restore consumer confidence. This will not only help to bring stability and long term growth back to the housing market, but it will remind many of us why homeownership should be a source of pride and not stress.

NAR Reports a National Increase in Home Sales for the Fourth Consecutive Month

By Jay Hummer

Wednesday brought encouraging news from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) that I wanted to share.

According to a new report, January experienced a 4.3 percent increase in national existing home sales when compared to January 2011. The report goes on to say existing home sales in the Northeast outpaced the national average (+7.1 percent year-over-year) and that this is the third straight month we have experienced year-over-year gains nationally.

This is good news for our economy, and positive news is exactly what we need to increase consumer confidence right now. Of course, this comes on the heels of another major boost for Americans as the Dow Jones briefly topped 13,000 on Tuesday. While it didn’t stay there for long, it marked the first time since May 2008 it had reached that level.

We’ve all heard about the role that the housing market needs to play in stabilizing the economy – and, by the same token, how the economy can aid the housing market. Their fates are intertwined.

You never want to overreact to this kind of news, but you don’t want to ignore it either. There’s a reason it’s called consumer “confidence”: there’s an emotional factor at play. Good news can beget good news. Here’s hoping that in time, we can look back at the last couple of days as a springboard to a steady – and confident – recovery.

New England Housing Market Experiences Slight Increase In Sales

The RE/MAX of New England January Monthly Housing Report shows that year-over-year, the number of unit sales in every state in New England, except Vermont, is slightly higher than January 2011. New Hampshire and Rhode Island experienced the highest change in units sold with an increase of 16.8% and 17.8%, respectively. While the number of transactions remain relatively flat, prices continue to dip in every state in New England.

“The slight uptick in sales is encouraging as it means buyers are active in the market, however, we are still trying to find a balance between buyer expectations and market realities when it comes to pricing,” said Jay Hummer, Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of New England.

To read the entire report, click here.

Steady Success Leads to Great Things

By Jay Hummer

Last night, as I watched the New England Patriots play in Super Bowl XLVI, I could not help but marvel at the success of this franchise since the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era began. During the last 11 seasons, the duo has been to five Super Bowls. They’ve won the big game three times. Even though there have been some heartbreaking moments since the collapse, including last night, their accomplishments cannot be understated.

The Patriots are not only a model franchise, but a model business. They’re able to address their short term needs while also following a long term strategy which has resulted in unprecedented success since Robert Kraft purchased the team. Kraft, Belichick and Brady understand steady success will lead to great things.

Steady success is sometimes overlooked, especially in a corporate climate where every decision must result in a blockbuster. However, steady success is exactly what we need to jump start the real estate market and I feel like we are finally beginning to see it.

Just a few short weeks ago, RE/MAX of New England released its 2012 Housing Market Trend and Forecast Report. What we found is that historically low interest rates, renewed interest by investors and job growth helped provide modest stability to the market in 2011. The first half of the year was a little slow, but the last six months showed very encouraging signs of growth and stability.

Once the final home sales were tallied, 2011 was virtually flat compared to 2010. Make no mistake: flat is positive, especially after the roller coaster ride we have experienced since the recession officially began in 2008. Flat is the first step towards stability, and the beginning of what many of us hope will be a slow, but steady, recovery over the next few years.

The importance of a vibrant housing market cannot be overstated, as it is one of the basic building blocks of a healthy economy. Someone who understands this is Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke. Bernanke has promised to keep key interest rates near historic lows int0 2013, and according to Bloomberg News, he has also been a vocal advocate for programs to help the U.S. housing market.

One such proposal was unveiled in President Obama’s recent State of the Union Address, when he promised to submit to Congress a plan “that gives every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage by refinancing at historically low rates.” Details of the plan remain scarce, but The Brookings Institution says it appears to be targeted at underwater borrowers who are current on their mortgage payments.

Only time will tell how many homeowners will actually be helped, but what is important is that nobody in charge of our economy ever forgets the importance of homeownership. That is something which is always top of mind here at RE/MAX of New England, but not because it is our job. Rather, quite the opposite. It’s our job because it is what we are passionate about.

Just last week, we capped off our most recent contest, called RE/MAX, Recognize & Remodel, by awarding a $2,500 room make over to Paul Agakian and his family. Paul and his family purchased his first home, a fixer-upper, from RE/MAX sales professional Pam Gray of RE/MAX Coast to Coast in Portsmouth, NH late last year. But, just a few months later, he was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of brain cancer. Paul, an experienced tradesman, has had to put his renovations on hold while he undergoes radiation five days a week. The community, including Pam who submitted the video that helped Paul and his family win, is rallying around the family, and we couldn’t be happier to do our part to help make their lives just a little bit easier during this difficult time.

Supporting the community is just one of the many reasons homeownership is so important. And now that it seems prices have reached the bottom, I expect more people will recognize the value of owning a home. As consumer confidence increases, those who were uncomfortable with purchasing a house or condo will begin to realize there is actually no better time to buy.

As more buyers get in the game, we should begin to see month-over-month and year-over-year home sales and prices begin to creep up. The change won’t be an overnight blockbuster, but the slow, gradual increase will result in a steady success that will lay the foundation for long-term stability in the New England housing market.