Sunday, December 31, 2006

Have We Seen the Last of Real Estate Markdowns?

I realize the Boston market is not Martha’s Vineyard, so the demographic ingredient of people moving out of Massachusetts doesn’t affect our market. However, I think you will find the speculative forecasts given by three diverse professionals -- an economist, an architect and a real estate broker, to be interesting.
(Click here to view >) Market continues a slow adjustment

Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Look Back at the Real Estate Market on Martha’s Vineyard

Now that 2006 is just a memory, and for some not a very pleasant memory, we look forward to what 2007 holds in store. Will it be more of the same or a better year for real estate and the economy? Employment still remains high and unemployment benefit claims have been stable for the last few months despite troubles in the manufacturing sector precipitated by the fall off in auto sales and the continued slow down in the housing market. Interest rates peaked midyear and appear to have settled as the Fed continues to hold steadfast in hopes of keeping inflation in check.

Sales of new homes are up, prices of used homes are starting to inch up again and the bloated inventory is starting to deflate, albeit very slowly. In a recent article in the Vineyard Gazette several friends of mine were interviewed for an article titled “Median Home Prices Fall on Vineyard as Real Estate Market Begins to Stall”. I find the title laughable as we have been stalled for quite some time and only within the last few months has activity begun to pickup again as we appear to have reached a floor in the market, shaky as it may be. The media continues to hype the housing bubble giving most buyers uncertain pause as they don’t want to be foolish and enter the market prematurely. Everyone is waiting for that magic sign from above that will say, “Start your engines”.

I think the important points are prices have finally come down slightly and the inventory is up despite the fact that those numbers are going to be confusing and will require thoughtful interpretation. The middle range that Ms Purdy is discussing has always been the softest area in the market, regardless of how strong or weak the market has been. I still maintain that this is an excellent time to buy if you’re prepared to be patient and negotiate strategically. If sellers believe nothing is going to happen for another 6 to 8 months, don’t you think they will be more receptive to negotiation than if they knew better days were only weeks away? More inventory means more competition and more choices for buyers, and that’s a good thing. Furthermore, if we accept the idea that potential buyers are going to rent until they are comfortable enough to purchase, this creates a strong opportunity now for anyone buying an income property. Normally I don’t recommend factoring income potential into financing a property. However, at this time it appears all signs point toward a very strong rental market for 2007. When clients ask me if I think they could rent the property they’re interested in I tell them, “You can rent a tool shed here for $600.00 a week”.

Another important point to make note of is home prices are not out of line comparing other areas on the Cape, the North Shore and South Boston area; it’s the wages that are out of line related to the cost of living on Martha’s Vineyard. If you compare the same jobs on-Island and off-Island, the wages are lower here and that’s driving a majority of the year-round labor force away. We’re returning to more of a second home and retirement market, the way we were back in the 1960’s.

Finally, if you are wondering about foreclosure opportunities, as Chris Wells said, the delinquency rate has not increased. A mortgagor usually has to be 90 days out before a bank considers starting a procedure. All our local banks are pleased to say they have nothing currently on their radar. I also look at foreclosure reports and the properties I see usually work out. Banks are very eager to do business and are introducing products to help prospective buyers. One such product regaining favor with buyers who cannot afford the average down payment is the PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) mortgage. This will replace the ARM piggyback loans that were so popular when interest rates were historically low and stabile. Ask your banker.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Land Bank does it again.

In the on-going race between the have’s, the have not’s, and the Land Bank for land acquisition on Martha’s Vineyard, the Land Bank has once again gobbled up some delicious chunks of real estate for the public in perpetuity.

(Click here to view >) Land Bank buys Aquinnah beach, Chilmark field

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Is this a good time to refinance?

Although the housing market is still in decline in some areas of the country, low interest rates are spurring a record surge in loan applications for new homes and refinancing to get out of adjustable rate loans due for their first major adjustment.

(Click here to view>) Mortgage applications hit one-year high

Thursday, December 07, 2006

What the Heck is a “Granny Flat”?

You’ve heard of the mother-in-law apartment --- that extra room with a hotplate located at the furthest end or deepest bowels of the house reserved for the “extended family” or that youngster who wants to be independent while still living at home. On Martha’s Vineyard, where space is at a premium and any space notoriously becomes a sleeping space, for many years we’ve embraced the concept of the auxiliary self-sufficient apartment or separate guest house. Actually, zoning laws were a lot more liberal in the past than they are today, so it’s not always possible to get approval for a guest house. The towns figured out a guest house or separate apartment quite often is occupied by non-family members and is income producing. Is that so bad?

Today, resourceful Vineyarders are getting around the tightening restrictions if they're not allowed to legally create a functioning apartment or build a guest house, by finishing the area above a garage with what is loosely called a detached bedroom. It appears we’re ahead of the curve because (Click here to view >) The Apartment Atop the Garage Is Back in Vogue.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Martha’s Vineyard: Too Rich For Your Blood?

Have real estate prices on Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket or the Hamptons surpassed your threshold for pain? I know there are many beautiful places in the world and Vermont certainly ranks as one of them; I spend my honeymoon touring the state on a motorcycle. But ask yourself this question; is living on or near the ocean with all it's curative and spiritual energy not important to you? If that doesn't matter to you, then I guess the next best place could be Vermont.

Click here to view > Luxury Real Estate Snapshot: Vermont

We’re Martha’s Vineyard, We Can Afford It.

In the 70’s, the electric company, called ComElectric, promised everyone electricity was the most economical source of heating energy. They offered incentives to encourage consumers to install electric heat in homes, and baseboard electric heat was and still is the least expensive heating system to install.

Electric heating costs went through the roof in the 80’s while ComElectric became one of the most profitable utility companies, according to the stock dividends they paid. Today with the price of fuel oil and natural gas at record highs, the price of electricity hasn’t seemed out of line, however, NStar has decided Rates will go up on Martha’s Vineyard, while they go down for Boston Edison customers.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Fall Real Estate Market Has Ended

Now that Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us and life goes on, we look ahead toward the winter holidays and the end of the year. But what about life for the unsuccessful real estate seller who’s been marketing their property for the past year, doing everything they can to entice buyers only to realize they aren’t moving as quickly to purchase real estate as they were a year ago.

On a historical basis, the fall real estate market has technically ended, so now the dilemma is what to do. Do you leave your property on the market hoping that the right buyer will come along during the winter months? Or do you remove it from the market in an attempt to erase its shop worn memory from the consumer’s mind and put it back on the market next spring as a “New Listing”?


I’ll admit the inventory is pretty fat right now. According to the Martha’s Vineyard Listing Information Network (LINK), there are about 500 homes and condos on the market, that’s up about 25% since this time last year. The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) Property Information Network puts the number of unsold condos and homes in Massachusetts at about 44,817. That’s a 15% increase over last year. The statistics go on to point out that only 19.5% of all properties sold in 2005 went under agreement from December through February 2006. The period between March and May was much stronger with 31.8% of properties going under agreement, but that’s always been the general scenario. Let’s face it, with all the holiday shopping, parties and winter vacation planning, who has time to think about trekking around looking at houses.

Since I’m an Exclusive Buyer Agent most seller agents will disagree with me. I believe a seller should leave their property on the market, because regardless of whether you are attracting a low-ball buyer or someone who really loves your home, a buyer is a buyer and by removing your property from the market you may miss that buyer. During a buyer’s market one of the first things a buyer wants to know is, “How long has the property been on the market?” Buyers have been trained to wait. Why? Because the longer a property has been on the market, the more opportunity there may be for negotiation. Buyers can find out how long a property has been on the market and how many price reductions there have been. I don’t believe leaving a property on the market during the winter months implies the seller is desperate. For gosh sake, why would a seller put their property on the market during a buyer’s market if they were not motivated. Trolling for buyers with over priced ego listings makes no sense in a market like this. I love the seller line, “We don’t have to sell.” Okay, but if I bring an offer, am I holding a gun to the seller’s head? The worst a seller can tell my buyer is no thank you. Or better yet, perhaps my offer could inspire a dialog and begin a creative negotiation process. Isn’t that better than hosting a lot of Looky Lou’s who you never hear another word from?

Here is my advice for the serious Martha’s Vineyard real estate home seller who will stay the course and keep their property on the market during the winter:

1) First and foremost, PRICE YOUR PROPERTY ACCURATELY. You can either be ahead of the curve or chase the market.

2) It is the holiday season so let your home reflect the holiday spirit.

3) Keep the interior light and bright. After all, the winter months tend to be grey and gloomy so lighten up.

4) One of the biggest hurtles for a prospective buyer to get over is envisioning interior spaces when each room is piled high with the seller’s prize possessions like the last 10 years of Field & Stream magazine, your Star Wars collection, or the 1200 piece collection of Depression Glass you’ve been collecting since you were first married. Hide the junk!

5) Keep your interior looking fresh and cheery with cut flowers, bowls of fruit --- anything that is remindful of the warmer weather to come.

6) No one will be able to see how nice your property looks with 12” of snow on the ground so keep a photo album available to show prospective buyers what your prize gardens and outside areas look like during the other three months of the year.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Do you know the condition of your heating oil fuel tank?

We all use some sort of energy to provide heat for our homes. Over the years we have become more conscious about pollution and its effects on the environment, both below and above ground. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has tightened regulations on everything from coal and wood stoves to oil fired boilers and the storage tanks that fuel them.

On Martha’s Vineyard, prior to transferring a property to a new owner, it is mandatory that an underground oil tank be replaced with an above ground storage tank, preferably installed in a basement, shed or garage. Massachusetts DEP and DPS do not require abandoned oil tanks to be replaced if they are not leaking. However, Martha’s Vineyard local governments require that all abandoned oil tanks be removed. The procedure begins by notifying the fuel oil provider who in turn contacts the local fire department for a Permit to remove an Underground Heating Oil Tank.

About 15 years ago I represented the seller of a summer home close to the water. The home was heated with oil and there were two 275 gallon oil tanks in tandem above ground behind the house. The house was not occupied and they did not have a caretaker. One day when I was about to show the property I smelled a strong odor. I discovered that one of the 275 gallon oil tanks had sprung a leak. If that wasn’t bad enough, as it was emptying it siphoned out the contents of the other 275 gallon oil tank. To make a long story somewhat shorter, I can tell you that it cost over $20,000 to remediate the effects of the oil spill. The insurance company would not cover one dime of the cleanup because the house was not occupied and there was no caretaker. When I was investigating the cause and having new tanks installed, I learned that the fuel oil supplier had purchased inferior tanks from off shore sources. Because of inconsistencies in the wall thickness, the tank rusted through prematurely. I think you will find the following article very interesting because if you heat with oil, aging oil tanks can pose costly risks.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Thursday, November 09, 2006

When is the Commission not enough?

There’s an expression, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. This is a tough time in the real estate market for both buyers and sellers of real estate, but mostly for sellers. So, what do the sellers do when the going gets tough? They get creative and start offering all kinds of incentives and inducements to help peddle their houses. What kinds of incentives? To the buyers, they offer trips to exotic places, or a Range Rover in the garage, appliance upgrades, landscaping, cash contributions toward closing costs, etc.

But did you know, they’re also offering incentives and inducements to real estate agents --- cash incentives. Is this right or is this wrong? The debate gets heated and there’s really no clear cut answer. I know for a fact that some disclosed dual agents and facilitators believe it’s none of the buyer’s business if the agent is offered a cash incentive to sell a property.

For me, as an exclusive buyer agent, the answer is clear and simple, just the way my business model is. I may not conduct side negotiations or make private deals with the seller. Any moneys beyond the co-fee offered by the seller’s agent must be disclosed to my buyer client and it is my policy to pass those moneys along to my buyer client. I’ve had numerous discussions with seller agents telling them how in my opinion this sort of tactic is foolish. They would be better served pricing the property correctly rather than attempting to manipulate the real estate agents. But, “When the going gets tough, the tough get greedy”.

A recent Wall Street Journal editorial begs the question:
(Click here to read >) "Do real-estate agents have a secret agenda?"

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Factoid: Home price decline bumps three Massachusetts communities out of the “million-dollar club”.

The Warren Group tabulates housing market statistics and they are reporting median home prices three Boston suburbs have dropped below the one-million dollar mark.

The report goes on to single out four communities in the state where median home prices still remain above the one-million dollar price range; they are downtown Boston, Weston, Nantucket and on Martha’s Vineyard, the Town of Chilmark.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The National Association of REALTORS® reports there has been no price bubble in the Massachusetts housing market

If you're interested in seeing just how the market is doing, here's some interesting data. Despite the fact that we've been experiencing a mild price correction over the last twelve months, the National Association of REALTOR® market analysts are reporting the median home price statewide in September 2006 only dropped by 9% since the peak median price observed back in July and August of 2005. Condo prices on the other hand dropped only 6% in approximately the same time period. Therefore, the data reported in the NAR Home Price Analysis Reports offer little support to the belief that there is or was a “bubble market” here in Massachusetts.

The MAR Second Quarter 2006 Report will show you where we are in terms of home sales and selling prices. Remember, it’s just a guideline and in areas like Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket the numbers are going to be generally higher.

This graph will take you on a quick trip back to those deadly days in the early 90’s when the Annual Housing Supply in Months in Massachusetts was overflowing.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Not all housing markets are created equal and Martha's Vineyard is one of them.

We’ve been hearing about the real estate market leveling off at the beginning of 2007, but I still think we have little further to go before we turn around.

Prior to what I believe was a media induced market decline, I was a firm supporter in the idea that Martha’s Vineyard was not a bubble market. The Vineyard is recession proof and could not be affected by what was happening in other parts of the country. Well, I was wrong (sort of) because the bubble news spread like a dirty bomb. At least for a brief period, it hit us all in one way or another, and some real estate speculators and buyers who were infected by grossly overextending themselves may not recover. However, for those who can hang in there for the long haul, you will be just fine.

Some economists are now talking about superstar places in the country, especially coastal areas where land is limited, zoning laws restrict development and the rich are drawn to for work and play. Could they be talking about Martha’s Vineyard and the Boston area?

I think this New York Times article speaks to this question and supports the notion that Martha’s Vineyard real estate is and will continue to be an excellent investment. (click here >) All Housing Markets Are Local, Except When They’re Not

Will the price of heating oil go down for Martha’s Vineyard home owners?

New England home owners are scheduled to receive a break this winter due to a 25% reduction in global oil prices. However, some of us realizing how volatile the world situation is today have gone ahead and locked in the price we are going to pay this season. Last winter I came out ahead with that strategy, so it will be interesting to see what happens this winter. Here is the full story as reported in the Boston Globe: (click here >) Heating oil prices tumbling in N.E.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Are you trying to time your entry into the Real Estate Market?

If you’re considering getting into the market but trying to time your entry, now may be the right time. Interest rates are low, the economy is strong and inventories are high. According to a report issued by the National Association of REALTORS®, it appears we are experiencing a leveling trend in the market that may last beyond the first of next year. Read the full NAR story here.

Good News for recent Martha’s Vineyard home buyers with Adjustable Rate Mortgages.

With many adjustable rate mortgages approaching their first reset, this may be your window of opportunity to refinance and convert to a fixed mortgage. Fixed and adjustable mortgage rates are down and averaging at or below last year at this time. Fannie Mae VP, Frank Nothaft says, “With mortgage rates down this week, we may see a spurt of refinancing by those who want to get out of ARMs that are scheduled to reset in the next year while interest rates are still comparatively low.” Read the full CNNMoney story here.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Blue may be the new green: What better color for a seaside home on Martha’s Vineyard.

For years we have been using the classic Calvin Kline inspired bleached white furnishings dark woodwork combination, but now it looks as though Cool Blue Is Hot.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage holders may find themselves “Upside Down” in the Massachusetts housing market.

As the real estate market struggles to regain its footing, 24% of home buyers who bought during the peak years of the market using Adjustable Rate Mortgages are finding themselves facing payments they will not be able afford. ARM's escalated more rapidly than fixed rate mortgages, and in many cases it was the first time home buyer who was foolishly beguiled into overextending themselves using ARM's to get into the home they wanted. They were able to afford more home than they really needed, instead of a comfortably affordable starter home that they could use as a stepping stone in the future. Many of these buyers will not be able to refinance and convert to fixed rate mortgages. Because they financed most if not all of their purchase, they remain blindly optimistic the market will turn around sooner rather than later if they can just hang on. However, they may find themselves in an “upside down” equity position with the value of their investment lower than their mortgage.

To learn more, read these two Boston Herald articles:
Poll: A third of adjustable-rate mortgage holders worried about payments if rates go up

Housing market ‘upside down’ : More homes selling below purchase price

Monday, October 30, 2006

A Cautionary To Sellers: "Pride goeth before a fall"

Since the housing market topped out in Massachusetts in 2005, there’s been a stalemate between buyers and sellers, the result being inventories as well as time on market doubled in some areas. Buyers are confident they’re in control and sellers are still optimistic hoping to get their price, because their house is different, special and better than the one for sale down the street. By some estimates, one third of sellers in our market are not serious about pricing their properties to sell.

The market is stuck with buyers saying they’re not going to pay too much for that house, and sellers optimistic and insistent upon getting their price. According to Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Economy.com, “It could take a "Roto-Rooter" to finally flush stubborn sellers-and their market-clogging inventory-from real-estate listings.” Zandi concedes that the market could temporally stabilize as housing starts slow down and sellers remove their properties from the market during the winter with the idea of reintroducing them as fresh and new at a later date. "But it could very well be a dead-cat bounce," says Zandi, because if inflation pushes up mortgage rates, "it'll come right out of housing prices again."

Sunday, October 29, 2006

WiFi service technology is coming to Martha's Vineyard --- we hope.

Martha’s Vineyard has wrestled with modern convention for years, saying no to fast food chains, stop lights and an over saturation of cell phone towers that would mar the scenic Island country side.

Intermittent service and dropped calls are commonplace and a constant frustration for those of us who rely on cell phones for immediate access to clients and colleagues. Anyone going “up-Island” knows it as the communications black hole. Visitors used to the uninterrupted service they take for granted in America are particularly impatient and consider it totally unacceptable. It’s not uncommon for them to ask prior to booking a vacation rental, “Will I have good cell coverage at the house?” Some people have to maintain two cell service accounts in order to ensure more reliable communications. Well, it appears that we’re getting a little closer to a solution, and may finally be entering the WiFi communication age on Martha’s Vineyard. (Click here to read) WiFi coverage without towers.

Incidentally, there is another technology, WiMax, that will eventually enhance or displace WiFi as well as attract subscribers from cable and DSL. However, it’s currently more expensive, geared more toward commercial use and not as developed as WiFi. The main benefit of WiMax will be range. WiFi’s range is about 100 feet, whereas WiMax will blanket a radius of 30 miles with wireless access.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Friday, October 27, 2006

What do San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York and Boston Have In Common?

They are all considered Bubble-Proof Markets. Boston is number four on the list.

Make sure you take a look at Where To Buy, Where Not To Buy, and the Top Ten Foreclosure Markets.

How do you know you are from Martha’s Vineyard?

I found this parody of Jeff Foxworthy's "You know you're a Redneck" on a fun site called http://www.blogthings.com.





You Know You're From Martha's Vineyard When...


You refer to everything besides the Vineyard as off-island.

Walking through a pond to get to a beach party is normal.

Driving on the highway is scary.

Paying 2.16 a gallon is normal for gas.

You've found out that you dated your cousin.

You know everything about everyone on the island.

You think Nantucket sucks.

You think Circuit Ave. is the place to be in the summer.

Giordano's opening means the beginning of summer.

You've been pulled over at least once driving through Vineyard Haven at night.

A tourist has asked you, "People really live here all year long?"

Up-island is so far away.

You've been pulled over by Trophey.

You've seen Bill Clinton at least once.

You've eaten at the famous Black Dog like twice in your whole life.

You refuse to drive through Vineyard Haven during the summer.

You know what Biga, Humphry's, Alley's and Dockstreet are.

You know that South Beach is for the College Kids and Tourists.

Oaks Bluff and Mihisma are not part of your vocabulary.

Off-islanaders assume you are rich yet you don't seem to know a single person who is.

You considered Oak Bluffs the ghetto of the Vineyard.

Taking a boat to get anywhere is normal to you.

You're out to dinner and Val Kilmer sits right next to you.

You know that smoking weed is just part of the island tradition.

You've been to at least 5 beach parties in the last year and 4 of them have been broken up by the cops.

You still refer to Aquinnah as Gay Head.

Your road rage is ten times as bad during June as it is in January.

You still drive through the Blinking Light forgetting the stop signs.

You've been to late night munchie stops at Cumbys because that is the only place open till midnight.

You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends from Martha's Vineyard.




Thursday, October 26, 2006

Timing Is Everything

An article in the Washington Post suggests, despite the fact that we are experiencing consecutive record price reductions in the market, we may be approaching the "trough in the market" according to Lawrence Yun, NAR's senior economist. Yun attributes the slump to what he calls "confidence issues. Read the entire article here. If you're a serious buyer sitting on the sideline waiting for the bottom to arrive, I'd like you to think about this: What is going to happen when that time comes? Will you be the only one entering the market to snap up the choice properties before prices go up again? I think not.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

When Will Our Real Estate Market Turn Around?

If you’re following my Blog it’s probably because you have an interest in Martha’s Vineyard Island. I think we can all agree that Martha’s Vineyard is a special place and not for everyone. Clearly the higher price of real estate and practically everything else related to the standard of living here supports that notion. When the real estate market started to soften across the nation, our market remained strong, and in fact the market softening was not across the nation, it was for the most part in specific pockets like California, Arizona, Nevada, Washington DC Metro, New York, Florida and the Carolina's. However, the news media didn’t make that distinction in most of their inflammatory editorializing, so our Boston, Cape and Islands market came to a grinding halt except for the top of the market that’s impervious to most market fluctuations. Many experts have predicted that this downturn in the market, nationally, will not be long lasting because, nationally, the economy is strong. The Boston Globe just published an article that supports that belief and if their data is accurate, we are walking in the valley of the real estate market downturn. I say "we", because I believe as Boston goes, so goes the Cape and Islands. You can believe it, or not.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Affordable Housing Comes To Edgartown

Back in 1998 the subject of an affordable housing project came before the town of Edgartown. As you can see from the pictures below, the project is very much under way. Construction is all modular. To get some of the back story on this project read the January 2006 MV Times article on the Pennywise Path Affordable Housing Project.



Wednesday, October 18, 2006

For Your Protection: Get a Home Inspection

It is my belief that all Martha's Vineyard homes being purchased should have a Home Inspection. I’m insistent that my Buyer Clients always have a Structural and Systems Inspection, no matter how old or new the house is. I even explain the procedure on my Website, as well as other Environmental Issues such as Radon and Mold. I have a list of Home Inspectors with related links along with other engineering services such as Radon testing on my Martha's Vineyard Island Service Providers page.

For your protection, please look at the revised HUD-92564-CN form, then read the Mortgagee Letter below from The Federal Housing Administration.


October 5, 2006

MORTGAGEE LETTER 2006-24

TO: ALL APPROVED MORTGAGEES

SUBJECT: Revision to form HUD–92564-CN, “For Your Protection: Get a Home
Inspection”

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has revised form HUD-92564-CN “For
Your Protection: Get a Home Inspection.” The purpose of this revision was to create a more conspicuous, easy-to-understand document that informs homebuyers of the availability and importance of getting an independent home inspection. The form also provides clarification of the differences between an appraisal and a home inspection and stresses the importance of radon testing.

Mortgagees are required to provide the document to prospective homebuyers at first contact, be it pre-qualification, pre-approval, or initial application. In any case, the mortgagee must provide the form to the prospective borrower no later than initial loan application. A copy of this revised form in a PDF file format is available online at http://www.hudclips.org/.

FHA has also eliminated the requirements that the form be signed by the purchaser and included in the case binder submitted to FHA with the mortgagee’s request for insurance endorsement. This Mortgagee Letter supercedes those portions of HUD Handbook 4165.1, Section 1-5, Table 1.1 Binder Assembly and Appendix XIX, Pre-Endorsement Review Checklist requiring the form to be included in the case binder. Additionally, this Mortgagee Letter rescinds, in their entirety, Mortgagee Letters 2004-04 and 2005-01. Mortgagees may use the revised form HUD-92564-CN immediately but must begin using the revised form for new loan applications taken after December 1, 2006. This Mortgagee Letter applies to FHA-insured forward mortgages only and not FHA-insured Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM).

Color copies of this revised form will also be available free of charge through HUD’s Direct Distribution Center by telephone Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:15 PM ET via toll-free number 1-800-767-7468 by December 1, 2006. Online service orders can be placed 24 hours a day, seven days a week at HUD’s website http://www.hud.gov/offices/adm/dds/index.cfm. When ordering online, follow the instructions provided and enter the Item ID number only. To order hard copies of the document in black and white print, the Item ID number is 6535. To order red and white colored copies of the document, the Item ID number is 7094.

Information Collection Requirements

The information collection requirements contained in this document have been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520) and assigned OMB control number 2502-0538. In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act, HUD may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless the collection displays a currently valid OMB control number.

If you have any questions concerning this Mortgagee Letter, please contact the FHA Resource Center at (800) CALL-FHA or (800) 225-5342.

Sincerely,

Brian D. Montgomery
Assistant Secretary for Housing-
Federal Housing Commissioner

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Five Costly Mistakes Made By Home Buyers

I think this article written by the renown real estate expert and syndicated columnist Robert J. Bruss, is very pertinent for my BUYER clients considering the real estate market we're in right now. Here it is:


Home buyers: 5 costly mistakes to avoid
Satisfaction ensured with own agent, key contingencies

By Robert J. Bruss October 13, 2006

Fall 2006 is proving to be a great time to be a home buyer (but not such a great time to sell your house or condo). In most cities, it's a very strong "buyer's market" for homes.

A buyer's market means there are more houses and condominiums listed for sale than there are prospective home buyers in the marketplace. "The buyer is king" is another way of saying home buyers can negotiate hard for price and terms in today's market.

The number of brand-new and resale homes available for sale nationally is at an all-time high. However, because home sales depend on local conditions, the situation in the town where you want to buy might be different.

But savvy home buyers still need to be cautious to avoid making home buyer pitfalls. Here are the five most costly mistakes home buyers make unless they plan carefully:

1. FAILURE TO GET PRE-APPROVED IN WRITING FOR A HOME MORTGAGE. Most home buyers need to obtain a home loan to purchase their house or condo. Smart buyers shop for a mortgage before searching for a home.

Although it's fun to "shop" for a house or condo on the Internet -- where more than 70 percent of today's home buyers begin their quest (according to the National Association of Realtors) -- the smartest home buyers get pre-approved in writing by an actual lender so they know the maximum mortgage amount available.

The first step to obtain a home mortgage is to check your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Trans Union and Experian. You can get free copies of your credit report once a year at http://www.annualcreditreport.com/ or by phone at 877-322-8228.

However, those free credit reports are virtually worthless when shopping for a mortgage because they don't include your all-important FICO (Fair Isaac Corp.) credit score, which most lenders use to qualify borrowers.

The best place I've found to check all three credit reports is on the Internet at http://www.myfico.com/. For about $45 I obtained copies of all three credit reports, plus my FICO score. With a FICO score of 700 or above, you should have no problem obtaining a home loan at the best interest rate and terms.

If you find credit-report errors (reportedly, over one-third of credit reports contain wrong information), be sure to follow the procedure stated to correct those mistakes.

For example, several years ago one of my credit reports said I owed unpaid property taxes. That was incorrect. However, it hurt my FICO score. I followed the procedure to "verify" the error. Credit bureaus then have 30 days to do so. Because the mistake couldn't be verified, my credit report was corrected and my FICO score improved.

Armed with your corrected credit reports from all three credit bureaus and your FICO score, the second step to obtain a home mortgage is to shop among mortgage lenders for a written pre-approval. Most lenders don't charge for pre-approvals (because they know you probably won't shop further after you are pre-approved).

Be sure the lender gives you a pre-approval letter, not just a pre-qualification statement, which means only "We think you can probably get a mortgage based on your submitted information but we haven't really checked."

2. FORGET TO WORK WITH YOUR OWN BUYER'S AGENT. The second major mistake some home buyers make is they forget they need their own buyer's agent. It's very easy for prospective buyers visiting weekend open houses to let the listing agent they meet prepare the purchase offer.

Whether that listing agent acts as a "dual agent" representing both the home seller and buyer (an inherent conflict of interest) or the listing agent represents only the seller (and nobody represents the buyer), such a situation is not in the home buyer's best interest.

To find a reputable buyer's agent, home buyers should ask friends, relatives and business associates for recommendations of local agents.

It costs home buyers nothing extra to have their own buyer's agent. If the home is listed for sale, the listing agent will split the sales commission with the buyer's agent. In the rare situation of a "for sale by owner" home, most FSBO (fizz-bo) sellers are only too happy to pay the buyer's agent half of a customary sales commission, usually 3 percent.

However, home buyers should be careful not to sign an exclusive buyer's agent contract for longer than 30 days, just in case the recommended buyer's agent turns out to be ineffective.

3. BUY A HOME WITH AN INCURABLE DEFECT. In the current buyer's market in most communities, where there are more home sellers than qualified buyers, house and condo buyers can afford to take their time and be "picky."

No home is perfect. Even brand-new houses and condos have their defects. Thankfully, most homes don't have major defects, such as being located next to a noisy railroad track or a freeway. Smart buyers think into the future and ask, "Will I have any trouble selling this home because of its problems?"

Serious incurable defects are called "economic obsolescence" by appraisers. Examples include a bad floor plan, poor location (such as adjacent to high-voltage power lines or the city dump), noisy street traffic, or lack of onsite parking.

4. FAIL TO INSIST ON A COMPARATIVE MARKET ANALYSIS (CMA) BEFORE MAKING A PURCHASE OFFER. Amazingly, many home buyers still follow the old rule: "Offer 5 percent below the asking price." That makes no sense.

Instead, smart home buyers ask their buyer's agent to prepare a written comparative market analysis (CMA) before making a purchase offer. This CMA is the same form the listing agent prepared for the home seller.

It shows recent sales prices of comparable nearby homes, asking prices of similar neighborhood listed residences, and the asking prices of recently expired competitive listings (usually overpriced).

With the help of the buyer's agent, smart buyers then discuss the pros and cons of the homes on the CMA before arriving at a reasonable purchase offer price.

5. NEGLECT TO INCLUDE TWO KEY CONTINGENCY CLAUSES. Way back in the hot home seller's markets of 2005 and 2004, it was common for home buyers to make "all cash, no contingency" purchase offers. The current buyer's market in most cities has changed that foolishness.

Today's smart home buyers include at least two purchase-offer contingencies: (a) a satisfactory lender's professional appraisal of the home for at least the purchase price, and (b) the buyer's approval of a professional inspection report to be obtained at the buyer's expense.

Depending on local custom, additional inspection contingencies might include termite or pest control, building-code compliance, energy efficiency, and radon.

A controversial contingency makes the home purchase contingent on the buyer's sale of his/her current residence. Many home sellers refuse to accept such a contingency. Others will accept it but with a 48-hour release clause if a better purchase offer from another buyer materializes.

SUMMARY: Although home buyers are in control of today's residential sales market, they still need to be careful to avoid costly mistakes. Smart home buyers, with the help of their buyer's agents, can protect themselves when buying a house or condo to be enjoyed for many years.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Did You Know ...

Martha's Vineyard is an island 80 miles from Boston, it’s 9 miles wide and 23 miles long at its furthest points; the total land area is approximately 100 square miles. Martha's Vineyard has a total of 124.6 miles of tidal shoreline. The winter population is 15,007, and it swells to 105,624 during the summer season.

Friday, September 29, 2006

So Much For Building Your Own Ritz Carlton On A 5,000sf Lot In Edgartown

The Edgartown Wastewater Department, which has nothing to do with the Board Of Health, has mandated a change in bedroom regulations as it pertains to those houses connected, or connecting to the sewer lines. Originally we understood if you were connected to the sewer line you could have as many bedrooms as you could fit on the lot. Not anymore. The Wastewater Department has a clear definition for what constitutes a bedroom and what is not a bedroom. They go on to say existing and future lots shall be allowed 4 bedrooms for the first 10,000sf of lot area. Existing lots shall be allowed 1 additional bedroom over and above the 4 bedrooms for each additional 5,000sf of lot area, up to a maximum of 7 bedrooms per lot. As you can imagine, this is a simplification of the regulation cutting out the legalese.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Massachusetts Home Prices Fall 6.1% As Downturn Gathers Speed

For many months I've been defiantly denying that the market here on Martha’s Vineyard was a “bubble”, and that bubble was about to burst. I truly believed that we were somewhat bulletproof due to the nature of our market, that being a vacation and second home market. Now it seems experts everywhere are sheepishly recanting their position on the market forecast; just the other day one such expert had to eat crow on the TODAY show.

I must admit it upsets me to see what is happening, because it doesn’t have to be this way. Our appreciation rate on the Vineyard was not out of line and not the highest in the country, although that may have been true on the North Shore and around the Boston area. A good part of that run-up was due to the lower price range and condo market. I've been hearing for years from clients in Massachusetts who have looked at other prime Massachusetts luxury areas that the Vineyard was still one of the best deals. Have you ever shopped the market in Weston, Marblehead, Wellfleet or Truro? I know as a BUYER’S agent I should be thrilled that the market is now swinging past center to the buyer’s side, but buyers are not taking advantage of what could be an opportune situation. Think about it, the viral frenzy by investors to bail out has doubled the inventory and now we have 625 single family homes and vacant lots on the market, over 660 properties altogether. Sure there are a few ego listings, but most of the glut is due to investors who thought they could make a short term profit and are now thinking that’s no longer possible. If you couple that with the ill-advised marketing strategy that has created a frenzied volley among competing sellers for the lead position in attractive pricing, while hoping not to lose all of their gains, you have what is practically a static market.

The risk for people who are speculating on when the bottom will occur is the same as with those who speculated as to when the top of the market would arrive; they may end up staying at the dance too long. I think the opportunity for buyers is better now than it has ever been, but I still hold to my battle cry --- BOLD OFFERS! Maybe, just maybe, all this inflammatory press and manipulated statistics could work to a buyer’s advantage as sellers are hearing that we could be in for a L-O-N-G haul. Perhaps they are starting to think about how much it will cost them to weather the storm --- taxes, insurance, utilities, mortgage payments and interest, maintenance, etc. The experts are now advising sellers who don’t have to sell their properties to take them off the market, but for those who do need to sell, as I say at the bottom of my home page: ATTENTION SELLERS: A LOW OFFER TODAY, MAY BE A HIGH OFFER IN 60 DAYS.

The following Boston Globe editorial describes what is happening and what is forecasted to happen to the real estate market in Massachusetts. If you take this as a generalization, then you can believe Martha’s Vineyard is part of the scenario. However, is the Vineyard a 1st time home buyer market? No! Is the median home price here $352,000? No! However, the Vineyard is NOT a necessity.

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Massachusetts Home Prices Fall 6.1% As Downturn Gathers Speed
By Kimberly Blanton, Globe Staff September 26, 2006

The downturn in the Massachusetts housing market gained momentum in August, with the median price of a single-family home falling 6.1 percent, to $352,000, and the number of sales down 21.6 percent from last year, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors said yesterday.

The condominium market, which had remained steady for most of the year even as the single-family market slipped, also felt the effects of the slowdown. The median condo price fell 3.3 percent in August, to $278,000, and sales fell 18.5 percent.

While sales volume has been in a freefall for months, price declines began showing greater momentum during the summer and are expected to continue into the fall.

``Things are not over in terms of the price declines," said David Iaia, a senior principal for Global Insight, a Lexington economics consulting firm. He said sellers will feel more pressure this fall to drop their prices on homes that have been on the market for more than three months, on average.

Iaia said the state's price declines would continue in 2007 and possibly into 2008, though it is difficult to predict. ``I don't think you'll get a good sense of the impact until next spring," he said.

``Now you're at the end of the major selling season, and people who've had their house on the market all summer and haven't sold it are getting concerned, so there are probably more price declines coming this fall," he said.

The real estate market is slowing across the country, although not as dramatically as in Massachusetts. The National Association of Realtors said yesterday that existing homes -- including single-families, condos, and townhouses -- sold at a rate of 6.3 million units in August, 12.6 percent lower than last year. Prices for all types of homes fell 1.7 percent in August, to $225,000.

The interest rate on the conventional 30-year mortgage is 6.4 percent, said Freddie Mac, the federal agency that backs the mortgage market. Higher interest rates have contributed to the cooling real estate market nationwide.

Massachusetts experienced the most price appreciation of any state between 2000 and 2003, and the appreciation continued over the next two years and pushed sales and prices to record levels. The downturn is now in full swing, analysts and agents said.

The August price slide was confirmed in a second report yesterday by the Warren Group, a Boston real estate and publishing firm that compiles market data. Warren Group said the median single-family price declined 8 percent, to $331,000, as sales dropped almost 20 percent. Condo priced fell 5 percent, to $276,000, as sales declined 19.3 percent.

Both the Warren Group and the realtors base their monthly report on actual sales closings in August, but their data sources are different. The realtor association sales and price data are based on house-listings posted in the multiple listing service, an agents' database, while Warren's data is culled from court records on home-sale closings statewide.

David Wluka, president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, blamed soaring appreciation during the boom for making it difficult or impossible for many first-time buyers to afford a single-family house. Without them, homeowners are unable to sell when they want to trade up.

High prices are ``creating a clog in the system," he said. ``People trying to buy houses can't buy until they sell houses they own, and unless they price houses they own correctly they're not going to sell."

He said he has witnessed this at this phenomenon with some clients of his firm, Wluka Real Estate Corp. in Sharon. ``I also see buyers holding back and waiting for the bottom, but you can only see the bottom in the rear-view mirror," he said. Buyers ``need to bargain hard," because ``they're in a very powerful position."

Wluka predicted prices could stabilize this fall, if homeowners who aren't serious enough about selling to reduce their prices take their houses off the market.

Since February 2005, single-family sales, when compared with a year earlier, have declined all but one month, according to Warren Group. But price declines, which were delayed until the spring of 2006, have accelerated. In March, for example, the median house price fell 1.52 percent. By June, they were down 9.3 percent, followed by a 6.1 percent drop in July and 8.1 percent in August.

Condo prices boomed through 2005 and early this year, fueled by empty-nesters who downsized and by first-time homebuyers who had given up hopes of buying a single-family. While condo sales began declining earlier this year, significant price declines didn't hit until July, when the median condo price fell 4.2 percent compared with July 2005 prices. The August condo price fell 5 percent.

Steven Levine, an agent with Re/Max First Choice Realty in Northborough and Shrewsbury, said he sees a silver lining in the recent interest-rate and house-price declines: Buyers responded in September, the start of the fall selling season.

Levine predicted the market is ``at the bottom" because sellers, after months of resistance, realize that a lower asking price is necessary to spark sales.

``But the buyers are very picky, and they're not buying a house that needs work or has issues," he said. Buyers are ``looking for those cream-puff properties."

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Where Did Steven Spielberg Stay On Martha's Vineyard?

One of the events that put Martha’s Vineyard on the map was the movie JAWS. For decades visitors to the Island have searched out the locations shown in the movie. One of the last remaining vestiges of that exciting event was the log cabin where Steven Spielberg and Carl Gottlieb resided during the filming of JAWS. The ~1550sf log cabin was built in 1950 and sold in 2004 for $1,600,000. The Jaws Cabin Is No More

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Mass Housing Guide for First Time Home Buyers

Even if you’re not a first time home buyer, there are some very good tips in this "How To" guide. Just remember, anytime you contact a listing agent to inquire about one of their seller’s properties, they represent the seller, not you.

When you’re ready to buy a home you want to engage an Exclusive Buyer Agent, because they have access to the entire real estate market, work solely for you, will negotiate on your behalf, and always have your best interests in mind.

To learn more about Exclusive Buyer Agency, or to subscribe to my Buyer's Basic e-Newsletter focusing on the Martha's Vineyard Real Estate market, visit www.SplitRockRE.com.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Making News On Martha's Vineyard

The Vineyard Gazette has always been a literary icon of this wonderful Island, garnering praise from the journalism community year after year for its fine editorial writing and exceptional photography. The Gazette continues to adhere to a model championed by its late editor, Henry Beetle Hough, as he fought to preserve what has been a special way of life for so many years.

I was pleased to participate in assisting a buyer of mine in the purchase of the old Henry Beetle Hough house in Edgartown some years ago. The house has changed quite a bit over the years since Mr. Hough’s death, but it’s still a beautiful property and his former wife still owns the house behind it.

A new book by Phyllis Meras, a frequent contributor to the Vineyard Gazette, chronicling the life of Henry Beetle Hough might be of interest to you if you are a student of Martha’s Vineyard history. The book is titled Making news on Martha's Vineyard.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Bicycling To Martha's Vineyard?

Martha’s Vineyard has always been a desirable destination, one that’s not the easiest to get to. People who really want to come here go to great lengths to make the trip including multiple modes of transportation quite often combining airplanes, buses and boats. But have you ever heard of someone riding a BICYCLE to Martha’s Vineyard?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Not Having A Survey Can Lead To Big Problems

Underneath it all is the LAND. Right? So, if that’s true then why do people buying real estate usually have no idea where their land begins and ends? They haven’t a clue where the boundaries of the property are, and they’re spending hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars for it. To me, that would be first and foremost; I can worry about the pink bathroom tile later.

If you’re getting a mortgage, usually the Mortgagee will require a Mortgage Plot Plan. This is a map that shows the use of the land, where the actual or proposed structures are located. It can also be used for a septic design. It’s not necessarily a plat of the land or a survey articulating all the metes and bounds. If there already is, or has been, a mortgage on the property then that Plot Plan should already exist, but remember it’s not a survey. In many cases where a septic is installed, there isn’t even a septic plan on file in some of the towns. Only recently has record keeping become more conscientious among towns and engineers. I had an experience where three engineers did surveys over time on a piece of land and each one came up with different information.

A colleague called me while I was writing this to tell me about a 10,000sf lot in Vineyard Haven that she is marketing for an owner. The lot has just been surveyed and a plat has been created. During my conversation with her, I looked up the lot in the Assessor’s Book and remarked, “It’s a trapezoid shaped lot with ~110’ at the rear and ~140’ of frontage. She said, “No, it’s square with about ~130’ at the rear.” The Assessor’s maps are notoriously inaccurate so we all should know never to rely on that information as fact. I read an article the other day that addresses the point that quite often No Survey Leads To Big Problems.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Corey Kupersmith Begins Construction of South Woods Farms

Mr. Corey A. Kupersmith’s relationship with Oak Bluffs and this Island, albeit a fiery one, started sometime back in the 1990s when Mr. Kupersmith, a developer from Greenwich, Connecticut bought the old Webb’s Camping Area for $2.5mm. Mr. Kupersmith continued acquiring land in the area in what is called the Southern Woodlands, some with unclear title, until he had amassed an additional 190 acres giving him a total of 280 acres.

His vision was for a luxury golf course community; however, his proposals were summarily rejected time after time in one of the ugliest skirmishes yet to befall the Vineyard. Finally the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank stepped in and purchased approximately 190 acres for $18.6 million thereby preserving 2/3’s of the Southern Woodlands.

During the beginning half of this year, many of us have wondered what the dramatically wide swath of excavation is cutting into the woodland off of County Road. Well, now we all know it is Mr. Kupersmith going ahead with his approved South Woods Farm subdivision of luxury homes.

Personally, I think it’s a shame a resolution couldn’t be found that would have allowed for a PUBLIC golf course with REASONABLE greens fees along with other forms of recreational activities like tennis and swimming, something that would have been accessible and affordable for all. I guess we’ll all have to wait for the greatly anticipated Martha’s Vineyard YMCA, but that’s another story.

Terminal Seller Uniqueness – The Vineyard Way?

I’ve always believed Martha’s Vineyard to be a unique and very special place, but I try to keep my elitist attitude in check. However, for as long as I can remember, when prideful owners compare properties, they boastfully maintain their property is special and unique. It's quite common when we see properties selling for over 20 million dollars, usually the first thought that comes to mind is, and “They paid that much for that property!” And then after thoughtful reflection we come to the (ir)rational conclusion, if he can get that much for his property, surely mine is worth X. No two properties are the same and the same goes for buyers, circumstances and timing. Each property must be evaluated individually and objectively. I see it all the time in the middle to lower end of the market based purely upon what is happening in the higher end of the market. Certain areas will appreciate more quickly than others since it all comes down to location, but there are many other dynamics that effect how the various price lines are marketed.

Vineyard property owners generally believe they are not affected by what is going on in the rest of the market, they think their holdings are recession proof. To some extent that may be true. But today it seems all we’re hearing from the media is the bubble has burst. Of course the news media survives on sensationalism and fear. They don’t know our business and quite often editorialize to suit themselves. The market is crashing in many areas and down trending in other areas where the experts have predicted a soft landing. All the while the market is building in other areas. We cannot deny the fact that the inventory of homes on Martha’s Vineyard is steadily increasing and sales have fallen off significantly, but this is not a bubble burst, it is suppose to be a leveling of prices into what will be a healthier market --- except for one thing.

I like the recent article Peter Miller wrote titled Marathon Sellers Race Realty where he speaks of that one thing --- real estate exceptionalism. I think we all know history repeats itself and if that is true, in this case, sellers who resist reality as we approach the long cold winter may get themselves into trouble, especially if they’re highly leveraged, in a position of negative amortization and with ARM’s that will realize dramatic interest rate hikes during first adjustments sometime before March 2007. Sellers are shooting themselves in the foot every week by making insignificant and repeated reductions to their over-priced properties, that is, overpriced for this market. As a result, serious buyers who watch every tick of our market continue to sit back intent upon waiting out the sellers, wondering how low they will go. In the meantime sellers are paying all those carrying costs and chasing the market as it continues to slide. This is not as bad as the early 90’s but I fear the outcome may be the same. My advice to sellers is, listen to the objective professional opinion of a seller agent. Sellers have got to stop telling their agents what their property is worth. If you are engaging them to market your property, let them do their job. LISTEN! If you’re fortunate enough to get an Offer, think carefully and MAKE THE DEAL. What you perceive to be a low offer today may end up looking like a high offer in the next few months.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Is This Really The End Of The Real Estate Boom?

Jim Cramer of “Mad Money” says the Boom is over and if you own investment real estate, get rid of it and invest in corn flakes. July was one of the worst months for real estate in a long time with the number of unsold homes climbing to a record high. Furthermore, sales of existing homes dropped to the lowest point in over three years, and that down trend caught most economic analysts off-guard. The supply of homes for sale rose to over a 6-month supply which is the highest it has been in the last 10 years. A Commerce Department study reported new home sales, accounting for 15% of the market, fell by 4.3% and is down 22% from the same time last year. The supply of new homes, meaning new construction, rose to the highest documented level since December of 1972. I wonder if they took into consideration the population boom since 1972? Also, price gains slowed since a 14% increase last September, but we know that and I don’t consider that to be unmanageable appreciation. My definition of a boom is when appreciation rates reach the 20% to 30% range. I still maintain that the Vineyard market is unique and somewhat recession proof. Granted, a lot of people are moving off the Island for various reasons including lack of ability to make a living here, but I believe more upper-middle class people and retirees will take their place converting properties into suitable vacation and income properties. Baby boomers (1946 to 1964) who are reaching retirement age will be divesting themselves of their oversized primary residences in favor of more modest accommodations. They will have the resources to afford a second home in a calmer surrounding or escape urban centers altogether in favor of no maintenance condos or low maintenance homes in recreational areas with golf, tennis and boating. They will have the money to do what they want and their movement will signal the beginning of the next real estate market upswing. Think about it, 27% of the population fits into this category and that adds up to 76 million “boomers” getting ready to retire. I’m very optimistic about the future of Martha’s Vineyard and its ability to adapt to the sociographic changes. I am also confident real estate will always be a good investment in the long run.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Closing costs up 8 ½ percent in Massachusetts

Published in REALTOR(R) Digest August 21, 2006
A newly released national survey of real estate closing costs found that home buyers in Massachusetts pay more, on average, for loan origination, title and document preparation, and other settlement services than the typical home purchaser, but far less than consumers in New York and Texas, who face the highest closing costs in the U.S. The survey, by Bankrate.com, reflects state averages for 21 related settlement fees associated with the closing costs on a $200,000 loan to a buyer with an excellent credit history who made a down payment of at least 20 percent on a single-family home in the state’s largest city. Nationally, the typical home buyer paid an average of $3,024 at closing, excluding taxes and escrow fees, which reflects a 10 percent increase over the 2005 average closing cost of $2,748. Home buyers in New York were found to pay the most for closing costs at an average of $3,887, while residents in neighboring Connecticut (which placed 6th) faced the highest closing costs in New England, paying an average of $3,284. In Massachusetts, home buyers currently pay $3,143, on average, at closing, which is up about $250 over last year, and places the Bay State 14th overall among the U.S. states for highest closing fees. New Hampshire residents pay among the lowest closing costs in the country, ranking 49th nationally, at an average of $2,734.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Does Your Personal Residence Qualify for a 1031 Exchange?

We all know the IRS rule about exempting the first $500,000 for married people and $250,000 for single individuals from the capital tax gains when selling a property you have lived in for the last two out of five years. However, there is a possibility depending upon what that property was used for during the other three years of that five year period that your personal residence can qualify for a tax free exchange. Here is a very interesting article explaining the Personal Exchange.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

My New Home Has Problems, What Can I Do?

My wife and I bought a second home a few years ago in a newly developed planned community. There is a homeowner Association and the developer has an office in the complex as they continue to market their new homes. After we purchased the property we found some problems with the construction. What were we suppose to do? We contacted the Homeowner Association, but in our case they were of little help. We contacted the developer; they referred us directly to the builder. Luckily, the builder is a good guy who took responsibility for all his mistakes. But, what if he wouldn’t? What rights would we have? Would we have to sue the developer and builder, and how would we go about doing that? Should the Homeowner Association step in, and what can they do? Here is a book titled Construction Defect Litigation that speaks to the potential problems that can arise and what to do.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Car Show Supporting Edgartown Parent Teacher Organization

On Saturday, August 12th, the Edgartown PTO hosted their first ever car show. My dear friend, Rob Young, aka Robert A. Young Electrical Contractors was the guiding light behind this unusual event. We all know that most people on Martha's Vineyard, especially those living here year round could give a tinker's damn about cars beyond getting them, their kids, fishing gear and their tools from here to there. However, there are some pretty neat cars squirreled away in barns and garages around this Island.

Rob has a pristine BMW Z3 M Roadster that is a Sunday driver, and I have a '95 Chevy Caprice wagon that is driven even less than that. What's so special about a Chevy WAGON and what does this have to do with real estate. Well, I admit this is a digression from my normal discourse, but this WAGON used to be my real estate car until my increasingly obsessive hobby ran away with me and it was no longer suitable as a sedate house touring car. Another friend of mine who happens to be a home inspector has a '63 Corvette split-window coupe that's fully restored, and a 2003 Z06 "Arrest Me Red"Corvette with 405 HP. We all dusted off our cars, hoped they'd start and got together to support this event on the most beautiful day of this summer. There were over 40 cars in attendance at the show.

I bought my wagon new in '95 and worked on it for about 7 years. I blame my folly on a semi-retired race car engine builder, Ray Baker, who became a client of mine and to whom I sold a house in Oak Bluffs a number of years ago. I also credit a lot of my insanity to the encouragement and support of my many friends in several Impala Super Sport clubs around the country. Thanks to Ray and the Impala guys, I've spent tens of thousands of dollars and equally as many hours making my WAGON the unique "Grocery Getter" that it is today. I started a trend. I guess all that love and effort paid off on Saturday, because I actually won an award at the car show. It wasn't my first award, but this was special to me.






Friday, August 04, 2006

Island affordable housing bill killed by House

The question of affordable housing for workng class Vineyarders has been a heated topic of discord for many months. The solution for how to maintain a balanced population on this fragile Island will not come easily. It is more complicated than it appears, and could establish a precidence for other towns and cities to manipulate a seller (or buyer) fee to self-serve their purposes, I.E. town sewer upgrades, etc.

It was believed the House would not render a decision before its current session came to a close; however, they somehow squeezed it in and voted 91 to 64 against legislation that would have created a fund to subsidize affordable housing on Martha’s Vineyard.

As a real estate broker, EXCLUSIVE Buyer advocate and owner of a property valued above the $750,000 baseline, I've been subjectively opposed to this legislation and am pleased that it's been rejected. In my opinion, it doesn't matter who is charged with paying the fee, be it the 2% Land Bank BUYER fee, or the 1% SELLER fee for sales above $750,000 --- the BUYER is the one who will ultimately pay. Of course I have other reasons for my opposition, but ....

Monday, July 31, 2006

Going For The Bait

You know what the problem is with our real estate market, it's the people who write about it and talk about it in terms of doom and gloom. Once again the press is feeding off of what is happening in other parts of the country and making general statements, without all the facts or studying the psychographics affecting Martha's Vineyard.

Sure the market has slowed down, and sure there are more properties on the market, but it really isn't that bad. Part ot the reason the market has slowed down is because more buyers are being cautious, not wanting to appear foolish and overspend. I can tell you, having worked both sides of the market for many years, sellers got used to pricing their properties well above the broker recommendations without too much resistance from the brokers, because nine times out of ten, a buyer would come along and pay the price for that property. There was little to no price resistance and the opperative expression was, "You only have to sell it once". Well, today's buyers, thinking they have the upper hand, and maybe they do, are no longer taking the "I've got to have it before the price goes up again" point of view. Any buyer in their right mind who is watching the continuous trail of price reductions week after week will sit back and wait wondering, "How low will they go?"

Another reason there are more properties on the market is because more people are moving off the Island. More people have decided to "cash out" now and move on to more affordable communities for work or retirement, or they've simply gotten tired of the many inconveniences associated with living on an Island year round --- or perhaps the commute has become too expensive. It also stands to reason, if more houses were built and more properties have been converted to condominiums, the inventory will go up. Sure properties are taking longer to sell, and sure the TOTAL inventory has risen by ~34%, but it is not even close to what the inventory was in 1990 and 1991.

I agree with Mr. Wallace, "The Vineyard market literally goes in spurts rather than a steady trend of every day, every week, every month." This is a very rich Island in all imaginable ways and it is only going to get richer. Get in at today's dollars or wait until tomorrow, you can't lose either way.

Charting the Future of Martha's Vineyard

"The preparation of an Island Plan for Martha’s Vineyard is underway.

"The ISLAND PLAN will set the stage for local decision-making concerning a whole range of issues such as water quality, housing, traffic and transportation, open space, growth, and economic opportunities.

"The plan will have a vital impact on the future of the Island… on all of our lives and those of our children. So it’s important that every Vineyarder take part in its preparation."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Do You Know What Moves You?

Motivation is a curious thing when it comes to buying and selling a home. The decision making process is full of questions you should be asking yourself, answers that will sometimes surprise you and variables that need to be focused. Take a few minutes and answer the 20 questions in Your Online Housing Profile Quiz.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Pedaling the Islands

As a follow-up to the essay I wrote, Mopeds Are Dangerous, here is a wonderful article extolling the virtues of riding a bicycle on Martha's Vineyard titled Pedaling the Islands.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Vineyard Clothesline

Can you use a laugh? Holly Nadler, ex-wife of Marty Nadler who wrote such classic television series hits as Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and Golden Girls owns a quaint little book shop in Oak Bluffs called Sunporch Books. She’s written a new book titled Vineyard Confidential. An article in the New York Daily News reported, “The rich and famous islanders of Martha’s Vineyard should lower their voices the next time they stop by Sunporch Books in Oak Bluffs ....” They go on to relate several tales shared by our resident dirt dish darling.

Bruce Willis reportedly hit on 137 waitresses during his Vineyard visits over the years. According to Nadler, he scored with precisely zero.

Diane Sawyer is the most demanding of all VIPs, a source at the Vineyard airport told Nadler. "She insists on being driven to the door from her plane, rain or shine, even though it is a nine-second walk.''

You’re wondering what any of this has to do with real estate? Read the next one.

Woody Allen once faxed a list of requirements to a real-estate agent who was supposed to show him properties. According to Nadler, the Woodman insisted the agent should remain silent unless spoken to.

As posted July 12, 2006, Akron Beacon Journal – Porter’s People

Martha's Vineyard, A Diverse Island

Martha's Vineyard Island is a microcosm and melting pot of humanity that ebbs and flows like the flick of a lamp switch from season to season. Remember my article on "Stickers"? Those who live here wrestle to identify themselves from those who don't, and those who want to be from here. There are stickers that read "NATIVE", "I LIVE HERE....", "WASH-ASHORE", and now there are Brazilian stickers in green, yellow and blue. There are stickers for every town and stickers in the shape of a nautical semaphore flag that attests to your elitist membership to the yacht club, There are town dump stickers and beach stickers that identify you in a roundabout way and private community stickers that are another symbol of elitism.

Anyone who has lived and raised children here knows this Island can be a wonderful place to grow up with opportunities beyond imagination and a school system second to none, or it can be hell. Hmmm, sounds just like life. However, wanting to stay on the bright side of Island life, I want to share with you an essay I read in the Summer 2006 issue of Vineyard Style magazine. There is a footnote to the essay that you must not miss, so I'm repeating it here.

"Duncan Pickard is the winner of the Vineyard Style-John D. Morelli essay contest. In addition to publishing his essay, Vineyard Style awarded Duncan a $500 prize. So taken were we with his talent and drive, we hired him for the summer. Duncan will attend Tufts University."

Coming of Age and Surrounded by Sea

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Is Anything Happening in the Martha's Vineyard Real Estate Market?

I was speaking with a broker in Sarasota, Florida the other day and he said after 3 years and a staggering 95% appreciation, the market has tanked and only 4% of the inventory sold last month. They have a real problem. But I keep hearing all this talk about a buyer’s market on Martha’s Vineyard. The market is standing still here, just like it is in New York or New Jersey or Connecticut. Even Las Vegas and Los Angeles are practically neutral. I don’t call that a buyer’s market; it’s nobody’s market. Nothing is happening! However, when it does happen, quite often it’s not pretty.

Sellers are angry at the offers they are getting and buyers arn't satisfied when they have negotiated a good price, they want more and more concessions and many deals fall apart. I maintain this is not a buyer’s market, it’s a market of opportunity, but you’ve got to be willing to look at the big picture. Now is the time to approach sellers with realistic offers and attempt to negotiate reasonable buys. Sure you can ask them to pay all or a portion of the closing costs, or pay for the structural inspection, but why beat the seller up for ugly window treatments or the old refrigerator they’re so attached to? I remember when the market really tanked during the late 80’s and early 90’s; I had to restrain a seller when he lunged across the closing table at the buyer during a closing. Having said all of this, if you're keeping score, there are approximately 485 homes, 115 pieces of vacant land including beach lots, and 16 condos for sale on Martha's Vinyard according to our Multiple Listing Service.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Mopeds Are DANGEROUS

The David and Goliath “us against them” campaign focused upon banning mopeds from the byways of Martha’s Vineyard Island started back in 1988 when numerous serious moped accidents had made national news. It was about that time that I first started riding a motorcycle here on the Island. I was an adult who had a healthy respect for the inherent dangers associated with motorcycle riding and I could see how those dangers were multiplied ten fold on little scooters operated by inexperienced pilots who were full of vacation exuberance and didn’t have a clue about the Island roads or where they were going.

Notice I said I was an adult. That’s because I was 42 at the time, and I guess that classifies me as an adult. However, a good majority of the people who rent mopeds are adults, so what’s the problem? The problem is, the people who rent and ride mopeds are clueless or else they think they’re bulletproof. They think nothing is going to happen to them. I think everyone who intends to rent a moped should watch a short 5 to 10 minute film showing graphically what can happen and why. But that would be bad for business --- the moped business. When I started riding I made sure I had the proper protective gear, and I never rode without a good full-face helmet, a leather jacket and boots, not flip-flops and a T-shirt. I took a motorcycle safety course, more than once, and practiced panic stops and avoidance maneuvers on a regular basis. I also did a lot of reading and learned skills that actually changed the way I drove a car and viewed traffic situations. However, the poor souls who rent mopeds and race around this Island have little to no experience on anything with two wheels and a motor. I say this because riding a lawnmower doesn’t qualify as experience, nor does a 10-speed bike. Heck, I’ll bet most of these people haven’t been on a bicycle in years.

Every summer, the horror stories would unfold about vacation visitors who had never been on a moped, much less a motorcycle, and in some cases didn’t even have a driver’s license. Nevertheless, they were set free on the seat of a moped after riding around the block and/or listening to an anemic warning. They were allowed to ride wearing nothing more than shorts, a T-shirt and flip-flops or less, and with a cheap helmet bobbling upon their precious heads.

Every summer, the ER at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital received numerous victims of the moped’s unforgiving bite, and practically without fail, one of those victims would be damaged for life, or not survive. The MV Gazette would publish the sad details of these incidents along with the rhetoric, vapid promises and displays of crocodile tears from the venders, on a regular basis. I don’t expect you to read all these MV Gazette articles. The records readily available to me only go back to 2000.

Hospital Emergency Services Director Begins Comprehensive Survey of Moped Accidents Mopeds are dangerous. Or aren't they? Or, why, where, when and how are they dangerous?Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Tuesday, June 27, 2000

Moped Driver Suffers Serious Injuries A 37-year-old Watertown man is in stable condition after having been struck head-on by an oncoming car while riding a moped on Airport Road shortly after noon on Sunday.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Tuesday, June 27, 2000

Moped Survey Lists Accidents Moped accident victims need more training — most have never driven a motorized two-wheeler before, and the average customer gets seven minutes of training at the rental shop. Moped crash victims tend to be short-term visitors to the Island, and they crash most frequently in August. More bicyclists are hurt each summer than moped drivers, but victims of moped accidents tend to be hurt far more seriously.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, January 5, 2001

Moped Safety Debated A forum at the Oak Bluffs School last night began with the findings of a recent study on two-wheeled vehicles and ended in a lengthy dialogue about the history, safety and future of mopeds on the Island.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, February 16, 2001

Moped Opponents and Dealers Reach Accord After Long Battle Casting aside deep differences, moped dealers and their politically active opponents formally agreed yesterday to implement a nine-point plan aimed at one goal — reducing injuries to moped riders.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, April 6, 2001

Police Extend Crash Probe One day after the family of Eric MacLean announced they were filing a wrongful death suit against Robert Cimeno and Beach Road Moped Rentals in connection with the car crash in March that killed Mr. MacLean, state police armed with search warrants Saturday moved in on Mr. Cimeno's business and a Cimeno family residence in Oak BluffsOriginally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Tuesday, June 5, 2001

Moped Crash Along Beach Road Claims Life of Virginia Visitor Three hours after renting a moped in Oak Bluffs Saturday morning, 30-year-old Katherine D. Miller tried to round a right curve on Beach Road near Harthaven, lost control of the moped and struck an oncoming car. She died of head injuries, becoming the fourth person killed in a moped accident on the Island since 1996.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Tuesday, July 10, 2001

Moped Tragedy on Island Mourned and Accepted; Officials Ask for Training The 30-year-old woman killed in last Saturday's moped accident in Oak Bluffs loved to make furniture, especially chests and tables. Kate Dunnet Miller was president of her high school alumni association. "There was a charisma about her, a vibrancy. She was a real extrovert," said her mother-in-law, Dr. Caryn Miller of Washington, D.C.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, July 13, 2001

New Moped Crash Leaves Driver with Severe Head Injuries Just five days after a moped accident in Oak Bluffs killed a Virginia woman, another accident yesterday in Edgartown has left a 60-year-old moped rider from Florida in critical condition with severe head injuriesOriginally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, July 13, 2001

Rising Moped Accidents Lead To Scrutiny of Town Regulations: Family Speaks Out Four weeks after her younger sister was killed in a moped accident in Oak Bluffs, Christina Dunnet Davis is vowing to join any campaign that will rid the Vineyard of mopeds.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, August 3, 2001

Oak Bluffs Leaders Back Moped Laws Convinced there's no way to make rental mopeds safe on the Vineyard, Oak Bluffs selectmen this week threw their support behind proposed state legislation that would require anyone renting a moped to have a motorcycle license.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, August 10, 2001

Two Crashes Hospitalize Riders Operators of rented mopeds suffered two serious accidents this week on the same stretch of Seaview Avenue near Lola’s Restaurant in Oak Bluffs. In both accidents, moped operators lost control, crossed the center line and crashed into oncoming auto traffic. Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, August 17, 2001

Seven Owners Control Mopeds .There's money to be made in moped rentals on Martha's Vineyard, but just a handful of people are counting the cash — seven shop owners and four landlords, to be exact. Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, August 17, 2001

Hospital Survey on Mopeds Shows Decline in Accidents from Last Season Levels New figures released this week from the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital show the number of people injured in moped accidents dropped sharply this year compared to the same period last year, but the statistics are getting mixed reviews.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Tuesday, August 21, 2001

Moped Laws Are Ignored; Injuries Tell Tragic Tale Two middle school teachers from Florida, Judy and Barnard Lorence, should be back in their classrooms getting ready for a new school year, but there’s no chance of that now.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, August 24, 2001

Moped Laws Are Ignored; Injuries Tell Tragic Tale Oak Bluffs selectman Todd Rebello this week all but admitted that town officials have done a lousy job making moped dealers abide by town regulations, and selectmen agreed Tuesday night to improve local enforcement.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, August 24, 2001

Selectmen Support Tough Moped Laws After listening to a presentation by Sam Feldman of the Mopeds Are Dangerous Committee, the All-Island Selectmen Association unanimously decided to support legislation that would require a motorcycle license to rent a moped.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, September 7, 2001

Swapping Mopeds for Liquor License: Businessman Makes Deal in Oak Bluffs Here's the trade. A moped dealer who controls two rental outlets in Oak Bluffs is offering to shut down one moped shop.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, March 1, 2002

Spring Visitor Becomes Moped Casualty, Suffering Serious Injuries in Chilmark The Vineyard received an unfortunate sign of the summer season's approach last weekend when a Mashpee woman suffered severe injuries after her rental moped slipped off South Road in Chilmark Sunday afternoon. Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, April 19, 2002

Town Leaders Wrestle with Mopeds Promising to show moped dealers no mercy this summer, Oak Bluffs selectmen have begun to toughen up moped bylaws, adding new language that will increase licensing fees, set higher penalties for violations and establish a minimum height limit for child passengers.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, April 26, 2002

Moped Crash Tells Sad Tale Months Later: Wife of Victim Recounts Nightmare Moped dealers like to look at the numbers this way: Of the thousands of people who rent mopeds every season, only a few end up crashing.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, May 3, 2002

Oak Bluffs Leaders Ask for Moped Cuts Voters in Oak Bluffs could put a significant dent in the number of mopeds rented in their town if they back a tough proposal put forth by selectmen. At a special town meeting on June 18, residents will be asked to approve a bylaw that would cut down the number of moped dealer licenses issued each year from seven to five.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, May 31, 2002

Statistics Show Drop in Moped Accidents According to new statistics released this week by Martha's Vineyard Hospital, the number of people injured in moped accidents during the first seven months of the year dropped sharply for the second year in a row.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, September 13, 2002

Hospital Reports Decline in Moped Accidents; Fewer Vendors, Tighter Laws Explain Trend Oak Bluffs had fewer mopeds and fewer dealers renting them this year. Now the hospital is reporting fewer people ending up in the emergency room after crashing a moped.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, December 6, 2002

When Two-Wheelers Crash, Moped Victims Suffer Worst, New Hospital Survey Reveals The latest survey of moped, bicycle and motorcycle accidents on the Island won't show the broken ribs, the punctured lungs or the "whole body rubbed raw" by a case of road rash, said Dr. Alan Hirshberg, the director of emergency services at the Martha's Vineyard HospitalOriginally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, February 7, 2003

Largest Moped Agency Fails to Meet Deadline for Renewal of License After more than a year of tough talk about enforcing moped regulations and showing scofflaw dealers no mercy, Oak Bluffs is now giving a break to two brothers who own the biggest fleet of mopeds in town.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Tuesday, June 3, 2003

Moped Rider Hit and Injured at Blinker; Selectmen Will Consider Four-Way Stop One day after a moped rider was hit by a car at the blinker light — the fifth accident at the crossroads so far this year — leaders in Oak Bluffs are poised to take drastic action to make one of the Island's most dangerous intersections safer.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, June 27, 2003
Oak Bluffs Selectmen to Check Moped Dealers' Record Books In the years of controversy and political wrangling over the safety of mopeds on the Vineyard, dealers have kept close guard over one vital statistic: the actual number of mopeds they rent and set loose on Island roads.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Better Direction in Moped News: Accident Totals Continue to Fall Joanne Nutting is one of the 27 people who crashed a moped on the Vineyard last year and ended up in the emergency room at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, February 13, 2004

Emergency Responders Report Moped Accidents Down Again Moped accidents were down again on the Vineyard this summer, and emergency responders cite better public safety education as a possible factor.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Island Visitor Dies in Moped Accident A woman visitor driving a moped down a straight stretch of the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road in West Tisbury on Sunday was killed after she reportedly lost control of the two-wheeled vehicle and struck a utility pole head-on.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Moped Fatality Incites Advocates for Change Sunday's moped accident that claimed the life of a 41-year-old New York City woman has reopened old wounds for Islanders who want to see stronger safety standards for the two-wheeled vehicles, and others who want them banned from the Vineyard altogether.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, July 7, 2006
As you can see, the latest casualty and fatality was on July 7, 2006 and as of this writing the passenger on this fateful moped has still not regained consciousness. Mopeds are dangerous!

I guess the logical question is, why do I care whether anyone rides a moped or not? I’m a real estate broker and that has nothing to do with mopeds. True, but I want my clients and prospective clients to be happy and healthy forever, and mopeds are dangerous. I can tell you this from personal observations and experience.

When I was on a Bermuda honeymoon back in 1967 when mopeds were relatively new to that Island, I remember being in my hotel lobby one evening enjoying a rum swizzle with my bride when 3 loud and possibly drunk men hobbled into the lobby, one hobbling more than the other. That was because he had a branch sticking through his leg and he was bleeding all over the place. He had run off the road on his moped. However, that didn’t stop my wife and me from renting mopeds the next day. Heck no, we were smarter and we would not be drinking and riding. It was a beautiful day when we took possession of our fun rides. We set out to explore the Island with me in the lead. As I gained more and more confidence, I would go faster and faster. Of course my bride, not willing to be left behind gave it the gas and stayed right on my tail. Did I tell you we didn’t have a clue where we were going and she was wearing a bikini and flip-flops? So, there we were whizzing along, and all of a sudden I heard this loud crash and wretched scream behind me. My child bride could not negotiate a fork in the road where there was tall stone wall in the center of the road. She crashed right into it, bouncing back out onto the asphalt and sliding about 15 feet on her stomach, chest and face. Did I tell you we weren’t wearing helmets? She lived, but the rest of our honeymoon was spent with her in the hospital.

My second experience was when I was working in Edgartown on Upper Main Street. At the time, I was parking my car in front of my office on the shoulder of the road, as did other people. I came out of my office at the end of the day and across the street were several summer vacationers lounging on the grass in front of the pizzeria. They motioned to me and told me to look at the side of my car. The entire front fender was caved in. I was shocked and asked if anyone knew what happened. They did, because they all saw it happen. A group of moped riders were racing up the street, horsing around, when one of them swerved and crashed into my car. The driver, who I would think would have been badly hurt considering the amount of damage, righted himself and sped away. I couldn’t believe it. Surely the moped was damaged? Surely the driver was damaged? I asked the witnesses what the driver looked like and what the moped looked like. The driver was wearing tan shorts and a white t-shirt, the moped was red. Talk about a needle in a haystack. I went to every single moped dealer on the Island and no one knew anything. My experience cost me over $2,500.00 to repair.

I haven’t ridden my motorcycles in several years, because I’m too busy and if I can’t ride regularly, I don’t want to ride at all. When I did ride, I would limit my riding during July and not ride here at all during August, because it was just too dangerous. I have been hit in the rear at a stop sign, chased and practically pushed off the road by kids on mopeds and constantly cut off by people cutting across my path who don’t know where they’re going. Without a doubt, I was invisible --- but not invincible. Mopeds are not toys and what makes them even more dangerous is the fact that the wheels are so small that the patch of rubber making contact with the road is miniscule. That, coupled with the fine carpet of sand that is always on the roads simulating tiny marbles makes stability that much more tenuous.

So, please don’t ride a moped on Martha’s Vineyard or let anyone you love ride a moped. Our Island Transit bus service is excellent and goes everywhere. There are guided tours going all over the Island and you can always hire a rental car or a cab. Our bicycle path network is constantly expanding and bicycles are a better way to get around, and exercise while you’re doing it. Did I tell you …