Existing-home sales dip, median price rises in Maine

Sales of existing homes in Maine dipped about 2 percent in February from a year earlier, but the median sale price rose 1 percent, according to the Maine Association of Realtors.

Real estate agents sold 482 single-family homes during the month, down from 494 in February 2010. The median sale price of those homes was $159,450.

For the three months from December through February, the association said, sales of existing homes fell nearly 3 percent from the same period a year earlier, but the median sale price rose almost 2 percent, to $165,000.

Cumberland County had the highest median sale price, $220,000, and Piscataquis County had the lowest median price, $70,000. 

Maine credit unions report assets, loans rose in 2010

Assets, savings and loans are up at Maine’s credit unions.

Combined assets increased 3.8 percent to $5.4 billion last year, according to the Maine Credit Union League, which compiled year-end statistics on the 64 credit unions in the state.

Savings increased 4.5 percent to more than $206 million and loans were up 2.3 percent to nearly $83 million. Membership grew 0.7 percent and now stands at 610,720.

John Murphy, president of the Maine Credit Union League, said credit unions in the state have demonstrated their commitment to helping members through difficult times. He said they have offered lower fees, better rates and special programs to help with the high cost of heating, and have taken an active role in consumer protection and education efforts.

Murphy said Maine credit unions have also increased accessibility through ATM locations, a shared branch network and online services. 

Bank is selling off assets of closed Maine Cottage

A bank is liquidating the assets of Maine Cottage, an upscale furniture company that started in 1988.

Maine Cottage ceased operations and closed its stores in Yarmouth, Charleston, S.C., and West Palm Beach, Fla., in recent weeks.

KeyBank, which has a lien on the assets, is liquidating them, said Jacob Manheimer of Pierce Atwood, the lawyer representing the bank. He said the bank will give items to customers who paid for them and can identify them with purchase orders or through other means.

“The stuff has to be there,” he said. “You have to be able to say, ‘That table is mine. I bought that table. It just hasn’t been delivered.’ As opposed to, ‘I bought a table. I want to walk around the warehouse and find a table I like.’“

Manheimer said nothing can be done for customers who only made deposits on items. He said he doesn’t know how many customers paid for orders or put down deposits.

The state Attorney General’s Office has received about a dozen calls from customers who paid for furniture that was not delivered, said Martha Demerit, a spokeswoman for the office.

The business was founded by Carol and Peter Bass, who have since divorced. Carol Bass’ online resume indicates she was involved in the business until last year. Neither Peter Bass nor his lawyer in Portland, Timothy Norton, could be reached for comment. 

Fed earned $81.7 billion from stabilization efforts

The Federal Reserve is paying a record $79.3 billion to the U.S. government after the central bank earned a record amount of money last year from programs aimed at boosting the economy.

The Fed says its payment to the Treasury Department for 2010 is 67 percent higher than the $47.4 billion it paid in 2009.

The central bank earned a record $81.7 billion last year from its massive holdings of securities, which were purchased to help stabilize the financial system and pull the economy out of the recession. A small portion of those earnings goes toward funding the Fed.

— From staff and news services