Friday, December 2, 2016

Why should you use a realtor to buy a home? - By Carrie Colby

Buying a home for the first time can be overwhelming. While it may be tempting to avoid realtor fees and handle things on your own, having a professional by your side can make the process go more smoothly and provide valuable insight into what’s likely one of the biggest purchases of your life.

There are numerous reasons to use a Realtor to buy a home:

1. Access to every home that’s on the market via MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and all other sources, including ones that may not be listed publicly. Some agents have what are called “pocket“ listings that they know are going to come on the market soon or ones where the seller would be willing to sell but aren’t in a rush and don’t want the hassle of listing their home. Giving you the inside track to the deals before they event hit the market.

2. The ability to combine your Dream House Checklist with your price range. A good real estate agent is one who understands your wants and needs without going over your price range. An ethical agent won’t steer you to homes that are out of your reach.

3. Knowledge of recent comps (comparables) — what similar properties have sold recently and for how much, which will help you once you are ready to make an offer. Your Realtor has the ability and expertise to negotiate on your behalf,

4. You should hire a Realtor that is knowledgeable about the area you are looking in. For instance they should be knowledgeable about the schools, neighborhood and zoning issues.

5. Your Realtor should also have a good working relationship with the other area real estate agents. There have been cases where I have contacted other agents about possible listings they might have coming on the market that might fit the needs of my buyers. Also when it comes to the negotiating it is good for your Realtor to be on good terms with the listing agent.

6. Your Realtor should have the expertise to negotiate and close the deal. They should have a list of referrals for inspectors, mortgage brokers and even tradesman for repairs and renovations you might want to do at a later date. Your Realtor must have the muscle to get a deal through the escrow or “under contract” period. They should have a good track record of getting buyers to the closing table and buying their dream home.

Buying a home is one of the most important decisions of your life. Don’t leave it up to someone who is not an expert in their field.

Carrie Colby is the broker/owner of Premier Properties in Raymond.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The do's and don'ts of first time home buying - By Amy Krikken

Interest rates are still very low, supply is ample, and the snowflakes haven't flown yet. Many people assume that they can't afford to own a home. However, that is not always the case. There are great programs out there for first time home buyers, some require very little money down in order to purchase a first home. First time home buyers can best prepare themselves if they know a few things ahead of time. Often the first step is contacting a loan officer/mortgage broker to obtain prequalification. 

This process involves giving the mortgage broker a quick picture of your income, assets and debt. Before you even begin perusing the listings on line, and driving by houses, you should do yourself this favor. There is no sense in getting hopeful about a home that you can't afford. 

Your loan officer will lead you through a simple process that will yield that magic number, then you can begin your search. What you need to provide to be prequalified are two years of W2s (or two years of tax returns if you are self-employed), thirty days’ worth of pay stubs, and two months’ of bank statements. You will also want to check your credit report, as you will want that to be at its best before you officially apply for the loan. 

There are some surprising things that you should, and more importantly should not do, when you are in the process of shopping for a home. 

Katrina Virgie of Northstar Mortgage here in Windham, has developed this helpful list: 

DO call us if you have any questions.
DO provide requested documentation promptly and in its entirety. 
DO continue living at your current residence. 
DO continue making your mortgage or rent payments. 
DO continue to use your credit as normal. keep working at your current employer. 
DO keep your same insurance company. 
DO stay current on all existing accounts.
DON’T change your employment status. 
DON’T make any major purchases (car, furniture, jewelry, etc.). 
DON’T change bank accounts. 
DON’T make any large cash deposits into your bank account. 
DON’T transfer any balances from one account to another. 
DON’T close any credit card accounts. 
DON’T consolidate your debt onto one or two credit cards. 
DON’T apply for new credit or open a new credit card. 
DON’T max out or overcharge on your credit card accounts. 
DON’T take out new loan or co-sign on a loan. 
DON’T pay off any loans or credit cards, charge offs, or collections without discussing it with us
DON’T finance any elective medical procedure. 
DON’T join a new fitness club. 
DON’T open a new cellular phone account. 
DON’T start any home improvement projects. 
DON’T have your credit pulled or dispute any information on your credit report. 

If you encounter a special situation, it is best to mention it to your mortgage broker right away so they can help you determine the best way to achieve your goals. Most importantly remember that you are not alone, your real estate agent, and your mortgage company can take the guess work out of the process, and make this a smooth transition into your new home. Krikken, Maine's Rock Star Realtor, can be reached at to assist you in your home buying or selling needs. Mortgage Maven Katrina Virgie can be reached at to help you find the mortgage that is right for you.

Friday, November 18, 2016

What you need to know about short sales - By Randee McDonald & Jennifer Scholz

Most people have heard the term “short sale” associated with certain real estate transactions.  It’s not an endearing term given to a real estate transaction that gets wrapped up quick and easy, unfortunately. 

The actual definition of a short sale is the sale of real estate where the net proceeds from selling the property will fall short of the debts secured by liens against the property. In this case, if all lien holders agree to accept less than the amount owed on the debt, a sale of the property can be accomplished.  A short sale is the last step before foreclosure.

As a seller, this can be an attractive route to go to avoid having a foreclosure on your shoulders. As a buyer, it means you’re competing with fewer buyers, but be prepared for a long process.

Here are a few tips to remember if you find yourself on the buyer side of a short sale transaction:
1.     Hold on and be prepared for anything. Once an offer is made, it must go to the bank for final approval. The bank knows – in most cases – they won’t make up all the money that is owed to them, but they do want to make sure they are getting a fair price. Do not assume the bank will just accept any offer, they won’t. In fact, be prepared for the bank to reject it. Don’t start mentally preparing for the move just yet.

2.  Be prepared to wait. It could take anywhere from a few months to the rest of your life to hear back as to whether your offer was accepted or rejected. This is serious business for all financial stakeholders involved here, and they will take their due diligence to decide if this is the best offer. As such, please don’t call your real estate agent every few hours asking if they’ve heard anything. Trust me, when they do, you’ll be the first to know.

3.  Get your ducks in a row. Make sure you’ve got your act together quickly, because if the offer is approved and accepted by all parties. It can take some real finesse to coordinate everything that needs to happen within a certain time period. The bank that owns the mortgage may have one date in which they want everything to close by, and then your lending bank may have their own set of dates, plus the inspections, etc. 

4.  Elbow grease or write a check? It is highly possible that at some point the homeowner realized that he wasn’t going to come up with the money to save the house from being sold – and – wasn’t going to see a penny from the short sale himself. Thus, he pretty much abandoned any and all maintenance or repairs for the property and basically let it go into a state of neglect. All of which you have now inherited!

Although neglect is an unfortunately side effect in short sales and foreclosures, they can sometimes be overlooked if you’ve gotten a great deal on the home and are ready and willing to deal with this sad but common occurrence. So either be ready to roll up your sleeves and do the work yourself, or write a check and hire out the work.

So the main goal here was to educate a little on the basics of a short sale and allow you to decide if going that route is a viable option for you. If you do, tread lightly and realistically. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket and patience will definitely be needed here. And if you do decide to throw your hat into the short sale game, good luck!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Selling your home during the holiday season - By Cari Turnbull

Often I consult with sellers considering getting their home ready for sale and they specifically say they don’t want to list it over the holiday season. They have various reasons for this. It’s a busy time of year with lots of parties and events to attend and host, presents to buy, cookies to bake and the list goes on.
I on the other hand think selling your home during this time of year is a fabulous opportunity to showcase your beautiful home. Holiday decorations, when done properly, can accent features in your home or even help to distract from areas that might otherwise not look great. I would keep your 10-foot blow up Santa in the closet, but tasteful front door wreaths and classic white lights can make the difference in a buyer seeing your house as their new home. 

Buying a home has a lot to do with emotion and you can absolutely tap into buyer emotion at this time of year. Most buyers do not have the creative vision to see what the house would look like decorated for the holidays. When they view it during this time, it is easy for a buyer to picture their loved ones enjoying the holiday season there. Buyers often speculate about the best place to place their Christmas tree during showings. This would take all the guess work out of it when they walked in to see your perfectly decorated tree and the stockings hung. the last few months of the year we also see an increase in buyer activity as folks are anxious to purchase a home before the end of the year. If you’re thinking of selling, I would absolutely recommend consulting a local realtor to discuss your options. 

Happy Holidays from The Turnbull Team at The Maine Real Estate Network. We are proud to serve the Windham and surrounding areas for the past 9 years.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Investing in home energy updates - By Nicole Foster up in a large farmhouse in Maine, I have many warm and cozy memories of the Crawford woodstove in the kitchen on snowy winter days and the wicked chill in the air upstairs where my bedroom was located. My parents and older siblings spent many summer afternoons gathered around the wood splitter preparing for cold months and in the winter when the coal truck would come to make it’s delivery I would press my face to the single pane glass spanning from floor to ceiling and listen to the ruckus of the coal tumbling down the chute into the cellar beneath me. 

For the past decade as a Realtor, I have visited many different style homes of all ages and unlike a typical visitor to a home, I have the unique privilege seeing areas which are often not seen including basements or crawlspaces, attics and unfinished areas.

When considering home improvement projects, it may make sense for you to place cosmetic upgrades on hold to make energy upgrade investments a priority. It does not matter if your home is relatively new or centuries old, rapid advances in money saving technologies has cultivated an entire industry whose focus is to improve the overall health and energy efficiency of buildings.

Financing, rebates and incentives may also be found locally or through Efficiency Maine’s Residential Programs. Having guidance through the process is the key to making sure that your money is being spent wisely, so don’t run out and replace all of your windows without first taking a closer look at the entire home. Integrate the kids on your energy saving journey by borrowing an easy to use electricity monitor from the Windham Public Library so everyone can see just how much electricity each appliance and device uses to help create a discussion on energy saving habits, as well!
The first important step is to hire an energy advisor to conduct an energy audit of your home. 

Through procedures and tests using door blowers, infrared cameras and combustibles safety testing, they will be able to identify opportunities for savings and point out areas where improvements addressing moisture, radon and mold may be made to improve overall air quality in the home. When selecting a company to work with be sure to ask them what they charge for different types of assessments, and if they provide a computer generated “model” of your home, a report or a checklist of suggestions. Buyers may request a seller to allow them to conduct this type of investigation during the contingency period as well, if energy consumption or having a clear plan of home improvements before purchasing is pertinent or of concern.

You may be surprised at the recommendations you receive from your energy advisor which can range from recommending new energy saving appliances or lighting fixtures to air sealing or adding or replacing insulation. Other recommendations could be weatherization, upgrades to the heating system or water heater, or how to convert to different types of fuel or install solar panels to produce electricity or hot water. To find a list of local resources to help you get started, or to learn more, visit

After having an energy audit on your home you will be in a better position to create a plan for the upgrades and home improvement projects which should be done first, to both protect your home and largest investment from the harsh elements of Mother Nature, but to also add value to your property and overall savings to your monthly household expenses. 

Now that’s wicked smart!

Nicole Foster is a Broker with ten years of experience working with buyers and sellers specializing in single family, residential and new construction at Regency Realty. She lives in Windham with her husband and four children. To learn more about Nicole visit or email her at .

Friday, October 28, 2016

Tips for selling your house in the next 60 days - By Matt Trudel

The fall and holiday season are upon us and in full swing. While it is difficult enough staging a house and keeping it ready for showings during the summer, this time of year can be brutal. Just remember that buyers are also dealing with the same type issues and will hopefully be a little understanding about the leaves that are falling and lack of color in your flower beds.

It is the season for pumpkins and spooky decorations. Those should be kept to a minimal amount. There is a difference between a few pumpkins and gourds, and feeling like you are at a farm stand. The same goes for ghosts and goblins. Some people are not into blood and spiders. Try to keep it simple and that will also make it easier to remove right after Halloween. Do not leave those decorations up.

Thanksgiving time can be a very difficult time to show your home. Especially if you are hosting Thanksgiving and have relatives staying with you. Try to be as flexible as possible. Explain to visitors that there might be showings and any help they can provide, like keeping their own rooms picked up and beds made, would be very helpful. Buyers will understand that you have a house full. Just be sure your Realtor explains to the other Realtor your situation. It is better to show the property and let the buyer see it then to not show it and miss a potential sale. Once Thanksgiving is done, put away all the decorations and extra dishes you probably had to drag out.

Now it's into December and on to Christmas. Keep the decorations to a minimal amount and simple. Lighting your house up like the Griswold's isn't going to help sell it, and it will more than likely hinder the sale. Less clutter and simple lighting will allow buyers to still see the home without tripping over extension cords and blown up snowmen. You also want to do your best with shoveling walkways and even a path around the house if possible. Although buyers cannot see the whole yard, at least they can see how big it is. Hopefully you took plenty of summer photos to show off the green grass and colorful gardens.

Last couple of hints. With the colder weather coming you want to keep your house comfortable for buyers. Leave the heat up during the days you have showings. Cold houses turn buyers away. It's a fact. Also, leave the lights on. This is so the buyers aren't searching for light switches and struggling in the dark. Lastly, if you have a fireplace and can leave it on, then do so. If you cannot leave it on, then you should neatly stack some wood in it as if it were ready to go. Enjoy the holidays and good luck selling this year.

Matthew Trudel is the owner of Five Star Realty, 32 Tandberg Trail in Windham.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Real estate - Home search fail - by Rick Yost

The home search process can be a trying one. There can be twist, turns, ups and downs. There can be multi offer bid lost and homes sold before there is an opportunity to see them. Before buyers get too discouraged with the process, they should consider a making a few changes to their search.
The first change comes from a heart to heart talk with a spouse, significant other, or even with oneself. Buyer need to ask tough questions and give honest answers.

While it is nice to have two and a half baths, could two baths suffice? Can the buyer live without a garage? These are all questions and compromises that should be addressed before going any further with a search. Theses answers will help broaden or narrow the search for that one right home. Buyers need to have honest answers to the must have and deal breaker questions in order to jump start their search.

Next, it is time to consider homes that need some cosmetic work. Today's marketplace is putting a premium on move in ready homes. This means that homes that are showing a little wear and are a bit dated are not getting the same level of attention as the move in ready homes do. A willingness to overlook unsightly colors and bad carpets may allow a buyer the opportunity to find the house of
their dreams at an affordable price. After some new paint and carpets, that is. A buyer should be open to taking the equity that the seller left on the table.

 Next, consider another neighborhood or town. If a buyer can't find their dream home in the Windham Hill area, they should consider the River Road corridor. If the home can't be found in Windham, a buyer should consider Raymond. Often times the home of a buyer’s dreams is just a neighborhood or town away. Broadening the search is a great way to find the right home. Another up side maybe a lower price on the same home in a bordering town. Similar homes sell for significantly different prices in Gorham and Buxton. A bordering town may offer a buyer the economic ability to buy the home they want, but couldn't afford in the first choice town.

Next, it is time to dig deep. Buyers may need to tap all resources available for any and all extra money available. By borrowing from friends and relatives, selling some assets, or raising cash in any other way, a buyer may increase the price range they can search in. Sometime a $10,000 bump in affordability is all it takes to make that dream home affordable. With interest rates at historically low rates, buying as much house as possible makes great sense.

Lastly, if all else fails, buyers should consider extending their lease for six months.

It is a good time to take what was learned from the current search (likes, dislikes, deal killers) and reflect. These reflective times should be used to refine the future search. This is also a great time to save additional dollars to be used in the purchase of the future home. Buyers should keep in close contact with their realtor during this time, watching the market, watching mortgage rates, and watching for that dream home to hit the market.

Good luck to buyers in their search and as always use a qualified Realtor to find that dream home.

Rick Yost is a realtor, real estate author and long time Windham resident. Rick can be reached within all of your real estate questions at