Friday, June 22, 2018

Now is the time to put your house on the market by Carrie Colby

The inventory of homes for sale in the area is low, possibly turning the housing market into one that is in favor of home sellers.

According to the National Association of Realtors, “Comparing the number of homes available for sale in April 2018 to one year ago, we see that inventories in June are nearly 14 percent lower than one year ago. While inventory has continued to decline, sales have been increasing robustly. The year over year change in existing home sales has seen double-digit or near-double-digit gains for 10 consecutive months.”

This is a positive thing for sellers. We are seeing an increase in multiple offers and quicker sales. I personally put two properties on the market in Raymond and they were both under contract within a week. While they are not selling for the prices we saw during the housing boom, they are at least selling.

These two particular properties were on the market for the past two years yet, when I re-listed them this spring there was quite a bit of interest. One buyer who contacted me couldn’t believe their luck when they wanted to make an offer on Wednesday after they saw the property on a Sunday and it was already under contract.
There are buyers actively looking and finding it hard to locate a property they want to buy.
If you are considering putting your home on the market now is a good time. While prices are rising and the inventory is low, it is still important to price your home correctly.

A reputable real estate agent can help you by doing a comparative market analysis. This is done by comparing sales in your area to homes that are similar to yours. We compare the lot size, square footage, number of bed rooms, the existence of a garage etc. then we adjust accordingly to come up with a price. 

If you do price your home correctly you may see a quick sale or possibly multiple offers. I saw a piece on the “Today Show” explaining that homes in other parts of the country are seeing sales way above the asking price. While I don’t see that happening here and I don’t have a crystal ball, I do see that the idea, that once again, real estate is becoming a good investment.

Another indicator that the market is making a rebound is when the people who flip houses for a profit are coming back into the market. If you drive around the area, you can see some properties that have been neglected over the past few years are being bought and rebuilt or improved. This is a good sign of confidence in the housing market.

We do see a more robust real estate market in this area during this summer; so this also makes it a good time to consider listing your home. Even if you have tried to sell in the past few years, you may want to prepare to list your home now.

Carrie Colby is the Broker/Owner of Premier Properties in Raymond and she can be reached at 207-655-2225. Check out all the current listings at

Friday, June 15, 2018

Book Review: “I Found You” by Lisa Jewell. Reviewed by Jennifer Dupree, Circulation Supervisor at Windham Public Library

"I Found You” is a novel of three interwoven stories: Lily, a young bride from the Ukraine, with a recently missing husband; Alice, a middle-aged woman with a houseful of kids and dogs who finds a man on the beach who cannot remember his name or his circumstance; and the Ross family, who twenty years ago, goes on what turns out to be a nightmare vacation. Lisa Jewell weaves these stories together with a deft hand into one un-put-down-able, character-driven suspense novel.

Who is this man on the beach and why is he there? He seems like a good guy, but maybe his amnesia is making him forget what a jerk he was. Or, maybe he’s just pretending to be kind and gentle. Maybe his motives for being on the beach are to hide from a wife he shouldn’t have married or maybe he’s trying to escape a past. Is he Lily’s husband or did he kill Lily’s husband? Is he the man who, as a teenager, watched his sister get assaulted by another teenager? Or is he the one who got away with it?

This is one of those rare novels that is both addictive and well-written. The story lines are complicated, the characters are compelling, and the pacing is fast and satisfying.

Why should I use a Realtor® to buy or sell my home? By Richie Vaurx

A Realtor® is a Real Estate Broker/Associated Broker or a Sales Agent that has been accepted by his/her peers and is committed to a Code of Ethics that goes well beyond a real estate professional. They are commitment to excellence and high standards.

So always use a Realtor®. They will look out for your best interests. Whether you are buying or selling, commit to a person you can trust and is educated to help you make wise decisions.
As a buyer, you will want to look for an agency that does not charge you to represent you - as some agencies will charge. Always ask if the real estate company charges. Most buyers’ agencies get paid by the seller-side at closing. Just as important, always ask for a copy of your contract for your records so you know what to expect.

A Realtor® knows the market and knows your neighborhood. With the current inventory shortage that we are experiencing right now, it is important to know your inventory. When a property comes on the market and meets your criteria, your agent should act quickly and arrange for you to view it to see if it meets your wants and needs. If so, act quickly to write an offer. a property is priced appropriately, it won’t be on the open market for very long. As a result, be very prepared. Unless you are making a cash offer - always, always, always have a pre-qualification letter in hand so it can be presented to the seller’s agent, at the time of the offer. Be aware, that if there has been a lot of activity on a property, it has become commonplace that agents are submitting offers well above asking price.

Also, other things you should know about houses are if they are: occupied, vacant, in foreclosure, short-sale or bank owned. You should know as much information as possible about each property before making an appointment. Also make sure you tell your Realtor® your timeframe for buying or selling.

The more information you share with your Realtor® - the better he/she can serve you.
So, ask your Realtor® all the important questions and hopefully they will guide you to making the right decisions. Happy house hunting!

Richie Vraux is a Realtor®/ Broker with Remax Allied with more than 20 years’ experience.
If you need advice either for buying or selling, call Richie at 317-1297.

Friday, June 1, 2018

A fun investment in the Lakes Region by Kevin Ronan

Congratulations if you are a homeowner or renter in the Sebago Lakes Region, enjoying all the activities the lakes has to offer! Have you ever considered an investment property? A summer camp or four-season rental may be within in your reach.

If managed properly, you can be enjoying rental income with very little effort from the start. Differentiate your property from other rental units in the region is a good way to go. Favorable reviews from renters go a long way towards maximizing your earning potential. you have investment property or plan to purchase one in the future, there are a couple of recommendations for a success experience. Start by decluttering the interior. Renters like space for their “stuff”. Empty closets and make sure hangers are available to hang their clothes and empty drawers for the guests’ clothing. Hooks behind the bathroom and bedroom doors can add to organization space in small camps with limited closet space.

There are many low-cost upgrades that will contribute to your guests’ opinions and can positively influence their reviews. Rule number one - clean your rental. Renters expect to pay a cleaning fee; just make sure the camp is clean so the renters feel as if the fee is worth paying for. Elbow grease doesn’t cost much but goes a long way. A fresh coat of paint is inexpensive and can brighten up a room and contribute to the cleanliness. Make sure all the touted appliances work.

If you are providing linens make sure that they match. Renters are used to paying a premium for linens and they expect full sets of towels for each guest. Be sure to stock the bathrooms and the kitchen with the basics; Shampoo, body wash and toilet paper are a must in all bathrooms and basic cleaning supplies, and condiments in the kitchen. Your guests will greatly appreciate not having to buy these necessities.

Offer enough seating on the deck for all guests and including beach chairs on the beach are a nice touch. Make sure you have activities available for your guests to enjoy both in good and bad weather. If the weather is not cooperating, then always have a selection of games, playing cards, puzzles and books. Compile a binder highlighting all the activities the lakes region has to offer; fishing, boating, swimming, restaurants amusement parks and any special events that may be occurring. Make sure your BBQ equipment available, clean and functioning.

Finally, when advertising the property make sure that the property description is accurate and use updated photographs. Inaccurate descriptions not only disappoint renters but lead to negative ratings. All the short-term rental sites provide a great forum for guest feedback. Positive customer testimonials are a great way to attract new and repeat guests.

An investment property in the Sebago Lakes Region can be an attractive, financial opportunity and fun for all included. Have a wonderful summer!

Kevin Ronan, Associate Broker affiliated with Alliance Realty, 290 Bridgton Road, and Westbrook can be reached at 207-838-4855 or

Friday, May 25, 2018

Getting ready for the big day by Nicole Foster

The final days and weeks leading up to the closing date of a real estate transaction are often consumed with organized chaos for both buyers and sellers. Time management and difficult decisions are a large part of each day surrounded by newspapers, bubble wrap, boxes and limited functionality, while maintaining their normal lives of work and school because they must.

At this point, both buyers and sellers have become experts on topics which they knew nothing about before and have learned how a night of sleep can make a difference how they respond to a question or issue. Here are a few reminders to help keep you on track and what to expect as you get ready for the big day, because you deserve a smooth closing after all you have overcome.

Check the expiration date of your driver’s license in advance to make sure it will be valid on the closing date. If you have an out of state driver’s license, or if your primary residence is not in Maine, you should inquire with the title company in advance of the closing, to see if you are eligible for a waiver of the Maine withholding tax. It is important to request this form; complete it and submit prior to your closing.

Before the closing, be sure to contact all utility providers for your previous address and the new location to transfer your account to the new address to make sure you will have service and sellers should stop service after closing to avoid being charged. 

Mail and address changes:
Visit the post office to arrange for your mail to be forwarded to your new mailing address. Call each individual line of credit and account holder to update your address and cancel all automatic deliveries to your previous address. You may want to exchange contact information with the buyer or seller in case you receive their mail following the closing; or you can return it to the post office or contact their real estate agent to let them know.

Closing disclosure:
Review your closing disclosure carefully and compare it to your loan estimate upon receipt. If you find any discrepancies, then contact your lender immediately and ask any questions that you have about the terms. Ask the title company’s processor or your real estate agent to help explain any areas you are uncertain about. Changes to this document can cause delays to the closing date so it is important to confirm receipt and review ASAP.

Final walk through:
Most agreements will allow for the buyer to visit the property prior to the closing to confirm the seller has vacated the premise and it is free of personal property (unless otherwise agreed upon) and any debris has been removed. Buyers will want to confirm the property is in the condition agreed upon in the contract and check on any repairs which were to be done following the inspections. If you find some of these issues are not satisfactory, your buyer agent will help you by reviewing what options exist and creating a plan of resolution, which may or may not include delaying the closing date.
Wire fraud:
Unfortunately, there has been a sharp increase in hackers intercepting emailed wire transfer instructions. Carefully read the Cyber/Wire Fraud Advisory provided by your real estate agent and follow the instructions from the title company to take steps to protect yourself. Never initiate wires without double checking and verifying the legitimacy of the destination.

What to expect:
Allow plenty of time for your closing and do not schedule yourself to be elsewhere a few hours later in the event a delay occurs at the table. There are times when a name is spelled incorrectly, a required document is missing and needs to be obtained or you need to wait for funds to be wired. Sometimes you may wonder when you walk into your closing: “Who are all of these people?” The closing agent will be seated where the large amounts of paper may be easily explained to both buyer and seller and passed for signatures. The buyers and sellers meet, if they have not yet already, and both of those parties’ real estate agents will accompany them. Often the buyer’s lender will also attend to help answer any questions regarding their loan or financing.

Afterwards you will get to leave with lots of important documents for safe keeping during a tumultuous time so have a plan in place for how and where these will travel and be stored to avoid aggravation and don’t forget your new keys!

Friday, May 18, 2018

How to navigate new construction transactions by Katie Kinney

Building and purchasing new construction seems simple, right? Just pick out the floor plan you want, choose the perfect lot, and watch it go up. No sellers to deal with, no unexpected repairs that come up during inspection, no drawn-out negotiations. Right?

Not exactly. In any real estate transaction, it’s important to have a professional on your side that understands the process and will be able to help guide you.

One of the first steps of building a new home is to decide whom you will hire to build the house. Finding a reputable builder you trust is very important. Your agent will be able to recommend builders they have worked with in the past. You want to work with a builder who has a high quality of workmanship and who offers some type of warranty. If you are having these discussions in the beginning of the transaction, it will save time and headaches later in the transaction.

Another very important step as an agent representing clients in a new construction is to go to the town offices where the land is located. You will need to research the zone requirements and ordinances to confirm you can build a house according to your plans.

The town will be providing the certificate of occupancy once the house is finished. By communicating and complying with the town from the start you will expedite the move in date.
Even if you’ve purchased a home before, the contract for new construction is very different and an experienced agent can help you make sure you understand everything - from floor plans to earnest money requirements, deadlines for requesting changes, and timelines for completion. It is very important to have a third party who represents your interests in the transaction. It pays to be protected. almost every new construction there are unforeseen extra costs. An experienced agent will provide guidance as to how to plan and budget for these overages. The agent will also go to bat for their clients during the negotiation process and navigate the uncomfortable money conversations. You will be very happy to have an agent represent you during your new construction transaction.

Katie Kinney has helped many clients facilitate the new construction process. Feel free to reach out to her to help you with your real estate transaction. cell - 603 205 2276.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Home staging helps sell properties quickly by Mel Oldakowski

A common question I am asked from seller clients is, “Will staging my home help it sell faster and for more money?” 

It can be overwhelming to clear a home that’s been occupied for many years. But with a small investment of time and/or money, homes that are set up to sell can reap more rewards than ones that haven’t been staged. This includes staging for vacant houses. Every seller has different circumstances and budgets but with the right staging strategy it can make a significant impact on how long a home sits on the market.

Home staging is about illusions. It's about perfecting the art of creating moods. Staging makes your house look bigger, brighter, cleaner, and warmer; and best of all it makes home buyers want to buy it. Every agent knows that the moment their buyer is visualizing themselves in the home, the offer comes next. 

Why? Because people buy on emotion and being able to “see” the family living in the space is essential! In a 2015 National Association of Realtors (NAR) survey, over 81percent of buyers said it was easier to visualize the STAGED property as their next home.

Your home’s flaws can be overlooked. According to a NAR report, almost a third of buyers will overlook property faults when a home is professionally staged. Professional home staging is not only for homes that are a “mess” but it also makes a significant difference in the selling price for homes that are “typical.”

Home buyers today are more in tune with the market than previous generations; they know what they want, and they’re willing to wait to get it. Over 95 percent of buyers go online first to look at photos of a home before they inquire or preview it. A buyer needs to connect with a property right away - which is why first impressions are crucial.
Once you’ve decided to sell your home, you must start detaching from it. This can be difficult to do. Sellers have memories and emotions tied in the home which can make it hard for them to be objective. By getting a home stager, one ensures that the property is viewed objectively and packaged in a way that is appealing to others. You have to decide whether you just want the house sold or if you want the possibility of selling it faster and for more money?

One of the best things about using a professional company to stage a home is that the seller can relax. They can rest assured that everything possible has been done to sell the property for the best price as quickly as possible. A stager will take care of everything when it comes to design, staging, and aesthetics. That leaves the seller time and energy to focus on other things, such as the upcoming move. The seller can also have peace of mind knowing that their property is in a competitive space with other properties.

If you are considering a move and want more information on marketing your home for top dollar contact me today by phone at 207.205.0121 or by email at