Friday, April 28, 2017

Mobile versus modular home by Rick Yost

As a realtor, I am called upon to assist in the buying and selling all types of homes.  That includes single-family homes, multi-family homes, condominiums, co-ops, camps, etc.   I have worked with masonry buildings, log homes, stick built homes, modular homes, and mobile homes. Of all these types of sales, the most confusing distinction, in my experience, is the difference between a modular home and a mobile home.
By legal definition, a mobile home built since June 1976, must be built to the National Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards. These standards are set by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This is why mobile homes are often referred to as HUD Homes. 

Mobile homes will have a red and silver seal certifying that it is in compliance with the HUD Code.
A modular built in the State of Maine is currently built to the 2009 International Residential Code for one and two-family dwellings, the 2009 Uniform Plumbing Code, and the 2011 National Electrical Code. Modular homes are the only homes with a state code no matter what town or city they go in. 

The State of Maine also designates that modular homes are allowed in any zone that other single family homes are permitted. What does that really mean?

 Mobile homes are built on a permanent chassis. This is the metal frame that the home is built on and the two to four I-beams used to absorb the weight of the home. This chassis is usually set on concrete blocks placed on a concrete slab and the home is built to a performance base specification. This means the home meets requirements set by HUD.  For example, it has to have a roof that holds a certain amount of weight per square foot, it must stand up to a certain amount of wind and it must meet certain energy requirements.

Modular homes are transported on separate carriers that return to the manufacturer. They are designed to be placed on a foundation and supported by lally-columns (those steel posts in your basement). 

Modular homes are built to an exacting standard that calls for very specific performance and quite often call for specific materials or supplies. A modular today is being built to the same standards as a stick built house. Both stick built and modular, must meet the 2009 IRC code, the 2009 UPC and the 2011 NEC.

As a realtor, the difference between a mobile and a modular is a matter of value. A mobile home tends to depreciate over time and can be considered as chattel (personal property) if it is in a mobile home park or on leased land. 

A modular home is considered real estate when it is built and will appreciate with the general real estate market over time. In my opinion, today’s modular homes are built as well as, if not better than stick built homes with similar finishes. Consider it a stick built home that was built inside.   

I hope this helps define the difference between mobile and modular

Rick is a realtor, real estate author, and long-time Windham resident. You can reach Rick with all your real estate questions and needs at:

Friday, April 21, 2017

Remodeling Towards Zero by Kevin Ronan

If you are not ready to move or build a new home consider retrofitting your existing home to be more energy efficient. As important as building new zero energy homes is, retrofitting existing homes in our communities can be just as energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Homeowners have realized that you can successfully remodel older homes on a clear path to zero.

Why should you remodel your older home towards zero?

*You save a lot of money on energy bills.
*Curb carbon emissions.
* You can improve the indoor environment, health and comfort of your family.
* It allows your family the opportunity to stay in the neighborhood that you love.
* It will increase the value of your home.

The first step on your path towards zero is to “Know what you don’t know!” Everything that you ever wanted to know and were afraid to ask about toxic-free, sustainable, recycled products, from the lighting to the floor, from installation to paint is available both offline and online. Be an informed consumer when making decisions about remodeling. There are many choices out there!

Also, on your path towards zero, homeowners should take advantage of buying raw materials locally and try to re-use as much existing materials as possible. There is a lot of recycled lumber, cork, bamboo and glass out there to name a few. Not only can this save you money on your remodel, but is also environmentally friendly as it reduces the amount of unnecessary waste.

Another area to look at is the mechanical systems in your home. One quick and easy fix is to buy new green appliances. I am not talking about the green avocado appliances from the sixties. There are a wide variety of Energy Star Certified appliances at many price points. Another easy fix, that I took advantage of in my own home, is to replace existing lighting with LED lights. Not only will they save you money and electricity but they also come with the added advantage of keeping your home cooler during the hot summer months.

Finally, a well-insulated home will save energy and resources while also greatly minimizing your electric bill. Be sure to insulate, your windows, your walls, roof and foundation.

To get started, homeowners may want to contract with a Certified Home Energy Auditor. has many of these professionals listed with customer ratings. A good auditor can review a year’s worth of utility bills and determine the energy efficiency of appliances, water heaters and the heating system as well as evaluate the energy efficiency of your lighting. They will also rate the quality of the windows and doors and estimate their installation and the current level of the insulation of the shell of your home as well.   The most important result of hiring a professional Home Energy Auditor is that he can help you come up with a gradual cost effective plan. Many people have financial plans for retirement that are implemented over many years, sometimes even decades. Making a long-term remodeling plan for your home is a great way to gradually implement measures that will keep you on the path to zero without over-taxing your budget.

Kevin Ronan, Associate Broker affiliated with Alliance Realty, 290 Bridgeton Road in Westbrook:, or call: 207-838-4855.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Assessed value versus appraised value of homes by Katie Kinney of Landing Real Estate

Along with the fair market value of a home, there are two other methods of home valuation: assessed value (also referred to as tax value) and appraised value. Assessed value is used for property taxation almost exclusively. Appraised value has a few more purposes and one of the most common is when buying or selling a home. The appraisal presumably should be at or very near to the eventual selling price.
Many buyers and home owners look at the tax value recorded at the municipality and assume that number represents a fair market value, which it usually does not. One of the purposes of property taxes is to provide monetary values to meet the town’s annual budget. Town assessors may not be licensed appraisers, may not consider recent property improvements or current condition and may not compare the subject property to similar recently sold properties in the area. 

An appraisal is ordered for the specific purpose of determining the fair (or current) market value of a property. This number usually is very close to the eventual sales price. Appraisers must be licensed and rely on current market data, recent sales (within around 6 months) on properties that are similar in size, style, features and location to the subject property. The appraisal essentially protects the lender and the buyer from artificially high home prices.

When discussing assessed value and appraised value, keep in mind a property’s worth is defined differently under each value. It can be common that a home’s assessed value will not keep up with the local real estate market’s rises and falls; and this is usually because they are only conducted every one to three years. Therefore, when buying or selling a property, the appraised value (or market value) will be most beneficial to the homeowner.

Friday, April 7, 2017

What you need to do to get your house ready to sell by Carrie Colby

Take a look at your house from the street. What do you notice? Have your shutters faded over time? Does your front door need a fresh coat of paint? How does your mailbox look? Ask yourself: “Can I do something simple to make it look like I take pride and ownership in my property?”

Consider your backyard as well. Curb appeal means the back, not just the front. Have your decks power-washed, or painted or stained.

Clean up all the fallen branches and rake the lawn to freshen up the grass and fertilize to get it to green up faster.

Check the condition of the garage and driveway. They often take up a lot of visual real estate in the front of a house; so problems here can seriously detract from curb appeal. Have any driveway cracks repaired; power-wash the door and the garage or paint it.

Inside your home: be sure to clear the clutter. It’s time to get out the packing boxes. If you are serious about moving, start packing now. Think about getting a small storage locker. Lighten up the house. If the living room has too much furniture, it can make the room seem smaller than it is. De-personalize your home: put away the family photos and clear the counters and coffee tables. Buyers want to see themselves in the house not you and your family.

Pack away your winter clothes, so the closets appear more spacious. People want to go into a property and see that there is ample room for their things.

Make sure that everything goes together throughout the house. Does your bedspread match the room color? If not, buy an inexpensive bedspread that will coordinate. The same goes for throw pillows on your couch. Use small, inexpensive items to pull color themes together to create an appealing appearance.

Consider getting a home inspection. Most home buyers get a home inspection before completing the purchase of a home. Why not find out ahead of time which items the home inspector will report that need attention?

The key is to be proactive. Maybe there is a small drip in the faucet or there aren’t electrical ground-fault circuit interrupters where they are supposed to be, near water. These can be a small fix, and it creates a less-hassled transaction.

Some of the big items that can make a transaction fall through are septic problems; issues with the water if you have a well. Get your water tested including tests for Radon, Arsenic and Uranium. Even if you don’t fix the problems you will know ahead of time and during negotiations with buyers you will know what the costs associated will be.

 We all see transactions fall through because of issues over home inspections. Then the house has to go back on the market, and everyone is disappointed. The bottom line: Don’t give prospective buyers reasons to check your house off the list. When people look at a house, they are really looking for reasons not to buy. They are looking for things wrong with it.

The bottom line is be proactive and prepare your home to put it on the market in every aspect and it will stand out from the other homes that look neglected and not well cared for. You will benefit in the end and get your home SOLD.

Carrie Colby
Premier Properties
1263 Roosevelt Trail, Raymond, ME 04071

Friday, March 31, 2017

How to know when it’s time to move by Nicole Foster

Maybe you had a clear plan of how long you would live in your current home when you purchased it or maybe your circumstances have since changed those plans; recognizing the signs of when it’s time to move on can be difficult. If there is no pressing issue, which provides a sense of urgency to making a decision to sell, such as being relocated or expecting triplets, it can be more convenient to put it off until later. Whether you are already dreaming of moving or the thought of selling has never crossed your mind, it is important to recognize when it may be best for you.

Having some reserves as a cushion to work with to prepare your home for its sale is ideal. Many sellers will have at the very least, minor repairs, paint touch ups or updating to do which will be out of pocket expenses. Be sure to make yourself familiar with the highest sale price in your neighborhood as well as the lowest over the past 180 days - before you get started on any projects beyond maintenance. If you are uncertain of your area or neighborhood’s sold prices, contact a Realtor. This will help you to determine whether or not staying in your current home and renovating or making significant upgrades makes good financial sense; or if you are making a decision rooted in emotional connections to your home. may currently have expansion potential by weatherproofing a damp basement, finishing off attic space or even adding a second story to your current home; but before taking on costly additions you will want to confirm you aren’t making big improvements for only a small return on your investment. When adding on doesn’t add up, or your municipal codes will not permit the style of addition your situation or property requires, it makes sense to consider selling and purchasing a more suitable home instead.  

On the flip side, perhaps you no longer require a 4-bedroom, 3-bath, two-story home and don’t wish to be the curator of vacant rooms forever. Carefully consider your energy costs and long term ability to keep up with the yard work and home maintenance when deciding if staying makes sense. It can be hard to leave the home you have so many priceless memories in, but we will not always be in a seller’s market and there is a season for all things. 

Sometimes the location is no longer right for you (and it is ok to admit it). Over time the dynamics of a neighborhood can dramatically change due to new homeowners and renters, association rules or personal relations. Perhaps your children are not thriving in the local school district and you would like a change for them. That 40-minute daily commute you thought was “no problem” has maybe become more cumbersome than it used to be just a few years earlier. 

It can be difficult to say “Good Bye” to your home, let a trusted Realtor help you move on when the time does arrive.

Nicole Foster has enjoyed being a Broker with Regency Realty for the past 11yrs - working w/buyers, seller & investors specializing in new construction. Nicole is a Windham resident and mother of four children.

Friday, March 24, 2017

New construction - it’s simpler than you think by Cari Turnbull

With inventory in Greater Portland currently so low, many of my buyer clients are turning to new construction for their home purchase. You can not only get the home that you want, exactly the way you want it - you can usually do that within your budget. 
If building a new home is of interest to you, make sure you choose a realtor who has experience with new construction to guide you through the process. We are very fortunate to have some great builders in this area who are able to do what we call a “turn key” build package. What this means is that you no longer have to take out an expensive and hard to come by construction loan; these builders will front the money for the project and you will close one time on the house when it is completed. 

During the process you can be as involved (or not involved) as you would like to be. Most buyers love the fact that they can choose every aspect of the home, from the lot to the home style, to siding color to the kitchen design. construction does differ in a few ways. One is that the builder will likely require a significant non-refundable deposit to start the project. Since they are fronting all of the money, they want assurance that you will make every effort to close on the property. The deposit can range from 3-20% depending on the builder and the cost of the home. 

The next difference is that there will be two appraisals done, one at the beginning of the process once you are under contract, to ensure that the home is worth the amount that you are under contract for. The second appraisal will happen when the home is completed to ensure it was finished according to the specifications. The third thing that is different is that you receive a one year home warranty with all new construction projects in the state of Maine. 

If you’re not finding a home you like on the market, or have always dreamed of building a new home - you should absolutely explore this option.

Cari Turnbull is a Windham resident. She and her team represent buyers and sellers in the Greater Portland Area. For all your real estate needs contact Cari at:

Friday, March 17, 2017

What you need to know about property liens by Randee McDonald

A lien is a notice that gets attached to your property, revealing that a creditor claims that you owe them money. This lien is typically a public record and filed in Maine with the Registry of Deeds. 

When you are buying or selling a house, there is nothing real estate professionals (or a potential buyer or seller) hate more, than to be “surprised” to find out there is a lien on the property in question. In order to sell or refinance a property, you must have clear title to the property, and in order to clear up the title, you must pay off the lien. Therefore, creditors know that putting a lien on property is a cheap and almost guaranteed way of collecting what they are owed.

A few examples of common types of liens that could be put on a property are listed here. 

Property Tax Liens:
Property tax liens unfortunately are common, in large part because they are prioritized over any other claim to the property. When property taxes go unpaid, the government may have the right to step in and sell the home to pay off that balance owed.
IRS Tax Liens/Unpaid Federal taxes – not just local property taxes – can also cause a lien to be placed on the property. The IRS has their own aggressive process for recouping unpaid taxes, including garnished wages and placing a lien on the property.

“Mechanic’s” Liens:
These are placed on the property when a contractor has performed work on the property, but was not paid. Maine law allows a contractor who makes improvements (with services or materials) to a property, to secure payment with a mechanic’s lien, when the customer fails to pay the amount due. The filing of a timely and properly drafted mechanic’s lien is a critical means of assuring payment - as the mechanic’s lien goes ahead of the mortgage on the property.

Judgment, Child Support and Alimony Liens:
If a homeowner was successfully sued, the winning party can place a judgment lien on the property should the homeowner fail to pay the entire judgment amount. This guarantees that the winning party will eventually get the money they are owed.

Mortgage Liens:
When a mortgage is taken out on a property, the lender has a claim to ownership to offset the risk of lending money. This lien differs from the other types as this lien is voluntary. The homeowner agrees as a stipulation to the mortgage, that the lender has a claim – or lien – to the property until the debt is paid.

The Moral - Unfortunately: Maine statutes have no specific provision for the release of a lien.  However, according to M.R.S.A. § 3263, property owners can file a petition requesting that the court order the lien holder to accept a bond and release the lien.  So - what’s the moral of the story? Purchase title insurance to protect you and your home against hidden issues, like liens. Title insurance is the best way to protect you from unforeseen legal and financial title discrepancies. Don’t think it will happen to you? Think again.