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. 

New 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.

Friday, March 10, 2017

How to prepare now - for putting your house on the market this spring by Amy Krikken

“I'm ready,” you say to yourself; “Ready to put the house on the market this spring!”
You have heard you need to have a yard sale and get rid of STUFF, but what more can you do to prepare for the best presentation and eventual sale of your home? There is plenty to consider, but where can you spend your time and money, to realize best results? 

Yes, to the yard sale. If you haven't used Aunt Betty's beautiful fruit bowl and it's just collecting dust on the highest shelf in the hutch, then it's probably time to let it go. 

Consider your possessions and rehome any that are no longer serving you. De-clutter and then de-clutter some more. You are aiming for an almost blank palette so that a potential buyer could come in and IMAGINE THEMSELVES in your home.  
Dirty carpets are one of the first things a potential buyer sees when touring a home, and how it translates in their mind is this: "Oh gosh, we are going to have to replace those right away; we will have to account for that in our offer."  

So do yourself a favor; either steam clean the carpets yourself, or hire a company to come do so. Odors love to hide in carpet as well, so there's a two for one helpful hint, an added benefit of a steam clean.

Do you have any broken tiles, railings, windowsills, holes in drywall? If so, fix them. I can assure you that they will be noticed by the potential future homeowner. 

Are there rooms that could use a fresh coat of paint? Either roll up your sleeves, or hire a painter.  Choosing neutral colors, and sprucing up your home this way will yield great on-line pictures, thereby bringing more buyers to your home.  Studies show that well painted and staged homes sell for a higher average sales price. 

About Staging:  
It can get elaborate, but any homeowner can employ FREE tactics, by looking honestly at their space, and casting a non-bias eye toward it. Do you have mismatched throw pillows on the couch? Choose to take the least matching pair out of the equation.  Use what you already have to your advantage, even if it means subtracting it. You have two huge couches, but they overwhelm the space, making your living room feel tiny.  Can you store the couch somewhere while you are trying to sell?  Your mantra should be: LESS IS MORE, LESS IS MORE. 

Do you have proper lighting, or does the back bedroom suffer from a dimly lit corner lamp, responsible for shedding all of the light in that room? Light and bright is the name of the game. 

Lastly, do not forget about curb appeal.  A beautiful planter filled with spring’s bounty of daisies, petunia's, tulips or the like - will put smiles on faces, and set the tone for the trip inside your home.   
Spring will be here very soon. Inventory is very low, buyers are waiting. Are they looking for a home like yours? Let's find out. Call me for a free conversation about your home.  Maybe it's time to sell? I can arm you with information to help you make the best decision.

For more information, call Amy at 207-317-1338 or email her at .
Amy Krikken is a realtor at Rock Star Realtor, Better Homes and Gardens/The Masiello Group

Friday, March 3, 2017

Never give up - I may have a solution for you! By Matt Trudel

Have you been turned down or having trouble getting approved for financing, but want to buy a home? Do NOT give up!  You might still have some very good options. There are several reasons people get turned down for financing. Many times it is not their credit rating, but because they don't meet the debt-to-income ratios required by lenders. Other times, it is their credit rating or FICO score that is too low. In both cases, don't give up yet; you still have many options to potentially buy that home. Here are just a few possibilities to consider:

If income or debt-to-income is the problem, there are a few common options to look at. There are some lending institutions that will look at a buyer's situation on a case by case basis. And even though they may not be able to sell your mortgage on the secondary market, they may decide to offer you a mortgage that they will keep in house. This is generally at a slightly higher interest rate. 

Another option is private financing, which can be very different than owner financing.  There are investors who will loan money and act as the bank. However, they generally charge points and a higher interest rate. Owner financing is sometimes an option. Creatively, I prefer to use a blend of these options, especially if the buyer has substantial reserves and other assets.  Show me a willing and ready buyer with money in the bank and I will find a way to get them into a home.

If your credit score or FICO score is too low to qualify, there are options for that as well.  Which option or options we choose depends on just how much work needs to be done. I have helped many buyers work with agencies who get results and repair credit rather quickly. How quick depends on what needs to be repaired and how hard you work to assist in repairing your credit.  Bankruptcies and foreclosures are difficult, while other issues like medical and student loans are fairly simple. Every situation is unique, and the key is to not give up. Work towards your goal with diligence and determination.  

Find an experienced realtor who has worked with people in situations like yours. Again, find an experienced realtor who has worked with people in situations like yours. I repeated that because it is extremely important to find a realtor with experience and knowledge of how to handle situations like yours. You want a realtor who is creative and good at solving problems. You want a realtor who has helped others successfully in the past. It shows that the realtor has the patience and understanding to work with you through the whole process. As realtors we are here to help you and guide you through the process of reaching your goal of owning your own home.

Article provided by: Matthew Trudel, Broker and Owner of Five Star Realty, Windham, 207/939-6971.


Friday, February 24, 2017

House hunting mistakes by Rick Yost

Buying a home is an exciting and emotional experience.  Our homes make up such a big part of who we are and how we live.  It is important to not let your emotional side lead you into house buying mistakes.  It is very easy to get caught up in the moment and the excitement of buying a home; but it’s essential to put emotions aside and make the most rational decision possible.  After all, you will be there awhile.

There are several common mistakes that home buyers make when dealing with an emotional decision. By being aware of these mistakes and avoiding them, you will be much happier in your home in the long run.

Don’t look at homes you cannot afford.  It is easy to fall in love with a home that is 10, 20, or even 30 thousand dollars beyond your price range; but this puts you in a position of stretching to buy a house you love. Often this leaves buyers “house poor” - a term used to describe having a home payment so large that you cannot afford life’s other pleasures. If your budget allows for a $1500 per month payment, but you fall in love with a home that requires a $1800 per month payment, sacrifices must be made. Some of those sacrifices may be more than you want to make after living in your home a few months.

In a market that is hot like, Windham is right now, it might be necessary to make an offer quickly.  Do not let the need to make a quick offer rush your decision.  Ask your buyer broker to monitor any offers and request a day to make an offer. Sleep on the proposal you want to make and make a rational decision the next day.  This allows you to contemplate living in the house and the home’s true value to you.

The second part of decision making in a hot market, is to not offer too much. There is a ton of competition out there for well-priced homes. It is easy to get caught up in a bidding war on a desirable property. You can find yourself in a position of having a home under contact that will not get the appraised value necessary to close the loan. You can also find yourself regretting overpaying for a home. While sleeping on your offer, determine the absolute highest price you are willing to pay for the home you are considering - and do not go over that amount if a bidding war ensues.

The flip side of that situation is getting too deliberative in your approach. Some people freeze when it comes time to make such a big decision. When a market is hot, you will not have weeks to decide whether to make an offer or not. Well priced homes can be under contract before you even make an offer. This is an important time to rely on your buyer broker to help you make a rational decision.  A good buyer broker should be able to intelligently speak to how long the home will be on the market and what a good offer-price would be. They will not always be 100% correct, but they should be able to speak from experience in similar situations.

Another emotional mistake that buyers make in a hot market is to get desperate. They start assuming that there is nothing better out there and want to jump at the very next house they see, because they haven’t found what they want yet. New houses come on to the market every week. A buyer broker can create an auto search that notifies home buyers when a new home hits the market that fits the criteria they are looking for. This is a very important tool in a hot market.  It is easy for a home to go on the market and already be under contract before a buyer is even aware of it if they are not on an auto search.

The last emotional mistake buyers make that I will talk about is: Overlooking serious issues and overestimating how realistic they are. It is easy to get caught up in a hot market and make an offer on a house that does not really meet your needs. It is also easy to say you are willing to commute for the right house - until you start driving it five days a week. You may think that you don’t need to be near schools - until your kids start activities.  The second part is: Saying you can change out windows, fix a porch, or repair anything else.  These decisions turn into nightmares after moving into your new home.  Make sure that home is what and where you want and any repairs that you plan to do yourself are in your skill set.

If you avoid these emotional mistakes when buying your home, you should have a pleasant buying experience and avoid home buyers regret.

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