Friday, October 15, 2021

Real Estate: Strong seller’s market continues

By Matthew Trudel

Heading into the holiday season the strong seller’s market continues to thrive as buyers are offering well over the listing price and multiple offers are common and becoming the norm.   

Selling a house offers challenges all on its own.  You need to prepare the home and generally make several repairs.  Then there is the search for an experienced Realtor to assist you with finding the optimum list price for your house and creating a marketing plan to bring in the most buyers.  Another potential issue is figuring out where you are going to move to once your house sells.  Many sellers need to sell their home in order to purchase another home. 

This presents a little timing issue so sellers only have to move once. So which one does a seller do first? Do you list the home and then find the house you want to purchase? Or do you find the house you want to purchase, put it under contract, and then put your home on the market 

Both options work and I will go over each, but regardless of which option you choose there are a couple steps that should happen before you decide.  One of those steps is deciding on an accurate listing price that will bring in the most buyers and create competition amongst the buyers.  This will also include a marketing strategy to get your home sold quickly.  Another step is getting pre-qualified so that you know exactly what your purchasing power is.  This way you are all set up when you go to make an offer on your next home.  Once you have all this in place you are ready to make a decision on whether to list first and buy second or put your new house under contract first and then list.

If you choose to list your house first before finding your house, you will need to let all the potential buyers know how much time you would like to locate a suitable property.  This will also mean that the closing date will likely need to be 60 days from the time of going under contract on the house you are selling.  That date can be moved up after you have located the house you want to purchase and put it under contract.  One advantage to this method is that you know exactly what you are getting for your home and know exactly how much money you are going to have to put toward your new home.

If you choose to try to put your new home under contract and then list, this option is fine but sometimes a bit tougher in this type of seller’s market.  Putting in an offer contingent upon the sale of your house when it isn’t on the market puts you at a disadvantage when going up against other offers.  There are several ways to make your offer desirable in other ways.  The most obvious is of course the price you are offering on the new house.  How much over asking price are you willing to go in order to make your offer good enough for a seller to consider your offer with the condition of listing and selling your home?

There is another option that is not very common, but I have used it a few times over my 20-plus years of selling real estate.  This option is listing your home and selling it with the condition that you can lease the home back from the buyers after you close.  This time period is generally 60 days if need be.  The terms of the lease all need to be figured out ahead of time.  The upside is it allows you more time to find the home you want to purchase.  It also allows for more flexibility in moving into your new home.  This option works particularly well when someone is having a new home built but isn’t exactly sure when it will be finished. 

This article was written by Matthew Trudel, the owner of Five Star Realty here in Windham.  Call to find out how Five Star Realty can assist you in all your real estate needs. 207-939-6971.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Real Estate: Should I sell my home this fall?

By Richie Vraux

Well, you have decided to sell your home, but now we are going into the fall season. Yes, you could have listed your home in the Spring/ Summer season and yes, you might have sold it quick, but life throws us curve balls; you get a job offer in another town and need to move, you need to downsize/ up-size due to family, a change in your families’ lives, a family member passes and you just need to move. There are a thousand reasons why the fall is still a good time to sell. Find a real estate broker that is experienced with selling in the different seasons and long enough to know the market is different by season.

First off, make sure the grounds are clear from fallen leaves and debris from plants or flowers that have gone by and are encroaching on your foot path. Those flowers were beautiful during the early spring and summer but now are wilting, turning brown and not so attractive anymore.

So, at this time of year you want bright colorful flowers to stand out and command your walkway. Pick the doorway you want to direct the flow of buyers through- That’s where to make the best example of showing your colors. Make sure you put away all your gardening tools, your lawn mowers, shovels, rakes, etc. are out of sight. Make sure your roof is cleared from branches, moss, acorns and whatever else those pesky varmints leave behind.

Make sure your chimney is swept (Call a chimney sweep to do it right).

Make sure it is wide open and cleaned of any and all creosote. Also – make sure you have a chimney cap that fits your chimney opening. It prevents snow, rain, and animals coming down your chimney to get into your nice warm house. Make sure your windows are functioning correctly and are sparkling clean. It makes a difference. Make sure you have your furnace serviced and cleaned. Make sure your burner has a service tag showing when and how the furnace has been maintained over the years.

Make sure your fireplace, pellet stove, wood burning stove has been cleaned and serviced as needed.

Before actual buyers show up to view your home, make sure it has the smells of fall; an apple pie and cinnamon- maybe the plug ins. Yankee Candle sells wonderful, scented plug ins giving you the smells appropriate with the season. Usually, these scents of the season will cover the remaining lingering, unpleasant smells. Make sure your lighting is adequate.

During showings you want to put all the lighting on. Bright is always better. Decorate for the many festive seasons coming up; Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. Display colorful throws over your chair, couch. Make sure your home looks warm and cozy. Remember, a clean house always sells better.

The holiday season is coming upon us real soon. Use your holiday d├ęcor to promote the reason a buyer will buy your home over others listed on the market.

Remember, you only get one chance to make the best impression. Make sure it is not cluttered with stuff you don’t need now. You are moving so put it away. Make sure all your personal items are gone off the walls. These buyers want to take possession of your house in their mind, and with your personal stuff there – it is hard to imagine. Good luck with selling your home in the fall market. <

About the author: Richie Vraux is a partner with Maine’s Premier Team at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate with locations in Windham and Gorham offices. If you need real estate advice, Call Richie at 207- 317-1297.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Real Estate: Signs it is time to overhaul your kitchen

Submitted by Kristin Piccone

Remodeling a kitchen adds value to a home. Remodeling Magazine's "Cost vs. Value Report" indicates mid-range kitchen remodels cost about $66,000, and homeowners can expect to recover about 60 to 80 percent of that cost at resale.

Homeowners may wonder if remodeling their kitchens is worth the investment. But homeowners should not just consider cost, but also the current conditions of their kitchens when deciding if a renovation project is the right move to make. These signs indicate it may be time to renovate a kitchen.

* Breakers are triggered: If the lights go dark from a tripped circuit breaker every time you try to microwave and run the toaster oven at the same time, your wiring is likely not up to the task of handling the workload and could be out of date. A kitchen remodel will assess wiring load needs and an electric overhaul may be necessary.
* Lack of storage: One of the biggest hassles homeowners encounter in their kitchens is a lack of storage space. If making a meal involves a Jenga-like stacking and rearranging of kitchen tools, or if an avalanche occurs whenever you search for an item, you might need more storage. A carefully planned redesign can achieve this, even in a smaller kitchen.

* Outdated appliances: Even if your appliances are not avocado green or mustard yellow relics of the 1970s, they might still need to be replaced. According to CRD Design, appliances are only expected to last around 10 to 15 years. If appliances have become unsafe or energy hogs, it could be time for a remodel.

* Family is expanding (or shrinking): Kitchens often are the heart of a home. They need to meet the needs of the family that resides in that home. A remodel can add space as needed. On the flip side, when a couple becomes empty nesters, kitchens can be redesigned and downsized to reflect their new needs and desires, such as the addition of a wine chiller or espresso station.

* Poor lighting: Task lighting is essential in a kitchen, but older homes may not be equipped with lighting where it's most needed. A carefully designed remodel can improve lighting with under-cabinet lights, pendants, overhead lighting, and even natural light to make the space attractive and more functional.  

* Frequent run-ins: The notion that you can have too many cooks in the kitchen refers to having too many people trying to pitch in or offer their opinions. However, it also can apply to when too many people are gathering in a small space. Redesigning a kitchen can improve the efficiency of a space and make the room feel larger.

* Aesthetic appeal: Many kitchen remodels have been inspired by unsightly kitchens. Cosmetic changes can lead to big improvements.

Kitchen renovations can add instant appeal and help address issues that tend to plague outdated rooms. It can also provide one of the largest returns on investment should you be considering putting your home on the market.

Kristin Piccone is a REALTOR for Landing Real Estate in Windham. Reach her at 207-951-1393 or by email at kpiccone@landinghomesmaine.com

Friday, September 24, 2021

Real Estate: Is damage from water in my basement covered by homeowner's insurance?

By Jonathan Priest

Q: My wife and I bought a new house and we suspect the basement may have flooded in the past. It's not my first home, but it is my first basement, and I like to be prepared. If flooding happens in my basement, will my homeowners' policy cover the damage?

A:  The last thing any homeowner expects or wants to see is water in the basement, but it's the type of thing that can occur. Whether your incident will be covered under the policy usually depends on what caused the damage. Here's how I think about questions based on these situations.

Is there coverage if a pipe bursts?

A homeowner insurance policy will typically cover structural damage caused by "sudden and accidental" events that occur inside the house, like a burst pipe or a broken washing machine. This will likely cover the walls and carpeting. Depending on the amount of personal property coverage in your policy, some damaged belongings may be covered as well. If you're in an apartment building and a water overflow causes damage to someone else's property, your liability insurance will likely cover it.

What if it's damage from flooding during a storm?

Damage from a weather event outside your house is another thing entirely, which I make clear to customers when helping them understand their coverage options.

Homeowners policies in general do not provide coverage for flooding that comes from rising water levels due to a hurricane, rainstorm, melting snow, etc. You can, however, purchase separate flood insurance via the National Flood Insurance Program. Your insurance agent can help you with the purchase.

Only about 12 percent of homeowners have a flood insurance policy opens in new windowaccording to the Insurance Information Institute. Some mortgage lenders require that you purchase flood insurance if you live in a flood-prone area, but you might want to consider purchasing such a policy regardless of where you live. Floods are the most common national disaster in the U.S., and more than 20 percent of flood claims occur in properties that aren't in a high-risk flood zone, according to the National Flood Insurance Program opens in new window

Am I covered if water seeps into my basement from the ground?

Sometimes groundwater gets into a basement through cracks in your foundation or due to inadequate drainage around your house requiring maintenance. Damage typically is not covered in those cases.

You seem like the type of homeowner who knows this already, but regular maintenance and upkeep are also essential to help reduce your chances of needing to file a claim at all. Chores like regularly inspecting your appliances, draining outdoor faucets and knowing where your emergency shut-off valve is located can help keep you on top of emergency situations before they happen.

Given that water-related damage can occur, it's important to make sure that you understand what is and isn't covered under your current policy. If you have questions, or want to learn about available insurance options, a conversation with an agent might be beneficial so you can get the coverage you want.

This article was brought to you courtesy of Farmers Insurance agent, Jonathan Priest with an office at 57 Tandberg Trail, Suite 7, Windham. <

The information contained in this page is provided for general informational purposes only. The information is provided by Farmers® and while we endeavor to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability with respect to this article or the information, products, services or related graphics, if any, contained in this article for any purpose. The information is not meant as professional or expert advice, and any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.

 

Friday, September 17, 2021

Real Estate: Considerations before buying new construction

By Carrie Colby

There are many things to think about when buying new construction, and it can be a daunting prospect. You are making a huge financial commitment that could have a significant effect on your future. There are some truly essential considerations when buying a new construction home.

Setting Your Price
Whatever type of home you are looking to build, you need to set your budget. Do you know how much you can afford to spend? Getting preapproved for a mortgage should make things clearer so that you know your spending limit. If you have realistic expectations of what you can afford, you won’t waste your time on home plans that stretch you too far financially. It isn’t just the mortgage payments you need to consider. There are utility bills, property taxes, maintenance costs, and living expenses, to name just a few. And don’t overlook your moving expenses either.

Picking Your Location
You are likely to have many things that influence your choice of location. Perhaps you want to be near friends or family, maybe your journey to work is an important consideration, or you are looking to live in a certain school district. If you have many competing reasons that pull you in one direction or another, you may need to compromise the location. This could mean buying a new house in an area you know well or making a fresh start in a new neighborhood. If you don’t know the neighborhood you are thinking of moving to, you need to be more careful to make sure it is right for you. Visit the neighborhood at different times of the day and the evening to find out what it’s really like living there.


Do You Buy Land Or Purchase From a Builder?
One of the more significant decisions when buying new construction is whether you buy land and build your own custom home or go with a builder currently constructing homes. Of course, there are pros and cons to each of these choices. When hiring your own builder, you have the ability to construct exactly the way you want things. While some builders offer custom features, not every builder will let you do things exactly the way you want them. The builder you like might not want to build on your land. Some builders shy away from that. Maybe the builder you like only has homes available in a subdivision, and you would prefer a more private setting?

What Size House Do You Need?
If you are buying new construction, you might have more say in the size of rooms and number of bedrooms, but whatever type of home you are buying, you will need to know how much space you require.

Buying New Construction Homes
When buying new construction homes, you can have a lot of influence on how the house turns out. Changes can be made so that the property better fits what you want from a home. There can be downsides to new construction, though. If you aren’t careful, however, the finished product might not meet your expectations. If this is the case, costs could increase if you need to make changes or alterations after the home should have been finished. This scenario can be avoided if you have good communication with your architect and contractor. If your new construction is part of a larger development, you might find you have less say in how things turn out. This could be more of a problem if the home is a townhouse or a unit in a complex.

How Long Do You Want to Live in the Home?
If you intend to live in the home for a very long time, you should probably do more to make sure you build exactly the right home. But if you only anticipate being in the home for a year or two, perhaps you can be more flexible in your choice.

Final Thoughts
 
Buying a new house can either be an exciting experience or a real nightmare. If you are working with a builder, it is imperative to do lots of due diligence. Most of the downsides of building a home happens when you go with the wrong building contractor. <

Carrie Colby is a Broker with Allied Real Estate, 909 Roosevelt Trail in Windham. She can be reached at 207-232-5497.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Real Estate: Million Dollar Question, how much is my home worth in this seller’s market?

By Lisa DiBiase

One of the challenges of determining your home’s value is that “value” is subjective; one buyer may be willing to pay more than another. Buyers determine value by comparison shopping. 

They will look at the price of your home based on its features and benefits and compare it with similar homes that have recently sold or are currently on the market. So how do you find that sweet spot, meaning a listing price that will attract buyers and help you reach your goals?

In order to create value in the eyes of the buyer you either need to have a competitive list price or have more features and benefits for the same price! Most homeowners getting ready to sell their home are not looking to add any new features to their property.

Let me be clear, I am talking about adding a new feature, not simply making repairs to bring the property to today's current standard! Every home is going to have a kitchen, bathroom, etc. (at least we hope)!

Here are a few factors that influence the value of a property:

● Square footage of home, property acreage and age

● Location and local market conditions

● Comparable homes that have sold recently

● Economic conditions, including but not limited to interest rate environment

● Renovations and repairs

Realtors have their own techniques for determining a home’s value. The process many realtors use to estimate a home’s value is called a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). A CMA includes information about comparable homes (also known as “comps”) in your area. The data is typically pulled from the Multiple Listing Service, the Realtors® database of properties in a given area that are listed for sale or have a sale pending.

If done properly, a CMA can tell you what homes similar to yours are selling for, how long it’s taking them to sell, and what homes sold for compared to their original list price.

What to look for in a CMA:

● Size

● Location

● Number of bedrooms/bathrooms

● Style and view

● Home type (e.g. single-family home, condo, townhome, etc.)

● Recent sales price

When a buyer purchases a home, the bank requires them to get an appraisal at some point before underwriting of the loan can be completed. As the seller, you’re not required to get an appraisal prior to listing the property, however it may be a good idea if you don’t want there to be any second-guessing about your home’s value when you’re ready to list.

It’s the appraiser’s job to provide an impartial, thoroughly researched estimate of a home’s value. They do that by visiting the property and reviewing recently sold or pending sale comps.

Appraisers use Fannie Mae’s Uniform Residential Appraisal Report as a guide for conducting an appraisal.

This report is a checklist of things appraisers should look for, such as:

● Where the home is located

● Whether the home is in a FEMA flood zone

● The condition of the utility services and fixtures on the property

● When the home was built

● The type of foundation

● The condition of the attic and basement, heating and air systems, walls, windows and doors

● Additional amenities, such as a pool, deck or fireplace

● Any structural improvements or repairs that have been made

● Whether any additional repairs or improvements are needed

● The condition of any appliances in the home

● Signs of damage that would compromise the structural soundness of the home.

In addition to using this report as a guideline, an appraiser would consider the sales history of the home and the approximate replacement cost to rebuild the home.

According to Opendoor.com: There are three types of home values you need to be familiar with as a seller:

● Appraised value: According to Investopedia, appraised value is a home’s value as determined by a professional appraiser at a given point in time. Appraised value is used by mortgage lenders during the underwriting process to determine how much a buyer can borrow.

●Assessed value: Assessed values are used to determine how much property tax is owed on a home. Assessed value is set by a municipal or county tax assessor, who evaluates the home’s features and those of comparable properties to arrive at a valuation. It’s usually a lower number than fair market value.

●Fair market value: Fair market value refers to how a home is valued when both the buyer and seller are reasonably knowledgeable about the property and neither is under any pressure to buy or sell.

According to Realtor.com, fair market value tends to be the truest measure of a home’s value overall, since it’s based primarily on supply and demand. This information is presented for informational purposes. As I have said before, please call a local REALTOR for all your real estate needs no matter how big or small. We are trained professionals here to make your life easier. It's best to surround yourself with the right team that can continuously give you the right advice for all your circumstances. <

Lisa DiBiase is a Broker/Owner of Landing Real Estate. She and her company represent buyers and sellers in the Greater Portland area. For all your real estate needs contact Lisa at 207-653-0823 or lisa@landinghomesmaine.com

Friday, September 3, 2021

Windham Maine 15th Hottest Zip Code in 2021

By Nicole Foster, Broker/ REALTOR

In August the zip code 04062, which covers the majority of Windham, was ranked by Realtor.com’s Hottest Zip Codes of 2021 as #15 of the nation’s 42,000 zip codes. Rankings were based on sales data from January through June of this year using an algorithm including two factors: market demand as measured by unique viewers per property and the number of days the listing remained active on the site. 

The top 10 zip codes in the report show there is a huge demand for buyers wanting to get further away from densely populated urban areas. Half of the 50 zip codes listed were located in the northeast and all shared similar market conditions with homes selling fast and limited inventory. 

This year in Windham the average number of days on the market for listed homes is only 5 days and the homes on average are selling for over 107 percent of their list price. What this means is the average list price for Windham single family homes this year is up to $349,900 but they then are closing out and selling for closer to an average of $375,000.

The overwhelming majority of the single-family homes purchased in Windham this year have used Conventional financing with only just over 15 percent being cash sales. The number of buyers using government backed loan products such as FHA, VA or Rural Development combined is just over 10 percent. With climbing home prices some prospective buyers may be pushed out once mortgage interest rates reach 3.5 percent on a 30-year fixed mortgage as the economy improves and inflation rises, likely by next spring.  If both home mortgage interest rates continue to creep up while home prices continue to rise we could see less competition next year, but the inventory has remained so tight it could have little impact. 

For years now we have been working around limited inventory, but the pandemic has caused this issue to soar to new heights. So far this year the number of listed, single-family homes in Windham which have sold both below $200,000 and over $900,000 are exactly the same with only 7 homes selling in each of those two contrasting price points (as of 8/23/21). This number would be far greater if our current supply of inventory could meet the growing demand of buyers who are currently shopping for homes. During the pandemic people began to upsize and look for larger homes offering more space. Loan applications for mortgages larger than $766,000 jumped to 55 percent while loan applications in the range of $150,000 - $300,000 fell by 2 percent according to Mortgage Bankers Association.

2021 Windham Single Family Home Sales

Sale Price           Sold

0 - $200,000         7

$201K - $300K  31

$301K - $400K  71

$401K - $500K  42

$501K - $600K  15

$601K - $700K     4

$701K - $800K     3

$801K - $900K     2

$900K - $1million   2

$1M -   $2M           2

Over $2M              1

Land sales across the state have continued to surge as buyers look to face less competition by building their dream home and developers look for ways to create more inventory. Total land sales year over year in Maine has jumped to a staggering increase of 138 percent.  Many are speculating that the best way to meet the rising buyer demand for housing will be to build more homes, which will take some time. Those looking to downsize by purchasing a condominium will need to be prepared to face similar market conditions with possibly even tighter inventory and greater competition with sales increasing two-fold over single family homes so far this year.

If you are a homeowner currently struggling with the logistics of wanting to sell but not knowing where you will go, you are not alone.  We have a growing list of “shadow inventory” of would be sellers who simply cannot find their next place and many are getting creative. This is a unique time for homeowners who want to capitalize on both the leverage and prices they can demand. Sellers might walk away with tens of thousands of dollars more than what they owe on their home by listing right now. These market conditions are creating life changing scenarios for some people, some will be able to retire sooner, pay off their college loans before they had planned or help their families more than they were prepared to. <

Nicole Foster is a real estate broker at Locations Real Estate Group in Falmouth specializing in single family residential new construction since 2006 and a Windham resident.