Friday, January 24, 2020

What you need to know about buying a condo
By  Kevin Ronan

As inventory for residential properties in Cumberland and York Counties continues to be low, a condominium or townhouse may be a good alternative to a single-family home. Local purchase prices for a condominium may be lower than a single-family home and as an owner you enjoy the added benefit of having external repairs and maintenance taken care of by the homeowners association (HOA). 

If you are exploring a condominium, it is important to be familiar with some relevant terms and language. Please be aware that the rules and regulations may be different in different states. With the help of a local Realtor® you can access the information you need to make an informed decision. Let's start with some of the following basics. 

The Homeowners Association (HOA) refers to a group of owners. If you purchase a property in the condominium complex, you automatically become a member of the HOA with voting rights on all HOA topics.

A Board of Directors composed of condominium homeowners are elected to represent the members of the association. The Board is there to enforce rules, access financing, change bylaws, establish capital reserves and work with the property management company. 

The association is required to generate meeting minutes which highlight all board and association discussions. As a potential buyer, you may request meeting minutes. Common topics include elections, length of service and member voting guidelines. You may hear the term proxy which simply refers to a document that allows members of the homeowners association to vote in the event that they cannot attend any scheduled homeowners meeting. The bylaws will define the rules which governs the operations of the Board of Directors.

Most HOAs have a budget outlining routine expense line items such as landscaping and plowing. The budget also should include any out of the ordinary project expenses planned in the near future. 

Look out for any planned special assessments that require owners to pay in addition to normal monthly fees. Special assessments can be for anything including roof replacement, chimney repairs, exterior painting or replacing exterior siding. These special assessments can be quite significant and needs to be factored into your purchase decision.

Common areas are shared areas available to owners and their guests. Shared areas are paid for by the HOA as part of the monthly charges.  Examples of this may be a community pool, parking lots, tennis courts and the property grounds.

In the State of Maine, a buyer can expect the present condominium owner to provide to you, the buyer, a resale certificate. The resale certificate will include any restrictions on conveyance or sale of the unit, monthly expenses, anticipated capital expenditure, a recent balance sheet and expense statement, association bylaws and rules and regulations.

You may hear the term proxy which simply refers to a document that allows members of the homeowners association to vote in the event that they cannot attend any scheduled homeowners meeting. 

I hope this information assists you in your residential property search. At the time of this article there were 120 condominium or townhouses for sale or sale pending in Cumberland County alone, at some price points greatly increasing the inventory available. You can anticipate list prices ranging from $140k- 1.5 million, with condominiums offering many of the same features of single-family houses. Buyers, enjoy your search!

This article was brought to you by Kevin Ronan, Associate Broker affiliated with Alliance Realty, 290 Bridgton Road, Westbrook brought this article to you., 207-838-4855.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

How to build a real estate investment team

By Dan McDermott

What new year’s resolutions are you planning to tackle this year? While most people may be thinking of joining a gym or better themselves you might be thinking that this is the year that you finally make that real estate investment you have always wanted. If you are thinking about purchasing an investment property you may find yourself overwhelmed and asking the question “where do I start?”

I would urge you to consider building a high-performance real estate investment team as your first
step. You may be tempted to take the lone wolf approach and start tackling the task on your own. However, most new investors will quickly learn that real estate investing is a team sport.  To be successful, a new investor will need to build a team of experienced people that you can trust and rely on. Below is a list of professionals that you will want to be on your team and what they can offer:

Any successful real estate investor needs a good mentor or guide to help them succeed. By closely training under the watchful eye of a more experienced investor, we can only become more sophisticated and wiser. New investors can offer a lot of value to experienced investors.  Tasks that might seem mundane or time consuming to a veteran can often be a valuable learning experience that can provide a solid foundation for the new investor to build their real estate career. So, go find a mentor now and establish a great foundation for success!

Mortgage broker or banker
danmcdermott@masiello.comA mortgage broker can offer a variety of different financing products, but a lender is the one who can make the loan decision. Both have their advantages and a place on your team. What is most important is that they understand what is important to your investment strategy (fast closings, lower interest rates, or flexile terms). You will want a team member who has previous experience working with other investors and wants to see you succeed. They need to be creative and clever!

You will want to look for a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) or accounting firm that is aware of the pros and cons of real estate. Preferably an accountant who is an investor like you or at least has extensive experience in working with investors. With recent tax law changes keeping accurate books and records for investments will be extremely important. Additionally, when tax season comes around, a seasoned accountant will be able to help you reduce your tax liability and save you money.

Real estate attorney experienced real estate attorney is someone that will be familiar with the laws of your investment area and that has extensive experience with the types of investment assets you intend to pursue (If you are buying short term rentals, the attorney should be familiar with short term rental contracts and zoning requirements/code, for example). It is critically important to have someone on your team who can review/prepare contracts, has knowledge about asset protection strategies, understands your investment strategy and the laws and legalities of all your actions.

Real estate agent
A broker or agent with experience in the areas you invest in and that has access to off-market deals, the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) can be a great help. An experienced real estate agent will be able to help you determine the market value of an acquisition process and help you promptly sell your asset or 1031 exchange if that is more preferable.  

Start building your real estate investment team right away. While this is a list of professionals you will want on your team, you may find that you need additional support from property managers, appraisers, inspectors, and contractors.  Investing in real estate can be a whole lot less stressful and more profitable with the right team on your side. Assembling the right team will not happen overnight, however once together, they will give you the support and help you’ll need to make your real estate investing dreams a reality. If you have any questions about real estate investing, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 207-839-1981.

Friday, January 10, 2020

February is the new April

By Nicole Foster

Spring has historically been the most popular time for sellers to list their home for sale, but when does the “spring market” officially begin? Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2020 is Classic Blue, but don’t wait to start seeing it in the great Maine outdoors, because you could miss out this year if you are waiting for the green grass, trickling waters, daffodils and tulips.

The spring market is at our doorstep right now, and it will start to knock loudly during the NFL
playoffs. By the end of January, we will already be seeing signs of spring with an uptick in new listings coming to the market, an increase in open houses and the ringing of our telephones. It happens each year with almost routine predictability, but this the year has all the conditions for an earlier start, perhaps.

Increasing rental prices in the Greater Portland area coupled with an election year could cause some first-time buyers to make their financing and housing details a priority out-of-the-gates of the calendar year instead of foot dragging. Many Boomers and Gen Z are also predicted to be on the move and taking advantage of the surge in new construction inventory for its ease in maintenance, energy efficiency and the ability to make some customization. level or first-time homes are where the competition has been and will remain highest in 2020 due to numerous factors. More expensive homes may see the need to be thoughtful in their list price this spring. New construction is on the rise, but can you get in? Newly built homes can be presold or
go very quickly, especially those which fall in an affordable price range.

Currently the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) is working towards providing lenders with clarifications to help streamline the lending process. This could result in even more buyers being able to get approved for a home loan this spring than in recent years.

The buyers today are often very efficient and more prepared than ever before. The myth that millennials can’t get approved for a home loan and live with their parents has been debunked in a very big way. Many are projecting that millennials will make up roughly 50% of the buyers in 2020 and will drive the housing market possibly over the next decade. If you are a potential seller, do you know and understand WHAT millennials are looking to buy or are you still listening to the myths?

You only get one chance to hit the market.
How will your listing stack up next to the rest and how do you plan to hold YOUR property’s value in the competitive spring market of 2020?

Strategy is critical when you are buying or selling property, whether it be a primary residence or an investment. Timing is just one of the many components to consider in your strategy. Ask your REALTOR® if it is best to hit the market at the beginning or the end of the week. Should we “go
live” in the morning or in the evening? Discuss with your lender whether it is best to close at the beginning of the month or the end.

Start to watch for signs of the spring market arrival and they will become perfectly clear. Be sure to check in with your lender and REALTOR® now that the holidays are behind us to “Get On It” so you do not miss out on any opportunities!

Nicole is a Broker with Locations Real Estate Group and mother of four. She is a Windham resident who loves people and real estate. Follow her on Facebook @sellingmaine or Instagram @207nicolefoster.

Friday, January 3, 2020

What you should know about home inspections

By Abby Cross

Home inspections are a critical part of the home buying and selling process. Failure to obtain a home inspection could potentially cost you a great deal of money and hassles in the long run. At first glance, property inspections can seem daunting, especially if you’ve never been through the process. Here’s a quick glance at what to expect during the home inspection process!

Buyers are responsible for inspections
To those unfamiliar with real estate, it can seem like inspections are just what’s expected. However, it is up to the buyer to decide which inspections they would like completed – if any at all. As a buyer, you agree to hire a home inspector, have the inspections completed within a reasonable amount of time, and shoulder the cost. This is for your benefit. The home inspector works for you, not the seller. They are there to point out all the potential concerns in the home. The seller has no impact on the inspector when you pay, and you can rest easy knowing your report is sincere.

What home inspections cover
tombiczak@allstate.comA home inspection is an overall determination of your home’s condition. Since every property is different, the specifics of what is checked during your home’s inspection may vary slightly. The American Society of Home Inspectors suggests that qualified inspectors check the following areas: foundation and basement, any additional structural components, interior plumbing systems, interior electrical systems, heating, and cooling systems, condition of windows, condition of doors and door
frames, condition of floors, walls, and ceilings, the attic and any visible insulation.

What home inspections do not cover
No single inspection is going to cover every aspect of your new home. Be aware that there are limits to what an inspector will check. Some areas will require a referral to a specialist. Here are some areas that don’t often make the cut for home inspectors and may require another professional: inside the walls, roof or chimney repairs, septic tanks, wells, sheds, or additional structures separate from the main house. Just because something isn’t covered in a home inspection, don’t think that it can’t be inspected. Ask your REALTOR® about getting specialists if needed. can attend inspections
Most home inspectors recommend that buyers attend their property inspection. They see it as an
opportunity to thoroughly answer any questions that the buyers may have about the property’s condition. Coming out to view the property is only half of a home inspector’s job requirements. After their site visit, they are required to provide an official home inspection report, which details their findings in writing. It should include pictures of the damaged areas as well.

Repairs after inspections are negotiable
There are three typical outcomes to these negotiations: the seller can perform the repairs before closing, the seller can credit you money for the repairs, or they can become your responsibility. Prioritize! Focus on a few, key points from the report and the sellers will be more likely to assist you. Hire professionals and be sure to collect any repair estimates and invoices. If you get the inspection report back and it features a larger problem, or you and the seller have gone back and forth in negotiations and can’t reach an agreement, as a buyer, you have the upper hand. As long as you respond to the seller within the inspection timeframe and have a legitimate reason you will likely be able to walk away from the transaction.

Whether you’re in the process of buying your first home or your tenth investment property, home inspections can seem overwhelming. After all, there are many aspects of the property to consider, lots of paperwork to read over and negotiations to consider, not to mention the worry that there could be something truly wrong with your dream home. Don’t let yourself get too worked up, let us help to guide you through your inspection with the knowledge and experience to make informed decisions.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Why sell your home in the winter?

By Mel Oldakowski

There’s a myth many home sellers believe, and that is you should wait until spring to put your home on the market. The fact is, listing in the winter may have a greater advantage in terms of the type of buyers attracted, marketing and more.

Less competition. 
Many homeowners think that waiting for spring and summer is ideal, so there is a spring rush of
homes hitting the market. By listing in the months prior, you don’t have to worry about a saturated market. Your home is more visible to a buyer.

Non-contingent buyer. you’re looking to buy, then you’d want to be able to sell now because by the time spring arrives you have the opportunity to be a non-contingent buyer. Which means that if you find the home you love, you’ve already sold your current home and you won’t have to wait until you find a spring buyer. 

In addition, because more homes are for sale during the spring, this could drive down market prices meaning you have the ability to sell high and buy low.

Better showings. 
During the winter months, homes feel warmer and more inviting. If you have a fireplace, then fire
that baby up and put her to use to help welcome potential buyers as they come for showings.

With the number of listings that drop during the winter, it frees up more time for agents to increase our marketing efforts. That means more open houses, ads, posts, etc., all geared to make your house incredibly visible to the buyers out searching.  

Increased web traffic.
Home searches increase during the winter months as potential buyers start buckling down searching
for homes that spike their interest.

Serious Buyers. 
The number one reason you should list during the winter is that the buyers you meet are serious about purchasing. Not to say spring and summer buyers aren’t, however, they spend more time browsing the market. Winter buyers are more motivated to find the home that’s best for them and get the deal done!

Friday, December 13, 2019

What are the differences between real estate agents and brokers?

Real estate transactions often involve significant amounts of money. As a result, it's common for both buyers and sellers to enlist the services of a host of professionals with real estate experience.

Both buyers and sellers may work with real estate agents and/or real estate brokers en route to buying or selling their homes. Agents and brokers are not one and the same, and there are some important distinctions between the two.

Real estate agent
According to, real estate agents are professionally licensed individuals who can help both buyers and sellers. Agents also may help property owners rent their homes. The amount of training real estate agents need to earn their licenses varies by state. Once individuals finish their required training, they must take a written exam that tests their knowledge of federal real estate laws and general principles as well as the laws specific to the state in which they want to become licensed. 

Only after passing this exam do individuals become recognized real estate agents. Investopedia notes that achieving agent status is the starting point for most real estate professionals. estate broker
Real estate brokers are those professionals who have continued their education past the agent level and obtained a broker's license. Each state has its own requirements in regard to becoming a licensed broker, but education and examinations are necessary regardless of where a person lives. notes that the extra coursework to earn a broker's license focuses on various topics, including ethics, contracts, taxes, and insurance. Agents may learn about these topics as well, but coursework for prospective brokers goes into more depth than it does at the agent level.

Brokers also will study and learn about legal issues in regard to real estate. The legal issues brokers may learn about include brokerage operations, real estate investments, construction, and property management. Requirements vary, but notes that brokers often must work as licensed real estate agents for no less than three years before they can earn their broker's license.

There is more than one type of real estate broker. Principal/designated brokers oversee all agents at a given firm and ensure the agents act in compliance with all real estate laws. Managing brokers tend to focus on the hiring and training of agents. Associate brokers have their broker's license but work directly under a managing broker.

Real estate agents and brokers can help buyers, sellers and investors successfully navigate real estate transactions, and each can serve their clients in different ways.

This article was sponsored by Greg Swander, real estate professional with Coldwell Banker Team Real Estate in Windham. He can be reached at 207-650-1095 or email

Friday, December 6, 2019

Windham Economic Development Corporation and Real Estate Development: The Anglers Road Project

By Thomas Bartell

The Mission of the Windham Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is to encourage economic growth and development in a manner that supports increased prosperity in the Town of Windham and improves the quality of life for its citizens.

The vision is to create a business-friendly environment that provides a high-quality of life, a vibrant economy, and a welcoming atmosphere, while protecting our town’s rural characteristics and natural resources.

In it for the long haul.

Economic Development is a long-term process. The WEDC works alongside the Town to attract business investment in appropriate and suitable locations, to attract customers to visit our many wonderful local businesses, and to improve the infrastructure necessary to support a vibrant economy and protect our natural resources.  

As much as the Town and WEDC do not seek to be in the real estate business, sometimes the only way to fix long term infrastructure problems is to do just that. And for the Anglers Road, Route 302, Whites Bridge Road intersection realignment this was certainly the case. In this instance we were not only able to complete the intersection improvements which had been planned for decades, but we also were able to encourage the redevelopment of a longstanding vacant lot into commercial enterprises.

The Anglers Road intersection realignment.
Previous plans for intersection improvements were stymied by the lack of public ownership of the Right-Of-Way (ROW) on Anglers Road. The purchase of the property and subsequent transfer of the new Anglers Road ROW to the Town facilitated the construction and allowed for Federal and State DOT participation in the funding of the project. The Windham Town Council provided the “patient capital” to finance the purchase of the land via a low-interest loan through the Tax-Increment Financing program. The “patient capital” was vitally important to the success of this project which ended up being ten years in the making. the course of ten years, the intersection realignment was designed, State and Town financing for construction was secured, the new Anglers Road ROW was transferred, the intersection was reconstructed, and the remaining land was sold.  As this work was proceeding, the WEDC was working with the engineers from Main Land Development to prepare a site plan for the remaining acreage outside of the ROW on Anglers Road to prepare for its sale.  Sale of the land in this project was completed this Summer, and the Town received payment of the original loan plus interest in full.

Real Estate summary:
Original purchase: 10.7-acre parcel
1.22 acres to the road realignment and abutters
Sold four parcels
Momentum offices
Anglers Common Apartment complex, 42 units
Bob’s Seafood expansion
One parcel for future development

At completion of the apartment complex, the total annual property taxes raised from the new uses on the land will be above $100,000.

The Windham Economic Development Corporation is here to help with your business location needs.  Please contact Executive Director Thomas Bartell at or 207 892-1936.