Friday, October 21, 2016

Real estate - Home search fail - by Rick Yost

The home search process can be a trying one. There can be twist, turns, ups and downs. There can be multi offer bid lost and homes sold before there is an opportunity to see them. Before buyers get too discouraged with the process, they should consider a making a few changes to their search.
The first change comes from a heart to heart talk with a spouse, significant other, or even with oneself. Buyer need to ask tough questions and give honest answers.

While it is nice to have two and a half baths, could two baths suffice? Can the buyer live without a garage? These are all questions and compromises that should be addressed before going any further with a search. Theses answers will help broaden or narrow the search for that one right home. Buyers need to have honest answers to the must have and deal breaker questions in order to jump start their search.

Next, it is time to consider homes that need some cosmetic work. Today's marketplace is putting a premium on move in ready homes. This means that homes that are showing a little wear and are a bit dated are not getting the same level of attention as the move in ready homes do. A willingness to overlook unsightly colors and bad carpets may allow a buyer the opportunity to find the house of their dreams at an affordable price. After some new paint and carpets, that is. A buyer should be open to taking the equity that the seller left on the table.

 Next, consider another neighborhood or town. If a buyer can't find their dream home in the Windham Hill area, they should consider the River Road corridor. If the home can't be found in Windham, a buyer should consider Raymond. Often times the home of a buyer’s dreams is just a neighborhood or town away. Broadening the search is a great way to find the right home. Another up side maybe a lower price on the same home in a bordering town. Similar homes sell for significantly different prices in Gorham and Buxton. A bordering town may offer a buyer the economic ability to buy the home they want, but couldn't afford in the first choice town.

Next, it is time to dig deep. Buyers may need to tap all resources available for any and all extra money available. By borrowing from friends and relatives, selling some assets, or raising cash in any other way, a buyer may increase the price range they can search in. Sometime a $10,000 bump in affordability is all it takes to make that dream home affordable. With interest rates at historically low rates, buying as much house as possible makes great sense.

Lastly, if all else fails, buyers should consider extending their lease for six months.

It is a good time to take what was learned from the current search (likes, dislikes, deal killers) and reflect. These reflective times should be used to refine the future search. This is also a great time to save additional dollars to be used in the purchase of the future home. Buyers should keep in close contact with their realtor during this time, watching the market, watching mortgage rates, and watching for that dream home to hit the market.

Good luck to buyers in their search and as always use a qualified Realtor to find that dream home.

Rick Yost is a realtor, real estate author and long time Windham resident. Rick can be reached within all of your real estate questions at

Friday, October 14, 2016

Preparing to list your property for sale - By Kevin Ronan

You have finally decided to sell your home full of so many memories! As you prepare to list your house there will be some challenging decisions ahead prompting the question, “Where do I get started?” Although the preparation can be extensive, time consuming and emotional, the results can be financially rewarding.  Here is a list of activities to consider when preparing to show your property to prospective buyers.  So let’s get started!

What can you do to highlight your home’s strengths? The staging of your home for sale is a very important activity.  The first challenge involves decluttering the interior living space. It has been proven that a room filled with clutter makes the room seem smaller.

Remove any unnecessary appliances, books, boxes and children or pet toys from the floors, tables and countertops. While you are staging consider organizing bedroom closets and the kitchen cabinets. You can be certain buyers will be opening closet and cabinet doors.  Storage space is a huge selling point so let’s make sure these areas are ready to be viewed.  

The furniture should fit the room so get rid of any extra furniture or oversized items. Remove any family photos from walls, the refrigerator and other surfaces. Why do we need to do this? Seeing the seller’s family photographs or memorabilia makes it more difficult for buyers to imagine the home with their own furnishings and decor.

When was the last time the walls were painted? Repaint the rooms in neutral tones such as whites or beiges. This will allow buyers to focus on the rooms themselves, not the color of the walls. If you cannot paint all the rooms you may want to consider removing all wallpaper and painting just the high traffic areas such as a hallway, bathroom, family room or kitchen. 

How is the home curb appeal?  What is the first impression a perspective buyer has when they drive into your driveway?  There are some very simple and inexpensive projects that will improve a buyer’s first impression.  

Some seasonal flowers near the front entrance will add a splash of color to the front of your home. This time of year we are very fortunate to have locally grown, brightly colored mums and pumpkins available to help improve your curb appeal. Keep your lawn freshly cut. Other outside activities could include weeding the flowerbeds, and trimming the shrubs. Consider adding a cheerful wreath on the front door.  

Why not bring the outdoors into your home? Potted plants or cut flowers in a vase can bring some life to a space. They can also be used to draw attention to features you want buyers to notice such as a fireplace or a window seat and be helpful for just filling any empty corner. Finally, remove anything in the driveway, stairs or around the garage, which may impede buyers from walking around the property or create a safety hazard.

These simple and low cost home improvements will help enhance the property’s appearance to potential buyers, increase the volume of buyer traffic and help increase the sale price of your home.

Kevin Ronan is a Real Estate Agent affiliated with Foundations Real Estate. He lives in Gray with his wife Lori and two Labrador retrievers.  He can be contacted at

Friday, October 7, 2016

State Farm - Replacement cost vs. market value - From Tricia Zwirner

When you purchase a homeowners insurance policy, you’ll make a number of decisions about your coverage. One of the most important is whether to insure your home for its replacement cost or its market value. Understanding each option will help you make an informed choice that safeguards your home and your family’s financial future.

What is replacement cost?
Replacement cost is the cost necessary to repair or replace your entire home. When you insure your home for its replacement value, your insurer will reimburse you for the cost of rebuilding or repairing your home, based on the size and structure of the home that was lost or damaged.

The most accurate way to determine the replacement cost of your home is to hire a building contractor or other building professional to produce a detailed estimate. Only the cost of the property’s structure and its associated systems, fixtures, and finishes will be included in the estimate; land value is included in a home’s market value but should not be included in the amount of insurance you buy.

In the event of a loss, replacement cost coverage will help your family return to their home and usual quality of life with minimal financial interruption. For the best protection, experts recommend that you insure your home for at least 100 percent of its replacement cost.

Replacement value can change over time, so you should review your policy annually to make sure its coverage meets your needs. Inform your insurer if you have upgraded or improved your home, because these alterations may increase your home’s estimated replacement cost. Also, you’ll want to stay informed about changing market conditions in your area. Rising labor, materials, and transportation costs can directly affect your home’s replacement value. For maximum protection, consider a policy that includes an inflation clause that automatically adjusts coverage and premiums to account for changes in construction costs.

What is market value?
Market value is the amount that a buyer would pay to purchase your home and its land in its current condition. Unlike your home’s replacement value, its market value is influenced by factors beyond the material and labor costs of repairs or reconstruction, such as proximity to good schools, local crime statistics, and the availability of similar homes. Also, the land itself will be included in the home’s market value, although it will not be covered by the homeowner’s policy.

In some cases, market value coverage may be the most practical option. Take the example of an ornate older home. In today’s market, the cost of rebuilding or restoring artisanal woodwork, masonry, and plastering to their original condition may be much higher than the home’s purchase price. Therefore, the replacement policy premiums for the home would be high. (Special policies are available for some historic homes, but these also come at a higher price.) For a cash-strapped homeowner, buying a policy based on market value offers the best chance to recoup at least partial expenses after a loss.

When you insure a typical home for its market value, you are at risk of having incomplete coverage. For example, imagine that a family buys a home for $175,000 and takes out a homeowner’s policy for the same amount. The replacement cost for the home, though, is $225,000. If a fire or other insured event destroys the house, the insurance settlement would be $50,000 less than the actual replacement cost of the home. The family would either have to make up the difference themselves or build a new, less expensive home.

This article is provided for you from State Farm Insurance and Tricia Zwirner.

Real estate brokerage relationships - By Lisa DiBiase

What are the different levels of brokerage services to buyers and sellers?
The difference between a Client and a Customer is significant to us Realtors®. However, it is likely not understood by the general public.  Before you begin working with a Realtor® it is very important to know what the different types of services are provided under Maine Law.

Let's start by defining what a Customer is and what a Client is:
Customer - A customer is serviced by an agent, but without contractual agreement as a Transaction Broker. Customers must be treated honestly and fairly by agents and given truthful responses to their questions. 

Client - A client is in a binding contractual relationship with a Realtor®. This is documented by an Exclusive Buyer Representation Agreement when an agent represents a Buyer in purchasing a property listed by another agent. The Exclusive Right to Sell Listing Agreement for Sellers documents the relationship when an agent lists a property for sale.

There are two big differences between the brokerage’s obligations to a client versus a customer.
First, if you are a client, the brokerage has an important obligation to you, called fiduciary duty, and must promote and protect your best interests in the real estate transaction. If you are a customer, the brokerage does not have that obligation, but is obligated to treat you with fairness, honesty and integrity, and to provide you with conscientious and competent service.

Second, if you are a client looking to purchase a property, under a legislated Code of Ethics, the salesperson must take reasonable steps to determine, and then disclose to you, all material facts about the property. If you are a customer, however, the salesperson only has to disclose to you the material facts that he or she already knows or ought to know, and they are not required to take any further steps.

On occasion, an agent may work for both the buyer and seller on the same transaction, providing that there is written consent of both parties.  When this is the case, the agent is considered a "Disclosed Dual Agent." The agent now owes both the buyer and seller a duty to deal with them fairly and honestly, and to hold each of their respective interests in confidence. With this agency relationship, the agent does not represent either the buyer or seller exclusively.  Additionally, neither party can expect the agent to advise either party on how to gain an advantage over the other.

No matter what you decide, remember to do your homework in advance. Before you sign your agreement with the brokerage, make sure you know what you want and the services you expect to receive.

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 of professionals that can continuously give you the right advice for all your circumstances.

Lisa DiBiase is a Broker/Owner.  She and her company represent buyers and sellers in the Greater Portland area. For all your real estate needs contact

Friday, September 30, 2016

Flip to a Different Eagle Section

Is selling real estate right for you? - By Carrie Colby

Imagine working for yourself in a flexible career where you can set your own schedule with annual earning potential of $100,000 or more. There are so many reasons to choose real estate as your career. But there are always two sides to every story, and a real estate career is no different. Below is a straight-forward look at the pros and cons of a real estate agent career.

Is a career in real estate right for you?
Pros: In Maine, you can complete the required training, become a licensed real estate agent, and start a new career in just a matter of weeks or months.
Cons: There is an investment in time, money and effort required. Also, it comes with no guarantees. Passing the state real estate licensing exam is difficult and demands an understanding of complex topics and a varied skill set.

As a real estate agent, you are your own boss
Pros: You’re an independent contractor and control your own book of business. You make the decisions. Couple together a good attitude and solid work ethic, and there are virtually no limits for the growth of your real estate business.
Cons: You’re an independent contractor, and are on your own to learn the market and the business.
You are in charge of building your lead list, maintaining your client’s needs, networking relationships, marketing your business, and managing the day-to-day office needs. It’s all in your hands. Many new agents fail to recognize how much work it takes to become a successful real estate agent.

Real estate agents make a good income
Pros: Your income isn’t limited by an hourly wage or a corporate-dictated salary range. As a real estate salesperson, your income is largely dictated by the time you invest. Grow your real estate business by adding an assistant or get the appropriate license that lets you build your own brokerage. The growth potential is huge.
Cons: At first, your cash-flow direction will be out. Most new real estate agents need a nest egg to begin their careers. Getting your first sales to come in will take some time, and it will likely be a couple months or more before you cash your first check. Depending on the market you cover and existing relationships you can form, it can be a feast or famine situation.

Real estate agents work flexible schedules
Pros: You don’t work a mundane 9 to 5 job. Real estate agents set a day-to-day work schedule that works for them. Much of a real estate agent’s time is spent socializing, meeting people and building relationships.
Cons: Having a flexible schedule in real estate means you have to be flexible to the client’s needs.  In real estate, you tend to work when everyone else is not. That includes weekends. If a client calls, can you drop everything and be attentive to their needs, even if it’s a time that you normally would be spending with your friends or family?

As a real estate agent, you help people with their largest transactions
Pros: Real estate agents receive genuine satisfaction from helping clients find the perfect home or sell their property at a great price. This is an exciting time for both buyers and sellers, and they look to the real estate agent as the expert to help them manage their way through the process with excellent client services.
Cons: Real estate transactions generally are one of the most stressful times of a client’s life, and you will need to be confident in your skills and abilities when things don’t go as planned. If a client leaves unhappy, whether it was due to your efforts or not, word-of-mouth spreads quickly and can affect your referral network and, ultimately, your bottom-line.

Real Estate is a great business
Real estate really is a great career choice. This article isn’t meant to scare anyone away from real estate, but is offered to be an honest look at the real estate business from both sides of success and failure. It can be a very difficult career if the training and work ethic fails, but it can be a seriously rewarding career if you are self-motivated, hard-working, honest, and enjoy networking and helping people.

Carrie Colby
Premier Properties
1263 Roosevelt Trail, Raymond, ME 04071
Fax 866-379-9252
Cell 207-232-5497

Monday, September 26, 2016

Fall home maintenance checklist - By Nicole Foster

Take advantage of the moderate temperatures of early fall and prepare for the winter to help protect your largest asset and investment:  Your property! 

1.     Rain Gutters:  If you have been meaning to have these installed but have not yet then now is a great time to have that done.   Diverting the flow of rain, melting snow and ice away from your home is really important and can help prevent rot and leaks in places you may never even suspect.  If you already have gutters then near the end of fall, after most of the leaves have fallen, be sure to have leaves and other debris cleared out and rinsed with a hose. Doing this helps to prevent the much larger headaches of overflow and drainage issues during winter and spring.

2.     Outdoor faucets: Be sure to drain garden hoses and pack them away and drain any outdoor shut off valves or faucets.  Irrigation systems and outdoor sprinklers should also be properly drained and turned off to avoid freezing and bursting once the temperatures plummet.

3.     Fire Safety: It is a good habit to always change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year, to coincide with the Daylight Savings Time changes. Winter also brings with it cozy candles, cooking and use of fireplace and woodstoves. It is important to have at least one working fire extinguisher located in or near your kitchen but many advise having one on each floor.  Make sure fire extinguishers are charged and usable.

4.     Have furnace checked: Have your furnace inspected now so that you can take care of any problems before you really need the heat. It is recommend that homeowners change the furnace filter every few years, but a regular maintenance program should also include checking the pilot light and thermostat, and opening heating vents to make sure everything is working safely and efficiently.

5.     Chimneys and fireplaces: Chimneys and fireplaces should be evaluated by a licensed inspector to help avoid any accidents caused by creosote buildup, dirty flues, or other hidden dangers. Make sure to keep your dry wood in a place you will be easily able to access it and where it will stay dry.

6.     Pack away outdoor furniture: You may be tempted to leave your patio or deck furniture outdoors during the all year but it will last much longer if it is stored indoors. Clean and allow completely dry then cover with blankets to prevent damage.  Be sure to property cover your grill as well.

7.     Yard: Have your lawn aerated and seed patchy areas of grass. Also fertilize with a high phosphorus mix to ensure healthy grass in the spring. Plant any new shrubs and bulbs for spring. Trim perennials back and if deer tend to feed on your plants or trees during winter months when food is scarce, be sure to cover plants with netting and chicken wire.  Have branches hanging too low trimmed before they become weighed down with snow and ice.

8.     Peeling paint:  Check the exterior trim and siding for any peeling paint. When this happens the existing paint film is failing and can no longer protect the siding of the building. Left uncorrected, the siding itself will deteriorate, leading to expensive repairs in the future.  The low humidity and temperatures of early fall create the perfect conditions for exterior painting to be done.

9.     Inspect shingles & roof:  Your roof is the first line of defense for protecting the entire home and you will want to confirm it is in good shape before winter to avoid discovering that you have a leaky roof during a snowstorm.  Look for missing or loose shingles and have repaired or replaced.  if the shingles appear to be curling up then it is time to make a plan to have the roof reshingled or have a new roof installed.  Install heat tape in areas prone to ice dams or where the pitch isn’t steep enough to allow for snow to slide off.

10.  Ceiling fans: Change the direction of your ceiling fans to create an upward draft which redistributes warm air from the ceiling down to the floor.

Nicole Foster is a Broker with Regency Realty specializing in new construction, single family and residential properties.  She lives in Windham with her husband and four children.