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Friday, September 30, 2016
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.
1263 Roosevelt Trail, Raymond, ME 04071
Monday, September 26, 2016
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.
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Realtors are always discussing this and emphasizing the importance of how it factors into the value of a home. How much truth is there in what they are saying and should you really believe all the hype?
Some Realtors will say that location is much more important than the actual home. Buying a smaller home that might need some updating in a more desirable neighborhood might be a much better investment than the larger newer home in a much less desirable location. I would agree with this on most occasions because purchasing a home is an investment.
The investment of a home is both a personal and business decision. This is where many buyers (and sellers) tend to struggle and keep it more on the personal side. It should be personal, after all you will be living there, but buying the perfect home in a bad location can be a recipe for both financial disaster and perhaps a lousy personal experience.
You can always add to your investment by doing renovations, additions and other improvements. These all cost money, but the question you should be asking is "What am I going to get in return on this investment down the road?" Not always an easy question to answer, but you should be able to come up with some close numbers. Add all you want to house in a bad location and your ROI (Return On Investment) is not going to look very good. While you can change the size of your house, the garage, or add a pool, you can never really change the location.
That all said, what if you find the absolutely perfect home in not the greatest of locations. If you don't care about making money on the home, and actually likely losing money on it when you sell, then perhaps you should go for it. Also remember it will likely take much longer to sell because you are limiting yourself to a very small pool of buyers. Location is very important, but it is not the end all be all for some people. Location is definitely something you want to keep in mind when purchasing any type of a property.
Matt Trudel is the owner of Five Star Realty in Windham
Friday, September 9, 2016
Although the majority of real estate closings include the buyers, sellers, brokers and lender around a big table - with a title attorney - all signing papers together, sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. Life has a funny way of getting in the way – job commitments, pregnancy due dates, vacations, illnesses, living in a different state – all these can prevent you from attending the closing in person.
And although you will be missed, there are a few options to consider that can be utilized to still allow the transaction to take place in your absence.
Now, it’s important to first keep in mind that it is not the title company (unless it is a cash transaction) that has any say over the closing date. That distinct honor goes to the lending institution in this case. They will finalize a closing date, and then contact the title company – who will then contact all other parties involved – to coordinate the time and location based on that date given.
So once the date is set and you realize you will be unable to attend, there are a few options that you have in regards to how your role in signing the required documents will play out. But first, and most importantly, if you feel that there is a chance you will not be able to attend, please let your agent and the title company know as soon as possible so that alternate arrangements can be made.
One option is to assign a Power of Attorney (POA). If, for example, you will be away on business but your spouse will be available to attend, you could assign your spouse as your POA over matters pertaining to this transaction, thus allowing them to sign the documents in your place at the actual closing. A POA is not just limited to a spouse, of course, it could be anyone you choose whether it’s a relative, non-relative, friend, or perhaps even your real estate agent. This fairly simple document can be drawn up by the title company for a nominal fee and signed at your convenience any length of time prior to the closing. Please note that if you as the buyer is planning to use a POA, your lender will need to approve that ahead of time, so please advise the title company as soon as possible if you think you will be needing to assign a POA in your place.
Another option is to do a “mail away” closing. This means the title company would mail all of the documents to you to sign in the presence of a Notary Public, and provide you with an overnight mailing label (such as FedEx, etc) to mail them back to us. Then the regularly scheduled closing would take place with the remaining parties present at the closing table.
Buying or refinancing a home is sometimes a confusing process, but there are tools in place like the POA’s or mail away closings to help the consumer. Be sure to always ask your bank or title company how they can make things convenient for you.
Friday, September 2, 2016
In a seller's market, it is important for buyers to be cautious. There are pitfalls everywhere in a seller's market. Here are a few things to consider.
True Cost- When you buy a home for $300,000, you don't pay $300,000.
There are other cost associated with the purchase of a home that moves your true cost up. Most home purchases will include a mortgage origination fee, a home inspection, an appraisal, pro-rated taxes, upfront insurance payment, utility and cable set up, and maybe private mortgage insurance (if you are putting down less than 20 percent). All of these costs should be figured into your true cost and can run $6,000 to $8,000. This amount should be considered when determining the top of your purchase range.
Neighborhood - The hottest neighborhood in the town you want to live in is already priced at a premium (Think Moses Little or Briarwood). In a good market, adjacent neighborhoods start to become more desirable and gain value. Buyers should seek out those adjacent neighborhoods that provide the same proximity to schools, attractions, etc. and other features that make the first neighborhood hot. Instead of paying the premium today, a buyer can look forward to value growth in the adjacent neighborhood.
Readiness - In a seller's market, multiple offers are common place on well-priced properties. Buyers need to be ready to make an offer quickly, and make that offer stand out. Having a pre-approval letter instead of a pre-qualification letter from a lender can make an offer more appealing. Buyers should have an inspector lined up for short term notice, offer a short inspection window can make an offer stand out.
Buyers’ brokers should ask questions to find out what the seller would find desirable in an offer-a quick closing, a later closing date, a rental option, etc. and incorporate that into the offer. Anything that makes the buyer's offer stand out from other offers.
Overreach - Buyers can get caught up in a multiple offer situation. Bidding wars can get heated. Paying a premium for a home that may have to be sold in the next five years. It will not be a seller's market forever. Paying a premium may also move a monthly payment beyond a buyers comfort range. Always set a bid ceiling and stick to it. Offering too much for a home because of multiple bids may also lead to appraisal issues later. Avoid buyers’ remorse, appraisal issues, and resale problems by overpaying in a seller's market.
Quality - If a buyer is considering buying new in a seller's market, particular attention must be paid. Busy builders are adding new crews, and supervisors are spread thinner. This leads to less experienced laborers with less supervision. Corners may be cut and lower quality materials may be used. Buyers should consider hiring an independent inspector to oversee construction (about $500). Using a reputable, established builder can save grief later. The willingness and ability of the builder to stand behind the work done should be an important consideration when buying new construction.
Buyers that keep these things in mind, should survive a seller's market well. Using an experienced real estate professional is always recommended when making the most important purchase of a lifetime.
Rick is a realtor, real estate author, and long time Windham resident. You can reach Rick with any of your real estate questions or needs at Rickyost63@gmail.com