Friday, May 13, 2022

Real Estate: Homeowner’s Guide to Summer Home Maintenance

Submitted by Jonathan Priest

By fixing, cleaning and maintaining a home while it’s warm and dry is like shopping for winter holidays in July. It pays to get it done early — before bad weather can cause emergencies. 

Gutters

Giving a home extra attention when the weather is good can help homeowners avoid emergencies — like a waterfall in the basement — months later, says Dan DiClerico, a home expert for a national online home renovation website. From his decades of working in the home-repair industry, DiClerico knows homeowners should always be planning ahead.

“I compare it to Christmas shopping in July,” DiClerico says: getting it done ahead of time is a good idea.

If the gutter system — including gutter guards, downspouts and gutter extensions — is working properly, water will flow through and out at least five feet away from the house, DiClerico says.

Start with a visual inspection of the whole system and look for these signs of wear or damage, suggests Kevin Chang, cofounder of a San Francisco Bay Area company that provides year-round home maintenance to roughly 200 homes.

· Pieces that are loose, corroded or pulling away from the house.

· Signs of ground erosion. If the grass has washed away beneath the roof edge, for example, it may indicate that water is splashing down because the gutter system isn’t effective.

· Leaves, twigs and other debris in the gutters.

· Spray water onto the roof to make sure it funnels into the gutter and downspouts. Overflows or slow flow could be signs of obstruction.

Make repairs as needed and clear out debris. (Professional cleaning costs roughly $150, but pricing will vary depending on location and other factors.) Even with gutter guards, debris, silt, mud and mold can still build up, and Chang recommends a thorough cleaning every five years.

Roof

Summer is a good time for homeowners to inspect roofs, inside and outside, to help avoid emergency repairs later. Roofs are generally low maintenance, DiClerico says, but when they need repairs, he recommends calling a professional. DiClerico says binoculars can help homeowners do a visual inspection from ground level, before heading into the attic, and he recommends paying attention to these common signs of roof problems.

· Missing or loose shingles

· Seams where two sections come together, and to flashing, seals around windows, chimneys and other openings.

Inside, check for missing insulation in the attic, and signs of moisture like discoloration or mold in the attic or on ceilings, which could indicate the roof is not watertight.

Deck

Every year, DiClerico hears stories of decks collapsing during the year’s first big cookout. Although most people are gathering in smaller groups this summer, he recommends a thorough annual deck inspection, regardless of how much it is used.

· Inspect the deck for mold, mildew, popped screws and loose boards. Pay close attention to the place where the deck meets the house, the railings and the stairs.

· Jump around and give railings a firm shake. Any softness and wobbling could be signs that the deck needs repairs.

· Scrub the deck with soapy water once per year.

· Clear sealants often need to be applied annually; opaque solid stains may only need to be applied every three to five years. Semi-transparent stains should be reapplied every two or three years, DiClerico says. How do you tell if it’s time to reseal the deck? DiClerico suggests sprinkling water on the boards. If it beads up, it’s good; if it soaks in, time to reseal.

Paint

A strong coat of paint can be good protection against winter leaks. But too much heat makes it hard for new paint to cure, so exterior paint projects are best done at the beginning or end of the summer, when temperatures and humidity are lower, says DiClierico. His additional painting recommendations:

· The ideal temperature for painting outside is between 50 and 90 degrees.

· Don’t skimp on sanding, scraping, filling and other prep work. They’re the key to a paint job that lasts.

· A good paint job should last 10 years.

If you’re not painting, wash the outside of the house with soapy water and a sturdy bristle brush, he advises. Use a pressure washer sparingly; in DiClerico’s opinion the gentler option is preferable. Pressure washing a roof can damage shingles, he warns. A spray-on roof cleaner will take care of mold or mildew.

Windows

· Vinegar, water and clean, lint-free cloths are all that’s needed to wash off winter grime, says Chang. He recommends starting with the frame, where the most dirt accumulates, and using a foam paint brush to clear hard-to-reach window tracks.

· Take down screens (keep track of where they belong), spray them gently and lightly brush with soapy water. Rinse, air dry and rehang. Small tears can be fixed with clear nail polish. <

This article was brought to you courtesy of Farmers Insurance agent, Jonathan Priest, with an office at 57 Tandberg Trail, Suite 7, Windham. Call him at 207-893-8184 or send him an email at jpriest1@farmersagent.com 


Friday, May 6, 2022

Real Estate: Terms you should know, A to G

Submitted by Lisa DiBiase

Do you “Understand” what your agent is saying? For home buyers and sellers, the real estate jargon can be intimidating. 

Some people are not comfortable asking what it means, therefore I have put together a list of the most common acronyms and real estate terms we use daily!

Appraisal Gap: An appraisal gap is the difference between the fair market value determined by the appraiser and the amount you agreed to pay for the home. An appraisal gap doesn’t mean you have to cancel the sale, but it may mean you have to negotiate with the seller or pay the difference for the home out of pocket.

“As-is”: A contract or offer clause stating that the seller will not repair or correct any problems with the property. Also used in listings and marketing materials.

Back on market (BOM): When a property or listing is placed back on the market after being removed from the market recently. This typically occurs when a listing was previously under contract and the buyers terminated the purchase and sale contract.

Back-up offer: When an offer is accepted contingent on the fall through or voiding of an accepted first offer on a property.

Broker’s price opinion (BPO): The real estate broker’s opinion of the expected final net sale price, determined prior to the acquisition of the property. Agents will perform this upon the request of a bank, typically when a property is in the foreclosure process.

Clear to Close: A term used by a lender when all conditions have been met by the buyer for the loan to be funded at closing. 

Closing: The end of a transaction process where the deed is delivered, documents are signed, and funds are dispersed.

Commission: The compensation paid to the listing brokerage by the seller for selling the property. A buyer agency agreement may require the buyer to pay a commission to his or her agent.

Commission split: The percentage split of commission compensation between the real estate sales brokerage and the real estate sales agent or broker.

Competitive market analysis (CMA): An analysis done by real estate sales agents and brokers using active, pending, and sold comparable properties to estimate a listing price for a property.

Contingency: A provision in a contract requiring certain acts to be completed before the contract is binding.

Continue to show: When a property is under contract with contingencies, but the seller requests that the property continue to be shown to prospective buyers until contingencies are released.

Cooperative (Co-op): Where the shareholders of the corporation are the inhabitants of the building. Each shareholder has the right to lease a specific unit. The difference between a co-op and a condo is that in a co-op, one owns shares in a corporation; in a condo one owns the unit fee simple.

Counteroffer: The response to an offer or a bid by the seller or buyer after the original offer or bid.

Credit report: Includes all of the history for a borrower’s credit accounts, outstanding debts, and payment timelines on past or current debts.

Credit score: A score assigned to a borrower’s credit report based on information contained therein.

Days on market (DOM): The number of days a property has been on the market.

Dual agent: A state-licensed individual who represents the seller and the buyer in a single transaction.

Earnest money deposit (EMD): The money given to the seller at the time the offer is made as a sign of the buyer’s good faith.

Escalation Clause: An escalation clause, or “escalator,” is a section in a purchase and sale contract that states that a prospective buyer is willing to raise their offer on a home should the seller receive a higher competing offer. The clause will state how much more the buyer is willing to pay than the highest offer and their spending limit.

Escrow account: An account for real estate taxes and insurance which borrowers pay monthly prorations for real estate taxes and property insurance.

Expired (listing): A property listing that has expired per the terms of the listing agreement.

FHA: Federal Housing Administration.

For sale by owner (FSBO): A property that is for sale by the owner of the property.

Gift letter: A letter to a lender stating that a gift of cash has been made to the buyer(s) and that the person gifting the cash to the buyer is not expecting the gift to be repaid. The exact wording of the gift letter should be requested of the lender. <

Lisa DiBiase is a Broker/Owner of Landing Real Estate. She and her company represent buyers and sellers and is your trusted partner for all the years to come. For all your real estate needs contact Lisa at 207-653-0823 or lisa@landinghomesmaine.com

Friday, April 29, 2022

Real Estate: What real estate agents do for buyers

 

By Carrie Colby

There is a critical distinction that needs to be made about true buyer’s agents and agents that are just looking to make a sale. The best buyer’s agents care about only one thing – their client’s best interests!

There are many reasons to have a buyer’s agent when purchasing a house:

1. Get you pre-approved for a loan.
An excellent real estate agent will have a network of agents, lenders and other professionals in the real estate industry that they can connect you with. Your agent should be able to connect you with a lender that can get you pre-approved for a mortgage – a necessity when you are shopping in a competitive market. Buyers need to understand there is a difference between being pre-approved vs. pre-qualified.

Without a doubt, you want to be pre-approved. With a pre-approval, the lender will verify a buyer’s employment, income and research their credit history. 

2. Help you find the right home for your needs.
What do Buyer’s Agents do for their clients looking for a home is exhausting even when everything goes smoothly. An excellent REALTOR can help you narrow down your search to save you time and energy by asking you targeted questions to help you define precisely what you want. They can help you focus on the right location, neighborhood, school district, property type and more.
 
It will still take time and energy to shop for the right property, but a lot of that time and energy will be the Realtor’s. The actual showing of a home is one of the least important tasks of a real estate agent.

3. Negotiate an offer.
When you find a home that you want, one that really excites you, it is time to make an offer. But what offer should you be putting forward? Making an offer too low isn’t smart because it will probably be ignored and potentially annoy the seller.

One the other hand, you don’t want to offer too much, though, because no one wants to spend more than they have to. You’ll need to hit the sweet spot – a number that an outstanding REALTOR is well-qualified to help you choose.

4. Help you choose a home inspector.
Some home inspectors are better than others. Your agent will know the best home inspectors in your area and can connect you with them. You need to have the home inspected before you buy it to avoid purchasing a money pit. Your agent knows this fact and will encourage you to get the home inspected using a reputable inspector you can depend on. Your agent can also help you decide if you need other inspections, like radon and mold.

5. Attend a home inspection.
Home inspectors can miss problems, which is why you want to have a second set of eyes there. The best REALTORS who are truly interested in representing their client to the fullest will attend the home inspection to make sure everything goes as it should. They will be there to help you understand the results of the inspection.

Sometimes buyers can struggle to know what problems are worth stressing over and which aren’t. Your real estate agent will help you decide what issues are ones you need to be concerned with.

6. Negotiate any home inspection repair requests.
Issues that you find through the home inspection may be ones that you need to discuss with the seller. Your agent can tell you which problems need to be brought up for negotiations and can handle the negotiation process for you. They can negotiate for a price reduction, repairs or some other concession that is justified due to the problems with the home. Mediating issues from a house inspection are commonplace, and you want someone skilled at doing it.
 
7. Monitor your loan commitment.
A skilled real estate agent knows how easy it is for a buyer to lose a loan approval – it’s based on your financial situation at the time of your application, and any significant changes you make after that can cause the funding to fall through. No one wants this to happen, especially your agent, so they are going to keep track of your mortgage for you and advise you on how to protect your approval. Additionally, your mortgage commitment date is a critical milestone in your contract. You want to make sure a commitment is given by this date.

8. Finalize all loose ends for the closing.
There are a surprising number of details that need to be addressed to finalize a closing. You have enough on your plate as it is, which is why your real estate agent will be the one to ensure that all of these details are taken care of. Your agent will finalize all those loose ends so that you close without any issues.

Part of the final steps for getting to the closing will be doing a final walkthrough to ensure the condition of the home is the same as when you wrote the offer. If something does cause trouble, your agent will be there to advise you on how to move forward. Carrie Colby is a Broker with Allied Real Estate, 909 Roosevelt Trail in Windham. She can be reached at 207-232-5497.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Real Estate: Make Your Home More Green

By Nicole Foster, Broker / REALTOR

Earth Day is a time for homeowners and communities to assess their daily routines to identify the areas that we can all improve upon both inside of our homes and outside in our yards.  

Know Your Watershed: Do you know which watershed area(s) your property is in?  Awareness is an important part in helping to protect our natural resources.  All of the Town of Windham is located inside of the Casco Bay watershed and parts are also within the Sebago Lake watershed.  With the many rivers, lakes, ponds, wetlands and streams in our community we also have a number of sub-watershed areas, as well.  To find your property, view the watershed map available at windhammaine.us.

Recycling: Do you miss the Silver Bullet and still don’t know what to do with all this stuff? Maybe you forgot trash day or simply have a lot of recyclable trash this week; Riverside Recycling, only minutes down Route 302 in Portland, welcomes visitors to dispose of their recycling free of charge, but you must stop in and speak with an attendant upon arrival.  If you are having a hard time getting into a good routine, don’t give up and print out a copy of the brochure by EcoMaine available at the windhammaine.us site and hang it inside of your kitchen cabinet near the waste basket where it can easily be seen by everyone or download the EcoMaine RECYCLOPEDIA app. These simple steps can help to ensure the trash leaving your home is being properly sorted and over time you will be able to remember without checking!

Composting: Why pay for nutrient rich planting soil when you very easily can produce it yourself at home for free?  Even a smaller area may be suitable for creating a compost area in your own yard.  Bins are available for purchase or can easily be made following instructions shared by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.  Keep a smaller container for suitable household waste with a lid beneath your sink or near your wastebasket which may be added to the larger container outdoors.  Over time the waste will break down into a fine soil which may be directly added to your plants or gardens. Another option is to set aside a small indoor space to be used for year-round vermicomposting.

Yard Care: There are steps homeowners can take to provide a more eco-friendly yard in both design and maintenance. Consider establishing spaces which could receive less maintenance and become more pollinator friendly or plant native drought resistant ground cover in addition to having a lawn.  When choosing one of the four grass seeds consider the shade, wear and drought tolerance for that area as well as fertilizer needs.  Lawns which are less than ten years old should be fertilized around Labor Day to help limit run off and those which are older than ten years should not require annual fertilizer, but you should only apply what your lawn needs in targeted areas.  It is recommended to cut your grass at 3 inches and leave the clippings behind to provide a slow supply of nutrition for the lawn. The University of Maine Cooperative Extension is a hugely underutilized resource available to homeowners located in Falmouth with many free services, publications and professionals who want to help you to create a more sustainable home inside and out. The Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District is currently hosting low cost ($15 scholarships available) workshops on sustainable lawn care practices through the month of April. 

Energy: Efficiency Maine is a great starting point when looking for ways to improve or upgrade your home’s energy efficiency.  Visit their website to learn about energy efficient home upgrade incentives they offer for hot water heaters, heat pumps and more.  They can help to provide an overall assessment of your home then make recommendations including air sealing, adding insulation or other energy upgrades.  Home energy upgrade loans up to $15,000 are also available to help cover those costs.  Use the Compare feature on their website for home heating and hot water heating options before making a selection when the time arrives to upgrade or replace your hot water heater or heating system. Windham residents can borrow an energy monitor from the Windham Public Library free of charge to calculate how much your current appliances are costing you to operate each month. <

Nicole Foster is a Broker with Locations Real Estate Group and a Windham resident who loves real estate and people.   She may be reached at 207-615-7558 or Nicole@locationsinmaine.com.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Real Estate: Signs of significant new development at Quarry Ridge Business Park

By Larry Eliason

Over the past two years, I have written articles about commercial real estate lot sales and new development activity at the Quarry Ridge Business Park with an emphasis on Enterprise Drive and Bedrock Terrace. Enterprise Drive is just off Roosevelt Trail/Route 302.  

This Business Park is a Grondin Family investment in Windham.  I wanted to provide an update so everyone can learn about the substantial amount of new commercial real estate development activity now in the works for this Business Park.

Six commercial lots have sold in this Business Park since the Windham Town Council approved the Enterprise Development Zone for Medical and/or Adult Use Cannabis Grows and Manufacturing Operations back in 2020. One of the six lots sold has a brand new 12,500-square-foot Commercial Building being built by Patco Construction for Paul’s Boutique Nursery Cannabis, and it is almost complete.

And a very large parcel of land separate from those lots located behind Genest Concrete will soon become the home for Copart International with a 7,300-plus square-foot Auto Auction Facility that is being built by Great Falls Construction.  

The new commercial real estate development at this Business Park is providing good paying construction jobs in the short-term and will provide new manufacturing, auto auction and a variety of other good paying jobs for the long-term. There are additional new large commercial buildings being planned now by some of the other new commercial lot owners along Enterprise Drive and Bedrock Terrace.

The intent of the Enterprise Development District is to provide a unique area within the Town of Windham to allow manufacturing, processing, treatment, warehousing, storage, research, and distribution with safe, well-regulated vehicle access located off a major street which can conform to the performance standards set forth in this section and in all other applicable ordinances of the Town of Windham.

The following uses are currently allowed in the Enterprise Development District:

Auction House, Automobile Auction Facility, Automobile Repair Services, Building, Accessory, Business and Professional Office, Contractor Services, Contractor Storage Yard, Construction Services, Heavy, Major Construction Services, Heavy, Minor, Convention Center, Distribution Facility, Forestry, Hotel, Industry, Heavy, Industry, Light, Marijuana Cultivation Facility, Marijuana Manufacturing Facility, Marijuana Testing Facility, Mineral Extraction, Motel, Public Utility Facility, Retail Sales, Accessory, Small Engine Repair, Use, Accessory Warehousing, Private Warehousing, Public, Wireless Telecommunications Tower and Facility

Quarry Ridge Business Park off Enterprise Drive is located on approximately 1,000 acres of land. Phase 1A was built in 2004 and was anchored by Genest Concrete products and LaValley Lumber Building Supply.  The LaValley property was acquired by Tube Hollows International in 2012.

Phase 1B was approved by the town of Windham in 2006 and since then mining of the gravel pit and quarry has progressed enough to leave behind flat buildable lots available for industrial use. The entire development is served by public water, electric including (three-phase) and natural gas. Phase 2 planning is now underway and additional commercial lots should be available in the future.

There is an existing MDOT traffic movement plan in place that will eventually include a much-needed traffic signal at the intersection of Enterprise Drive and Route 302.

As a Commercial Real Estate Broker and a Windham Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) volunteer, I see millions of dollars in new investment coming to this Business Park in the coming years.  The commercial tax base being generated will provide the Town of Windham with a valuable commercial tax base to help provide additional infrastructure and services to the residents of Windham.

Keep an eye out for the next phase of development in the Quarry Ridge Business Park. <

Larry Eliason is a Commercial Broker with Butts Commercial Brokers and is President of Windham Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

Friday, April 8, 2022

Real Estate: It’s ‘GO TIME’ for both Buyers and Sellers

By Matthew Trudel

We are almost halfway through spring, however, it seems like spring is really just about to begin.  Most of us have very little for snowbanks left, or maybe none at all.  The days are getting warmer and the grass is starting to green up a little bit.  Taxes are due in a week which means most potential buyers have already filed and are waiting to hopefully get a refund to help with their down payment or closing costs.  The market remained a strong seller’s market throughout the winter.  Inventory is still at an all-time low and interest rates are still very low, although they have creeped up a little lately.

About two weeks ago I noticed there were only seven homes on the market in Windham not under contract, three of the properties are overpriced in my opinion, the other four had only been on the market a couple days.  At the time of writing this article, those four properties are now under contract.  

While checking on that information I can report there are now 11 properties for sale in Windham that are not under contract and not including the three overpriced homes I mentioned earlier. Eight out of the 11 homes have been on the market for under a week and the other three properties have been on the market for 11 days or less. 

There are a lot of buyers out there and I expect we will see more buyers entering into the market over the next month or two.

So, Sellers get yourself geared up and your property in the best shape you can because this market isn’t going to see any slowdown anytime soon.  Sellers who are thinking of selling this spring or summer should have already found an experienced Realtor who knows the local market.  If you haven’t done that already, then give me a call and we can set up plan to get you the most money in this incredibly hot seller’s market.  Get your spring clean-up done, the gardens prepped, and that honey-dew list finished.  The time to sell has arrived and this is the year to do it. 

There are no guarantees on what next year will bring so don’t hesitate to act now if selling is in your future plans.

Buyers who are just starting the process or thinking about purchasing a new home this year, it is also time for you to get geared up and make sure your financing is in order.  You should have already interviewed a few experienced Realtors and found one that you feel confident can represent you well.  They should be knowledgeable about the local area and have creative ways to give you the edge when putting in that offer on your dream home.

If you have not done that, then you too can give me a call and we can go over some of the very successful strategies and techniques I have used to get my client’s offers accepted over other competing buyers.  Things happen quickly once a new property hits the market, and you want to be fully prepared to move fast and to make well informed decisions or you might miss out on a great opportunity to get the house you want.

Whether you are planning on buying or selling this year, it is an exciting time for both parties with so much for them to look forward to.  Buyers are thinking about the things they hope to find in a new home -  perhaps a fireplace, workout room, pool, big garage, and list goes on and on.  That list you want to be sure your REALTOR knows inside and out. 

The more they know about your desirable and undesirable features in a home, the more time and energy they can save you.  Sellers are mostly excited about what the final number they will receive from the transaction will be.

Although many sellers are also excited to see who is going to be moving in and enjoying their home in the future.  If you have any questions as either a buyer or a seller, feel free to call or email me at any time.  If you have a suggestion for something you would like me to write about regarding real estate, I would like to hear about it.  <

This article was written by Matthew Trudel, Broker and Owner of Five Star Realty, Windham. (207) 939-6971.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Real Estate: What is EMD?

By Kristin Piccone

An earnest money deposit is a good faith deposit that a buyer will submit upon acceptance of an offer for a home purchase.

This deposit can signify to a seller, the strength and seriousness of the buyer, their interest level and show’s that the buyer is willing to put some “skin in the game,” so to speak.

Generally, the brokerage with whom the home is listed for sale by, will hold the earnest money deposit in a trust account. The monies are then released and credited to the Buyer at time of closing provided all contingencies were met according to the Purchase and Sale Agreement.

Prior to the competitive market that we are experiencing today, an earnest money deposit could be any amount that the buyer was comfortable with; however, at time of negotiating a Purchase and Sale agreement, the seller could also choose to negotiate the offered earnest money amount.

For example, let’s say the Buyer’s offer included a $500 EMD, the seller could negotiate that term and make a counter-offer to include a $1,500 EMD, instead. Once agreed, the Buyer has an agreed upon number of days to get the funds to the company who will be holding the deposit.

From here, the Buyer will need to meet certain criteria within the contract to be sure that should something arise during their due diligence and/or contingency period(s), they are eligible to receive their earnest money funds back in full.

What does this mean? When a Buyer makes an offer to purchase a home, you want to have some kind of knowledge on the average timeline for certain procedures. 

For example, if your offer has a due diligence period of five business days, but the home inspector that you want to use is one week out on scheduling new inspections; or if you want certain tests done, but it takes four days for results to come back from the lab, this may be a tight timeline and puts you, the Buyer, at risk for losing your hard-earned earnest money deposit.

Once the agreed upon contingency period is over, the deposit is not refundable to the Buyer and can be retained by the seller. In my experience, and with the competitive nature of today’s real estate market, it would be wise to have your local, trusted and knowledgeable, real estate agent (Me!) that you may be working with to contact the home inspector or professional that you wish to use for any of your due diligence to, either, get an idea as to what the professional’s schedule looks like; or get penciled into their books, and the seller will also be able to see that you, the Buyer, has already done some leg work in preparing and working towards moving forward within the timeline of the offer, as presented.

Overall, no matter the contingency, any and all decisions, as a result of the said contingency must be decided and determined within its specified timeline to ensure you, as the Buyer, receives your deposit back in full.

If you, the Buyer, changes your mind about a home, and the contingency period is over, the seller is able to keep the earnest money deposit funds.

Once a buyer and seller are ready for the closing table to sign paperwork, the Earnest Money deposit is credited back to the Buyer and will go toward any down payment or closing costs associated with the transaction.

If, however, the seller decides that they want to cancel a Purchase and Sale Agreement, the Buyer will receive their earnest money back in full. <

I am a local and knowledgeable real estate agent. If you have any questions about your home, the market, about any real estate terms or concepts, do not hesitate to reach out; this is what I do. I look forward to hearing from you! Be well, Kristin Piccone, Broker at Landing Real Estate. Call her at 207-951-1393 or send her an email at KPiccone@LandingHomesMaine.com