Friday, May 14, 2021

Real Estate: How to be a stronger buyer in a sellers’ market

By Carrie Colby

Do you keep losing in bidding wars due to multiple offers? Low inventory in a sellers’ market can be difficult for buyers and knowing how to position yourself is key to buying the home of your dreams.

Be a stronger buyer with this advice.
Hire an Experienced REALTOR®
An experienced agent can help you gain the upper hand as you navigate a multiple offer bidding war.

Multiple offer scenario requires mortgage financing in place
Hire a mortgage broker and get pre-approved for a mortgage loan. You may have heard the terms pre–qualification vs pre-approval and are unclear of the difference. A pre-qualification can be a good starting point to shop mortgages without having your credit pulled and get your documentation together.

However, in seller’s market or any market for that matter it is best to be pre-approved for a loan. Pre-approval requires you complete an official mortgage application where a professional will help you do an analysis on your income and asset documents, analyze your credit report, and help you choose the best mortgage product.

You will have a commitment letter to attach to the offer signifying you are pre-approved to obtain home financing. A commitment letter will set you apart from other offers a seller may be considering. Having this legwork completed up front will simplify the mortgage process, close on the home faster and reduce last minute surprises.

Up your earnest money deposit. This shows a seller you are serious and will not walk away if a better property comes along.

If you are looking to buy a home in a sellers’ market, it is key to sell your home before buying. Having a contract with a contingency to sell your home will put you on the bottom of the pile in a multiple offer scenario. With multiple offers there is little chance a seller entertains contracts with a clause contingent on the sale of your house. Sellers will not likely be willing to wait for you to sell your home with other stronger offers on the table even if your offer is higher.

Shorten all your time frames for home inspections, mortgage commitment, appraisal contingency dates, and closing dates. Working with the seller to meet their time frames for moving will be a benefit.

Offer over asking with an Escalation Clause when there are multiple offers
When in a multiple offer situation homes can go for thousands over the asking price. Maybe you are willing to pay more but you are concerned the home will not appraise preventing you from obtaining a mortgage. Your realtor and mortgage broker will be able to help with this. Putting more money down upfront might be the solution.

Many buyers use an escalation clause that says you are willing to outbid any other offers on the home by a certain amount, up to a certain price which is the most you are willing to pay. This puts a cap on price. An escalation clause protects you financially because it prevents you from paying more than you need to.

Cash is King
Cash is king and in a sellers’ market many sellers will only entertain cash offers. Many buyers will borrow against their 401k or withdraw from their IRA. Some use a bridge loan or an existing home equity line of credit. A cash offer eliminates the need for an appraisal and bank approval for a loan contingency. A cash offer shows the seller you are serious about the house and ready to buy it today.

Eliminate Contingencies
Real estate agents will most likely tell you not to remove contingencies. This tactic can move you to the top of the pile of multiple offers but be aware of the risks you take by buying a home without doing home inspections which can cost you later if there are structural, safety or mechanical issues with the home.

Write a Personal Letter

It is possible to tip the scales with the seller by writing a sincere expression of how much you love the house, and how you can see you and your family living there happily for many years. Homes hold many memories, and it is often very difficult for sellers to move on.

It is important to sellers that someone will love and care for the home they raised a family in. In a bidding war a personal letter could earn you enough goodwill to move you to the front of the pack.

Writing a Strong Contract that Appeals to Sellers
Another angle to simply come in with the best possible offer you can reasonably afford, one that still meets all the other parameters. Then live with it whether you win or lose the house.

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

Friday, May 7, 2021

Real Estate: Flipping Houses

By Rick Yost

House flipping is all the rage right now.  In a quickly appreciating market, everyone thinks they can make money.  While the hot housing market is creating opportunities, house flipping is a business that has many costly mistakes.  

A good flip can earn tens of thousands of dollars, but a bad decision can cost tens of thousands of dollars.  

When considering flipping homes, there are four golden rules to profitability:

1. Get familiar with the market – the first thing one should do is educate themselves on the particular area that they are interested in or where opportunities present themselves.  The goal is to learn everything about that particular area, what distressed properties sell for in that area, what renovated properties are selling for, and how long homes are on the market.   This information will give a good indication of the profit potential of a particular area and what's happening in that area.

2. Buy low and sell high-- the second thing to remember when doing a flip is that buying cheap is essential (dirt cheap).  Being a good negotiator is essential to successfully flip houses.  It is important to not act too quickly on any property.  

Waiting for the right deal in the right area and buying it cheap will lead to a profitable flip.   There is much truth to the old saying "you make money when you buy, not when you sell.”

3. Wow with renovations-- thirdly, property renovations should exceed similar properties with which it will compete.   Knowing the comps in the market allows for choosing the proper place to spend renovation dollars.  For example, are furnaces typically replaced, are hot water heaters high efficiency, are granite counters the norm? Should appliances be stainless steel?  Do comps have tile floors or ceramic backsplashes?  If these things are the norm, they must be done in the house to be flipped and go even one step further.   Knowing what the comparable homes on the market have for amenities and matching or bettering them is essential to profitability.

If the house looks better than the comps, it will sell quicker than the comps.

4. Price it right--fourth and lastly, it is important to price the property right.  The price should be similar to or even a little lower than for what comparable properties are selling.  This maybe counterintuitive.  If the home is better than the comps, shouldn't it be priced higher?   Simply --No.   By selling a slightly superior home to the comps at a slightly lower price than the comps, the time the home is on the market is minimized.

The goal is to sell the home as quickly as possible.  The home sitting on the market is not the way to profitability. There is truth to the other old saying "Time is money.”

Holding a house for a few thousand dollars more is a bad strategy.  Carrying costs eat up profitability quickly.   List the home a bit cheaper than the comps, sell it as quickly as possible, get the money out, and move on to the next house.  Flipping multiple properties in a year is where the significant profits are.

These four tips will lead to profitability and success.  Those that fail to heed the tips are flirting with disaster. <

Rick Yost is a real estate broker, real estate author, and longtime Windham resident.  You can reach him with all your real estate questions and needs at
rickyost63@gmail.com

Friday, April 30, 2021

Real Estate: The finer points of your homeowner’s policy

By Jonathan Priest

Congratulations! You… are a homeowner. Maybe you’ve owned your home for years, or maybe you just had your loan closing after a hard-fought battle for your pre-approval, multiple offers were made over asking price, and you made several concessions to the seller, but either way, you did it.

Now that the dust has settled, it’s time for a quick and painless review of some optional coverages available on most home policies that would allow you to customize your coverage to fit your specific needs.

Below, I’ve laid out the terms, what they mean, and why you might or might NOT need that specific coverage!

Scheduled items coverage

This is designed to cover specific, special items of personal property such as jewelry, antiques, firearms, camera equipment, musical instruments, etc. It allows these items to be listed, or “scheduled” onto the policy individually, and usually allows for a low or even zero deductible on them in the event of a claim. This coverage is usually very inexpensive and protects the items much more thoroughly than if they were just part of your regular personal property coverage. For example, were the stone to fall out of an engagement ring and be lost, or “mysteriously disappear”, it likely would not be covered on the regular home policy, or if it were, it would be subject to the policy’s deductible. In many cases, that could be $1,000 or even more! In order to schedule items, you will need an appraisal, bill of sale, or something similar, to show evidence of value, along with a detailed description of the item(s).

Backup of Sewer or Drain

This coverage, just as it sounds, is designed to help cover losses to items and property in your basement as a result of a backup of a sewer or drainpipe. It is typically available in different amounts, and the amount of coverage should be determined by how much property might be damaged in such a loss. You might just need 5,000 to protect your furnace or increase it to cover a washer and dryer and additional items as necessary, depending on how much living space is in your cellar.

Ordinance and Law

This add on to your policy should only be necessary if you have an older home. It would protect you if you had a loss involving your home’s structure, where the electrical, plumbing and/or heating need to be brought up to code during the repair process. It is typically available as a percentage of the total replacement cost of your home. I’ve actually had a client need to use this coverage in a 200-year-old home, and he was advised that without this coverage I’d recommended, he would have been out of pocket for tens of thousands of dollars for those updates!

ID Restoration/Protection

In this day and age, it’s very common to hear about (or experience first-hand) a person’s identity being stolen, and this coverage is designed to take some of the stress and wasted time out of the equation. It typically allows for a bonded employee of an ID restoration company (meaning the employee is trustworthy) to be appointed limited power of attorney for you. This would allow them to make those endless calls to credit bureaus, creditors, etc. to straighten out the mess that your credit and finances might be in after such an ordeal.

Computer Equipment

Just as it sounds, this coverage is built to protect your office and computer equipment against losses and can be especially important with so many folks working from home this year!

Debris Removal

This coverage helps to pay for the removal of the debris and cleanup in the event of a covered claim, and is an often neglected but necessary part of the process.

The Takeaway

Please take just a few minutes to review your current policy, and make sure that you have all of the protection you need! <

Remember, my staff and I are just a phone call away at 207-893-8184 to answer any questions you have, whether you are insured with me or not. I am also available on Facebook Messenger @ Jonathan Priest MetLife Auto and Home.

 

Friday, April 23, 2021

Real Estate: Maine Market Update

By Skylar Welch

Where is Maine headed? Maine’s real estate market already had higher-than-average prices on residential and multi-family homes before Covid, but once the pandemic came into full swing, the desire to experience ‘The way life should be’, exploded. The demand for spacious living, fresh air and lobster has totally taken precedence over the metro city life, and a wave of Massachusetts and New York residents unknowingly discovered an escape so close to home and work. The question is, ‘Why’?

The state has been in a sellers’ market for a while, so the lack of inventory has been an issue, but it currently seems, coastal living is back by popular demand and that means this issue is even greater now. Maine has always been ‘Vacationland’ to us 'Mainahs,’ and now that others were able to get a glimpse of this place for themselves, unexpectedly during quarantine, we now see that the secret is out. Within two years, will we even recognize the Old Port? I think where Maine is headed, even Mainer’s don’t expect high demand with zero inventory to offer, out of state buyers outbidding Mainers’ looking to find their second home, and an influx in a general interest in the state makes Maine feel like the ‘Gold Rush’ of 2021, and it doesn’t stop there.

Millennials have flooded the Portland market to take advantage of the growing startup scene of biotech and bioscience and it’s only a matter of time before more demands are implemented into Maine due to the rapid flock of out-of-state residents.’ Jobs in marketing and advertising are becoming more prevalent, and the visual pulse of the Southern Maine area is growing. Maine’s laws are attracting many Texans and Californians, winter here seems to get shorter, but many see it is more doable than winter in a big city. Everyday I’m asked by anxious buyers questions on how they can make their offer more attractive and what they can do to guarantee themselves a spot closer to scoring a home in this hectic market, and all I can recommend, is to position themselves in the best place to be the strongest offer.

When you understand the feeling you have, of being in Maine you then realize the seemingly drastic moves made to this state, are reasonable. There is a cozy and safely spaced feeling, when living in Maine. Portland gives the amazing feeling of a quaint and busy city, with a creative essence that engulfs anyone on a casual stroll through it. You can beach it, surf, and experience east skiing like no other within the same day, and even run into the secret service in Kennebunk. You’ll probably know your neighbor and there’s a great chance, someone leaving the pub will attempt to accurately display how much room you have from the other car, as you parallel park in the Old Port. These are things people didn’t realize they missed and needed until a pandemic forced them to see, the way life should be. 

If your dream is to become a homeowner in Maine, it is extremely important to be sure you are positioning yourself in the very best position to purchase a home! This means getting prequalified by a local mortgage broker, finding yourself a real estate agent who is current with the market and making sure you are ready to get competitive and practice patience. The Spring market is in full swing and it’s shaping up to my a crazy one <

Skylar Welch owns Maine Pointe Lending is at 202 US Route 1, Suite 102 in Falmouth. Call 207-949-3568 or find them online at www.mainepointelending.com. They’re also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/skyeclosesmaine/

Friday, April 16, 2021

Real Estate: Why to invest in rental properties

By Katie Kinney

One of the beautiful things about real-estate investing is that there are many strategies that can be successfully used. Investing in rental properties, or multi-units is a great investment strategy for those who want an additional source of monthly income, to live for free while your tenant pays your mortgage and the slow but steady appreciation in the value of your portfolio. In the current seller’s market, purchasing an investment property may be a solution to the little to no inventory available. If you have the option to purchase a single family home or a multi unit, it will just provide more buying options!

In most cases, if not all, the cost to purchase a multi-family property will be higher than the cost to purchase a single-family home The purchase price is off set by the fact that multi-family real estate consistently generates a strong cash flow every month. This remains true even if a property has a handful of vacancies or a couple of tenants who are late with their rent payments. If a tenant, for example, moves out of a single-family home, that property would become 100 percent vacant. On the other hand, a ten-unit property with one vacancy would only be 10 percent unoccupied.

When you provide housing it’s a good thing for the community and usually your local government as well. The town in which the property is located likes the idea, because you are helping the residents by providing clean, safe, affordable housing to people who might not otherwise find it. As a result, you can gain all sorts of tax incentives… yes tax breaks! You are able to write off a lot of deductions due to the fact that owning a rental property is a business. You can depreciate many things in an apartment building or rental property, and that depreciation takes place over a lengthy period of time. The tax benefits of owning multi-families can be massive.

Multi-Families hold their value at a much better rate than single-family properties. If the property is turnkey it is very simple to take ownership and continue the relationship with the current tenants. If the property needs to be rehabbed or updated, once that is complete you have created a very attractive property for tenants and you are able to generate higher rents.  Higher rents and retaining quality tenants means steady cash flow. This will also attract other investors who could be interested in buying the property, if you decide you ever want to sell.

Buying a multifamily property not only makes financial sense, but can also be a very safe way to make decent money in real estate. When you have more than one unit, the risk is spread out. When one unit goes vacant, you still have the rent from another. If your expenses increase slightly, you can weather it from the other units. As I mentioned above, you are eligible for many tax deductions. If you maintain and update your properties you retain and increase their value. Multifamily properties, if purchased correctly, are a great way to start and continue in the world of investing and I highly recommend it! At the end of the day living in the Greater Portland area is very sought after and people will always need a place to live! <

For more information on buying or selling real estate please free to contact Katie Kinney, Broker, Landing Real Estate. katie@landinghomesmaine.com or 603-205-2276,

Friday, April 9, 2021

Real Estate: TS Staging and Design tips and tricks for selling, redesigning, or renting your home or property

By Theresa Bouchard

Selling your home? STAGE IT!
 

When staging a home, the key element is to make it appealing to all buyers. Furniture placement, wall color, décor and lighting can attract buyers so that when they walk through the door, they can visualize it as their home. Staging doesn’t have to be elaborate or costly. Decluttering a space, rearranging furniture, and a fresh coat of paint can all make a huge difference in a home’s appearance. STAGE IT and get even more money in today’s hot market! Here are some important reasons to stage your home:


Your home’s flaws will be overlooked if professionally staged

** Staged homes average 5 to 23 percent more money than non-staged homes

** 83 percent of buyers find it “easier to visualize the property as their future home” when staged

** Over 95 percent of buyers are online first before they visit a home, so staging for photos is critical 

Does your home have the blues? Need a fresh look? REDESIGN IT!

A fresh coat of a trending paint color can transform a room and make it feel new, fresh, and exciting! In a living room, you can simply add decorative pillows, throws or even furniture covers to create a completely different look for you and your family. Rearranging furniture or purchasing new can create comfort and more functionality to a room. In a bedroom, you can change a bedspread, rearrange furniture, or change out lighting fixtures to create that new vibe! Replace dated appliances with energy efficient ones to create immediate cost savings! REDESIGN IT and fall in love with your home again!

Here are some benefits to redesigning your home or space:

May increase the value of your property depending upon the changes made

** Can change the mood and energy level throughout your home

** Creates more family time and opportunities to gather with friends when you have a fresh new, functional space

** Improved energy efficiency which creates cost savings

** An updated kitchen can create healthier eating habits. Why go out to dinner when you can cook in your newly renovated kitchen!

Do you rent out or Airbnb a property? Is it appealing to renters or vacationers?

Much like staging, if renting out a property, it needs to be appealing to the renter. Fully furnished rental properties should not only draw in renters for its beauty, but for its comfort. Renters are looking to call a place their home so both style and comfort are extremely important. Amenities are key to ensure a renter will be a satisfied, loyal tenant which is what all landlords want, right? Create a space that you would love to live in, and you will have a happy tenant for the duration of your rental!
If renting an unfurnished space, be sure to stage it to get top dollar for your monthly rental fee. Just like staging to sell, you want to attract renters who can visualize themselves living in this space. Create a cozy, functional space during your showings and you are guaranteed to draw in a number of potential renters who are willing to pay your asking monthly rental fee!
Designing for an Airbnb can be different than a long duration rental property. Airbnb’s are a getaway for vacationers who want to embrace new experiences and create memories with their friends and family! Make your property memorable! How? Use interesting and unique décor! Millennials are more likely to rent an Airbnb than any other demographic. That said, the Airbnb needs to be “Instagram”-able so that the perfect group photos and selfies can be taken. The more unique, the better! In addition, amenities and a high level of comfort is important to any vacationer! Bedding, linens, a working coffee pot (to name a few), are all key to obtaining a 5-star review from your vacationers and keep them coming for years to come! <

If you have questions or would like assistance in any areas mentioned in this article, please contact TS Staging and Design at 207.400.9393 or visit our website at www.TSstaginganddesign.com. You can also find them on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Real Estate: Commercial Real Estate business picking up in Windham

By Larry Eliason


The Quarry Ridge Business Park, at Enterprise Drive and Bedrock Terrace, has come back to life with a substantial amount of new commercial real estate activity this year. Three commercial lots have sold this winter and there are three more commercial lots with sales pending. These are in addition to a large parcel that has been under contract with Copart for at least the past two years and is finally coming to fruition.

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 

One of the biggest changes and a big factor in new development at this business park is the addition of Marijuana Operations being permitted in this zone by the Town of Windham. The Planning Office specifically chose this zone as one of two zones for Marijuana Operations going forward. The other zone chosen was the Industrial Zone.

One of the biggest challenges that I see in this zone is that it is accessed from Route 302 via Enterprise Drive, a non-signalized intersection. We could certainly use help from stakeholders such as our town leaders and staff, legislators, business and real estate owners, residents, and others to seek a partnership with the MDOT to make a signalized light at Enterprise Drive a reality.

From a Commercial Broker’s perspective, there could be tens of millions in investment in this massive business park site with sound planning and infrastructure. A signalized light at Enterprise Drive and Route 302 is in my opinion, a piece of infrastructure that could dramatically improve ingress and egress, make that intersection a lot safer and of course attract new businesses and development.

Larry Eliason, a Commercial Broker with Butts Commercial Brokers, is the President of the Windham Economic Development Corporation.

Testimonials

** Quarry Ridge Business Park off Enterprise Drive is located on about 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 and natural gas. Phase 2 planning is now under way and will be available later this season.

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 Rt. 302. Many hours of the day it is exceedingly difficult to make a left-hand turn onto Rt. 302 due to oncoming traffic, especially in the summer months.

There is a “trips per day” generated threshold to trigger the signal installation which is still relatively far away per MDOT standards. “Every town has its strengths and weaknesses that help or hinder economic development. This is a large part of why towns or cities located near the I-95 corridor and these types of developments with signalized intersections and efficient ingress and egress, are generally built out sooner.”

Grondin and Town officials met with MDOT several years ago to discuss obtaining approval sooner than later for this signal but were unsuccessful. Grondin and the town plan to seek approvals from MDOT as part of upcoming Phase 2 approvals.

Ken Grondin, Landowner and Developer Quarry Ridge Business Park


** “Windham Economic Development Corporation supports smart economic development in North Windham– specifically companies and businesses with innovative ideas and good-paying careers for Maine people with families. Enterprise Drive offers great space for manufacturers, entrepreneurs, value-added food processors, and other businesses that can attract talented workforce to our town. New businesses also support our existing businesses and retailers, which helps everyone.”

Charlotte Mace, Vice President of Windham Economic Development Corporation and Director of the Office of Business Development at the Maine Department of Economic & Community Development


** “Currently, when we think of business activity in Windham, we think of the busy North Windham Commercial District along Route 302. And, while the town is working to make improvements to this business district through the “21st Century Downtown” and the ongoing wastewater management initiatives, there is another commercially zoned district just north of the “Strip” that the Windham Economic Development Corporation believes will be Windham’s future for commercially oriented development, and that is the Quarry Ridge Business Park from Enterprise Drive” stated Tom Bartell, WEDC Executive Director. “With hundreds of acres of developable land available, and the Enterprise Development District Zoning in place, the Quarry Ridge Business Park is poised to become the next commercial center in Windham and the Sebago Lakes Region” Bartell added.

Tom Bartell, Executive Director

Windham Economic Development Corporation