Friday, August 16, 2019

Veteran appreciation and homeownership

By Kevin Ronan

The State of Maine has a long rich tradition of military service. The Maine Bureau of Veterans Services reports there are over 30,000 veterans throughout Maine who are eligible for many benefits. Regretfully, most veterans are not aware of the programs and services available to help them achieve homeownership.

As a former Marine Corps officer and a licensed REALTOR®, I am passionate about assisting other veterans and their families achieve this goal. There are many housing programs and benefits available to veterans that will help them achieve their dream. My goal is to educate my fellow veterans on these programs and benefits and help them achieve their goal. In a previous issue of the Windham Eagle, I discussed MaineHousing benefits for first time home buyers, including veterans. Let us now discuss MaineHousing benefits for veterans and Veterans Administration benefits in greater detail.

The MaineHousing, Salute Me Program provides all qualified Maine Veterans, including all active duty, veterans, and retired military veterans a 0.25% discount on a First Home Loan 30 year fixed rate mortgage.  If a veteran is not a first-time home buyer, the Salute Home Again Program may be a good option. This program waives the first-time home buyer requirements for those veterans who may have owned a home over the last three years and sold the property prior to the MaineHousing property closing. 

How does a veteran apply for a MaineHousing program?  Begin by contacting an approved MaineHousing lender to determine if you qualify. A list of approved MaineHouse lenders is available at The buyer will be required to attend a home buyer education course which reviews the borrowing and buying process.  The course is also required if the veteran wishes to enjoy the $3,500 Advantage incentive which is to be applied to closing costs and the down payment.

The VA Home Loan Program assists active duty, veterans and eligible surviving spouses become homeowners. VA loans are provided by private lenders, such as banks and mortgage companies. The VA guarantees a portion of the loan, enabling the lender to provide the borrower with more favorable terms.  A VA loan can be used to purchase a home as a primary residence including new construction, an existing dwelling or to refinance an existing loan. Also, the VA Home Loan Program offers housing grants to service members and veterans with certain permanent service-connected disabilities which can be used to purchase or construct an adaptive home or modify your existing home to accommodate a disability.

I hope this article provides Maine Veterans and their families with the resources available to help them buy a home with the assistance of MaineHousing and the Veterans Administration. Achieving the goal of homeownership is closer than you think. If you have any questions or need any assistance with your real estate needs please contact Kevin Ronan.  He is an Associate Broker affiliated with Alliance Realty, 290 Bridgeton Road, Westbrook for more information.  He can be contacted at or 207-838-4855.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Why invest in real estate?

By Dan McDermott

Are you looking to diversify your investment portfolio or tired of worrying about the next market correction and how your portfolio or IRA will fair, or just looking to buy a stable asset that can provide income for you or your family? If so, I think you should strongly consider an investment in real estate.  There are many reasons for those considering an investment in real estate - however I think that two of the most compelling reasons are listed below. 

Cash flow:
The most compelling and attractive reason for making an investment in real estate is cash flow.  Cash flow, or profit, is the amount of money left over after subtracting the operating expenses and debt service (mortgage) from the rental income generated from the property. The wonderful thing about cash flow is that this passive income is earned with little to no effort from the investor.  Once the investor selects a property, acquires financing, closes on the property, and leases out the property; the investor can then sit back and enjoy their monthly income with little additional effort. 

Another great benefit of cash flow is that it is a great hedge for your larger investment portfolio against economic downturns. In economic downturns, real estate tends to not correlate directly to the wider market conditions. One interesting fact about rental properties is that rents generally tend to increase during times of market instability. This is due to the fact that many homeowners fall on challenging times during economic downturns and find it more cost effective to rent than own a home. This creates a higher demand for affordable rental units and in turn drives up the market rents. 
This is especially attractive for an investor since the typical financing used to purchase these properties are fixed rate mortgages. This means that the operating expenses and debt services will remain stable over the life of the investment all while rents are being driven up and generating more income and a higher return for the investor.
Another compelling reason for making an investment in real estate is leverage. Leverage is defined as the use of various types of financing or borrowed capital to increase the potential return of an investment. This is commonly referred to as “other people’s money” by Wall Street and Main Street when talking about the real estate markets. Leverage can be used to increase the purchasing power of the investor and provide them with all the benefits that come from owning that property.

 Let’s take a simple example of an investor who has $100,000 to make an investment in real estate and let’s assume that in the current market properties are appreciating at 5% per year.   This investor could purchase a $100,000 property in full. At the end of 12 months this property would be worth $105,000 and the investor would have achieved a 5% return.  Now if that same investor used their $100,000 as a 20% down on a $500,000 property at the end of the year the property would be worth $525,000 and the investor would have also achieved a 5% return.  However, the investor would have earned $20,000 more plus the increased income that would have been generated from the $500,000 property vs $100,000. 

Leverage can drastically increase the potential expected return the longer the investment property is held.  Additionally, leverage allows an investor to acquire and realize the benefits of more properties with a smaller initial investment.

The benefits of investing in real estate are abundant and I have highlighted just a couple above.  While these benefits are attractive it should be noted that no investment, whether in the stocks, bonds, or real estate, comes without any risk. If you are considering an investment in real estate, I would recommend that you seek professional advice from an experienced realtor.  A realtor can provide you with depth of experience, hyper local market knowledge, and advise you as you make the exciting first step towards financial freedom.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Buying and selling at the same time

Nicole Foster

Many people need to sell their current home in order to qualify for the financing to purchase their next one. The challenges posed to our prospective buyers, who are also our would-be sellers, require difficult decisions to be made both in advance and during the process of buying and selling simultaneously. Be sure to explore all the options which exist for you and to carefully weigh the benefits and pitfalls that will influence your position.

Buying power.

If you sell your home and move into a temporary rental then you will be dealing with the inconvenience and expense of moving twice but doing so could provide you with a greater sense of control as well as to be more competitive with other buyer’s offers. More often people who are relocating from a distance select this option, but for a more local move people are less likely to go this route.

Visit with your lender to discuss how much money you will need to net from the sale of your current home in order to buy your new one and also how much you will qualify for after the sale. Work with a trusted REALTOR® to assist you with both the sale of your current property and the acquisition of your new one.

If you have decided to remain in your current home while searching for your new one, you’ll also need to decide at what point you’ll be listing it. You do have the ability to write offers contingent upon the sale of yours. If you find the home you want before you’ve listed, then you can submit your offer but will need to hit the market within five days. The seller will want the details surrounding the sale of your current property and will view whether or not it’s already under contract or not even on the market yet quite differently.
Any additional concessions such as a reduction in the purchase price, asking for assistance with buyer closing cost contributions from the seller and other requests may be more difficult to negotiate when your offer is already contingent upon a property to sell, especially if yours is not yet listed or under contract.  Some of these seller concessions may be a requirement for you to obtain financing, so you may not have the option to waive them to make a stronger offer.

A property listed on the Maine Multiple Listing Service (MLS) may show a status of Pending Continue to Show and this allows sellers to work with an offer with contingencies (due diligence, a property to sell not under contract or other) but continue to show the property to prospective buyers. An agreement with a Kick Out Clause can be an uncomfortable place to be sitting for buyers who really want a home, but a seller may require this addendum to your agreement if you have a home to sell which isn’t under contract.

This addendum to your agreement allows the sellers to continue to work with other offers and if they receive another offer which they choose to work with after you’re under contract then you will be provided a day or two to remove the contingency of having to sell your current home and if you’re unable to, you are essentially “kicked out” of the contract and the new buyers take your place with a new agreement and go under contract. Some buyers are able to negotiate the removal of the Kick Out Clause at the time of going under contract, but usually at some sort of cost based on many factors.

Selling situation.

Your motivation and what you will be willing to accept for offers will shift based on your current position as a seller. If you aren’t under contract to purchase your new home, then you will have a bit more leverage when working with incoming offers. Your negotiating position during the due diligence period will also be influenced by whether or not you are already under contract to buy your new home or not.

Listing your current property subject to you finding suitable housing with a timeframe, ranging from two to four weeks is one tactic used. You have the option to tell agents and buyers prior to scheduling a showing to view your home that you need time to secure suitable housing or you can disclose this during negotiations depending on the strategy you choose.  Requesting a rent back option with the new buyers of your current home allows the closing to take place and for you to remain in the property for an agreed amount of time at an agreed upon monthly rental payment to the new buyers.

There are many moving parts which need to be choreographed in order to close on both properties the same day but with the help of a fantastic REALTOR® it can be achieved. Schedule a free consultation if you are curious about your own options.

Nicole Foster has been practicing residential real estate since 2006 and is a Broker with Locations Real Estate Group and is also a Windham resident and parent.

Friday, July 26, 2019

How to successfully win a multiple offer situation

By Katie Kinney

In the Maine Real Estate market, buyers are still experiencing low inventory and multiple offer situations. A large contributing factor to this issue is the rise of investor purchases. According to Core Logic Inc., real estate investors comprised more than 11% of home purchases in 2018. The investor interest poses a huge challenge for first time homebuyers who are interested in buying starter homes or owner-occupied multi-family homes and are forced to compete with deep pocket cash buyers. Here are a few tips to help you crush the cash offers.

Make your best offer up front. Many cash buyers are looking for a bargain and will put a lower offer in to start. As a non-cash buyer, you should always put your highest and best offer in from the start. If you do need to include closing costs, you should add those on top of offer because closing costs are money out of the seller’s pocket. You should also include the highest dollar amount you are comfortable with for the earnest deposit. By doing this you will show your high-level interest in the property.

Presenting a mortgage preapproval letter from your lender when you make the offer is the traditional way to show you are a serious buyer. If you take the next step and have your underwriter start the review process of your loan, you will provide the seller more peace of mind concerning your financing.  If you can’t outbid a cash buyer, this step puts you closer to an equal playing field.

tombiczak@allstate.comMost buyers make offers contingent on a home inspection. During this period, buyers can back out if any home issues arise. When looking at homes, bring a contractor or an inspector with you to give a general summary of the property. If you are comfortable with the information provided, you could then make your offer not contingent on a home inspection. If you are not comfortable with not having a full inspection, I recommend have the inspection period as short as possible. Have the inspection scheduled when you send the offer over.

The most important step you can take when you know you will be entering a multiple offer situation is to have your agent ask what is most important to the seller. In many situations, the seller needs to find a new place to live and may want a rent back option. A seller could be relocating out of state and want a fast closing timeframe. As a serious buyer, you should structure your offer around what is most important to the seller. By doing this, your offer will stand out above other offers.

Hopefully these tips will help you purchase your new home. Whether you are interested in a residential or owner-occupied investment property, I am happy to help you during the process. Feel free to contact me at any time. Katie Kinney, Broker at Landing Real Estate., cell: 603-205-2276.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Consider a home or year-round property in the Lakes Region

By Mel Oldakowski

For many people, creating family memories are on the top of the most important things to experience in their lives. Purchasing a home in the Maine woods or having waterfront property is the ultimate real estate experience. Perhaps more than any other type of purchase, a home with a view of the White Mountains or a waterfront property is as much about a lifestyle as it is about real estate investment.

Since both purchases can be complex, it’s important for quiet mountain view and/or waterfront
buyers to do their homework in advance with the help of their realtor.

Be sure to choose the right property or lake for your needs. Start by asking yourself why you are buying the home of your dreams. How do you intend to use the lake or mountain front getaway on an ideal weekend? Are you looking for water activities and a lake conducive to water skiing and wakeboarding? Are you looking for quiet time with family spent having bonfires, hiking the Maine woods and birdwatching?

If you’re a boater, water depths are essential elements to investigate before you purchase. Depths required for different boating preferences can vary widely.

Are you looking for a more intimate waterfront experience? If you want to go kayaking and canoeing and commune with nature, you'll dislike being on a big, busy lake with jet skis. Do you have fishing preferences? What other lifestyle needs do you have? These are the kinds of questions you want to ask and answer before you start your search.

If you are more of the exploring-nature-type, is the property near a preserve with plenty of space for wildlife, or near hiking or skiing destinations? lake and mountain view properties a good investment? Location, location, location! One of the best investments you can make is either lake front or mountain view real estate. Market studies have been conducted that show these properties grow rapidly above the original purchase price. Both large and small, available lake and White Mountain view properties, rarely last in thriving real estate markets.

The annual appreciation of lake property rises each year. National average growth is around four percent compared to one or two percent with a standard property. As for the summer view of the White Mountains? You know that it is more than a view – it is an experience you become part of every day or every weekend - its ambiance is the very thing you came here for in the first place.

Are you financing a lakefront home? Whether you’re buying a waterfront primary home or a weekend lake cabin, you should connect with a good mortgage loan officer early in the process.
If you’re buying as a second property, you’ll work together to determine the best loan option available.

Another question to consider is: Can you live with an association? If the lake home you are considering is subject to an association, any potential buyer, with their realtor, should review the by-laws and regulations before making an offer.

Lastly, there is nothing more magical than spending time at a lake house or a quiet evening in the Maine woods. Living on or near the water or mountain views have more benefits than their inherent beauty. It can provide health benefits that soothe the soul and offer peace not found anywhere else. There’s nothing quite like a sunset at the lake or a bonfire, with the mountains in your backyard and memories they create.

For some reason, the colors and hues are more vibrant - redder reds, pinker pinks and bluer blues. Add in a few, puffy clouds and some pretty pines and you’ve got a gorgeous, naturally framed, postcard-perfect sunset. Lake life is the best life, whether it’s just during the summer or all year round!

If you're looking for lakefront or mountain view property, look no further! Contact me today to find out how I can help you turn your dream into a reality. Call me at 207-205-0121 or email me at

Friday, July 12, 2019

Three things to expect after you list your home

By Sarah Nielsen

When you list your home for sale, there is a lot that happens up front. Your REALTOR® sits with you and explains fair market value, takes photos of both the inside and outside of your home and advertises it for sale. Many people would expect the hard work to end there, but there are some inconveniences that you will have to endure as a seller before you can hand the keys off to your buyers on closing day. Below I explain three elements to the sale of your home that you may have overlooked in your excitement to get your listing out into the market.

You might feel like you live in a museum.
You have completed the work of cleaning and decluttering your home to have it looking extraordinary in your listing photos. You probably also moved some items into storage to ensure that every inch of your space is show-ready and appealing to potential buyers. What you might not have considered is how crucial maintaining that image is until the day that your home is sold to its new owners.

Your REALTOR® will likely call you at least once with a request to show your home on very little notice, and being the eager seller that you are, you will want to be accommodating; therefore, it’s critical that you maintain the cleanliness of your space at all times so that potential buyers get the best impression when they walk through your door.

Expect to hear critiques and criticism.    
Your home is a space where you have made memories, and more than likely you are proud of everything that has gone into building it to meet your needs. What you might not be prepared for is how critical potential buyers might be of aspects of your home with which you are perfectly content. To you, your space is a home, but to those mulling over whether to purchase it, it’s real estate without any sentimental value attached. While some feedback you receive may be hard to hear, remember that it’s not personal. Your REALTOR® can be a great buffer between you and potential buyers and will work to present the feedback in a way that is constructive and helpful.

There can be some additional expenses.
Once you accept an offer from someone who wants to buy your home, your initial excitement will likely cloud the reality of inspections, and the negotiations that will result from the findings. You may need to pay out of pocket to make repairs in order to get your home sold without decreasing the sale price that all parties agreed upon. Once you leap over that hurdle, you will need to wait for the appraisal that will determine your home’s value provided that your buyer is financing the purchase. If the appraisal determines that your home is worth less than the sale price, you will need to reopen negotiations.

Lastly, you will want to be mindful of your buyers’ final walk-through prior to closing. Your home should be in acceptable shape to hand over to them, and if it isn’t, you can plan to have to do some work to get it into the condition your buyers expected it to be in when they agreed to the purchase.
While listing your home is exciting, don’t make the mistake of thinking you will sail through to closing without any hurdles. Ensure that you are prepared for the inconveniences you will encounter along the way so that you don’t become overwhelmed during the process of getting your home sold.


Sunday, July 7, 2019

Windham commercial real estate zones

By Larry Eliason, Commercial Broker

Windham has a variety of zones that can accommodate commercial real estate development and businesses. Below is a summary of the zones that offer opportunities for commercial real estate development for retail, office, manufacturing, warehousing and agricultural uses.

C1 – Commercial Zone: This zone is designed to provide general retail sales, services and business space within the town in locations capable of conveniently servicing community-wide and/or regional trade areas, with safe, well-regulated automobile access and pedestrian access where appropriate.

A sample of permitted uses include; agriculture, retail sales automotive and outdoor, private warehousing, business and professional office, light and heavy industry, child care, construction services, hotel, motel, multi-family housing and housing for older persons, restaurant, bank, drive-through, convention center and auto repair. C1 Commercial Zone is in many ways the Downtown of Windham. The Comprehensive Plan, 21st Century Downtown Plan and the WEDC Strategic Plan encourage having people live and work in the downtown. As an example, a new development on Anglers Road and Rt. 302 is close to receiving final approvals for multi-family housing in the C1 Zone.

C2 – Commercial Zone:  The intent of this district is to provide for a mixed commercial and residential zone as a buffer zone between the C1 Commercial Zone and the abutting residential areas.
A sample of permitted uses include; agriculture, fitness center, theater, restaurant, medical office, housing for older persons, recreational facility, motel, hotel, club, bank, convention center and drive thru.

C3 – Commercial Zone: The intent of the C3 Commercial Zone is to provide areas for a mixture of light, low-traffic generating commercial uses and single-family housing.

The biggest news about the C3 Commercial Zone is the recent addition of Contractor Services being allowed in the zone. This recent change as approved by the Windham Town Council, will allow tradesman like electricians, plumbers, carpenters, etc., to operate their contractor services businesses in the C3 Commercial Zone.

Historically, the zone has accommodated agriculture, business and professional office, service business landscaping, private warehousing, public warehousing, childcare and many home occupations.

I – Industrial District:  The intent of the Industrial District is for manufacturing, processing, treatment, research, warehousing, storage and distribution.

This zone allows agriculture, distribution center, industry light, industry heavy, mineral extraction, warehousing private, warehousing public, truck terminal and some home occupations to name a few. The Industrial Zone appears to be good candidate for adding Contractor Services and Construction Services.

Enterprise Development Zone:  The intent of the ED Zone is to provide a unique area within the town to allow manufacturing, processing, treatment, warehousing, storage, research and distribution with safe, well regulated vehicle access located off a major street.

Some of the permitted uses in the zone include, auction house, automobile auction facility, business and professional office, construction services, convention center, hotel, motel, light and heavy industry, warehousing private and warehousing public.

One of the biggest challenges in this zone is that it is accessed from Rt. 302 via Enterprise Drive, a non-signalized intersection. Windham could certainly use help from stakeholders such as our town leaders and staff, legislators, business and real estate owners and their employees, residents and others to seek a partnership with the MDOT to make a signalized light at Enterprise Drive a reality.
From an economic development perspective, there could be tens of millions in investment in this massive business park site if we only had a signalized light. A light would dramatically improve ingress and egress a well as make that intersection a lot safer for all as well.  And, it seems like agriculture would be a good candidate for this zone, especially for large scale agricultural operations.
Village Commercial Zone: The intent of this zone is to serve as a primarily residential area with a mix of stores, services and commercial enterprises. Several properties in this zone actually have access to public sewer, while the rest of town is served by private septic systems.

This zone allows agricultural, artist studio, assisted living facility, business and professional office, childcare, construction services, fitness center, medical office, light industry, restaurant, retail and sales and personal and commercial service businesses.

As a commercial real estate professional, I strongly recommend talking with town staff and other industry professionals before making a decision and/or a commitment to lease or buy commercial property in Windham or anywhere else.

Larry Eliason, Commercial Broker,