Sunday, September 17, 2017

Summer is winding down, real estate is not! By Matt Trudel

Buyers and sellers seem like different ends of the spectrum, but they have a lot more in common than you think. Here are a few things that both have to struggle with, along with some advice as to how to make the process at least a little smoother and hopefully more enjoyable.  

First up, both are faced with selecting a Realtor® or real estate office to work with. This can be frustrating on both sides, especially since everyone seems to know 4 or 5 people who have recently gone into the business. Interview your Realtor® and make sure they and/or their company have been in the business for a while. 

Experience comes from longevity and handling all facets of the business. Just like the seasons that come and go in Maine, Realtors® and real estate companies do as well.  

Second common issue is price point. For buyers, it is more about what they can afford and for sellers it is about what their home is worth.  

While they are slightly different issues, it is what eventually brings the two sides together.  Buyers should not be looking way above their purchasing ability. Sellers should not over price their home and limit the number of potential buyers. In this case, the buyer should interview and talk to several lenders. The seller should get multiple opinions on the value and pricing their home.

Another factor that often arises once you are under contract is the inspection issue.  

Radon is a very common issue in Maine and can be a deal-breaker for either buyer or seller.  Buyers will sometimes back out of a deal when radon is high and a seller might walk because they refuse to pay for a mitigation system. Sellers can always test if they want to, before the home goes on the market and then they know for sure where they stand.  They can disclose the situation and the buyer then can make a decision up front. Often times the cost of a system is split, but every situation is a little different and requires negotiation.

Financing would seem like more of a buyer’s issue, which it is. However, it very much affects the seller. The seller cares a lot about the type of financing used, which lender is doing the financing, and how strong a buyer you are. It is important for both parties that the process goes smoothly and having a solid experienced lender that knows how to get things done efficiently, is key.  

Overall the best advice I could give someone is to seek out experienced people and talk to more than just one person.  

Generally a real estate purchase or sale is one of the biggest transactions one can make, so why would you not put together an experienced team to assist you?  Seems like a good time to have all the experience and advice you can get when so much is at stake.  

Article provided by Matthew Trudel, Owner Five Star Realty, Windham.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The art of “flipping houses” by Rick Yost

House flipping is all the rage right now. In an 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 a flipper tens of thousands of dollars, but a bad depiction 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 to educate themselves on the particular area 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 for. 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 flip houses successfully. 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 that it will compete with. Knowing the comps in the market allows for choosing the proper place to spend renovation dollars.  

For example, questions to consider: 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 backslashes?  If these things are the norm, they must be done in the house to be flipped and one should 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.

Lastly, it is important to price the property right. The price should be similar to or even a little lower than what comparable properties are selling for. This may feel counter-intuitive. It might seem that if the home is better than the comps, it should be priced higher. But this is not the case. 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 another old saying, “Time is money.”

Holding a house for a few thousand dollars more is a bad strategy with cost being eating up profitability quickly.   

List the home a bit cheaper than the comps, sell it as quickly as possible, and 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 is a real estate broker, real estate author, and longtime Windham resident.  You can reach Rick with all your real estate questions and needs at

Friday, September 1, 2017

Explaining the current market trends by Lisa DiBiase

A tighter-than-normal home inventory level led to a decrease in sales across Maine last month. Prices, however, remain in positive territory. According to Maine Listings, the median sales price (MSP) for a single-family existing home increased 4.20 percent to $206,000 comparing July 2017 to July 2016. Sales were down slightly by 0.53 percent per the Maine Association of Realtors®.

“While the rising home prices are a boom for current homeowners building equity, these market Greg Gosselin President of MAR.

conditions are keeping some prospective buyers on the sidelines, especially in Southern Maine markets,” stated

Why the low for-sale inventory levels? A recent nationwide survey by indicates that 63 percent of homeowners say that their current house meets their needs, due to a low mortgage interest rate, their low property taxes or the timing of their recent home purchase.

Home prices continue to rise and more homeowners are tapping into their home equity, making home equity lines of credit and cash-out mortgage refinances popular again.

Home equity line originations jumped 8 percent to nearly $46 billion in the second quarter per the National Association of Realtors®. That is the highest level since 2008, according to data from Equifax, a credit reporting firm. Cash-out mortgage refinances reached $15 billion, a 6 percent increase from a year ago, according to Freddie Mac.

Beyond rising home prices, low interest rates on home equity lines of credit are making them a more attractive option, too. The average interest rate was about 5.6 percent, according to Credit cards average 16.7 percent.

There are always certain life circumstances that will continue to keep the marketplace active. Working with a local Realtor® who knows the area is critical to having well-informed choices available to you as a consumer and ultimately guiding you successfully through the sale. 

As I have said before, please call a local Realtor® for all your real estate needs no matter how big or small. We are trained professionals, here to make your life easier. It's best to surround yourself with the right team of professionals that can continuously give you the right advice for all your circumstances.

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

Friday, August 25, 2017

Fall is a great time for home improvement by Cari Turnbull busy summer season is winding down making it a great time to think about tackling some home improvement projects this fall. 

Home sellers often gravitate toward kitchens and bathrooms when weighing options about where to invest their home improvement money. These two areas are where you can expect to see the largest returns on investments. 

In addition to adding value to the home, some other motivating factors include making the space more functional, changing family or lifestyle needs, improving storage or organization and updating to follow the modern trends. 

Some popular trends in bathroom upgrades for buyers shopping for homes include: double sinks, walk in showers with glass doors and white vanities with solid surface tops such as granite, quartz or marble.

For kitchens, home buyers like to see an open concept, but before you knock down that wall make sure to consult a structural engineer. Other popular kitchen features include white shaker style cabinets, granite or quartz countertops, and an island with seating and new appliances. 

Things to consider when planning a project include: budget, timing, selecting a contractor and cost.
When budgeting always allow for a 15 percent overage for unforeseen costs once you start the project. You should also make a sketch of the layout to determine the location of fixtures and cabinets in the space. If you are curious to know if you’re making the right investment that will impact the value of your home, remember to contact a local real estate expert for their opinion prior to starting your project.

Cari Turnbull is a Windham resident and is a top producing realtor in the Greater Portland area; contact Cari for all of your buying, selling and investment needs 207-807-2062.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Hold on for a wild ride by Kevin Ronan

Enjoying the dog days of summer? The local real estate market is just as hot, with sellers receiving multiple offers on their property - if the property is priced correctly. In some cases offers are coming in over asking price. This is good and bad news. Good news for sellers hoping to get the best price, but not good news for buyers, having to pay more than fair market value for a property. 
As a seller you need to be prepared to handle multiple offers on your home. Discuss with your Realtor® how you might respond. Here are some options to explore: 

Do not accept the first offer. Give your property time to benefit from the marketing activities.  
If you get a great offer, which is significantly better than the other offers, take it. The term “Cash Is King” is so true when it applies to real estate. Be prepared; a cash buyer may request a quick close. As the seller, be ready to vacate the property in 30 days or less. Believe it or not, this is occurring in Cumberland County. all the offers if none of the offers, prices or terms are acceptable. Consider going back to all of the buyers who made offers and request their “Best and final offer”- including both price and term. This can reduce the time it takes to get a deal done as well as reduce your stress level.

Here is a thought: The highest offer may not be the best choice for you. For instance, an offer, which includes a contingency such as: the buyer has to sell their current home. 

You may want to continue to market the property even if you are under contract. Why? What if the buyer backs out? Maybe they cannot get financing or the home inspection identifies major problems and the buyer wants you the seller to make the repairs or significantly reduce the purchase price.  

As a buyer be prepared to view homes and make an offer on a home with multiple offers.  Begin by doing your homework!  

Review a market analysis with your Realtor® including properties sold, pending, new listings, and recent price reductions. 

Consider developing a wish list of what your property should include and be prepared to move quickly. Some properties are going under contract in less than 24 hours of being listed.

Get prequalified with your lender not preapproved. A prequalified letter from your mortgage lender validates your credit, income and employment history. This can take as little as one to two business days. When prequalified, you now have a ticket to the dance. 

Finally, it is important to be well educated. Take time to become familiar with some real estate terms that you will likely come across. This journey may be stressful at times but have some fun!  I would enjoy assisting you as you achieve your home ownership goals.

Kevin Ronan, Associate Broker affiliated with Alliance Realty, 290 Bridgton Road, and Westbrook, brought this article to you. He can be reached at 207-838-4855 or emailed at

Friday, August 11, 2017

Rent your home and make money by Carrie Colby

In a world that knows no shortage of real estate, it’s never been easier for people to make money in the lodging industry, partly due to VacationRentals, HomeAway, VRBO and Airbnb websites, which have redefined the meaning of holiday/vacation accommodations. Short-term renters can now book a vacation home for a lot less money than a traditional hotel would cost and this also translates into a money-making opportunity for home owners. Home rentals offer so much more than a hotel can. They have all of the amenities of your own home and are more comfortable and spacious than a room can offer.

There are also companies in the area that offer property management services to their vacation rental clients. For a small percentage of the weekly rental amount they will advise you on the rent you can expect to receive, advertise your home for rent, arrange for cleaning services and collect (from the renters) and pay the state lodging tax thus eliminating these headaches for you. This particularly works out well for out of state vacation rental home owners who are unable to attend to their property on a weekly basis.

Recent statistics say that nearly 60 percent of Americans were planning to book a privately owned home or apartment rather than seek hotel accommodation in 2016 and with 87 percent more likely to choose a vacation rental due to availability and easy online access; there is indeed a lot of money to be made, provided that properties meet certain conditions.

Since most tourists using websites such as aren’t just looking for a place to sleep, but also for a superior travel experience, as a host you can’t simply hand your guests the keys and expect things to run smoothly on their own. Increased availability also means that short-term tenants are more choosey when considering their options, so you need to carefully prepare your home in advance and make sure it’s up to their standards.

The better job you do getting your home ready for renting, the more your guests will appreciate it and it’ll also put you in a position to charge a higher rate. So here’s what you need to do:

Make It Spotless:
Before renting your home, inspect it from top to bottom and see which areas need your attention in terms of cleaning and repairs. The kitchen and the bathrooms should be spotless while the beds should be made up with clean linens. Whether you do it on your own or use a housecleaning service, the bottom line is your house needs a thorough cleaning before your first guests arrive. Once that’s sorted, have a look at your appliances and see if everything is functioning smoothly, to make your guests’ stay as comfortable as possible. If you’re experiencing issues with any of your home electronics, consider repairing them instead of new ones.

Make It Simple:
Your house should be equipped with everything that’s necessary to make your guests have that important home-like feeling. This is also a guaranteed way to get positive reviews and repeat business on sites like HomeAway or VRBO. Therefore, you should be able to provide your short-term tenants with facilities and items such as a microwave oven, coffee maker, teapot, toaster, cleaning supplies, basic toiletries, hair dryer, remote controls, extra light bulbs, Wi-Fi access, maps etc.

Don’t forget about leaving detailed written instructions that cover important information such as contact details, emergency numbers, Wi-Fi passwords, house rules, operating instructions for gadgets and appliances and so on. Let your guests know where the trash and recycling should be taken and if you want to go the extra mile, provide them with a list of local grocery stores, gas stations, and recommended restaurants - your efforts won’t go unobserved.
While there are many things to take into consideration when doing short-term vacation rentals, more often than not, the experience is positive for both the hosts and their guests. As long as you use common sense and follow the industry’s best practices, you may soon be accumulating five star reviews.

Carrie Colby Owns Premier Properties 
Premier Properties specializes in Waterfront Sales and Rentals

Friday, August 4, 2017

Red Cross helping people affected by Raymond fire

Five people displaced by single-family home fire

RAYMOND – A Disaster Action Team from the American Red Cross of Maine began working with five people on Monday, July 31 to ensure that they have food, a safe place to sleep and other essentials following a single-family home fire.
Over the next several days, the Red Cross will remain in contact with the affected individuals to provide financial assistance and community referrals as they begin to make their road to recovery.
The American Red Cross provides food, clothing and emotional support to people affected by home fires and other disasters. Individuals wishing to support Red Cross Disaster Services can call (800) RED-CROSS or visit