Friday, July 13, 2018

A day in the life of a real estate professional by Amy Krikken

What does a real estate agent do on a typical day? Do they sit around and eat bonbons all day, or do they actually have a job to do?

While I'm sure every career has its share of bonbon-eating-folks; but in this career, you do not get paid unless you perform. But what do we actually do? 

To the novice, it would be easy to think that an agent simply finds their buyer a house or represents a seller by snapping a few photos and putting their house on the market; then just sit back and wait for the inevitable to happen, since the market is so hot. I am here to tell you that is NOT the case.
The very first order of business for a real estate agent is generating business.

People do not come knocking on our doors begging us to sell their house. We have to pound the pavement to find business, by either door knocking or email/social media marketing, or via paid leads through Zillow (yes, those are paid for by us). we have secured the opportunity to help a client find a home to buy or a client with a house to sell, we then have to bring it to market. 

We have to develop a strategy of how to advertise the home and showcase its unique strengths. Sometimes we’re selling a house because of a tragic situation like a divorce or death and maybe the house is in disarray because the person’s life is in disarray. We must make it look its best so that we can help our clients achieve the sale. 

Sometimes we have to have difficult conversations with sellers about cleaning up the dog poop in the yard or the dead animal in the front yard (no I'm not making that up and yes it really happened).

After we have shimmied items around so that we can take photos that look their best, we must come up with the pricing strategy for the home. How do we do that? We look at the most recently sold homes, the data, and compare those homes to the home in question. We do some adjusting, since no two homes are alike, through a process known as a Comparative Market Analysis and we arrive at a price that we deem a fair asking price.

Side note: In a crazy hot market as such as the one that we are in currently, there are a lot of sellers testing the market. Sellers try by putting a high price tag on their home to see if it will sell. You see this on Zillow with their new "make me move" campaign.  

Once we have taken pictures and chosen the asking price, it's time to write our description and then we are ready to put the home on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service).

When acting as the listing agent, we stay busy coordinating with the homeowner to get buyers into the property to view it and hope to generate an offer, or several.

When acting as buyers’ agents, we are constantly watching the market for properties that match the criteria that our buyers are looking for.

In either case, once the property goes under contract, this is where the real heavy lifting begins.
The buyer usually has ten business days to conduct their inspections. As agents, we help them coordinate inspections. Maybe they don’t know the name of the septic person, a specialist on mold issues or a general home inspector. We connect our clients to those resources. We refer many other resources from movers to home stagers, cleaning services and contractors of all specialties. Agents often meet these people at the property and show them firsthand the issue that needs to be remedied. 

After inspections we counsel our clients which items are deal breakers and which ones the client can live with. We also aid in helping them determine the costs of the items that need to be fixed. Often, we call in an expert to offer a quote on the work. also talk to our clients’ lender to make sure all the things they need are satisfied so that our client gets the loan. Concurrently, we are also arranging for a title search to be done on the property. 
We will negotiate on our clients’ behalf and work to find a happy medium with the other side of the transaction, so that the end goal is met: a successful closing. 

We are doing all of this (hopefully with multiple clients and properties) while we continue to try to create more business in our pipeline, go to closings, write new offers, show properties, conduct open houses, and write/answer several emails and calls per day. 

In the midst of all of this, we are handling the associated paperwork documentation necessary throughout the transaction, for the state, ourselves, our clients, and our agency. 

Though this career affords a flexible schedule, the best way to think about our job is that we are always working; we make hay when the sun shines.

It’s a wonderful career, full of personalities, problem solving and negotiation. I’m proud to help my clients move to the next chapter of their lives.

Call Amy Krikken, The Rock Star Realtor/Better Homes and Gardens/Masiello if you wish to buy or sell. 207-317-1338

Friday, July 6, 2018

It’s summer! Take the plunge by Matt Trudel

Have you been renting, living at your parents, sharing a place with way too many roommates and are thinking it is time to purchase your own place?  There’s no better time than now to make that plunge and be on your way to home ownership. Here are some tips on a few things to do and a few things you should not do.   

First, check your credit score and history before getting pre-qualified. You want to make sure there are no errors or incorrect reporting that you need to fix. This will also give you your approximate credit score, so you can share it with whomever you plan to use to get pre-qualified. Getting pre-qualified before you start looking at homes is very important because you know what your purchasing power is and that it fits comfortably into your budget.

Once pre-qualified, there are a few things you want to avoid. Do not go out and make a large purchase such a new car, truck, atv, or boat. Doing so will likely affect your debt to income ratio, which can have a very negative affect on the amount you qualify for. 

Do not go out and apply for credit cards or other loans and do not run up the balances on your current cards. Keep them below 30% of their credit limit. These things can drop your credit score by multiple double digits, and perhaps disqualify you from being able to purchase at all.   
Secondly, it’s time to pick a Realtor® to work with on what is probably going to be the biggest purchase you will have ever made to date. This is something you should give some purposeful consideration.

It seems everyone knows a handful of Realtors® these days and there has been a large increase in the number of new real estate agents over the last two years. While working with a friend may sound fun, remember this is one of the biggest investments you will make and having someone with plenty of experience can be the difference in landing that new home you want or watching someone else get it. 
Once you choose a Realtor®, have a lender in place and are qualified to purchase, do not forget to review your budget and your targeted monthly expenses.

Discuss with your Realtor® what your closing costs will be and the various ways you can get someone else to pay them for you. This way you can keep your cash as a reserve. 
There are several options from the seller paying them to using the first-time home buyer program to get yourself $3500 towards your closing costs. 

There are various mortgage programs and lenders with title companies that offer group savings of up to $1000. Again, this is where an experienced Realtor® can help guide you through various options and save you a lot of headaches, not to mention save you a lot of money.

This article was written by Matthew Trudel, Broker-Owner Five Star Realty, Windham.


Friday, June 29, 2018

Upside on the outside by Rick Yost

As a Realtor®, I am constantly asked “How can I add value to my home?” While there are many ways, most of them focus on the inside of the home: new paint, new flooring, upgrade the kitchen, upgrade the bathrooms, etc.  

There is another area of the home that allows for adding value and that is the outside. There are two main approaches to adding value to a house on the outside, curb appeal and outdoor features.
Curb appeal is important to the value of your home because, simply stated; it is the first thing potential buyers see. Improving curb appeal can be simple and inexpensive.
Maintaining a lawn is a simple way to make improvements. Keep it mowed, patch bald spots, fertilize the lawn, use weed killer and all the other steps that go into a nice-looking lawn. Some added plantings in the front of the home, that are well maintained, will take curb appeal to the next level.

Metal accents add an upscale look to a home’s exterior; such as metal roof flashing, metal house address numbers, metal door knockers, and upgraded metal door knobs. Make sure the metal chosen matches the character of the home. For example, silver looks good on modern homes, brass looks good on older homes and copper is a transitional metal that looks good on a variety of structures.

A nice mailbox is not expensive but can really impact curb appeal. A granite post with a metal oversized post box featuring large numbers is a great look that goes with many style houses. 
Home owners should avoid plastic postboxes or anything too customized or theme-oriented; like a ship as a mail box. Adding value comes from broadening the appeal of the home. Anything too customized narrows the appeal of the home.

Finally, a dramatic change in a home’s appeal can be made with a new upscale door and shutters.  It creates a whole new look that can improve the curb appeal of the home with relatively minor changes. 

The second way to add value on the outside of your home is by adding outdoor features, like adding more usability to your outdoor space. Outdoor features include hardscaping (rock walls, stone patios, and concrete work), but those typically are cost intensive with relatively no added value. Because of those facts, hardscaping will not be part of this discussion. 

Barbecue areas and outdoor entertaining areas can be super elaborate and expensive, but they don’t have to be. An area with some outdoor furniture that is level and inviting can serve the purpose as well as make the home more appealing.  Just letting buyers imagine the grill covered with burgers and the chairs filled with friends, will add interest.  A nice DIY fire pit kit from Home Depot takes it to the next level and shouts “socialize.”  

So, the next time you are considering adding value to your home, think outdoors. Wouldn’t you rather be building a fire pit in the sunshine than painting a bedroom anyway? 

Rick is a Realtor®, real estate author, and long time Windham resident.  You can reach Rick with all your real estate questions at


Friday, June 22, 2018

Now is the time to put your house on the market by Carrie Colby

The inventory of homes for sale in the area is low, possibly turning the housing market into one that is in favor of home sellers.

According to the National Association of Realtors, “Comparing the number of homes available for sale in April 2018 to one year ago, we see that inventories in June are nearly 14 percent lower than one year ago. While inventory has continued to decline, sales have been increasing robustly. The year over year change in existing home sales has seen double-digit or near-double-digit gains for 10 consecutive months.”

This is a positive thing for sellers. We are seeing an increase in multiple offers and quicker sales. I personally put two properties on the market in Raymond and they were both under contract within a week. While they are not selling for the prices we saw during the housing boom, they are at least selling.

These two particular properties were on the market for the past two years yet, when I re-listed them this spring there was quite a bit of interest. One buyer who contacted me couldn’t believe their luck when they wanted to make an offer on Wednesday after they saw the property on a Sunday and it was already under contract.
There are buyers actively looking and finding it hard to locate a property they want to buy.
If you are considering putting your home on the market now is a good time. While prices are rising and the inventory is low, it is still important to price your home correctly.

A reputable real estate agent can help you by doing a comparative market analysis. This is done by comparing sales in your area to homes that are similar to yours. We compare the lot size, square footage, number of bed rooms, the existence of a garage etc. then we adjust accordingly to come up with a price. 

If you do price your home correctly you may see a quick sale or possibly multiple offers. I saw a piece on the “Today Show” explaining that homes in other parts of the country are seeing sales way above the asking price. While I don’t see that happening here and I don’t have a crystal ball, I do see that the idea, that once again, real estate is becoming a good investment.

Another indicator that the market is making a rebound is when the people who flip houses for a profit are coming back into the market. If you drive around the area, you can see some properties that have been neglected over the past few years are being bought and rebuilt or improved. This is a good sign of confidence in the housing market.

We do see a more robust real estate market in this area during this summer; so this also makes it a good time to consider listing your home. Even if you have tried to sell in the past few years, you may want to prepare to list your home now.

Carrie Colby is the Broker/Owner of Premier Properties in Raymond and she can be reached at 207-655-2225. Check out all the current listings at

Friday, June 15, 2018

Book Review: “I Found You” by Lisa Jewell. Reviewed by Jennifer Dupree, Circulation Supervisor at Windham Public Library

"I Found You” is a novel of three interwoven stories: Lily, a young bride from the Ukraine, with a recently missing husband; Alice, a middle-aged woman with a houseful of kids and dogs who finds a man on the beach who cannot remember his name or his circumstance; and the Ross family, who twenty years ago, goes on what turns out to be a nightmare vacation. Lisa Jewell weaves these stories together with a deft hand into one un-put-down-able, character-driven suspense novel.

Who is this man on the beach and why is he there? He seems like a good guy, but maybe his amnesia is making him forget what a jerk he was. Or, maybe he’s just pretending to be kind and gentle. Maybe his motives for being on the beach are to hide from a wife he shouldn’t have married or maybe he’s trying to escape a past. Is he Lily’s husband or did he kill Lily’s husband? Is he the man who, as a teenager, watched his sister get assaulted by another teenager? Or is he the one who got away with it?

This is one of those rare novels that is both addictive and well-written. The story lines are complicated, the characters are compelling, and the pacing is fast and satisfying.

Why should I use a Realtor® to buy or sell my home? By Richie Vaurx

A Realtor® is a Real Estate Broker/Associated Broker or a Sales Agent that has been accepted by his/her peers and is committed to a Code of Ethics that goes well beyond a real estate professional. They are commitment to excellence and high standards.

So always use a Realtor®. They will look out for your best interests. Whether you are buying or selling, commit to a person you can trust and is educated to help you make wise decisions.
As a buyer, you will want to look for an agency that does not charge you to represent you - as some agencies will charge. Always ask if the real estate company charges. Most buyers’ agencies get paid by the seller-side at closing. Just as important, always ask for a copy of your contract for your records so you know what to expect.

A Realtor® knows the market and knows your neighborhood. With the current inventory shortage that we are experiencing right now, it is important to know your inventory. When a property comes on the market and meets your criteria, your agent should act quickly and arrange for you to view it to see if it meets your wants and needs. If so, act quickly to write an offer. a property is priced appropriately, it won’t be on the open market for very long. As a result, be very prepared. Unless you are making a cash offer - always, always, always have a pre-qualification letter in hand so it can be presented to the seller’s agent, at the time of the offer. Be aware, that if there has been a lot of activity on a property, it has become commonplace that agents are submitting offers well above asking price.

Also, other things you should know about houses are if they are: occupied, vacant, in foreclosure, short-sale or bank owned. You should know as much information as possible about each property before making an appointment. Also make sure you tell your Realtor® your timeframe for buying or selling.

The more information you share with your Realtor® - the better he/she can serve you.
So, ask your Realtor® all the important questions and hopefully they will guide you to making the right decisions. Happy house hunting!

Richie Vraux is a Realtor®/ Broker with Remax Allied with more than 20 years’ experience.
If you need advice either for buying or selling, call Richie at 317-1297.

Friday, June 1, 2018

A fun investment in the Lakes Region by Kevin Ronan

Congratulations if you are a homeowner or renter in the Sebago Lakes Region, enjoying all the activities the lakes has to offer! Have you ever considered an investment property? A summer camp or four-season rental may be within in your reach.

If managed properly, you can be enjoying rental income with very little effort from the start. Differentiate your property from other rental units in the region is a good way to go. Favorable reviews from renters go a long way towards maximizing your earning potential. you have investment property or plan to purchase one in the future, there are a couple of recommendations for a success experience. Start by decluttering the interior. Renters like space for their “stuff”. Empty closets and make sure hangers are available to hang their clothes and empty drawers for the guests’ clothing. Hooks behind the bathroom and bedroom doors can add to organization space in small camps with limited closet space.

There are many low-cost upgrades that will contribute to your guests’ opinions and can positively influence their reviews. Rule number one - clean your rental. Renters expect to pay a cleaning fee; just make sure the camp is clean so the renters feel as if the fee is worth paying for. Elbow grease doesn’t cost much but goes a long way. A fresh coat of paint is inexpensive and can brighten up a room and contribute to the cleanliness. Make sure all the touted appliances work.

If you are providing linens make sure that they match. Renters are used to paying a premium for linens and they expect full sets of towels for each guest. Be sure to stock the bathrooms and the kitchen with the basics; Shampoo, body wash and toilet paper are a must in all bathrooms and basic cleaning supplies, and condiments in the kitchen. Your guests will greatly appreciate not having to buy these necessities.

Offer enough seating on the deck for all guests and including beach chairs on the beach are a nice touch. Make sure you have activities available for your guests to enjoy both in good and bad weather. If the weather is not cooperating, then always have a selection of games, playing cards, puzzles and books. Compile a binder highlighting all the activities the lakes region has to offer; fishing, boating, swimming, restaurants amusement parks and any special events that may be occurring. Make sure your BBQ equipment available, clean and functioning.

Finally, when advertising the property make sure that the property description is accurate and use updated photographs. Inaccurate descriptions not only disappoint renters but lead to negative ratings. All the short-term rental sites provide a great forum for guest feedback. Positive customer testimonials are a great way to attract new and repeat guests.

An investment property in the Sebago Lakes Region can be an attractive, financial opportunity and fun for all included. Have a wonderful summer!

Kevin Ronan, Associate Broker affiliated with Alliance Realty, 290 Bridgton Road, and Westbrook can be reached at 207-838-4855 or