Saturday, September 22, 2018

Steps to finding great tenants by Amy Krikken

How do you find good tenants? Start by using your sphere of influence to locate potential tenants, in other words, advertise your rental property by word of mouth mentioning it to friends, family and colleagues. 

If that doesn't work, use flyers posted in local spots, for example: convenience stores, grocery stores, town office, schools, gyms. Don't forget signage at or near the property itself. Use social media to promote your rental, as it is easy for people to share with others.

Once you have found a potential tenant, you will want to meet them in person and show them the home. Seeing your prospective renter in person can give you a chance to listen to your gut feeling about the person(s). 

If they pass the meet and greet, and you wish to consider them as a tenant, the next step would be to have them fill out an application. Find a template online and be sure that it follows the rental laws of your state. Your rental policies will be in writing and address basic items; What is your policy on pets? Is this a strictly non-smoking home? This gets all parties on the same page from the beginning.
Next step is to check their references. This includes calling any and all former landlords, their current employer, and their personal references. You should call all references and pay close attention, were there awkward pauses, or did the person on the other end of the line speak freely about his or her former tenant/employee? 

Don't be afraid to ask former landlords if they paid their rent on time. If they aren't able to answer, this should be a red flag to you. One key question to ask a former landlord, (one that they will answer without feeling like they could find themselves in deep legal trouble) is; "Would you rent to them again?" If they pass the reference check, we move to the next step. 

The background check is important. My favorite service is Experian. It is easy for both the landlord and the tenant. Using this type of service means that you won’t have to handle paperwork and you won’t be in possession of your prospective tenant’s sensitive information. You create an account and send the potential tenant the link. They pay a fee, $14.95, and fill out the proper information. 

Experian then lets you know whether or not they are likely to be a good tenant. Easy peasy! There are other companies that offer this service, a quick internet search will yield you a multitude of choices. I like Experian because they can also perform a credit check. Which bring me to the next step.

Check the potential tenants credit history! Using the applicant's Social Security number, you can get a credit report from credit bureaus including, Experian, Equifax, etc. If their credit checks out, and you have completed the aforementioned steps, congratulations, you are well on your way to securing a great tenant. 

The final step is signing the lease -  make sure all the inhabitants sign the lease, and collect first, last and security deposit. 

I am 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

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Commissions! Commissions! Commissions! By Matt Trudel

Normally in real estate the saying is “Location! Location! Location!”, but this article is more about selection of an Agency to help you with the sale of your home and some things you might want to consider before making that selection. Agencies vary in many different ways, from the number of agents in an office, to the experience and number of years they have been in business, to the type of transactions they handle, and the percentage of what they charge for commission in successfully selling your property. Another difference is how they handle the commission they charge a seller.

General practice was that agencies cooperate and compensate each other equally. Over the past several years it is becoming clear that some agencies are not splitting the commission 50/50 with a Realtor® that is a buyer’s agent and sells your property to their client. An example would be if the agency is charging 6% commission and offering out 2.5% to a buyer’s agent who brings a buyer and sells your property. In this example the listing agency would keep 3.5% for their company. On a $300,000 house this would be an extra $3000 to the listing agency.  How is this relevant to sellers and what are some possible situations where it could become an issue? first question to answer is which agent is really selling your property. The one who took pictures and entered it in the Multiple Listing Service, or the one who brings the buyer and writes the contract for your property. Both agents do considerable work and every deal has it’s own different situations, but does either agent deserve more compensation for the work they do?  This is just something to consider when selecting an agency. 

You should know not only how much commission you are paying, but how it is being split and how it may or may not adversely affect the sale of your property.

Don’t think how much commission is being offered by the listing agency affects the sale of your home?  Then why do we see agencies offering out bonuses like “Buyer agent bonus! Extra $2500 to buyer’s agent if under contract by September 30th”?

As a buyer’s agent, we talk with our buyers and set a percentage amount for the commission we will work for in searching and finding them a home. If there is a bonus being offered, I think that bonus should be credited back to the buyer as long as the percentage that the buyer and buyer’s agent agreed to is being compensated in the deal.

There are other things to consider in this, like advertising, taking photos, gathering documents from the town, and more. A lot of that is what is expected when you list with an agency, it is all part of the deal. The other part of the deal is selling your house which brings us back to the question of which agent is really the one who sells your house. 

Does the listing agent or the buyer’s agent sell your house? Isn’t that why there is a split in the commission in the first place?  Should one agency be compensated more, or should it be equal? These are a few things for you to consider when selecting an agency to work with when selling or buying your next home. 

This article written by Matthew Trudel, owner Five Star Realty, Windham 207-939-6971.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Time to list and upgrade your home by Rick Yost

One of the most common questions that realtors get is, “Is this a good time to list my home?”  While that answer can, at certain times of the year, be complicated, the answer right now is a resounding –YES! The National Association of Realtor compiles statistical data to produce a Buyer Traffic Report. This report shows that buyer demand remains strong and that these buyers are ready, willing, and able to purchase homes. Strong demand is always an indicator of a good time to sell.
In the past, the average home owner stayed in a home for an average of between six and seven years. That changed starting in 2011. The loss in value of homes during the recession and job loss has kept the average homeowner in place longer. The average time in a home since 2011 has grown to between nine and ten years.  

The growth in home values and strengthening of the economy have given more current homeowners the ability to move. This is leading to even greater demand in the market. Once again, more demand equals better selling opportunities.
Economists say that a six-month supply of houses on the market equates to a normal, healthy market. There is not currently a six-month supply of homes on the market. By normal market definition, there are not enough houses on the market to meet buyer’s demand.  This lack of inventory has been ongoing and it looks to be growing this fall. The best time to sell a house is when inventory is at its lowest. Less competition should lead to a quick and profitable sale.

In a tight market, buyers are doing whatever they can to make their offer shine. Most buyers are getting pre-approved by their lender and not just pre-qualified. This means offers will be cleaner and better prepared. This can make for a smoother, quicker process to get to closing. Everyone wants a smooth quick closing and this fall is the time to get it.
#FirstPortlandMortgageIf a homeowner is listing, they are typically buying also. Home values have appreciated across all price ranges, but none as greatly as entry level homes. This means an entry level seller will realize the greatest value gains while moving up into a home that has not realized the same percentage gain. 

If home prices appreciate 5.1 percent as some experts are predicting, that trade up home will require a bigger down payment and a larger payment. Homeowners must keep in mind that a 5% increase in value on the $200,000 home to be sold is $10,000, while a 5% increase in value on the $300,000 house to be purchased is $15,000. Now is the time to trade up.
The last and greatest reason to list this fall is purely emotional. If a homeowner is considering selling, there is a reason. More room for the kids, a better kitchen, another bathroom, more privacy, a bigger yard, or whatever the motivation are all valid emotional reasons to list a home this fall.  

The most important question is why wait?  Is money more important than health and well-being?  Is it more important than family?  Is it more important than having the dream home?  Only the homeowner knows for sure. My advice to homeowners—life is short, don’t wait.
So “Is this fall a good time to list?” Heck Yea!!

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


Friday, August 31, 2018

Reasons to hire a real estate agent by Carrie Colby

With so much information readily available online, clients sometimes ask me, “Why should we hire real estate agent?” They wonder, and rightfully so if they couldn’t buy or sell a home through the internet or regular marketing and advertising channels without representation, without a real estate agent.

Some do okay choosing that route, but many don’t. If you’ve wondered the same thing, here are a few reasons why you might want to consider hiring a professional real estate agent:

Education and experience
You don’t need to know everything about buying and selling real estate if you hire a real estate professional who does. Henry Ford once said that when you hire people who are smarter than you are, it proves you are smarter than they are. The trick is to find the right person. Why not hire a person with more education and experience than you? We’re all looking for more precious time in our lives, and hiring pros gives us that time.

Agents are buffers
Agents take the spam out of your property showings and visits. If you’re a buyer of new homes, your agent will whip out her sword and keep the builder’s agents at bay, preventing them from biting or nipping at your heels. If you’re a seller, your agent will filter all those phone calls that lead to nowhere from “lookie loos” and try to induce serious buyers to write an offer immediately.
Neighborhood knowledge
Agents either possess intimate knowledge or they know where to find the industry buzz about your neighborhood. They can identify comparable sales and hand these facts to you, in addition to pointing you in the direction where you can find more data on schools, crime or demographics. For example, you may know that a home down the street was on the market for $350,000, but an agent will know it had upgrades and sold at $285,000 after 65 days on the market and after twice falling out of escrow.

Market conditions information
Real estate agents can disclose market conditions, which will govern your selling or buying process. Many factors determine how you will proceed. Data such as the average per square foot cost of similar homes, median and average sales prices, average days on market and ratios of list-to-sold prices, among other criteria, will have a huge bearing on what you ultimately decide to do.

Professional networking
Real estate agents network with other professionals, many of whom provide services that you will need to buy or sell. Agents can give you a list of references with whom they have worked and provide background information to help you make a wise selection.

Negotiation skills and confidentiality
Top producing agents negotiate well because, unlike most buyers and sellers, they can remove themselves from the emotional aspects of the transaction and because they are skilled. It’s part of their job description. Good agents are not messengers, delivering buyer’s offers to sellers and vice versa. They are professionals who are trained to present their client’s case in the best light and agree to hold client information confidential from competing interests.

Handling volumes of paperwork
Today’s purchase agreements run ten pages or more. That does not include the federal and state mandated disclosures nor disclosures dictated by local custom. Most real estate files average thicknesses from one to three inches of paper. One tiny mistake or omission could land you in court or cost you thousands. In some states, lawyers handle the disclosures, thank goodness!

Answer questions after closing
Even the smoothest transactions that close without complications can come back to haunt. For example, taxing authorities that collect property tax assessments, doc stamps or transfer tax can fall months behind and mix up invoices, but one call to your agent can straighten out the confusion. Many questions can pop up that were overlooked in the excitement of closing. Good agents stand by ready to assist. Worthy and honest agents don’t leave you in the dust to fend for yourself.

Develop relationships for future business
The basis for an agent’s success and continued career in real estate is referrals. Few agents would survive if their livelihood was dependent on consistently drumming up new business. This emphasis gives agents strong incentives to make certain clients are happy and satisfied. It also means that an agent who stays in the business will be there for you when you need to hire an agent again. Many will periodically mail market updates to you to keep you informed and to stay in touch.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Should I sell my home now or wait until spring by Richie Vraux

Now that you have spruced up your home and made it look the best it can, should you list with the agent you have selected, or should you wait until spring- when all the other properties get listed?

The answer to those questions is clear and simple: List it now

There are several factors why. First, the competition is much less and most of the tire kickers, those who appear to be interested in purchasing a home but have no intention of doing so, lose interest in the fall. But most importantly, most of the homes have sold during the summer and people are beginning to get busy with fall and preparing themselves for holiday activities.

With a shortage of homes to sell in our area, you have a better chance to sell before the snow flies and everyone hunkers down for the long winters months. Because the market has been so saturated during the summer, now it’s been easier to show, and the buyers now are more serious. Sellers may consider more reasonable offers because the market is more flexible, and you will be more empowered to make the decision in the selling process with offers you may get with selling your home.

As the cooler season sets in, I always recommend starting a fire in the fireplace to set the tone for buyers walking into your home, getting that warm and fuzzy feeling stepping out from the cold. The ambiance of a warm fire does something for the soul. There is something about the fall that makes one feel alive and knowing you are coming home to a warm fire.

Also, there are great tax breaks to the buyers purchasing a home now. If you close before the end of the year you can write off your mortgage interest. You won't believe how much those monies add up. Since lending institutions take most of their interest within the first 5 years, you won't believe the benefits you will reap. Get ready for a windfall.

So, if you are considering selling- list it now and make your future plans while interest rates are still reasonably low, and our economy is still strong. You never know what the future will bring.

Richie Vraux is a Realtor/ Broker with RE/MAX with more than 20 years’ experience. If you need advice either to buying or selling- Call Richie @ 317 1297

Friday, August 17, 2018

Is it time to consider a condominium? By Kevin Ronan

As inventory for residential properties in Cumberland and York Counties continues to be low, a condominium or townhouse may be a good alternative to a single-family home. Local purchase prices for a condominium may be lower than a single-family home and as an owner you enjoy the added benefit of having external repairs and maintenance taken care of by the homeowners association (HOA). 

If you are exploring a condominium, it is important to be familiar with
some relevant terms and language. Please be aware that the rules and regulations may be different in different states. With the help of a local Realtor® you can access the information you need to make an informed decision. Let's start with some of the following basics. 

The Homeowners Association (HOA) refers to a group of owners. If you purchase a property in the condominium complex, you automatically become a member of the HOA with voting rights on all HOA topics.

A Board of Directors composed of condominium homeowners are elected to represent the members of the association. The Board is there to enforce rules, access financing, change bylaws, establish capital reserves and work with the property management company. 

The association is required to generate meeting minutes which highlight all board and association discussions. As a potential buyer, you may request meeting minutes. Common topics include elections, length of service and member voting guidelines. You may hear the term proxy which simply refers to a document that allows members of the homeowners association to vote in the event that they cannot attend any scheduled homeowners meeting. The bylaws will define the rules which governs the operations of the Board of Directors.

Most HOAs have a budget outlining routine expense line items such as landscaping and plowing. The budget also should include any out of the ordinary project expenses planned in the near future. 

Look out for any planned special assessments that require owners to pay in addition to normal monthly fees. Special assessments can be for anything including roof replacement, chimney repairs, exterior painting or replacing exterior siding. These special assessments can be quite significant and needs to be factored into your purchase decision.
Common areas are shared areas available to owners and their guests. 

Shared areas are paid for by the HOA as part of the monthly charges.  Examples of this may be a community pool, parking lots, tennis courts and the property grounds.

In the State of Maine, a buyer can expect the present condominium owner to provide to you, the buyer, a resale certificate. The resale certificate will include any restrictions on conveyance or sale of the unit, monthly expenses, anticipated capital expenditure, a recent balance sheet and expense statement, association bylaws and rules and regulations.

You may hear the term proxy which simply refers to a document that allows members of the homeowners association to vote in the event that they cannot attend any scheduled homeowners meeting.

I hope this information assists you in your residential property search. At the time of this article there were 256 condominium or townhouses for sale or sale pending in Cumberland County alone, at some price points greatly increasing the inventory available. You can anticipate list prices ranging from $145k- 1.5 million, with condominiums offering many of the same features of  single-family houses. Buyers, enjoy your search!

Kevin Ronan, Associate Broker affiliated with Alliance Realty, 290 Bridgeton Road, Westbrook brought this article to you., 207-838-4855

Friday, August 10, 2018

Price sells homes by Nicole Foster

You only get one chance to hit the market. The single most important step in listing your home
is choosing the right sale price. It serves as the monument which indicates to buyers and agents your motivation and how reasonable you will be for them to deal with.

Work closely with a seasoned Realtor® who knows your particular market to determine a
range of value for your home. Together you can review comparable properties which have sold
in the past 180 days, monitor pending or under contract listings and see how your own
property will stack up against the current competition.

Your Realtor® can assist you by providing market data and information, but the decision is yours. As the saying goes: “We provide….you decide.” So, it is critical to give some real honest consideration to how you will achieve your desired outcome.

Variables such as what you paid for the property, how much you currently owe on it, or what
you would like to net after expenses do not impact the value of your home or influence how
much a buyer will pay for it.

When creating a pricing strategy, it is important to know that the longer a home sits on the
market the more likely you are to get offers less than your asking price or have buyers try to
negotiate with you by asking for seller concessions. may be tempted to place a high price point on the upper end of the established range of value,
thinking that you can just make price adjustments as necessary. However, by using this approach you can lose out on the initial excitement of being a new listing to the market and all too soon your listing will be viewed as stale instead of fresh. If you do not get showing requests immediately, that is an indication that your home is overpriced.

Selecting a price which is on the lower end of the range of value will help to generate activity and drive more traffic to your new listing. If buyers perceive your home to be an opportunity, they will want to get your home off the market to not be in competition with other offers. Buyers will understand that your listing has not yet had market exposure so will be far less likely to try and negotiate with you on the terms and price.

Making sure that your home is priced well ensures you will get the greatest number of showings
within the first two weeks of being on the market. If you are thinking about selling and want the
highest list price possible, it will be important for you to get your property on the market before
the next mortgage rate increase while we are in this same seller’s market as rates are
anticipated to reach 5.00% by January of 2019.

Nicole Foster is a Broker/ Realtor® at Locations Real Estate Group with 12 years’ experience. She is a Windham resident. Contact her at