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

Friday, March 26, 2021

Real Estate: Appraisal come in low, now what?

By Kristin Piccone

The Real Estate market is experiencing an all-time low in inventory, not just in Maine, but across the country.  The historical low interest rates have created a surge in the amount of buyers with increased buying power, as a result.  Consequently, this is creating excessive bidding wars when a home hits the market for sale.  Sometimes there are buyers with financing and sometimes there are buyers with cash.  No matter what a buyer’s terms are within their offer; if there is a financing contingency and the buyer is putting less than 20 percent down; the property is likely going to require an appraisal. 

What is an appraisal? An appraisal is an evaluation ordered by the lending institution to ensure and protect the buyer and the lender from paying too much.  The appraised value must be at or above the purchase price, not loan amount.  By the time an appraisal has happened, a buyer is already under contract on a home and has, more times than not, completed most or all of their due diligence.  With this, time and money has been spent and maybe even several types of negotiations between real estate agents, buyers and sellers.

Ironically, the appraisal comes as one of the latter items to be checked off within a transaction, unfortunately.  It can create stress and tension when its down to a week before closing, for example, and everyone finds out ~ appraisal came in low.  Now what?

In my professional experience, there are options (I love options!).  In no particular order, here are some things that can be done:

Option 1: Buyer and Seller can agree that seller will reduce to the price of the appraised value.

Option 2: Buyer and Seller can agree that they will “split the difference.”  For example, let’s say the purchase price is $300,000.  Appraised value comes in at $285,000.  That is a $15,000 difference.  By splitting the difference, it can be done by reducing the purchase price by $7,500 (now, $292,500) and the buyer will bring an extra $7,500 to the closing table.  The seller receives $7,500 less for the property and the buyer brings more money to the table.

Option 3: Buyer and Seller can agree to work the numbers in any fashion to create a win-win for both parties.  As in my example above, it was a 50/50 split.  However, it could be any arrangement, for example 80/20; 70/30; 60/40, and so on.

Option 4: Dispute the appraisal value.  Generally, it would be the listing agent to write a letter to the underwriting department of the financial institution or complete a guideline form issued by the lender for completion and submission.  Within the letter or form, it would be likely that the listing agent would need to provide supporting evidence and information that supports the current purchase price.  For your reading pleasure, I will summarize and say, the appraiser will re-evaluate their report.  There are no promises, but a new appraised value could be given; it could remain the same, or it could be lower.

Option 5: Request a second opinion.  With this option and depending upon the financing type; you may or may not be allowed a second opinion.  For example, with FHA financing, you cannot get a second opinion unless there is underwriter agreed justification.  It is also worth noting that if the underwriter agrees to and can justify a second opinion, the second opinion appraised value is what you are “stuck with.”  Further, this FHA appraisal “sticks” with the property for six months. 

What does this mean?  This means that if a buyer and seller do not come to terms on any of the options listed above, as a result of the appraised value, the buyer’s financing will, effectively, be denied.  Consequently, the seller will be “back on market” and start back at square one, so to speak.  Since an FHA appraisal report has already been filed from the last buyer; the seller will have to carefully consider their options and who their next “pool of buyers” will be.  Of course, the seller could reduce their list price to meet the last appraised value; however, if that is not the case, the seller would likely limit their buyer pool since the previous FHA appraisal will stay with the property for a minimum of six months.  In my professional experience, I aim to create a win-win for all parties, especially when so deep and in the throughs of a transaction.  It does not always behoove a seller to go “back on market” in a scenario similar to this, as their buyer pool would be lessened, time extended and time = money!

This is a lot of information and can be even more daunting, in real life, however I wanted to keep it simple for the purposes of this column.  If you are considering buying or selling in today’s real estate market, I am a full-time, local, knowledgeable, trusted professional who would love to help you and learn more about your real estate goals! <

Kristin Piccone is a REALTOR for Landing Real Estate in Windham. Reach her at 207-951-1393 or by email at kpiccone@landinghomesmaine.com

Friday, March 19, 2021

Real Estate: Is market slowing down in 2021?

By Matt Trudel

There certainly are not any signs of the market slowing down at this point, and all indications are we are going to see another crazy year of multiple offers from buyers willing to pay full price or more than the asking price. This raises a lot of questions from both buyers and sellers. Buyers are trying to find the best strategy to get their offer accepted. Sellers are looking for a strategy to get the most out of their home and deciding on which offer is the best. Also, the best offer is not always the highest offer.

There are a lot of things buyers can do to give them an edge over other offers. The obvious one is the price they are offering, but let’s talk about a few other options buyers can use to appeal to a seller. Your broker should be asking the listing agent for some basic information about the sellers and what the seller would prefer to have happen in the transaction. Things like when the seller would like to close the transaction. Limiting or eliminating the inspections are another way to gain the edge over other offers. What about offering the seller to remain in the home for a week or two which might allow them flexibility in getting to wherever they are moving?

There are several other ways to for buyers to stand out, but I will save the rest for my clients and maybe share them in the next article.

There certainly are not any signs of the market slowing down at this point, and all indications are we are going to see another crazy year of multiple offo the sellers and what are some of the strategies they can use when selling their home. Sellers are really in the driver’s seat in today’s real estate market. Inventory is very limited which has increased the demand. Determining the value and creating a solid game plan starts with choosing who to work with as a Realtor. I have written numerous articles on this topic and would be happy to share them if someone would like them. Experience is all I will say on that issue for now. After sellers have chosen a Realtor, they will go over pricing the home and a game plan for putting it on the market. There are lots of creative options for doing this, but for this article we will just discuss two common trends that seem popular.
The first one is when the house goes on the market and showings are limited to just a few days with offers to be in by a certain deadline. This tactic is used to create a sense of urgency with buyers, and the chance for multiple offers with some potentially being more than the listing price. Overall, this is an okay plan, however, some buyers don’t like the “bidding war” or waiting for 3 or 4 days for an answer on their offer. Some buyers feel that if they drop everything and leave work to see a home when it first hits the market, then write an offer with good terms and pricing that the seller should respond in a timely manner. Again, remember that the seller is in the driver’s seat and it is ultimately up to them.

The second trend is put the house on the market and not allow showings for several days, perhaps the seller is finishing up some painting or removing personal items of value. This style can also create a lot of interest ahead of time. It allows buyers to be ready when showings are opened up, and it allows for them to do a drive by before seeing the home. This will eliminate some buyers who don’t like the location which is something you cannot change. I think this is a good thing and means just one less time the seller was inconvenienced. Also, fewer people walking through the home and tracking through the house limits dirt and cleaning. Usually with this style of listing we see offers being handled on a case-by-case basis, but you can actually blend the two styles as well. There are also many other options for getting your house onto the market that are successful as well. This is something that sellers should decide with their Realtor.

This article was written by Matthew Trudel, Broker-Owner of Five Star Realty, Windham. Call him at 207-939-6971.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Real Estate: Creating a home office- Working from home

By Richie Vraux

Most essential businesses have found the need to adapt to working remotely- from your home these days. It has become the new way of life most businesses have to use to succeed in the Covid-19 age. For myself, I always liked going into the office, where everything was there in place, to help my business.  Most Real Estate offices were closed and just recently the NAR (National Association of Realtors) and the Maine Real Estate Commission have eased the restrictions to allow agents to re-enter public spaces, but we still need to wear masks, gloves and whatever else is called for by our governor.

Since this pandemic started, Zoom meetings have become our way of life for both business and our personal messages and most likely will stay as a common tool and way to do business long after this pandemic has gone by. Most businesses have adapted their way of doing business to working remotely.

There are tax advantages we can take as a result of having a home office. You will want to check with your accountant to find out the benefits and requirements of having a home office.

You will want to make it bright and cheery. Remember, this is the office adapted to your taste. You will most likely want natural light.  If you can’t, you may want to add a new window and paint it the colors you like. You will want to be disciplined and pick a designated time to accomplish your goals. We were all forced into changing our lifestyles by this awful pandemic so let’s create a healthy alternative to the office environment. Here are some more of the essentials you will want to consider:                                                   

Pick a good desk/ workstation - maybe with a new computer or upgrade. Make sure you have high speed internet, of course, with lots of broadband. Most agents work from their cellphones. They have all the apps we will ever need and a lot of agents use only their phones for everything. You will want a comfortable chair as most likely, you will be sitting in it for a long period of time so make it work for you. Also, a reliable printer to make sure you don’t have to change the ink cartridges after every 10 pages of printing like mine does. You will want to be disciplined and pick a time to accomplish your goals. Organize your day, just as if you were in the office. Have things you use often at hand. You can purchase a file draw and other office supplies to create your new office space. Now you are ready. Put on a happy face and go out and meet the world, or should I say the internet world. Good luck and stay safe. <

Richie Vraux is a Broker/REALTOR and partner at Maine’s Premier Team at Better Home and Gardens, The Masiello Group, 76 Tandberg Trail, Windham and 341 Maine St., Gorham. For Real Estate advice – Call Richie at 207-317-1297.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Real Estate: What you need to know about homeowners insurance

Submitted by Jonathan Priest

As a homeowner, you want to protect your financial investment. Homeowners insurance is designed to pay for damages to your home and your belongings. It also helps protect you from financial liability if someone is injured on your property. Read on for answers to common questions.

How much homeowners insurance do I need?

Ask yourself the following questions when deciding how much insurance you need:

How much would it cost to replace my home today?

You may need the help of a professional for an estimate—ask a real estate appraiser, builder, or your insurance agent. If you’ve made big improvements to your home, such as remodeling a kitchen or bathroom or building a deck, make sure your insurance policy is updated to reflect the increased value.

Am I protected for inflation?

Many companies automatically adjust policies for inflation; if so, your premiums would go up to cover the rising cost of replacement. Review your policy every year to see if your coverage limits are adequate.

Am I planning any additions or renovations?

Adding a family room or finishing a basement could increase the value of your home and the amount of coverage needed. Remember to inform your insurance company of any additions or renovations, otherwise you may not have enough coverage if you sustain a loss.

Is my personal property covered?

If you have valuable possessions, such as computers, cameras, jewelry, musical instruments, etc., you may want to buy optional coverage designed for these types of property and without any deductible.

What if someone gets hurt on my property?

If you or members of your household were hurt on your property, your medical expenses would typically be covered by your medical insurance policy. They will not be covered by homeowners insurance.

Homeowners insurance provides basic liability coverage that protects you and family members who are part of your household, if someone finds you legally responsible for injuries or damages, either on or off your property. You can be held legally liable for such events, even though you didn’t intend for them to happen. 

Liability coverage includes the following:

** Legal defense costs

** Payments for first aid to others at the scene of an accident

** Payments for damage to someone else’s property caused by you or your family (e.g., your child hits a baseball through your neighbor’s window)

** Payments for reasonable expenses and for lost wages or salary up to the per day limit if you attend a hearing or trial at the request of your insurance company

Note that bodily injury and property damage generally are not covered while you are operating a motor vehicle, airplane, or boat. You need separate policies for these activities.

What questions should I ask about my homeowners insurance policy?

Here are a few questions you should ask your insurance company about your policy.

** Does my homeowners insurance policy cover every structure on my property, like a detached garage, storage shed or fence?

** Does my homeowners insurance policy cover all of my personal belongings? There may be exclusions, or certain limitations on items like jewelry.

** What happens if my home needs major repairs as a result of a covered loss? You might be covered for additional living expenses in the event you have to move out of your home and stay in a hotel or rental.

** Do I need to expand my basic homeowners insurance policy? Depending on where you live, you might consider purchasing additional coverage for earthquakes, water damage/floods, lightning, etc.

It’s important to learn about the different types of home insurance coverage available to you—including condo insurance, renters’ insurance, landlord’s insurance, and mobile home insurance—and choose the best policy to fit your specific needs.<

Jonathan Priest is a MetLife property and casualty specialist in Windham. Call him at 207-893-8184 for your home, auto, life or business insurance needs.


Friday, February 26, 2021

Real Estate: Turnkey new construction, is it right for you?

By Nicole Foster, Broker/REALTOR

Many prospective home buyers would like to take advantage of these amazing mortgage interest rates available today, but are getting discouraged.  With so little inventory and a steady increase in the demand, how can buyers compete? It is a common misconception that you need to be able to get approved for a construction loan in order to build a brand-new home.  If you have been searching for a home, but unable to get your offer accepted, you may want to consider working with one of the reputable builders in our area on a turnkey home construction package.

It will be very important to work with a real estate broker who has area knowledge and is experienced with the process, as it varies from purchasing an already existing home. When you are interviewing REALTORS to work with be sure to ask them about projects they have closed on and what areas they are located in. Each builder provides a different package and may have their own agreement template you will have to use, so understanding the details and having individual anticipatory guidance will help both expedite and streamline the process.

What is possibly most appealing about turnkey new construction is the ability to make some limited customizations to the home. Many builders provide an allowance for appliances, lighting, flooring, countertops and sometimes more. Buyers usually shop in person or online at approved locations within the provided timeframe.  On occasion a buyer does not want to be burdened with so many choices and decisions to make so they may request to use the builder’s selection for most of the finishes. An already existing or model home is sometimes available to view as similar to one to be built. This allows the prospective buyers an opportunity to observe the overall quality of construction and finishing.

A builder could require a non-refundable earnest money deposit ranging anywhere from $1,000-20% of the purchase price depending on your agreement, so having some reserves available for a down payment could be necessary. You can expect to have two appraisal inspection visits during the process and you can inquire with the municipality to learn what types of inspections are required during the building process with Code Enforcement. Have a conversation with your lender to find out what changes, if any, may occur in the event your mortgage interest rate lock expires due to delays due to COVID-19, labor or other things. 

Ask questions in advance about private water supplies and what the builder will provide regarding air and water quality, which cannot be tested until the home is complete. Make certain that you fully understand the access (road and driveway) to the home and who has the right to use it as well as whose responsibility it is to maintain it and ask if there are any annual fees that are or will be associated with this.

Why continue to make bids on already existing homes when you can be making your plans for a brand new one?

Nicole Foster is a real estate Broker with Locations Real Estate Group specializing in residential new construction and a Windham resident. Follow her at facebook/sellingmaine.com or Instagram @207nicolefoster. <