Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer sizzles in the real estate business - By Lisa DiBiase

Summer sizzle is still on. Increased inventory and low interest rates fueled Maine’s home sales this June. According to Maine Listings, Realtors report 1,513 single-family existing home sales last month—a rise of 14.02 percent compared to one year ago. The June median sales price (MSP) increased 0.54 percent to $185,000.
Sellers, it’s your market finally, so make the most of it today!

While you're interviewing agents, be wary of those “too-good-to-be-true” price opinions because they may be trying to "buy" your listing. And don't jump at that first (seemingly) generous offer, especially if sellers are getting multiple offers. If you're getting your price and then some, perhaps give something back to the buyer in good faith, such as an early move-in date or some personal property you're not attached to.

We hear that newly renovated homes are easier sells, and that's true. So is it time to remodel that outmoded kitchen? Not if you plan to sell soon. According to remodeling surveys, the average renovation project returns only about two-thirds on investment. For example, a major bathroom remodel costing $15,000 yields about $10,000 in resale value. The same goes for a major kitchen remodel. In some cases, it could be cheaper to issue credits to buyers or drop your price a few grand. Lighter jobs like new doors are more practical and return about 85 percent. But feel free to spend a bit on paint (basic colors), curb appeal and fence replacement to enhance exteriors.

Buyers, be credit-ready!

There's a lot of competition out there for homes, so be ready. Meet with a mortgage broker, get your credit report and start repairing any blips. If your scores are below 620 or so, a conventional loan will be a challenge. But if they're under 740, you still might not get the best rates. Many buyers get a pre-qualification letter from the lender, but you can one-up them with a pre-approval, which comes after a more thorough evaluation of your finances. A pre-approval letter shows the seller that you're good to go and can close quickly. Both letters work when making an offer.

Lowball offers are off the table in this environment and could eliminate you from consideration. Respond to counteroffers quickly to keep other buyers from entering the picture. By stalling you can create a bidding war. If one does break out, be prepared to get fewer concessions and pay more money. Have your realtor show a few other homes so you can be willing to walk away if the price soars beyond what you are willing to pay.

As I have said since the beginning, 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 owns and runs Landing Real Estate. For your real estate questions, email

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