Friday, February 26, 2016

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Spend tax money on your home investment - By Cari Turnbull

It’s tax season and for many that means you’re about to receive a little extra cash. A great place to spend that money is on your home. Whether you’re thinking of selling or just want to spruce things up, I have some ideas to help maximize your investment. 
Homes that have been updated both cosmetically and structurally yield a much higher price tag and attract more buyers. When doing structural repairs, you also reduce the risk of a buyer discovering material defects or systems at the end of life and nickeling and diming you once under contract.
Some of the most important items to buyers are newer roofs, windows and heating systems. On average sellers are seeing an 80 to 90 percent return on investment on these items. Another item that provides one of the highest ROI is siding. If you have wood siding in need of repair, you may consider having vinyl installed. Most buyers prefer vinyl siding over wood simply because it is easy to maintain. As the saying goes “vinyl is final”.  If you want to stay with the wood siding, you should have it all freshly painted and any rotten boards replaced, also make sure there is no flaking or peeling. With certain types of financing programs an appraiser will not pass the home if there is flaking or peeling paint present. 

If your home is structurally sound and all major systems are in good working order you should then look at cosmetic updates. Kitchens and bathrooms are the two places that will yield you the highest returns. Buyers love solid surface counter tops such as granite or quartz, also replacing outdated brass knobs with brushed nickel or oil rubbed bronze is an inexpensive update that goes a long way. 
Replacing older flooring is another good idea, hardwood and tile are buyer favorites. If you’re on a budget, go with a high quality Pergo flooring. 

With all updates you should go with neutral colors that will appeal to a large range or people. If you’re wondering which updates are best for your home, you should consult with a local realtor prior to making any decisions. 

Cari Turnbull is a Windham resident. She and her team represent buyers and sellers in the Greater Portland area. For all your real estate needs contact Cari at

Friday, February 19, 2016

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Questions to ask before buying an older home

By Rick Yost - There isn't anything quite like the charm of an older
home, built in a different era, with true craftsmanship. Maine is full of older homes with great structural integrity and fascinating architectural characteristics. While these homes can be truly beautiful, they are not for everyone. They require more maintenance then a new home and often small projects turn into big ones. There are several questions that a buyer should ask themselves before buying an older home to avoid buyer’s remorse.

First and foremost, do you like Do-It-Yourself projects? If you love the feeling of accomplishment that comes from finishing a DIY project, an older home might be for you. Older homes generally are a never ending source of new projects that need to be completed in order to maintain the home. If DIY is not for you, buy a newer home.

Do you have free and flexible time? Those DIY projects can be time consuming and range in timeframe from hours to days. An occupation that requires sixty hours a week does not leave much time for old house projects. Many of these projects can spring up at any time, so having flexible time is important. A leaky pipe won't wait till next week. Having free and flexible time makes you a better candidate for an older home.

The alternative to free and flexible time is deep pockets. You can pay others to handle the maintenance that on old home requires. A good blend is to handle smaller non-emergency projects yourself and leave the big emergency jobs to the professionals. Find a good plumber, electrician, and carpenter and let them know exactly what you are trying to accomplish and what characteristics of the home are most important to you. Then get ready to write the checks. Skilled tradesman can be expensive. Are you financially comfortable with the monetary demands that go with an older home?

Another big question to ask yourself is-- "is my significant other as invested in an old home as I am?" Many arguments can start with "Let's go skiing this weekend!"

"Sorry, I really want to strip that old wall paper.” Make sure you both like DIY and you both are committed to maintaining an older home. You do not want your home to be a constant cause of resentment. You don't want to be doing DIY alone, do you?

The last question to ask yourself is--" Do I absolutely, positively love this home?"

Older homes can be frustrating and time consuming. Be sure that the home is worth the effort and frustration to you. If it is a labor of love, it will be worth it.

It is really a matter of personality. If you love the charm and character of older homes and appreciate the sense of accomplishment that comes from DIY, an older home might just be what you are looking for. If you like shiny new things and really value your free time, my advice is look for a home built no later than the 1990s.
Before buying an older home, consider the questions above and decide well. Good luck.

Friday, February 12, 2016

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Timing is just as important as pricing - By Matt Trudel

Ready to sell your home this spring, but just not sure when is the right time to put it on the market. The real estate market is always changing, so having a broker who has a good feel for what the pulse of the market is doing is very important. Working with someone local and who knows the area is key. Timing can be just as important as correctly pricing your property.

The real estate market has what I like to call "the holiday lull" or the time from Thanksgiving into the new year when the market slows down and there is not an abundance of activity. Generally this is over by the end of February or first week of March. Not the case this year. The second week of January there was a significant spark of activity.

Perhaps it has been the milder winter that has brought the buyers out early, or the recent drop in mortgage rates could easily have been one of the triggers. Regardless of the reasons, the spring real estate market is in its early stages. If your house is not ready to go on the market, I suggest you get it ready and do it quickly. Some things may have to wait, especially outside projects like exterior touch up painting or landscaping. The point is, if you want to sell and you don't have your home on the market, you are missing out on many buyers who are shopping around and putting other homes under contract. careful when it comes to pricing your home, and spend time to make sure you get it correct. This is often the area where homeowners make the biggest mistake. Overpricing a home is pit fall that so many fall into. An overpriced home will not be shown very often by buyers’ agents who know the home is overpriced. As a realtor, a lot of our time is reviewing homes and pricing for our buyers. As buyers begin to look at more and more homes, they too get a sense for what is a good value and not so good. If neither the realtor nor the buyer feel the value is there, you are very unlikely to get a second showing and much less receive an offer. So work closely with you realtor when setting a starting price, and get that house on the market sooner rather than later.

Matt Trudel, President Five Star Realty, Windham.