Friday, October 28, 2016

Tips for selling your house in the next 60 days - By Matt Trudel

The fall and holiday season are upon us and in full swing. While it is difficult enough staging a house and keeping it ready for showings during the summer, this time of year can be brutal. Just remember that buyers are also dealing with the same type issues and will hopefully be a little understanding about the leaves that are falling and lack of color in your flower beds.

It is the season for pumpkins and spooky decorations. Those should be kept to a minimal amount. There is a difference between a few pumpkins and gourds, and feeling like you are at a farm stand. The same goes for ghosts and goblins. Some people are not into blood and spiders. Try to keep it simple and that will also make it easier to remove right after Halloween. Do not leave those decorations up.

Thanksgiving time can be a very difficult time to show your home. Especially if you are hosting Thanksgiving and have relatives staying with you. Try to be as flexible as possible. Explain to visitors that there might be showings and any help they can provide, like keeping their own rooms picked up and beds made, would be very helpful. Buyers will understand that you have a house full. Just be sure your Realtor explains to the other Realtor your situation. It is better to show the property and let the buyer see it then to not show it and miss a potential sale. Once Thanksgiving is done, put away all the decorations and extra dishes you probably had to drag out.

Now it's into December and on to Christmas. Keep the decorations to a minimal amount and simple. Lighting your house up like the Griswold's isn't going to help sell it, and it will more than likely hinder the sale. Less clutter and simple lighting will allow buyers to still see the home without tripping over extension cords and blown up snowmen. You also want to do your best with shoveling walkways and even a path around the house if possible. Although buyers cannot see the whole yard, at least they can see how big it is. Hopefully you took plenty of summer photos to show off the green grass and colorful gardens.

Last couple of hints. With the colder weather coming you want to keep your house comfortable for buyers. Leave the heat up during the days you have showings. Cold houses turn buyers away. It's a fact. Also, leave the lights on. This is so the buyers aren't searching for light switches and struggling in the dark. Lastly, if you have a fireplace and can leave it on, then do so. If you cannot leave it on, then you should neatly stack some wood in it as if it were ready to go. Enjoy the holidays and good luck selling this year.

Matthew Trudel is the owner of Five Star Realty, 32 Tandberg Trail in Windham.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Real estate - Home search fail - by Rick Yost

The home search process can be a trying one. There can be twist, turns, ups and downs. There can be multi offer bid lost and homes sold before there is an opportunity to see them. Before buyers get too discouraged with the process, they should consider a making a few changes to their search.
The first change comes from a heart to heart talk with a spouse, significant other, or even with oneself. Buyer need to ask tough questions and give honest answers.

While it is nice to have two and a half baths, could two baths suffice? Can the buyer live without a garage? These are all questions and compromises that should be addressed before going any further with a search. Theses answers will help broaden or narrow the search for that one right home. Buyers need to have honest answers to the must have and deal breaker questions in order to jump start their search.

Next, it is time to consider homes that need some cosmetic work. Today's marketplace is putting a premium on move in ready homes. This means that homes that are showing a little wear and are a bit dated are not getting the same level of attention as the move in ready homes do. A willingness to overlook unsightly colors and bad carpets may allow a buyer the opportunity to find the house of
their dreams at an affordable price. After some new paint and carpets, that is. A buyer should be open to taking the equity that the seller left on the table.

 Next, consider another neighborhood or town. If a buyer can't find their dream home in the Windham Hill area, they should consider the River Road corridor. If the home can't be found in Windham, a buyer should consider Raymond. Often times the home of a buyer’s dreams is just a neighborhood or town away. Broadening the search is a great way to find the right home. Another up side maybe a lower price on the same home in a bordering town. Similar homes sell for significantly different prices in Gorham and Buxton. A bordering town may offer a buyer the economic ability to buy the home they want, but couldn't afford in the first choice town.

Next, it is time to dig deep. Buyers may need to tap all resources available for any and all extra money available. By borrowing from friends and relatives, selling some assets, or raising cash in any other way, a buyer may increase the price range they can search in. Sometime a $10,000 bump in affordability is all it takes to make that dream home affordable. With interest rates at historically low rates, buying as much house as possible makes great sense.

Lastly, if all else fails, buyers should consider extending their lease for six months.

It is a good time to take what was learned from the current search (likes, dislikes, deal killers) and reflect. These reflective times should be used to refine the future search. This is also a great time to save additional dollars to be used in the purchase of the future home. Buyers should keep in close contact with their realtor during this time, watching the market, watching mortgage rates, and watching for that dream home to hit the market.

Good luck to buyers in their search and as always use a qualified Realtor to find that dream home.

Rick Yost is a realtor, real estate author and long time Windham resident. Rick can be reached within all of your real estate questions at

Friday, October 14, 2016

Preparing to list your property for sale - By Kevin Ronan

You have finally decided to sell your home full of so many memories! As you prepare to list your house there will be some challenging decisions ahead prompting the question, “Where do I get started?” Although the preparation can be extensive, time consuming and emotional, the results can be financially rewarding.  Here is a list of activities to consider when preparing to show your property to prospective buyers.  So let’s get started!

What can you do to highlight your home’s strengths? The staging of your home for sale is a very important activity.  The first challenge involves decluttering the interior living space. It has been proven that a room filled with clutter makes the room seem smaller.

Remove any unnecessary appliances, books, boxes and children or pet toys from the floors, tables and countertops. While you are staging consider organizing bedroom closets and the kitchen cabinets. You can be certain buyers will be opening closet and cabinet doors.  Storage space is a huge selling point so let’s make sure these areas are ready to be viewed.  

The furniture should fit the room so get rid of any extra furniture or oversized items. Remove any family photos from walls, the refrigerator and other surfaces. Why do we need to do this? Seeing the seller’s family photographs or memorabilia makes it more difficult for buyers to imagine the home with their own furnishings and decor.

When was the last time the walls were painted? Repaint the rooms in neutral tones such as whites or beiges. This will allow buyers to focus on the rooms themselves, not the color of the walls. If you cannot paint all the rooms you may want to consider removing all wallpaper and painting just the high traffic areas such as a hallway, bathroom, family room or kitchen. 

How is the home curb appeal?  What is the first impression a perspective buyer has when they drive into your driveway?  There are some very simple and inexpensive projects that will improve a buyer’s first impression.  

Some seasonal flowers near the front entrance will add a splash of color to the front of your home. This time of year we are very fortunate to have locally grown, brightly colored mums and pumpkins available to help improve your curb appeal. Keep your lawn freshly cut. Other outside activities could include weeding the flowerbeds, and trimming the shrubs. Consider adding a cheerful wreath on the front door.

Why not bring the outdoors into your home? Potted plants or cut flowers in a vase can bring some life to a space. They can also be used to draw attention to features you want buyers to notice such as a fireplace or a window seat and be helpful for just filling any empty corner. Finally, remove anything in the driveway, stairs or around the garage, which may impede buyers from walking around the property or create a safety hazard.

These simple and low cost home improvements will help enhance the property’s appearance to potential buyers, increase the volume of buyer traffic and help increase the sale price of your home.

Kevin Ronan is a Real Estate Agent affiliated with Foundations Real Estate. He lives in Gray with his wife Lori and two Labrador retrievers.  He can be contacted at

Friday, October 7, 2016

State Farm - Replacement cost vs. market value - From Tricia Zwirner

When you purchase a homeowners insurance policy, you’ll make a number of decisions about your coverage. One of the most important is whether to insure your home for its replacement cost or its market value. Understanding each option will help you make an informed choice that safeguards your home and your family’s financial future.

What is replacement cost?
Replacement cost is the cost necessary to repair or replace your entire home. When you insure your home for its replacement value, your insurer will reimburse you for the cost of rebuilding or repairing your home, based on the size and structure of the home that was lost or damaged.

The most accurate way to determine the replacement cost of your home is to hire a building contractor or other building professional to produce a detailed estimate. Only the cost of the property’s structure and its associated systems, fixtures, and finishes will be included in the estimate; land value is included in a home’s market value but should not be included in the amount of insurance you buy.

In the event of a loss, replacement cost coverage will help your family return to their home and usual quality of life with minimal financial interruption. For the best protection, experts recommend that you insure your home for at least 100 percent of its replacement cost.

Replacement value can change over time, so you should review your policy annually to make sure its coverage meets your needs. Inform your insurer if you have upgraded or improved your home, because these alterations may increase your home’s estimated replacement cost. Also, you’ll want to stay informed about changing market conditions in your area. Rising labor, materials, and transportation costs can directly affect your home’s replacement value. For maximum protection, consider a policy that includes an inflation clause that automatically adjusts coverage and premiums to account for changes in construction costs.

What is market value?
Market value is the amount that a buyer would pay to purchase your home and its land in its current condition. Unlike your home’s replacement value, its market value is influenced by factors beyond the material and labor costs of repairs or reconstruction, such as proximity to good schools, local crime statistics, and the availability of similar homes. Also, the land itself will be included in the home’s market value, although it will not be covered by the homeowner’s policy.

In some cases, market value coverage may be the most practical option. Take the example of an ornate older home. In today’s market, the cost of rebuilding or restoring artisanal woodwork, masonry, and plastering to their original condition may be much higher than the home’s purchase price. Therefore, the replacement policy premiums for the home would be high. (Special policies are available for some historic homes, but these also come at a higher price.) For a cash-strapped homeowner, buying a policy based on market value offers the best chance to recoup at least partial expenses after a loss.

When you insure a typical home for its market value, you are at risk of having incomplete coverage. For example, imagine that a family buys a home for $175,000 and takes out a homeowner’s policy for the same amount. The replacement cost for the home, though, is $225,000. If a fire or other insured event destroys the house, the insurance settlement would be $50,000 less than the actual replacement cost of the home. The family would either have to make up the difference themselves or build a new, less expensive home.

This article is provided for you from State Farm Insurance and Tricia Zwirner.

Real estate brokerage relationships - By Lisa DiBiase

What are the different levels of brokerage services to buyers and sellers?
The difference between a Client and a Customer is significant to us Realtors®. However, it is likely not understood by the general public.  Before you begin working with a Realtor® it is very important to know what the different types of services are provided under Maine Law.

Let's start by defining what a Customer is and what a Client is:
Customer - A customer is serviced by an agent, but without contractual agreement as a Transaction Broker. Customers must be treated honestly and fairly by agents and given truthful responses to their questions. 

Client - A client is in a binding contractual relationship with a Realtor®. This is documented by an Exclusive Buyer Representation Agreement when an agent represents a Buyer in purchasing a property listed by another agent. The Exclusive Right to Sell Listing Agreement for Sellers documents the relationship when an agent lists a property for sale.

There are two big differences between the brokerage’s obligations to a client versus a customer.
First, if you are a client, the brokerage has an important obligation to you, called fiduciary duty, and must promote and protect your best interests in the real estate transaction. If you are a customer, the brokerage does not have that obligation, but is obligated to treat you with fairness, honesty and integrity, and to provide you with conscientious and competent service.

Second, if you are a client looking to purchase a property, under a legislated Code of Ethics, the salesperson must take reasonable steps to determine, and then disclose to you, all material facts about the property. If you are a customer, however, the salesperson only has to disclose to you the material facts that he or she already knows or ought to know, and they are not required to take any further steps.

On occasion, an agent may work for both the buyer and seller on the same transaction, providing that there is written consent of both parties.  When this is the case, the agent is considered a "Disclosed Dual Agent." The agent now owes both the buyer and seller a duty to deal with them fairly and honestly, and to hold each of their respective interests in confidence. With this agency relationship, the agent does not represent either the buyer or seller exclusively.  Additionally, neither party can expect the agent to advise either party on how to gain an advantage over the other.

No matter what you decide, remember to do your homework in advance. Before you sign your agreement with the brokerage, make sure you know what you want and the services you expect to receive.

As I have said before, 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 is a Broker/Owner.  She and her company represent buyers and sellers in the Greater Portland area. For all your real estate needs contact