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? 
https://www.facebook.com/amykrikken/?ref=br_rs
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 abkrikken@gmail.com.


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?

https://www.egcu.org/homeThe 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 rickyost63@gmail.com
  

    




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
#PremierProperties
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. Kronan388@gmail.com, 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.

http://locationsinmaine.com/You 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 nicole@locationsinmaine.com.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Should I list my home in the fall? By Lisa DiBiase


The answer is YES! A resounding YES! While springtime might be the best time to put your home
on the market, it is not always possible for everyone to coordinate that timing. No need to worry, you can still sell your home for a good price in the fall and even the winter. Here are a few tips to consider when listing in the fall/winter.

Photos: This is your first impression online and it is recommended to keep some photos of how the property looks in the spring time when the greens are lush. You want to impress the buyer and showcase the beauty it has, not just the dead grass and trees with no leaves. You can't force the leaves to stay on the trees, but it is recommended to rake them and keep the yard as tidy as possible.

Before the weather turns cold: Make sure you have your heating system serviced and cleaned so you don't run into any problems going into the colder months. You don't want to have a furnace quit on you when you have a buyer ready to see your property.

Fewer showings: The market is hottest in the springtime, we know that. However, that does not mean there are not ready and willing buyers ready to buy! These buyers in the fall tend to be very serious and motivated. Be ready to sell

Expectations: As a seller you shouldn't have to settle for less than the home is worth just because you are selling in the fall but do be prepared for a little less fire in the belly behind the offers. Some buyers think they can make a low-ball offer looking for the “killer deal”.

To capitalize on the sellers’ market, take these points into consideration and contact a Realtor®. 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 lisa@landinghomesmaine.com.

Friday, July 27, 2018

The conversation between Realtor® and client by Mel Oldakowski

Once you’ve made the decision to buy or sell, naturally the next step is to start interviewing real estate agents. 

In your initial conversation of substance with an agent, that agent is required to present you with a copy of the Maine Real Estate Commission’s “Real Estate Brokerage Relationships Form” which explains your options as a “consumer” and is intended to encourage a conversation with the agent about those options. 

To be represented by a real estate agency as a buyer or seller, you must have a signed representation or listing agreement with that agency, to be entitled to the benefits of a fiduciary relationship. It is not mandatory that you sign such an agreement but unless you do, the real estate agent will be unable to provide you with advice, counsel and the benefit of the agent’s judgment and expertise in the market. 

When you decide to sign a contract with an agent, one question you may want to ask is, “What type of agency does the company practice?”  In Maine, real estate agencies are allowed to practice one or more types of agency relationship with buyers and sellers.

Here is a summary of the different types of agency relationships allowed in Maine: 

Single Agency – With the buyer’s or seller’s written consent, the entire Agency represents only one party in a transaction, either the buyer or seller. 

Appointed Agency – With the buyer’s or seller’s written consent, the agency may appoint one or more agents to represent a buyer or a seller. 

Disclosed Dual Agency – With the buyer’s and seller’s written consent, one or more agents may represent both buyer and seller in a transaction. 

Single Agency with Disclosed Dual Agency – With the buyer’s and seller’s written consent, the entire Agency may represent both buyer and seller in a transaction. 

https://www.bhgre.com/Better-Homes-and-Gardens-Real-Estate-The-Masiello-Group-10865c/Mel-Oldakowski-4962147a?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=internal&utm_campaign=agent&utm_term=a4962147&referredByAgent=a4962147Appointed Agency with Disclosed Dual Agency – With the buyer’s and seller’s written consent, the agency may appoint one or more agents to represent both the buyer and seller in a transaction. 

Transaction Brokerage – In this type of relationship, the agency does not represent the interests of the buyer or seller in a transaction. The transaction agent’s job is facilitating the transaction, giving advice to neither party. Written consent is not required for this type of agency relationship as the Agency/Agent is not providing representation.

It may be a bit of information overload but it’s important to know what you’re agreeing to and how it could play out in your real estate transaction. 

A few questions to ask an agent during the initial conversations might be, “How long is my contract for and what is typical?”  “How does the agent get paid on the buying or selling side?”  “What are realistic expectations in the current market?”

 It’s your decision. Take your time and ask questions. 

Ultimately, your open communication with an agent is the key to a successful transaction and we want to exceed your expectations. 

Mel Oldakowski is a real estate agent/associate broker at Better Homes and Gardens/The Masiello Group in Windham.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The pitfalls on closing day by Randee McDonald

You've been assigned your date, time and location for your property transaction closing, but you’re not in the clear yet. There are still some things that can compromise the closing and prevent it from happening. 

Power of attorney issues 
Cumberland Title can, will and prefers to draft this document so we know for sure it will be correct and acceptable for use at the closing. There is specific information that must be contained in a Power of Attorney to be valid for a real estate closing. Some people attempt to draft one themselves but if the document is deemed invalid, the closing cannot happen.

Out of state parties (2.5% withholding)  
If you are selling a home in Maine and Maine is not considered your permanent residence state, you will be subject to the 2.5% out of state withholding tax. Make sure this is addressed before the closing, or you won’t be closing that day due to additional paperwork needing to be submitted. In the case of those that consider themselves “snow birds” or split their time between two homes in different states, the state where they reside a total of 6 months + 1 day or more, is considered their legal residence.

Last minute changes
Do not pay anything or change anything in the days leading up to the closing. This includes taxes, homeowner’s insurance, home equity lines, in-store credit cards. All of these things affect the outcome of the already approved closing details/figures, and new documents need to be issued by lender and the title company.

Funding issues 
Please do not bring cash to a closing. A bank check better protects both you and the title company. If your funds are being wired to the title company, make sure that you allow time for that wire to come through. Wires do not necessarily happen “automatically” and can take up to a few hours to arrive into the account. If you were instructed to bring a check to closing, make sure that you do. If you were told that it had to be a bank check and not a personal check, make sure that it is.

Side deals discussed at the closing table 
If you want to ask the seller if you can buy his riding mower too, make sure you do that before or after the closing. Under no circumstances are any side deals or transactions to be discussed at the closing table during the real estate transaction. The law requires that the title company stop the closing immediately and not allow it to continue.

Improper I.D.
You are required to provide proof of identity at your closing. When you check in to the title company, chances are they are going to ask you for this right up front. You should be prepared to hand them a current, valid ID with photo. Think driver’s license, state ID, or passport. These should be valid and not expired.

A real estate closing should be a happy occasion. Please do your best to avoid these scenarios that will turn this happy occasion into a frustrating one. And a good rule of thumb is: if you are unsure about anything leading up to the closing date, call your lender or title company for guidance.


Friday, July 13, 2018

A day in the life of a real estate professional by Amy Krikken

What does a real estate agent do on a typical day? Do they sit around and eat bonbons all day, or do they actually have a job to do?

While I'm sure every career has its share of bonbon-eating-folks; but in this career, you do not get paid unless you perform. But what do we actually do? 

To the novice, it would be easy to think that an agent simply finds their buyer a house or represents a seller by snapping a few photos and putting their house on the market; then just sit back and wait for the inevitable to happen, since the market is so hot. I am here to tell you that is NOT the case.
The very first order of business for a real estate agent is generating business.

People do not come knocking on our doors begging us to sell their house. We have to pound the pavement to find business, by either door knocking or email/social media marketing, or via paid leads through Zillow (yes, those are paid for by us). 

https://www.facebook.com/amykrikken/?ref=br_rsOnce we have secured the opportunity to help a client find a home to buy or a client with a house to sell, we then have to bring it to market. 

We have to develop a strategy of how to advertise the home and showcase its unique strengths. Sometimes we’re selling a house because of a tragic situation like a divorce or death and maybe the house is in disarray because the person’s life is in disarray. We must make it look its best so that we can help our clients achieve the sale. 

Sometimes we have to have difficult conversations with sellers about cleaning up the dog poop in the yard or the dead animal in the front yard (no I'm not making that up and yes it really happened).

After we have shimmied items around so that we can take photos that look their best, we must come up with the pricing strategy for the home. How do we do that? We look at the most recently sold homes, the data, and compare those homes to the home in question. We do some adjusting, since no two homes are alike, through a process known as a Comparative Market Analysis and we arrive at a price that we deem a fair asking price.

Side note: In a crazy hot market as such as the one that we are in currently, there are a lot of sellers testing the market. Sellers try by putting a high price tag on their home to see if it will sell. You see this on Zillow with their new "make me move" campaign.  

Once we have taken pictures and chosen the asking price, it's time to write our description and then we are ready to put the home on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service).

When acting as the listing agent, we stay busy coordinating with the homeowner to get buyers into the property to view it and hope to generate an offer, or several.

When acting as buyers’ agents, we are constantly watching the market for properties that match the criteria that our buyers are looking for.

In either case, once the property goes under contract, this is where the real heavy lifting begins.
The buyer usually has ten business days to conduct their inspections. As agents, we help them coordinate inspections. Maybe they don’t know the name of the septic person, a specialist on mold issues or a general home inspector. We connect our clients to those resources. We refer many other resources from movers to home stagers, cleaning services and contractors of all specialties. Agents often meet these people at the property and show them firsthand the issue that needs to be remedied. 

After inspections we counsel our clients which items are deal breakers and which ones the client can live with. We also aid in helping them determine the costs of the items that need to be fixed. Often, we call in an expert to offer a quote on the work. 

http://www.firstportland.com/We also talk to our clients’ lender to make sure all the things they need are satisfied so that our client gets the loan. Concurrently, we are also arranging for a title search to be done on the property. 
We will negotiate on our clients’ behalf and work to find a happy medium with the other side of the transaction, so that the end goal is met: a successful closing. 

We are doing all of this (hopefully with multiple clients and properties) while we continue to try to create more business in our pipeline, go to closings, write new offers, show properties, conduct open houses, and write/answer several emails and calls per day. 

In the midst of all of this, we are handling the associated paperwork documentation necessary throughout the transaction, for the state, ourselves, our clients, and our agency. 

Though this career affords a flexible schedule, the best way to think about our job is that we are always working; we make hay when the sun shines.

It’s a wonderful career, full of personalities, problem solving and negotiation. I’m 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 abkrikken@gmail.com



Friday, July 6, 2018

It’s summer! Take the plunge by Matt Trudel


Have you been renting, living at your parents, sharing a place with way too many roommates and are thinking it is time to purchase your own place?  There’s no better time than now to make that plunge and be on your way to home ownership. Here are some tips on a few things to do and a few things you should not do.   

First, check your credit score and history before getting pre-qualified. You want to make sure there are no errors or incorrect reporting that you need to fix. This will also give you your approximate credit score, so you can share it with whomever you plan to use to get pre-qualified. Getting pre-qualified before you start looking at homes is very important because you know what your purchasing power is and that it fits comfortably into your budget.

Once pre-qualified, there are a few things you want to avoid. Do not go out and make a large purchase such a new car, truck, atv, or boat. Doing so will likely affect your debt to income ratio, which can have a very negative affect on the amount you qualify for. 

Do not go out and apply for credit cards or other loans and do not run up the balances on your current cards. Keep them below 30% of their credit limit. These things can drop your credit score by multiple double digits, and perhaps disqualify you from being able to purchase at all.   
      
Secondly, it’s time to pick a Realtor® to work with on what is probably going to be the biggest purchase you will have ever made to date. This is something you should give some purposeful consideration.

It seems everyone knows a handful of Realtors® these days and there has been a large increase in the number of new real estate agents over the last two years. While working with a friend may sound fun, remember this is one of the biggest investments you will make and having someone with plenty of experience can be the difference in landing that new home you want or watching someone else get it. 
Once you choose a Realtor®, have a lender in place and are qualified to purchase, do not forget to review your budget and your targeted monthly expenses.

Discuss with your Realtor® what your closing costs will be and the various ways you can get someone else to pay them for you. This way you can keep your cash as a reserve. 
There are several options from the seller paying them to using the first-time home buyer program to get yourself $3500 towards your closing costs. 

There are various mortgage programs and lenders with title companies that offer group savings of up to $1000. Again, this is where an experienced Realtor® can help guide you through various options and save you a lot of headaches, not to mention save you a lot of money.

This article was written by Matthew Trudel, Broker-Owner Five Star Realty, Windham.

             

Friday, June 29, 2018

Upside on the outside by Rick Yost


As a Realtor®, I am constantly asked “How can I add value to my home?” While there are many ways, most of them focus on the inside of the home: new paint, new flooring, upgrade the kitchen, upgrade the bathrooms, etc.  

There is another area of the home that allows for adding value and that is the outside. There are two main approaches to adding value to a house on the outside, curb appeal and outdoor features.
Curb appeal is important to the value of your home because, simply stated; it is the first thing potential buyers see. Improving curb appeal can be simple and inexpensive.
   
Maintaining a lawn is a simple way to make improvements. Keep it mowed, patch bald spots, fertilize the lawn, use weed killer and all the other steps that go into a nice-looking lawn. Some added plantings in the front of the home, that are well maintained, will take curb appeal to the next level.

Metal accents add an upscale look to a home’s exterior; such as metal roof flashing, metal house address numbers, metal door knockers, and upgraded metal door knobs. Make sure the metal chosen matches the character of the home. For example, silver looks good on modern homes, brass looks good on older homes and copper is a transitional metal that looks good on a variety of structures.

A nice mailbox is not expensive but can really impact curb appeal. A granite post with a metal oversized post box featuring large numbers is a great look that goes with many style houses. 
Home owners should avoid plastic postboxes or anything too customized or theme-oriented; like a ship as a mail box. Adding value comes from broadening the appeal of the home. Anything too customized narrows the appeal of the home.

Finally, a dramatic change in a home’s appeal can be made with a new upscale door and shutters.  It creates a whole new look that can improve the curb appeal of the home with relatively minor changes. 

The second way to add value on the outside of your home is by adding outdoor features, like adding more usability to your outdoor space. Outdoor features include hardscaping (rock walls, stone patios, and concrete work), but those typically are cost intensive with relatively no added value. Because of those facts, hardscaping will not be part of this discussion. 

Barbecue areas and outdoor entertaining areas can be super elaborate and expensive, but they don’t have to be. An area with some outdoor furniture that is level and inviting can serve the purpose as well as make the home more appealing.  Just letting buyers imagine the grill covered with burgers and the chairs filled with friends, will add interest.  A nice DIY fire pit kit from Home Depot takes it to the next level and shouts “socialize.”  

So, the next time you are considering adding value to your home, think outdoors. Wouldn’t you rather be building a fire pit in the sunshine than painting a bedroom anyway? 

Rick is a Realtor®, real estate author, and long time Windham resident.  You can reach Rick with all your real estate questions at rickyost63@gmail.com.

  
   
   

Friday, June 22, 2018

Now is the time to put your house on the market by Carrie Colby

The inventory of homes for sale in the area is low, possibly turning the housing market into one that is in favor of home sellers.

According to the National Association of Realtors, “Comparing the number of homes available for sale in April 2018 to one year ago, we see that inventories in June are nearly 14 percent lower than one year ago. While inventory has continued to decline, sales have been increasing robustly. The year over year change in existing home sales has seen double-digit or near-double-digit gains for 10 consecutive months.”

This is a positive thing for sellers. We are seeing an increase in multiple offers and quicker sales. I personally put two properties on the market in Raymond and they were both under contract within a week. While they are not selling for the prices we saw during the housing boom, they are at least selling.

These two particular properties were on the market for the past two years yet, when I re-listed them this spring there was quite a bit of interest. One buyer who contacted me couldn’t believe their luck when they wanted to make an offer on Wednesday after they saw the property on a Sunday and it was already under contract.
https://www.egcu.org
There are buyers actively looking and finding it hard to locate a property they want to buy.
If you are considering putting your home on the market now is a good time. While prices are rising and the inventory is low, it is still important to price your home correctly.

A reputable real estate agent can help you by doing a comparative market analysis. This is done by comparing sales in your area to homes that are similar to yours. We compare the lot size, square footage, number of bed rooms, the existence of a garage etc. then we adjust accordingly to come up with a price. 

If you do price your home correctly you may see a quick sale or possibly multiple offers. I saw a piece on the “Today Show” explaining that homes in other parts of the country are seeing sales way above the asking price. While I don’t see that happening here and I don’t have a crystal ball, I do see that the idea, that once again, real estate is becoming a good investment.

Another indicator that the market is making a rebound is when the people who flip houses for a profit are coming back into the market. If you drive around the area, you can see some properties that have been neglected over the past few years are being bought and rebuilt or improved. This is a good sign of confidence in the housing market.

We do see a more robust real estate market in this area during this summer; so this also makes it a good time to consider listing your home. Even if you have tried to sell in the past few years, you may want to prepare to list your home now.

Carrie Colby is the Broker/Owner of Premier Properties in Raymond and she can be reached at 207-655-2225. Check out all the current listings at www.MainePremierProperties.com.


Friday, June 15, 2018

Book Review: “I Found You” by Lisa Jewell. Reviewed by Jennifer Dupree, Circulation Supervisor at Windham Public Library


"I Found You” is a novel of three interwoven stories: Lily, a young bride from the Ukraine, with a recently missing husband; Alice, a middle-aged woman with a houseful of kids and dogs who finds a man on the beach who cannot remember his name or his circumstance; and the Ross family, who twenty years ago, goes on what turns out to be a nightmare vacation. Lisa Jewell weaves these stories together with a deft hand into one un-put-down-able, character-driven suspense novel.

Who is this man on the beach and why is he there? He seems like a good guy, but maybe his amnesia is making him forget what a jerk he was. Or, maybe he’s just pretending to be kind and gentle. Maybe his motives for being on the beach are to hide from a wife he shouldn’t have married or maybe he’s trying to escape a past. Is he Lily’s husband or did he kill Lily’s husband? Is he the man who, as a teenager, watched his sister get assaulted by another teenager? Or is he the one who got away with it?

This is one of those rare novels that is both addictive and well-written. The story lines are complicated, the characters are compelling, and the pacing is fast and satisfying.