Friday, November 16, 2018

Small fixes, big value

By Rick Yost

When a seller is getting ready to sell their home, there are always projects that can be done to make the home more saleable. Removing clutter, touching up paint and a deep cleaning are the most common first step recommended to a potential home seller and increasing the potential for getting a home sold. 

The steps discussed in this article are the next level and are meant to return the greatest amount of value with the least amount of cost and effort. These steps will also get your house ready for sale at the highest possible price in the shortest amount of time. These are the little things that potential buyers notice and influence their decision to make an offer and how much they decide to offer. Home sellers following this advice are truly ready to sell their home.

Appliances and furnace
All potential home buyers will look at your furnace and appliances. Make them shine. Sellers should clean the oven, stove top and inside of the refrigerator as best as possible. Use some appliance touch up paint on small chips and nicks. Use a degreaser on the furnace, wipe off all dirt and dust and clean the floor around the furnace. 

Buyers will make over all assumptions about the upkeep of the home based on the appearance of the appliances and furnace. I cannot tell you how many clients I have worked with that reject a home based on the condition of the furnace. The condition being entirely determined by the way the furnace looks.

Baseboard, moldings and sinks
Cracking, peeling, and discolored caulk and/or silicon on your baseboards, moldings, sinks and tubs stand out like a sore thumb but a little time and effort can remove the cracked and discolored caulk and silicon. 

Tubes of caulk and silicon are inexpensive and easy to apply. Sellers will be surprised at the difference this step will make in the overall appearance of the house because nothing looks more dated than a sink with cracked caulk all around it.
Smoke detectors and CO2 detectors
Discolored, beeping, and non-functioning detectors are eye sores and annoying for buyers. A quick trip to the local hardware store to get replacements for dated detectors and fresh batteries for more current detectors is always a cheap and easy way to add visual appeal and value to a home.
Fireplace and chimney
Having the chimney and fireplace cleaned helps make a home more attractive to buyers. Although buyers love a fireplace, they fear chimney fires. As a result, water stains inside the fireplace, piles of soot and loose mortar are all troubling signs to potential buyers, so sellers should consider spending a little extra money to improve these conditions professionally and save the receipts for potential buyers. Not only will it further home safety, but will increase the likelihood of a quick sell.

Sellers should make sure that all windows have screens. Screens that don’t fit correctly or are damaged should be repaired immediately with particular attention to the screen door. Potential buyers notice those screens first. 
Window sill
Of all the things this article recommends, this is the most important.  Windows should be cleaned, sills vacuumed, and blinds dusted. There should be no peeling paint, moisture stains or discoloration as all of these are warning signs to potential buyers.  Scrape, sand, etc.  your problem sills and put a fresh coat of paint on them.  Sills are so often overlooked by seller, but not by buyers.
Now that the seller has completed his deep cleaning, removed clutter, touched up paint and followed the steps in this article, they are ready to go to market with a house that is truly ready for potential buyers to see and truly ready to sell.

Rick is an Award-Winning Realtor, real estate author and long time Windham resident.  You can reach Rick with all your real estate questions at

Friday, November 9, 2018

Home remodeling advice if you do not know exactly what you want

By Carrie Colby

If you don’t know exactly what you want or specify what you want, you’re going to get what the contractor thinks you want. And it could end up costing you dearly! For home remodeling design ideas, inspiration and a whole lot more (including cost estimates), you can search the internet on sites like Zillow and HGTV. You can search by style, cost or room. And what’s really cool is that you can search by specific elements within a room, such as quartz or granite countertops, for example. Share your boards with your contractor so that you’re clear on your objectives.

Hiring the first contractor who comes along.
Sure, they may seem nice, and they may seem competent, but have you checked them out? What do your friends say about them? Have you contacted their references? Seen their work? Are there any complaints lodged against them? (P.S.: The Better Business Bureau just released its top 10 list of inquiries from consumers, and half relate to home improvement.) What do subcontractors and suppliers have to say about their dealings with them? Is he/she licensed and insured? As excited as you may be about taking on this new project, you need to do a fair amount of due diligence. A referral from friends or real estate agents are a good way to start your search. In my experience, if I refer someone, it is someone who is good since it is a reflection on me and my business.

Jumping at the lowest bid.
Get at least three bids, and throw out the lowest one so as to avoid the inevitable consequence: cheap materials, shoddy installation, etc. Don’t invite trouble in! Rather, hire someone who not only comes in within target, price-wise, but is someone you feel personally comfortable with.

Not insisting on a written contract.
Every detail about your project should be included in a contract, from the start date to the approximate completion date, right down to the brand of fixtures to the number of coats of paint. Be as specific as possible! Also, important: setting a time limit for fixing defects so that if a dispute arises, it’s not endless.

Not setting a payment schedule.
How you pay a contractor is very important. Spell out the payment schedule in the contract, beginning with the amount to be paid upfront (which should be no more than 30 percent).  Periodic payments after the work starts should correspond to completed segments of the project. And the best way to ensure that work gets done when and how you want it? Leave a significant sum (at least 10 percent) to be paid only when the job is completed to your satisfaction.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Why it is important to do a pre-inspection prior to listing your home

By Richard Vraux

So, you think you may want to sell your home? Here are some things you should know before taking that giant step to sell.

First, speak to a Real Estate Advisor to have them explain the importance of having a pre- inspection done prior to listing your property. Once you have a plan, then start the process.

Start off with your Realtor® recommending a few inspectors to choose from. Make sure he or she is (NACHI) certified National Association of Certified Home Investigators. By hiring a third party, they can give you an unbiased opinion as to the condition of your home. The report will address any safety issues at hand and any problem areas that could cause you problems. You will want to know these and other issues that will minimize the stress you may encounter during this process.

Isn’t it better to know your issues prior to your listing, rather than having to deal them after the offer comes in? The likelihood of having to deal with negotiations at the last minute is slim to none having a pre-inspection., if the issues are found up-front, you can either repair it yourself or you can seek out a contractor at your own pace and find one that is reasonable in price. Running around at the last minute can be costly to you.

Once you know what repairs or updates are need, you should be ready to sit with your Realtor® and get a more accurate price point to list your house. Most Realtors® do not recommend this service, but believe me, it will be money well spent if the buyers find issues.

Most inspectors charge between $350.- $400 for this service and another $250-$300 for a septic inspection. It will be a small price to pay rather than have the buyers ask for thousands to have a qualified technician take care of the issues.

Boy scout motto- Be Prepared.

Richie Vraux is a Real Estate Broker/ Realtor® with RE/MAX Allied for more than 20 years. If you need advice call Richie @ 207-317-1297.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Are you ready for winter?

By Kevin Ronan

It was not very long ago when we were basking in the warmth of a wonderful Maine summer. Now it is time to get ready for the coming winter. What have you done to prepare your home? What options should homeowners consider when preparing for a cold Maine winter?

Have you considered an energy audit? An energy audit is an analysis of
a home’s energy consumption and outlines how to improve its overall energy consumption. This information can assist a homeowner to realize significant savings on utility bills and create a more comfortable living environment during the cold winters. An energy audit will cost between $300-$600 depending on how extensive the audit and there are a number of home inspection companies in Southern Maine from which to choose. When choosing a company to perform the audit, check to make sure they are insured and bonded. 

Are you familiar with Efficiency Maine (EM)?  Efficiency Maine is an independent administrator of energy efficient programs in Maine. EM's mission is to promote cost effective energy savings. Through Efficiency Maine, a homeowner can access a number of resources including determining your homes energy efficiency, energy savings technologies and available incentives and rebates. Efficiency Maine can be contacted at INFO@EFFICIENCYMAINE.COM, 1-866-376-2463.

What if you do not want to pay for an energy audit. What can you do yourself? Depending on your budget here are some suggestions to improve your home efficiency. Start by cleaning and servicing you furnace and hot water heater. Be sure to change the filters annually. Check around windows and door frames for any air leaks or drafts. An inexpensive tube of silicone caulk can greatly reduce drafts and heat loss. Replace any incandescent bulbs with energy efficiency LED bulbs.  Install low flow shower heads and finally unplug all unused chargers. 

Bigger ticket projects can reap even greater energy efficiencies for homeowners. Add or replace insulation in the walls and the attic. When choosing insulation pay close attention to the insulation R-value. Your local hardware or building supply store representatives are well informed and can help you choose the right insulation for your project. If your home has a HVAC system, get it serviced. This can be costly but well worth the cost. Finally, is it time to replace noisy old appliances with an Energy Star rated appliance.

At the time I was writing this article, the local weather forecast today calls for snow and cold rain; now is the time to get ready!  Stay warm!

Kevin Ronan,Associate Broker affiliated with Alliance Realty, 290 Bridgeton Road in Westbrook brings this article to you. He can be contacted at 207-838-4855 or if you need any assistance. 

Friday, October 19, 2018

When buyers and sellers meet

By Nicole Foster

In Maine the majority of listed, already existing, residential single- family home transaction closings are attended by both the buyers and sellers, who will not typically meet face to face prior to reaching the closing table (unless one party is signing in advance or remotely, so they may never actually meet). Buyers and sellers have adverse interests so one of the primary reasons that they have hired a Realtor® instead of just buying or selling property themselves is to have that added protection of a buffer or intermediary so they do not need to take on the added risks and unintended consequences associated with direct negotiations and communications.

It is customary for the seller of a listed property to leave during the showings with prospective buyers and their buyer agents as well as during the buyer’s building inspections. Buyers often feel more relaxed about providing feedback and comfortable asking questions when the sellers are not present (buyers should always assume the increasing likelihood of seller surveillance devices when inside a property).

There are instances, however, where a seller may not be willing or able to leave and buyers and their agents may or may not be made aware prior to their arrival and are surprised as a result. For some sellers, it is the only way that they can do this hard thing and do not intend to undermine the process while others have different motives for lingering. Sometimes a seller has been scrambling to finalize the tidying up or pet removal for a showing and happens to be in the driveway leaving while the buyers are pulling into the driveway and they meet accidentally, or the buyers may just “happen” to stop by and speak with them while they are doing yardwork or holding a yard sale.

Regardless of the timing or frequency of your meetings, it is beneficial to keep the focus on cultivating a positive exchange.  Keep ideas for improvement and renovation to both property and landscaping or yard to yourself. A seemingly harmless idea could possibly be sending the message to the seller that you do not like what they have done, or your plans may be removing something of sentimental weight leaving the seller feeling uneasy. Instead of sharing your vision, try to focus on telling the seller what you absolutely love about the property – the location, yard, style or features of the home and compliment what you do enjoy about it. not to elaborate on how you spent “tons of money” on X, Y or Z. A buyer doesn’t care how much you personally chose to spend on something and may wonder if your overall valuation is inflated as a result of such comments.

Don’t feel obligated to answer questions on the spot. If you are faced with a surprised meeting and are feeling ambushed with questions as either a buyer or seller who already has agency representation it is appropriate for you to smile and nod and agree to discuss at some point, but you do not need to feel pressured to discuss on the spot without your agent or time to consider your response.

The sale of a property can be particularly intricate when the purchase of one is contingent upon the sale of another, so it is important to maintain well documented conversations throughout the entire process.  Working directly with your Realtor® to help with both the negotiations and communications can reduce your risks as either a buyer or a seller.

Nicole Foster is a real estate Broker at Locations Real Estate Group who resides in Windham 207-615-7558

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Why the holiday season may just be the right season to sell

By Lisa DiBiase

If you're ready to sell your house, you don't have to wait. Selling during the holidays doesn’t have to be a disaster. Even though there are less homes on the market, buyers are out there buying at a steady pace. You may be surprised that there are advantages to selling your home over the holiday season.

There are no seasons online.

Traditional home buying and selling has evolved with the internet. While spring is still the hottest home-buying season, serious home buyers are always on the lookout. Instant and constant internet access means buyers are always checking out the latest listings. Today’s buyers do the bulk of their home searches online which is why it's critical to have a professional online presence, especially when it comes to photos.

Less competition.

Come spring, sellers will flood the market and your home will be just another fish in a great big pond. But right now, you’ve practically got the market to yourself. Home inventory usually falls from November to December. That means less competition on the market if you list your home during that time! Buyers have fewer homes to choose from, which means you could sell your house faster.

Serious buyers.

If a buyer is trudging around in freezing weather to look at your home, they are serious. People also tend to start their home search several months prior to when they plan to purchase. Many winter buyers may also be working against a deadline, whether it’s an expiring lease, relocation, or a contract on their current home.

Tax Incentives before year-end.

Winter home buyers may also be motivated to capture the tax benefits of buying a home before year-end. Home buyers can write off some of the expenses of their home purchase on their taxes. There are usually multiple tax benefits of owning a home that can be taken advantage of.

Time Off.
You may think people are less likely to see your home during their hectic holiday schedules. That can be true, but keep in mind most people have more time off around the holidays. That means more time for browsing their favorite home apps, dreaming about their future decor, and even scheduling home showings.

Are You Ready to Sell?
With all these advantages on your side, hopefully selling your home in the winter won’t feel so daunting. Make sure you work with an experienced real estate agent to get your listing ready for online house hunters and serious holiday buyers. What a better way to celebrate the upcoming new year.

Call Lisa today for all of your real estate needs. 207-653-0823.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Should I sell my home now or wait until spring?

By Mel Oldakowski

There are many questions homeowners ask themselves during the selling process. "How much will my home sell for?"  "How much should I list my home for?"  "Who should I select as a real estate agent to sell my home?"  Lastly, "Is this a good time to be selling a home?" is also a very common question that real estate agents are asked.

As with every decision in life, there are pros and cons, and choosing when to sell a home is no different. Many homeowners believe selling a home during the fall or winter months is not a good idea and that the spring is the only time a house should be sold.

This is the furthest from the truth. There is no doubt that the "spring market" is a great time to be selling and buying real estate, however, the fall and winter seasons may be the best fit for you for several reasons. great reason to sell your home now and not wait until the spring market is there is sure to be less competition. Simply put, it’s the supply and demand theory. If there are less homes for sale, there are less homes that a potential buyer can choose from, therefore increasing the demand for your home. 

Not only will less competition increase the probability for showings, but it will also increase the probability that an offer will be received, and you will get the maximum amount of money for your home.

Many homeowners believe that buyers aren't out there during the fall and winter months. This simply is not the case. Serious buyers are always out there! Some buyers may stop their home search because it is the fall or winter, but serious buyers will continue to look at homes, no matter what time of year it is. 

Do your neighbors have pumpkins on their front step? Are there lots of Trick-or-Treaters wandering the neighborhood on Halloween? Do any of your neighbors have any light displays for the holidays? There are buyers out there who will look at these types of things when determining whether your home is in the right neighborhood for them or not.

The best agents are always up for the challenge. Any real estate agent who tells you that the fall or winter months are a bad time to sell is not someone you want selling your home. A great real estate agent will know how to adapt to the current season and market their listings to reflect that.  

Right now, there are fewer real estate transactions than there will be in the spring. The fewer number of transactions means the mortgage lenders have less loans to process, title companies have fewer closings to do and home inspectors have fewer inspections.  All these factors should lead to a quicker transaction and less stress for you.

This article was brought to you by Mel Oldakowski of Better Homes and Gardens/The Masiello Group in Windham. She can be reached at 207-205-0121.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Breaking up with your home: Handling homeownership during a divorce by Randee McDonald

Sometimes love is fleeting and marriages end, but that mortgage you agreed to pay together back when you were in love is still your responsibility…until you find a way to divorce that, too.
Usually, the mortgage is the biggest liability a divorcing couple must split, but divorcing your mortgage isn’t always easy. As far as your mortgage lender is concerned, if the mortgage was taken out in both of your names, then you are still required – and expected – to pay that every month.
Here are a few options that you should consider when deciding how to handle the house and mortgage if you find yourself going through a divorce.

Selling the house
If neither party is interested in keeping the house, then selling it and splitting any profit after the mortgage is paid off from the proceeds is a decent and fairly straight forward option. Keep in mind other factors like the current housing market and how much is still owed on the mortgage versus what you can sell the home for. It needs to make sense to be able to sell the home for at least what is owed on it.

Keeping the house and refinancing
Maybe one of the spouses has a strong preference to stay in the house versus selling it. In this case, they will need to make sure that the other spouse is off the hook from any financial responsibility to the house, free and clear. The best way to do this is for the spouse wishing to keep the house to refinance the current loan themselves.
For this to work, the mortgage should not be “under water.” In addition, the other spouse agrees to relinquish their share of the house; and the spouse wishing to keep the house has sufficient credit and income to qualify for a loan and subsequently continue to make mortgage payments alone every month.

Keeping the mortgage as is
This is obviously a risky option, especially depending on how amicable the divorce actually is. But if neither spouse is able to refinance the loan on their own, unable to sell the home, or pay off the existing mortgage, the mortgage could be left as is. This is certainly a risky scenario, as one spouse has to hope that their ex is making the payments each month. If not, both sides will get tainted credit as a result.
Any divorce decree should specifically spell out who will be responsible for the mortgage and what happens if that party misses a mortgage payment, such as stating that the house must be sold or refinanced within a specific time period.
Remember: just getting yourself off the deed does not mean that you are off the mortgage! This is a very important distinction that should be understood up front. Your title company should be able to help you with documents required to make this happen for a smoother (if that’s possible) divorce process.

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?
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

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? 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


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
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., 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. 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