Friday, July 19, 2019

Consider a home or year-round property in the Lakes Region

By Mel Oldakowski

For many people, creating family memories are on the top of the most important things to experience in their lives. Purchasing a home in the Maine woods or having waterfront property is the ultimate real estate experience. Perhaps more than any other type of purchase, a home with a view of the White Mountains or a waterfront property is as much about a lifestyle as it is about real estate investment.

Since both purchases can be complex, it’s important for quiet mountain view and/or waterfront
buyers to do their homework in advance with the help of their realtor.

Be sure to choose the right property or lake for your needs. Start by asking yourself why you are buying the home of your dreams. How do you intend to use the lake or mountain front getaway on an ideal weekend? Are you looking for water activities and a lake conducive to water skiing and wakeboarding? Are you looking for quiet time with family spent having bonfires, hiking the Maine woods and birdwatching?

If you’re a boater, water depths are essential elements to investigate before you purchase. Depths required for different boating preferences can vary widely.

Are you looking for a more intimate waterfront experience? If you want to go kayaking and canoeing and commune with nature, you'll dislike being on a big, busy lake with jet skis. Do you have fishing preferences? What other lifestyle needs do you have? These are the kinds of questions you want to ask and answer before you start your search.

If you are more of the exploring-nature-type, is the property near a preserve with plenty of space for wildlife, or near hiking or skiing destinations? lake and mountain view properties a good investment? Location, location, location! One of the best investments you can make is either lake front or mountain view real estate. Market studies have been conducted that show these properties grow rapidly above the original purchase price. Both large and small, available lake and White Mountain view properties, rarely last in thriving real estate markets.

The annual appreciation of lake property rises each year. National average growth is around four percent compared to one or two percent with a standard property. As for the summer view of the White Mountains? You know that it is more than a view – it is an experience you become part of every day or every weekend - its ambiance is the very thing you came here for in the first place.

Are you financing a lakefront home? Whether you’re buying a waterfront primary home or a weekend lake cabin, you should connect with a good mortgage loan officer early in the process.
If you’re buying as a second property, you’ll work together to determine the best loan option available.

Another question to consider is: Can you live with an association? If the lake home you are considering is subject to an association, any potential buyer, with their realtor, should review the by-laws and regulations before making an offer.

Lastly, there is nothing more magical than spending time at a lake house or a quiet evening in the Maine woods. Living on or near the water or mountain views have more benefits than their inherent beauty. It can provide health benefits that soothe the soul and offer peace not found anywhere else. There’s nothing quite like a sunset at the lake or a bonfire, with the mountains in your backyard and memories they create.

For some reason, the colors and hues are more vibrant - redder reds, pinker pinks and bluer blues. Add in a few, puffy clouds and some pretty pines and you’ve got a gorgeous, naturally framed, postcard-perfect sunset. Lake life is the best life, whether it’s just during the summer or all year round!

If you're looking for lakefront or mountain view property, look no further! Contact me today to find out how I can help you turn your dream into a reality. Call me at 207-205-0121 or email me at

Friday, July 12, 2019

Three things to expect after you list your home

By Sarah Nielsen

When you list your home for sale, there is a lot that happens up front. Your REALTOR® sits with you and explains fair market value, takes photos of both the inside and outside of your home and advertises it for sale. Many people would expect the hard work to end there, but there are some inconveniences that you will have to endure as a seller before you can hand the keys off to your buyers on closing day. Below I explain three elements to the sale of your home that you may have overlooked in your excitement to get your listing out into the market.

You might feel like you live in a museum.
You have completed the work of cleaning and decluttering your home to have it looking extraordinary in your listing photos. You probably also moved some items into storage to ensure that every inch of your space is show-ready and appealing to potential buyers. What you might not have considered is how crucial maintaining that image is until the day that your home is sold to its new owners.

Your REALTOR® will likely call you at least once with a request to show your home on very little notice, and being the eager seller that you are, you will want to be accommodating; therefore, it’s critical that you maintain the cleanliness of your space at all times so that potential buyers get the best impression when they walk through your door.

Expect to hear critiques and criticism.    
Your home is a space where you have made memories, and more than likely you are proud of everything that has gone into building it to meet your needs. What you might not be prepared for is how critical potential buyers might be of aspects of your home with which you are perfectly content. To you, your space is a home, but to those mulling over whether to purchase it, it’s real estate without any sentimental value attached. While some feedback you receive may be hard to hear, remember that it’s not personal. Your REALTOR® can be a great buffer between you and potential buyers and will work to present the feedback in a way that is constructive and helpful.

There can be some additional expenses.
Once you accept an offer from someone who wants to buy your home, your initial excitement will likely cloud the reality of inspections, and the negotiations that will result from the findings. You may need to pay out of pocket to make repairs in order to get your home sold without decreasing the sale price that all parties agreed upon. Once you leap over that hurdle, you will need to wait for the appraisal that will determine your home’s value provided that your buyer is financing the purchase. If the appraisal determines that your home is worth less than the sale price, you will need to reopen negotiations.

Lastly, you will want to be mindful of your buyers’ final walk-through prior to closing. Your home should be in acceptable shape to hand over to them, and if it isn’t, you can plan to have to do some work to get it into the condition your buyers expected it to be in when they agreed to the purchase.
While listing your home is exciting, don’t make the mistake of thinking you will sail through to closing without any hurdles. Ensure that you are prepared for the inconveniences you will encounter along the way so that you don’t become overwhelmed during the process of getting your home sold.


Sunday, July 7, 2019

Windham commercial real estate zones

By Larry Eliason, Commercial Broker

Windham has a variety of zones that can accommodate commercial real estate development and businesses. Below is a summary of the zones that offer opportunities for commercial real estate development for retail, office, manufacturing, warehousing and agricultural uses.

C1 – Commercial Zone: This zone is designed to provide general retail sales, services and business space within the town in locations capable of conveniently servicing community-wide and/or regional trade areas, with safe, well-regulated automobile access and pedestrian access where appropriate.

A sample of permitted uses include; agriculture, retail sales automotive and outdoor, private warehousing, business and professional office, light and heavy industry, child care, construction services, hotel, motel, multi-family housing and housing for older persons, restaurant, bank, drive-through, convention center and auto repair. C1 Commercial Zone is in many ways the Downtown of Windham. The Comprehensive Plan, 21st Century Downtown Plan and the WEDC Strategic Plan encourage having people live and work in the downtown. As an example, a new development on Anglers Road and Rt. 302 is close to receiving final approvals for multi-family housing in the C1 Zone.

C2 – Commercial Zone:  The intent of this district is to provide for a mixed commercial and residential zone as a buffer zone between the C1 Commercial Zone and the abutting residential areas.
A sample of permitted uses include; agriculture, fitness center, theater, restaurant, medical office, housing for older persons, recreational facility, motel, hotel, club, bank, convention center and drive thru.

C3 – Commercial Zone: The intent of the C3 Commercial Zone is to provide areas for a mixture of light, low-traffic generating commercial uses and single-family housing.

The biggest news about the C3 Commercial Zone is the recent addition of Contractor Services being allowed in the zone. This recent change as approved by the Windham Town Council, will allow tradesman like electricians, plumbers, carpenters, etc., to operate their contractor services businesses in the C3 Commercial Zone.

Historically, the zone has accommodated agriculture, business and professional office, service business landscaping, private warehousing, public warehousing, childcare and many home occupations.

I – Industrial District:  The intent of the Industrial District is for manufacturing, processing, treatment, research, warehousing, storage and distribution.

This zone allows agriculture, distribution center, industry light, industry heavy, mineral extraction, warehousing private, warehousing public, truck terminal and some home occupations to name a few. The Industrial Zone appears to be good candidate for adding Contractor Services and Construction Services.

Enterprise Development Zone:  The intent of the ED Zone is to provide a unique area within the town to allow manufacturing, processing, treatment, warehousing, storage, research and distribution with safe, well regulated vehicle access located off a major street.

Some of the permitted uses in the zone include, auction house, automobile auction facility, business and professional office, construction services, convention center, hotel, motel, light and heavy industry, warehousing private and warehousing public.

One of the biggest challenges in this zone is that it is accessed from Rt. 302 via Enterprise Drive, a non-signalized intersection. Windham could certainly use help from stakeholders such as our town leaders and staff, legislators, business and real estate owners and their employees, residents and others to seek a partnership with the MDOT to make a signalized light at Enterprise Drive a reality.
From an economic development perspective, there could be tens of millions in investment in this massive business park site if we only had a signalized light. A light would dramatically improve ingress and egress a well as make that intersection a lot safer for all as well.  And, it seems like agriculture would be a good candidate for this zone, especially for large scale agricultural operations.
Village Commercial Zone: The intent of this zone is to serve as a primarily residential area with a mix of stores, services and commercial enterprises. Several properties in this zone actually have access to public sewer, while the rest of town is served by private septic systems.

This zone allows agricultural, artist studio, assisted living facility, business and professional office, childcare, construction services, fitness center, medical office, light industry, restaurant, retail and sales and personal and commercial service businesses.

As a commercial real estate professional, I strongly recommend talking with town staff and other industry professionals before making a decision and/or a commitment to lease or buy commercial property in Windham or anywhere else.

Larry Eliason, Commercial Broker,

Friday, June 28, 2019

It’s a sizzling summer market

By Matt Trudell

The current real estate market is hotter than ever. Home sale prices are still trending up, and the lack of inventory makes this a great time to sell if you are so inclined to do so. There are several things you should do before listing your property for sale. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you make your decision.

Picking the right REALTOR® can be challenging. Especially with the incredible influx of new sale agents over the last 18 months. It seems everyone knows a handful of REALTORS®, so how do you choose who is the right person for you to “work with”? 

Remember that you will be working together to achieve your goal. Having a REALTOR® that you feel comfortable working with is important. Experience (years or it) is very important in any transaction. Being able to work through problems and find creative solutions can save you thousands of dollars. Also, you want someone who’s primary job is real estate so that they are available to work with and for you. Quite often it becomes an issue if your REALTOR® is working their other job and is unavailable to you or to other agents who may be trying to set up a showing or get answers to questions their client has about your property.
Preparing your home to be listed can be overwhelming. Try to keep it simple and stay focused on these three things. One, declutter and box things up that you don’t use this time of year. Like that coat closet with the winter jackets, pack them up and put them away. This will help you keep your house clean and ready for showings with minimal effort. 

Second, take care of those little projects and repairs you have been putting off. Lack of maintenance screams that there could be bigger problems that have been avoided as well.  Building inspectors will point out these areas and how they can manifest into much bigger problems, which may scare off new home buyers and terminate a potential sale. 

Third, curb appeal and that first appearance buyers see when they arrive at your house is imperative. Although you might be proud of that Trump 2020 Flag, I would suggest taking it down while trying so sell so you don’t loose potential buyers who might be offended. your home correctly in the beginning is very important. This reverts back to the first part regarding choosing the right REALTOR® who has plenty of experience and knows the market area well. It is important to look at a Market Analysis of similar sold homes in your area. Take the time to go over this with your REALTOR® and see why they made price adjustments for certain items. 

You also want to look at what your current competition is priced at and how does your home compare to those you are going to be competing with for buyers. Overpricing a home is one of the most common selling mistakes made. It not only limits your pool of buyers, but in today’s world of online marketing, buyer’s have a very good feel for what properties are worth and won’t waste their time looking at overpriced homes.

So, pick your REALTOR® wisely, get those projects finished up, and then get your house on the market while it’s still hot. 

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

Friday, June 21, 2019

Cheap upgrades to help you fetch top dollar

By Rick Yost

So, you have finally decided to take advantage of these incredibly low interest rates.  You’re going to sell your house and trade up to the house of your dreams. Great choice, but now you have a dilemma.  You want top dollar for your house, but don’t want to spend a bunch of money on a house you are not going to stay in. There are some relatively cheap upgrades that you can do to your house that will help it show better and fetch top dollar.

The old adage, that the kitchen is the most important room in the house, has been dispelled by data collected by Zillow and presented in a new book “Zillow Talk”.  According to Zillow, the first and most important room to upgrade is the bathroom. The kitchen is still second, by the way.  (For record, I like the home search site better than

A bathroom can look significantly better for not much money. A pedestal sink and a new toilet seat go a long way. Vinyl tiles go down easy and can often go over the existing floor. Replacing chipped tiles and re-grouting give a clean appearance. For a bigger budget, install a pre-fabricated tub and surround insert over your existing tub. The bathroom can go from dungy eye-sore to enticing on the cheap.

The kitchen can use some cheap upgrade also. New cabinet hardware and an upscale faucet set can be installed for a couple hundred dollars. Mismatched appliances hurt home value. Order new doors or face panels from the manufacturer for a more appealing kitchen.   For a bigger budget, contact a company that replace cabinet doors and drawers. It is much cheaper than all new cabinets but can give the same effect. These are some cheap ways to turn your kitchen into an attractive heart of the home.
The next three all go together for cheap ways to really improve the way your home looks.   Replace worn and dated carpets. The large home improvement chains are always running a deal on whole house installation. Paint dingy and marked walls. It is amazing what a can of paint can do.  Replace light fixtures with high efficiency, attractive pieces and throw in some accent lighting while you are at it.  You might not want to move after the painting, carpeting and lighting is done.

If you have those nagging problems that most households have-dripping faucet, flickering light, small roof leak, etc., hire a plumber, electrician, roofer, etc. to come in and take care of the issues.  Button up your little projects. A home inspector will find the issues and point them out.   Spend a little money now to avoid costly home sale negotiations later.

You don’t have to do all these projects - just do the ones that are most needed. With some frugal shopping, some elbow grease, and a few bucks, your house can look its best.  These cheap upgrades should get your house sold faster and for more money.

Rick is a REALTOR®, real estate author, and long-time Windham resident. You can reach Rick with any of your real estate questions or needs at

Friday, June 14, 2019

Four reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting

By Carrie Colby

Many people are wondering if now is the time to purchase their home. Below is a list of reasons why it is imperative to begin looking for your future home now.

1. Prices will continue to rise
CoreLogic’s latest U.S. Home Price Insights reports that home prices have appreciated by 3.7% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.8% over the next year.

Home values will continue to appreciate. Waiting may no longer make sense.

2. Mortgage interest rates are projected to increase
Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate
mortgage have started to level off around 4.3%. Most experts predict that rates will rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of REALTORS® are in unison, projecting rates will increase by this time next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.

3. Either way, you are paying a mortgage
Some renters have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ which allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.
Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?

4. It’s time to move on with your life
The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current
mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Examine the actual reason you are buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, greater safety for your family or you just want to have control over renovations, now could be the time to buy.

Bottom Line
If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Home invaders: How it can affect the sale of your home

By Richie Vraux

They say that summer is just around the corner. I think we are all eagerly waiting for that to happen. While the weather starts getting warmer there are some things you should consider prior to listing your home on the market.

The local insects and rodents are gearing up to create havoc, making your home their own. They are looking for any easy passage to get in to make your lives miserable. While you are taking special care to make your home look it’s best, these little nuisances are working against you. Signs of ants and other insects along with mouse droppings will work against all your valiant efforts to keep your house clean.

There are, however, effective products out there that will keep them all at bay but be careful and read some of the harmful effects using these products can bring, especially the young children and your pets who live with you and play in the yard.

Of all the human cases of pesticide poisoning in the United States, half of them are under the age of six years old. Be careful of what you put on your lawns. There are many new products out there today that are children and pet safe. Make sure when buying these products to treat your lawns, trees and your home that they are safe for the environment – but just as importantly – safe for your children and pets.

There are natural plants and shrubbery that those pesky insects and rodents do not go near as they don’t like the smell. Some effective plants include spearmint and chives as well as other powerfully scented plants. Simply place the herbs on the outside perimeter of your home. Not only will it help prevent pests from making themselves comfortable in your home, but it will add beauty to the landscape as well as to your many summer recipes. It’s been my experience that these herbs work in pest prevention.

Keep your home in picture perfect condition-both inside and out- get it sold.

Richie Vraux is a Broker/ Realtor with more than 20+ years’ experience and a
team member with Maine’s Premier Team at Better Homes and Gardens- The Masiello Group.
Call Richie at 207-317-1297 if you need real estate advice.

Friday, May 31, 2019

MaineHousing is here to help you!

By Kevin Ronan

Happy belated Memorial Day and beginning of another wonderful Maine summer.  If you are a Maine resident in the process of buying, selling or improving a residential property in the near future, then the Maine State Housing Authority is an excellent resource available to assist you.

The Maine State Housing Authority (MaineHousing) is an independent authority created  by the Maine State Legislature in 1969 to address problems of unsafe, unsuitable, overcrowded and unaffordable housing. 

On February 27,2019 MaineHousing celebrated fifty years of providing affordable housing opportunities for Maine people. By combining the efficiencies of the private financial markets with public housing goals, MaineHousing has been able to improve affordable home ownership and rental housing for many. Since its inception, the agency has taken on many additional duties including a number of federal housing related programs intended to reduce housing costs for Maine people. If you are buying, selling, a first-time buyer, or a homeowner interested in reducing home energy consumption then MaineHousing has a program for you.

Let's review a few of the many programs available to qualified Maine residents.

One of the more exciting programs offered by MaineHousing is the First Home Loan Program. Qualified first-time buyers can enjoy a low interest rate mortgage and a $3500 credit towards closing costs with little or no money down. MaineHousing also offers many programs to assist homeowners with home improvement needs by providing grants or low-cost loans for health and safety related repairs and improvements. This may include electrical and structural repairs. The Veteran Home loan program provides very favorable interest rates to all active, reserve or retired Maine Veterans.

The Energy Assistance program provides much needed energy assistance for qualified households. This may come in the form of energy improvements such as new insulation, a new heating system or in some cases paying electrical bills.

The Arsenic Abatement Program offers grants to eligible single-family homeowners and landlords with private wells where water testing shows evidence of arsenic contamination. Arsenic, a tasteless, odorless, toxic gas has been found in many Maine wells.  In addition, many older homes in Maine have lead based paint. The Lead Paint Hazard Remediation Program offers funding to single family households and rental property owners to help make their homes and rental properties safe and free of lead paint.

These are just some of the programs that MaineHousing offers to qualified Maine residents.  I hope you visit the MaineHousing website at or reach out to them at 1-800-452-4668 to learn more, there may be a program for you.  If you have any questions or need any assistance with your real estate needs please contact Kevin Ronan, associate broker affiliated with Alliance Realty, 290 Bridgeton Road in Westbrook., 207-838-4855.

Friday, May 24, 2019

What is today’s “American Dream”?

By Dan McDermott

Has the American Dream evolved over the years from the classic beautiful white house with a picket fence as depicted in a Norman Rockwell painting?  For most Americans this is what they have been working towards their whole life. The pursuit of this dream involved going to college, getting a good job, saving and purchasing a home where they could lay down roots and start a family.  But does this have to be the only way? 

No, there is another path for many American’s and that is the path to financial freedom. 
Financial freedom is defined as owning assets that produce income that exceed your liabilities/living expenses. When a family or individual has collected assets, such as real estate, bonds, or royalties, these assets will produce income for the owner with little to no work to maintain. 

This allows the owner to generate income on a monthly basis that can be used to cover your living expenses and save for the future. When the income produced from these assets exceeds your living expenses you will have total financial freedom. This means you can do what you want whenever you want whether that be spending an afternoon with your children at the park, diving headfirst into a hobby, or just traveling and seeing new places. This, I believe, is the new American Dream and is totally achievable through wise investments in real estate. One successful strategy for first time real estate investors and first-time home buyers is called “House Hacking”. Hacking is an investment strategy that involves purchasing a multi-family property such as a duplex, triplex, or a quad-plex. The purchaser of the property will then live in one of the units and rent out the other units for income. The income generated from the rental units can be used to cover the mortgage payment/expenses on the property or saved for additional investments. 

First time home buyers also have a unique opportunity with a program offered by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA). This program allows borrowers to purchase owner occupied two to four-unit properties with a 3.5% down payment.  This is especially helpful for first time home buyers since there is such a low down payment needed to acquire an income producing asset.  It is not uncommon for borrowers that utilize this FHA loan program to be able to live for “free” in their property with the rental income that is generated from the other units.

This investment strategy has three major benefits. The first major benefit is that the income produced from the property can cover the mortgage and eliminate a housing living expense. The money saved from this housing living expense can be saved and used for another investment property or used for a down payment on your dream home.

Another benefit is that every month the tenants pay down your mortgage increasing the owners’ equity position in the property. The last and most important benefit that house hacking has is that it is one of the only investments where you can put 3.5% down and earn 100% of the income generated from the property. Implementing an investment strategy such as house hacking can be an important first step on the path to financial freedom!

If you have any questions on real estate investing strategies or would like to take your step towards financial freedom please contact Dan McDermott of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate The Masiello Group at 207-712-3152.

Friday, May 17, 2019

How to choose a REALTOR®

By Nicole Foster

Are you looking to find a local real estate professional to assist you with the acquisition or sale of property but aren’t sure who to work with or how to find a great one? 
Here are some helpful tips to help get you started:

Interview as many agents as possible.

Most people will only buy or sell a home or real estate a handful of times during their entire lives and often your property is your largest asset. Such a large decision warrants a thorough vetting process. Take the time to ask your colleagues, friends and family who have recently moved who their real estate agent was. Look around to see who has a presence in your area and contact each agency to schedule a time to speak with you in person.

Have a conversation about whether or not they are a sales agent, associate broker, broker or designated broker and how long they have held that type of license. Ask how long they have been licensed and be sure to verify any disciplinary actions online. Be sure to ask about the types of transactions they have experience with, their market share and volume as well. Ask for their current memberships (Maine Listings, National Association of REALTORS®, local board of REALTOR®, professional designations, etc.) and areas of specialty as well.

Ask who they will be speaking with during their transaction. 
Just because the headliner of the real estate team is present at the interview does not mean that will be the point of contact through the rest of the transaction. Ask if it is a team and who will be servicing their file and if they plan to attend the building inspection, appraisal inspection and the closing or if other agents with be accompanying you on those critical dates.

Agency the company locally owned and operated or is it a part of a franchise? Who is the owner and designated broker and how long have the agent worked under them? Does their office have a physical location and where is it? Who works there and what hours are they open? Are there administrative assistants who answer the phone or will it be dispatched electronically to the agent’s cell phone? Be sure to ask if each agent is responsible for their own marketing or if they have an in-house marketing department. Visit the company website and look at its information to see if it’s dated or current, view company listings and how they are presented.

How do they handle the referral process of vendors including mortgage lenders, building inspectors, contractors or title companies? Ask how many names they usually provide and who will be responsible for scheduling their services (some agents will handle this while others will provide the contact information to the consumer and allow them to handle it).

What is their availability?
Be sure to ask if they have another job or if they are a full-time agent. If you are interviewing agents for buyer representation, does their availability suit yours? Do they have ongoing obligations or commitments which may limit the times that you can call them? Also ask if they have any vacations scheduled and who will be providing coverage during that time and when you can meet that agent.

Trust your instincts
Glossy marketing materials and elaborately binded files three inches thick may serve a purpose but they can also cloud your judgment. Our industry relies increasingly on technology especially to provide and analyze data but at the core of your transaction there is a lot of psychology and human dynamics at play. Pricing still remains the single largest factor in determining saleability, but you should think twice about going with the agent who gives you the highest price or is simply telling you what you want to hear. If they cannot provide you with the perspective that will inevitably be revealed by the market, how effective will they be in assisting you?

Nicole Foster is a Windham parent and local real estate expert of 13 years and a broker with Locations Real Estate Group in Falmouth.

Friday, May 10, 2019

What to do if your listing has expired

By Lisa DiBiase

Selling a home is an emotional process and one of the biggest financial decisions you can make in your life. It can be disappointing when your listing agreement expires, especially if you’re no closer to selling the house than when you first started. It’s time for you to assess your process. Regardless of the length of listing, the broker/seller working relationship has come to an end and this can be when sellers ask whose fault it is that the home isn't selling.

Take these following factors into consideration when deciding what your next move will be.

Motivation - Let’s start with why you chose to list your home. Why are you selling, and do you really want to sell your house? A seller with a strong motivation to sell their home will result in a successful sale. Are you choosing to list your home for the right reasons? Are you fully invested in the process? Are you truly motivated? Maybe you don't have a reason to sell and perhaps you should temporarily take your home off the market.

Condition of house - Your job in preparing your home for sale is to make it appealing to the widest range of buyers as possible. Prospective buyers view many properties during their home search. What improvements can you make so that your property stands out among competition? How does your home compare to similar properties on the market in your area? Sometimes all it takes is a few minor repairs, a good clean, fresh coat of paint or front yard landscaping to attract more buyers.

Buyer objections - What have buyers said about your home? Review buyer feedback, which your agent should have obtained for you when your home first went on the market. Is there validity to what buyers were saying? How can you compensate for those objections and what can you do differently? You need to be able to adjust and improve the showing experience for the next prospective buyer.

Marketing - Marketing is crucial because if no one knows your property is for sale, you are not going to get any buyers through or offers. Was there a business plan to sell your home? Review the marketing plan with your agent, step-by-step. Did your real estate agent implement marketing strategies to sell your home? Did you employ a variety of strategies to market your listing? These days, effective marketing includes both online and offline tactics.

Price - Ultimately, it always comes down to price. Any house will sell when the price is right – even if the place is full of junk and falling apart. Sure, it may not sell for the price you want, but there is usually a buyer for every property, given its priced appropriately. It was your agent’s job to help you set a list price that would attract the right buyers, get your home in optimal showing condition, and evaluate the market to put you in a better negotiating position. Either he or she didn’t do their job, or you didn’t listen to what they told you.

Consult new real estate agents - You won't have to look too far to find agents because they'll all come crawling out of the woodwork when your listing expires. If you decide to hire and new agent represent you and relist your property, be sure to describe the history of your listing.
Interview agents. Ask the hard questions to determine if the agents are giving you the right answers. Find out what another agent might do differently.

It's important to remember that statistics show you net more money when you use a REALTOR®. 

Finding a top local real estate agent is crucial to helping your sale. Stay positive! Keeping a positive mindset is important. Once you determine the reasons your home didn't sell the first time, change what needs to be fixed and you'll walk away with a successful transaction!

Lisa DiBiase
Broker/Owner Landing Real Estate

Friday, May 3, 2019

Should you get a pre-listing home inspection?

By Mel Oldakowski

A home inspection is traditionally known as a part of the due diligence process when a home is under contract with an intended buyer. A professional home inspector will visit the home and conduct a thorough review of the structure, noting any deferred maintenance, defects in the building and the remaining useful life of major appliances and systems. Depending on what the inspector finds, the results can have a powerful impact on the sale of the house. The buyer can ask for repairs or updates to be made, try negotiating the sale price or walk away from the deal completely.

To avoid the unpleasant surprises a home inspection may bring to light, homeowners looking to put their house on the market can opt for a prelisting home inspection, which provides sellers with a thorough report prior to going on the market. Sellers have the opportunity to make necessary repairs before potential buyers start touring the property and to avoid a deal that falls through due to structural or maintenance problems that could lead to other potential buyers steering clear. Even in a hot real estate market, a prelisting inspection can help reduce the chances a deal could fall through and get you closer to selling your home for the price you want in the time frame you need.

Every house comes with its fair share of quirks and problems, having advanced notice gives a seller the upper hand so they are not blindsided by any major finds from the buyer's inspection.   If you're planning to put your property on the market, an inspection report ahead of time will help you see all the potential problems together, including some you may not have known about. 

There are some do-it-yourself projects that the homeowner can do where it's satisfactory.  The homeowner will also be able to pick the contractor of choice for those bigger projects that do require professionals. 

Time is on your side when your home isn't yet on the market. Rather than needing to find a contractor in a specific time frame to appease the buyer, you can shop around for the right price, availability and skill to ensure you're satisfied with the work. 

There could be some projects you're just not willing to take on. If you can't afford to fix a roof issue with your house or you don't want to invest the money to replace broken windows, that can be reflected in the price.  Work with your real estate agent to establish the right sale price, taking into account whatever issues you can't fix before putting the house on the market. Your final sale price will be lower, but it may be better than paying for repairs that won't be fully recouped by a buyer's offer.

The fact that your house has already had an inspection can have its own appeal for buyers and can serve as a plus if included in marketing descriptions of the house. Taking that extra step and getting an inspection ahead of time could give the buyer that much more assurance and lead to an amazing offer!

Friday, April 26, 2019

Three reasons to hire a REALTOR® to sell your home

By Sarah Nielsen

We are living in an age of DIY where many people would rather save money by completing a task themselves rather than hiring a professional, but when that task involves selling real estate, it is best to hire a licensed Realtor® who understands the process inside and out. Real estate transactions are complex and forgoing an expert’s guidance can cost you. The standard commission a REALTOR® will charge to represent you is five to six percent, but when you consider the ways that investment in a professional can save you in liability, time, and money, you may rethink trying to sell your house on your own.

REALTORS® can protect you from liability

In order to become a REALTOR®, a person completes extensive training in how to navigate the market. From adhering to deadlines, to properly filling out contracts and forms, REALTORS® fully understand how to protect their clients from the legal consequences of not abiding by state laws and regulations. When a client makes an offer on a home and it is accepted, they enter into a legally binding contract and it is the job of their trusted REALTOR® to ensure that there is no breach in that contract. If a person is selling their home on their own, it is likely that they do not understand the significance of the established deadlines, or consequences of pulling out of a transaction after the inspections and appraisal have been completed. Nobody wants to be sued, so it is best to hire a Realtor for protection.
Selling a home is a full-time job

Deciding to place your home on the market in the easy part, but what happens next can be daunting if you do not understand how the process works. Some questions to consider when listing: how will you market your home to get it in front of as many buyers as possible? How will you ensure that you have all your legal paperwork in order? How will you coordinate showings, especially if you work a full-time job? How will you negotiate with buyers, or the agents representing them? If the answers to these questions leave you feeling overwhelmed, it is best to hire a REALTOR® who can handle all of these tasks with ease and confidence.

REALTORS® can save you a lot of money

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, “the typical FSBO (For Sale by Owner) home sold for $200,000 compared to $265,000 for agent-assisted home sales.” The reason for this is that REALTORS® know how to evaluate the market and best determine the price that buyers will pay for any given property. REALTORS® know how to use a Comparative Market Analysis to set expectations, which leads to less time on the market, and more activity on a listing. Realtors also have professional contacts such as home stagers and photographers who can ensure that your home is properly showcased to get you the most money possible.

In summary, if you do not wish to risk being sued, do not want to work two full-time jobs while your house is on the market, and want to save money, my advice is to hire a licensed Realtor who will happily take on the responsibilities of selling your home so you can focus on the next chapter of your life without added stress.

Friday, April 19, 2019

The impact of Marijuana on commercial real estate

By Larry Eliason

The State of Maine has passed legislation for both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana.  A multitude of rules and regulations such as licensing of retail shops, cultivation, manufacturing, processing and warehousing have been passed.

Although medical marijuana is fairly well-established, the implementation of recreational “adult-use” in Maine has taken a very long time to come to fruition. There are many business owners, real estate investors and individuals on the sidelines still waiting for adult-use legislation to actually kick-in.

In addition to Maine state laws, many local towns have adopted or are in the process of adopting guidelines on where these facilities can be located. Many towns like Windham, have engaged a board of volunteers to look at zoning and regulations to help develop ordinances for the community. Maine towns have an opportunity to review and consider “opting-in” to capture the economic development force this industry has to offer such as: good paying jobs with benefits, commercial real estate tax base, business equipment tax base and some potential tax on the sale of the end product.

At the federal level, marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance so transactions involving marijuana activities could violate federal anti-money laundering statues.  Nonetheless, the marijuana industry is growing exponentially, and people are lining up to get into the business and/or invest in it.

How does the marijuana industry affect commercial real estate? The marijuana industry needs commercial real estate to grow, cultivate, warehouse, manufacture, process, extract and sell a variety of products. Many of these commercial building occupancies are, in essence, indoor marijuana farms.  So, the “pot guys” are actually farmers in addition to being entrepreneurs.

In states, cities and towns where cultivation and the manufacturing and processing of cannabis is legal, the marijuana industry has caused a spike in commercial real estate leasing activity, leasing rates and also commercial property values.  Many retail spaces have already been converted to medical cannabis stores and warehouses and industrial properties are being repurposed for cannabis cultivation.

Now, since marijuana can’t be transported across state lines due to federal law, it must be sold and consumed in the state that it was cultivated. Just as specialty beer breweries have helped revitalize some of the older commercial and industrial districts, so has the marijuana industry.  

Unfortunately, Maine has lost a substantial amount of manufacturing jobs of the past several decades.  The traditional manufacturing jobs are now being replaced with jobs like marijuana retail, cultivation and manufacturing jobs.  It appears that some of those jobs are very good paying jobs and, in many cases, with health and dental plans.

In many states like Maine, property owners who are considering transacting business with the marijuana industry need to plan for the conflict between state and federal laws. Banks with federal charters and that are also regulated and insured by federal agencies, can’t do business with marijuana business owners.  However, more and more state-chartered banks in states that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use, are willing to work with the marijuana industry and its commercial landlords. And, there are also credit unions that offer deposit relationships.

Where banks are unwilling to lend money to cannabis industry operators, owner financing and other private lenders are a source of loans for commercial real estate transactions. Landlords that are fortunate enough to own their properties outright can lease space to marijuana businesses without the risk of having a commercial lender call their loan due to federal banking laws that may apply.

Commercial warehouse and industrial leasing rates that were traditionally $5 to $6 per square foot for many years in the Greater Portland market have approached $10 per square foot.  In some cases, a turn-key facility may fetch up to twice this amount as it saves time and money for those looking to set up an operation for cultivation and they do not have to make an expensive fit-up and/or make leasehold improvements out-of-pocket.

Just like when you engage a commercial real estate professional to locate commercial space for lease or a commercial property to invest in, you should also engage your accountant, real estate attorney and banker to seek advice and guidance on making a decision to participate in this fast-evolving industry.

Larry Eliason is a Commercial Broker® with Butts Commercial Brokers® in Raymond, Maine and serves the Greater Sebago Lakes Region.