Friday, September 20, 2019

Holding out for spring? Do these things NOW

By Nicole Foster, Broker/ REALTOR®

To be successful in the spring market you must start preparations today. Whether you are a daring ‘Do It Yourselfer’ who’s up for the challenge of selling your own home or are planning to use a local real estate professional to get top dollar for your home, if you are even considering selling your home anytime between now and June of 2020 (yes…nine months from now!) you will want to do these things today.

Now is the time to schedule your septic tank to be pumped so you will not be digging up frozen, snowy or muddy earth to access it. The trucks can sometimes leave ruts in your grass or driveway if done in the spring so have them come in the fall if it needs to be done prior to selling. 

If you will be having any work done to your home which will require large trucks to be brought in, then be sure to factor in road postings which are sometimes not lifted through April. For example, if you planned to have your well drilled deeper to address a quantity issue prior to listing then you may want to schedule that work now.

If your plan is to hit the market before the month of March, then be sure to stay on top of removing dead leaves and put gardens to bed for winter.  Make sure to remove any piles of debris which may have been accumulating on your property before they become snow covered. Taking steps to care for your lawn in the fall will help to ensure it shows great in the spring. Give your lawn attention this fall by having it aerated and over-seeded this month - then in October or November be sure to fertilize it. Planting bulbs now will add color to your yard in the competitive spring market.

A fresh coat of paint for your front door can really make a big impact. If your home’s entryway could use some attention do not wait for June because it will most likely be raining. Flaking paint can delay or even tank a deal depending on your buyer’s financing regardless of the age of the structure(s), even in small amounts. While it’s still warm enough outside take a walk around your property and visually inspect the stairs, decks and trim around the windows and doors of your home for any flaking paint as well as your garage, barn, shed or any other outbuilding which will convey with the sale. Have this scraped and removed and new paint applied before the outdoor temperatures drop and the paint will not spread and stick well. (Sometimes a lender may permit money to be held in escrow for this to be done but typically they like to have the work done prior to closing so it’s best to be proactive).

Dust, pollen and new construction sawdust can collect over months or years in the tiny openings of your window screens. Remove and clean window screens outside before winterizing and turning off your outside water spigots then place in basement. Torn screens should be repaired or replaced. If listing over the winter, often as a courtesy a seller will mark relevant locations on the property to help buyers find the location of the well, septic & leach-field, or where corner pins may be found using flagging and / or poles.

Landscaping in Maine can sometimes take a while to be photo ready; depending on how late the snow fell or how much rain we get in the spring.  Now is the perfect time to schedule the photographer to come to capture some exterior images of your home with the lawn showing and all the leaves still on the trees. The photographer will return when your home is ready to list to complete the photo shoot with your interior photos, as well as additional exterior shots, but at least you will be prepared with images for the necessary marketing materials anytime you’re home is ready and you will not be forced to wait on the weather to have your marketing materials show their very best.

Nicole Foster is a Broker with Locations Real Estate Group in Falmouth and a Windham resident and parent who loves both people and real estate.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Buying a house for your family?

By Rick Yost

Part of the American dream is to own a home for your family. Some picture a suburban home with a white picket fence. Others, a more rural setting with no neighbors to be seen. Others still, envision an urban atmosphere with a walkability and diversity only found in cities. Whatever your family home dream includes, these tips will help make the most of that dream.

Start saving for your down payment as soon as possible. The more money you put down, the more
attractive your offer will be to some sellers. You will also have more money for closing costs and other unexpected expenses that pop up to derail many home buyers’ dreams.

If you are fortunate enough to save a substantial down payment, you can avoid private mortgage insurance so that more of your monthly payment is going towards the principle you owe. The larger your down payment, the lower your monthly payment. So, start saving early. Most loan programs today allow for gifts from family members, so if you are having a tough time saving, keep that in mind.

Improve your credit score and buy at the optimal time. credit score is a constantly moving number. A good lender can give you tips on how to improve yours. It can be as simple as paying off certain credit cards and making all your payments on time. In some cases, you might have to establish more credit to drive your score up. Talk to the lending experts and take their advice. The higher your credit score the lower your interest rate will be. The highest rated borrowers get into preferred mortgages. Monitor your score, build it up, and by when you qualify for the best mortgage programs.

Make a long-term plan.
What will your life look like in five years, ten years, even fifteen years? Will you have more children? Will parents come to live with you? Will you become empty nesters? Will your job force
you to move? Will you start a home-based business? All these factors should be considered when choosing your family home. The home that seems perfect today might not be right for you in three years. A good long-term plan will help prevent a premature move.

Visit and research different areas. How do you imagine your life? Do you eat out often? Do you like night life? Is shopping important? Are you a gym person? Is there a good place of worship? These are all questions that should be answered before picking an area to buy in. Then consider what is right for your family.

Is public transportation important? How is the school system and does it offer all the programs your children need? How much time a week are you willing to miss with your family to commute? Are there sports, music, and other recreational activities available for your family members? All these factors will contribute to the enjoyment of your new family home. Do not discount how much a difference these things can make and don’t skip on your research.

Keep an eye on the housing market.
The housing market is ever changing and is hyper local. One area may have home prices going way up and another just ten miles away might be flat. Keep an eye on the places you have identified through your research as places you would like to live and monitor those markets. Watch home prices in those towns, talk to your REALTOR about trends, and be ready to buy when the opportunity is
right. You will end up with the best house possible for your family.

The final and most important tip to achieving that American dream and buying your family a home is to be realistic about your budget. Families and homes are big expenses. Make sure you budget properly for both. You can often borrow an amount that leaves you with an uncomfortable payment. Take a hard look at your finances and allocate an amount to housing. Make sure the payment on the homes you are looking at, including taxes and insurance, is at or under that allocated housing number.
If you follow these tips, you will maximize your enjoyment of the American dream. Happy house hunting!

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

Friday, August 30, 2019

Signs you are ready to become a homeowner

By Carrie Colby

There is no denying the flexibility that renting offers—you can move relatively easily when you want, and you do not have to carry a mortgage for decades to have a place to live. However, if you are like many renters, you are probably at least considering the idea of owning a home.

But how do you know if you are ready for homeownership? Here are some reasons why you might be
prepared to become a homeowner. If some or all of these resonate with you, it’s probably time to talk to a real estate agent you trust to start looking for a place you can be happy owning and living in. The opportunity to become a homeowner can be both emotionally and financially rewarding when you have a long-term horizon.

The following are some of the most common reasons why renters decide now is the time to own a home:

Your rent keeps increasing. increase in rental prices can be frustrating for numerous reasons. You cannot anticipate what your housing costs will be over the long-term, which makes it hard to plan your finances. When rent is going up, and mortgage rates are low, it can be a good sign that you should start shopping for a home. If you think about it – when you are renting, you’re probably helping to pay someone’s mortgage. Unfortunately, that person isn’t you!

Interest rates are incredibly attractive.
One of the better reasons to go from renting to owning a home is when money is unbelievably cheap.
When interest rates on mortgages are desirable, it’s like a flashing sign that says, “buy buy buy.” Interests rates won’t stay at record lows forever. History shows us that they can turn rather quickly.

You think it’s time to put down roots in a specific place.
Purchasing a home requires paying a lot of costs at the beginning that cannot really be recouped in the first few years of ownership. In other words, for a home purchase to make financial sense, you need to be ready to stick around for a while. Over time, the investment can prove quite positive, but it does take time.
Real estate has been shown over and over again to be an excellent long-term investment. Like other
investments, it is not for someone who might need to move quickly because of a job relocation.

You are sick of pouring money into someone else’s mortgage.
As a renter, your rent payments are paying the mortgage of the landlord or property owner. If you are ready to put all that money towards your future, buying a home makes sense. Each mortgage payment you make will increase the equity in your home, which is an investment for you. Generally, you can expect that over the life of your mortgage, you will gain a lot of financial benefits out of putting money into property. There are also tax advantages of owning a home as well.

You are ready to pay a down payment and closing costs.
One of the most significant signs you are ready to move from renting to owning a home is having a down payment. Financial stability is a significant indicator that you are prepared to buy a home—particularly when it comes to down payments and closing costs. Don’t worry if you don’t have 20% down—many loans do not require so much for a down payment.

You have improved your credit score. credit score you bring to lenders is going to play a significant role in the type of financing you can get. If you have improved your credit score, it may be time to talk to a lender about what you can do to get a mortgage.

If you need to improve your credit score, get a free copy of your credit report, and address any issues that might be hurting your credit score. Mortgage professionals and real estate agents continuously
preach about the importance of the best credit scores – this is why!

Final thoughts.
Going from a renter to a homeowner is not something that should be made as a snap judgment. There should be a lot of planning involved in buying a house for the first time. Those who are unprepared typically make buying mistakes they regret later. Don’t be one of them!

Carrie Colby is a Broker with Allied Real Estate, 909 Roosevelt Trail in Windham. She can be reached at 207-232-5497

Friday, August 23, 2019

Protect your family and your investment: Read your deed

By Richie Vaurx

When you purchase your home, you should read your deed thoroughly because it could be costly to you if it is incorrect. It’s important to make sure you understand and ask a real estate law professional for those things that are difficult to comprehend.

Your title company always has a lawyer on staff that reviews the deed. If you use your family lawyer,
make sure they are familiar with real estate law because it may not be their specialty. There could be things listed in your deed that you may not be aware of or understand, For instance, there could be an easement and restrictions and or a (ROW) right-of-way that you might not have been aware of. There are some factors that show up in a deed, and if you don’t understand something- ALWAYS ASK.

What is an easement: It is an agreed upon use of land by someone other than the owner of the property. It allows access, mostly to the utility companies to passage onto your property to maintain public services. There are two types of easements.

Gross Easement:
This type usually allows for an individual to get to his or her property, that is land locked. It would be the only way to get to their property. This, of course, may cost you something but maybe the only way to get to their property. This type of easement passes on to the new owner when the owners sell the property.

Appurtenant easement:
This type of easement will usually join 2 properties. Usually the land with the higher acreage will be the prominent party here. This owner will have more leverage and will usually set the rules moving forward.

A ROW allows an abutter to pass over your land to get to theirs. But, to be clear here, a right -of-way is given to allow an owner of an abutting property to pass over your property to get to theirs. It does not allow you to park your vehicle, stow your boat or anything else on that right-of-way. For instance, if a right-of-way is given to an abutter to get to a lake- you cannot store your canoe or kayak for future use without written permission from the owner. Also, some people think, because they have a ROW they can build a dock or a slip for their boat. It is only with written permission that they can do so.

Be prepared and be knowledgeable about what could affect your quality of living. Always be aware of your limitations and requirements of your easements or rights- of-way. You may require legal services.  Not all lawyers specialize in real estate, so know who to call when you have real estate questions. If you are unsure of where your deed may be, you can always go on-line to the registry of deeds to look up your property.

Richie Vraux is a partner with Maine’s Premier Team at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate with locations in Windham and Gorham offices. If you need real estate advice, call Richie at 207-317-1297.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Veteran appreciation and homeownership

By Kevin Ronan

The State of Maine has a long rich tradition of military service. The Maine Bureau of Veterans Services reports there are over 30,000 veterans throughout Maine who are eligible for many benefits. Regretfully, most veterans are not aware of the programs and services available to help them achieve homeownership.

As a former Marine Corps officer and a licensed REALTOR®, I am passionate about assisting other veterans and their families achieve this goal. There are many housing programs and benefits available to veterans that will help them achieve their dream. My goal is to educate my fellow veterans on these programs and benefits and help them achieve their goal. In a previous issue of the Windham Eagle, I discussed MaineHousing benefits for first time home buyers, including veterans. Let us now discuss MaineHousing benefits for veterans and Veterans Administration benefits in greater detail.

The MaineHousing, Salute Me Program provides all qualified Maine Veterans, including all active duty, veterans, and retired military veterans a 0.25% discount on a First Home Loan 30 year fixed rate mortgage.  If a veteran is not a first-time home buyer, the Salute Home Again Program may be a good option. This program waives the first-time home buyer requirements for those veterans who may have owned a home over the last three years and sold the property prior to the MaineHousing property closing. 

How does a veteran apply for a MaineHousing program?  Begin by contacting an approved MaineHousing lender to determine if you qualify. A list of approved MaineHouse lenders is available at The buyer will be required to attend a home buyer education course which reviews the borrowing and buying process.  The course is also required if the veteran wishes to enjoy the $3,500 Advantage incentive which is to be applied to closing costs and the down payment.

The VA Home Loan Program assists active duty, veterans and eligible surviving spouses become homeowners. VA loans are provided by private lenders, such as banks and mortgage companies. The VA guarantees a portion of the loan, enabling the lender to provide the borrower with more favorable terms.  A VA loan can be used to purchase a home as a primary residence including new construction, an existing dwelling or to refinance an existing loan. Also, the VA Home Loan Program offers housing grants to service members and veterans with certain permanent service-connected disabilities which can be used to purchase or construct an adaptive home or modify your existing home to accommodate a disability.

I hope this article provides Maine Veterans and their families with the resources available to help them buy a home with the assistance of MaineHousing and the Veterans Administration. Achieving the goal of homeownership is closer than you think. If you have any questions or need any assistance with your real estate needs please contact Kevin Ronan.  He is an Associate Broker affiliated with Alliance Realty, 290 Bridgeton Road, Westbrook for more information.  He can be contacted at or 207-838-4855.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Why invest in real estate?

By Dan McDermott

Are you looking to diversify your investment portfolio or tired of worrying about the next market correction and how your portfolio or IRA will fair, or just looking to buy a stable asset that can provide income for you or your family? If so, I think you should strongly consider an investment in real estate.  There are many reasons for those considering an investment in real estate - however I think that two of the most compelling reasons are listed below. 

Cash flow:
The most compelling and attractive reason for making an investment in real estate is cash flow.  Cash flow, or profit, is the amount of money left over after subtracting the operating expenses and debt service (mortgage) from the rental income generated from the property. The wonderful thing about cash flow is that this passive income is earned with little to no effort from the investor.  Once the investor selects a property, acquires financing, closes on the property, and leases out the property; the investor can then sit back and enjoy their monthly income with little additional effort. 

Another great benefit of cash flow is that it is a great hedge for your larger investment portfolio against economic downturns. In economic downturns, real estate tends to not correlate directly to the wider market conditions. One interesting fact about rental properties is that rents generally tend to increase during times of market instability. This is due to the fact that many homeowners fall on challenging times during economic downturns and find it more cost effective to rent than own a home. This creates a higher demand for affordable rental units and in turn drives up the market rents. 
This is especially attractive for an investor since the typical financing used to purchase these properties are fixed rate mortgages. This means that the operating expenses and debt services will remain stable over the life of the investment all while rents are being driven up and generating more income and a higher return for the investor.
Another compelling reason for making an investment in real estate is leverage. Leverage is defined as the use of various types of financing or borrowed capital to increase the potential return of an investment. This is commonly referred to as “other people’s money” by Wall Street and Main Street when talking about the real estate markets. Leverage can be used to increase the purchasing power of the investor and provide them with all the benefits that come from owning that property.

 Let’s take a simple example of an investor who has $100,000 to make an investment in real estate and let’s assume that in the current market properties are appreciating at 5% per year.   This investor could purchase a $100,000 property in full. At the end of 12 months this property would be worth $105,000 and the investor would have achieved a 5% return.  Now if that same investor used their $100,000 as a 20% down on a $500,000 property at the end of the year the property would be worth $525,000 and the investor would have also achieved a 5% return.  However, the investor would have earned $20,000 more plus the increased income that would have been generated from the $500,000 property vs $100,000. 

Leverage can drastically increase the potential expected return the longer the investment property is held.  Additionally, leverage allows an investor to acquire and realize the benefits of more properties with a smaller initial investment.

The benefits of investing in real estate are abundant and I have highlighted just a couple above.  While these benefits are attractive it should be noted that no investment, whether in the stocks, bonds, or real estate, comes without any risk. If you are considering an investment in real estate, I would recommend that you seek professional advice from an experienced realtor.  A realtor can provide you with depth of experience, hyper local market knowledge, and advise you as you make the exciting first step towards financial freedom.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Buying and selling at the same time

Nicole Foster

Many people need to sell their current home in order to qualify for the financing to purchase their next one. The challenges posed to our prospective buyers, who are also our would-be sellers, require difficult decisions to be made both in advance and during the process of buying and selling simultaneously. Be sure to explore all the options which exist for you and to carefully weigh the benefits and pitfalls that will influence your position.

Buying power.

If you sell your home and move into a temporary rental then you will be dealing with the inconvenience and expense of moving twice but doing so could provide you with a greater sense of control as well as to be more competitive with other buyer’s offers. More often people who are relocating from a distance select this option, but for a more local move people are less likely to go this route.

Visit with your lender to discuss how much money you will need to net from the sale of your current home in order to buy your new one and also how much you will qualify for after the sale. Work with a trusted REALTOR® to assist you with both the sale of your current property and the acquisition of your new one.

If you have decided to remain in your current home while searching for your new one, you’ll also need to decide at what point you’ll be listing it. You do have the ability to write offers contingent upon the sale of yours. If you find the home you want before you’ve listed, then you can submit your offer but will need to hit the market within five days. The seller will want the details surrounding the sale of your current property and will view whether or not it’s already under contract or not even on the market yet quite differently.
Any additional concessions such as a reduction in the purchase price, asking for assistance with buyer closing cost contributions from the seller and other requests may be more difficult to negotiate when your offer is already contingent upon a property to sell, especially if yours is not yet listed or under contract.  Some of these seller concessions may be a requirement for you to obtain financing, so you may not have the option to waive them to make a stronger offer.

A property listed on the Maine Multiple Listing Service (MLS) may show a status of Pending Continue to Show and this allows sellers to work with an offer with contingencies (due diligence, a property to sell not under contract or other) but continue to show the property to prospective buyers. An agreement with a Kick Out Clause can be an uncomfortable place to be sitting for buyers who really want a home, but a seller may require this addendum to your agreement if you have a home to sell which isn’t under contract.

This addendum to your agreement allows the sellers to continue to work with other offers and if they receive another offer which they choose to work with after you’re under contract then you will be provided a day or two to remove the contingency of having to sell your current home and if you’re unable to, you are essentially “kicked out” of the contract and the new buyers take your place with a new agreement and go under contract. Some buyers are able to negotiate the removal of the Kick Out Clause at the time of going under contract, but usually at some sort of cost based on many factors.

Selling situation.

Your motivation and what you will be willing to accept for offers will shift based on your current position as a seller. If you aren’t under contract to purchase your new home, then you will have a bit more leverage when working with incoming offers. Your negotiating position during the due diligence period will also be influenced by whether or not you are already under contract to buy your new home or not.

Listing your current property subject to you finding suitable housing with a timeframe, ranging from two to four weeks is one tactic used. You have the option to tell agents and buyers prior to scheduling a showing to view your home that you need time to secure suitable housing or you can disclose this during negotiations depending on the strategy you choose.  Requesting a rent back option with the new buyers of your current home allows the closing to take place and for you to remain in the property for an agreed amount of time at an agreed upon monthly rental payment to the new buyers.

There are many moving parts which need to be choreographed in order to close on both properties the same day but with the help of a fantastic REALTOR® it can be achieved. Schedule a free consultation if you are curious about your own options.

Nicole Foster has been practicing residential real estate since 2006 and is a Broker with Locations Real Estate Group and is also a Windham resident and parent.

Friday, July 26, 2019

How to successfully win a multiple offer situation

By Katie Kinney

In the Maine Real Estate market, buyers are still experiencing low inventory and multiple offer situations. A large contributing factor to this issue is the rise of investor purchases. According to Core Logic Inc., real estate investors comprised more than 11% of home purchases in 2018. The investor interest poses a huge challenge for first time homebuyers who are interested in buying starter homes or owner-occupied multi-family homes and are forced to compete with deep pocket cash buyers. Here are a few tips to help you crush the cash offers.

Make your best offer up front. Many cash buyers are looking for a bargain and will put a lower offer in to start. As a non-cash buyer, you should always put your highest and best offer in from the start. If you do need to include closing costs, you should add those on top of offer because closing costs are money out of the seller’s pocket. You should also include the highest dollar amount you are comfortable with for the earnest deposit. By doing this you will show your high-level interest in the property.

Presenting a mortgage preapproval letter from your lender when you make the offer is the traditional way to show you are a serious buyer. If you take the next step and have your underwriter start the review process of your loan, you will provide the seller more peace of mind concerning your financing.  If you can’t outbid a cash buyer, this step puts you closer to an equal playing field.

tombiczak@allstate.comMost buyers make offers contingent on a home inspection. During this period, buyers can back out if any home issues arise. When looking at homes, bring a contractor or an inspector with you to give a general summary of the property. If you are comfortable with the information provided, you could then make your offer not contingent on a home inspection. If you are not comfortable with not having a full inspection, I recommend have the inspection period as short as possible. Have the inspection scheduled when you send the offer over.

The most important step you can take when you know you will be entering a multiple offer situation is to have your agent ask what is most important to the seller. In many situations, the seller needs to find a new place to live and may want a rent back option. A seller could be relocating out of state and want a fast closing timeframe. As a serious buyer, you should structure your offer around what is most important to the seller. By doing this, your offer will stand out above other offers.

Hopefully these tips will help you purchase your new home. Whether you are interested in a residential or owner-occupied investment property, I am happy to help you during the process. Feel free to contact me at any time. Katie Kinney, Broker at Landing Real Estate., cell: 603-205-2276.

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.