Friday, September 23, 2022

Real Estate market holding steady

By Matthew Trudel

The current real estate market is still strong, and inventory is still low. While interest rates still seem to be fluctuating up and down around the 5 percent to 5.5 percent range, buyers are overall not discouraged at this point. 

Several buyers may be disappointed that they missed the 3 percent interest rates, but 5 percent is still a good rate and often buying is a much better option than renting. Rentals are at an all-time high in price and all time low in availability. What does this mean for current buyers and sellers and how might it affect those thinking of buying or selling in the next six months?

Trying to purchase a home right now is still very challenging for buyers. We are still seeing homes receiving multiple offers and many of those offers are over the asking price. 

 It is very common for buyers to waive inspections hoping to make their offer more enticing to the seller. These are very different times for both buyers and sellers. Buyers are taking more risks in trying to outbid other competitive offers. 

Sellers are really in the driver’s seat on most occasions. It is still very much a seller’s market, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Buyers who are actively trying to purchase a home must be on top of their game and they had better be working with an experienced real estate broker. The broker had better be on top of their game as well. As a buyer’s agent the broker should have a very clear idea of what their buyer is looking for in a home. 

 They should also know immediately when a home hits the market that fits their client’s needs. On top of all that, they should also know about homes that are about to hit the market that might fit their client’s needs as well. All of this can help give a buyer a clear edge in getting their offer in first and in front of the seller before other competing buyers have a chance to get their offers in.

If you are thinking about selling in the near future, there are a few things you might want to consider. Interest rates are probably going to continue creeping up and certainly are not going down. How does this affect someone who is selling a house you might be wondering? Higher interest rates limit a majority of buyer’s purchasing power which directly correlates to housing prices and what buyers are willing to potentially pay. 

 It also means fewer buyers that will be able to purchase your home and that means the competition between buyers might not be as competitive as it currently is today. If it were me thinking of selling or giving someone else advice, it would be to get the house on the market the sooner the better while things are still going well.

Thinking of purchasing a home but pondering the idea of waiting until next spring to pull the trigger? I wish I had a crystal ball to tell you what the market will be doing and where interest rates might be at in six months. It is always a guessing game when trying to predict what might happen in the future. I feel confident that interests will be a little higher than they are now. I also don’t see housing prices dropping a lot over the next six months.

I do see the rental market continuing to rise. All that being said, I would suggest at the very least you


find an experienced realtor to work with and talk about planning for your home purchase. There is a lot you can do now so you are prepared to move forward when you are ready, and the right home comes on the market. 

Getting your finances in order and getting prequalified are just a few of the things to get done ahead of time. Purchasing a home in the winter offers a different set of challenges which I have written about before. Most important is finding the right Realtor and getting yourself prepared ahead of time. <

This article was written by Matthew Trudel, Owner of Five Star Realty, Windham, 207-939-6971.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Real Estate: Is the real estate market going back to 2008 times?

By Richie Vraux

I think the answer is NO!

I think we can all say, the real estate market has shown to have been a wild ride since COVID hit and way before that. It has certainly been a great time for sellers to sell, and it still is. I think we may see a shift, in the housing market but real estate is still strong, and buyers are still looking for the right home for them and their loved ones.

Mortgage lenders are following much tighter protocols since 2008 set forth by the Banking Commission so hopefully we will never have to experience the foreclosures and short sales repeating history like it was in years past.

Since long before this sellers’ market, 5.0 to 5.5 percent interest was, and still is, considered an acceptable interest rate. August’s single family housing report still shows gains in the market, up 21.76 percent, according to the Greater Portland Board of Realtors, but homes are sitting on the market weeks longer, but are still selling. We still have very low inventory of homes to sell but hard-core buyers are finding the homes they want.

Instead of getting 15 to 20 offers on properties, sellers’ agents are only getting maybe three to four offers and getting pretty close to the asking price. Relocation buyers still need to move to their next job or assignment, and they are finding the right properties for them and their family. Homes are still moving if they are appropriately priced. 

Renting, on the other hand maybe gives you an answer to the housing crunch, but how does it help you? Prices of rentals have, in some circumstances exceeded what your mortgage payment will be. Rents are at or way above where they were, let’s say, a year ago. Besides, in rental units you have rules and regulations: No loud music, noise, parking (if you are privileged to have a vehicle space) can cost as much as a rent payment.

So consider where you want to live and check the crime rate. One important question is how the new school system places amongst others in the state.

Of course, you want your children to get the best education possible. You can get this information from the State of Maine’s Department of Education. They will be glad to share this information with you.

When setting the price to sell your home, will you know how to price out your property to get the highest and best price. An experienced agent will know your neighborhood and know where to place your home to yield the highest price. When an agent writes up the disclosures on your home, he lists all your systems, the condition of every system and lists any improvements and any deficiencies you will need to expose. He/ she knows what should be mentioned to keep you out of court. Do you know if your garage or shed is actually on your property or is it encroaching on your neighbor’s property?

If you thought that you might have saved yourself a boat load of money by selling it yourself, if the buyers take you to court because you didn’t share all the deficiencies that you knew were wrong but didn’t disclose it, you just might be paying out way more than you made by selling it yourself.

Another risk is knowing who you allow into your home. A realtor will have already met up with them. Because of the news you hear of today, with questionable people coming into your home, you might want to have an agent there.

A Real Estate Agent will only work in your best interest when selling your home. There are lots of reasons to have an agent sell your home, but the biggest reason is your piece of mind and knowing your agent best represented you and your interests.

There is no doubt real estate is showing signs of change, but the market is still strong, maybe prices are leveling off some, but it is still a great time to move real estate. If you are considering selling your home and want the advice of a seasoned Real Estate Broker, call Richie!! <

Richie Vraux is a Broker at Better Homes and Gardens -The Masiello Group, 76 Tandberg Trail, Windham, Maine 04062. Reach him by calling 207-317-1297 or by email at richardjvraux@gmail.com

Friday, September 9, 2022

Real Estate: The importance of obtaining a permit prior to starting a home project

By Katie Kinney

We have all witnessed the increase in the number of property owners who are taking on home renovations, additions or rehabs over the past few years all throughout the state of Maine. One of the most important factors to consider when thinking about any home renovation is, do you need any type of building permit issued by your local code enforcement department? In most situations, the common answer is usually always yes.

According to the state of Maine, no property owner, agent or representative of the owner may construct, alter or change the use of any structure without first obtaining a permit.

The most common argument you hear when a homeowner did not gather the proper permits is, “I don’t need a permit to work on my own house.” This statement is completely false. In most towns and cities in Maine a permit is required for creating new/additional living space, electrical work, concrete foundation/excavation work, plumbing work, installing a deck, any hvac or duct work, and installing a pool.

In addition to the permit, you are required to have a licensed electrician, plumber or hvac technician perform the work. Part of the process also requires town specific code enforcement officers to come inspect and sign off on the work completed at different stages of the project. 

This information/documentation all stays at the code enforcement office. Towns keep property specific records of all documentation and inspections relating to building permits, house plans, ownership history, septic designs, and certificate of occupancy.

The typical thought process for not obtaining a permit is to not have to pay for one. The problem with this situation is that it will end up costing you more in the long run.

During many real estate transactions, I see sellers having to rush around to obtain an after the fact permit. An after-the-fact permit is exactly what it sounds like, a homeowner must go to the town code enforcement office and apply and pay for a building permit (usually costing double than what the original permit would have cost).

Once a homeowner applies for the after the fact permit, a code enforcement officer will go inspect the work that was done, if they have any safety concerns or it was not up to current building standards, the town can request that you remove any and all work that was completed. Imagine having to rip out a brand new kitchen because the plumbing wasn’t up to code, or start over on a bathroom remodel because you didn’t hire a licensed electrician?

My advice is to spend a small fee on the permit up front and save yourself a huge headache, a lot of money and time later on.

How to determine if you need a permit/what permit or permits you need? Most towns and cities in Maine have documents with specific directions on their websites that are easy to follow while researching the permitting process.

Many of the websites also have the permit applications both in printable forms and direct fill in forms through the websites. If you are contemplating a home project of any size, I would highly recommend going online to your town’s website and doing a little bit of research into what specific permits your town requires.

You can also simply call or stop by your town’s code enforcement office to speak with a code enforcement officer. The safest practice is to have the mindset that you most likely need a building permit and to obtain one before any construction work takes place. <

This article was written by Katie Kinney, Broker/Head Agent Advisor with Landing Real Estate.

Friday, September 2, 2022

Real Estate: Fall home maintenance tips to save you money

Submitted by Jonathan Priest

Owning a home can be a major financial commitment and to protect your investment, here are a few home maintenance tips that can be accomplished now that the weather is going to be somewhat cooler in the months ahead.

Roof and Exterior

A visual inspection of a home, from the chimney to the foundation, can help reveal vulnerabilities that lead to trouble when wind, freezing temperatures, snow or winter rains rule. Use a drone or binoculars to look for debris, which will need to be cleaned up, and missing or loose shingles, which should be fixed or replaced before they lead to leaks. Overhanging tree limbs should be trimmed, so they can’t come down, potentially puncturing the roof and causing leaks, water damage and mold.

Fall and winter are also prime time for rodents to come indoors for warmth, so it’s important to seal up even the smallest holes and gaps in the foundation, attic or crawl spaces. Firewood should not be stored against the house because it can cause a beetle and/or termite infestation.

Gutters

To keep gutters running well, check them monthly for twigs, leaves and other debris. Plan bigger cleanings — including running water down all the downspouts — both before autumn leaves fall and again after trees are bare, to be sure fall and winter rain and snowmelt can flow down and away from the house — instead of into the walls, which can cause rot and mold and invite insects.

Clogged gutters, along with poorly ventilated roofs and under-insulated attics are also a common culprit for damaging ice dams. Ice dams form when rooftop snow melts and refreezes, building up thick layers of ice that eventually push into joints and cracks in the roof and cause leaks.

Landscaping

Some experts note that grass will fare better if it is fertilized after the hottest days of summer are over, when the fertilizer can encourage blade growth and strengthen the root system for winter. Rake off all leaves and give the lawn a final mowing once it stops growing. (A local garden center can guide you on fertilizer formulas suited to your climate and lawn.)

Fall is also a good time to cut dead branches off trees, according to the Arbor Day Foundation, but pruning for shape and size should wait for late winter or early spring.

Outdoor pipes and water sources

Frozen water can burst pipes and hoses. Garden hoses should be detached and drained. Outdoor faucets can be left on to drain after water to the outside is shut off. Irrigation systems should be blown out using an air compressor or risk freezing — and having to replace irrigation lines come spring.

Deck

Sealing a deck can help prevent damage from rain and snow. That means repairing or replacing loose or cracked boards, washing off dirt and mildew, vacuuming and applying a wood sealer. If a path through the snow on a deck is needed, consider using a shovel with a plastic or rubber blade to avoid damaging the wood.

Outdoor furniture

Umbrellas and furniture that could be blown over can be brought inside or stacked and weighted down, to reduce the risk of damage. Grills should be moved indoors and outdoor appliances such as mini fridges should be unplugged.

Doors, windows and other drafty spots

To keep houses warm without sending heating bills through the roof, and to save energy, the federal Environmental Protection Agency recommends sealing spots where cold air can sneak in, focusing on the attic, foundation and around windows and doors. Caulking, weather stripping and door draft guards can be inexpensive DIY fixes.

For single-pane windows, adding plastic film or storm windows reduces heat escape and cold penetration. Replacing them with insulating double-paned windows is a more expensive option.

Thermostat

Using a programmable thermostat or adjusting a manual thermostat before leaving the house or going to bed, can cut the heating bill by as much as 30 percent while still keeping a home cozy, according to the EPA. Consumers can find Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats, which can be managed remotely via smart phone, for about $100 to $300.

Of course, the big payoff is savings on repairs — and your peace of mind. <

This article was brought to you courtesy of Farmers Insurance agent, Jonathan Priest, with an office at 57 Tandberg Trail, Suite 7, Windham. Call him at 207-893-8184 or send him an email at jpriest1@farmersagent.com

Friday, August 26, 2022

Real Estate: The Benefits of Downsizing

By Carrie Colby  

It is rewarding to watch your children grow up, begin careers and families, and settle into their own homes. But when there are only one or two people left in a large family sized house, you can be left with equally large mortgages, taxes, other monthly bills, and home maintenance projects. Downsizing your home is an excellent way to get relief from these burdens. In fact, it can be a rewarding change that makes your life easier (and a lot more fun). 

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Here are some of the many benefits of downsizing:

Downsizing lowers the cost of upkeep, insurance, mortgage bills and utility bills. Smaller homes and properties have smaller roofs to repair, less landscaping to maintain, and lower home insurance rates, as well as lower heating and cooling bills. This means that in addition to your new home costing less overall, you’ll also have lower monthly bills for many of the things that come with home ownership.

Downsizing boosts your retirement income with property sale profits. One of the biggest retirement downsizing benefits is that you may be able to profit significantly from selling your home and purchasing a smaller one. Alternatively, you can use the proceeds toward a smaller home or condo.

Downsizing reduces your property taxes. Smaller homes generally come with smaller property tax bills. Depending on the current tax rates in your state or the state you’re moving to, you could save considerable amounts of money by joining a smaller property tax bracket. 

Downsizing removes the stress of maintaining your home. Moving into a smaller home on a smaller plot of land can make upkeep much easier and less worrisome.

No matter what your age, you have to ensure that your home is cleaned, maintained and paid for – whether you do the work yourself or pay someone else to do it. Fixing broken shingles on a roof and making sure a large yard is constantly mowed can be exhausting. If you’ve reached the stage where you feel overwhelmed or just think you could better use your time or money, it’s time to go smaller.

You will enjoy more free time when you don’t have to spend hours cleaning, mowing the lawn and maintaining your home.

Bigger is not always better. If you can’t remember the last time that you walked into your guest bedroom except to dust, then you should consider downsizing. If these spare rooms do nothing but collect dust, they may be a waste. Unused rooms still end up costing money not only in property taxes and eventual maintenance (leaky roofs, peeling paint, etc.) but also in that they must be heated and cooled, using up unnecessary electricity, gas or oil.

Before you make the decision to downsize it would be a good idea to take a look at what the real estate market is doing in your area. Consult with a Realtor that specializes in your area. One that can give you a market analysis on what your current home is worth.

Start looking at homes for sale in the area you desire to move to. You should do some calculations and research first. It would also be a good idea to meet with your CPA to see if the decision to downsize is financially sound.

Realtors are a great resource, and most are more than happy to give advice or refer you to someone to help make decisions on which changes, repairs and upgrades to make. Take some photos and send them to someone you have worked with and trust and ask them what they think you could do to improve your home.

Your time in your home is always very productive and satisfying whether you decide to stay or sell. <

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

Friday, August 19, 2022

Real Estate: Owning a well during a drought

By Nicole Foster, Broker/REALTOR 

A report released by The Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA)’s Drought Task Force in early August is advising homeowners with a private well to monitor their water supply and conserve water usage whenever possible in your daily routine. All 16 counties in Maine have reports of wells running dry ranging from dug wells, drilled wells and natural springs and one public water company has issued a mandatory water conservation notice.

A well is said to have run dry when the water level inside the well drops below the level of the well pump intake. This does not necessarily mean that the aquifer which supplies water to your well has gone dry. Some of the signs that a well may be starting to run dry include: a decrease in the water pressure, your water supply taking longer to recover after use, a noticeable change in appearance or smell, your well pump seems to be running constantly or your faucets begin to sputter with air.

Just over half of Maine homes are served by a public water supply, with the remainder having a private water supply. A well may supply water for more than one home and can be point driven, artesian meaning free flowing, or more common in our area a bedrock well which may be dug, drilled or hydrofracked.

Most of the single-family homes in Windham and Raymond have a private water supply. Knowing what the safe yield of your well is including flow rate in gallons per minute and the recovery rate, well depth, how much casing your well has and the depth of your well pump is information that you will want to save in the event you must address issues surrounding water quantity at your home.

It often comes as a surprise to the buyers of brand-new homes to learn that one of the very last steps of the construction process is to have the well drilling company drill the well. Make sure that the driller is licensed and in good standing with the Maine Well Drillers Commission. 

The location of your well depends on a number of factors including setbacks from property lines, septic system placement, soils and more. Once the well drilling begins the amount of 6-inch steel casing which will be needed as well as the depth of your well and pump can be determined. In Maine at least 10 feet of 6-inch steel casing driven into bedrock is recommended and the depth of the well can range from 100 to 500 feet typically. The steel casing will be extended beyond the surface enough to prevent groundwater from entering and a cap installed where you can sometimes find details about the well. Mark the location of your well head and protect it from being damaged.

Consider this past winter our precipitation in the form of snow was below the normal range followed by an early spring thaw combined with little rain this summer, particularly in the month of July. We often see things begin to dry out and see lawns start to get crunchy in July, but things tend to improve in the fall which is anticipated this year.

Looking forward, selecting drought-tolerant ground cover and landscaping will prove to be the most sustainable for homeowners. Kentucky Bluegrass or ryegrass seed will not fare as well as Tall or preferably Fine Fescue grass seed in periods of prolonged drought. Do not run your well dry watering your lawn.

Having an awareness to the limit of your home’s water supply and local weather conditions and patterns will be helpful when shaping your daily routines. You can direct your homes already existing daily water output from systems like heat pumps, cooling units or dehumidifiers into a targeted purpose like watering dry plants. Space out running your dishwasher and washing machine and limit the use of your outdoor water spigots in general.

Should your well begin to no longer meet the demands of your daily usage or actually run dry, you will need to contact a well drilling company to discuss what options are available. Qualifying homeowners may be eligible for assistance through Maine State Housing’s Home Repair Program or USDA Single Family Housing Loans or Grants.

Homeowners should not attempt to have their dry well filled by an outside source such as fire department or pool company as foreign toxins can be introduced into the well and the water will not stay in the well and will just run into the fissures and cracks. If you are experiencing a well going dry the Maine Emergency Management Agency urges you to call 2-1-1 or complete their Dry Well Survey to track how widespread it is taking place. <

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

Friday, August 12, 2022

Real Estate: Choosing Windham as a retail store location

The town of Windham is shown looking north along Route
302 from the intersection of Route 115 this summer.
PHOTO BY KEITH MANK 
By Larry Eliason 

Where a Retailer chooses to locate a retail business in a particular community usually involves a comprehensive review of many key factors.

What are the demographics of your customers? Is the location in a growth area? Are local and state economic development, town management and town leaders offering guidance and assistance? Does the community have all the required infrastructure in place like broadband and public sewers to operate the business? Does the community provide affordable housing for your employees? How large is the local school system, students, and school employees, and is it also a college town? These are just a few highlights of a long list of items for the pre-qualifying checklist.

Specialty goods in general fulfill more unique needs than general purpose products. Customers don't seem to mind traveling a little bit out of their way to purchase this type of product because they generally cannot buy them through convenience or general goods retailers. This type of store may perform well near other shopping locations because their offerings may complement each other such as a multi-tenanted retail shopping center.

A big-ticket shopping store usually sells items at a higher price that are bought only periodically by the customer. Furniture, cars, and upscale clothing are examples of goods found at a big-ticket shopping store. Because the prices of these items are higher, this type of customer may want to compare prices before making a purchase. 

When choosing a city or town to locate your retail store, research the area thoroughly before making a final decision. Speak with local Economic Development and Chamber of Commerce Representatives, read local papers, and speak to other small businesses in the area.

These sources should have information on the area's population, income brackets, and median age. If you have done your homework, you know in general who your customers are, so make sure you find a location near where your customers live, work and shop.

A retail store may require some specific amenities when it comes to choosing a location. Will the store require custom lighting, fixtures, or specialty signage? Are there ample restrooms for staff and customers available? Is there adequate parking lot lighting for evening shoppers? Is there ample parking for customers including handicap parking and loading docks for receiving goods and delivering goods. Does the building have a canopy that provides shelter if raining or snowing? Is there a high traffic count and good visibility from the main street?

Windham is well-known as “The Gateway to The Greater Sebago Lakes Region.” Windham has grown over the years to become a major retail service center that serves a growing population of over 18,000 residents living in Windham as well as residents from several nearby towns that shop, eat, and obtain services in North Windham. Windham offers a variety of restaurants, retail shops, professional, medical, and dental arts, service sector and, also has some business parks with niche manufacturing facilities.

Windham’s location along the Route 302 corridor and the fact that Route 302 intersects makes it a well-diversified center of commerce. The Windham retail market provides 60,000-plus people in the market area. Approximately 500,000 annual visitors come through Windham each year. Windham has become a growth area for not only retail and service businesses but offers a strong labor market as part of the Greater Portland Region.

With over 18,000 residents, a retail trade area of over 60,000-plus people, and with 500,000 annual visitors, Windham is a great location for growing retail and service businesses. Windham’s retail offerings range from locally owned boutiques to regional as well as national retail stores.

The Windham Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), a subsidiary of the Town of Windham, offers guidance and assistance with tools such as specialty research for retailers such as a Retail Market Analysis of Windham from “The Retail Coach.” <

Larry Eliason, is a Commercial Broker with Butts Commercial Brokers in Raymond and the President of the Windham Economic Development Corporation. You can reach him at 207-415-2112.


Friday, August 5, 2022

Real Estate: Interest rates increase – What’s this means for buyers and sellers?

By Matthew Trudel 

Interest rates have risen a little over the past few months and that can certainly affect the Real Estate Market in many different ways. Both buyers and sellers should understand the positives and negatives of slightly higher interest rates and what steps they can take to help achieve their own personal real estate goals. Throughout this article we will cover a few of these, but there are many others that we won’t be able to discuss due to space restrictions.

We can start with the buyer side of this topic and what some of the pros and cons are when interest rates increase a little. The first negative aspect is the obvious one which is the monthly payment they are going to be paying goes up as well. How much it goes up depends on how much you are borrowing and the interest rate. Average increase is approximately $180 to $200 per month on a $300,000 loan. This may be manageable for some people, but for others it may be outside their comfort zone. This means they may have to lower their target purchase price. There are certainly some who might not qualify for that loan anymore due to income to debt ratios. This is another negative of higher interest rates, the fact that it can lower many buyers purchasing power.

We discussed a couple of negative aspects of higher interest rates for a buyer, but what about the positive side of things. This is a little bit tricky, but you should get my point as we proceed. Some buyers will opt to not buy a new home right now because the rates have increased. They will put off their plans for a year or two in hopes of rates lowering. This means for the buyers who are moving forward with purchasing a home, they will have less competition when making an offer because there are fewer buyers out there. Less competition also means you likely might not have to offer over asking price like before when there was a lot of competition. 

On to the sellers and how they can be affected by higher interest rates. There are not many positives for sellers when rates start to tick upwards. However, one possible positive could be that the buyers who are out there want to move quickly with their offers because of the fear of interest rates going even higher. The negative side of higher interest rates for sellers are many. Fewer buyers and less competition is never a good thing for sellers. Also having fewer buyers that qualify to purchase the property can certainly hurt a sellers ability get more for their home.

So, what are some solutions for buyers to consider when interest rates tick upwards. First thing is to be realistic with expectations. A 5 percent or 5.25 percent interest rate is still a very good rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage. Not too many years ago 6.5 percent or 7 percent was a decent rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage. Another thing is to consider how long do you think you will be living in the new home. You can always refinance to a lower interest rate if the rates do drop back down. Another option is to buy your interest rate down a little bit. This is done by paying a point or so up front to get a half a percent or so lower interest rate. Talk with your lender about what options they can offer you. Increasing your down payment will definitely lower your payment, and it could also lower your interest rate because you are at a lower loan to value ratio.

These are some of the things to consider with interest rates that have risen a little. Obviously, there are many more things to look at and every situation is unique. If you would like to have a confidential meeting to discuss your own situation and hear what my 20 plus years in the business would advise, then give me a call. <

This article was written by Matt Trudel, Broker and Owner of Five Star Realty, Windham, 207-939-6971.


Friday, July 29, 2022

Real Estate: Factors to consider when thinking about relocation

Submitted by Richie Vraux

There are probably hundreds if not thousands of people that relocate every year.

Some for business, some for family-related conditions, some for health reasons, but sure enough, it is big business.

Relocating for work can be a brand-new experience. There are several relocation companies across the country that can help you with your move. Some relocation specialists provide you with several packages to choose from, some will complete your move by packing every item you own, boxing everything and all you do is transport to the new location and all your packages will already be in place in your new home.

We all have some precious belongings, so we want a company with a good reputation to handle your non-replaceable items. Whether you are moving next door or across the world, you want your items to be at the new location when you want them there.

When choosing what town you want to call home, find a realtor that knows the neighborhood and knows what your requirements and family needs may be.

You want to be near the schools that rank the highest in the community, knowing they have a good curriculum and good sports programs for your children. You also might want good after school programs, drama class, French club, computer acceleration classes, all of what you were accustomed to from your previous school system.

Of course, a lot of these answers can be answered by your real estate agent who will know the best neighborhoods in your price class.

Another thing that might be important is, where are your favorite restaurants in the neighborhood.

Is there public transportation, buses, transit authority, subways, etc.

Where are the best crime-free neighborhoods? Your realtor will know.

Are there any bike- parks, jogging trails, beaches nearby? All of these questions are important in moving to a new area.

It might be a really exciting time for you and your family. Make it the best move you ever made.


A Realtor® is a Real Estate Broker/Associated Broker or a Sales Agent that has been accepted by his/her peers and is committed to a Code of Ethics that goes well beyond a real estate professional. They are committed to excellence and high standards.

So always use a Realtor®. They will look out for your best interests. Whether you are buying or selling, commit to a person you can trust and is educated to help you make wise decisions.

As a buyer, you will want to look for an agency that does not charge to represent you - as some agencies will charge. Always ask if the real estate company charges. Most buyers’ agencies get paid by the seller-side at closing. Just as important, always ask for a copy of your contract for your records so you know what to expect.

A Realtor® knows the market and knows your neighborhood. With the current inventory shortage that we are experiencing right now, it is important to know your inventory. When a property comes on the market and meets your criteria, your agent should act quickly and arrange for you to view it to see if it meets your wants and needs. If so, act quickly to write an offer.

If a property is priced appropriately, it won’t be on the open market for very long. As a result, be very prepared. Unless you are making a cash offer - always, always, always have a pre-qualification letter in hand so it can be presented to the seller’s agent, at the time of the offer. Be aware, that if there has been a lot of activity on a property, it has become commonplace that agents are submitting offers well above asking price.

Also, other things you should know about houses are if they are: occupied, vacant, in foreclosure, short-sale or bank owned. You should know as much information as possible about each property before making an appointment. Also make sure you tell your Realtor® your timeframe for buying or selling or relocating. <

If you need real estate advice about buying or selling, contact Richie Vrauxm a Broker/REALTOR at Better Homes and Gardens - The Masiello Group, 76 Tandberg Trail, Windham, Maine, 207-317-1297 or by email at richardjvraux@gmail.com

Friday, July 22, 2022

Real Estate: DIY home improvement or hire a pro?

By Tricia Zwirner

Do-it-yourself projects now seem easier than ever. From step-by-step guides to how-to video tutorials online, the most perplexing projects can seem as easy as 1-2-3. Taking things into your own hands now has its own beloved acronym: DIY.

Thinking through the best options before kicking off your project can help avoid an in-over-my-head moment. Depending on your priorities and abilities, one approach may be smarter than the other.

Things to consider before you start

How much time is involved? Take a look at the time you will spend on the project, including planning, getting permits, purchasing materials and your time.

What is the budget? Calculate a budget and make sure you include materials and other items like tools you will need to accomplish the renovation.

What can go wrong? Account for things that might go wrong in case you hit a gas pipe or scratch floors. Confirm with your insurance company what your coverage provides if your work somehow causes damage to your property. 

Are you ready? Look at the level of complexity involved in the renovation, including specific knowledge needed for the task to decide if you should DIY or not.

Will it be fun? Decide if the time you are willing to invest in the project is worth it.

Is it safe? Be sure to consider your safety before you start the project.

After all is said and done: Is the job within your ability or is it time to bring in a professional?

Examples of DIY projects

Update kitchen cabinet door fronts. Redo kitchen cabinet doors by repainting or re-staining and/or install updated hardware for a fresh look.

* Fix a leaking toilet. Leaking toilets can waste large amounts of water and repairing can deter water damage and possible insurance claims while also saving money.

* Quick bathroom update: For a quick revamp, consider replacing lighting or adding extra storage to create a neatly organized, well-lit space.

* Add storage to a mudroom. Install low-cost, pre-made built-ins of different shapes to create a sleek, custom look.

* Refresh tile grout. Grimy, discolored tile grout can detract from a home's appearance. Paint the grout to restore its original color or change the color entirely.

* Add curb appeal. A few simple touches will give visitors a great first impression. Repaint the front door or garage doors, add potted planters near the front steps, or invest in easy to maintain shrubs and flowers.

* Fill nicks in drywall: Unsightly nail holes, nicks and gouges can be quickly filled with spackle and covered with matching paint.

* Add a fresh coat of paint. Paint can open up a space and create the illusion of more room just by being cleaner & brighter. It can also instantly increase the value of your home.

* Replace/install tile. Updating floor tile in a bathroom or adding a backsplash can be fun with an instant wow factor.

Examples of projects where a contractor should be hired

* Bathroom remodel: Contractors say bathrooms are especially tricky to renovate because of the small size and the numerous pricey components involved. Even in a small space, installing new plumbing and ripping apart aging fixtures can take days.

* Specialized projects: If there is any major structural, gas, plumbing or electrical work needed for your home repair or renovation, you should consider a professional because that type of work typically requires permits and possibly an inspector to verify the work is properly and safely completed. For example:

* Electrical repairs – Contact an electrician if your outlets, switches, or electric system are showing signs that they may need to be rewired.

* Lead paint removal – For homes built before 1978, a professional can assist with identifying the areas of your home that need lead paint removed and repainted.

* Plumbing repairs – Water heater repairs should be handled by a licensed plumber since handling incorrectly could result in unexpected gas, electrical or water issues.

* Major structural repairs – When changing the structure of a home, a general contractor can make sure that the electrical or plumbing is not damaged during the renovation.

* Roofing repairs or replacement – A professional roofer can help you select roofing materials that are engineered to stand up to harsh weather conditions.

Tricia Zwirner is a State Farm agent celebrating her 21st year in Windham. She and her team would love to hear from you and can be reached via phone & text at 207.892.2864 or via email at tricia@TRICIAZWIRNER.com.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Real Estate: Housing opportunities created by LD 2003

By Nicole Foster, Broker/REALTOR 

Emergency Bill LD 2003 has passed with bipartisan support in both the House and Senate despite opposition by the Maine Municipal Association and was signed by the governor on April 27, 2022 helping to create pathways to increase the supply of affordable housing.

It is based on the recommendations included in the report by the Commission To Increase Housing Opportunities in Maine by Studying Zoning and Land Use Restrictions. The spirit of this action is to incentivize municipalities to promote the availability of affordable housing by making changes to zoning of single-family dwellings and land use laws while honoring local control and incorporating often overlooked stakeholders in the conversation to explore solutions to the ongoing housing crisis here in Maine.

In addition to the recommendations by the Commission The Department of Economic and Community Development has created a Housing Opportunity Fund with $3.5 million to support municipalities with both technical and financial assistance. This bill encourages public investment through pro-growth policies while creating opportunities for smaller participation by not only looking to larger developments and instead letting landowners, builders, developers, and people who want to buy property be a part of the solution to the housing crisis. 

This approach focuses on looking for ways to help property owners at the local level create additional housing units to address the regional issue of a lack of inventory. Funding deployment for municipalities will roll out this fall and a sunrise provision of July 1, 2023, provides municipalities time to create strategies for the implementation of the recommendations in the report.

Last year Maine led the nation in domestic migration, with more buyers moving here from other states than any other state and our housing stock is the oldest in the country. One in five homeowners in Maine are paying more than half of their monthly income for housing while it is recommended to not exceed 30 percent of your monthly income toward housing costs.

The bill introduces a state-wide density bonus for multi-family housing increasing permissible density by 2.5 times, its current base density in areas where multi-family housing is already allowed. Affordable housing developments approved on or after April 20, 2022 where at least 50 percent of the units meet the designated income guidelines must also ensure long term affordability by use of restrictive covenants for at least 30 years.

The density bonus may only be leveraged in areas identified by a Town’s Comprehensive Growth Plan or in areas where public water and sewer are available.

Another sweeping statewide change presented is to allow the construction of duplexes on vacant land where single family homes are permitted, even if in the past zoning did now allow for duplexes to be built in that area previously.

Current setbacks and dimensional requirements must be adhered to, and any Shoreland Zoning or deed restrictions must also be followed. In designated growth areas or lots which are connected to public water and sewer the bill will allow for up to four units where single family homes are permitted.

For already existing single-family homes in designated growth areas or those with public water and sewer up to two additional dwelling units may be added. Municipalities will be required to allow one attached unit to an already existing structure including conversions of garage or attic or one detached dwelling unit or one of each. Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s) will no longer count against a municipality’s growth cap giving flexibility where previously ADU’s could be denied for growth cap purposes. ADU’s will be permitted wherever single-family homes are allowed but must meet area setback requirements. One of the largest barriers for many projects is minimum lot size, which this bill does not address.

Towns are encouraged to welcome community members to take part in the process and conversation surrounding zoning ordinance changes which promote growth. 202 of the 500 municipalities in our state have no Zoning at all, so each Town will face its own challenges in preparation for the July 1, 2023 changes to take effect.

If you currently own property, it is important for you to take the time to learn more about what your municipality is considering for implementation as this will directly impact property use and values.

Knowing the full potential of what may be done with your property is an important first step when weighing decisions of what your own next steps might be. Contact your local Code Enforcement Department to inquire about ways to become involved in the process at a local level or to see how your own property will be affected. <

Nicole Foster is a Broker with Locations Real Estate with over 16 years of experience helping buyers and sellers in Maine. She is a Windham parent and resident who loves people and real estate.

Friday, July 8, 2022

Real Estate: Answering questions about homeowner’s insurance

Submitted by Jonathan Priest

* How does my local fire department impact my homeowner’s policy?

Each fire protection agency (including your local fire department) is reviewed by the Insurance Services Office (ISO) and ranked based on their fire protection services, such as fire equipment, staffing and available water supply. The ranking is called the Public Protection Class (PPCTM) with 1 being the best score and 10 being the worst score. Many insurance companies use the P P C rating and the distance your home is from the nearest legally responding fire department to determine whether they will insure your home and how much to charge. For more information on P P C, please contact your agent.

* What would it cost to replace the contents or personal belongings of my home?

If the unexpected happens, losing your home contents could be distressing as well as financially devastating. Your homeowners, Townhouse, Condo and Renters policies cover the loss of your personal belongings, subject to the policy limits and conditions.

There are two distinct ways to insure your personal possessions:

· Replacement cost coverage. This coverage pays you the dollar amount needed to replace personal property without any deduction for depreciation but is limited to a maximum dollar amount.

· Actual cash value. This coverage pays you an amount equal to the replacement value of damaged property minus depreciation. Unless a homeowners policy specifies that property is covered for its replacement value, the coverage is for actual cash value.

Many people make the mistake of underestimating the value of their home contents. This mistake is easily made when you consider the amount of new items we purchase each year. Under-insurance can lead to heartache and inconvenience should the unexpected happen. Your local agent is available to assist you with insuring your home contents.

What is a deductible?

A deductible is the amount you’re responsible for in the event of a covered loss. In most covered loss cases, you are responsible for any amounts up to your deductible level and your insurance would cover anything beyond that up to your coverage limit. For example, if you select a $1,000 deductible and have a $4,200 covered loss, you would receive a claim payment of $3,200 after deducting the $1,000.

A homeowners deductible applies to each claim. If you have more than one claim in a policy period, you will be responsible for the deductible amount for each individual claim regardless of the number of claims you have during that policy period.

* What are the different types of home insurance deductible options?

For home policies, there are three common types of deductibles:

· A flat deductible is a specific or fixed dollar amount; for example, $2,500.

· A percent deductible is a percentage that it is based on the home’s dwelling coverage, often called Coverage A. For example, a 1 percent deductible on a home with $150,000 dwelling coverage is $1,500, and the same 1 percent deductible for a home with $300,000 dwelling coverage is $3,000. Keep in mind that as your home’s dwelling coverage increases the calculated amount of your deductible will also increase.

· A split deductible means there is a specific deductible that applies to some cause(s) of loss and a different deductible that applies to other causes of loss. For example, a percent deductible may apply to wind and hail losses, and a flat deductible may apply to all other causes of loss. A split deductible can be separate flat deductibles, separate percent deductibles, or a combination of both.

* How is my premium affected by selecting a higher or lower deductible option?

If you select a higher deductible, you will be responsible for paying more out of pocket. However, you’ll typically pay a lower policy premium. The opposite is true if you select a lower deductible option: because the insurer will pay a larger portion of any loss, you’ll typically pay a higher policy premium. Your agent can review available deductible options with you to help you decide what option you may want.

* How do I know what deductible applies to my policy?

The deductible you choose will be listed on your Declarations page. <

This article was brought to you courtesy of Farmers Insurance agent, Jonathan Priest, with an office at 57 Tandberg Trail, Suite 7, Windham. Call him at 207-893-8184 or send him an email at 
jpriest1@farmersagent.com

Friday, July 1, 2022

Real Estate: Terms you should know, G to Z

Submitted by Lisa DiBiase

Do you “Understand” what your agent is saying? For home buyers and sellers, the real estate jargon can be intimidating.

Some people are not comfortable asking what it means, therefore I have put together a list of the most common acronyms and real estate terms we use daily!

Good faith estimate: Under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, within three days of an application submission, lenders are required to provide in writing to potential borrowers a good faith estimate of closing costs. Homeowner’s insurance: Coverage that includes personal liability and theft insurance in addition to hazard insurance.

HUD: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Inspection Waiver:
Home inspection is waived by the buyer to assure the seller there will be no haggling for repair costs.

Interest rate lock: When the borrower and lender agree to lock a rate on loan. Can have terms and conditions attached to the lock.

Listing: Brokers written agreement to represent a seller and their property. Agents refer to their inventory of agreements with sellers as listings.

Listing agreement:
A document that establishes the real estate agent’s agreement with the sellers to represent their property in the market. 

Loan application: A document that buyers who are requesting a loan fill out and submit to their lender.

Loan closing costs: The costs a lender charges to close a borrower’s loan. These costs vary from lender to lender and from market to market. 

Loan commitment: A written document telling the borrowers that the mortgage company has agreed to lend them a specific amount of money at a specific interest rate for a specific period of time. The loan commitment may also contain conditions upon which the loan commitment is based.

Mortgage: A legal agreement by which a bank or other creditor lends money at interest in exchange for taking title of the debtor's property, with the condition that the conveyance of title becomes void upon the payment of the debt.

Mortgage broker:
A business that or an individual who unites lenders and borrowers and processes mortgage applications.

Off market: A property listing that has been removed from the sale inventory in a market. A property can be temporarily or permanently off market.

Payoff letter: A written document from a seller’s mortgage company stating the amount of money needed to pay the loan in full.

Pre-approval:
A higher level of buyer/borrower pre-qualification required by a mortgage lender. Some pre-approvals have conditions the borrower must meet.

Prepaid interest: Funds paid by the borrower at closing based on the number of days left in the month of closing.

Prepayment penalty: A fine imposed on the borrower by the lender when the loan is paid off before it comes due.

Pre-qualification: The mortgage company tells a buyer in advance of the formal mortgage application, how much money the borrower can afford to borrow. Some pre-qualifications have conditions that the borrower must meet.

Principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI): The four parts that make up a borrower’s monthly mortgage payment.

Private mortgage insurance (PMI):
A special insurance paid by a borrower in monthly installments, typically of loans of more than 80 percent of the value of the property.

Purchase and Sale Agreement: A real estate contract between a Seller and a Buyer who have agreed to specific terms on a specific listing/property.

Special assessment:
A special and additional charge to a unit in a condominium or cooperative. Also could mean a special real estate tax for improvements that benefit a property.

Under contract/Pending: A property that has an accepted real estate contract between seller and buyer.

VA: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Walk-through: A showing before closing or escrow that permits the buyers one final tour of the property they are purchasing.

Agents have a big responsibility to handle your largest asset in most cases, please always have open communication to understand what your options are. As I have said before, please call a local REALTOR for all your real estate needs no matter how big or small. We are trained professionals here to make your life easier. It's best to surround yourself with the right team of professionals that can continuously give you the right advice for all your circumstances. <

Lisa DiBiase is a Broker/Owner of Landing Real Estate. She and her company represent buyers and sellers and is your trusted partner for all the years to come. For all your real estate needs contact Lisa at 207-653-0823 or lisa@landinghomesmaine.com

Friday, June 24, 2022

Real Estate: Why septic inspections are so important

By Carrie Colby

Are you wondering how septic inspections work? If you are buying a home with a septic tank, there are some things you need to be aware of. If you are selling your home, you could need an inspection of the septic system. 

What is a septic system?

Before we work through what you need to know about a septic inspection, it will be important to have at least a basic understanding of what a septic system is and how it works. Most septic systems consist of a septic tank, a distribution box, and a leach field. Septic tanks assist in digesting organic matter and will separate floatable matter such as oil, grease, and solids from the wastewater.

A septic system that is functioning properly will discharge the liquid from the septic tank to a distribution box to perforated pipes that are buried in a leach field. The pipes are designed to release the wastewater into the ground slowly.

Buying a home with a septic system

If you are purchasing a property with a septic system, you should find out a few things about it and the maintenance. Knowing how old the home is and when the system was last inspected or pumped will help you see if there are more likely to be problems.

Other questions to ask should include if there has been any standing water near or above the tank and problems with backups. Also, find out about any repairs that have been made to the tank or leach field and when.

You will want to hire a septic inspector to really make sure the system is functioning correctly. Spending the money on this type of inspection should ensure you don’t get surprised by a large bill soon after you’ve moved in.

If problems are found during a septic inspection your real estate agent should help you negotiate the repairs to be made by the seller or funds reimbursed to you to have the repairs made. These repairs can be a few hundred or more costly thousands of dollars.

Selling a home with a septic system

When selling, you should really consider having a septic inspection before the sale, especially if you have not given your septic system a thought in years. If you do know of a problem with your system, you need to disclose it to the buyer. If problems are discovered with the septic system in the process of selling your home, it is likely the costs will be your responsibility, though this can be negotiated with the buyer.

What is done during a septic inspection?

There are three things a septic system inspector will check during an inspection including the integrity of the septic tank, the proper function of the distribution box, and a leach field that is working as intended.

If all three of these components are working correctly you will have passed the septic inspection.

A septic inspector will open the septic tank and look around visually. The inspector will also open the distribution box and check to see that it's functioning as intended and dig a hole in the leach field to inspect it as well. A good septic inspector will have a camera they will send into the system that will allow them to inspect the entire system thoroughly.

How much does it cost to inspect a septic system?

The cost of inspecting a septic system will vary depending on a few factors, including your location. The size of the tank which is generally either 1,000 or 1,500 gallons will also have some bearing on the cost. You can expect to pay a few hundred dollars. This can be the best money spent when buying a home. I have personally seen new systems fail that were not installed properly. Never assume the septic system is working just by looking at the property and that the seller has disclosed there are no issues.

How long do septic systems last?

On average a septic system will last from 20 to 50 years. Being a real estate agent, I have seen septic systems fail sooner as well as last longer. If you take care of your system, it will last longer. <

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

Friday, June 17, 2022

Real Estate: Living the Dream in Vacationland

By Nicole Foster, Broker/REALTOR

Homes listed and sold for $1,000,000 or more are going under contract faster than ever before with the demand for luxury homes in Maine ever greater.  

In recent years we’ve also experienced an increase in the number of investor-owned properties which are rented for both short- and long-term use. Maine was recently reported to lead the nation in the number of vacant properties according to 2020 US Census Data with one fifth of the housing stock vacant for at least a portion of the year with the majority of that used seasonally for recreation or as a second home. Maine’s most premiere lakes, located only minutes from Portland where prices for the most expensive 1% of homes has grown by 27 percent, offer some of the most exclusive waterfront to be found.

Raymond: Happens to be where you will find the most expensive home listed and sold in the entire state of Maine last year selling for $8.5 million. The two previous years the highest-priced homes in this town sold for around half of that amount.  With so many pristine lakes and ponds with waterfront homes scattered throughout Raymond, homes listed and sold in the $1 million to $4.8 million range grew from eight properties in 2019 to thirteen in 2020 with tight inventory in 2021 limiting to 12.

Naples: The cost of owning a lakefront retreat in this town has soared in recent years unable to keep up with the huge demand.  In 2019 the highest sale here was for just under one million dollars while 2020 saw four homes selling between $1,000,000 to $2,000,000.  Last year prices continued to climb hitting $3,200,000 as Naples most expensive home sold with several homes selling for over two million and several more between the $1,000,000 to $2,000,000 price points. 

Windham: After only three days on the fiercely hot summer market of 2021 Windham’s highest priced listing located on Sebago Lake went under contract selling for $2.75 million. Homes which were listed and sold for above the $1 million mark rose from two homes in 2019 and three in 2020 to five last year with two exceeding $2 million compared to 2020 when the most expensive Windham home closed at $1.575 million or in 2019 for $1.6 million.

Standish: The demand for luxury waterfront homes which are located here has continued to grow and last year we saw the most expensive home sold jump from $1.490 million in 2020 to $2.722,500.  During 2020 only one home sale exceeded the $1 million price point with none the previous year but in 2021 that number reached ten properties sold.

Casco: Homes with private lake frontage have steadily climbed from $827,000 and under in 2019 to five properties selling between $1 million and $1.8 million in 2021. This trend is likely to continue here with a growing number of people choosing to make Casco their home or vacation spot.

Sebago: Limited inventory is likely the reason the highest sale for 2021 here was for $985,000 following 2020 when three homes sold for more than one million dollars and the highest sale of 2019 being $1,400,000. 

Bridgton: The real estate market of 2021 has blazed a trail including eight homes selling more than one million dollars with Bridgton’s most expensive home sale of the year at $2.95 million. This is over the previous year’s highest sale of $1.78 million with four other homes selling in that range and one in 2019.

Harrison: In early 2019 a rare 48-acre parcel on Long Lake with 1,500 feet of frontage topped the market at $5.1 million with three other properties selling over one million. Last year jumped from two homes selling in the low $1 million range in 2020 to seven homes in 2021 with the highest closing for $2.2 million.

Frye Island: This completely seasonal island normally has a limited number of sales, but we can see those numbers doubled in the market of 2020 with an increase to overall sales with several homes having sold between $1 million and $2 million. It is smart to move swiftly on a property of interest located here with most homes having a low number of days on the market in 2021.

Some of this echoes the effect of the overall increase seen in home sale prices, but it also undoubtedly shows that high end homes are moving now that we have more buyers for them. Sellers are wise to leverage the current market conditions and buyers should seek out an area specialist to assist in finding their Vacationland dream home in the Sebago Lakes Region.

Data sourced from Maine Multiple Listing Service. <

Nicole Foster is a Maine native and Windham resident with sixteen years of experience assisting home buyers and sellers who loves real estate and people Nicole@locationsinmaine.com or 207-615-7558.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Real Estate: North Windham sewers will benefit environment, commercial development

By Larry Eliason

The prospect of a public sewer coming to North Windham in the next few years is a welcomed initiative. North Windham is poised for well-managed and directed growth and a public sewer system will complement all the plans that have been made such as the Comprehensive Plan and the 21st Century Downtown Plan for North Windham. 

The addition of public sewer infrastructure in North Windham will certainly help protect Sebago Lake, other lakes and ponds, rivers and streams and the aquifers all around us in Windham.   Frankly, I think this is the absolute right time to approve a public sewer system and then take all the necessary steps to make it a reality over the next three to five years via the partnership the town has with the Portland Water District and obtaining federal funding to assist with the cost of this infrastructure.

North Windham is well recognized as a retail and service center for the Sebago Lakes Region.  We have a good base of local businesses, but we do not have nearly enough manufacturers that provide really good paying jobs and that pay a good portion of commercial real estate taxes to help with the balance of residential base and the commercial tax base.  

I believe that sewer infrastructure will help attract more companies that need higher per gallon sewerage capacity.  These companies will offer good paying jobs and pay their fair share of commercial real estate taxes.

Companies looking at Windham will also be looking at housing for their employees.  There are quite a few apartment and condo projects in the pipeline for North Windham that will hopefully take some pressure off the current demand. 

However, Windham currently has a Growth Ordinance specifically for single family homes.  Unfortunately, the Growth Ordinance has, in my opinion, contributed to Windham having a housing shortage.  The median price point for a home in Windham is currently $ 450,000 to $475,000 price range. 

If you limit building permits like Windham does, builders are going to build houses with a higher price and better profit margin as another permit for a second or third house package may not be available.

My point being that as soon as Windham residents pass the sewer initiative, we as a community should immediately ask our Town Leaders to rescind the growth ordinance and get single family housing options back that are more affordable for Windham residents.  I think a price point of $300,000 to $350,000 is a lot more palatable.   

This goal may require some zoning, density and minimum lot size changes. In Windham, like a lot of other towns, residential home building permits and all the related fees that go with a new home help pay the bills.

Adding sewer infrastructure is a high priority and an instrumental piece of the puzzle to again attract and also retain companies that offer good paying jobs and pay their fair share in commercial real estate and personal property taxes.

Windham like most other towns has lots of challenges ahead such as managing traffic flows, but Windham also has a bright future with well thought out plans in place.

I encourage all Windham residents to get out and vote on June 14.  I also encourage all Windham Business Owners and Residents to engage their Town Councilors on topics like the Growth Ordinance.

Larry Eliason is a Commercial Broker with Butts Commercial Brokers and is President of Windham Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

Friday, June 3, 2022

Real Estate: Navigating this hot real estate market

By Matthew Trudel

Both buyers and sellers have plenty of things to deal with in a market that has houses selling for $25,000 to $50,000 over the asking price.  I even know of a couple of houses that went for almost $100,000 over asking price. How do buyers and sellers navigate such a crazy market?  Both should start with finding an experienced real estate broker to work with to assist them in achieving their real estate goals. 

How do you go about selecting the correct real estate agent for the job? 

Here are a few things to consider when making that decision and going through the selection process:

Almost everyone knows a handful of realtors.  The number of new agents over the last several years has increased significantly, even throughout the pandemic.  Experience and knowledge are some key things to look for when selecting a realtor to work with.  Try to find a real estate agent who knows the area in which you are looking to buy or sell.  Again, I would like to bring up experience as a key factor. 

There are so many things that come up in any transaction from problems in inspections, negotiations, legal documentation and/or financing problems.  Having the experience to negotiate and solve those problems can be the difference of a successful transaction or one that falls apart.  So, find a real estate broker who you are comfortable working with and get the process started.

Sellers are mostly concerned about the value of their home and the  price they should list their home for sale.  This is where it gets a little tricky and knowing the area and what the pulse of the market is in that area are crucial.  In the old days we would list homes a little over what we thought they were worth or would likely sell for.  Then wait for an offer to come in or slowly drop the price over time. 

That doesn’t work anymore in this market and is not a good strategy to get you the most money for your home.  Pricing it accurately and getting the most potential buyers at your home in the first few days is the correct strategy.  This creates more demand, more competition and produces higher offers generally well over the asking price. 

The number of potential buyers in relation to the listing price correlates very similar to a pyramid.  The higher the listing price the fewer the number of potential buyers will come see your house.  Raise the price a little more and that number of potential buyers shrinks a little more. 

Eventually, as you consider raising the listing price, you would run out of buyers altogether. This is what we call pricing yourself out of the market.  Buyers in today’s market are much too savvy and knowledgeable with all the technology out there with regard to home valuation.   However, when there is a lot of competition and interest in a home, the knowledge they have is used to try to outbid each other creating multiple offers well above the asking price.

Buyers right now do not seem to mind that the interest rates have ticked up a little to around 5 percent or slightly over that.  Inventory is still low even with all the new construction going on.  Buyers need to be prepared and ready to go as soon as a property hits the market. 

Your real estate broker should be working closely with you and your mortgage broker or lender, so everyone is prepared to get the offer in when you find right home.  It is likely going to be a competition between several buyers and yourself and having an experienced broker who has been through the process for years can give you the edge over other competing offers.

The highest offer is not always the best offer, so there is lot more to negotiating an offer than just increasing the price.  I have written several articles over the years about different strategies that can be successful in competitive markets like this one.  Sometimes it can be as simple as writing a short letter to the seller explaining a little about yourself and why you like their home and having your realtor present that letter along with the offer.  There are a lot of other things I like to incorporate into putting together my clients’ offers and all of that research has to happen quickly with time being of the essence. 

If you would like to learn more, feel free to give me a call to set up a confidential meeting.  <

This article was written by Matthew Trudel, Broker and Owner of Five Star Realty, Windham. Call 207-939-6971.