Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Cats and Dogs, Architects and Builders

By Warren O’Shea

It could be said that architects and builders have had a tenuous relationship ever since there have been architects and builders. Architects can feel that builders don’t fully grasp the importance of the aspects of thoughtful design, and builders can feel that the architects should spend time in the field of construction to understand that what looks good on paper, simply can’t be produced in the physical world. Anyone who has seen the works of M.C. Escher knows what I mean.

Hiring an architect should be based on multiple factors. Is the project a new construction or a remodel? Does the architect produce designs that are in step with your aesthetic? Are they familiar with the way that your home is built? Do they understand that you don’t just “move a wall” without knowing if it is load bearing or what utilities may be hidden inside?

Architects are essential for new construction designs; they will have all the details accounted for once the design goes through a multitude of renderings before it’s eventually completed and approved. Note however, that the architect will likely not be putting any cost figures on the design. When choosing an architect, you would also want to look at the body of their work and the style of their portfolio. The Portland architect may have very modern, angular, industrial projects while the Cape Elizabeth architect will have a coastal, cozy, beachfront feel.

Remodelers are essential for remodeling designs of older homes. If you listen to the house, it will tell you what it wants; if you fight the house, it will cost more money. I have experienced several situations where the homeowner hired an architect for a considerable amount of money for their residential remodel and the overall cost to build/remodel as designed was hugely outside of the homeowner’s construction budget.

Moreover, the final value of the home, if it was built, would have exceeded the median home values for the neighborhood by, in this case, about $350,000. It would have been the only $700,000 home in a neighborhood of $350,000 homes.

They would not have been able to sell it for what they had invested; they couldn’t rent part of it out because it wasn’t two separate units and if it were, the rent wouldn’t have covered the monthly payments on the construction loan. The two bathrooms would have been placed in the farthest possible point away from the sewer line. The existing staircase would have been torn out and moved over four feet to allow for a 2nd floor laundry/ wash-dry closet. It would have maxed out the usable and most enjoyable part of the private back yard.

It would not have made the kitchen more spacious or functional, given them a mud room or give them a second covered spot for off-street parking. The windows were specified to be Anderson’s most expensive line, where the existing windows in the main house were good quality but didn’t match the newly proposed windows. You may have guessed by now, the architect got paid and the remodel never happened. What you may not have guessed was the backlash I received from the homeowner. Sure, no one wants to hear that they needlessly spent a lot of money, but I’d rather rain on their parade now than be the captain of a sinking ship later.

Much like the parameters for finding an architect, the same should be taken into consideration when finding a builder/remodeler. Do they have a body of work which represents the type of build you are looking for? Are they experienced in 100-, 200-, or 300-year-old homes. Do they only do remodeling? Do they do a mix of residential and commercial or is it all one or the other? Do they have a team of subcontractors that are familiar with, and willing to, get their hands dirty in these old buildings? Truth be told, I have had some very professional and accomplished subcontracted tradesmen and employees stop doing remodels with us because new construction is easier and cleaner.

As with any construction endeavors, make sure the business and its subcontractors are insured and their workman’s comp policy is up to date. Certificates of Insurance should come directly from their insurance provider, not from their personal docs, as info and dates on their declarations page can be changed.

As per the Maine Attorney General’s guidelines for construction and home repair, always get a contract in writing, always speak with more than one contractor, and don’t pay more than one third of the total cost of the contracted project up front. <

Warren O'Shea is the owner of O’Shea Builders LLC, Maine’s most award-winning remodeling contractor. He has 35-plus years of residential remodeling experience. He is a certified home inspector and has been featured on HGTV, Food Network, and Maine Cabin Masters. He is a recipient of the Portland Police Department’s “Citizen Award,” and is a staunch consumer advocate. Warren has, and continues to, co-author articles for nationally distributed trade magazines.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Real Estate: Carbon Monoxide Safety

By Nicole Foster, Broker/ REALTOR

November is National Carbon Monoxide Awareness Month and is a time to promote safety awareness surrounding the increased risks to Maine residents during the cold weather months.

Each year between one to three people in Maine die from carbon monoxide poisoning, and approximately 150 people visit the emergency room to receive treatment for it. 

The overwhelming majority of these incidents take place between the months of November through March. Carbon Monoxide, or “CO,” is an odorless, colorless gas that is found in fumes which are created any time you burn fuel. You are burning fuel every time your oil or gas fired boiler and furnace kicks on, or when your gas fireplace, gas stove or other gas operated appliances are used. CO can also be found in the exhaust fumes from kerosene space heaters, generators, and vehicles while in use.

When CO builds up indoors it poisons the people and animals who breathe it, making them sick or killing them. Everyone can be affected by CO poisoning but those with chronic heart disease, anemia, respiratory issues, the elderly, and infants are most likely to be impacted. CO poisoning symptoms can be described as “flu-like” but it often occurs when people are sleeping, and no symptoms are displayed.

If you have purchased a single or multifamily property after October 31, 2009, then you may recall having seen a form at the closing that the buyers were required to sign and date stating if the property does not currently have CO detectors installed then the new owners will be sure to do so within 30 days of the closing date or prior to taking occupancy. It also requires that the CO detectors be installed in each area within or giving access to bedrooms and they must be powered both by the electrical service in the dwelling or building and by battery.

This statute was enacted after a state study was conducted looking for the causes for the epidemic of CO poisoning related deaths following the ice storm in January 1998, when many Maine residents were improperly using generators to keep their homes and families warm and were killed as a result.

Now is the time to think about prolonged power outages during cold weather, and to begin making a solid plan. Consider how you will keep your property warm enough to prevent the pipes from freezing if you do not have electricity for a week or possibly longer. If you need to use a portable generator as a part of your plan, identify the place you will put it in the open air (not inside an enclosed area where fumes can accumulate) while keeping it protected from sleet, snow, and ice. Never use a generator in a garage or a basement. Be sure to dry your hands to prevent shock before touching a generator in wet conditions and always place it at least 20 feet away from any windows, doors, and vents.

If you run a kerosene heater indoors it is important to crack windows and leave doors open to other rooms to prevent CO from building up. Follow the instructions for setting the height for the wick and use only crystal-clear K-1 grade fuel.

When burning decorative logs for heat keep the flue open in your chimney and crack windows for ventilation. It is unsafe to heat your home using a gas range or oven. Do not use an outdoor gas or charcoal grill indoors for heating or cooking.

Do not skip out on the annual maintenance of your gas, oil, coal, or wood burning heating systems and be sure to use a qualified service technician. To prevent creosote blockage from letting CO build up indoors have your chimney swept annually before winter use. Make sure that all your gas appliances are vented properly. You should not run a vehicle inside a garage which is attached to a house, even with the garage door open.

When you set the clocks back in the fall and ahead in the spring, be sure to check your smoke and CO detectors are in good working order and have fresh batteries twice each year. Most stores carry combination smoke and CO detectors. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has recalled Kidde brand hard-wired smoke and combination smoke/carbon monoxide alarms from 2014 because the alarms could fail following a power outage with 1.2 million sold in the US. If you have this model (Model i12010S) you should replace it. Look for the UL mark with the "Single Station Carbon Monoxide Alarm" statement when purchasing a new one. <

Nicole Foster is a real estate Broker since 2005 and is a Windham resident and parent. Visit or Insta @207nicolefoster.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Under Contract: Knowing your Options

By Tia Morell

In the world of real estate, navigating the complexities of buying a home can be a daunting task. From finding the perfect property to negotiating the price and closing the deal, there are numerous critical decisions to be made. 

Among these, understanding the concept of earnest money, exploring mortgage options, and having a well-prepared real estate agent are paramount. In this article, we will delve into the importance of knowing your options when under contract, the significance of earnest money, and the benefits of exploring different mortgage programs, particularly the differences between 3 percent conventional loans and 3.5 percent FHA loans.

The significance of earnest money

First and foremost, it's crucial to understand what earnest money is and why it's important in a real estate transaction. Earnest money is a sum of money, typically a percentage of the purchase price, that a buyer provides as a show of good faith when making an offer on a property. This deposit demonstrates the buyer's commitment to the deal and reassures the seller that they are serious about the purchase.

Earnest money is held in an escrow account during the course of the transaction and serves as a guarantee of the buyer's intention to proceed with the purchase. If the deal falls through due to the fault of the buyer, the seller may be entitled to retain the earnest money as compensation for time and expenses incurred. However, if the deal collapses for reasons outside the buyer's control, the earnest money is typically returned to them.

Situations where a buyer can receive earnest money back

There are various situations where a buyer can expect to receive their earnest money back.

These include:

1. Contingency Clauses: Most real estate contracts include contingency clauses that allow the buyer to withdraw from the deal and receive their earnest money back if certain conditions are not met. For example, if a home inspection reveals significant issues or the buyer cannot secure financing as specified in the contract, they are entitled to a refund of their earnest money.

2. Seller Defaults: If the seller fails to fulfill their obligations outlined in the contract, the buyer can usually demand the return of their earnest money.

3. Failure to Appraise: In cases where the property's appraised value is lower than the agreed-upon purchase price, the buyer may be able to withdraw from the deal and have their earnest money returned.

Situations where the seller is owed earnest money

On the other hand, there are situations where the seller may be entitled to the earnest money. These include:

1. Buyer Defaults: If the buyer fails to fulfill their obligations as outlined in the contract and the deal collapses due to their actions, the seller may retain the earnest money as compensation.

2. Termination Outside of Contingencies: If the buyer decides to terminate the contract for reasons not covered by contingency clauses and the seller can demonstrate that they suffered financial losses as a result, they may be entitled to the earnest money.

Mortgage options and the importance of exploring them

When it comes to purchasing a home, financing plays a crucial role. Buyers should explore different mortgage options to find the one that best suits their financial situation and long-term goals. In today's market, where interest rates can fluctuate, it's essential to be well-informed about your mortgage choices.

Two popular mortgage options are conventional loans with a 3 percent down payment and FHA loans with a 3.5 percent down payment. Understanding the differences between these options is vital.

Conventional Loans vs. FHA Loans

Conventional Loans (3 percent Down Payment)

• Conventional loans are not backed by the government.

• They typically require a minimum down payment of 3 percent.

• Borrowers with higher credit scores may qualify for more favorable interest rates.

• Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) is required if the down payment is less than 20 percent.

• These loans are suited for buyers with strong credit histories and stable financial situations.

FHA Loans (3.5 percent Down Payment)

• FHA loans are backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

• They require a minimum down payment of 3.5 percent.

• Borrowers with lower credit scores may qualify for these loans.

• FHA loans typically have more lenient qualification criteria.

• Mortgage insurance is required for the entire loan term.

• Given the current scenario of an 8 percent interest rate on loans, the choice between these two options becomes even more critical. A higher down payment can reduce your monthly mortgage payment and the overall interest you'll pay over the life of the loan. So, while a 3 percent down payment may seem enticing, a 3.5 percent FHA loan might be a more feasible option for those with lower credit scores or who don't have the financial means for a larger down payment.

The role of a knowledgeable real estate agent

To navigate these complex waters successfully, it's essential to have a knowledgeable real estate agent on your side. A competent agent not only guides you through the process but also ensures you're fully aware of your options and the potential consequences of your decisions.

• Your agent should be well-versed in various financing programs, have a deep understanding of earnest money, and be skilled in negotiations. They should explore multiple strategies to ensure that the deal is structured in a way that aligns with your best interests. With their expertise, they can help you make informed choices that will increase your chances of closing the deal.

• In conclusion, knowing your options when you're under contract in real estate is of paramount importance. Earnest money serves as a symbol of commitment in a real estate transaction, but it's essential to understand when it can be returned to the buyer and when the seller may be entitled to it. Additionally, exploring different mortgage programs, such as conventional loans with a 3 percent down payment and FHA loans with a 3.5 percent down payment, can make a significant difference, especially in a high-interest rate environment. Finally, having a dedicated and knowledgeable real estate agent by your side is crucial to ensure that you make the right decisions and have clear expectations as you navigate the intricate world of real estate transactions. With the right information, strategy, and support, you can increase your chances of a successful and smooth closing on your dream home. <

Tia Morrell is a REALTOR for Landing Real Estate in Windham. Call her at 207-317-1833 or send her an email at

Friday, November 3, 2023

Real Estate: What is indoor air pollution and what can you do about it?

By Tricia Zwirner

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor pollution levels can be two to five times greater than outdoor levels.

Given that the average American spends up to 90 percent of their time inside, indoor air quality is a public health concern.

What Affects Indoor Air Quality?

Elliott Horner, PhD, principal scientist at UL Environment explain indoor pollutants can be grouped into three different categories: gaseous, particulate, and biological." And, Horner adds, each category has its own risks.

Breaking Down Those Three Types of Pollutants

1. Gaseous Indoor Pollutants

Pollutants produce dangerous side effects in the gaseous state. Minor ailments can include headaches and eye irritations; however, they can also trigger much more serious consequences, such as cancer and even death.

The most worrisome gaseous pollutants include:

• Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) - Building materials and other household goods emit these chemicals, such as formaldehyde.

Common sources are wood, drywall, adhesives, paint, cleaning products, furniture, and even home electronics.

• Radon gas - Occurring naturally in the soil, radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer, and it’s responsible for between 15K & 22K deaths a year, according to the National Cancer Institute.

• Carbon monoxide gas - A clear and odorless gas that is both naturally occurring and a byproduct of man-made combustion.

2. Particulate Indoor Pollutants

Ultra-fine liquid or solid particles in the air can get deep into the lungs. They are associated with an increased risk of allergies and asthma attacks. Common particulates are:

• pollen

• dust

• dust mites

• animal dander

• diesel exhaust particles that seep in from outdoors

• secondhand smoke

3. Biological Indoor Pollutants

'Biological pollutants almost always involve dampness or water damage,' Horner says. Humidity, water-line breaks, and flooding are frequent sources. They can cause infections and worsen allergies and asthma, and often produce less-toxic VOCs that still are a cause for concern. Biological pollutants include:

• mold

• mildew

• bacteria - mostly occupant related

• viruses - all occupant related

Detecting a Problem

You can see many particulate pollutants, such as dust, but detecting the other types requires testing. 'There are several analytical sciences to detect issues in air quality, but they are very expensive,' says Horner. "However, there are some clues that the average person can pick up on, too." Horner suggests paying attention to foul or musty odors or eye, skin, or respiratory irritations among family members.

Commercially available test kits can help you identify potential problems. If you suspect you're dealing with a bigger problem, contact an environmental consultant or your local or state health department for assistance.

Nine Tips for Better Indoor Air Quality

1. Open windows - Most heating and cooling systems recirculate inside air. When weather permits, give your system a break and let in fresh air. Open windows and place fans strategically to help direct fresh air through.

2. Run exhaust fans - Turn on the kitchen fan to vent cooking pollutants, and the bathroom fan to curb mold-promoting wetness and fumes from cleaning products. Leave the fan running for about 45 minutes.

3. Use doormats - They help prevent dirt and other outdoor pollutants from making it inside. Get two natural-fiber mats, one for inside and the other for outside your main entrance. Keep a shoe-free home too.

4. Test for radon - DIY test kits, available online and at your local home improvement store, are inexpensive and easy to use.

5. Don't mask odors - Scented candles and sprays can irritate lungs. Find the source of the smell, get rid of it, then ventilate well until it's gone.

6. Use a dehumidifier - Stay under 50% humidity to keep mold growth at bay. Clean your dehumidifier regularly so it doesn't switch from humidity-reducing friend to mold-harboring foe.

7. Vacuum regularly - You'll reduce the amount of dust and other pollutants released when you walk around. Invest in a quality vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, especially good at trapping even tiny bits of dust and dirt.

8. Take it outside - Painting, sanding, gluing - anything that generates particles, gases or other pollutants - should be done outside. If outside isn't an option, open a nearby window and add a fan blowing air out. Clean up after your project quickly and well.

9. Monitor your air quality - Devices can monitor temperature and humidity to help you understand how your home might affect your health. <

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 and text at 207-892-2864 or via email at

Friday, October 27, 2023

Real Estate: On your mark, get set, let the holiday decorating begin

By Theresa Bouchard

Yup, that time of year is right around the corner. The good ole’ Maine chill has begun, the clocks will soon be turned back and bam, Halloween will turn to Christmas in a flash! Don’t let it get you down, embrace it!

According to psychologist and author Deborah Serani, holiday decorations trigger that happy hormone called dopamine. The bright lights and festive music create a soothing ambience which in turn permeates joy. It’s no wonder some folks begin their holiday decorating well before most- maybe they are on to something!

Decorating for the holidays can be a daunting task for some due to lack of time, cost or even their lack of enthusiasm for the time of year. Don’t try to keep up with the Jones’, just focus on your home, your space and how to create holiday magic on either a very small or over-the-top scale… it’s entirely up to you! Here are some tips (small and large) to help you brighten your home and mood with some holiday cheer as we approach this merry time of the year.

Lights, lights, and more lights! There is something about lights that make us smile. When you see a Christmas tree light up for the first time, it makes our hearts sing. It lifts our spirits and creates happiness in all of us. Adding a simple string of lights (fairy lights or Christmas tree lights) to a window frame, existing plants in your home, a mantel, and/or a doorway, creates a cozy, warm feeling within us. Add greenery to those lights and wow, just sit back and enjoy!

Some think that wreaths are just for the exterior of your home. Well, that is just not true. You can add real or faux wreaths to interior doors or windows– a simple touch to create a calming, serene environment. If you are using faux wreaths and want to add a smidge of that Christmas tree scent to really get you into the spirit, grab some scented pine tree sticks or spray to flourish your home with holiday joy!

Decorating small spaces is so much fun! If you are working with a limited space but want to bring in some elements of the holidays, simply get small Christmas trees made of wood, glass, cloth material, and add to any surface in your home. Incorporate candle sticks or lights (yes, lights!) to brighten any corner or surface in your home whether it be your kitchen, dining room, bathroom, bedroom, or entryway. Mixing different materials will create interest and softness. Your friends and family will surely be asking for your festive decorating tips!

You can’t cozy up to a good movie or a hot cup of cocoa without the perfect pillows and throw blankets. Simply changing out your pillows and throws with warm winter materials such as Sherpa, fleece, faux fur, or quilts and decorative pillows in patterns such as plaids, holiday patterns and trendy colors, will create a welcoming and inviting holiday atmosphere. You will not want to leave the comforts of your home, why would you?

Greenery in a home creates immediate warmth to a space during the holidays and all year round. During the holidays, garland adds that finishing touch to any room. There are many types of decorative garland such as pine, cedar, boxwood, the list goes on. Garland of any type draped around windows, doors and mantels immediately transforms a room into a haven for rest and relaxation. Add those lights and you have got yourself a holiday sanctuary!

Lastly, vases can go a long way when decorating for the holidays. You can fill vases with ornaments and lights (I use battery operated fairy lights) to add a festive flair to a corner or space that needs a little pop of cheer. Or you can gather branches from your yard and place them in a vase for a very natural look or even lightly spray paint them white to create a birch tree effect. Something as simple and basic as this can really enhance your space during the season and lift your spirits as we work our way through another holiday season in Maine!

If you love the ideas in this article but are strapped for time or are not a shopper or DIYer, call TS Staging and Design to help create an inviting, festive environment in your home for you, your family, and friends this holiday season. Don’t let the holidays get you down, boost your mood through holiday decorating! <

For more information about professional home staging or interior design services, please contact TS Staging and Design at 207-400-9393 or visit

Friday, October 20, 2023

Real Estate: Selling Maine

By Richie Vraux

As a kid, I always remember the spring, summer and fall weekends and holidays at our camp on Granger Pond in Denmark. The nightly bonfires, the great fishing and canoe trips we would have as a family. At that time, I told myself, This is where I want to live. I always love the different lifestyle where you know the true change of seasons.

When you think about Quality of Life, Maine has to be ranked in the top 10. According to the US News and World Report, Maine has one of the safest states to live in.

The fall is truly one of my favorite seasons, warm days and chilly nights that leads to the most colorful foliage in the country. Winters can be severe depending on what part of Maine, a land area of 30,836.600 square miles, you live in.

The true Mainers say, that depending on whether you live north or south of Maine, there are only two seasons: summer and preparing for winter.

There are lots of snowbirds that go south for the winter, but then, always come back in the early spring to arrive back to open up their summer homes.

Then get their boats ready to launch and tear open the BBQ for some of Maine’s red hot dogs and hamburgers and oh yes, the lobster bakes. We are so lucky to live in an area that starts off the new year with dog sled races and skiing on some of the best slopes in the country. We also have the fishing derbies, both in the summer and winter ice fishing.

Maine has over 6,000 lakes and ponds where even the biggest fishing enthusiasts are found at either Sebago or Moosehead lakes or any other wonderful water bodies. Whether is salt water or freshwater, Maine is for you.

Forbes Magazine has rated Portland one of the most livable cities and one of the most affordable cities to retire to according to AARP. Maine has one the most spectacular coastlines and spectacular lakes. Just think of other parts of the country: the mudslides and wildfires on the west coast, temperatures over 100 degrees, the tornadoes of the mid-west, and other parts of the country with natural disasters. I will always choose Maine.

Buying a home-especially your first home-can be filled with twists and turns. You never need to go it alone with one of our real estate pros to guide you through your journey.

Our team of real estate agents makes finding a home in our neighborhoods easy. Not only do we work in our local communities, we live here too. We know the right people and have the right connections to find you the right home at the right price.

Homeownership is within your reach. We can help you get there.

Selling your home can seem like a rollercoaster ride. One day you're euphoric, and the next day you're frantic.

Not to worry. When you list your home with us, we'll be by your side from start to finish showing you the way.

Our real estate agents are focused on our local communities and know what it takes to sell your home for the most money in the least amount of time.
There will be plenty to think about... staging your house, pricing it right, sealing the deal, and moving to your new home. You can trust our real estate pros to guide you through every step of the selling process.

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. Make sure you tell your Realtor® your timeframe for buying or selling. <

Richie Vraux is a Realtor/ Broker with: Better Homes and Gardens-The Masiello Group 76 Tandberg Trail, Windham, ME 04062. You can contact Richie at 207-317-1297 or by email at


Friday, October 13, 2023

Real Estate: High Interest Rates – Low Inventory

By Matthew Trudel

Today’s market is very challenging for both buyers and sellers, which in turn makes our job as a REALTOR representing our clients all that more important. With interest rates hovering around 7 percent for buyers with good credit, there are some options out there that buyers should keep in mind. We will go over a few of those later in the article, but first I want to go over some of the challenges sellers are facing whether their house is on the market, or they are considering putting it on the market this fall.

A limited pool of buyers is a big issue for any seller or soon to be seller. The rise in interest rates has certainly lowered most buyers’ purchasing power by 25 percent or more. What this means is that a buyer who qualified for a $425,000 home might only qualify now for a $300,000 home. That is a huge difference, and it has been affecting the market for months. This means that fewer buyers can qualify to purchase a seller’s home which results in two things likely happening. The house could be on the market for a longer period of time, and the price you get might be lower than what it would have been six months ago.

Another thing sellers are facing is time. Fall has arrived and the temperatures are cooling down. When this happens the market cools down as well. There is not a lot of time left before December arrives and with that comes the snow. Houses do sell during the winter, but they don’t sell as fast as they do in the Spring and Summer. That being said, sellers also have to figure out where they are going to live once their house sells. Which might mean they become buyers and face a whole new set of problems, which is what we will discuss now.

Buyers are faced with low inventory and their purchasing power has been lowered. This is mostly because of the interest rates. Making sure your credit is in excellent condition will really benefit you when the market is in this condition. There are programs out there that will get your rate below 7 percent, but you need excellent credit. Another option is to have the seller pay a couple of points to buy your interest rate down a little. This could get you down below 6.5 percent interest rate. Buyers should remember this as well, you “marry the home and date the rate.” This simply is a reminder that you are not locked into the rate forever. If interest rates come down, you can simply refinance to a lower rate. Many lenders even offer streamlined refinance programs where it will cost you very little to do this.

Another option to consider is an adjustable-rate mortgage or ARM. I personally am not a fan of these, but they do have a valuable place under the right circumstances. This is something that I would advise being very thorough in reviewing all aspects with your lender and comparing all the positive and negative possibilities. Like I stated before, I am not a fan of the adjustable-rate mortgage programs, but it is an option that is available.

Here is an option that won’t work for everyone because some people don’t have a lot of money saved up for a down payment. If you do have a sizable amount saved up like 20 percent of the purchase price to use as a down payment, then you might want to consider private financing. This can be a creative way to get you into the property with minimal costs and not as many hoops to jump through. The rates can be very competitive and occasionally better than the banks. Generally, these are based on a 30-year term, but they balloon in three to five years which means you need to refinance in that timeframe and pay the balance off.

With all of that being said, buyers or sellers both should do one thing the same way. That is to find an experienced Realtor to work with to assist you through the process. In this type of market creativity and experience can be the difference in achieving your real estate goals or being unsuccessful. <

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