Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hospitality Mentality by Maggie Krainin

An important consideration before you get too far along in the process is whether you have the right temperament to be a vacation rental owner.  Not everyone does.  You might even know someone who tried renting their home and gave it up as too stressful.

If you're the kind of person who hesitates to lend things and frets a lot about little damages, and Felix Unger (remember The Odd Couple?) is your hero, you're probably not going to be a happy rental owner.  You'll be worried and anxious all the while renters are in your home (and you're not allowed to go spy on them!), and the few weeks' rental income won't be worth the stress.

On the other hand, if you tend to live your life with a degree of humor, forbearance and tolerance for the human condition, you'll probably adapt to renting quite nicely.

You will need to be able to roll with scratches, stains and breakage.  They are part of everyday life, and you have to include them in the economics of your rental plan.  In every season you will need to pay for cleaning rugs and sofas, repairing screens, and replacing small appliances and lamps, for example, without blaming the renters and without trying to take the cost of that normal wear and tear out of their damage deposits -- particularly if you otherwise like how your renters behave and want them to come back next year, because only one small claim on their damage deposit (especially if it's a really small claim) will be enough to drive them away.

Do you love to entertain?  You will likely be a happy rental owner.  The role you enjoy is ultimate host.  That's a combination of anticipatory hospitality, thinking of what great experience you can create for your guests, and cheerful, "Not to worry!", handling of any mishaps, so the continuity of their enjoyment is unbroken while they're in your domain.

A large part of the hospitality personality is this mindset for the comfort of your guests.  The canoe drifts away, the Internet mysteriously isn't working, and the responsibility to get it fixed fast is yours. It might be somebody's or nobody's fault, but it still has to be good-humoredly addressed.  If you hate to be bothered with lots of little details, or even if you just don't have time, you will either have to adapt and make time, or delegate management of these details to another family member, a hired local manager or a professional rental management agency.

Do you have the hospitality mentality?  A professional rental manager can help you decide!

2013 is Maggie Krainin's 40th year in Sebago Lake Region sales and rentals, and in that time, Krainin Real Estate has conducted over 25,000 happy vacation rentals.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Selling Your Home Quickly by Lisa DiBiase

Attention all sellers! You want to sell your property quickly and for the most money, right? When selling your home, if you over price your listing, this creates so many different problems for you and our reputation as resourceful agents, please let me explain.

Most homeowners want their homes to sell quickly. By overpricing your home and "trying to see" if you can "get that price," you create a false sense of hope that you will sell your home. Next, the agent will start to ask for price reductions over and over which can eventually cause tension between the realtor and seller. 

Eventually, the seller will have a lack of confidence in agent, the market and take their home off the market. At the same time, shame on agents for taking over priced listings!  This isn't about giving your home away, but rather getting the most money the market is going to allow for your property and putting it in your pocket.

The truth is, you need to find an agent that can educate you and teach you how to price your property correctly in today's market, one who will be completely honest with you. The only person that suffers the most is you, the seller! Please interview more than one realtor to properly price your home and ask what they are going to do differently to sell your home. Choosing the right agent isn't about who offers the highest price, but instead who is going to tell you the truth about how to get your home sold quickly and can back that up with their previous sales data. Ask the agent to share with you their average days on market.  These are important questions to ask before choosing a realtor to represent you.

As a seller, pricing your home is one of the most important parts of preparing your home to sell and the other is choosing the agent to help you that will educate and tell you the truth about what your property will likely sell for. 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. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bubble or Recovery? by Rick Yost

There is much debate today about the real estate market. Are we in a recovery or experiencing another bubble? Is the uptick we are experiencing temporary with more bad news to follow? Yes, the market is up, but for how long? There are good arguments on both sides.

The most compelling of the bubble arguments are that the jobs are not back and jobs drive housing markets, and that banks still hold a huge shadow inventory of housing. Shadow inventory consists of homes that banks own or control and are not yet marketing. While these are valid points, I put more weight on other factors.
As a realtor with an economics background, I follow five indicators that I put my faith in as predictors of the health of the real estate market.

First is new households. According to JP Morgan, there will be one million new households formed this year and up to six million by 2017. While demand for housing is growing, inventory is actually shrinking. Realtor.com collects data across the US in 146 markets. According to their data, housing inventories are down in 134 of those markets and down 15.22 percent overall compared to the last year. More buyers and less inventory equals recovery.

 Second is affordability. The National Association of Realtors publishes a monthly housing affordability index. The index in Feb was 206.2 percent and that was the third month in a row that the index was over 200. This basically means that if you have the median US income of $62,254 you have 206 percent of the qualifying income needed to buy the median priced house in the US ($218,000 in Greater Portland) with 20 percent down and a 30 year mortgage. What all that gibberish means is that home ownership affordability is at an almost historic low. Affordability equals recovery.

 Third is lender trends. Mortgage lenders are getting healthier and trends are tracking positively. The latest Mortgage Monitor Report from Lender Processing Service shows delinquent mortgages in February at 6.8 percent compared to 7.28 percent last year. The percentage of homes in the foreclosure process fell from 4.2 percent to 3.38 percent over the last year also. Lenders are also tightening their belts to get even healthier. There are 90 percent less loans being written today for sub-prime borrowers than there were in 2007. Healthier lenders equal recovery.

 Forth is housing starts. There were a little over one million housing starts last year and that is up from a low of 500,000. While that seems like a lot of houses, the peak of 2006 was about 2.2 million per year. The average housing starts over the last 50 years are 1.46 million. So while housing starts are up, the market can certainly handle more construction activity. More housing starts equal recovery.

 Fifth is framing lumber prices. This is a bit more of an outside the box indicator, but I swear by it. Framing lumber price is at an eight year high. Demand is up and supply is shrinking. This indicates that the recovery is real. Framing lumber is a raw material. It is not an obscure financial number. The price is jumping and foreign suppliers are ramping up production to meet higher demand according to Wood Resources International. Demand for framing lumber equals recovery.

 As I always say, "numbers don't lie!" The recovery is real and going to last. React accordingly or miss out.
 Rick is a long- time Windham resident, realtor, and real estate author. You can reach Rick at columnist@TheWindhamEagle.com for any of your real estate needs.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Vacationland by Carrie Colby

The sun is shining, the snow is finally gone and summer is just around the corner. After all Maine is vacationland so it only seems appropriate to talk about vacation-home sales. Vacation homes are recreational property purchased primarily for the buyers (or his/her family’s) personal use or for rental, financial or investment purposes.

The Lakes Region is a very popular recreation and vacation destination. Our close proximity to Massachusetts makes the area an attractive locale for out-of-state buyers. Being within a two-hour drive from your second home means you will use it more often, but there are many people from other states that own vacation homes in southwestern Maine.

Vacation home sales improved in 2012, while investment purchases remained elevated for a second consecutive year, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Favorable conditions are driving second-home sales. The strong stock market recovery helped more people in the prime ages for buying vacation homes. Attractively priced recreational property is also a big draw. All-cash purchases remain common in the investment- and vacation-home market. Buyers who financed their purchase with a mortgage in 2012 typically put down a large percentage of the purchase price. 

There are many reasons why buyers purchase vacation homes. Lifestyle factors remain the primary motivation for vacation-home buyers, while rental income is the main factor in investment purchases. A large majority wants to use the property for vacations or for a family retreat. Some plan to use it as a primary residence in the future, while a few others plan to rent. Waterfront buyers who want to diversify their investments see it as a good investment opportunity.

If you know someone who is looking for a waterfront/vacation home the best way to find a quality property is to contact a local real estate agent preferably one who specializes in selling waterfront property. There are many different lakes and ponds and they appeal to the buyers for myriad reasons. Some buyers like smaller quiet ponds and some prefer the larger lakes where there is a lot to do and see. Whatever you are looking for there are plenty of options. The inventory is lower than it has been in past years, but there are still plenty to choose from.

Carrie Colby is the broker/owner is Premier Properties in Raymond she can be reached at columnist@TheWindhamEagle.com.