Friday, September 27, 2013

Why use a realtor when selling your house - By Carrie Colby, realtor

Real estate transactions involve one of the biggest financial investments most people experience in their lifetime. If you had a $100,000 income tax problem, would you attempt to deal with it without the help of a CPA? If you had a $100,000 legal question, would you deal with it without the help of an attorney? Considering the small upside cost and the large downside risk, it would be foolish to consider a deal in real estate without the professional assistance of a realtor.

The selling process begins by determining of a reasonable asking price. Your realtor can give you up-to-date information on what is happening in the marketplace and the price, financing, terms and condition of competing properties. These are key factors in getting your property sold at the best price, quickly and with minimum hassle.

The next step is a marketing plan. Often, your agent can recommend repairs or cosmetic work that will significantly enhance the salability of the property. Marketing includes the exposure of your property to other real estate agents and the public. Your agent disburses information about your property to other real estate agents through a multiple listing service or other cooperative marketing networks, like open houses for agents.
Advertising is part of marketing. The choice of media and frequency of advertising depends a lot on the property and specific market. The National Association of Realtors studies show that 82 percent of real estate sales are the result of agent contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, family and personal contacts. As the owner you are only advertising one home, your own, while the realtor is advertising many. Frequently, a prospect will call a real estate company on one ad but end up buying another home. Thus, through advertising multiple properties, realtors are provided with more opportunities for qualified prospects.

The negotiation process deals with much the same issues for both buyers and sellers. Your agent can help you objectively evaluate every buyers proposal without compromising your marketing position. This initial agreement is only the beginning of a process of appraisals, inspections and financing -- a lot of possible pitfalls. Your agent can help you write a legally binding agreement that will be more likely to make it through the process.

Getting to the Closing
Between the initial sales agreement and closing, questions may arise. For example, unexpected repairs are required to obtain financing or a cloud in the title is discovered. The required paperwork alone is overwhelming for most sellers. Your agent is the best person to objectively help you resolve these issues and move the transaction to closing (or settlement).

Why use a realtor?
All real estate licensees are not the same. Only real estate licensees who are members of the National Association of Realtors are properly called realtors. They proudly display the REALTOR logo on the business card or other marketing and sales literature. Realtors are committed to treat all parties to a transaction honestly. Realtors subscribe to a strict code of ethics and are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate. An independent survey reports that almost 85 percent of home buyers would use the same realtor again.

Carrie Colby is a Realtor the Broker/Owner of Premier Properties in Raymond.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Real Estate - WWW. What went wrong? - by TLC Realty Realtors

By Tammy Caron, Broker/Owner of TLC Realty, and Bob Tooker, Realtor
Many home sellers have or know someone who has experienced frustration when trying to sell their home, often enduring weeks or months between showings. Trying to sell a home can be a deeply emotional endeavor, especially when precious memories are attached and when time and effort have been spent with no results. 

The process of selling a home includes many essential elements, any one of which, if not carefully considered, can derail a sale. In addition to market conditions, location, financing and other factors, these elements include pricing, preparation, marketing and representation. 

Pricing: Obviously, few elements affect days-on-market more than price. As a result of competition for listing opportunities, one of the most challenging tasks of an agent who may be anxious about losing out to the competition is setting realistic expectations up-front at the potential risk of missing an income opportunity. Inflated estimates may be reassuring to sellers, but they are clearly in no one’s best interest as unrealistic expectations can result in such properties suffering by comparison and languishing on the market – the very frustration we write about. Conversely, unless agreed to by a well-informed seller, underpricing is an abdication of an agent’s duty to try to obtain the highest price on the best possible terms for his or her client. 

When working with a seller to arrive at a listing price, an agent will search for similar nearby properties that sold recently and make appropriate cost adjustments in an effort to compare “apples to apples.” Additionally, a diligent agent will identify and monitor similar current listings – the competition – and pending sales, which may soon become highly relevant pricing benchmarks. Consequently, an agent is able to provide a seller with a clear and realistic perspective of where their property fits into the current market. This enables a well-informed seller working closely with an agent to quickly respond to changing market conditions and adjust their pricing and negotiating strategy accordingly. There are no secrets in the realm of public records – sellers would be well-advised to pay close attention to the listing and actual sale prices of nearby homes. Buyers working with a diligent agent will surely be aware of these prices.

Preparation: Many sellers, often with limited resources, are uncertain about what should be done to spruce-up their property before listing it. A good agent will thoroughly evaluate a property’s appearance and offer cost-effective suggestions for improving its marketability. Just as important is an agent’s explanation of potential pitfalls that may arise during a buyer’s contractual inspection opportunity – potential pitfalls that could and often do derail sales.

Marketing: Maine’s statewide multiple listing service has the ability to automatically feed nationally popular real estate websites, several of which are advertised nationally on prime time television. Many buyers are initially attracted to properties via the Internet, and they often approach agents only after making a list of properties they are already interested in. In addition to print media and other marketing tools, it is critically important that a comprehensive marketing plan includes the best possible representation of a seller’s property on the Internet. 

Representation: All of this clearly illustrates the vital importance of frequent and effective communication between sellers and agents. Sellers are always in control, and well-informed sellers are likely to make better decisions. Each agent is an individual and not a brand, franchise or company – individual experience, attitude and effort makes all the difference. Agents work with essentially the same tools and resources – it’s how they use them that matters. 

Our mission at TLC Realty is to expand our solid reputation as individuals, and work as a team to provide each of our clients with the best care, expertise and service available.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

How to get the best bang for your buck by renovating - By Lisa DiBiase

Is your home due for some upgrades? Maybe you are buying a home that needs some minor upgrades or ever major!  There are many different approaches to improve your home from the inside out.  Home improvements prove to be a worthy investment because they can increase the value of your home and at the same time better your standard of living.  Below are a few ideas on how to get excited about tackling projects in your home...

Probably the fastest way of making the most noticeable change would start with paint.  Painting can absolutely transform a space.  Most building experts would agree that painting a home, interior and/or exterior, is one of the most important aspects to any renovation.  Painting can change the mood of a particular room.  Some colors add cheer to the room and some offer a more subtle and relaxing aura.  Be sure to consult an interior designer or your realtor as to what the current trends are for paint colors and what would work best in your home.  Making the correct color choices can impact everything, so make sure you add value in the end.  No pressure!

The most popular room to renovate is the kitchen. This is where the heart of the home is.  People gather and spend the most time in this room.  Some ideas to think about when tackling the kitchen are the floors, painting or replacing the cabinets, adding an island, accenting the backsplash with tile or stone and changing the lighting.  Today’s trends are leaning toward tile floors or hardwood with stylish rugs, adding granite, a unique stone or butcher block as counter tops.  Changing the lighting by adding pendant lights over an island and creating ambiance is key.  Lastly, out with the old and in with the new, appliances.  They do not have to be top of the line, but it sure makes a huge difference when they match!

Much like the kitchen, renovating the bathroom can give you a great return on your investment.  In this room you will want to focus on tiling the floors, painting, change the light fixtures or even install a new vanity.  You can do as little or as much as you want on this project, depending on the immediate needs of the bathroom.  You do not have to spend a lot of money to change the look.  Renovating the bathroom can be quick and easy.

Adding outdoor living areas to your home can add a unique value to offer more space for people to enjoy and cherish.  These areas can range from having a deck added, a patio featuring a stone fire pit and patio furniture or a screened porch or full sunroom installed.  Most likely, your budget will determine what you are able to have outside. Either way, any type of outdoor feature you add to your home will make it worth more.

A good rule of thumb when making final decisions as to what to renovate and what your budget is really depends on whether you are making the changes for your personal enjoyment or if you are planning on selling the home.  Determining this upfront is how you can get the best bang for your buck in all renovations!  Overall, home renovations will not only increase value over time, but most importantly it will allow you to enjoy your home thereafter!

As I have said since the beginning, 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 realtor and owner at Landing Real Estate. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Real Estate - What now? - Rick Yost

The housing market in the US and in Maine over the last six months can be summed up in a couple of short points—tight inventories and rising prices. While every market is a little different and real estate is a decidedly local affair, national trends and phenomenon tend to trickle down to Maine. So, what can we expect to see over the next six months in the US real estate market and in Maine?

I believe prices will continue to appreciate, but not at the exaggerated rate we have seen so far. Double digit growth will go away. Two of the more respected real estate research firms, CoreLogic and Altos Research believe that prices will end up between six and 12 percent for the year. There are a couple of factors that will keep price increases in check and keep us out of bubble territory.

Interest rates will continue to rise moderately in 2013. This rise in interest rates will continue to effect perceived affordability and in turn the prices that can be demanded by sellers. While interest rates are still at historical lows, raising rates temper buyer enthusiasm. On the plus side, rising interest rates tend to dry up the refinance markets and might lead to a slight loosening of credit standards as lenders look to meet profit goals. 

Inventory will loosen. Builders are stepping up construction and many new homes are coming into the market. Many home buyers that have been underwater (owe more on their home that it is worth) are starting to see the current run up in home prices create equity in their homes. There are an estimated 11 million plus homeowners underwater today. The equity that some of these homeowners are starting to realize is allowing many of them to take advantage of price appreciation. I do think that housing inventory in the most desirable locations will remain tight for up to another two years. More inventory will work to keep rising home prices in check.

As prices continue to rise, we will see fewer and fewer investor transactions. A large portion of the demand for homes has been investor driven. Institutional investors with pockets full of Wall Street money have been buying distressed homes in bulk and turning them into rentals. The run up in price shrinks the profitably on those types of transactions and forces investors to seek the returns they want elsewhere. This slowing of institutional investors’ purchases will also lead to a loosening of inventory.

These factors will all combine to keep home prices rising, but at a reasonable rate.

There are two other trends to look for over the second half of 2013. Foreclosure activity will continue to drop. Foreclosures were down 23 percent from a year ago during the first half of 2013 according to RealtyTrac, and this will continue. Short sales will continue to gain traction. Short sales were up 79 percent over a year ago due to new short sale guidelines loosening standards and lenders willingness to more readily process short sales. This uptick in short sales will continue throughout 2013.

Now you know what to expect, are you going to take advantage?

Rick is a realtor, real estate author, and longtime Windham resident. Contact Rick with any of your real estate questions or needs at