Friday, November 15, 2013

Why should you use a realtor to buy a home - By Carrie Colby, Premier Properties

Buying a home for the first time can be overwhelming. While it may be tempting to avoid realtor fees and handle things on your own, having a professional by your side can make the process go more smoothly and provide valuable insight into what’s likely one of the biggest purchases of your life. 
There are numerous reasons to use a realtor to buy a home:

1) Access to every home that’s on the market via Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and all other sources, including ones that may not be listed publicly. Some agents have what are called “pocket“ listings that they know are going to come on the market soon or ones where the seller would be willing to sell but aren’t in a rush and don’t want the hassle of listing their home, giving you the inside track to the deals before they event hit the market.

2) The ability to combine your dream house checklist with your price range. A good real estate agent is one who understands your wants and needs without going over your price range. An ethical agent won’t steer you to homes that are out of your reach.

3) Knowledge of recent comps (comparables) — what similar properties have sold recently and for how much, which will help you once you are ready to make an offer. Your realtor has the ability and expertise to negotiate on your behalf.

4) You should hire a realtor that is knowledgeable about the area you are looking in. For instance, they should be knowledgeable about the schools, neighborhood and zoning issues.

5) Your realtor should also have a good working relationship with the other area real estate agents. There have been cases where I have contacted other agents about possible listings they might have coming on the market that might fit the needs of my buyers. Also when it comes the negotiating it is good for your realtor to be on good terms with the listing agent.

6) Your realtor should have the expertise to negotiate and close the deal. They should have a list of referrals for inspectors, mortgage brokers and even tradesman for repairs and renovations you might want to do at a later date. Your realtor must have the muscle to get a deal through the escrow or “under contract” period. They should have a good track record of getting buyers to the closing table and buying their dream home.

Buying a home is one of the most important decisions of your life. Don’t leave it up to someone who is not an expert in their field.

Carrie Colby is a Realtor® the Broker/Owner of Premier Properties in Raymond she can be reached at

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Moving advice - By Lisa DiBiase, Landing Real Estate

If you're moving, you know how daunting it can be. But if you create a blueprint for your move, the transition from house to house will go more smoothly. Here are a few things you can do to prepare for a seamless transition. 

First question is: Can you do it alone or should you hire a licensed moving company for a full-service or partial-service move? This is one of the first and often most difficult questions soon-to-be moving households face. The answer depends on your lifestyle, household size, budget and amount of time you have to get everything accomplished. Get written quotes from at least three licensed moving companies so you know you’re getting the best deal based on your specific moving needs.

Take photos of each room in the new home before you arrive. Room by room write down where each item should go in your next home before packing, and keep piles of boxes together by room. List out the major items that must be assembled first. 

Be strategic about packing. If you have more than a month to ‘pick up and move’, start early. Whether it’s one room, one cabinet or a drawer at a time, weed through what may be years of accumulation. As you’re going through your belongings, divide everything into these helpful categories: Donate to charity, give to a friend, recycle, trash, pack now, or keep handy until moving day. You’ll be surprised at how much you can donate, recycle or give to friends.

Plan ahead. Consider daycare on moving day, or get help from a friend or family member. Provide lunch or some other appropriate thank you gesture if you do call in a favor. If that’s not an option, prioritize setting up safe places for your children to play in the new home on moving day so they’re not underfoot. This will help everyone remain happy and calm on that day.

Don’t forget the pets. Sometimes we forget that all the packing and constant in-and-out of visitors is stressful for animals. Consider checking your pet into a daycare facility, or setting up a time for a friend to take them or check them into pet daycare.

Keep track of small parts. Some items need to be broken down into pieces when moving, but do you know what to do with the small screws and washers that you end up with? Rather than tape them to the furniture, which can result in losing them, put everything in a baggie that is clearly marked and sealed. Keep all of the separate baggies together in one box on moving day and personally take it with you to your new home.

Take pictures of electronic hook-ups. Hooking up TVs, DVRs, home theater systems and computers can be challenging. Before unplugging any wires for the move, take a photo of the connections. This will create fewer headaches when setting up technology in the new home. Keep track of all loose wires using baggies or boxes that are clearly labeled, and personally carry these easy-to-lose items on moving day.

Packing cleaning products and toxins. Products such as detergents, pesticides and paint are heavy and unwieldy to pack. Dispose of as many as possible before the move in an eco-friendly way. Call your city’s waste disposal department for guidance on proper disposal. For items that must be transported, pack them in a small box within a larger box for protection against leaks. Don’t overstuff boxes with these items! 

Consider marking these boxes in a different color, and seal them extra tight. Keep them separate from the rest of the boxes, particularly if you have kids and pets.

Consider getting full value insurance protection. If using a professional mover, it may cost a few dollars extra, but it provides peace of mind and eliminates later annoyances. Investing in full value protection means any lost or damaged articles will be repaired or replaced, or a cash settlement will be made at current market value, regardless of age.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

FSBO - Yes, No, Maybe! - Rick Yost, realtor

Few things about selling your home are less attractive than paying a real estate sales commission. Coughing up a percentage of the sales price just isn’t that appealing. The prospect of selling your house yourself isn’t too appealing either though, so what do you do? Should you go the For-Sale-By-Owner (FSBO) route?
First and foremost, if you decide to go the FSBO route be prepared to separate yourself emotionally from the transaction. You must be able to put all the memories and emotional baggage that the house holds to the side. This is a business transaction for the buyer and/or his broker. Your emotional ties to the property may make it difficult to negotiate effectively. Make sure you can set your emotional attachment to the house aside before beginning the FSBO process.

The next step is probably the most difficult one, and the one most FSBOs get wrong—pricing your home. Be very careful when pricing your home. Take the time and do the research. How much are houses in your area selling for on a square foot basis? Find similar houses for sale near you and compare your price. Study your market—is inventory tight? How quickly are house selling? Is the market trending up or down? Get as much info as possible before pricing your home.

You will have to now create your marketing plan. I suggest doing a brochure, one page will do, with all the pertinent facts that you think a buyer will need. Run some ads in the local paper, put up a sign, host some open houses are all strategies that you should employ. Most important to marketing your property will be your online presence. At a minimum, place an ad on one or all of the bigger FSBO websites (,, You should also consider setting up your own web page on the property and doing a YouTube video.

You should create a pre-screening questionnaire to use on potential buyers. Make sure they are truly willing and capable buyers. Feel free to ask them to prequalify before showing your house. Now interview some real estate attorneys to handle the actual legal aspects of the transaction.

Be dedicated to the process and be prepared to show your home multiple times. Be sure to keep your home in show worthy shape at all times. As you can see by now FSBOs are not for everyone, but they can work if you follow the right steps and are dedicated to the process.

If you are still reading and you are still considering a FSBO, let me share a few facts with you. The Wall Street Journal reported that Colby Sambrotto, founder and CEO of, listed his New York home on for six months before turning to a realtor to sell the home. The realtor not only sold the home, he got more than Mr. Sambrotto had listed the home for on his own FSBO web site. You can’t make this stuff up. 

According to NAR studies, 87 percent of FSBOs turn to a realtor after seven weeks. Realtors get an average of 16 percent more for homes than FSBOs do, only 9 out of 100 FSBOs successfully sell their house, and 40 percent of FSBOs that do sell, sell to a friend or family member. To bring this close to home, three of the most visible FSBOs in Windham (Pope Road, Windham Center Road and Moses Little Farm) all recently turned to a realtor.

A qualified realtor brings a few things to the table for those considering a FSBO. A realtor can market your home on the Multiple Listing Service, the surest way to market your home effectively. A realtor can reduce some of the risk involved with opening your house up to strangers. A realtor can bring knowledge and experience to the process. Most people will sell two houses in their life time, a realtor may do two transactions a day. A realtor understands what is necessary to legally protect a transaction. A realtor brings market knowledge to the pricing process. 

I always recommend using a qualified realtor for your real estate transactions, but FSBOs can and do work under the right circumstances. I know people that can pull it off, but it is not for everyone. Before you become part of that 87 percent that wasted seven weeks on a FSBO, make sure you are up to the task. If I haven’t dissuaded you, do the work, dedicate to the process and market heavily. Good luck.

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