Sunday, January 26, 2014

And the survey says... By Laura D. Fleischer, realtor

Many buyers want to know exactly where the boundary lines are on a property. You may find that you are asking your realtor that very same question as you get out of your car and approach your potential new home. Expect the following answer….I am a realtor…not a surveyor, very much in Star Trek’s Leonard McCoy style of answers. 

In Maine, a full boundary survey is not required as part of the real estate transaction. However, you may find that in order to get financing, for the purpose of title insurance, your lender will require a Mortgage Loan Inspection Plan (MLIP). This is not a full boundary survey. The cost of the MLIP is part of the buyer’s closing costs. That fee will vary so check with your lender. A surveyor will visit the property, and using the deed description, and some tools of the trade, will map out the lot to ensure that the house and any other structures on the property sit within the lot lines, and that the neighbor’s house or other structures do not sit on the property you want to purchase. This process can also take the local town zoning set-backs into consideration to determine if any structures on the property are located too close to the property’s lot line. You will generally receive a copy of the MLIP in your closing packet.

Make certain that you ask your real estate professionals any questions you have about the MLIP, and how it relates to your specific transaction. 

Fun survey facts…did you know that: 

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Lewis & Clark, Benjamin Banneker, Andrew Ellicott and Daniel Boone were all land surveyors at some point in their lives.

In Roman religion, Terminus was the god who protected boundary markers. The name was the Latin word for such a marker and sacrifices were performed to sanctify each boundary stone. Landowners celebrated a festival called the Terminalia in Terminus' honor each year on February 23rd.

Laura D Fleischer is a realtor with REMAX Coastal in Scarborough.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Getting it done in 2014 - By Carrie Colby, owner/broker

Are you considering selling your home in 2014? If you are, it would be a good idea to take a good long look at your home, using an unbiased eye to start a checklist for getting your house ready to sell. 

Putting your house on the market? Before the "For Sale" sign goes up, give your property the ultimate spring cleaning. When it comes to showcasing your home for sale, there's no such thing as a house that's too clean. After all, a clean, appealing, well-maintained home has much better odds of selling, selling for more money, and selling faster. 

You get one first impression. I advise clients to rent a storage pod, clean out closets (buyers need to visualize where their stuff will go) and remove everything from the garage (dust and sweep it too). You could de-clutter for cash: Recycling used electronics can earn cash. The bathroom(s) and kitchen must be spotless. Dusty doesn't sell -- at least not for an advantageous price. 

This doesn't mean, however, that you should take on a major renovation project just so that you can sell your property. Remember, there are no guarantees that you would recover the costs of an enormous overhaul.

Getting your House Ready to Sell Checklist. 

Take a conservative approach and have a look at the different cosmetic improvements that can be made for a better overall impression. These can include things such as cleaning, painting, refinishing and similar efforts.
These are the projects that don't require much capital, and yet they make an immeasurable improvement to the overall look of your home. 

Before you consider any fix-up-for-sale projects, take on the mindset that you are sprucing up your home to sell it. Don't think of it as fixing it up for someone else. You're trying to create more of an appealing look than you are a perfect home. 

If you spruce up the house with a certain person in mind, you're limiting your market. Limiting your market will usually mean a slower sale, and a lower selling price. 

So instead of tackling a slew of huge projects create the getting your house ready to sell checklist and focus on making the home attractive, clean, presentable and well maintained. Let the new owners customize it when they move in. 

Carrie Colby is the owner/broker at Premier Properties in Raymond. To contact her, email

Monday, January 13, 2014

Finding your price range - By Lisa DiBiase

Now that the holidays have come and gone, we are preparing for another strong spring market! You might be surprised at how long buyers scour the Internet for properties before they even talk to a realtor! They average about four to six weeks looking at homes online, educating themselves to get ready to make a move. If you are considering selling your home, it is important to strategize with a realtor the best timeline for your property and to set your expectations upfront as to when the best time to list your home. Just like the buyers, it is important for you, the seller, to do your homework and educate yourself on what type of market your property fits under. It is not the same for everyone.

What type of market does your home fall under?

Price range will generally define where you are and how to best position yourself in today’s market.
Lower price range – First-time home buyers typically stay in the lower price range. This price range is usually a hot market, the most amount of sales will be around this price range. So when listing your home, it is best to aggressively price your home to ensure a quick sale for the most money. When more than one buyer falls in love with your property and sees the value of the price, this creates multiple offers. We all know this is the goal of every seller when listing their property.

Median price range – This seems to be the toughest market to get right for some people. Most sellers think their house is the best compared to what is on the market. I challenge every seller in 2014 to go out and look at other homes that are on the market before you list your home and put yourself in the shoes of a buyer! Look at the features and benefits and the price of the listing and determine how it compares to your home. Buyers are “shopping to find the right deal”. As a seller you have to position yourself to give more features and benefits at the same or even better, less price! This is what causes a frenzy of buyers! Multi-offers! You must give the buyer the value!

High-end price range – Here you have very savvy buyers, who are not looking primarily for the value. Their focus is more towards what does your property offer in amenities and value. A double whammy! The same principle applies across the board! Have you noticed the trend yet? 

When looking to sell your home this year, position yourself for success. Educate yourself by looking at similar homes on the market, meet with two or three realtors to help educate you about the current market trends and sales prices. Lastly, list with an agent you feel most comfortable with to best expose your property to be in front of as many buyers as possible to get the job done. 

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 the owner/realtor of Landing Real Estate. To contact her, email

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Real Estate predictions for 2014 - By Rick Yost

Well 2013 was quite a ride in the real estate world. Record low interest rates and an ever so slowly recovering economy led to increases in home pricing and total homes sold. Markets across the country and right here in Maine improved. While the final numbers are still being totaled, it is safe to say that we saw double digit percentage growth in both price and sales. So, it was it was a good year for homeowners with home values increasing and equity returning. The big question is—what will 2014 bring?
First, I want to share with you what some of the industry experts are predicting for 2014. Then I will give my own hometown predictions.

Zillow, the large real estate search company has four major predictions for the New Year. They predict that home prices will rise 3 percent over the year, mortgage rates will hit 5 percent, mortgages will become easier to get, and homeownership will fall to the lowest point in 20 years.

Diana Olick, a real estate analyst for CNBC predicts that home sales will continue to rise, prices will increase (but not nearly as fast as they did in 2013), mortgage rates will rise, and investors will still continue to be active in the market.

The National Association of Realtors is predicting a 5 percent rise in home prices, rising interest rates, but that sales volume will remain about the same.

I think that we will see home price improvement in the 3 percent to 4 percent range in major Maine markets and commuting communities. Some of the more rural and outlying towns will see slower price gains. The fed has started to taper its buying spree and will continue to taper throughout 2014, this will cause mortgage rates to rise to 5 percent and higher. Rising interest rates and complicated rules will cause an emergence in shadow banking, so we will see more and more lending options available to the home buyers. Traditional mortgage lenders will have more tools in their tool belts. Home sales should rise slightly in 2014, fueled by the growing equity in homes and consumers trying to beat the clock on rising interest rates.

So what does that really mean? It means that housing affordability will shrink in 2014. You will get less house for your dollar due to rising prices and rising interest rates. It will be a good year to trade up or down if either is on your future agenda. Whiles house may sell for more at the end of 2014, any increased value in homes sold will be quickly eaten up by the rise in interest rates.

For example, if you wait to sell your $200,000 home for $204,000, you will profit an extra $4000. Great, but—if you, in turn, buy a $250,000 home and finance $200,000 of that amount at a mortgage rate of as little as a half a point higher (say 5 percent, instead of 4.5 percent), you will pay an additional $1,000 in interest year one. It won’t take very long to eat up your $4,000. The other thing to consider is that the house you are going to buy is increasing in value also. The house you want to buy for $250,000 at the end of 2014 (with a 3 percent price gain) is only worth $242,500 today. 

Now that you know what to expect, act accordingly. 

Rick is a Realtor, real estate author and long-time Windham resident. Please contact Rick with your real estate needs and questions at