Friday, September 26, 2014

Preparing your home for the winter season - By Tammy Caron

As we are faced with the crisp morning air and waking up to our homes being cooler, we are also faced with the inevitable question… do I turn on the heat just to take the chill off? 

This is a good indication that it is time to prepare our homes for the winter season! Here are some helpful hints to get you started on your way to lowering your utility bills and protecting your investment.
1)      Get your ducts in a row: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a home with central heating can lose up to 60 percent of its heating air before that air reaches the vents if ductwork is not well connected and insulated. Have your heating system cleaned by a professional technician this will eliminate any chances of any deadly carbon monoxide from coming into your home. A clean well maintained system will save you money on fuel and prolong the furnace life. This can usually be done for around $100.

2)      Seal all cracks around doors and windows. For about $4 per window you can get the window seal packages that simply require a blow dryer. (It is not the most attractive approach but can do the trick. Other options would include GE’s Silicone II Window and Door product. $6.

3)      Be sure to clean out gutters of all leaves and debris. This will prevent very costly ice dams.
4)      Reverse your ceiling fan so the fan’s blades are in a clockwise direction, remembering heat rises it will push down the hot air into the room. This is especially helpful in rooms with high ceilings.
5)      Turn off all exterior faucets. Drain all pipes, blow out hoses and store in dry place. Turn off main shut-off valves if they exist. This will prevent any water build up and freeze that may cause very costly bursts to the pipes.

6)      Mow your leaves instead of raking them. Mow them when they are dry they will decompose and nourish your lawn over the winter. Be sure to swap your cutting blade for a mulching blade (about $15 to $20). For more information, see “Turn Over A New Leaf/Mulching Leaves in Place.”

7)      Be sure to clean your chimney prior to the heating season. This will prevent any chimney fires.

8)      Add insulation to attic if needed! Ideally you should have 12 inches of insulation in your attic. Here is the rule of thumb on whether you need to add insulation: “If you go in the attic and you can see the ceiling joists you know you don’t have enough, because on average a ceiling joist is at most 10 or 11 inches.” A related tip: If you’re layering insulation atop other insulation, don’t use the kind that has “kraft face” finish (i.e., paper backing). It acts as a vapor barrier, and therefore can cause moisture problems in the insulation.

9)      Wrap your pipes… Burst pipes can be a nightmare! Look for any pipes that pass through unheated spaces such as crawlspaces, basements or garages. Wrap them with pre-molded foam rubber sleeves or fiberglass insulation, available at hardware stores.

10)  If you don’t have carbon-monoxide detectors, be sure to install one in your home. They can be purchased at Lowes or Home Depot for approximately $40.

For more information on how to save money and lower your energy bills visit Eligible homes can receive as much as $1,500 in incentives. For more information on energy audits you can also contact Ecovise at
Have a safe and affordable season!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Options for financing issues - By Matthew Trudel

Not able to get financed, but you want to buy a home? Do not give up. You still may have some very good options. There are several reasons people get turned down for financing. Many times it is not their credit rating, but they don't meet the debt to income ratios required by lenders. Other times it is their credit rating or FICO score that is too low. In both cases, don't give up yet, you still have many options to potentially buy that home. Here are just a few possibilities to consider.

If income, or debt to income is the problem, there are a few common options to look at. There are some lending institutions that will look at a buyer's situation on a case by case basis, and even though they may not be able to sell your mortgage on the secondary market, they may decide to offer you a mortgage that they will keep in house. This is generally at a higher interest rate. Another option is private financing, which can be slightly different then owner financing. There are investors who will loan money and act as the bank. However, they generally charge points and a higher interest rate. Owner financing is sometimes an option. Creatively I prefer to use a blend of these options, especially if the buyer has substantial reserves and other assets. Show me a willing and ready buyer with money in the bank and I will find a way to get them into a home.

Credit score or FICO score is too low to qualify? There are options for that as well. Which option or options we choose depends on just how much work needs to be done. I have helped many buyers work with agencies who get results and repair credit rather quickly. How quick depends on what needs to be repaired and how hard you work to assist in repairing your credit. Bankruptcies and foreclosures are difficult, while other issues like medical and student loans are fairly simple. Every situation is unique, and the key is to not give up. Work towards your goal with diligence and determination. Find an experienced realtor who has worked with people in situations like yours. Again, find a realtor who has worked with people in situations like yours. I repeated that because it shows that the realtor has the patience and understanding to work with you through the whole process. As realtors we are here to help you and guide you through the process of reaching your goal of owning your own home.

Don't miss the boat - By Carrie Colby

DSo you missed the boat on the summer buying season, huh? If you’ve got kids in school, you probably think you have to stay put now for another year.

Maybe not.

Here are a few reasons you should buy a house right now.

Inventory is down but so is the buyer pool. That means prices may be coming down.

You may well have less competition for homes right now, especially if you’re in the ultra-competitive first-time buyer market. That means your chances of finding a home—and getting it for the right price—are good.  

“According to NAR numbers, home prices tend to plummet by an average $7,000 once Labor Day passes.” And this will be likely be true through the end of the year, as holiday home shopping tends to be an even tighter market.

School enrollment rules may be looser than you thought.

Most buyers with kids like to be settled before the school year starts. You too, right? Yes, it definitely makes things easier. But moving during the school year has its advantages  And if you’re moving locally and have already confirmed your address with your kids’ school, you should have no problem keeping them in place for the rest of the year.

If you are considering moving into another area and are in need of solid information regarding transfers and rules that may make it possible to move out of school boundaries but stay enrolled, Great Schools urges listening to the right people.

Make sure you get information from the correct source, which is the district office. Your school secretary or teacher might not have the latest information. You’ll probably want to make sure you have those important conversations before you move.

The “ask for forgiveness instead of permission” principle is a dangerous one to play with when your kids’ happiness is at stake. Rest assured, though, enrollment rules today are more lenient than they used to be—which could definitely play in your favor.

It used to be that when it was time to find a school for the kids, most Americans looked no further than the neighborhood school. Now, however, with the expansion of open enrollment policies and the growth of the charter school movement, competition to get into public schools with good reputations has become more widespread. A competitive admissions process is not just a private school phenomenon anymore.

Weighing the positives (new house, less competition, great value) of a move in fall versus the negatives (big hassle, bad timing, potential school upheaval) is, in the end, a personal choice. But it might be worth a look at what’s out there. You never know - you could fall in love with a house that tips the balance. And then it’s just you, the movers, and an important call to the school principal.

Carrie Colby
Premier Properties

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tips for fall buyers and sellers - By Lisa DiBiase

By Lisa DiBiase, Co-owner Landing Real Estate, Realtor

Now that the Maine summer has winded down, kids are back to school, people are back to work and we are trying to get into our normal routine of what we call “reality”, it is now the time to think about the home you own, or wish to own!

What to expect during the fall real estate market:

The fall time is where Maine will see the last influx of homes coming on the market hoping to sell prior to the holidays.

Sellers, it is important at this time to price your property right. As a Realtor, I know what that means, as a seller – do you? It's simple, the price you put on your property will directly define your motivation to sell it. More specifically, do your homework! Interview a few agents to make sure you price your property correctly and have a good plan from the very first day. Determining the best market value price upfront will make the market time less and having an experienced Realtor who knows the market inside and out will help you achieve this goal.

Buyers, this is the time for you to make your move! I have always said during the fall, this is the time for you to work with a motivated seller who likely wants to close before the holidays or at least before the year end! This is the time to make offers and negotiate. When working with a Realtor, they will have access to all the properties that are pending and sold in the last six months to help advise you on the best offer to make. I recommend selecting one agent to work with over an extended period of time so they can get to know specifically what you are looking for and can scout out those perfect deals.

A few tips for both buyers and sellers this fall:

For sellers – First impressions from the curb are critical:

1.         Make sure you have your lawn mowed prior to pictures – this is the last time to showcase how nice the yard can look before it turns brown and/or full of snow.

2.         Have a thorough fall clean up, picking up all the leaves, trimming bushes back. This is important for buyers to see less work they have to perform, even before they step into the property. 

3.         Wash the windows inside and out. 

4.         Set out seasonal flowers on the porch to make the property inviting.

For buyers – Be ready, on the lookout:

1.         Get pre-approved with a letter from a mortgage lender, your Realtor can assist you with referrals.

2.         Look for curb appeal, and general maintenance concerns when you drive by properties. This says a lot about what the inside of the property will be like.

3.         Define what your search criteria is with your Realtor to ensure you receive all the opportunities available to you. Be specific!

4.         Don't hesitate to enter into multiple offer situations! If you like it, give it your best! If you don't get that property, then you know you are one step closer to the one that will be yours!

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.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Back-up offers - By Rick Yost

In today’s tight housing market, well priced homes are selling in just days and in some cases hours. I recently listed a home that had three offers in one day. Multiple offers are much more common today than in the last several days. Multiple offers also mean that someone is not getting the home of their dreams, or does it.
If a home buyer finds the home of their dreams, but it is already under contract or the seller chose to accept another offer, all is not lost. A good real estate broker will present a backup offer on the home the buyer wants. The buyer doesn’t have to put up any money and they put themselves as first in-line if the first deal falls apart.

Most sellers will gladly accept a backup offer. It puts pressure on the current buyer to get the deal done and done quickly. It is also a comfort to the seller to have another offer waiting if the current deal does fall apart. Once a deal is in place, sellers start to emotionally move on. They start to pack. They plan their move. They make future housing arrangements. By the time moving day does come, most sellers have already psychologically moved. If something goes wrong with their transaction, that all comes to an abrupt halt. A backup offer is an easy and attractive way for the seller to keep the ball moving if their first deal falls apart.

Real estate deals fall apart every day. During the inspection period, the current buyers may discover something that makes them change their mind about the house. The seller will now be aware of the issue and maybe very willing to make a deal work with a backup offer. The seller is legally obligated to share any issues that they become aware of with potential buyers. The seller is still motivated to get a deal done quickly and a backup offer can often make that happen.

Tight credit regulations also make it more likely that buyers will not qualify to purchase the home that they want even if they were pre-qualified. When the deal falls apart due to financing, a backup offer is a very appealing thing to the seller. A backup offer can save that day for the seller.

When making a backup offer, there are a few things to consider. A backup offer should contain the right of first refusal. A backup offer should assure the buyer that they are first in line. A backup offer should be pre-negotiated with a set price and timeline for the purchase after the home becomes available again. A backup offer should also have a set expiration date not too far in the future. Thirty days for example. This keeps pressure on the seller to keep the current deal moving along.
So if you miss out on the home of your dreams, don’t sulk. Make a backup offer. As always, use a real estate professional to help you navigate the process.

Rick Yost is a realtor, real estate author, and long-time Windham resident. You can contact Rick with all of your real estate questions and needs at