Monday, August 31, 2015

Home buyers - hire a professional - By Matt Trudel

Home buyers, even if this is not your first time purchasing a home, you should hire a professional to guide you through the complex process. The real estate market is continually changing, from different financing options, rules, regulations, and market fluctuations of inventory which correlates directly with pricing. Even if you bought a house three to five years ago, today's real estate market is vastly different.

A Realtor is a professional who can take you from start to finish, and can navigate all the hurdles and obstacles that arise. A good realtor knows the pulse of the market, negotiates well, will find you a home with the things you desire at a favorable price point, and will continue to work with you even after the closing. 

Many Realtors are very good at networking, especially some of your local realtors who have been in the business a long time. They have learned over the years that by staying in touch with each other on a regular basis and sharing what is happening with new listings or new clients, they can provide much better service for their clients. We all have access to the MLS, but it is the new listings that are going to be coming on the market or the homes that the sellers don't want advertised for sale but are willing to sell if the realtor knows of a qualified buyer that would like their home. These are known commonly as "pocket listings". 

Work with one professional, don't try to work with several different realtors. It doesn't take long in our discussions to find out you are working with several agents. You want a committed, trustworthy, and loyal relationship with your agent. There is one local company that has made that their motto. You want to show your agent that you are committed to working with just them. That way when they hear about a new "pocket listing" coming up, you are the first one that the realtor calls and gets you prepared to make a solid, reasonable offer at the earliest opportunity. A good example of this was a client I was working with that was pretty sure they wanted to build a new home, and not purchase an existing home. While going through plans and existing new construction I learned the most important things they wanted in a home. A fellow realtor mentioned a new listing was going to be hitting the market soon. After a short discussion I was certain the home might be the right fit and after a quick walk through the home I knew it was perfect. My clients loved it and put it under contract the first day. Their loyalty to me got them the very first call. I had already gotten them pre-approved and the process went very smooth because we were prepared. 

So search out that professional that you feel comfortable with and work with them. Sign an exclusive buyer's representation agreement and start searching for your new home the right way. 

~Matt Trudel is the owner of Five Star Realty in Windham.

How to build a real estate portfolio - By Lisa DiBiase, Landing Real Estate

There can be a lot of ways to make money with real estate investing, but if your ultimate goal is to build long-term wealth and cash flow to retire, then it’s very important to slowly build a portfolio of cash flowing income properties. It may seem difficult to build a portfolio at first, however with a little discipline, it can be done!

Start Off Small – Remember you can't do this overnight. This is a long-term plan that will take time to build. With that being said, you should start off on a small scale and work your way up to bigger properties. Possibly start with a single rental, condo or single family home. Then, once you have a handle on it, you could work your way up to a duplex or triplex. The most important thing to accomplish will be proving to yourself and the bank that you can maintain a profitable portfolio.

Look for Deals – Most good real estate investors make their money upfront in transactions. You make the most money when you find a great deal. You can't overpay for a property so you can get into the market! If you do, it will be difficult to get your money back from the investment. The best way to build a portfolio with limited cash or income will be finding the deal. You’re not looking for the rehabbed, ready-to-move-in investment properties. Ideally, you are looking for the properties that need minor rehab.

Start Early – You don’t have to wait until a certain age to get started. There is nothing that says you should not invest in real estate. The earlier you can get started, the better off you will be in the long term. If you are not sure whether the time is right for you, contact a loan office to get started on what it will take on your end to begin the process.

Leverage – Most real estate investors leverage their money to buy real estate. You may have to start out using banks and private lenders to help fund your portfolio. The more properties you can buy, the more potential profit you stand to make. It is highly recommended to maintain your savings for emergency maintenance and vacancies. All properties will require maintenance from plumbing work to paint and are a requirement of being a landlord.

As I have said before, 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.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Rent your home and make money - By Carrie Colby

In a world that knows no shortage of real estate, it’s never been easier for people to make money in the lodging industry, partly due to VacationRentals, Homeaway and VRBO websites, which have redefined the meaning of holiday/vacation accommodations. Short-term renters to can now book a vacation home for a lot less money than a traditional hotel would cost, and this also translates into a money-making opportunity for home owners.  Home rentals offer so much more than a hotel can. They have all of the amenities of your own home and are more comfortable and spacious than a room can offer.
There are also companies in the area that offer property management services for their vacation rental owners. For a small percentage of the weekly rental amount they will advise you on the rent you can expect to receive, advertise your home for rent, arrange for cleaning services and collect (from the renters) and pay the state lodging tax thus eliminating these headaches for you. This particularly works out well for out of state vacation rental home owners that are unable to attend to their property on a weekly basis.

Recent statistics say that nearly 60 percent of Americans are planning to book a privately-owned home or apartment rather than seek hotel accommodation in 2015 and with 87 percent more likely to choose a vacation rental due to availability and easy online access. There is indeed a lot of money to be made, provided that properties meet certain conditions.

Since most tourists using websites such as aren’t just looking for a place to sleep, but for a superior travel experience. As a host you can’t simply hand your guests the keys and expect things to run smoothly on their own. Increased availability also means that short-term tenants are more choosey when considering their options so you need to carefully prepare your home in advance and make sure it’s up to their standards.
The better job you do getting your home ready for renting, the more your guests will appreciate it, and it’ll also put you in a position to charge a higher rate. So here’s what you need to do:

Make It Spotless
Before renting your home inspect it from top to bottom and see which areas need your attention in terms of cleaning and repairs. The kitchen and the bathrooms should be spotless while the beds should be made up with clean linens. Whether you do it on your own or use a housecleaning service, the bottom line is your house needs a thorough cleaning before your first guests arrive. Once that’s sorted, have a look at your appliances and see if everything is functioning smoothly, to make your guests’ stay as comfortable as possible. If you’re experiencing issues with any of your home electronics, consider repairing them instead of splurging on new ones.

In order to detect and fix potential safety hazards or anything that might cause the injury of a tenant, create a list with all the things you should check: Old fixtures, electrical circuits, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and so on. Protect yourself and your guests against any unfortunate accidents by making sure everything is working as it should be and that there are no loose ends or potential risks left unattended.

Make It Simple
Your house should be equipped with everything that’s necessary to make your guests have that important home-like feeling. This is also a guaranteed way to get positive reviews and repeat business on sites like HomeAway or VRBO. Therefore, you should be able to provide your short-term tenants with facilities and items such as a microwave oven, coffee maker, teapot, toaster, cleaning supplies, basic toiletries, hair dryer, remote controls, extra light bulbs, WiFi access, maps and more.

Don’t forget about leaving detailed written instructions that cover important information such as contact details, emergency numbers, WiFi passwords, house rules, operating instructions for gadgets and appliances and so on. Let your guests know where the trash and recycling should be taken and, if you want to go the extra mile, provide them with a list of local grocery stores, gas stations, and recommended restaurants - your efforts won’t go unobserved.

While there are many things to take into consideration when doing short-term vacation rentals, more often than not, the experience is positive for both the hosts and their guests. As long as you use common sense and follow the industry’s best practices, you may soon be accumulating 5-star reviews.

Carrie Colby
Premier Properties
1263 Roosevelt Trail, Raymond, ME 04071
Fax 866-379-9252
Cell 207-232-5497

Showing clean - By Rick Yost

One of the first rules of showing a home that is for sale is that it should be clean and clutter free. After a home for sale had been de-cluttered, it is time for a deep cleaning. I often recommend hiring a professional cleaning company to do this initial deep cleaning. Professionals will often clean spots overlooked or avoided by the homeowner. The initial cleaning is the easy part. The hard part is keeping it clean. If the home is unique, a fixer-upper, or in a slow moving market, it may take multiple showings and multiple months to sell.
Keeping a home clean for many months is a huge task. There are a few tricks that can help keep a home clean for an extended period of time.

After cleaning your furniture and carpets, apply carpet sealant and protective sprays. These are the same products the furniture store tried to sell you when you bought your carpets and furniture and they are available at home improvement stores. They help fabrics resist mildew, mold and bacteria. These products also protect against stains. No one wants a grape juice stain on the carpet the day of a showing. As a bonus, some of these products also reduce fading.

 After cleaning your baths and showers, apply a car windshield rain repellant. These products are available in any auto supply store. They create an invisible barrier on your shower walls and glass. This barrier will cause soap suds, oils, and water to bead and roll off. Soap scum will be a thing of the past.

After cleaning your stone countertops, apply a sealer. Most stone counter tops have a sealer applied when they are installed, but sealers should be periodically reapplied. Juice, sauces, and red wine can all easily stain countertops that are not properly sealed. A properly sealed countertop will also wipe clean much easier. A good way to test a seal is to pour a tiny bit of water on the counter. The water should bead and stay beaded for two to three minutes. If it does not, it is time to apply a sealer.

To reduce dust in a home and to make dusting easier, a home should have a humidity level of between forty and fifty percent. This can be achieved with a dehumidifier and or a humidifier. A humid home with moist air is ideal for dust mites. A dry home can have static electric build up. The static electricity attracts dust and makes dusting more difficult. 

Showings are often requested at the most inconvenient times, so keeping the home for sale clean at all times is important. Employing these cleaner-longer methods will help remove some off the stress involved with showings.

Rick is a realtor, real estate author, and longtime Windham resident. You can reach Rick with all your real estate questions and needs at

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Factors to consider when making an offer - By Lisa DiBiase

There are many factors to consider when making an offer. Here are a few suggestions.
Look at how the property and the asking price stack up in comparison to other recent sales in the area. It is important to utilize the Comparative Market Analysis, CMA, which can be provided by your Realtor to help justify your offer.

Determine what type of market you are in. Is it a buyers’ or sellers’ market, or is it neutral? In a buyers’ market or even a neutral market, you tend to have more leeway on some of the components of your offer, price being one of the biggest. In a sellers’ market, where properties become part of bidding wars and typically end up selling for more than their asking price and your options might be more limited.

Seller’s motivation can be key. You don't normally have access to the sellers' motivation, however, if you did know something, you might be able to make an offer that accommodates his or her needs and helps improve your chances of being accepted. Your Realtor can ask the appropriate questions to the listing agent to help gain any information that can be helpful.

Look at how long the property has been on the market. If the property was just listed, they may refuse your below-asking price offer in hopes of getting the full price from another person. If a prior deal has fallen through, however, and your financial situation looks strong, the seller may well find your low offer quite attractive. 

Good Faith Deposit, also known as Earnest Money Deposit is an important factor that gets underestimated. This amount shows how serious you are in the purchasing the property. Typically, the higher the amount is the more interested the buyer is in the property. The amount of money the buyer is willing to lose should they not meet all their deadlines and criteria in the contract. There are even options to increase this good faith deposit after inspections to solidify the buyer’s interest in going through with the sale of the property.

As I have said before, 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.