Thursday, November 26, 2015

The importance of a home inspection - By Cari Turnbull

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller a home inspection is an important part of the home buying and selling process. 

Traditionally you would hear about a home inspection in correlation with the buyer, however it is becoming more common for sellers to have a pre-inspection on their home. This inspection would happen prior to listing your home and gives you the opportunity to fix any issues that may be found so you can get top dollar for your home. The seller can then offer a copy of this home inspection to potential buyers and if there were any issues that needed addressing they could provide proof that the work was completed. 

As a buyer, you will definitely want to schedule a home inspection once you’re under contract. Buying a home is probably the most significant purchase you will make in your lifetime and it is a good idea to know what you’re buying. The cost of a home inspection can range from approximately $350-$850 depending on what you decide to inspect. Your realtor is a great resource to not only choose a home inspector, but to help you decide which inspections are appropriate for your home. At a minimum, you would want a general building inspection. This includes a thorough look at the interior and exterior of the home and all of the systems in the home such as heating and electrical. The purpose of a home inspection is to locate any material defects or safety issues.

After you have the results of your home inspection, as a buyer you can then negotiate with the seller to get items fixed prior to closing or get the price reduced on the home. Keep in mind that some items may need to be fixed prior to closing depending on what financing program you are using. You should work closely with your realtor through the inspection process to determine which inspections you should have and how to handle the results of the inspection. When all is said and done, it comes down to having a strong, competent broker on your side.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Tips for Winter - by Lisa DiBiase

Winter is coming. Don't be fooled by this mild fall weather!  This means cooler temperatures are coming soon and lots of left over debris from trees and bushes need to be cleaned up before they go dormant.  To help prepare your home for the winter, here are some common tips you can start now before it gets too late!

1.  Tune up your heating systems. For about $80 to $100, a technician will inspect your furnace or heat pump to be sure the system is clean and in good repair, and that it can achieve its manufacturer-rated efficiency. The inspection also measures carbon-monoxide leakage. If you act soon, you'll minimize the chance of being 200th in line for repairs on the coldest day of the year.

Reverse your ceiling fans. If your ceiling fan has a reverse switch, use it to run the fan's blades in a clockwise direction after you turn on your heat. Energy Star says the fan will produce an updraft and push down into the room heated air from the ceiling (remember, hot air rises). This is especially helpful in rooms with high ceilings -- and it might even allow you to turn down your thermostat by a degree or two for greater energy savings.

3.  Prevent Ice Dams.
If your home had lots of icicles last winter -- or worse, ice dams, which can cause melt-water to back up and flow into your house -- take steps to prevent potential damage this year. A home-energy auditor or weatherization contractor can identify and fix air leaks and inadequate insulation in your home's attic that can lead to ice dams. If you have the work done before December 31, 2013, you can claim the federal energy-efficiency tax credit for 10 percent of the cost (excluding installation), up to $500. Your state or utility may offer a rebate, too.

Clean the Gutters. If your gutters are full of detritus, water can back up against the house and damage roofing, siding and wood trim -- plus cause leaks and ice dams. You'll typically pay $70 to $225 to clean gutters on a single-story house, depending on its size. Also look for missing or damaged gutters and fascia boards and repair them.

4.  Turn off exterior faucets.
Undrained water in pipes can freeze, which will cause pipes to burst as the ice expands. Start by disconnecting all garden hoses and draining the water that remains in faucets. If you don’t have frost-proof faucets (homes more than ten to 15 years old typically do not), turn off the shut-off valve inside your home.

Mulch leaves when you mow. Mow your leaves instead of raking them, according to  studies at the University of Michigan and Purdue. The trick is to cut the leaves, while dry, into dime-sized pieces that will fall among the grass blades, where they will decompose and nourish your lawn over the winter.

5.  Call a chimney sweep. Before you burn the Yule log, make sure your fireplace (or any heating appliance burning gas, oil, wood or coal), chimney and vents are clean and in good repair. That will prevent chimney fires and prevent carbon monoxide from creeping into your home.

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.

Lisa DiBiase is a Broker/Owner. She and her company represent buyers and sellers in the Greater Portland area. For all your real estate needs contact

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

It's not all about you! By Matt Trudel

When selling your home, a key point to remember, is it's not all about you! Unlike when you are buying a home and it is all about you, selling is all about the prospective buyers. Those are the people you are trying to impress and dazzle with all the special attributes your home has to offer. Here are a few fun things to think about if you are selling your home or maybe thinking of selling it soon.
Perhaps you have lived a few decades in the home, or just a few years. More than likely you are very comfortable with your home the way it is. That doesn't mean the buyers walking through the property will like the salmon colored accent wall, your favorite lilac bushes in the front that have taken over your picture window, or the plum colored front door. Most buyers can't see past a dated or bad paint job. Often they just move on to the next house.

Stand out at the front of your driveway and take a good look at your property. List 5 to 10 things you think could look better or be changed. Don't see anything. Go get a couple neighbors and ask them to do the same. If they agree with you, then great job. 

I highly doubt that will be the case. Neighbors almost always have an opinion on what could or should be changed. Not many people really think those big tarp like moveable garages look good. 

Got your list. Now go get it done. Curb appeal can make all the difference in getting an offer or not.

Some of us just are not that good with keeping up with current colors and trends. Others seem to have a gift for it. Hiring a professional interior decorator to walk through your home and point out changes can be worth all the money and more. From changing furniture in a room, to painting a few walls, and just updating kitchen knobs, can net big returns that far outweigh the cost of the improvements. Not only will you get more money for your home, it will likely sell faster and before your competition sells.

Lastly. Remember it's not about you personally. We all get attached to our homes. We have put hard work into keeping them up and looking the way we want. Try to keep in mind it is more of a business transaction. Hopefully this helps and provided a little strategy to get your house ready when you are ready to put it on the market.

Matt Trudel- a broker and the owner of Five Star Realty in Windham

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

House isn't selling? Why is that? - By Matt Trudel

This year has been a fabulous market for both buyers and sellers. Prices have continued to rise and interest rates have remained low. So why hasn't your property sold? Not only that, but you have had few or no showings, and not a single offer. Before you blame your real estate agent, take a look at these things that might be part of the reason.
Pricing is one of the top 5 reasons houses do not get shown. Overprice your home by 10 percent and you lose 20 percent of the buyers simply because you priced them out of your market. Also, buyers are very well educated today and have a good idea of what a house is worth. After all, they are the ones out shopping and walking through homes. Buyers also search homes by price and generally do so in $25,000 increments.

Condition and upkeep of a home both inside and out are very important. Did you take your realtors advice and make the repairs, painting, mowing and yard clean up? Curb appeal is huge. A house that doesn't look like it has been taken care of probably hasn't been taken care of. New buyers have a hard time thinking they can make all the repairs. Get the interior in order and fresh paint in neutral colors. 

Have you packed up all your extra items in boxes and stacked them neatly. De-cluttering a home is an absolute must! Empty the cabinets and closets, store extra furniture neatly in the garage or basement. Even better would be a storage unit. When a buyer opens up your cupboards, you want them to see a lot of empty extra storage space, not a jammed packed cupboard with no room. This also goes along with staging each room with minimal furniture so the rooms appear open and spacious.

One more that is often a deal breaker, a dirty house. So clean! Clean, clean and clean again. I have had buyers turn around at the front door and say forget it, not going in there, it smells and is filthy. If you have to steam clean the rugs then do it. Get behind and under all furniture and appliances, and don't forget the cabinets, inside, outside and on top. 

If you have done all this and still have had little interest, I would suggest asking several local realtors to stop by and give you there honest opinion of what they think might be the issue. As Realtors we all work together and ultimately we all want to help you get to goal of selling your home. 

Matt Trudel is the Broker and Owner of Five Star Realty