Friday, March 25, 2016

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Due diligence, beyond the contract - By Nicole Foster

Finding the home of your dreams with all of the amenities you would like at a great price may not make you happy if the neighborhood or area isn’t right for your lifestyle. Often buyers assume that because they have a fantastic Realtor working for them and they plan to hold inspections that their due diligence is well covered.
The Purchase & Sale Agreement, often referred to as “the offer” which becomes “the contract” contains an array of investigations and timeframes which are carefully crafted to construct a period of time for buyers to conduct investigations to help determine various material facts about the home and property. That’s it. Are there factors beyond the “four corners of the property” which may impact your decision to move forward, purchase the home and live there? If so, then it’s time to get to work! 

Prior to making the offer it is important to visit the property on different days of the week, at different times than when you visited during your showing(s). Arrive on a Saturday night at 11 p.m. to check the noise level, come by at five o’clock on a Friday to see how the traffic is. Visit on a Tuesday at 8 a.m. to see how many kids are posted at the end of the road or walking down the road to catch the bus. 

Look for an opportunity to speak with potential neighbors. Neighbors can be a terrific resource for information about the property and may be aware of hidden problems a seller has “forgotten to mention”. Perhaps they know the reason or motivation for the seller to be in the position of selling. Ask them if they would share how long they have lived there and what their experience and opinion of the neighborhood and the area is. If it’s a brand new home then ask if they are pleased with the builder and how responsive they are after closing. Are there any problem neighbors? Do they know of any upcoming plans in the surrounding area which could impact property values? Is anyone else in the neighborhood thinking of selling soon? If you enjoy the neighborhood then perhaps another home soon coming to market will be even more desirable.

Google the name of the seller as it appears on the deed and do another search on the name of the street and town the property is located in. This may help to reveal information which has appeared in media outlets or other. You never know what you may discover!

When you visit the town office to check on municipal services, stop into Code Enforcement or Assessing and ask about anything which may be pertinent or of concern to you and your situation. Ask if any surrounding agriculture, industry or transportation has been reported as an inconvenience by nearby residents. Consider how these outlying factors may impact your usage of your yard during different times of the year.

Discuss what is important to you with your Realtor and make a due diligence plan to address any issues or concerns you may have about the area and be sure to share any information you gather in your research with your Realtor. 

Nicole Foster is a real estate broker / Realtor of over ten years with Regency Realty who resides in Windham with her husband, David a local builder, and their four children. Follow her at www.facebook/

Friday, March 18, 2016

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Want to buy a home? Build a team! - By Cari Turnbull

Buying a home can be a daunting task, but if you surround yourself with the best team possible you will set yourself up for success.  How do you assemble this team? 

With my clients, I always have them start by speaking to one of my trusted mortgage lenders that I work closely with. There are so many different types of financing options; it’s definitely not one size fits all. Depending on credit score, debt to income ratio or type of property you want to purchase, the type of financing you may use or be eligible for may change. 

Second (if you haven’t already hired one) find a local realtor that you trust. It’s a great idea to ask friends and family for references if they have recently purchased a home. You can also check for recommendations on different online sites to make sure the person will be a good fit for you. 

The next person you need on your team is a home inspector - a critical part of the home buying process. A home is likely the largest investment you’ll make in your lifetime, and you want to make sure you know what you’re buying. Usually, the realtor you work with will have a few trusted home inspectors that they will recommend to you. title company will also work to ensure that you can get free and clear title (deed) at closing and issue owners title insurance at closing to cover you if any issues arise after closing. This referral will likely come from either your realtor or lender. 

The final person on your team is an insurance agent. You’ll want to make sure your policy covers you if something should happen to your home, or at your home. Asking your realtor and lender for a referral is a great idea, and I also recommend you call whomever you currently have your car insurance through because bundling the two usually gets you the best price.  

Cari Turnbull is a Windham resident. She and her team serve the Greater Portland area. Cari started her career in real estate after buying her first home and wanting the experience to be better. She hosts free monthly classes for home buyers and sellers to better educate them on the process. To contact Cari, call

Friday, March 11, 2016

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Determining a home's value - By Matt Trudel

This is probably one of the top ten questions Realtors get asked, "How much is my, this or that, house worth? Some people probably think we could answer that question easily. If we had a crystal ball then we would be able to answer a lot of questions much more easily. Like the other popular question, "how long will it take to sell my house?" 
There are many factors when determining value, but it isn't just about the number of bedrooms or how many bathrooms a house has. Condition of the home is not necessarily the most important thing, and neither is the size of the lot. All of these contribute to the big picture and for the purpose of this article, I am going to leave out location all together.

The value of something, including a house, is what it can be purchased for at a fair market price. So many would interpret that as what someone is willing to pay for a house. Others could argue it is what the seller is willing to accept. Both are true and filtering through both sides of the equation and searching out what has happened between other buyer and sellers in the recent past is how we determine value. Appraisers and Realtors both use recent past sales to sales value homes. Then they make minor adjustments for number of bedrooms, baths, age, condition and many other items. The difference between an appraisal and a current market analysis is an appraiser is licensed and follows specific guidelines. Realtors are only allowed to give opinion of values and there are no set guidelines for them to follow. 

That being said, an appraisal, although more official, is not necessarily what a house is worth. It is however the most a bank will consider the home worth most of the time. So I would argue that an appraisal is closer to the most your house is worth because remember value is also what someone is willing to pay. Most people would not pay more than what a house appraises at and many would not even pay what a house appraises at. Are appraisals ever wrong? Of course, and they can be challenged, successfully at times. 

So how do you set a value or price on a home? The amount a seller is willing to accept is part of the equation, and so is what a majority of people would be willing to pay for the house. Another important factor is what the competition is asking for other homes. All of these play a factor, as does the number of potential buyers. Overpricing a home will greatly reduce the number of potential buyers, sometimes by over 50 percent. Have a conversation with several local Realtors, get their opinions, and remember that setting an accurate value is very important when listing a home.
Matthew Trudel- Owner, Broker of Five Star Realty, Windham

Friday, March 4, 2016

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Benefits of using a Realtor for buying and selling

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) has released their 2015 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report. There are some real interesting statistics that can show benefits of using a Realtor®. Whether you are looking to purchase or sell a property, there are many facets of the transaction that needs the knowledge and experience from a Realtor® to help guide you through the process.

Benefits of using a Realtor® Buyer/Seller:
64 percent - Help understand the process of either buying or selling
59 percent - Pointed out unnoticed features/faults with property
48 percent - Negotiated better sales contract price/terms
48 percent - Improves knowledge of areas and comparables
41 percent -  Provides a better list of service providers

Among the generations, Gen X, 27 percent is the largest group who are recent home sellers followed by the Older Boomers at 23 percent and Younger Boomers at 20 percent. There is a clear trend of sellers moving to larger, higher priced homes for Gen X and Gen Y. The Older Boomers are downsizing in both square footage and price. Typically, the older the seller, the longer the tenure in their home has been.

What a seller wants from their Realtor®:
23 percent - Helps seller market the home to potential buyers
20 percent - Helps sell the home within specific time frame
19 percent - Helps price home competitively
14 percent - Helps find a buyer for home
13 percent - Helps seller find ways to fix up home to sell for more money
5 percent - Helps with negotiation and dealing with buyers
3 percent - Helps with paperwork/inspections/process

How long Sellers own home before selling:
                                                                        34 and younger           35-49   50 and older
2-3 years                                                          20%                             10%     7%
4-5 years                                                          30%                             14%     9%
6-7 years                                                          21%                             11%     10%

Among all generations of the home buying process, the first step is looking online for properties for sale. The frequency of Internet use in the home buying process was directly related to age. Younger buyers are likely to use the Internet throughout the entire process of purchasing a home.

Buyers have all gained benefits from working with a Realtor® as they all wanted help with the process and help from their agent to point out unnoticed features and faults with a property. Overall 88 percent of buyers obtained financing for their home purchase. When financing, younger buyers financed a larger portion, while older buyers were able to have 20 percent for a down payment.

What buyers want from their Realtor®:
53 percent want help finding the right home to purchase
12 percent want help negotiating the terms of sale
11 percent want help with price negotiations
8 percent want them to determine what the comparables are for the property
6 percent want help with paperwork
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