Friday, March 31, 2017

How to know when it’s time to move by Nicole Foster

Maybe you had a clear plan of how long you would live in your current home when you purchased it or maybe your circumstances have since changed those plans; recognizing the signs of when it’s time to move on can be difficult. If there is no pressing issue, which provides a sense of urgency to making a decision to sell, such as being relocated or expecting triplets, it can be more convenient to put it off until later. Whether you are already dreaming of moving or the thought of selling has never crossed your mind, it is important to recognize when it may be best for you.

Having some reserves as a cushion to work with to prepare your home for its sale is ideal. Many sellers will have at the very least, minor repairs, paint touch ups or updating to do which will be out of pocket expenses. Be sure to make yourself familiar with the highest sale price in your neighborhood as well as the lowest over the past 180 days - before you get started on any projects beyond maintenance. If you are uncertain of your area or neighborhood’s sold prices, contact a Realtor. This will help you to determine whether or not staying in your current home and renovating or making significant upgrades makes good financial sense; or if you are making a decision rooted in emotional connections to your home. may currently have expansion potential by weatherproofing a damp basement, finishing off attic space or even adding a second story to your current home; but before taking on costly additions you will want to confirm you aren’t making big improvements for only a small return on your investment. When adding on doesn’t add up, or your municipal codes will not permit the style of addition your situation or property requires, it makes sense to consider selling and purchasing a more suitable home instead.  

On the flip side, perhaps you no longer require a 4-bedroom, 3-bath, two-story home and don’t wish to be the curator of vacant rooms forever. Carefully consider your energy costs and long term ability to keep up with the yard work and home maintenance when deciding if staying makes sense. It can be hard to leave the home you have so many priceless memories in, but we will not always be in a seller’s market and there is a season for all things. 

Sometimes the location is no longer right for you (and it is ok to admit it). Over time the dynamics of a neighborhood can dramatically change due to new homeowners and renters, association rules or personal relations. Perhaps your children are not thriving in the local school district and you would like a change for them. That 40-minute daily commute you thought was “no problem” has maybe become more cumbersome than it used to be just a few years earlier. 

It can be difficult to say “Good Bye” to your home, let a trusted Realtor help you move on when the time does arrive.

Nicole Foster has enjoyed being a Broker with Regency Realty for the past 11yrs - working w/buyers, seller & investors specializing in new construction. Nicole is a Windham resident and mother of four children.

Friday, March 24, 2017

New construction - it’s simpler than you think by Cari Turnbull

With inventory in Greater Portland currently so low, many of my buyer clients are turning to new construction for their home purchase. You can not only get the home that you want, exactly the way you want it - you can usually do that within your budget. 
If building a new home is of interest to you, make sure you choose a realtor who has experience with new construction to guide you through the process. We are very fortunate to have some great builders in this area who are able to do what we call a “turn key” build package. What this means is that you no longer have to take out an expensive and hard to come by construction loan; these builders will front the money for the project and you will close one time on the house when it is completed. 

During the process you can be as involved (or not involved) as you would like to be. Most buyers love the fact that they can choose every aspect of the home, from the lot to the home style, to siding color to the kitchen design. construction does differ in a few ways. One is that the builder will likely require a significant non-refundable deposit to start the project. Since they are fronting all of the money, they want assurance that you will make every effort to close on the property. The deposit can range from 3-20% depending on the builder and the cost of the home. 

The next difference is that there will be two appraisals done, one at the beginning of the process once you are under contract, to ensure that the home is worth the amount that you are under contract for. The second appraisal will happen when the home is completed to ensure it was finished according to the specifications. The third thing that is different is that you receive a one year home warranty with all new construction projects in the state of Maine. 

If you’re not finding a home you like on the market, or have always dreamed of building a new home - you should absolutely explore this option.

Cari Turnbull is a Windham resident. She and her team represent buyers and sellers in the Greater Portland Area. For all your real estate needs contact Cari at:

Friday, March 17, 2017

What you need to know about property liens by Randee McDonald

A lien is a notice that gets attached to your property, revealing that a creditor claims that you owe them money. This lien is typically a public record and filed in Maine with the Registry of Deeds. 

When you are buying or selling a house, there is nothing real estate professionals (or a potential buyer or seller) hate more, than to be “surprised” to find out there is a lien on the property in question. In order to sell or refinance a property, you must have clear title to the property, and in order to clear up the title, you must pay off the lien. Therefore, creditors know that putting a lien on property is a cheap and almost guaranteed way of collecting what they are owed.

A few examples of common types of liens that could be put on a property are listed here. 

Property Tax Liens:
Property tax liens unfortunately are common, in large part because they are prioritized over any other claim to the property. When property taxes go unpaid, the government may have the right to step in and sell the home to pay off that balance owed.
IRS Tax Liens/Unpaid Federal taxes – not just local property taxes – can also cause a lien to be placed on the property. The IRS has their own aggressive process for recouping unpaid taxes, including garnished wages and placing a lien on the property.

“Mechanic’s” Liens:
These are placed on the property when a contractor has performed work on the property, but was not paid. Maine law allows a contractor who makes improvements (with services or materials) to a property, to secure payment with a mechanic’s lien, when the customer fails to pay the amount due. The filing of a timely and properly drafted mechanic’s lien is a critical means of assuring payment - as the mechanic’s lien goes ahead of the mortgage on the property.

Judgment, Child Support and Alimony Liens:
If a homeowner was successfully sued, the winning party can place a judgment lien on the property should the homeowner fail to pay the entire judgment amount. This guarantees that the winning party will eventually get the money they are owed.

Mortgage Liens:
When a mortgage is taken out on a property, the lender has a claim to ownership to offset the risk of lending money. This lien differs from the other types as this lien is voluntary. The homeowner agrees as a stipulation to the mortgage, that the lender has a claim – or lien – to the property until the debt is paid.

The Moral - Unfortunately: Maine statutes have no specific provision for the release of a lien.  However, according to M.R.S.A. § 3263, property owners can file a petition requesting that the court order the lien holder to accept a bond and release the lien.  So - what’s the moral of the story? Purchase title insurance to protect you and your home against hidden issues, like liens. Title insurance is the best way to protect you from unforeseen legal and financial title discrepancies. Don’t think it will happen to you? Think again.

Friday, March 10, 2017

How to prepare now - for putting your house on the market this spring by Amy Krikken“I'm ready,” you say to yourself; “Ready to put the house on the market this spring!”
You have heard you need to have a yard sale and get rid of STUFF, but what more can you do to prepare for the best presentation and eventual sale of your home? There is plenty to consider, but where can you spend your time and money, to realize best results? 

Yes, to the yard sale. If you haven't used Aunt Betty's beautiful fruit bowl and it's just collecting dust on the highest shelf in the hutch, then it's probably time to let it go. 

Consider your possessions and rehome any that are no longer serving you. De-clutter and then de-clutter some more. You are aiming for an almost blank palette so that a potential buyer could come in and IMAGINE THEMSELVES in your home.  
Dirty carpets are one of the first things a potential buyer sees when touring a home, and how it translates in their mind is this: "Oh gosh, we are going to have to replace those right away; we will have to account for that in our offer."  

So do yourself a favor; either steam clean the carpets yourself, or hire a company to come do so. Odors love to hide in carpet as well, so there's a two for one helpful hint, an added benefit of a steam clean.

Do you have any broken tiles, railings, windowsills, holes in drywall? If so, fix them. I can assure you that they will be noticed by the potential future homeowner. 

Are there rooms that could use a fresh coat of paint? Either roll up your sleeves, or hire a painter.  Choosing neutral colors, and sprucing up your home this way will yield great on-line pictures, thereby bringing more buyers to your home.  Studies show that well painted and staged homes sell for a higher average sales price. 

About Staging:  
It can get elaborate, but any homeowner can employ FREE tactics, by looking honestly at their space, and casting a non-bias eye toward it. Do you have mismatched throw pillows on the couch? Choose to take the least matching pair out of the equation.  Use what you already have to your advantage, even if it means subtracting it. You have two huge couches, but they overwhelm the space, making your living room feel tiny.  Can you store the couch somewhere while you are trying to sell?  Your mantra should be: LESS IS MORE, LESS IS MORE. 

Do you have proper lighting, or does the back bedroom suffer from a dimly lit corner lamp, responsible for shedding all of the light in that room? Light and bright is the name of the game., do not forget about curb appeal.  A beautiful planter filled with spring’s bounty of daisies, petunia's, tulips or the like - will put smiles on faces, and set the tone for the trip inside your home.   
Spring will be here very soon. Inventory is very low, buyers are waiting. Are they looking for a home like yours? Let's find out. Call me for a free conversation about your home.  Maybe it's time to sell? I can arm you with information to help you make the best decision.

For more information, call Amy at 207-317-1338 or email her at .
Amy Krikken is a realtor at Rock Star Realtor, Better Homes and Gardens/The Masiello Group

Friday, March 3, 2017

Never give up - I may have a solution for you! By Matt Trudel

Have you been turned down or having trouble getting approved for financing, but want to buy a home? Do NOT give up!  You might still have some very good options. There are several reasons people get turned down for financing. Many times it is not their credit rating, but because 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 slightly higher interest rate. 

Another option is private financing, which can be very different than 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.

If your 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 an experienced realtor who has worked with people in situations like yours. I repeated that because it is extremely important to find a realtor with experience and knowledge of how to handle situations like yours. You want a realtor who is creative and good at solving problems. You want a realtor who has helped others successfully in the past. 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.

Article provided by: Matthew Trudel, Broker and Owner of Five Star Realty, Windham, 207/939-6971.