Friday, August 25, 2017

Fall is a great time for home improvement by Cari Turnbull busy summer season is winding down making it a great time to think about tackling some home improvement projects this fall. 

Home sellers often gravitate toward kitchens and bathrooms when weighing options about where to invest their home improvement money. These two areas are where you can expect to see the largest returns on investments. 

In addition to adding value to the home, some other motivating factors include making the space more functional, changing family or lifestyle needs, improving storage or organization and updating to follow the modern trends. 

Some popular trends in bathroom upgrades for buyers shopping for homes include: double sinks, walk in showers with glass doors and white vanities with solid surface tops such as granite, quartz or marble.

For kitchens, home buyers like to see an open concept, but before you knock down that wall make sure to consult a structural engineer. Other popular kitchen features include white shaker style cabinets, granite or quartz countertops, and an island with seating and new appliances. 

Things to consider when planning a project include: budget, timing, selecting a contractor and cost.
When budgeting always allow for a 15 percent overage for unforeseen costs once you start the project. You should also make a sketch of the layout to determine the location of fixtures and cabinets in the space. If you are curious to know if you’re making the right investment that will impact the value of your home, remember to contact a local real estate expert for their opinion prior to starting your project.

Cari Turnbull is a Windham resident and is a top producing realtor in the Greater Portland area; contact Cari for all of your buying, selling and investment needs 207-807-2062.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Hold on for a wild ride by Kevin Ronan

Enjoying the dog days of summer? The local real estate market is just as hot, with sellers receiving multiple offers on their property - if the property is priced correctly. In some cases offers are coming in over asking price. This is good and bad news. Good news for sellers hoping to get the best price, but not good news for buyers, having to pay more than fair market value for a property. 
As a seller you need to be prepared to handle multiple offers on your home. Discuss with your Realtor® how you might respond. Here are some options to explore: 

Do not accept the first offer. Give your property time to benefit from the marketing activities.  
If you get a great offer, which is significantly better than the other offers, take it. The term “Cash Is King” is so true when it applies to real estate. Be prepared; a cash buyer may request a quick close. As the seller, be ready to vacate the property in 30 days or less. Believe it or not, this is occurring in Cumberland County. all the offers if none of the offers, prices or terms are acceptable. Consider going back to all of the buyers who made offers and request their “Best and final offer”- including both price and term. This can reduce the time it takes to get a deal done as well as reduce your stress level.

Here is a thought: The highest offer may not be the best choice for you. For instance, an offer, which includes a contingency such as: the buyer has to sell their current home. 

You may want to continue to market the property even if you are under contract. Why? What if the buyer backs out? Maybe they cannot get financing or the home inspection identifies major problems and the buyer wants you the seller to make the repairs or significantly reduce the purchase price.  

As a buyer be prepared to view homes and make an offer on a home with multiple offers.  Begin by doing your homework!  

Review a market analysis with your Realtor® including properties sold, pending, new listings, and recent price reductions. 

Consider developing a wish list of what your property should include and be prepared to move quickly. Some properties are going under contract in less than 24 hours of being listed.

Get prequalified with your lender not preapproved. A prequalified letter from your mortgage lender validates your credit, income and employment history. This can take as little as one to two business days. When prequalified, you now have a ticket to the dance. 

Finally, it is important to be well educated. Take time to become familiar with some real estate terms that you will likely come across. This journey may be stressful at times but have some fun!  I would enjoy assisting you as you achieve your home ownership goals.

Kevin Ronan, Associate Broker affiliated with Alliance Realty, 290 Bridgton Road, and Westbrook, brought this article to you. He can be reached at 207-838-4855 or emailed at

Friday, August 11, 2017

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, VRBO and Airbnb websites, which have redefined the meaning of holiday/vacation accommodations. Short-term renters 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 to their vacation rental clients. 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 who are unable to attend to their property on a weekly basis.

Recent statistics say that nearly 60 percent of Americans were planning to book a privately owned home or apartment rather than seek hotel accommodation in 2016 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 also 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 new ones.

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, Wi-Fi access, maps etc.

Don’t forget about leaving detailed written instructions that cover important information such as contact details, emergency numbers, Wi-Fi 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 five star reviews.

Carrie Colby Owns Premier Properties 
Premier Properties specializes in Waterfront Sales and Rentals

Friday, August 4, 2017

Red Cross helping people affected by Raymond fire

Five people displaced by single-family home fire

RAYMOND – A Disaster Action Team from the American Red Cross of Maine began working with five people on Monday, July 31 to ensure that they have food, a safe place to sleep and other essentials following a single-family home fire.
Over the next several days, the Red Cross will remain in contact with the affected individuals to provide financial assistance and community referrals as they begin to make their road to recovery.
The American Red Cross provides food, clothing and emotional support to people affected by home fires and other disasters. Individuals wishing to support Red Cross Disaster Services can call (800) RED-CROSS or visit

Do you know the road home? By Nicole Foster, Broker/ Realtor®

A private road is essentially a micro-community, or a tiny town with its own culture and sometimes complex history. Another private road, only a mile away, can have completely different property values. 
There are local private roads where nothing more is in place than an informal and entirely voluntary group of dedicated residents who work together, while accepting that some of their neighbors choose not to participate. On the flip side of this are other local roads where the annual meeting is very well attended and a highly anticipated social event. The dues and fees can be minimal or astronomical and often do not follow seemingly logical assumptions like: “amenities will cost you more,” or “this road is short so the fees must be low.”

When working with your buyer agent to find your new home, consider and discuss whether or not homes located on private roads should be included in your search. With so many street and road classification’s regularly used in municipal ordinances it can be very confusing for home buyers, home owners and even our own local policy makers to understand exactly what type of road they actually live on. 

A private road can mean many things from a paved cul-de-sac in a neighborhood to a rural dirt or gravel right of way. Who owns the road, has permission to use it and is responsible for things such as: winter plowing, drainage and grading; which may depend on a number of variables. 

Ask questions about how the road maintenance is managed and what is expected from each homeowner on the road before buying a home. Some private roads easily manage their budget by collecting quarterly or monthly dues and have a surplus to work with in an emergency; however there are others who haven’t been able to budget appropriately or can hardly manage to keep the roads cleared in the winter or to communicate with one another.  

Over time, homes sell and the dynamics maybe improved or strained depending on the governance and cooperation or lack of it.

In Windham, approximately 48 percent of Windham’s roads are classified as “private” and provide access to approximately 14,000 acres. Recently proposed ordinance restrictions will require private roads to be upgraded from the nearest public street for most new development; which could mean the majority of these roads will never receive any significant upgrades. 

Who maintains your road? As with most things in real estate; “It depends.”  There are local private ways or roads which have been accepted by their municipality to receive annual winter plowing and sanding, but they are increasingly rare. Your buyer agent can help to review any fees and the costs associated with road maintenance. It is wise to reach out personally to the homeowner who handles the business of the road, with any questions or concerns you may have before buying, because even the best buyer agent will not be moving in with you after the closing.

Most lenders will require a Road Maintenance Agreement (RMA) or a formal road association to be present in order to finance a home situated on a private road. These are typically but not always recorded in the local County’s Registry of Deeds.  If you have been denied a refinance or purchase due to the lack of a formal RMA or road association it may be a lender policy and not a regulation and a different lender may be able to help you.

Nicole is a real estate broker with 11 years’ experience specializing in single family, residential and new construction. She lives in Windham with her husband and four children.