Saturday, September 30, 2017

Help me, help you by Amy Krikken

Where do you start when you wish to put your house on the market?

Let's start with decluttering and painting! Remember you are trying to allow the buyer to be able to
picture themselves in the home. The more you cleanse the palette, the easier the buyer can achieve this. Less is definitely more when it comes to preparing your home to sell. NOT lie to your real estate agent. Tell the truth about the flaws of your home, the truth will likely come out in inspections anyway, so simply state it upfront and build trust with your potential buyer. Reasonable people understand that there is no such thing as the perfect home. 

Think about where to best spend any money on repairs and upgrades. It may not be worth it to put that brand new kitchen in because the new buyer may hate the dark granite counter tops you chose - they may have plans for white marble. However, simple fixes (fix that toilet that is always running) and refreshing touches (paint, paint and more paint) will give your home an overall feeling of cleanliness, and that will more likely translate to a higher selling price. to the feedback of the buyers that have toured your home; try to remain objective and consider what the buyer sees, and make necessary changes. 

I've saved the best advice for last: Price it right the first time! Buyers KNOW!  They have been
shopping around looking at other homes. Buyers use the internet to research and can see what homes in your neighborhood sold for. If you decide to try selling at an inflated price point, you may luck out but more likely, you will not get the traffic you hoped for, and your listing will sit on the market and be seen as “old, and that there must be something wrong with it". You will end up with a steeper price reduction than if you had simply priced it at market value in the first place. 

A good Realtor® can advise you on these and other matters, I'd love to be that Realtor® for you!  Call me anytime Amy Krikken Better Homes and Gardens/Masiello 207-317-1338

Friday, September 22, 2017

Real estate transfer tax by Randee McDonald

In Maine, when real property or even a partial interest in property is transferred, there is usually a real estate “transfer tax” due. That’s right, folks – not only do you have to pay the title company for closing and title insurance, the realtor their commission and the bank their fees, but the governor needs his piece of the pie as well! 

The tax is collected by the state at a rate of $2.20 for every $500 of value of the property being transferred from one party to another, the value of the property computed by the Registry of Deeds as set forth in a declaration of value. So a transaction involving a home for $250,000 would result in a tax of $1100. The total amount is split evenly between the buyer and the seller of the property and is paid to the Registry of Deeds at the time the deed is recorded. 

Remember, a deed is the legal written document that transfers title from one person to another. Title, while we are at it, refers to the ownership of a property. These terms can be confusing – deeds and titles are not the same thing, but when you own a property you will possess both the deed and title. document that outlines the real estate transfer tax is called the RETTD (Real Estate Transfer Tax Declaration), and is one of the many documents that gets signed at the real estate closing and is filed along with the deed at the Registry of Deeds Office.

There are a limited number of scenarios where this tax is not applicable. It is always best to communicate with the title company handling the closing well before the transaction occurs, to ensure all documents and fees reflected are accurate and nothing holds up the closing process. 

Some of these exceptions may include: A situation where the deed is simply being modified or there is a correction of an error from a previous filing and the ownership status or price is not affected; deeds between family members, such as between husband and wife, parent and child or grandparent and grandchild; foreclosure deeds; and gifts of real property to government entities from a bona fide nonprofit land conservation organization are all exempt from the tax. of thumb: If you have any questions at all regarding transfer tax for your real estate transaction or if you feel you may be exempt from this fee, it is best to speak directly with the title company who can offer experienced and knowledgeable guidance as it pertains to your specific situation.
Cumberland Title is well versed in the applicability of the exemptions and will work closely with our customers in these circumstances.  

Randee McDonald is the owner and office manager of Cumberland Title and can be reached by phone at 207-899-4900 or email at

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Summer is winding down, real estate is not! By Matt Trudel

Buyers and sellers seem like different ends of the spectrum, but they have a lot more in common than you think. Here are a few things that both have to struggle with, along with some advice as to how to make the process at least a little smoother and hopefully more enjoyable.  

First up, both are faced with selecting a Realtor® or real estate office to work with. This can be frustrating on both sides, especially since everyone seems to know 4 or 5 people who have recently gone into the business. Interview your Realtor® and make sure they and/or their company have been in the business for a while. 

Experience comes from longevity and handling all facets of the business. Just like the seasons that come and go in Maine, Realtors® and real estate companies do as well.  

Second common issue is price point. For buyers, it is more about what they can afford and for sellers it is about what their home is worth.  

While they are slightly different issues, it is what eventually brings the two sides together.  Buyers should not be looking way above their purchasing ability. Sellers should not over price their home and limit the number of potential buyers. In this case, the buyer should interview and talk to several lenders. The seller should get multiple opinions on the value and pricing their home.

Another factor that often arises once you are under contract is the inspection issue.  

Radon is a very common issue in Maine and can be a deal-breaker for either buyer or seller.  Buyers will sometimes back out of a deal when radon is high and a seller might walk because they refuse to pay for a mitigation system. Sellers can always test if they want to, before the home goes on the market and then they know for sure where they stand.  They can disclose the situation and the buyer then can make a decision up front. Often times the cost of a system is split, but every situation is a little different and requires negotiation.

Financing would seem like more of a buyer’s issue, which it is. However, it very much affects the seller. The seller cares a lot about the type of financing used, which lender is doing the financing, and how strong a buyer you are. It is important for both parties that the process goes smoothly and having a solid experienced lender that knows how to get things done efficiently, is key.  

Overall the best advice I could give someone is to seek out experienced people and talk to more than just one person.  

Generally a real estate purchase or sale is one of the biggest transactions one can make, so why would you not put together an experienced team to assist you?  Seems like a good time to have all the experience and advice you can get when so much is at stake.  

Article provided by Matthew Trudel, Owner Five Star Realty, Windham.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The art of “flipping houses” by Rick Yost

House flipping is all the rage right now. In an appreciating market, everyone thinks they can make money. While the hot housing market is creating opportunities, house flipping is a business that has many costly mistakes. A good flip can earn a flipper tens of thousands of dollars, but a bad depiction can cost tens of thousands of dollars. When considering flipping homes, there are four golden rules to profitability.

1. Get familiar with the market.

The first thing one should do, is to educate themselves on the particular area they are interested in or where opportunities present themselves. The goal is to learn everything about that particular area, what distressed properties sell for in that area, what renovated properties are selling for and how long homes are on the market for. This information will give a good indication of the profit potential of a particular area and what's happening in that area.
2. Buy low and sell high. 

The second thing to remember when doing a flip is that buying cheap is essential (dirt cheap). Being a good negotiator is essential to flip houses successfully. It is important to not act too quickly on any property. 

 Waiting for the right deal in the right area and buying it cheap will lead to a profitable flip. There is much truth to the old saying, "You make money when you buy, not when you sell.”

3. Wow with renovations.

Thirdly, property renovations should exceed similar properties that it will compete with. Knowing the comps in the market allows for choosing the proper place to spend renovation dollars.  

For example, questions to consider: Are furnaces typically replaced, are hot water heaters high efficiency, are granite counters the norm? Should appliances be stainless steel?  Do comps have tile floors or ceramic backslashes?  If these things are the norm, they must be done in the house to be flipped and one should go even one step further. Knowing what the comparable homes on the market have for amenities and matching or bettering them is essential to profitability.

If the house looks better than the comps it will sell quicker than the comps.

4. Price it right.

Lastly, it is important to price the property right. The price should be similar to or even a little lower than what comparable properties are selling for. This may feel counter-intuitive. It might seem that if the home is better than the comps, it should be priced higher. But this is not the case. By selling a slightly superior home to the comps at a slightly lower price than the comps, the time the home is on the market is minimized. 

The goal is to sell the home as quickly as possible. The home sitting on the market is not the way to profitability. There is truth to another old saying, “Time is money.”

Holding a house for a few thousand dollars more is a bad strategy with cost being eating up profitability quickly.   

List the home a bit cheaper than the comps, sell it as quickly as possible, and get the money out and move on to the next house. Flipping multiple properties in a year is where the significant profits are.

These four tips will lead to profitability and success. Those that fail to heed the tips are flirting with disaster.

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

Friday, September 1, 2017

Explaining the current market trends by Lisa DiBiase

A tighter-than-normal home inventory level led to a decrease in sales across Maine last month. Prices, however, remain in positive territory. According to Maine Listings, the median sales price (MSP) for a single-family existing home increased 4.20 percent to $206,000 comparing July 2017 to July 2016. Sales were down slightly by 0.53 percent per the Maine Association of Realtors®.

“While the rising home prices are a boom for current homeowners building equity, these market Greg Gosselin President of MAR.

conditions are keeping some prospective buyers on the sidelines, especially in Southern Maine markets,” stated

Why the low for-sale inventory levels? A recent nationwide survey by indicates that 63 percent of homeowners say that their current house meets their needs, due to a low mortgage interest rate, their low property taxes or the timing of their recent home purchase.

Home prices continue to rise and more homeowners are tapping into their home equity, making home equity lines of credit and cash-out mortgage refinances popular again.

Home equity line originations jumped 8 percent to nearly $46 billion in the second quarter per the National Association of Realtors®. That is the highest level since 2008, according to data from Equifax, a credit reporting firm. Cash-out mortgage refinances reached $15 billion, a 6 percent increase from a year ago, according to Freddie Mac. rising home prices, low interest rates on home equity lines of credit are making them a more attractive option, too. The average interest rate was about 5.6 percent, according to
. Credit cards average 16.7 percent.

There are always certain life circumstances that will continue to keep the marketplace active. Working with a local Realtor® who knows the area is critical to having well-informed choices available to you as a consumer and ultimately guiding you successfully through the sale. 

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