Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Is your house still on the market? 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 five reasons houses do not get shown. Overprice your home by 10 percent and you lose over 20 percent of the buyers simply because you priced them out of your market. Also, buyers are very well educated today and have a very 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 realtor’s advice and make the repairs of 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. A storage unit would be a better option to store items.

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 inside. This also goes along with staging each room with minimal furniture so the rooms appear open and spacious.

One more thing that is often a deal breaker is 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 their honest opinion of what they think might be the issue. As Realtors®, we all work together and ultimately want to help you get to the goal of selling your home. 
Matt Trudel is the owner of Five Star Realty in Windham

Friday, November 17, 2017

Are you ready for home ownership? By Rick Yost

One of the lessons that we are taught early in life is the value of home ownership. We are taught that it is a goal that we should all strive for and accomplish as soon as possible. The younger the better; but the rules have changed a bit. It is time to evaluate whether you are ready to buy a home or not. There are several questions you must ask yourself to determine your readiness.   The trick is to answer the questions honestly.
The number one question to ask yourself is: Can I afford it? You can find mortgage calculators online everywhere. Find one and plug in some base numbers: How much you have for a down payment?

What are the current interest rates? What do homes, that you would want to own, cost in your area? 

And then get an estimated payment. Did you get sticker shocked? If yes, you’re not ready. The truth is that interest rates are low and rents are high. You still may be able to afford more mortgage than you think. 

Do you know the true costs of buying a home? You have the down payment, but there are many other costs associated with closing on a home. You will want a home inspection. Our mortgage company will require an appraisal, pre-paid property taxes, pre-paid mortgage insurance, title insurance, and an origination fee. You also must pay the title company to do your title search, have a mortgage survey done and handle the closing. All these costs add up quickly to thousands of dollars.  If you’re ready to buy a home, you will have these costs saved also.

Do you have some extra? It is important to have a small emergency fund on top of your other expenses associated with buying a house. Emergencies happen, and you should have a savings account just for them. Many things can pop up when first moving into a house; it is important to have the ability to cover those expenses when they arise.

Is the home going to be an investment? A home can be a fine investment, but it is not very liquid. Your ability to pull profits from a home are limited. There may be better places to put your money for the short run or even for the long run, if you are simply looking for an investment vehicle. Make sure you are buying a home to be a home. It is the only way you know the cost is justified.

Those are the tough money questions that you should ask yourself. There are other questions that are very important also. These are more personal and emotional questions, and are just as important:

Are you going to be happy living in that area for the next five to ten years minimum?  Buying a home is very much a commitment to an area and its school system if you have or are having kids.  As your life changes, will the area meet your wants and needs. A condo in the Old Port at 25 might be great, at 35, not as much, and at 45, no thanks. If your job is not stable, your interests are ever changing, or you yearn for far-away places, you are probably not ready to buy a home.

Are you going to have time to care for a home? Maintaining a home is a commitment that cost either time or money: A lawn to mow, snow to shovel, repairs to be made, and general upkeep to do. These things take time and/or money. If you are not ready to make that type of time or money commitment, you are probably not ready to buy a home.

Are you buying for the right reasons? Homeownership is not for everyone. You shouldn’t buy just because you are a certain age or making a certain income. We have always been told that home-ownership is the goal, but maybe it shouldn’t be your goal. At least, not right now.

Rick Yost is a realtor, real estate author, and long-time Windham resident. You can reach him with all your real estate questions and needs at rickyost63@gmail.com. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Not knowing exactly what you want in realeastate can cause problems by Carrie Colby

If you don’t know exactly what you want or specify what you want, you’re going to get what the contractor thinks you want. And it could end up costing you dearly!

For home remodeling design ideas, inspiration and a whole lot more (including cost estimates), you can search the internet on sites like Zillow and HGTV. You can search by style, cost or room. And what’s really cool is that you can search by specific elements within a room, such as quartz or granite countertops, for example. Share your boards with your contractor so that you’re clear on your objectives.
Hiring the first contractor who comes along -

Sure, he may seem nice, and he may seem competent, but have you checked him out? What do your friends say about him? Have you contacted his references? Seen his work? Are there any complaints
lodged against him? (P.S.: The Better Business Bureau just released its Top 10 List of Inquiries from Consumers, and half relate to home improvement.) What do subcontractors and suppliers have to say about their dealings with him? Is he licensed and insured? As excited as you may be about taking on this new project, you need to do a fair amount of due diligence. A referral from friends or Real Estate agents are a good way to start your search. In my experience, if I refer someone, it is someone who is good since it is a reflection on me and my business.

Jumping at the lowest bid -

Get at least three bids, and throw out the lowest one so as to avoid the inevitable consequence: cheap materials, shoddy installation, etc. Don’t invite trouble! Rather, hire someone who not only comes in within the target, price-wise, but is someone you feel personally comfortable with.

Not insisting on a written contract -

Every detail about your project should be included in a contract, from the start date to the approximate completion date, right down to the brand of fixtures to the number of coats of paint. Be as specific as possible! Also important: setting a time limit for fixing defects so that if a dispute arises, it’s not endless.

Not setting a payment schedule -

How you pay a contractor is almost as important as how much. Spell out the payment schedule in the contract, beginning with the amount to be paid up-front (which should be no more than 30 percent).  Periodic payments after the work starts should correspond to completed segments of the project. What’s the best way to ensure that work gets done when and how you want it? Leave a significant sum (at least 10 percent) to be paid only when the job is completed to your satisfaction.

Carrie Colby is a Realtor® Broker/Owner of Premier Properties in Raymond she can be reached at 207-655-2225. Check out all of the current listings at www.MainePremierProperties.com

Friday, November 3, 2017

Jump at the opportunity to sell your home in the fall by Richie Vraux

My favorite time of the year is Fall. You can feel alive with the cool temperatures, the smell of leaves falling from the trees and the cozy warm feeling you get from the heat you get from your wood burning stove or fireplace. What a great time to sell your home! 
Spring and summer were pretty active with buyers and sellers; however, this is the time when things start slowing down in real estate and sellers take their properties off the market until spring, being hopeful to sell in the new year. 

Most of these people let their listing expire. Wewll my friend, THE TIME IS NOW TO LIST! Inventory is low and due to those who claim they will start up again in the spring - the market is wide open. Put your home in the face of potential buyers and make your home stand out. Jump on the opportunity now.

I remember when I closed on my first house, we closed on the day before Thanksgiving. Wow! That was a mish-mash of Thanksgiving turkey and fixings. We won’t forget that year for sure.

The Lakes Region is growing and people are relocating.  I do a lot in relocations because RE/MAX is a world-wide company, so whether they are relocating from Texas to Maine or Maine to California - we do it all.

The homes listed at this time of year get sold because there is less to choose from. Once a home sells the new homeowners will have time to make it theirs. New kitchen, new floors, new paint or whatever it takes. Be proactive by standing out in your neighborhood. 

List it now before the snow comes our way, and ring in the New Year with a new chapter for you and your family in your new home.

Richie Vraux is with RE/MAX Allied and a Broker/ Realtor for more than 20 years both in Massachusetts and in Maine. Call Richie for a consultation whether you are upsizing, downsizing, relocating or want to find your getaway home - I can help.