Friday, December 28, 2018

Love where you live in 2019

By Nicole Foster

It has happened more than once in my career that I have met with people who were wanting to sell their home and we went through the normal course of events including meeting several times to review and complete the listing paperwork and to create a listing strategy.

For some this can be a tremendous amount of preparation and work that can take time, often months, but everyone stays on task and in the end are ready for the photographs and a sign to be installed and officially hit the market.  However, at some point along the way of getting their home ready to list, compounded with looking at the existing inventory in an effort to identify their next home, they have fallen back in love with their current home and can now see the potential which had been buried in clutter or neglect all of the years they have lived there. In each circumstance they were hesitant to “confess” to me that they no longer really WANTED to sell, and instead just wanted a “second chance” at loving where they live now.

These are success stories for me just as much as the homes I was able to get a contract on in one day on the market for over asking price, or the buyers who I’ve helped to beat other offers and get the home they want. I know that these people made the very best decision which was right for them at the time and that is my main objective, not closing a singular transaction but serving as a resource for life.

Make 2019 the year you feel better in your own space, don’t wait to sell to love where you live! Here are some tips to help you to get started, and if you find yourself not sticking with it then just get right back to where you left off when you are able.

1.      Take the time to look around the rooms of your home objectively. Ask yourself if you were to move, what would you take with you and what would you get rid of? Make a real plan to eliminate the items which no longer are serving your regular purposes.

2.      Does the use of space make sense? Sometimes we get so used to things the way they are that we forget what the spaces were actually intended for. Are you not being afforded the use of an entire shelf or drawer because it’s full of things not often used like empty jars or old chargers?

3.      Has your mudroom been converted over the years to storage? If so then try placing an imaginary dollar value on the precious limited real estate within your home and seeing if “dollar-for-dollar” it adds up any longer or if you’ve just become “blind” to your surroundings.

4.       Make part of decluttering a part of your daily or weekly routine instead of waiting for a big event to clean out. Looking around it may seem like an overwhelming or daunting task but even a few minutes each day will make a huge difference as long as you keep at it and don’t get distracted or give up!

5.      Buy nothing.  Try incentivizing yourself with purchases by Goal Setting, for example: “I will not buy the new “X” until I get rid of “Y &Z”.

6.      Put aesthetic projects on hold and make maintenance issues a priority. (Steps #1throught #3 are the aesthetic focus which will pay off big time once finished.) you have ever considered selling but are too overwhelmed to break it down into steps or can’t begin to wrap your mind around how to approach it then call an experienced Reator®.  It costs you nothing to meet and have us take a look at your property and give a professional opinion of value based on its current condition or with improvements and upgrades. You may decide to create a plan and be surprised where the journey leads you!

Nicole Foster is a real estate Broker and Realtor with Locations Real Estate Group and a Windham resident.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Understand the terms your agent is using

By Lisa DiBiase

For home buyers and sellers, the real estate jargon can be intimidating. Some people are not comfortable asking what it means, therefore I have put together a list of the most common acronyms and real estate terms we use daily.

As-is”: A contract or offer clause stating that the seller will not repair or correct any problems with the property. Also used in listings and marketing materials.

Back on market (BOM): When a property or listing is placed back on the market after being removed from the market recently. This typically occurs when a listing was previously under contract and the buyers terminated the purchase and sale contract.

Back-up offer: When an offer is accepted contingent on the fall through or voiding of an accepted first offer on a property.

Broker’s price opinion (BPO): The real estate broker’s opinion of the expected final net sale price, determined prior to the acquisition of the property. Agents will perform this upon the request of a bank, typically when a property is in the foreclosure process.

Clear to Close: A term used by a lender when all conditions have been met by the buyer for the loan to be funded at closing.

Closing: The end of a transaction process where the deed is delivered, documents are signed, and funds are dispersed.

Commission: The compensation paid to the listing brokerage by the seller for selling the property. A buyer agency agreement may require the buyer to pay a commission to his or her agent.

Commission split: The percentage split of commission compensation between the real estate sales brokerage and the real estate sales agent or broker.

Competitive market analysis (CMA): An analysis done by real estate sales agents and brokers using active, pending, and sold comparable properties to estimate a listing price for a property.

Contingency: A provision in a contract requiring certain acts to be completed before the contract is binding.

Continue to show: When a property is under contract with contingencies, but the seller requests that the property continue to be shown to prospective buyers until contingencies are released.

Cooperative (Co-op): Where the shareholders of the corporation are the inhabitants of the building. Each shareholder has the right to lease a specific unit. The difference between a co-op and a condo is in a co-op, one owns shares in a corporation; in a condo one owns the unit fee simple.
Counteroffer: The response to an offer or a bid by the seller or buyer after the original offer or bid.

Credit report: Includes all of the history for a borrower’s credit accounts, outstanding debts, and payment timelines on past or current debts.

Credit score: A score assigned to a borrower’s credit report based on information contained therein.

Days on market (DOM): The number of days a property has been on the market.

Dual agent: A state-licensed individual who represents the seller and the buyer in a single transaction.

Earnest money deposit (EMD): The money given to the seller at the time the offer is made as a sign of the buyer’s good faith.

Escrow account: An account for real estate taxes and insurance which borrowers pay monthly prorations for real estate taxes and property insurance.

Expired (listing): A property listing that has expired per the terms of the listing agreement.

Fee Simple: Absolute title to land, free of any other claims against the title, which one can sell to another by will or inheritance.  

FHA: Federal Housing Administration.

For sale by owner (FSBO): A property that is for sale by the owner of the property.

Gift letter: A letter to a lender stating that a gift of cash has been made to the buyer(s) and that the person gifting the cash to the buyer is not expecting the gift to be repaid. The exact wording of the gift letter should be requested of the lender.

Good faith estimate: Under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, within three days of an application submission, lenders are required to provide in writing to potential borrowers a good faith estimate of closing costs.

Homeowner’s insurance: Coverage that includes personal liability and theft insurance in addition to hazard insurance.

HUD: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Interest rate lock: When the borrower and lender agree to lock a rate on loan. Can have terms and conditions attached to the lock.

Listing: Brokers written agreement to represent a seller and their property. Agents refer to their inventory of agreements with sellers as listings.

Listing agreement: A document that establishes the real estate agent’s agreement with the sellers to represent their property in the market.

Loan application: A document that buyers who are requesting a loan fill out and submit to their lender.

Loan closing costs: The costs a lender charges to close a borrower’s loan. These costs vary from lender to lender and from market to market.

Loan commitment: A written document telling the borrowers that the mortgage company has agreed to lend them a specific amount of money at a specific interest rate for a specific period of time. The loan commitment may also contain conditions upon which the loan commitment is based.

Loan package: The group of mortgage documents that the borrower’s lender sends to the closing or escrow.

Loan processor: An administrative individual who is assigned to check, verify, and assemble all of the documents and the buyer’s funds and the borrower’s loan for closing.

Loan underwriter: One who underwrites a loan for another. Some lenders have investors underwrite a buyer’s loan.

Mortgage: A legal agreement by which a bank or other creditor lends money at interest in exchange for taking title of the debtor's property, with the condition that the conveyance of title becomes void upon the payment of the debt.

Mortgage broker: A business that or an individual who unites lenders and borrowers and processes mortgage applications.

 Mortgage loan servicing company: A company that collects monthly mortgage payments from borrowers.

Multiple listing service (MLS): A service that compiles available properties for sale by member brokers.

Multiple Offers: More than one buyer broker present an offer on one property where the offers are negotiated at the same time.

Off market: A property listing that has been removed from the sale inventory in a market. A property can be temporarily or permanently off market.

Payoff letter: A written document from a seller’s mortgage company stating the amount of money needed to pay the loan in full.

Pre-approval: A higher level of buyer/borrower pre-qualification required by a mortgage lender. Some pre-approvals have conditions the borrower must meet.
Prepaid interest: Funds paid by the borrower at closing based on the number of days left in the month of closing.

Prepayment penalty: A fine imposed on the borrower by the lender when the loan is paid off before it comes due.

Pre-qualification: The mortgage company tells a buyer in advance of the formal mortgage application, how much money the borrower can afford to borrow. Some pre-qualifications have conditions that the borrower must meet.

Principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI): The four parts that make up a borrower’s monthly mortgage payment.

Private mortgage insurance (PMI): A special insurance paid by a borrower in monthly installments, typically of loans of more than 80 percent of the value of the property.

Promissory note: A promise-to-pay document used with a contract or an offer to purchase.

Purchase and Sale Agreement: A real estate contract between a Seller and a Buyer who have agreed to specific terms on a specific listing/property.

Special assessment: A special and additional charge to a unit in a condominium or cooperative.
Also, a special real estate tax for improvements that benefit a property.

Under contract/Pending: A property that has an accepted real estate contract between seller and buyer.

VA: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Walk-through: A showing before closing or escrow that permits the buyers one final tour of the property they are purchasing.

Agents have a big responsibility to handle your largest asset in most cases, please always have open communication to understand what your options are. 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 of Landing Real Estate. She and her company represent buyers and sellers in the Greater Portland area. For all your real estate needs contact Lisa at 207-653-0823 or

Friday, December 14, 2018

Tips to keep your home warm in the winter

By Mel Oldakowski

To say it's freezing outside would be an understatement. We're all feeling the effects of this brutal Maine winter; and for those looking to reduce your heating bill without a big investment, here are a few tips. 

Be sure to use the correct ventilation.

Replace bathroom exhaust vent switches with timer switches so vents will not be left on accidently and vent only when needed.
Winter air tends to be dry, so if you don't mind a little less privacy, open your bathroom door and let the steam escape into the house instead. Make sure bathroom fans/vents have baffles/draft blockers on the outside so you don't have cold air blowing back into the house.

Switch ceiling fans (reverse them) spring and fall.

If you have heated floors turn off the ceiling fans but if you have forced air heat, turn them on. 
Close the doors and vents in unused rooms if you are trying to reduce heating costs or keep your living space warmer in an emergency.

Get heat where it’s needed.

If you have radiators, line the inside of the exterior wall with tinfoil. This will reflect some heat back inside. 
Double check to make sure you aren't blocking airflow from forced air vents with furniture or other objects, and that the vents are open where you need heat.
If you have a chimney and are not using it, make sure its flue and draft (if it has both) are closed. Open chimneys can suck the heat right out of your home. This is one of the biggest issues with open fireplaces – too much heat loss from the room. Consider blocking the chimney with a fireplace insert for insulation to reduce heat loss if it will be unused indefinitely – just don't forget to take it out if you use it again.

Insulate inside.

Insulate hot water/radiator pipes and duct work running through non-living areas. You don't want that heat dumped in a crawl space or utility area you want it to get your house warm. 
Attic access can be the source of large amounts of heat loss so make sure your attic access is well insulated. 
Don't let the cold radiate up from your floor. A non-insulated floor can cause more than 10 percent heat loss in a home. This is especially important if your home is on a slab. Insulate the floor with warm rugs or carpets. 
In extreme cold, hang blankets along the wall, even where there aren't windows because the wall can radiate cold through it if the insulation isn't good enough. If this happens regularly you need to check your wall insulation.

Reduce window heat loss.

Uncover the south facing windows to let in solar heat on sunny days.
Add interior window insulating kits, insulating shades, and curtains. You can purchase these items inexpensively online and in most major stores. If you have very large window, you can tape a large clear shower curtain to the inside (just past the frame).  It will allow sun in during the day and still provide an air gap to reduce heat loss.
Never forget your Realtor can always be a great resource, and may have pull, should you need an experienced contractor. We are always available and willing to help.

Friday, December 7, 2018

All about easements

By Randee McDonald

The word easement is defined as, “a right to cross or otherwise use someone else’s land for a specified purpose.” In its simplest terms, a property easement allows for a third party to use a portion of someone else’s property for a specific use. Most commonly we see this as a “right of way” issue or to allow service maintenance – such as utility companies – to access a certain piece of land.

Easements can also exist to address a number of issues. Reasons for easements can differ depending on the situation, such as an easement of necessity, a private easement, or a utility easement.

One example would be if the only way to access property B from a main road is to go through an alley or driveway that is located on a neighboring property A, then property A would most likely be burdened with an easement that benefits property B.

Another example would be if electric lines are located above property A and property B, then both properties would most likely be burdened with easements that benefit the electric company so that they can access either property in the event they need to repair or maintain those electric lines.

But what does this all actually mean to the homeowner who has the easement attached to their property?

If you have an easement attached to your land, you are not permitted to build any structure on or over the easement land, or to use it in any way that interferes with the rights of the party benefitting from the easement. Failure to comply could actually result in the new structure built on the easement to be destroyed, or the homeowner could even be sued.

When you work with Cumberland Title, you can be confident that we conduct thorough title searches and will disclose if we find any easements – as well as liens or encroachments – and we will share that information on the title report prior to closing. And as always, we are here to answer any questions you may have about the title search process, or any other aspect of your real estate transaction and closing.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Important information for Millennial homebuyers

By Amy Krikken

Interest rates are still relatively low, supply is beginning to return to normal and Millennials are entering the market in droves. Many people assume that they can't afford to own a home, however, that is not always the case. There are great programs out there for first time home buyers, some have very little money down required in order to purchase a first home. First time home buyers can best prepare themselves if they know a few things ahead of time. Often the first step is contacting a loan officer/mortgage broker to obtain prequalification.

This process involves giving the mortgage broker a quick picture of your income, assets and debt. Before you even begin perusing the listings on line and driving by houses, you should do yourself this favor. There is no sense in getting hopeful about a home that you can't afford. Your loan officer will lead you through a simple process that will yield that magic number, then you can begin your search. What you need to provide to be prequalified are two years of W2's (or two years of tax returns if you are self-employed), thirty days’ worth of pay stubs, and two months of bank statements. You will also want to check your credit report, as you will want that to be at its best before you officially apply for the loan. 

There are some surprising things that you should, and more importantly should not do, when you are in the process of shopping for a home. 

Katrina Virgie of Northstar Mortgage here in Windham, has developed this helpful list: 

DO call your mortgage company if you have any questions.
DO provide requested documentation promptly and in its entirety. 
DO continue living at your current residence. 
DO continue making your mortgage or rent payments. 
DO continue to use your credit as normal. keep working at your current employer. 
DO keep your same insurance company. 
DO stay current on all existing accounts.
DON’T change your employment status. 
DON’T make any major purchases (car, furniture, jewelry, etc.). 
DON’T change bank accounts. 
DON’T make any large cash deposits into your bank account. 
DON’T transfer any balances from one account to another. 
DON’T close any credit card accounts. 
DON’T consolidate your debt onto one or two credit cards. 
DON’T apply for new credit or open a new credit card. 
DON’T max out or overcharge on your credit card accounts. 
DON’T take out new loan or co-sign on a loan. 
DON’T pay off any loans or credit cards, charge offs, or collections without discussing it with your mortgage company first. 
DON’T finance any elective medical procedure. 
DON’T join a new fitness club. 
DON’T open a new cellular phone account.’T start any home improvement projects. 
DON’T have your credit pulled or dispute any information on your credit report. 

If you encounter a special situation, it is best to mention it to your mortgage broker right away so they can help you determine the best way to achieve your goals. Most importantly remember that you are not alone, your real estate agent, and your mortgage company can take the guess work out of the process, and make this a smooth transition into your new home. 

Amy Krikken, Maine's Rock Star Realtor, can be reached at 207-317-1338 to assist you in your home buying or selling needs. Mortgage Maven Katrina Virgie can be reached at to help you find the mortgage that is right for you. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Most common reasons your house isn’t selling

By Matt Trudel
This year’s market has been very good for sellers and is not showing any real signs of slowing down next year, despite the slight rise in interest rates. Although rising rates can limit a buyer’s purchasing power, there are still plenty of buyers out there looking at all price ranges. So why isn’t your home selling, or for that matter even being shown to potential buyers for weeks. Below are some of the top reasons that houses don’t sell in what is considered a very good market for sellers.

Incorrectly pricing a property too high is one of the most common mistakes that sellers and their agents can make. Thinking that you can push the limits because it’s a seller’s market can be a huge error. Buyers are very educated these days with regards to value of home. An overpriced home limits the number of potential buyers that might be able to afford it, and in turn limits the number of buyers that will even look at it. This can cause a home to sit on the market and become what is know as a stale or old listing. Having a bunch of price drops can also cause buyers to think there is something wrong. So be sure you and your Realtor® have an accurate and realistic value for your home. The condition of your home should also be taken into account during this process, which leads to the next reason.
While some homes are up to date and have been freshly painted, homes that need a lot of updating and TLC can be tougher to sell. Some buyers just don’t have the desire or ability to do a lot of home improvements. Your home should be clean and free of clutter, even if it is dated. Paint is an easy fix for some homes. A fresh coat of neutral paint through some of the rooms not only updates the home, it will also help with a fresher smell. Depersonalize the home as much as possible. Pack and put away family photos and memorabilia. This time of year you should be cautious about over decorating your home. A potential buyer my not share your same enthusiasm about Santa Claus or other various holiday traditions you may have. 

Are you working with the right Realtor® for your particular home? All agents are not created equal and Realtors® offer many different qualities. Experience, timeliness, availability and personality are just a few of the characteristics you should be looking for.  Some agents work part time and have other jobs that make them unavailable. Some agents just don’t have very good people or social skills, are tired or burnt out, or are not very happy with their career. A Realtor® that loves his or her job is more than likely going to do a good job representing you and your home.

Location! Location! Location! We have all heard it, but sometimes your home is not in the best of locations. I know what you are thinking, “I can’t pick my house up and move it! “ That is true and all I ask is you remember this little piece of knowledge. A house that is not in the best of shape or best location but has lake or mountain views can work for some buyers. You might not have a lake, but you can make the exterior and yard look as desirable as possible to off set the condition and/or location.  At one point you liked the home and location, so perhaps the right buyer just hasn’t come along yet. 

This article was written by Matthew Trudel, Owner of Five Star Realty, Windham.  (207) 939-6971.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Small fixes, big value

By Rick Yost

When a seller is getting ready to sell their home, there are always projects that can be done to make the home more saleable. Removing clutter, touching up paint and a deep cleaning are the most common first step recommended to a potential home seller and increasing the potential for getting a home sold. 

The steps discussed in this article are the next level and are meant to return the greatest amount of value with the least amount of cost and effort. These steps will also get your house ready for sale at the highest possible price in the shortest amount of time. These are the little things that potential buyers notice and influence their decision to make an offer and how much they decide to offer. Home sellers following this advice are truly ready to sell their home.

Appliances and furnace
All potential home buyers will look at your furnace and appliances. Make them shine. Sellers should clean the oven, stove top and inside of the refrigerator as best as possible. Use some appliance touch up paint on small chips and nicks. Use a degreaser on the furnace, wipe off all dirt and dust and clean the floor around the furnace. 

Buyers will make over all assumptions about the upkeep of the home based on the appearance of the appliances and furnace. I cannot tell you how many clients I have worked with that reject a home based on the condition of the furnace. The condition being entirely determined by the way the furnace looks.

Baseboard, moldings and sinks
Cracking, peeling, and discolored caulk and/or silicon on your baseboards, moldings, sinks and tubs stand out like a sore thumb but a little time and effort can remove the cracked and discolored caulk and silicon. 

Tubes of caulk and silicon are inexpensive and easy to apply. Sellers will be surprised at the difference this step will make in the overall appearance of the house because nothing looks more dated than a sink with cracked caulk all around it.
Smoke detectors and CO2 detectors
Discolored, beeping, and non-functioning detectors are eye sores and annoying for buyers. A quick trip to the local hardware store to get replacements for dated detectors and fresh batteries for more current detectors is always a cheap and easy way to add visual appeal and value to a home.
Fireplace and chimney
Having the chimney and fireplace cleaned helps make a home more attractive to buyers. Although buyers love a fireplace, they fear chimney fires. As a result, water stains inside the fireplace, piles of soot and loose mortar are all troubling signs to potential buyers, so sellers should consider spending a little extra money to improve these conditions professionally and save the receipts for potential buyers. Not only will it further home safety, but will increase the likelihood of a quick sell.

Sellers should make sure that all windows have screens. Screens that don’t fit correctly or are damaged should be repaired immediately with particular attention to the screen door. Potential buyers notice those screens first. 
Window sill
Of all the things this article recommends, this is the most important.  Windows should be cleaned, sills vacuumed, and blinds dusted. There should be no peeling paint, moisture stains or discoloration as all of these are warning signs to potential buyers.  Scrape, sand, etc.  your problem sills and put a fresh coat of paint on them.  Sills are so often overlooked by seller, but not by buyers.
Now that the seller has completed his deep cleaning, removed clutter, touched up paint and followed the steps in this article, they are ready to go to market with a house that is truly ready for potential buyers to see and truly ready to sell.

Rick is an Award-Winning Realtor, real estate author and long time Windham resident.  You can reach Rick with all your real estate questions at

Friday, November 9, 2018

Home remodeling advice if you do not know exactly what you want

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, they may seem nice, and they may seem competent, but have you checked them out? What do your friends say about them? Have you contacted their references? Seen their work? Are there any complaints lodged against them? (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 them? Is he/she 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 in! Rather, hire someone who not only comes in within 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 very important. Spell out the payment schedule in the contract, beginning with the amount to be paid upfront (which should be no more than 30 percent).  Periodic payments after the work starts should correspond to completed segments of the project. And 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.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Why it is important to do a pre-inspection prior to listing your home

By Richard Vraux

So, you think you may want to sell your home? Here are some things you should know before taking that giant step to sell.

First, speak to a Real Estate Advisor to have them explain the importance of having a pre- inspection done prior to listing your property. Once you have a plan, then start the process.

Start off with your Realtor® recommending a few inspectors to choose from. Make sure he or she is (NACHI) certified National Association of Certified Home Investigators. By hiring a third party, they can give you an unbiased opinion as to the condition of your home. The report will address any safety issues at hand and any problem areas that could cause you problems. You will want to know these and other issues that will minimize the stress you may encounter during this process.

Isn’t it better to know your issues prior to your listing, rather than having to deal them after the offer comes in? The likelihood of having to deal with negotiations at the last minute is slim to none having a pre-inspection., if the issues are found up-front, you can either repair it yourself or you can seek out a contractor at your own pace and find one that is reasonable in price. Running around at the last minute can be costly to you.

Once you know what repairs or updates are need, you should be ready to sit with your Realtor® and get a more accurate price point to list your house. Most Realtors® do not recommend this service, but believe me, it will be money well spent if the buyers find issues.

Most inspectors charge between $350.- $400 for this service and another $250-$300 for a septic inspection. It will be a small price to pay rather than have the buyers ask for thousands to have a qualified technician take care of the issues.

Boy scout motto- Be Prepared.

Richie Vraux is a Real Estate Broker/ Realtor® with RE/MAX Allied for more than 20 years. If you need advice call Richie @ 207-317-1297.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Are you ready for winter?

By Kevin Ronan

It was not very long ago when we were basking in the warmth of a wonderful Maine summer. Now it is time to get ready for the coming winter. What have you done to prepare your home? What options should homeowners consider when preparing for a cold Maine winter?

Have you considered an energy audit? An energy audit is an analysis of
a home’s energy consumption and outlines how to improve its overall energy consumption. This information can assist a homeowner to realize significant savings on utility bills and create a more comfortable living environment during the cold winters. An energy audit will cost between $300-$600 depending on how extensive the audit and there are a number of home inspection companies in Southern Maine from which to choose. When choosing a company to perform the audit, check to make sure they are insured and bonded. 

Are you familiar with Efficiency Maine (EM)?  Efficiency Maine is an independent administrator of energy efficient programs in Maine. EM's mission is to promote cost effective energy savings. Through Efficiency Maine, a homeowner can access a number of resources including determining your homes energy efficiency, energy savings technologies and available incentives and rebates. Efficiency Maine can be contacted at INFO@EFFICIENCYMAINE.COM, 1-866-376-2463.

What if you do not want to pay for an energy audit. What can you do yourself? Depending on your budget here are some suggestions to improve your home efficiency. Start by cleaning and servicing you furnace and hot water heater. Be sure to change the filters annually. Check around windows and door frames for any air leaks or drafts. An inexpensive tube of silicone caulk can greatly reduce drafts and heat loss. Replace any incandescent bulbs with energy efficiency LED bulbs.  Install low flow shower heads and finally unplug all unused chargers. 

Bigger ticket projects can reap even greater energy efficiencies for homeowners. Add or replace insulation in the walls and the attic. When choosing insulation pay close attention to the insulation R-value. Your local hardware or building supply store representatives are well informed and can help you choose the right insulation for your project. If your home has a HVAC system, get it serviced. This can be costly but well worth the cost. Finally, is it time to replace noisy old appliances with an Energy Star rated appliance.

At the time I was writing this article, the local weather forecast today calls for snow and cold rain; now is the time to get ready!  Stay warm!

Kevin Ronan,Associate Broker affiliated with Alliance Realty, 290 Bridgeton Road in Westbrook brings this article to you. He can be contacted at 207-838-4855 or if you need any assistance. 

Friday, October 19, 2018

When buyers and sellers meet

By Nicole Foster

In Maine the majority of listed, already existing, residential single- family home transaction closings are attended by both the buyers and sellers, who will not typically meet face to face prior to reaching the closing table (unless one party is signing in advance or remotely, so they may never actually meet). Buyers and sellers have adverse interests so one of the primary reasons that they have hired a Realtor® instead of just buying or selling property themselves is to have that added protection of a buffer or intermediary so they do not need to take on the added risks and unintended consequences associated with direct negotiations and communications.

It is customary for the seller of a listed property to leave during the showings with prospective buyers and their buyer agents as well as during the buyer’s building inspections. Buyers often feel more relaxed about providing feedback and comfortable asking questions when the sellers are not present (buyers should always assume the increasing likelihood of seller surveillance devices when inside a property).

There are instances, however, where a seller may not be willing or able to leave and buyers and their agents may or may not be made aware prior to their arrival and are surprised as a result. For some sellers, it is the only way that they can do this hard thing and do not intend to undermine the process while others have different motives for lingering. Sometimes a seller has been scrambling to finalize the tidying up or pet removal for a showing and happens to be in the driveway leaving while the buyers are pulling into the driveway and they meet accidentally, or the buyers may just “happen” to stop by and speak with them while they are doing yardwork or holding a yard sale.

Regardless of the timing or frequency of your meetings, it is beneficial to keep the focus on cultivating a positive exchange.  Keep ideas for improvement and renovation to both property and landscaping or yard to yourself. A seemingly harmless idea could possibly be sending the message to the seller that you do not like what they have done, or your plans may be removing something of sentimental weight leaving the seller feeling uneasy. Instead of sharing your vision, try to focus on telling the seller what you absolutely love about the property – the location, yard, style or features of the home and compliment what you do enjoy about it. not to elaborate on how you spent “tons of money” on X, Y or Z. A buyer doesn’t care how much you personally chose to spend on something and may wonder if your overall valuation is inflated as a result of such comments.

Don’t feel obligated to answer questions on the spot. If you are faced with a surprised meeting and are feeling ambushed with questions as either a buyer or seller who already has agency representation it is appropriate for you to smile and nod and agree to discuss at some point, but you do not need to feel pressured to discuss on the spot without your agent or time to consider your response.

The sale of a property can be particularly intricate when the purchase of one is contingent upon the sale of another, so it is important to maintain well documented conversations throughout the entire process.  Working directly with your Realtor® to help with both the negotiations and communications can reduce your risks as either a buyer or a seller.

Nicole Foster is a real estate Broker at Locations Real Estate Group who resides in Windham 207-615-7558

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Why the holiday season may just be the right season to sell

By Lisa DiBiase

If you're ready to sell your house, you don't have to wait. Selling during the holidays doesn’t have to be a disaster. Even though there are less homes on the market, buyers are out there buying at a steady pace. You may be surprised that there are advantages to selling your home over the holiday season.

There are no seasons online.

Traditional home buying and selling has evolved with the internet. While spring is still the hottest home-buying season, serious home buyers are always on the lookout. Instant and constant internet access means buyers are always checking out the latest listings. Today’s buyers do the bulk of their home searches online which is why it's critical to have a professional online presence, especially when it comes to photos.

Less competition.

Come spring, sellers will flood the market and your home will be just another fish in a great big pond. But right now, you’ve practically got the market to yourself. Home inventory usually falls from November to December. That means less competition on the market if you list your home during that time! Buyers have fewer homes to choose from, which means you could sell your house faster.

Serious buyers.

If a buyer is trudging around in freezing weather to look at your home, they are serious. People also tend to start their home search several months prior to when they plan to purchase. Many winter buyers may also be working against a deadline, whether it’s an expiring lease, relocation, or a contract on their current home.

Tax Incentives before year-end.

Winter home buyers may also be motivated to capture the tax benefits of buying a home before year-end. Home buyers can write off some of the expenses of their home purchase on their taxes. There are usually multiple tax benefits of owning a home that can be taken advantage of.

Time Off.
You may think people are less likely to see your home during their hectic holiday schedules. That can be true, but keep in mind most people have more time off around the holidays. That means more time for browsing their favorite home apps, dreaming about their future decor, and even scheduling home showings.

Are You Ready to Sell?
With all these advantages on your side, hopefully selling your home in the winter won’t feel so daunting. Make sure you work with an experienced real estate agent to get your listing ready for online house hunters and serious holiday buyers. What a better way to celebrate the upcoming new year.

Call Lisa today for all of your real estate needs. 207-653-0823.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Should I sell my home now or wait until spring?

By Mel Oldakowski

There are many questions homeowners ask themselves during the selling process. "How much will my home sell for?"  "How much should I list my home for?"  "Who should I select as a real estate agent to sell my home?"  Lastly, "Is this a good time to be selling a home?" is also a very common question that real estate agents are asked.

As with every decision in life, there are pros and cons, and choosing when to sell a home is no different. Many homeowners believe selling a home during the fall or winter months is not a good idea and that the spring is the only time a house should be sold.

This is the furthest from the truth. There is no doubt that the "spring market" is a great time to be selling and buying real estate, however, the fall and winter seasons may be the best fit for you for several reasons. great reason to sell your home now and not wait until the spring market is there is sure to be less competition. Simply put, it’s the supply and demand theory. If there are less homes for sale, there are less homes that a potential buyer can choose from, therefore increasing the demand for your home. 

Not only will less competition increase the probability for showings, but it will also increase the probability that an offer will be received, and you will get the maximum amount of money for your home.

Many homeowners believe that buyers aren't out there during the fall and winter months. This simply is not the case. Serious buyers are always out there! Some buyers may stop their home search because it is the fall or winter, but serious buyers will continue to look at homes, no matter what time of year it is. 

Do your neighbors have pumpkins on their front step? Are there lots of Trick-or-Treaters wandering the neighborhood on Halloween? Do any of your neighbors have any light displays for the holidays? There are buyers out there who will look at these types of things when determining whether your home is in the right neighborhood for them or not.

The best agents are always up for the challenge. Any real estate agent who tells you that the fall or winter months are a bad time to sell is not someone you want selling your home. A great real estate agent will know how to adapt to the current season and market their listings to reflect that.  

Right now, there are fewer real estate transactions than there will be in the spring. The fewer number of transactions means the mortgage lenders have less loans to process, title companies have fewer closings to do and home inspectors have fewer inspections.  All these factors should lead to a quicker transaction and less stress for you.

This article was brought to you by Mel Oldakowski of Better Homes and Gardens/The Masiello Group in Windham. She can be reached at 207-205-0121.