Friday, January 26, 2018

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

With inventory in Greater Portland currently at an all-time low, many of my buyer clients are turning to new construction for their home purchase. New construction is great because you can get the home that you want, in a location of your choice, with the finishes you choose. 
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 using low and no money down mortgage options.

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, home style, siding color to 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 percent 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 difference with new construction is that you receive a one-year home warranty with all new construction projects in the state of Maine. This gives you peace of mind knowing that if something happens within the first year you are covered.
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 top real estate agent in Greater Portland; she and her team represent buyers, sellers and investors.

For all your real estate needs contact Cari at

Friday, January 19, 2018

Selling your home in the winter can be the right decision by Kevin Ronan

Are you thinking about selling your home this winter? Winter brings some unique challenges when selling, which are different than other seasons. 
Don’t lose hope, winter can also be a great time to sell. Why sell now? You beat the spring rush to list your home, local housing inventory levels continue be low and interest rate continue to be favorable for buyers. 

Be assured, you can make your home stand out from other houses on the market during those long,
gray winter days when sunlight is in short supply.  

Curb appeal is just as important in the winter, when snow is on the ground, as in the warm weather months. I spoke to Rhonda at Windham Flower Shop (892-5459) on how to improve your home’s curb appeal.  She suggested some great inexpensive ideas that will spruce up your home even in the dead of winter.  

Consider wreaths and hanging arrangements of fresh cut greens and berries. A front door wreath is a must but also consider a wreath on your mail box post or even the For Sale sign.  

Colorful birdfeeders that attract Maine’s wild birds in front of a kitchen window or by the back porch also adds a nice touch. Remember curb appeal may be a little harder in the cold months but is well worth the effort.
As the days get shorter exterior and interior lighting becomes more important. Lights are a great way to highlight your home’s best features. When someone drives up to the house what do they see? Hopefully the exterior lighting is both inviting and sufficient for buyers to view the house safely.  

Take the time to upgrade any light bulbs that are out or not of suggested wattage as well as add lighting in areas that appear to be too dark. Keep in mind, lighting is not only a great for curb appeal but is also necessary for safety.

I now wish to discuss the “S” word. Shoveling! This would all include walking surfaces including driveways, sidewalks and any exterior decks or balconies you want buyers to view. 

It may be challenging for a buyer to visualize their furnishings in a house with a couple of feet of snow on the ground and a deck that is totally immersed in snow. In addition, it can be very challenging for prospective buyers to visualize the beauty of your home’s landscaping and gardens during the winter. Why not include pictures of your landscaping taken during spring and summer? How inviting pictures of flower gardens in bloom can be! 

As you prepare for a showing or open house let’s consider what you can do to create a cozy inviting atmosphere.  

This is the time to turn up the thermostat and possibly light the fireplace. One safety note, if you light your fireplace it should be attended to at all times. You want the temperature to be comfortable and give buyers the opportunity to enjoy the warmth during the cold winter days. 

Let the light in on the inside.  As always turn on all the lights and open any curtains or shades. Fresh baked cookies, hot chocolate or cider are always welcoming. closing, although many would never consider selling during a New England winter, I suggest this can be done successfully with some simple, inexpensive activities.
If you have any questions please contact Kevin or your local realtor.
Kevin Ronan, Associate Broker affiliated with Alliance Realty, 290 Bridgton Road in Westbrook can be reached at 207-838-4855 or

Friday, January 12, 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, January 5, 2018

Owning your own home in 2018 by Carrie Colby

Being a homeowner gives you the security of owning the roof over your head, the feeling of contentment, satisfaction, fulfillment and it is the wish of most, if not all, Americans.

Homeownership is the American Dream. 

Homeownership is also the best investment. The value of your home appreciates, which means that if you decide to sell it, its price will be much higher than your purchase price. Homes appreciate about 5 percent every year (of course some areas appreciate more than others).  And as we have seen in our area in the last few years, appreciation is not always the case but just like all investments, if you hold onto them for the long term they will appreciate. Try, if you can to wait out the market and only sell when you will make a profit.

Homeownership, in a way, is a form of forced savings because you’ll have to allot a certain amount of money for monthly payments or risk losing your home. You also need to set aside money for future repairs or improvements.

Homeownership gives a sense of permanence where your family can live and grow. Emotional security goes with this. It gives you and your family security and peace of mind knowing that you have a home to call your own. 
You will develop lifelong friendships and a sense of roots and community for you and your family. Homeowners become attached to neighbors, become interested and involved in events and work towards the betterment of the community to protect and preserve property.

Homeownership eliminates landlord hassles. You will have no more worries with regard to a lease have pets, or change the color or the d├ęcor of your home to your own taste as you desire. It also gives you privacy; it’s not like renters wherein landlords can have access to the place.
not being renewed or an increase in rent. It gives you the freedom to redecorate, remodel, make improvements,

Keeping up on maintenance is crucial to making sure your home does appreciate and also keeps your family safe while living in your house. Maintaining your house on a regular basis also eliminates costly big-ticket repairs. For an example, if you have a septic, it is important to having it pumped every couple years as it will help you prevent costly back-ups and extends the life of your septic. The same goes for your furnace. 

Painting your house every few years keeps your home from needing costly repairs; like if the wood rots and it helps prevent leaks around windows and doors. 

You also save on taxes. All the interest and property taxes (up to $10,000 per year as of 2018) you pay in a given year can be deducted from your gross income to reduce your taxable income. You can borrow against your equity because the value of your home increases against what you owe on it. You may also have a better credit rating. Mortgage payments paid on time contributes to an outstanding credit history.

Owning a home is the biggest and best investment a person can ever make and, so you have to manage that investment to the best of your ability. It requires extraordinary commitment not only of funds, but time and attention as well.