Friday, March 30, 2018

Home inspections- Are they important? By Richie Vraux

After you go under contract on your potential new home, you should take the advice from your agent, and have the home inspected. Always use a NACHI certified home inspector (National Association of Certified Home Inspectors). While your dad or uncle may know a great deal about homes and its faults, a certified inspector looks for the unobvious and will put all deficiencies in a category, so you know how urgent somethings need to be addressed. 
A typical inspection can run two to three hours long and even longer on more complicated homes. It is usually on a scale from one to five of which a rating of five would need the highest priority to get corrected. 

Listed below are usually the issues an inspector will address.

Electrical: He will check the electricity, the polarity and the electrical box to make sure wires are installed correctly and without being double and triple tapped and any other obvious issues.

Plumbing: Make sure the pipes, whether they are copper, plastic, iron or pecks are all are in good condition and not discolored, as is what usually happens with older copper pipes. Make sure all seals are secure and not leaking/ dripping.

Appliances: Make sure they all functioning to the capacity they were designed for.

Heating/ Cooling Systems: Make sure the systems and annually inspected and have current maintenance tags and performing to their optimal standard.

Mold: Check for possible mold or mildew in attics, basements and areas that show signs of dampness or dark spots.

Roof: Look for roof leaks, both by observing the shingles on the outside to the roof sheathing and rafters on the inside; and any signs of dark spots on the ceilings below. Look to see pine needles or caked on leaves, curling shingles - which shows the age of the shingles.

Windows: Have the seals been broken? He will check for fogged up, broken, older windows and missing putty.

Attic: Is there enough insulation, does the roof sheathing, or rafters show signs of dry darkening water stains or even worse, mold? These are all signs of a problem but the inspector will point out these signs.

Foundation: Does the foundation show apparent cracks or displacement due to shifting?

Trees, Bushes: Are your trees too close to your house? If they are too close, they will keep your home dark, which can promote mildew/ mold and tree roots into your foundation.

Water: Is your well water drinkable and clear from bacteria

Septic System: Most homes in Maine have a septic system - make sure you check with the town for septic design. If there is a septic design on file at the town, make sure it states the bedroom count that it was designed for.

As you can see there are many things to learn about with your new home. Take the advice of your inspector and go over what are the most urgent things to address first.

The costs of inspections are different between companies so check with your agent so you know in advance and these costs are all paid for by the buyer at the time of the inspection.

Good luck and happy house hunting

Richie Vraux is a buyers’ and sellers’ broker with RE/MAX Allied. Call him if you have any questions about your home at 207-317-1297.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Home inspection versus home appraisal by Cari Turnbull

Buyers and sellers are often confused about the difference between a home inspection and an appraisal. They are two different functions of a real estate transaction with different goals. 
The inspection is an optional part of the transaction. You can choose to have a home inspection and
make that part of your offer, or you can forgo that option if you wish.

The purpose of a home inspection is to find material defects and safety issues in the home. In the
state of Maine, there is no licensing for home inspectors; however your Realtor® will likely recommend a nationally certified home inspector.

It is the buyer’s choice who they use for their home inspection. The cost of an inspection is anywhere from $300-$1200 depending on which inspections you choose to have. You’ll also want to check with your lender to see if they require any testing, like a water test, with your financing program. The inspection is not pass or fail, it is to let the buyer know more about the home they are buying and then go back to the seller to renegotiate, based on the findings if necessary. 

Often people consider skipping the home inspection because it isn’t required and they don’t want to spend the money. It is good to remember that this is likely the largest purchase you’ll ever make in your life and $300 is a drop in the bucket compared to spending your first night in the house and then learn that the furnace isn’t functioning. 

If you are using financing, an appraisal is a requirement to get your mortgage. Appraisers are chosen by a third party and the lender will not know who the appraiser is until the report is completed.
The job of an appraiser is to confirm that the value of a property is at or above the agreed upon purchase price. How they do this is by looking at comparable sold properties. They will likely be looking at properties that have sold in the same town, or similar towns, in the past six months with as close to the same attributes to the subject property as possible. 

Once the appraiser has completed their report they will submit it to the lender and the underwriter will review it for any errors or items that need to be addressed. Some financing programs have certain criteria that a home must meet. A competent realtor will know the criteria for your loan and will let you know if they foresee any issues with the appraisal prior to going under contract. 

It is important that you are educated on the purpose of each step of the home buying or selling process, and these are two of the most important steps.

Cari Turnbull is a Windham resident. Cari and her team represent buyers and sellers in the Greater Portland Area. For all your real estate needs contact Cari:

Friday, March 9, 2018

What do you know about the road home? By Nicole Foster

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 there 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 classifications 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. private road can mean many things from a paved cul-de-sac in a neighborhood to a rural dirt road or a gravel right-of-way. Whoever owns the road has permission to use it and is responsible for things such as winter plowing, drainage and grading, which all 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 and/or communicate with one another. Over time homes sell and the dynamics may be 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 be improved or upgraded. 

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. lenders will require a Road Maintenance Agreement (RMA) or a formal road association to be in place 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 a 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 12 years’ experience specializing in single family, residential and new construction. She lives in Windham with her husband and four children.

Friday, March 2, 2018

How to prepare your home for the spring real estate market by Katie Kinney

Sellers want their home to sell fast and for the most amount of money. Well, it's not luck that makes that happen. It's careful planning and knowing how to professionally spruce up your home that will send homebuyers scurrying for their checkbooks. Here is how to prep a house and turn it into an irresistible and marketable home.
Curb appeal is crucial to a good first impression and the buyers will see the outside of the house first. Make sure your home's lawn is immaculate. Mow the lawn, prune the bushes, and remove any and all debris including trees that may need to come down, weed the garden and plant flowers. Sellers should clean the gutters and power-wash the exterior of the home if needed as well.

You want your home to be in the best condition possible. Go through the home and repair any major and minor defects. Most buyers want their new home to move-in ready and hassle free. Make sure there are not any lingering smells, leaky faucets, holes in the walls, etc.

Spend time removing clutter and de-personalizing your home. Buyers want to envision their belongings in the home and it is easier for them to accomplish this if there is not stuff everyone. Organizing your closets and shelves will make them look bigger and having a lot of storage space is bonus for buyers.

One of the most important steps to take in preparing your home for the market is having it clean. Spend the time to do a full, deep clean or hire a professional cleaning company. Your home will show best when it is clean. Sellers could even purchase a new welcome mat to let buyers know they are welcome.

Sellers also need to be aware of their emotional attachment to their home. You need to de-emotionalize the sale of your house. Once you have let go emotionally you will be ready for an offer and then for the sale!

Feel free to contact me for more information regarding preparing your home for listing. I am happy to set up an appointment and provide a CMA of your property.

Katie Kinney is a broker with Landing Real Estate. She represents buyers and sellers in the Greater Portland area. For all your real estate needs contact Katie Kinney at or 603-205-2276.