Friday, May 25, 2018

Getting ready for the big day by Nicole Foster

The final days and weeks leading up to the closing date of a real estate transaction are often consumed with organized chaos for both buyers and sellers. Time management and difficult decisions are a large part of each day surrounded by newspapers, bubble wrap, boxes and limited functionality, while maintaining their normal lives of work and school because they must.

At this point, both buyers and sellers have become experts on topics which they knew nothing about before and have learned how a night of sleep can make a difference how they respond to a question or issue. Here are a few reminders to help keep you on track and what to expect as you get ready for the big day, because you deserve a smooth closing after all you have overcome.

Check the expiration date of your driver’s license in advance to make sure it will be valid on the closing date. If you have an out of state driver’s license, or if your primary residence is not in Maine, you should inquire with the title company in advance of the closing, to see if you are eligible for a waiver of the Maine withholding tax. It is important to request this form; complete it and submit prior to your closing.

Before the closing, be sure to contact all utility providers for your previous address and the new location to transfer your account to the new address to make sure you will have service and sellers should stop service after closing to avoid being charged. 

Mail and address changes:
Visit the post office to arrange for your mail to be forwarded to your new mailing address. Call each individual line of credit and account holder to update your address and cancel all automatic deliveries to your previous address. You may want to exchange contact information with the buyer or seller in case you receive their mail following the closing; or you can return it to the post office or contact their real estate agent to let them know.

Closing disclosure:
Review your closing disclosure carefully and compare it to your loan estimate upon receipt. If you find any discrepancies, then contact your lender immediately and ask any questions that you have about the terms. Ask the title company’s processor or your real estate agent to help explain any areas you are uncertain about. Changes to this document can cause delays to the closing date so it is important to confirm receipt and review ASAP.

Final walk through:
Most agreements will allow for the buyer to visit the property prior to the closing to confirm the seller has vacated the premise and it is free of personal property (unless otherwise agreed upon) and any debris has been removed. Buyers will want to confirm the property is in the condition agreed upon in the contract and check on any repairs which were to be done following the inspections. If you find some of these issues are not satisfactory, your buyer agent will help you by reviewing what options exist and creating a plan of resolution, which may or may not include delaying the closing date.
Wire fraud:
Unfortunately, there has been a sharp increase in hackers intercepting emailed wire transfer instructions. Carefully read the Cyber/Wire Fraud Advisory provided by your real estate agent and follow the instructions from the title company to take steps to protect yourself. Never initiate wires without double checking and verifying the legitimacy of the destination.

What to expect:
Allow plenty of time for your closing and do not schedule yourself to be elsewhere a few hours later in the event a delay occurs at the table. There are times when a name is spelled incorrectly, a required document is missing and needs to be obtained or you need to wait for funds to be wired. Sometimes you may wonder when you walk into your closing: “Who are all of these people?” The closing agent will be seated where the large amounts of paper may be easily explained to both buyer and seller and passed for signatures. The buyers and sellers meet, if they have not yet already, and both of those parties’ real estate agents will accompany them. Often the buyer’s lender will also attend to help answer any questions regarding their loan or financing.

Afterwards you will get to leave with lots of important documents for safe keeping during a tumultuous time so have a plan in place for how and where these will travel and be stored to avoid aggravation and don’t forget your new keys!

Friday, May 18, 2018

How to navigate new construction transactions by Katie Kinney

Building and purchasing new construction seems simple, right? Just pick out the floor plan you want, choose the perfect lot, and watch it go up. No sellers to deal with, no unexpected repairs that come up during inspection, no drawn-out negotiations. Right?

Not exactly. In any real estate transaction, it’s important to have a professional on your side that understands the process and will be able to help guide you.

One of the first steps of building a new home is to decide whom you will hire to build the house. Finding a reputable builder you trust is very important. Your agent will be able to recommend builders they have worked with in the past. You want to work with a builder who has a high quality of workmanship and who offers some type of warranty. If you are having these discussions in the beginning of the transaction, it will save time and headaches later in the transaction.

Another very important step as an agent representing clients in a new construction is to go to the town offices where the land is located. You will need to research the zone requirements and ordinances to confirm you can build a house according to your plans.

The town will be providing the certificate of occupancy once the house is finished. By communicating and complying with the town from the start you will expedite the move in date.
Even if you’ve purchased a home before, the contract for new construction is very different and an experienced agent can help you make sure you understand everything - from floor plans to earnest money requirements, deadlines for requesting changes, and timelines for completion. It is very important to have a third party who represents your interests in the transaction. It pays to be protected. almost every new construction there are unforeseen extra costs. An experienced agent will provide guidance as to how to plan and budget for these overages. The agent will also go to bat for their clients during the negotiation process and navigate the uncomfortable money conversations. You will be very happy to have an agent represent you during your new construction transaction.

Katie Kinney has helped many clients facilitate the new construction process. Feel free to reach out to her to help you with your real estate transaction. cell - 603 205 2276.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Home staging helps sell properties quickly by Mel Oldakowski

A common question I am asked from seller clients is, “Will staging my home help it sell faster and for more money?” 

It can be overwhelming to clear a home that’s been occupied for many years. But with a small investment of time and/or money, homes that are set up to sell can reap more rewards than ones that haven’t been staged. This includes staging for vacant houses. Every seller has different circumstances and budgets but with the right staging strategy it can make a significant impact on how long a home sits on the market.

Home staging is about illusions. It's about perfecting the art of creating moods. Staging makes your house look bigger, brighter, cleaner, and warmer; and best of all it makes home buyers want to buy it. Every agent knows that the moment their buyer is visualizing themselves in the home, the offer comes next. 

Why? Because people buy on emotion and being able to “see” the family living in the space is essential! In a 2015 National Association of Realtors (NAR) survey, over 81percent of buyers said it was easier to visualize the STAGED property as their next home.

Your home’s flaws can be overlooked. According to a NAR report, almost a third of buyers will overlook property faults when a home is professionally staged. Professional home staging is not only for homes that are a “mess” but it also makes a significant difference in the selling price for homes that are “typical.”

Home buyers today are more in tune with the market than previous generations; they know what they want, and they’re willing to wait to get it. Over 95 percent of buyers go online first to look at photos of a home before they inquire or preview it. A buyer needs to connect with a property right away - which is why first impressions are crucial.
Once you’ve decided to sell your home, you must start detaching from it. This can be difficult to do. Sellers have memories and emotions tied in the home which can make it hard for them to be objective. By getting a home stager, one ensures that the property is viewed objectively and packaged in a way that is appealing to others. You have to decide whether you just want the house sold or if you want the possibility of selling it faster and for more money?

One of the best things about using a professional company to stage a home is that the seller can relax. They can rest assured that everything possible has been done to sell the property for the best price as quickly as possible. A stager will take care of everything when it comes to design, staging, and aesthetics. That leaves the seller time and energy to focus on other things, such as the upcoming move. The seller can also have peace of mind knowing that their property is in a competitive space with other properties.

If you are considering a move and want more information on marketing your home for top dollar contact me today by phone at 207.205.0121 or by email at

Friday, May 4, 2018

Are cryptocurrencies a part of the real estate future? By Matthew McDonald

Recently, a real estate agent asked me if she should be marketing her listing by including the fact that the seller is willing to accept Bitcoin. If you don’t know what Bitcoin is, the simplest definition I can come up with is that Bitcoin is a digital currency and it, along with other cryptocurrencies, are going to change everything.  Here was my answer to her:

Good news and bad news, as they say. First, I’m the right guy to ask because I’m a cryptocurrency fan. I’ve been buying, selling and well just holding about 16 different cryptocurrencies for about a year now.   

While I think Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are indeed the future of money and transactions, we just aren’t there yet. Bitcoin and others fall into a legal gray area when it comes to being recognized as payments. So, while I have read about some real estate transactions that were accomplished around the country using Bitcoin, most likely the Bitcoin was converted to dollars “at the table” and then the transaction happened.

The other thing about Bitcoin is that it is wicked volatile. At the time of this writing, a bitcoin is worth $9,424. By the time you read this email it could have swung by $500 up or down easily. So, let’s say you were selling a house for 500k that would translate to 53.03 Bitcoin. Like I said, the price of Bitcoin could rise or fall quickly. If the price of Bitcoin were to go down by $800 in one hour (about the time for a closing to happen) then your seller effectively sold for 457k. Conversely, the buyer could overpay by tens of thousands of dollars if the price skyrocketed. Your commission of 3 percent could rise or fall by 5, 10 maybe even 15 percent by the time you get back to your car after the transaction.   

While it is very interesting to sell a property for Bitcoin, I would not recommend it at this time. The final nail in the coffin is that the title insurance companies cannot insure transactions with Bitcoin and are not able to get a loan for the property restricting the pool of buyers to cash buyers, or well “Bitcoin buyers.”

There are many experts who say cryptocurrencies are a fad and are destined to value out at zero. But those are the people who are most threatened by cryptocurrencies. I can find experts who will tell you, with an absolute straight face that a Bitcoin will be worth one million dollars by 2020. Let’s hope they are right. The truth lies somewhere in the middle but I know our grandkids will be using cryptocurrencies every day for all kinds of purchases, including real estate.

Bitcoin is the most well-known cryptocurrency but there are hundreds of different cryptos being developed for all kinds of projects. Burstcoin is an environmentally friendly cryptocurrency alternative to Bitcoin, which uses a lot of power. Ethereum features “smart contracts” which could aid in real estate transactions. There are other coins being developed specifically for real estate transactions.

So, while we may not be using Bitcoin, Burstcoin or Ethereum right now, our kids sure will. 

This article was brought to you by Matthew McDonald with Cumberland Title.