Friday, June 29, 2018

Upside on the outside by Rick Yost

As a Realtor®, I am constantly asked “How can I add value to my home?” While there are many ways, most of them focus on the inside of the home: new paint, new flooring, upgrade the kitchen, upgrade the bathrooms, etc.  

There is another area of the home that allows for adding value and that is the outside. There are two main approaches to adding value to a house on the outside, curb appeal and outdoor features.
Curb appeal is important to the value of your home because, simply stated; it is the first thing potential buyers see. Improving curb appeal can be simple and inexpensive.
Maintaining a lawn is a simple way to make improvements. Keep it mowed, patch bald spots, fertilize the lawn, use weed killer and all the other steps that go into a nice-looking lawn. Some added plantings in the front of the home, that are well maintained, will take curb appeal to the next level.

Metal accents add an upscale look to a home’s exterior; such as metal roof flashing, metal house address numbers, metal door knockers, and upgraded metal door knobs. Make sure the metal chosen matches the character of the home. For example, silver looks good on modern homes, brass looks good on older homes and copper is a transitional metal that looks good on a variety of structures.

A nice mailbox is not expensive but can really impact curb appeal. A granite post with a metal oversized post box featuring large numbers is a great look that goes with many style houses. 
Home owners should avoid plastic postboxes or anything too customized or theme-oriented; like a ship as a mail box. Adding value comes from broadening the appeal of the home. Anything too customized narrows the appeal of the home.

Finally, a dramatic change in a home’s appeal can be made with a new upscale door and shutters.  It creates a whole new look that can improve the curb appeal of the home with relatively minor changes. 

The second way to add value on the outside of your home is by adding outdoor features, like adding more usability to your outdoor space. Outdoor features include hardscaping (rock walls, stone patios, and concrete work), but those typically are cost intensive with relatively no added value. Because of those facts, hardscaping will not be part of this discussion. 

Barbecue areas and outdoor entertaining areas can be super elaborate and expensive, but they don’t have to be. An area with some outdoor furniture that is level and inviting can serve the purpose as well as make the home more appealing.  Just letting buyers imagine the grill covered with burgers and the chairs filled with friends, will add interest.  A nice DIY fire pit kit from Home Depot takes it to the next level and shouts “socialize.”  

So, the next time you are considering adding value to your home, think outdoors. Wouldn’t you rather be building a fire pit in the sunshine than painting a bedroom anyway? 

Rick is a Realtor®, real estate author, and long time Windham resident.  You can reach Rick with all your real estate questions at


Friday, June 22, 2018

Now is the time to put your house on the market by Carrie Colby

The inventory of homes for sale in the area is low, possibly turning the housing market into one that is in favor of home sellers.

According to the National Association of Realtors, “Comparing the number of homes available for sale in April 2018 to one year ago, we see that inventories in June are nearly 14 percent lower than one year ago. While inventory has continued to decline, sales have been increasing robustly. The year over year change in existing home sales has seen double-digit or near-double-digit gains for 10 consecutive months.”

This is a positive thing for sellers. We are seeing an increase in multiple offers and quicker sales. I personally put two properties on the market in Raymond and they were both under contract within a week. While they are not selling for the prices we saw during the housing boom, they are at least selling.

These two particular properties were on the market for the past two years yet, when I re-listed them this spring there was quite a bit of interest. One buyer who contacted me couldn’t believe their luck when they wanted to make an offer on Wednesday after they saw the property on a Sunday and it was already under contract.
There are buyers actively looking and finding it hard to locate a property they want to buy.
If you are considering putting your home on the market now is a good time. While prices are rising and the inventory is low, it is still important to price your home correctly.

A reputable real estate agent can help you by doing a comparative market analysis. This is done by comparing sales in your area to homes that are similar to yours. We compare the lot size, square footage, number of bed rooms, the existence of a garage etc. then we adjust accordingly to come up with a price. 

If you do price your home correctly you may see a quick sale or possibly multiple offers. I saw a piece on the “Today Show” explaining that homes in other parts of the country are seeing sales way above the asking price. While I don’t see that happening here and I don’t have a crystal ball, I do see that the idea, that once again, real estate is becoming a good investment.

Another indicator that the market is making a rebound is when the people who flip houses for a profit are coming back into the market. If you drive around the area, you can see some properties that have been neglected over the past few years are being bought and rebuilt or improved. This is a good sign of confidence in the housing market.

We do see a more robust real estate market in this area during this summer; so this also makes it a good time to consider listing your home. Even if you have tried to sell in the past few years, you may want to prepare to list your home now.

Carrie Colby is the Broker/Owner of Premier Properties in Raymond and she can be reached at 207-655-2225. Check out all the current listings at

Friday, June 15, 2018

Book Review: “I Found You” by Lisa Jewell. Reviewed by Jennifer Dupree, Circulation Supervisor at Windham Public Library

"I Found You” is a novel of three interwoven stories: Lily, a young bride from the Ukraine, with a recently missing husband; Alice, a middle-aged woman with a houseful of kids and dogs who finds a man on the beach who cannot remember his name or his circumstance; and the Ross family, who twenty years ago, goes on what turns out to be a nightmare vacation. Lisa Jewell weaves these stories together with a deft hand into one un-put-down-able, character-driven suspense novel.

Who is this man on the beach and why is he there? He seems like a good guy, but maybe his amnesia is making him forget what a jerk he was. Or, maybe he’s just pretending to be kind and gentle. Maybe his motives for being on the beach are to hide from a wife he shouldn’t have married or maybe he’s trying to escape a past. Is he Lily’s husband or did he kill Lily’s husband? Is he the man who, as a teenager, watched his sister get assaulted by another teenager? Or is he the one who got away with it?

This is one of those rare novels that is both addictive and well-written. The story lines are complicated, the characters are compelling, and the pacing is fast and satisfying.

Why should I use a Realtor® to buy or sell my home? By Richie Vaurx

A Realtor® is a Real Estate Broker/Associated Broker or a Sales Agent that has been accepted by his/her peers and is committed to a Code of Ethics that goes well beyond a real estate professional. They are commitment to excellence and high standards.

So always use a Realtor®. They will look out for your best interests. Whether you are buying or selling, commit to a person you can trust and is educated to help you make wise decisions.
As a buyer, you will want to look for an agency that does not charge you to represent you - as some agencies will charge. Always ask if the real estate company charges. Most buyers’ agencies get paid by the seller-side at closing. Just as important, always ask for a copy of your contract for your records so you know what to expect.

A Realtor® knows the market and knows your neighborhood. With the current inventory shortage that we are experiencing right now, it is important to know your inventory. When a property comes on the market and meets your criteria, your agent should act quickly and arrange for you to view it to see if it meets your wants and needs. If so, act quickly to write an offer. a property is priced appropriately, it won’t be on the open market for very long. As a result, be very prepared. Unless you are making a cash offer - always, always, always have a pre-qualification letter in hand so it can be presented to the seller’s agent, at the time of the offer. Be aware, that if there has been a lot of activity on a property, it has become commonplace that agents are submitting offers well above asking price.

Also, other things you should know about houses are if they are: occupied, vacant, in foreclosure, short-sale or bank owned. You should know as much information as possible about each property before making an appointment. Also make sure you tell your Realtor® your timeframe for buying or selling.

The more information you share with your Realtor® - the better he/she can serve you.
So, ask your Realtor® all the important questions and hopefully they will guide you to making the right decisions. Happy house hunting!

Richie Vraux is a Realtor®/ Broker with Remax Allied with more than 20 years’ experience.
If you need advice either for buying or selling, call Richie at 317-1297.

Friday, June 1, 2018

A fun investment in the Lakes Region by Kevin Ronan

Congratulations if you are a homeowner or renter in the Sebago Lakes Region, enjoying all the activities the lakes has to offer! Have you ever considered an investment property? A summer camp or four-season rental may be within in your reach.

If managed properly, you can be enjoying rental income with very little effort from the start. Differentiate your property from other rental units in the region is a good way to go. Favorable reviews from renters go a long way towards maximizing your earning potential. you have investment property or plan to purchase one in the future, there are a couple of recommendations for a success experience. Start by decluttering the interior. Renters like space for their “stuff”. Empty closets and make sure hangers are available to hang their clothes and empty drawers for the guests’ clothing. Hooks behind the bathroom and bedroom doors can add to organization space in small camps with limited closet space.

There are many low-cost upgrades that will contribute to your guests’ opinions and can positively influence their reviews. Rule number one - clean your rental. Renters expect to pay a cleaning fee; just make sure the camp is clean so the renters feel as if the fee is worth paying for. Elbow grease doesn’t cost much but goes a long way. A fresh coat of paint is inexpensive and can brighten up a room and contribute to the cleanliness. Make sure all the touted appliances work.

If you are providing linens make sure that they match. Renters are used to paying a premium for linens and they expect full sets of towels for each guest. Be sure to stock the bathrooms and the kitchen with the basics; Shampoo, body wash and toilet paper are a must in all bathrooms and basic cleaning supplies, and condiments in the kitchen. Your guests will greatly appreciate not having to buy these necessities.

Offer enough seating on the deck for all guests and including beach chairs on the beach are a nice touch. Make sure you have activities available for your guests to enjoy both in good and bad weather. If the weather is not cooperating, then always have a selection of games, playing cards, puzzles and books. Compile a binder highlighting all the activities the lakes region has to offer; fishing, boating, swimming, restaurants amusement parks and any special events that may be occurring. Make sure your BBQ equipment available, clean and functioning.

Finally, when advertising the property make sure that the property description is accurate and use updated photographs. Inaccurate descriptions not only disappoint renters but lead to negative ratings. All the short-term rental sites provide a great forum for guest feedback. Positive customer testimonials are a great way to attract new and repeat guests.

An investment property in the Sebago Lakes Region can be an attractive, financial opportunity and fun for all included. Have a wonderful summer!

Kevin Ronan, Associate Broker affiliated with Alliance Realty, 290 Bridgton Road, and Westbrook can be reached at 207-838-4855 or