Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Selling your home successfully through the holiday season

By Matt Trudel

If you want to sell your house over the next few months and are serious about getting it done, here are several things for you to consider in order to achieve your goal. While some agents might suggest waiting until spring, that might not be the best option for you or your family. Selecting the right REALTOR® to work with should be priority number one. 

Experience and availability are two things you want to be sure your REALTOR® provides.  There are a lot of part time agents out there, and if your REALTOR® is working another job, how can they answer calls about your property when buyers have questions or want to set up a showing?
Pricing your home correctly and aggressively will give you the edge over other homes. Buyers are very knowledgeable about home values with all of the information available online.  Overpriced houses limit the number of buyers who will even look at it, and with fewer numbers of buyers in the winter you don’t want to lose any potential buyers.

Selling through the winter months is not easy for sellers and can be just as challenging for buyers. Keeping your house in showing condition is important. Keeping clutter and decorations to a minimum will help you achieve this. Shoveling of decks, walkways, and a path around the house should be maintained. This way buyers can walk around the property easily and safely.   The same applies to driveways and turn around areas. Keep them plowed out well so there is more than enough room to turn around easily. Salt and sand as needed so your driveway remains ice free and is easily navigated.

Turn up the temperature a little to a comfortable level on days when you have showings. A cold house is a complete turn off to buyers. You want to have all the lights on, a warm feeling, and there is the added touch of cooking just a few cookies prior to the showing so that the smell is still in the air. You can even leave the cookies out for the buyers with a note saying welcome.

tombiczak@allstate.comAnother nice touch is to have a photo album of the house during the summer months showing any gardens, pools, lawns, and other seasonal things that cannot been seen with snow covering the yard. Along with this you can have a list of things you have enjoyed about living in the area.  Add to that any recent improvements you have made to the property.

There are many more things you can do, but these are a few suggestions that have proven to help in assisting sellers getting their house sold during a time of year when inventory is low, and buyers are few and far between. 

If you would like a free market analysis of your property you can call us or most all the local agencies provide that service as well. 

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

Friday, November 22, 2019

Showing a clean home will improve chance of a fast sale

By Rick Yost

One of the first rules of showing a home that is for sale is most likely one of the easiest - it should be clean and clutter free. Once you organize and de-clutter your home, it is time for a deep cleaning. I often recommend hiring a professional cleaning company to do this initial deep cleaning. 

Professionals will often clean spots overlooked or avoided by the homeowner. initial cleaning is the easy part. The hard part is keeping it clean. If the home is unique, a fixer-upper or in a slower moving market, it may take multiple showings and multiple
months to sell.

Keeping a home clean for many months is a huge task. There are a few tricks that can help keep a home clean for an extended period of time.

After cleaning your furniture and carpet, apply carpet sealant and protective sprays. These are the same products the furniture store tried to sell you when you bought your carpets and furniture, but they are available at home improvement stores and on Amazon. They help fabrics resist mildew, mold, and bacteria as well as protect against everyday stains. No one wants a grape juice stain on the carpet the day of a showing. As a bonus, some of these products also reduce fading.

After cleaning your baths and showers, apply a car windshield rain repellant. These products are available in any auto supply store. They create an invisible barrier on your shower walls and glass. It can prevent hard water stains, soap scum and grime build-up on your glass shower door – keeping it looking clean for weeks This barrier will cause soap suds, oils, and water to bead and roll off and soap scum will be a thing of the past.

After cleaning your stone countertops, apply a sealer. Most stone counter tops have a sealer applied when they are installed, but sealers should be periodically reapplied. Juice, sauces, and red wine can all easily stain countertops that are not properly sealed. A properly sealed countertop will also wipe clean much easier. A good way to test a seal is to pour a tiny bit

of water on the counter. The water should bead and stay beaded for two to three minutes. If it does not, it is time to apply a sealer. reduce dust and to make dusting easier, a home should have a humidity level of between forty and fifty percent. This can be achieved with a dehumidifier and/or a humidifier. A humid home with moist air is ideal for dust mites. A dry home can have static electricity build up. The static electricity attracts dust and makes dusting more difficult.

Showings are often requested at the most inconvenient times, so keeping the home “for sale” clean and ready at all times is important. Employing these cleaner longer methods will help remove some of the stress involved with showings.

Sellers that keep their homes clean will realize quicker and more profitable sales. Buyers often equate cleanliness with well maintained. A clean home makes a buyer feel more comfortable with what they are buying. This is the true benefit of having a home clean for showings.

Keep it clean and get it sold!

Rick is a realtor, real estate author, and longtime Windham resident. You can reach Rick with all your real estate questions and needs at

Friday, November 15, 2019

The do’s and don’ts of buying vacant land

By Carrie Colby

Buying a home can be complicated but purchasing land to build on is a whole new ball game.

Finding your dream home isn’t easy. You’ve spent a lot of time scouring online listings, attending open houses and scoping out neighborhoods – and you and your REALTOR® have still come up empty-handed. As a result, you may want to consider buying vacant land.

But before you get serious about laying a foundation, be aware that a land purchase may yield more surprises than buying a home – from easements and zoning restrictions to soil conditions that could easily turn building your dream home into a headache.

Whether you’re buying vacant land to build a home for your family or you hope to sell the plot for a profit in the future, follow these rules to avoid buyer’s remorse. Here are the do’s and don’ts of buying vacant land:

Do work with a pro who knows land with a real estate agent when you purchase a home helps you navigate the finer details like negotiations, due diligence and closing the deal. But when you’re purchasing land, it’s important to hire an agent who has extensive experience negotiating land deals. Use an agent who actually has represented both buyers and sellers in a number of land transactions.

Do consider the value of homes in the neighborhood and resale value
One of the biggest draws of building your home is the ability to customize it, but be sure you’re building your dream home in a neighborhood with similar taste. Be careful not to make the house too
specific for your needs and taste. Even if you never plan to sell, life happens, sometimes making it is necessary to sell unexpectedly.

Paint and carpets can be changed but for example lowering or raising counters and cabinets to fit “your” height will be much more costly to change.
You may be turned down for a construction loan if your plans for the home of your dreams is significantly more than home values in the neighborhood.

Do take utilities and road access into account
It’s easy to take for granted access to running water, electricity and sewers when you’re buying an existing house, but with vacant land these are not always a given.
Depending on how developed the area is around the land, you want to know if it’s going to cost money for infrastructure to be run to that land or if it’s already serviced. Is there town water and sewer or will you need to drill a well and put in a septic system.

Don’t expect to get a loan
A land purchase can’t be leveraged with a bank the same way a home purchase can, so you’ll likely have to pay cash if there’s no structure on the property yet.

But if you have a piece of land, you might be lucky if (a lender) gives you 40% or 50% of the value – and that’s typically if you have a good bank relationship or other collateral. You’re more likely to get zero. You’ll have a much better chance of being approved for a construction loan on the building you want to put on the land, since the house you’ll build serves as collateral on the loan.

Don’t skip the survey or soils tests
Similar to a home inspection and background research on a house, a plot of land needs to be subjected to tests and checks to ensure you know what you’re buying and that you’ll be able to build on it.

It’s best to buy land that already has a completed survey and soils report. And make sure they are up to date. If there is none, your REALTOR® should be able to recommend a surveyor and soils expert to do a soils test and septic design. This tells you that there is adequate space and the soils are right to put in a septic system and well.

Buying land is more complicated, but in the end you may end up with a home that works best for you and your family.

Friday, November 8, 2019

What to do with you house as you get older

By Richie Vraux

Not only have your children left the nest and produced their own happy and busy family lives – but now, your children have grandchildren of their own. You are facing a whole new life. Your nice big home that once was the setting of holiday gatherings are no longer needed. If truth be told, you are ready to downsize, anyway.

At one time, you could scale those stairs in your three-level home two at a time, but now your body has slowed down and you just can’t do those things you used to do.

Not only may it take a little longer to hop those stairs, but you are also on a fixed income. Your only means is Social Security  - or if you were lucky enough to put some money away for your retirement., you may have a little extra. But who knows how long you will live? this is the case for you, it might be time to speak to a Real Estate Advisor. Although it is true you can reach out and speak to any agent, as a senior citizen you may have other options.

You may want to speak to someone that specializes with your needs. A Senior Real Eestate Specialist Advisor is an accredited agent with the knowledge in the field of elder real estate and can help you make the right decisions.

Depending on your financial situation, there are different avenues you can take to help with your specific needs.

One way is a Reverse Mortgage. This type of mortgage is issued by a bank but is set up through FHA (Federal Housing Administration) and is only available to you if you are 62 years of age or older. The bank pays you for the equity still remaining in your home. It does not have to be paid back until the last surviving homeowner dies. The estate has approximately 6 months to repay the balance due or the bank will take back the home.

There are a lot of things to be considered when you get older in life. You should speak to a trusted Real Estate Advisor to make sure you are making the right decision for you and your family. Richie Vraux is a Raymond resident and Broker with Maine's Premier Team at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate/The Masiello Group. For your real estate needs call him at 207-317-1297.

Friday, November 1, 2019

A final walk-through before closing is an important component of the home purchase experience

By Kevin Ronan

Buying a home is like going on a journey, you must stay focused throughout the entire trip.    From the completion of the mortgage application, to visiting properties, making an offer and finally getting the home inspection - it all could take weeks or even months.

An extremely important final step before the closing is the final property walk-through. For some buyers, this critical task may not seem that important, but if a buyer knows what he should be looking for, a thorough walk-through can alert a buyer of expensive issues that may have been missed during the home inspection or of contractual repairs that were not performed correctly.

When you are doing the final walk through, make sure the property is in the condition you agreed to in the Purchase and Sales Agreement.  Let’s understand that a final walk-through is not a home inspection. The goal of the final walk-through is to ensure the home is in the same condition as when you last viewed the property and equally as important to check that all repairs agreed upon with the seller were performed.

Who should attend the final walk-through? Generally, the buyer and the buyer’s agent will attend without the seller and seller agent. This allows the buyer the freedom to inspect the property at their leisure without the seller or the seller’s agent.  In cases of new construction, the contractor or builder may request to be present, as a new building walk-through will be looking for both defects in the construction as well as any cosmetic issues. Most buyers expect a new home to be pristine - however in many instances this is not the case and the final walk-through is extremely valuable.

In most cases the final walk-through is scheduled the same day as the closing or within 24 hours prior to the closing date. I suggest you work with your real estate agent to establish a time with the seller’s agent as to when you can access the property and when the property will be vacant during your visit.
So, the final walk-through day has arrived. Depending on the size of the house, the walk-through can take between 30 to 60 minutes. Don’t forget about inspecting the exterior including the detached garage, sheds or pool area. Remember, this is your last opportunity to give your new home a final once over before it’s yours. Take your time!

To be certain your new home is move in ready, make yourself a checklist of things you want to review during the inspection, such as the property disclosure, inspection report and any repair amendments you and the seller agreed on and receipts of work performed.

Last week, Maine residents experienced a nasty nor’easter causing significant property damage throughout the state. When mother nature does not cooperate with your plans to close, I strongly suggest you consider rescheduling or repeating the walk-through. A walk-through will help you determine if any damage was caused by the storm and give the buyer the recourse to have the seller make the repairs before you close. The most common damage we are looking for includes water intrusion, fallen trees and related structural damage. Your mortgage lender may require the damage be remedied before the loan is approved.

If you are considering purchasing a home in the future, make the final walk-through inspection an important component of the home purchase experience. Take the time to protect yourself and your new home.

This article was brought to you by Kevin Ronan, an associate broker affiliated with Alliance Realty, located at 290 Bridgton Road in Westbrook. If you have any questions or need any assistance with your real estate needs please contact him at, or 207-838-4855.