Friday, January 29, 2021

Real Estate: The House Hunt in 2021 is feeling like the toilet paper shortage of 2020

By Skylar Welch

The current real estate market is literally on fire. With interest rates at historic lows and an influx of people from out of state moving to Maine to escape cities like Boston and New York during the pandemic, finding a home is like trying to score a roll of toilet paper during quarantine. The shelves were empty. The fact is, there are too many homebuyers, and not enough properties for sale, and the “shelves” can’t get stocked fast enough.

The current inventory is at an all-time low, coupled with interest rates at an all-time low. This has caused the total housing supply to be lower than ever and the time a house sits on the market to cut in half from just a year ago.

People are willing to purchase properties site-unseen and make offers far above the asking price. So, what little inventory is out there, is going extremely fast, much like those few rolls of toilet paper that were disappearing quickly. Even the off-name, single-ply brands were flying off the shelves. This is similar to the real estate market, with houses that you may have never thought would sell, are selling for far more than expected!

So, how do you prepare to purchase a property in this market? It’s extremely important to be prepared and ready, so if a property pops on the market that you are interested in, you can move quickly.

If you are thinking about purchasing a home, it’s important to meet with a mortgage professional to make sure you have all of your ducks in a row. When you meet with real estate agents, they are going to ask, “Have you been prequalified?” If you haven’t, they are going to tell you that you need to be prequalified before you can start the home search.

Due to the pandemic, most listings are requiring a prequalification letter before even letting you view a property. During the prequalification process, your mortgage professional will be able to help you figure out the perfect loan program for you, what you are qualified up to, and most importantly, help you find a purchase price that gives you a comfortable monthly payment, so that you can confidently go back to your real estate agent and let them know the price range you are ready to shop in!

Here are a few quick tips to be best prepared:

** Have your finances in order regarding where your funds to close will be coming from, whether you are using your savings, receiving a gift from family, or pulling from a retirement account.

** Make sure your credit is in the best possible place. A quick tip about credit, it is important to have two to three open revolving lines of credit (credit/store cards), but make sure that these balances are under 30 percent of the credit limit, before having your credit pulled.

** Gather your financial documents such as tax returns and W-2s, so ensure you are ready to move quickly, when the perfect property pops up.

** Do your research, and find the perfect real estate agent to meet your needs and that is willing to compete for you, to win a property.

Working with a local mortgage broker can help you win in a bidding war! What it comes down to, is that in a competitive market, local relationships are extremely important!

Agents are aware of local mortgage professionals and when they see an offer come through with a name that they recognize, that has a great reputation for being reliable, responsive and fast they are more likely to accept the offer, than if the prequal comes from a national lender, that they know may not prioritize your application, be available when needed, or understand the local market.

There is no sign of the market slowing down, and with rent prices rising and interest rates remaining low, it is still a great time to buy. Stop paying someone else’s mortgage and start building your own equity! Have patience and take the steps to make your strongest offer possible! Make YOUR dream of homeownership a reality in 2021.  <

Skylar Welch owns Maine Pointe Lending is at 202 US Route 1, Suite 102 in Falmouth. Call 207-949-3568 or find them online at They’re also on Facebook at



Friday, January 22, 2021

Real Estate: How to successfully win a multiple offer situation

By Katie Kinney

In the Maine Real Estate market, buyers are still experiencing low inventory and multiple offer situations. A large contributing factor to this issue is the rise of investor purchases. The investor interest poses a huge challenge for first time homebuyers who are interested in buying starter homes or owner occupied multi family homes and are forced to compete with deep pocket cash buyers. Here are a few tips to help you crush the cash offers.

Make your best offer up front. Many cash buyers are looking for a bargain and will put a lower offer in to start. As a non-cash buyer you should always put your highest and best offer in from the start. If you do need to include closing costs, you should add those on top of offer because closing costs are money out of the seller’s pocket. You should also include the highest dollar amount you are comfortable with for the earnest deposit. By doing this you will show your high level interest in the property.

Presenting a mortgage preapproval letter from your lender when you make the offer is the traditional way to show you are a serious buyer. If you take the next step and have your underwriter start the review process of your loan you will provide the seller more piece of mind concerning your financing.  If you can’t outbid a cash buyer, this step puts you closer to an equal playing field.

Most buyers’ make offers contingent on a home inspection, during this period buyers have the opportunity to back out if any home issues arise. When looking at homes bring a contractor or an inspector with you to give a general summary of the property. If you are comfortable with the information provided, you could then make your offer un-contingent on a home inspection. If you are not comfortable with not having a full inspection, I recommend have the inspection period as short as possible. Have the inspection scheduled when you send the offer over.

The most important step you can take when you know you will be entering into a multiple offer situation is to have your agent ask what is most important to the seller. In many situations, the seller needs to find a new place to live and may want a rent back option. A seller could be relocating out of state and want a fast closing timeframe. As a serious buyer you should structure you offer around what is most important to the seller, by doing this your offer will stand out above other offers.

Hopefully these tips will help you purchase your new home. Whether you are interested in a residential or owner occupied investment property, I am happy to help you during the process. Feel free to contact me at any time. <

Katie Kinney is a Broker at Landing Real Estate. Reach her at or by phone at 603-205-2276

Friday, January 15, 2021

Real Estate: Testing, service essential elements of safe drinking water

By Kam Berry

As we all navigate new ways of life and stay extra focused on our health and wellbeing, the water we are using to clean, bath and consume has taken on additional importance. For homes on private water wells, annual service and testing is an essential part of having clean and safe drinking water.

This has never been more important than now! With more of our community working from home, learning from home, and cooking at home, well water safety is extra important. The average household uses 100 gallons per person, per day! Short term health and long-term health are both affected by poor water quality. When it comes to purchasing or selling a home, water testing, and recent service are also important for a safe and properly functioning water system. 

From a service perspective, things like a water softener out of salt or a reverse osmosis system past service probably aren’t going to cause long term damage to the equipment, but they definitely can allow harmful contaminates to enter your drinking water system. The harmful contaminates in well water are usually the ones you can’t see, taste or feel, making them even more dangerous! Most water systems need to be serviced on an annual basis, and water softeners typically need salt to be added on a monthly basis. 

Water testing is an important part of making sure we are drinking, cooking and bathing with safe water. Annual water testing is recommended by the National Groundwater Association, and I encourage homeowners to consider annual tests. 

More importantly, consider getting your water tested if you notice any changes in aesthetic quality or quantity. Local laboratories have enacted COVID-19 safety precautions for in person drop-off, and you can pick up or drop off test kits at the local Windham UPS store.

Winter maintenance for a well system is also very important and knowing where your well is located is highly important, since many wells are out of sight once the snow falls. A small reflective stake can help, or even a photo to reference if we have to dig to find it in the snow. It sounds funny, but I have gone around many yards with a metal detector and shovel! Well pumps have an estimated lifespan of 15 to 20 years, but that lifespan can be cut way short if a defective pressure tank, defective pump or wiring issue to the pump appears. When a pump fails, pump replacement involves accessing the well, typically with a truck using a special tool to pull the pump out of the well and wind up the pipe and wire. Difficulty locating the well makes the process take longer than required.

According to the National Groundwater Association, well water testing should be done on an annual basis. The importance of water testing has become more evident in recent years, and it is great for the health of the community. We have seen many cases of elevated radon, uranium, and arsenic in local areas through well testing, but these contaminates have likely been present for years. A frequent question we are asked is regarding any obligation to treat the water if a test fails, and there is no obligation if the test is done for personal information.

When it comes to purchasing a home with a well system, it is important to consider all of the aspects. Is the well location known? Is the pump at the age where failure is imminent, or showing high amp draw? With regards to water testing, it is very important to make sure the water passes an independent lab test, since even innocent enough issues like a low PH can corrode piping and cause leaks.

If you are listing your home with one of our great local real estate agents, there are things that can be done to avoid surprises in the transaction. Many local well contractors also provide well inspection services, which is a great tool if buying a home with a well. <

Kam Berry is the owner and operator of Berry Water Solutions, Inc. Call him for all of your water system needs at 207-383-5153 or visit

Friday, January 8, 2021

Real Estate: 2020: A Thank You to our community

By Tom Bartell

Windham Economic Development Corporation

First, a big “Thank You!” to everyone who helped keep our local businesses going through last year and will continue to help as we work towards an end to the COVID19 Pandemic and the devastating effects it has had on our economy.  Whether you ordered take out at a local restaurant, or placed orders with local retailers for curbside pickup, you have been helping our local small businesses get through these difficult and everchanging times.

While 2020 has been trying on us all, we have learned a few things about ourselves and our community, some we will work on to improve, and others we can be proud of and build upon.  We have rediscovered some of the vulnerabilities in our economy, both in Windham and the Lakes Region, and perhaps more importantly we have rediscovered the strengths of our residents, businesses and community. 

The Town of Windham and the Windham Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) provided regional leadership with our response to the pandemic and with the partnerships we have strengthened through that response.  Our work with seven Lakes Region communities set an example of regional cooperation that should continue long past the pandemic.  The WEDC’s partnership with the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director Robin Mullins, in support of local business, has been incredibly successful and will continue long past the end of the Keep Sebago Lakes Region Healthy Initiative, the results of which you have seen throughout the region.

The Town Council and WEDC Board of Directors responded quickly to Covid19 related business restrictions as they adapted local Land Use ordinances to allow for expanded outdoor dining and retail
sales and developed a new small business loan program to help businesses during and after the pandemic.  Town Manager Barry Tibbetts’ staff and WEDC stepped up to manage the Keep Maine Healthy Initiative grant and the purchasing and distribution of nearly 100,000 pieces of PPE, signage, and marketing materials.  Fire-Rescue Chief Libby and his team produced Public Health information.  Jennifer Kenneally, WEDC’s marketing consultant produced numerous informative videos for tv, social media posts, and print ads in the Windham Eagle and other publications.  And Linda Brooks and the Parks and Recreation team and volunteers, in partnership with the Chamber and WEDC, and Windham’s very generous restauranteurs, provided seniors weekly meals when the community’s most vulnerable residents were at risk of going without.  Many other’s have helped throughout our community as well.

“Windham SmallBiz360”

One of the hard lessons learned was that we found many of our small businesses had an inadequate social media and web presence which left them with no avenue to sell products or to take orders for curbside pickup. In response to these lessons, the WEDC is launching a small business development program “Windham SmallBiz360” with our consumer analysis partner The Retail Coach. We will be working with small businesses in Windham to analyze their social media presence, provide consumer information, ecommerce, and website assistance, and we will be doing a community wide consumer preference survey. 

If you are interested in taking your business to the next level with your social media and online reach and learn more about your current and future customers please contact Tom Bartell, WEDC Executive Director at 892-2936 or  <