Friday, February 25, 2022

Real Estate: Time for the Final Walk Through!

By Nicole Foster, Broker / REALTOR

You have surpassed the challenges of having your offer accepted in this tough market, the final loan conditions and underwriting process.  It’s been weeks since you last stepped foot into what will soon be your brand-new home and you’re eager to get your eyes on it again at last. Everything you own is in storage or the moving van and you’ve been living out of boxes for the past few days.  Your nutrition and sleep are irregular and likely suffering. 

Long days lie ahead of you getting settled in, but you are just so filled with joy and adrenaline that it doesn’t matter.  It’s your time now, a moment you’ve waited for and tirelessly worked towards.  On the flip side of this very same scenario, you have a seller who has been scrambling for days and weeks preparing for this moment, making decisions large and small that sometimes simply runs short on time.

Ready or not, it’s closing day and the buyers are here for their final walkthrough with still so much to be done and we’re scheduled to close in an hour.  Everyone’s thinking “what are we going to do now?” and if you’re anything like me nervous laughter fills the air. 

Good communication can help to avoid any unpleasant surprises to the buyer during their final walk through of a property prior to the closing.  A perfectly smooth and positive transaction can quickly turn sour and go south in the final hours leading to the closing table when people are exhausted and in the process of moving.

Most contracts to sell a home include a paragraph stating that occupancy shall be given to buyer immediately at the time of closing and the condition of the property is to be broom swept and free from all personal property or debris.  A provision usually also allows the buyer to access the property within 24 hours prior to the closing to confirm it’s condition is at present, excepting any reasonable wear and tear.

Sometimes it happens that a buyer arrives to their final walkthrough and discovers there are still belongings of the seller’s left behind or garbage remaining somewhere on the property.  The seller may be planning to remove the items after the buyer’s final walkthrough, prior to the closing but in some instances, sellers will ask the buyers if they can return to the property for items after the closing. 

All efforts should be made by the seller to have all personal property and debris removed from the four corners of the property prior to the buyer’s final walkthrough. 

Sellers should take a photo to share with the buyer of any and all items they would like to “gift” to the buyer(s) and ask if they would like the items to be left at the property.  Sometimes sellers think that personal property which came with the house when they bought it should remain at the property, but it is important to check to see if the buyer wants anything left behind. 

Do not assume that items pertaining to the home including left over paint, siding or shingles will be wanted or appreciated by the new homeowners and always ask if they would like those types of property related items to be left.  They may have plans to change the paint colors, siding or roofing so it’s always best to check by sending a photograph or description to see if the buyers have a use for the items. 

Prior to the buyer’s final walk through a fuel reading can be done seven to ten days before the closing.  After providing the amount for the fuel proration to the buyer and/or seller it may be shared with the title company handling the closing to be included on the settlement statement.  Sometimes the buyer will write a check directly to the seller for the fuel proration. 

Depending on the number of heat sources and capacity of tanks, the amount can be significant, so it is important to understand what is due to the seller for any remaining fuel(s). If there are four people looking at a stack of wood, you can expect three different valuations and one person who just wants the wood gone since they are swapping for pellet stove after closing.

Find out what’s happening with the wood pile before the closing and put it in writing and be sure to discuss in advance if the fuel proration will be paid at closing or included on the closing statement.

When buyers and sellers communicate their needs and expectations leading up to the final moments of the closing, no one feels mislead or disappointed, which should be the goal of all parties. <

Nicole Foster is a Broker with Locations Real Estate Group and Windham resident who loves real estate and people.   She may be reached at 207-615-7558 or

Friday, February 18, 2022

Real Estate: MEREDA’s Forecast Conference highlights story of supply and demand in Maine

“This article was reprinted with permission from MEREDA."  

On Thursday, Jan. 20, over 600 of Maine’s real estate and development professionals gathered both virtually and in-person at the Cross Insurance Arena to learn about the latest trends and predictions in the real estate economy at the Maine Real Estate & Development Association’s (MEREDA’s) Forecast Conference and Member Showcase. “There is so much energy in Maine’s real estate sector right now, and it is amazing to be in a room together to discuss the future of our state and our economy,” said Josh Fifield, MEREDA President. “The Forecast Conference helps set the tone for the year ahead, and I’m feeling positive about what opportunities all this energy will create for Maine.”

From James Marple, a Senior Economist at TD Bank who provided an economic outlook; to Speaker Ryan Fecteau, Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, who spoke about the need for affordable housing; to an impressive lineup of industry experts; speakers were brought together for an informative conference at the Cross Insurance Arena following Covid safety protocols. MEREDA also streamed the conference for those who could not attend in-person.

The major theme resonating across sectors and presentations was that of supply and demand. Maine simply does not have enough inventory – of affordable homes, of homes in desirable communities, of industrial spaces – to meet the increased demand. Speaker Fecteau kicked off the conference saying that Maine needs more housing in all corners of the state. Aware that many of the presentations to follow would highlight the booming real estate market in the state, Speaker Fecteau shared, “Too many Maine families don’t have access to what is happening in real estate.” He went on to cite the fact that there isn’t a county in the state where a low-income worker making minimum wage can afford a two-bedroom apartment. Speaker Fecteau has helped enact a state companion to the federal low-income housing tax credit and sponsored a resolve to put in place a commission to study local zoning and land use policies that create barriers to the creation of more affordable housing. 

The affordability and supply challenge of the housing market was further underscored in later presentations at the conference. Brit Vitalius of Vitalius Real Estate Group shared his insight on the multi-family market in Southern Maine, which has seen a dramatic rise in prices and has been impacted by “Covid refugees” looking to relocate to Maine.

Dava Davin of Portside Real Estate Group provided an update on the single-family residential market in Southern Maine, a sector that reached $8.7 billion total sales in 2021. “Prices went up 20 percent in one year,” shared Davin. “That is incredible! I wrote ‘WOAH’ in my notes.” While the red-hot residential market is present across the state, 50 percent of the record-breaking sales are in Southern Maine and 35 percent of the buyers are coming from out of state. Davin cited a possible solution to the inventory crunch – new construction – reporting that there had been an 85 percent increase in land sales since 2019. Zoning will play a crucial part in how these parcels are developed. Looking ahead, Davin sees exciting growth opportunities in the state’s rural areas, saying that right now “people drive until they can afford it.”

Surprisingly, the retail sector had a solid year, with Peter Harrington of Malone Commercial Brokers providing a report. “If you didn’t buy a new house, you bought stuff for your old house,” Harrington quipped as he drew the connection between the strong residential market and a strong commercial market, saying, “The two go hand-in-hand.” Citing the success in Rock Row, Harrington saw a trend that he predicts will be replicated for new brick-and-mortar retail development across the state, where there is a symbiotic relationship between service retail, entertainment, and housing. “It’s all about getting people to the retail center.”

Nate Stevens of The Boulos Company provided a slightly different tone to the Conference with his report on the Southern Maine Office Forecast. With flat demand, and tenants back in the driver’s seat of the market, the market is learning to adapt. Painting a complex portrait of the office market, Stevens cited the significant sublease space currently available as being a large influencer on the market for the next few years. “This is a lot of space for our market to absorb,” said Stevens. <

This article was submitted with the permission of MEREDA by Larry Eliason, a Commercial Broker with Butts Commercial Brokers in Raymond. You can reach him at 207-415-2112.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Real Estate: Selling this spring, start planning now

By Matthew Trudel

The real estate market continues to strengthen even with the not so pleasant weather we have been having over the last month or so. There is still an enormous issue with the lack of inventory at this point. 

The main reason for that is the weather and snow, which prevents most people from putting their house on the market. They are waiting for the snow to be gone, the grass to green up, flowers to grow, and the weather to warm up. This is generally a good idea and a solid strategy if you are thinking of selling this year and are not in a rush to sell.

It is not too early to start planning a solid strategy of how and when to best market your home, so the process is smooth and successful. This is where an experienced real estate broker can really help you achieve your goal and get you the most money for your home.

There are a lot of things you can and should do to get prepared to list your home for sale long before you actually put it on the market. We cannot discuss every one of those things in this article, but I will write about a few key things you can work on with your realtor and on your own.

One of the first things is to start packing and sorting through everything you have in your home, basement, garage, shed and anywhere else. Pack up things they you don’t need but want to keep, and the rest of the things that you don’t really use anymore should be sold, donated, or thrown away. You can have a yard sale if that is something you want to do or just sell things online.

The most important thing is to declutter so the house will appear to have ample space, closets are not over packed with coats and clothes, and cupboards are not crammed full of Tupperware and cups.

Next would be the maintenance and repair list that you and your broker should create and organize. These are all the little things that you know are wrong with the house but have chosen to either live with or have just put them off for a later date. Now is the time to attack and fix those little things. Things like the leaky faucet, the loose doorknob, the damaged trim, and the touch up painting that needs to be addressed. You don’t have to overwhelm yourself with trying to get everything done at once. Just make a list and try to tackle them one at time and maybe just get one or two done every weekend.

Perhaps there are some larger items that need addressing like a deck, porch, and railing repairs but really need to wait until the snow is mostly gone. Calling contractors ahead of time is a great idea because any of the good ones are already booking into the spring.

If you are going to do the repairs yourself, you can organize a material list and make a plan to get those materials ahead of time or at least ordered. A lot of materials are hard to come by these days so it may take several weeks or over a month to get items to complete the project.

There are a lot of other things homeowners can work on ahead of time and your real estate broker should be able to advise you on what those things are.

The goal is to get your home in the best possible shape to highlight all the amenities and benefits it has to offer potential buyers. This will help you obtain the most money for your home, possibly multiple offers, and hopefully eliminate any sort of negotiations over deferred maintenance or inspection items that might come up during the process.

This will allow for a smooth and successful transaction in the selling of your home. <

For more information or ideas feel free to contact the author directly, Matthew Trudel, Owner of Five Star Realty, Windham, 207-939-6971.

Friday, February 4, 2022

Real Estate: What to do now to avoid costly issues after your home goes under contract

By Richie Vraux

So, you are planning to list your home for sale. There are few things you should be aware of to keep your out-of-pocket expenses to a minimum.  

Your real estate agent should recommend you do a pre- listing inspection before listing your home. The up-front costs can run you $500 to $1,000, but it may be a small cost compared to if the buyers’ inspector finds these deficiencies, at your home. At that time, they will want those issues completed by a licensed contractor. 

We know that will be much more expensive than if you could have fixed it yourself, and you won’t have to scurry around to find the electrician or plumber in the timeframe of the contract, usually 30 to 45 days. I know most sellers will not want to lay out the cost of this inspection in advance, but in the event you can’t get everything completed prior to close, they may ask you to pay those expenses at closing, 

Those costs will be much higher than expected, most likely in the thousands of dollars.

Make sure your inspector is NACHI (National Association of Home Inspectors) certified. A typical home inspection will take two to four hours depending on the gross living space and what a full inspection entails.

He/ she will inspect all the systems, including a water test.  If it is on a well, make sure that the well water meets acceptable drinking water levels. A simple water test should check the radon levels. They should check for radon to make sure the readings are below EPA acceptable air levels; 4.0 pCi/L and also recommends radon concentrations in drinking water do not exceed levels higher than 20,000 pCi/L.

Electrical - Make sure your wiring was installed properly, and your box is adequate for the needs in your home. An inspection will also reveal things like double tapping circuit breakers and or double tapped exposing a possible overload of appliances.

Plumbing - Make sure the pipes are in good order and are not sweating. The heating system is important, You don’t want to find issues with this when it is below zero.  

Heating and AC - Keep on top of your furnace. Get your system evaluated and cleaned yearly to avoid a cold or a hot house. Have your attic inspected. Make sure it is adequately insulated and there is NO mold. If your attic shows signs of mold, check it out immediately. First find out where it is and how it started. It could be a roof leak or another source of moisture. Mold is scary to most people and can actually kill a deal so make sure your home does not show any signs. Windows- Make sure your windows actually keep out the cold and free of unwanted breezes.

 A new septic system can be costly, as much as $15,000, so check it out and make sure it is functioning properly. If it needs to be pumped- do it. If you don’t have a septic design, the town will usually have a design on file, or you can go to the state website and search there. It is always better to know what septic design was designed for rather than not.

After your inspector has completed his inspections, he/she will present you with a full- in depth report of your entire home, with recommendations and pictures showing all your house deficiencies. Read it entirely and take his advice as to the remedies to prepare your home for sale. Again, the deficiencies you address now will save you time, money and a lot of unneeded aggravation.

If you need real estate advice contact Richie Vraux, a Broker/Realtor with Better Homes and Gardens-The Masiello Group, 76 Tandberg Trail, Windham, Maine, 207-317-1297, or by email at