Friday, October 28, 2022

Real Estate: Winter Moves

By Lisa DiBiase

Winter is a great time to buy a property at great prices, moving costs can be less expensive as well (for example, it's cheaper and an easier time to rent a moving truck or hire movers). However, you need to be aware of possible moving issues so that you can avoid them before they occur. Here are some suggestions for moving during the winter.

If you choose to pack yourself, a moving company can provide professional grade packing materials that you can trust to protect your valuables like bubble wrap and thick paper. If you’re not finished yet as moving day approaches, let them know as soon as possible. Their team can be prepared to jump in and help you finish packing.

Preparing Your New Home To Move In:

1. Make sure that the truck you rented, or the moving truck can access your street and home! Regardless of what time during the year you are moving, you should always make sure there is parking for your moving truck and additional vehicles.

2. Make sure you have heat and lights! You should make sure to have the utilities transferred over into your name and that they are fully functioning for your move in date. Prior to moving in, make sure the heat is turned on and functioning properly as well. Make sure the house is nice and warm for the day you move in.

3. Make sure all the exterior walkways are clear of snow! Visit your new home the day before you move in to make sure all access points you will be using to move in are clear of snow and ice. If needed, salt or sand the area.

4. Make sure you create a path along the entryway! Lay rugs or towels on both sides of the front door to keep from tracking mud or water onto your floors. As you carry boxes and furniture in, you’ll catch any mud or water from your feet before it causes any damage inside.

TIP: If hiring a moving company, make sure to schedule the earliest time slot they will allow you to. With shorter daylight hours and inclement weather, it is better to have as much natural light as possible.

Preparing Your Old Home To Move Out:

1. Make sure all the exterior walkways are clear of snow! Use salt or sand to ensure areas are free of icy and slippery conditions. Parking area should also be cleared with ample room for movers to use dollies.

2. Make sure to protect the inside space as the new buyer will be moving into their new home too! Lay down large pieces of cardboard or plastic sheeting to ensure high traffic areas are protected from snow, sand, and water. Cardboard works best for carpeted areas.

3. Make sure to have sand/salt and shovels on hand in case you need to adjust during the move. Throughout the move, monitor the weather and future conditions so there are no surprises.

4. Make sure you have hot drinks for all the movers. This will be appreciated by everyone who is helping you with the move. Extra hats and gloves may come in handy!

Make sure you have a back-up plan in case a large storm blows in. Have a backup date already scheduled with the moving company and/or friends and helpers. Some moving companies may not be willing to have a backup date, so be sure you have the conversation prior to moving.

They may still pick up your belongings but may have to delay the delivery. It's very important to identify these things upfront! No matter what you decide, just understand this is a stressful time for everyone involved! Have lots of patience and remember to thank all the helping hands!

As I have said before, please call a local REALTOR for all your real estate needs no matter how big or small. We are trained professionals here to make your life easier. It's best to surround yourself with the right team of professionals that can continuously give you the right advice for all your circumstances. <

Lisa DiBiase is a Broker/Owner at Landing Real Estate. She and her company represent buyers and sellers in the Greater Portland area. For all your real estate needs contact

Friday, October 21, 2022

Real Estate: Closing on a House: What You Need to Know

By Carrie Colby

Buying a home is still the American dream. The process of purchasing a home can be really exciting. You get to spend your time looking online at what are typically beautiful properties. The real fun then begins when you start touring the ones you like. Your real estate agents will likely show you several properties before you find one that meets your criteria.

Once an offer to purchase happens the real work begins. You will not finish the process of buying a home until you finally reach your agreed-upon closing day.

Your closing will be the conclusion of your journey into home ownership. One of the most common questions from home buyers is how long does it take to close on a house? Your desired closing date will be discussed with your buyer’s agent. The agreed-upon closing date will need to be mutually satisfactory with the seller. Once the closing date has been agreed to, it will become part of the contract. The closing is the conclusion of a real estate transaction. It is when a new deed will be prepared on a property and funds will be exchanged at an agreed upon meeting place.

What’s The Average Time to Close on A House?

Once you have signed an offer to purchase, there will be some important steps that take place on the way to a closing. You likely have some essential real estate contingencies in your contract. Most real estate closings fall between 30-60 days. Keep in mind a closing date is negotiable. It may be more or less than the average.

Complete a Home Inspection
The first phase includes your due diligence on the property. You should have the home inspected by a professional home inspector. Home inspectors go over a property inside and out with a fine-tooth comb. They will point out any deficiencies they discover. Usually, your home inspection due diligence period will be around 10 days from when you execute the offer to purchase. If the findings are unsatisfactory, you will be able to negotiate the repairs be made by the seller, a credit is given to you (the buyer) or you can cancel the contract. Your real estate agent will help guide you in what is the best route to take.

The Home Will Be Appraised

When you are getting a mortgage it is likely your lender will want a real estate appraisal completed. Sometimes lenders will waive the appraisal if you are putting a down payment larger than twenty percent. Waiving appraisals are done to strengthen the appeal of an offer. It gives the seller comfort that a buyer is not going to walk away from the transaction if the appraisal is lower than expected. Typically, when there are appraisal issues they get worked out.

You’ll Need to Get a Mortgage Commitment
One of the last phases in your home buying journey will be getting a mortgage commitment from your lender. The typical time frame for procuring financing is 4-6 weeks from the execution of the contract.

Some lenders can get buyers approved quicker than others. The volume of loan business at the time is often a factor. If there is significant re-finance volume happening at the time, a commitment to lend could take longer.

Getting your financing will be the last big hurdle. There are several things you need to avoid doing before closing day. One of the most significant mistakes is making a large purchase like a car that could throw your debt to income ratio out of line and force the lender to cancel your loan commitment.

What Will You Be Signing on Closing Day?
There are several vital documents that will be signed by a home buyer on closing day.

Some of the paperwork you’ll be expected to sign include the following:

The promissory note which is the document that commits you to repay the loan.
The mortgage is a document that protects the lender’s right to foreclose on the house if you fail to make your payments.
The escrow disclosure which provides the details of your monthly payment obligations with the lender.
You will also need to carefully review and sign all disclaimers, disclosures, and government documents the lender asks you to sign. Many of them will be boilerplate forms.

What Will a Buyer Need to Bring to Closing?
Before the signing, consult with your lender to determine what documents you will need. It is likely that you will need to bring the following items :Identification documents, such as a passport or driver’s license, will be required.
The Closing Disclosure that you have received must be compared to the final documents three days before the signing,
A bank check making up any difference between your mortgage, down payment and the home’s purchase price.

How Long Will Closing Day Take?

The time it will actually take for closing day will depend on how quick you are to sign the presented paperwork. Most buyers will sign as it is presented to them. However, if you like to read everything that you’re signing, it could take a while.

Most closings take around 45 minutes to a little over an hour to complete.

You are now up to speed on the process for closing on a house. The process will probably seem longer than it really is due to your excitement of getting into a new home! <

Carrie Colby is a Broker with Allied Real Estate, 909 Roosevelt Trail in Windham. She can be reached at 207-232-5497.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Real Estate: Earnest Money Deposits

An essential component of any purchase agreement to buy or sell real estate requires the buyer to provide a deposit “in earnest”, to demonstrate the seriousness and legitimacy of their offer. It also serves as a signal to the seller how much the buyer wants the home or how indifferent the buyer may be if their offer is accepted or not. This is a detail which helps to show a position of financial strength, as well. A hefty earnest money deposit can speak volumes to a seller and could be especially helpful to distinguish your offer from any other competing offers. It also prevents buyers from taking properties off the market by writing offers on more properties than what they can move forward on while unnecessarily disrupting a seller’s market exposure.

The timing of when the collection and receipt of the earnest money will be made is negotiable but once agreed upon by both parties becomes a binding condition. If you have agreed to provide your deposit upon the acceptance of your offer you will want to ensure it is received by the acting trustee in the agreed amount of time, or your agreement will automatically become voided if not received during that time. When agreeing upon a timeframe make sure that your logistical plans to deliver or mail the check to the trustee will comply with your agreement.

Discuss with your REALTOR how much earnest money you should plan to give as a deposit with your offer on a property and if more than one deposit should be provided. In the State of Maine claims which are valued at $6,000 or less may be handled in small claims court, which is a more simple and speedy process than civil court required for claims greater than $6,000.

It is negotiable who will hold the earnest money deposit acting as trustee and this will be agreed upon by both parties in the purchase agreement. In Maine often the listing or selling real estate company will act as trustee by depositing the check into the company’s escrow account. It may also be held in the trust account of the title company or law office who will be handling the closing and transfer. If it is held by a real estate company in Maine they must comply with the rules of the State of Maine Office of Professional and Financial Regulation Maine Real Estate Commission as well as follow their company policy. A personal check may be accepted for this typically in the range of 1 percent to 5 percent of the purchase price for an already existing home and new construction may require a greater amount. These funds may be applied towards the purchase price then the remainder can be paid by wire, certified cashier’s check, or trust account check on the day of the closing.

Your REALTOR will help you to understand the circumstances, if any, which your earnest money

deposit may be returned or refunded to you. Earnest money provided directly to a seller, or a builder may be non-refundable. Your broker will also assist you by closely monitoring the critical dates which you must comply with according to your purchase agreement to maintain this option. A common misconception is that a release of earnest money happens automatically given the right conditions.
How the disbursement of earnest money will be handled in the event your purchase agreement is terminated or made void is addressed in your agency relationship agreement and in the terms of the purchase agreement. If the funds are being held by a real estate agency as the trustee, it may be the policy of the company to retain a portion of the buyer’s earnest money deposit in the event of a cancellation. The trustee may also require that both the buyer and the seller sign a written release agreeing on the amount being released and to which party funds be released to. Should one party not agree to signing the release because they do not agree with whom the funds will be released to or the amount being released, then there is a dispute. In the event there is a dispute of the release of earnest money small claims court and mediation services are available to the parties to reach a resolution.

Most of time when a purchase agreement falls apart it is very straight forward how the earnest money will be released and usually all parties are cooperative with the next steps to part ways. It is important to be aware there can be more than one interpretation of both contract language and the events surrounding the termination so that we not take that cooperation for granted. <

Nicole Foster is a Broker with Locations Real Estate Group and a Windham parent who loves real estate and people.

By Nicole Foster, Broker/ REALTOR

Friday, October 7, 2022

Real Estate: Bringing New Retailers to Windham

By Larry Eliason

Back in August, I wrote a commercial real estate column on the North Windham Retail Sector and provided a brief overview of the some of the things Retailers are looking for in a Community and a Specific Location. I wanted to dive a little deeper some of the details to explain some of the information that is critical in the decision-making process for Retailers to commit to a new location.

But first, let’s talk about some significant vacancies in North Windham. Olympia Sports, a long-time retailer, and employer here in Windham has closed its doors. Although the Windham Store may have been a good performer, the company was owned by an out-of-state corporate entity, so decisions are made in board rooms far away. We also have a couple of large retail vacancies at the Shaw’s Plaza and more specifically on either side of Staples.

The good news is that the Windham Mall is full which is phenomenal, and the management and owners of the Windham Mall deserve a lot of credit for that achievement. The bad news is North Windham does have some large vacancies and lack of sewer infrastructure has played a role as one of the key reasons for those vacancies, some having been long-term.

The Town of Windham approved a public sewer system for the North Windham Business District earlier this year. The Town is working closely with the Portland Water District to design a system to not only serve some of the key existing businesses, but also allow for additional commercial growth within the Business District.

In several instances, a prospective tenant has identified a potential location in North Windham and then learns that that location has a 40-year-old private septic system that is only suitable for traditional retail use and not for use such as a Brewery, Distillery and/or Restaurant, Large Day Spa, Fitness Center, or Food Production Facility. Three years from now should be a different story but in the present, we need

to focus on what we have in our North Windham Toolbox today.

The North Windham Toolbox of today includes a strong Retail Trade Area, a geographical area from where the North Windham’s Retailers derive most of their business. If you wonder why there is so much traffic these days after Labor Day, I believe that you will find that North Windham is pulling from areas such as Gray and Standish and up Rt. 302 including Bridgton and some of those surrounding communities.

Many retailers these days are looking at Mobile Location Data Technology as a tool that captures and analyzes location and behavioral data collected from mobile devices. This information can assist to verify and validate retail site locations. Retail Trade Area Mapping can help delineate a boundary map of the Retail Trade Area.

Retailers look closely at Demographic Profiling as a key data set for identifying a new location. Demographic Profiles for the Retail Trade Area are an instrumental tool. Profiles include population and projected growth in population along with incomes, median age, and household growth.

A Daytime Labor Market Area is especially important to the Drive-Through and Fast-Food businesses that rely on the lunch crowd. Retailers rely on employment reports that determine the total number of Fast Food and Drive-Through establishments and employee counts within the targeted area.

Psychographic Profiling has developed into a very refined science as Psychographic Lifestyle Segmentation is an essential tool for Retailer’s Identifying and Validating a location. Consumer’s propensity to buy certain retail goods is monitored 24/7 on a wide variety of platforms. This information is very valuable to all retail segments.

With over 18,000 residents, a retail trade area of over 60,000-plus people, and with 500,000 annual visitors, Windham is a great location for growing retail and service businesses. Windham’s retail offerings range from locally owned boutiques to regional as well as national retail stores.

As Windham improves its sewer infrastructure, new businesses of many types will surely come to North Windham and help provide good paying jobs and a well-diversified commercial tax base.

The Windham Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), a subsidiary of the Town of Windham, offers guidance and assistance with tools such as specialty research and site location for retailers. WEDC works with Retail Market Analysis Consultants periodically to update essential market data for Retailers. <

Larry Eliason is a Commercial Broker with Butts Commercial Brokers in Raymond and serves as the President of the Windham Economic Development Corporation. You can reach him at 207-415-2112.