Friday, March 31, 2023

Real Estate: Market starts to pick up as spring arrives

By Tia Morrell

Spring has sprung! The arguably best season in real estate has finally arrived. It is now time to open those curtains and enjoy the sunshine. Perhaps over the winter you have been debating on packing up and making a move. Now is a great time for sellers, as there is an influx of buyers who are patiently waiting to scoop up a home before summer. In the last few weeks, we have seen an insane amount of interest in homes — with open houses packed, and multiple offer situations on almost every home. Buyers and sellers are finding common ground, with both parties pleased even during negotiations. If you are thinking to list, you do not want to miss this spring market. As a Realtor®, it is important to me to ease the process for my clients when it comes to preparation prior to listing. Here are some tips and tricks to getting your home listing ready!

#1: Declutter — It’s time to simplify and get rid of that stack of mail that has been sitting on the counter. You don’t need to get rid of anything but start by cleaning up tables, cabinets, closets… You want to make things look as crisp and organized as possible. When buyers attend showings, they want to be able to imagine their own personal belongings in the home.

#2: Touch Ups + Painting — Maybe there’s a ding in the door or a little scratch in the bedroom. Grab a couple cans of paint, and a paintbrush and go to town. Be elaborate, as trim and walls are some of the only things that buyers will see if a property is shown vacant. Is the bedroom orange? Let’s change that to something a little more neutral. The home will show so much better and add value if you are able to get these small things fixed.

#3: Depersonalize — Studies find that buyers will be more attracted to a space, if the home resembles a blank canvas. Neutrality is important, It gives buyers the opportunity to see themselves living there and what they would do to make a home feel more like them. As cute as the photos of the family may be, and as proud of the awards you have displayed may make you.. they unfortunately won’t get your home closer to sale.

#4: Cleaning — Without a doubt, this is probably the most important thing you will need to do. Cleanliness is key. You want the home to look as large and clean as possible; No laundry on the floor, clean counters, floors, and carpets; bleached bathrooms; dust bunnies and cobwebs vacuumed. It may seem like a daunting task if things have gotten away from you for a while. We all know that cleaning takes time — which is why I personally hire cleaning teams or organization teams for all my listing clients. You don’t want buyers to think your house should be worth less because of something as small as a dirty toilet or unorganized pantries.

#6: Landscaping — Curb appeal is so important. It is of course the first thing people see when approaching your home. Buyers want to feel warm and fuzzy and safe when they walk up! Get out the power washer and start spraying to clean up your vinyl, and foundations; clean your windows and glass doors. The land is a huge part of a buyer’s assessment so it is imperative that you get out and mow the lawn or even seed the grass; replace the lightbulb by the front door. If there isn’t a mailbox, maybe head over to Lowe’s to grab one! If there are any dead bushes or trees, it could be time to rip those up! Remember: Blank Canvas.

#7: Add Special Touches — The scent of fresh cookies before an open house, or the aroma of fresh flowers are always a great way to welcome buyers into your home. You don’t have to go above and beyond to impress them, but something as small as a welcome mat, or accent pillows and lit candles can do a world of difference. Even getting the documentation available on your home and labeling your electrical panel will really show that you gave thought and consideration to listing your home!

Hopefully, with these tips you will be ready to sell your home in a jiffy! If you have questions about this process and would like to see what services I offer as a Realtor®, you can contact me anytime. Good luck, and happy spring!

Tia Morrell is a Realtor for Landing Real Estate in Windham. Call her at 207-317-1833 or send her an email at

Friday, March 24, 2023

Real Estate: Buyers and Sellers, It’s Officially Spring!!

By Matthew Trudel

Spring is here and the weather is certainly getting a little more tolerable with temperatures warming and the sun is a little higher in the sky. This all means the snow is melting and along with it so should any hesitation that buyers or sellers might have about getting into the market now.

This is a great time for both buyers and sellers to prepare properly and get off the side lines and into the game. Let’s go over some of the reasons for both parties to act sooner rather than later.

Sellers you have plenty to do over the next few weeks so that you are well prepared to put your house on the market. First is to find yourself an experienced real estate broker who knows the area and the pulse of the current market. They will help you determine a strategy for marketing your home and what the listing price should be.

There is plenty more that needs to be done, and hopefully you have already accomplished a lot of those things over the winter months. You want to have your home in the best shape you can so that it shows well. You want to be ready to hit the market in three to four weeks. The snow should be gone and the grass coming in greener.

There are a lot of buyers out there waiting for new listings to hit the market. This is one reason to get in the game sooner rather than later. More buyers mean more competition for competitively priced homes which generally translates into higher offers, multiple offers, and ultimately more money in your pocket.

Another reason to sell now versus later is that we really don’t know what the next year or next two years might bring. We do know that currently housing prices are holding and appear to still be in high demand. Inventory is still extremely low giving buyers fewer and fewer options. These are a few reasons why I would encourage sellers to get ready and list their home for sale within the next month or so. Now onto the reasons that buyers should get into the game.

Buyers should get into the market now for many reasons, and buyers should always remember there really is never a bad time to get in the game and invest in real estate. Real estate is a very good investment when it is done appropriately.

Just like with sellers, buyers also need to select an experienced broker to work with and help them achieve their goal. Buyers also need to secure their financing plan so they are prepared to make the most powerful offer they can when they locate the right property.

Interest rates have crept up and buyers have had some remorse that they missed the 3 percent mortgage rates. 6 percent or 6.5 percent is still a good interest rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage. Those rates were very much considered excellent rates for many years.

We do not have a crystal ball to tell us where interest rates will be in a year or two, but I highly doubt they will come down. It seems more likely that they might increase a little. Get in the game now and start working on building equity and improving the value of your new home. It is often called “sweat equity,” but doesn’t have to involve you sweating to build equity.

There are a lot of easy things you can do to maintain and improve your home over time. This will increase the value for when you might decide to sell. The other thing to consider is if you are currently renting. The rental market is at an all-time high and seems to be trending even higher.

You will be way ahead of the game if you get off the sideline and get into the game and pay yourself instead of your landlord. That’s just building them more equity in their investment property.

The point I am trying to make is that this a good year to buy or sell for all parties if you are ready to get into the real estate market. Selling might be a little trickier for some sellers. They have a lot to consider and knowing where they are going to live is probably at the top of the list.

This is why I always try to emphasize that finding and working with an experienced broker is very important. The longer someone has been in this business the more likely they have seen and solved a majority of problems that arise. They also can help navigate and answer your questions or concerns ahead of time. This is true for both sellers and buyers.

Find an experienced broker you are comfortable working with and your transactions in real estate will be much smoother, less stressful, and more successful. <

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

Friday, March 17, 2023

Real Estate: The frustration of today’s home buying

By Richie Vraux

We are living in a time where we as Realtors’ have a gazillion buyers looking to buy into the American Dream of owning their home. They want to buy a new home but are living in a time of low inventory.

Last week my buyers placed an offer on a property and after the deadline expired, we learned that there were 22 offers that were submitted on this property we lost to another bidder. Our offer was way over the asking price and also offered an escalation addendum up to $50,000 over that price and we still lost.

It is very frustrating for buyers, but don’t lose sight of your goal, your turn will come. Stick it out. You eventually will win. Be patient. Listen to your real estate agent, he will guide you to success. He will offer you the best advice for your given situation.

After you know what your mortgage lender has approved you for, ask your agent to leave a window, to add an escalation addendum to your offer with a higher cap value to boost your offer.

Of course, your agent will advise you every step of the way. I have never seen more escalation addendums added to offers than in the past few years.

There are many other issues buyers then experience after their offer has been accepted.

Some of these include inspections of the house. Your agent will offer you a list of local home inspectors to choose from to check this home for defects including: all systems of the house, electrical, plumbing, roof, chimney, appliances, septic system, etc.

Unless you are paying cash for your home, the lender will require an appraisal to see if the bank is protected in their investment and to make sure there are no safety issues that would be excluded based on the type of loan you were approved for.

Once the inspections have satisfied the buyers, and the appraisal has been completed, then it goes to the bank’s underwriting team. There it gets bank approved and if the house’s title is clear, the bank gets a clear signal to close. Hooray! You are almost there.

There will then be some closing costs that were not part of the contract that you should know before closing.

Make sure the house’s heating fuel is paid for. Who pays for it? This should have been part of the initial sales contract.

Also make sure you know if there is a homeowners or neighborhood association that requires membership fees. Who maintains the road? Is there trash pick-up by the town or do you take it yourself to the dump? Ask these and any other questions you may have before you leave the closing table.

Good luck in purchasing your new home. <

Richie Vraux is a local Broker/ Realtor (Raymond) with over 25 years of experience in Real Estate and licensed in the in the state of Maine - Better Homes and Gardens- The Masiello Group in Windham. You can reach Richie at 207-317-1297 or by sending an email to

Friday, March 10, 2023

Real Estate: State of the Maine Market

By Lisa DiBiase


Sales of single-family existing homes in Maine continue to be affected by rising mortgage interest rates and a smaller number of available homes for sale. Maine Listings announced a 34.99 percent sales decrease in January 2023, compared to January 2022. The median sales price for homes sold in January 2023 reached $325,000, an increase of 11.21 percent over January 2022.

While we are feeling the effects of the lack of inventory, we are continuing to see multiple offers and properties selling for over asking.

Based on Single Family Homes in Cumberland County, in the graph you can see the median sales price is still up at $505,500 which is slightly below what we recorded compared to last year.

The number of closings fell 14.3 percent this year. Also, the number of new listings fell 11.8 percent. This will continue the sellers’ market we are currently still experiencing.

Then we have interest rates. Despite these increases, many housing market watchers still hold out hope that interest rates already hit their peak last year. However, most experts also expect mortgage rate increases to continue for the next few weeks or until inflation is more clearly under control—whenever that is.

Mortgage Rates Predictions for March 2023

According to Forbes Advisor, though the average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage has cooled from last year, home shoppers remain locked out of the market due to a trifecta of high interest rates, tight inventory and elevated home prices. Consequently, mortgage applications have slumped in recent weeks.

“After a brief revival in application activity in January when mortgage rates dropped to 6.2 percent, there has now been three straight weeks of declines in applications as mortgage rates have jumped 50 basis points over the past month,” says Joel Kan, vice president and deputy chief economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), in a news release. “Data on inflation, employment, and economic activity have signaled that inflation may not be cooling as quickly as anticipated, which continues to put upward pressure on rates.”

Those who purchased homes in recent years at record-low interest rates are staying put.

Moreover, new home construction fell again in January, compounding the long-standing inventory problem. Tight inventory issues, in part, are keeping prices from dropping off, which is perpetuating affordability challenges for many, especially first-time homebuyers.

Though home prices remain high year-over-year, they’re not as eye-popping as they were in early 2022. Even so, how much further home prices dip in 2023 will likely depend on where mortgage rates go.

Housing Market Forecast for March 2023

Home prices will be steady in most parts of the country with a minor change in the national median home price,” according to NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. Due, in part, to the ongoing inventory problem keeping home prices elevated, many economists predict the housing market is more likely to correct itself from the double-digit percentage jumps seen in home prices the past few years rather than crash.

Buying a house, in any market, is a personal decision. Because homes represent the largest single purchase most people will make in their lifetime, it’s crucial to be in a solid financial position before diving in.

Best advice is to start with a budget and stick with it.

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 the President for the Greater Portland Board of Realtors. As the Broker/Owner for Landing Real Estate, she and her company represent buyers and sellers in the Greater Portland area. For all your real estate needs, contact by email or phone 207-775-SOLD.

Friday, March 3, 2023

Real Estate: Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

Submitted by Jonathan Priest

Believe it or not, Spring is right around the corner! It may not feel like it, with the back-to-back snowstorms we’ve had, but the days are getting longer and Easter is just over a month away!

Bearing that in mind, here are some tips to help you make sure your home is in tip-top shape for the warmer months of the year, brought to you in partnership with Farmers Insurance and HGTV.

Examine Roof Shingles

Examine roof shingles to see if any were lost or damaged during winter. If your home has an older roof covering, you may want to start a budget for replacement. With the severe 50+ mph winds we had earlier this Winter, severe stress was put on all traditional asphalt shingle roofs. However, the summer sun can also really damage roof shingles. Shingles that are cracked, buckled or loose or are missing granules need to be replaced. Flashing around plumbing vents, skylights and chimneys need to be checked and repaired by a qualified roofer.

Check the Attic

Check your attic for proper ventilation and birds’ nests. Look for obstructions over vents, damaged soffit panels, roof flashing leaks and wet spots on insulation. Keeping a good airflow will save you when it comes to cooling costs. When you’re rooting around, wear long sleeves and gloves to protect yourself from insulation.

Inspect the Concrete

Inspect concrete slabs for signs of cracks or movement. All exterior slabs except pool decks should drain away from the home's foundation. Fill cracks with a concrete crack filler or silicone caulk. When weather permits, power-wash and then seal the concrete.
Replace Rotted Siding or Trim

If any of your trim or siding has begun to rot or crumble, replace and repaint it. Repainting siding or trim is often more than a one-weekend project. For color consistency, you just can’t just touch it up—you need to paint a whole section.

Move Firewood

Remove firewood stored near the home. Firewood should be stored at least 18 inches off the ground at least 2 feet from the structure.

Check Outside Faucets

Check outside hose faucets for freeze damage. Turn the water on and place your thumb or finger over the opening. If you can stop the flow of water, it is likely the pipe inside the home is damaged and will need to be replaced. While you're at it, check the garden hose for dry rot.
Re-caulk Windows and Doors

Inspect and, if necessary, caulk around your home's windows and doors annually. That will help keep out heat and humidity in the summer and cold drafts in the winter—and save money on your utility bills all year round. Open and close all windows as well. Do they all open easily, yet close tightly? If not, check the weather stripping. There are a number of different types to consider.
Repair Window Screens

To fix a small hole in a window or door screen, dab clear household cement over the hole with a toothpick. If the screens are plastic, test the cement on a scrap to make sure it won't melt the material. Use the same technique to repair screen tears. Pull the two halves of the tear together and hold them in place with masking tape on one side. Apply the household cement to the tear, then smooth with a putty knife. When it's dry, gently remove the tape and apply cement to the other side.

Service the AC Unit

Have a qualified heating and cooling contractor clean and service the outside unit of the air conditioning system. Clean coils operate more efficiently, and an annual service call will keep the system working at peak performance levels. Change interior filters on a regular basis.

Check Power Equipment

Check your gas- and battery-powered lawn equipment to make sure it is ready for summer use. Clean equipment and sharp cutting blades will make yardwork easier. With ethanol in almost all gas station fuel, make sure you run each engine dry of fuel at the end of each season, or alternatively, use a fuel stabilizer or an ethanol-free fuel like Trufuel for your small engines. Ethanol blends can corrode your carburetor, fuel tank, and other fuel system components and damage engine seals and O-rings, according to industry experts. And that means costly repairs at the very least–and engine damage at worst.

This article was brought to you courtesy of Farmers Insurance agent, Jonathan Priest, with an office at 57 Tandberg Trail, Suite 7, Windham. Call him at 207-893-8184 or send him an email at