Friday, April 28, 2023

Real Estate: Value of Realtor®

By Lisa DiBiase

Choosing the type of agent that will represent you is vital to a successful experience. Let me start with explaining the very difference between a licensed agent and a Realtor®. It may not seem like there is a difference, but there actually is a big difference regarding the service you will receive.

While all Realtors® are real estate agents, not all real estate agents are Realtors. Being a Realtor® is a voluntary designation that agents can choose to pursue. The main difference between Realtors and licensees is that Realtors® are held to a higher standard of ethical and professional behavior by the National Associations of Realtors®, NAR. Additionally, Realtors® have access to a wider range of resources and networking opportunities through their membership in the NAR.

"Your neighborhood Realtor® is a champion able to help you achieve the dream of homeownership," said NAR President Kenny Parcell. I was personally inspired by Kenny Parcell’s message when I attended the NAR Leadership conference last August as I was preparing to become the 2023 Greater Portland Board of Realtors® President. Kenny has made it his commitment to enhancing the value of a Realtor® for all of you, the consumers. I share his sentiment in wanting to spread the message.

The National Association of Realtors was formed in 1908 and formed the first ever business ethical code in 1913. NAR is one of the largest trade associations in the United States. The main objectives of the NAR include service to the public and commitment to professionalism.

The Code of Ethics imposes social responsibility and a patriotic duty beyond a normal licensee. The Code of Ethics must be reasonably and consistently construed with the law. It also restates certain fundamental legal principles such as contract, agency, and fair housing. A section of the Code is Pathways to Professionalism, which is a list of service criteria for the industry and professional courtesies to enhance REALTOR® professional conduct – Respect for the public, Respect for property and Respect for peers.

Local Market update:

According to the Maine Association of Realtors®:

Interest rates and lower-than-normal inventory led to a single-family existing home sales decline of 16.78 percent in March. According to Maine Listings, 858 homes changed hands last month, compared to 1,031 homes in March 2022. The median sales price for homes sold rose 3.85% to $337,500 comparing March 2023 to March 2022.

National Market update:

According to National Association of Realtors®:

● Low-income homeowners built $98,900 and upper-income households built $150,800 from home appreciation since 2012.

● Black homeowners experienced the smallest wealth gains among all racial/ethnic groups but were able to accumulate more than $115,000 in wealth in the last decade.

● Homeowners who benefited from home price appreciation in the last decade were able to drop their debt by 21 percent.

● Middle-income homeowners accumulated $122,100 in wealth as their homes appreciated by 68 percent in the last 10 years.

"This analysis shows how homeownership is a catalyst for building wealth for people from all walks of life," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "A monthly mortgage payment is often considered a forced savings account that helps homeowners build a net worth about 40 times higher than that of a renter."

What does this mean for you?

Our real estate markets can vary greatly by location and are influenced by a variety of factors, including the economy, interest rates, supply and demand, and government policies. It is always best to do your research and consult with a Realtor® who has experience in our local markets.

In general, if you are looking to buy a house, you may benefit from shopping for the best interest rates and sticking to your budget. On the other hand, if you are looking to sell, you may be able to take advantage of a seller's market with limited inventory and high demand, leading to potentially higher sale prices.

Ultimately, the decision to buy or sell a house should be based on your personal and financial goals. 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 of 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, April 21, 2023

Real Estate: Why isn’t it covered?

By Jonathan Priest

As an insurance agent for 20 years, one of the most common questions I get is the title of this article!

A recreational vehicle such as an ATV, side-by-side, or snowmobile, however, should have its own policy to protect against loss. A small boat with a motor may be covered if it’s under a certain value, but that can vary by carrier, and the coverage amount can also vary.

Here is a helpful list of exclusions brought to you by J Priest Insurance and Nerdwallet!

1. Ground movement

Earthquakes, landslides and sinkholes generally aren’t covered under home insurance. Exceptions include Florida and Tennessee, where insurers must offer optional sinkhole protection. Aside from that, you’ll need separate coverage for these disasters, which your insurer can help you find. For example, a "difference in conditions" policy can cover earthquakes, landslides, and other risks, such as mudflows and floods.
2. Floods

Floods, like those from overflowing rivers or torrential rain, are not covered by most home insurance. Flood insurance is widely available through the National Flood Insurance Program in partnership with more than 50 different insurers. It can cover both the physical structure of your home and your possessions. Beyond floods, your home insurance policy likely excludes other types of water damage as well, such as backed-up sewer lines or overflowing sump pumps. You can fill this gap with a water backup endorsement, or add-on, to your policy. However, a standard policy will generally cover burst pipes — for example, if the water pipe behind your washing machine bursts and spews water.
3. Mold

Coverage for mold is complicated because it’s often hard to identify the root cause of a mold problem. For damage to be covered, your insurer must deem the cause of the mold to be sudden, accidental and a problem covered by your policy. This means that, for example, home insurers generally won’t pay to fix mold damage if it’s caused by water associated with a long-term leak or poor home maintenance. However, your policy may cover repairs if the mold stems from a sudden plumbing leak, as long as you take action to fix the problem right away.
4. Wear and tear

Home insurance is meant for sudden or accidental problems, such as storms, burglaries, and fires. It’s not a cure-all for general wear and tear. You’re expected to perform basic maintenance to keep your home from slipping into disrepair. Maintaining your home’s roof, replacing worn-out flooring and tending to slow-leaking pipes are a few ways you can avoid large expenses that your insurance won’t cover.
5. Infestations

Bedbugs, termites, mice, and other vermin are typically excluded from home insurance for the same reason wear and tear isn’t covered. From an insurer’s perspective, getting rid of infestations and fixing the damage left behind are simply part of maintaining your home.

  6. Nuclear hazards

Home insurance doesn’t provide coverage for nuclear accidents. Thankfully, you're unlikely to need it. Nuclear power companies are required to have liability insurance to cover damage if you live within the affected area of a hazard.
7. Government action

Acts of public authorities are not your insurer’s problem. If the government confiscates your belongings, for instance, or condemns your home and takes over the land, your policy won’t cover the cost to repair or replace your property. The only exception might be if governmental action were taken to prevent the spread of a fire that might otherwise affect your home.
8. Dangerous or aggressive dogs

Insurance companies spent $882 million paying claims for dog bites and other dog-related injuries in 2021, with an average claim amount of about $49,000. Because of these high costs, insurers may not cover certain aggressive or dangerous dogs. Having one could even prevent you from getting approved for a policy. Some companies refuse to cover breeds that are known for inflicting severe injuries, such as pit bulls, Rottweilers, and wolf hybrids. Other insurers, such as State Farm, won’t deny coverage based on breed alone but instead will look at an individual dog’s history of aggression. If you own a potentially dangerous dog, you may get leeway from your insurer by improving your pet’s behavior through training and socialization. <

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

Friday, April 14, 2023

Real Estate: Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Buy Real Estate

By Carrie Colby

One of the biggest misconceptions about buying real estate is that waiting for the perfect moment will result in getting a better deal. However, the opposite is often true. The longer you wait, the more the price will go up, and you may end up paying more for a property in the long run. Additionally, interest rates also have a significant impact on the affordability of a home. If you wait too long, interest rates may rise, making it even more challenging to secure a mortgage and purchase a home.

Picking the right time to buy a house is tricky. You don’t want to wait too long, or prices could go up and you’ll end up paying more than you wanted. So what’s a potential home buyer to do? The answer is simple: buy now, and then wait. By buying now, you take advantage of today’s low prices, and by waiting, you avoid the risk of prices going up in the future. It’s a win-win situation! So don’t wait any longer — start looking for your dream home today.

For starters, it’s important to understand that the real estate market is constantly changing. That means that there are always going to be good and bad deals out there. If you wait too long to buy, you might miss out on a great opportunity.

While many people are hesitant to take the leap and purchase a home, waiting to buy real estate can often be a costly mistake.

Here are some helpful tips:

1. Don’t wait for the perfect deal. There’s no such thing.

2. Do your research and work with a trusted professionals (for example, Realtor, Mortgage Company/Bank)

3. Be prepared to act fast when you find good property. It is important to be pre-approved for a mortgage and know what your price range is first before you start looking.

4. Have realistic expectations. The market is constantly changing, so remember that today’s fantastic deal might not be so great tomorrow.

If you keep these things in mind, you’ll be in a good position to take advantage of opportunities as they come your way.

Owning a home provides a sense of stability and security, as well as a tangible asset that you can use to build wealth over time. Real estate values tend to appreciate over time, meaning that the value of your home can increase, providing you with a substantial return on your investment. Additionally, as you pay down your mortgage, your monthly payments will remain fixed, providing you with a stable housing expense for years to come.

In addition to building wealth through appreciation and paying down your mortgage, owning a home can also provide you with additional tax benefits. The interest paid on your mortgage, as well as certain other expenses, can be deductible from your taxable income, lowering your overall tax bill.

But at the same time, you don’t want to rush into a purchase without doing your homework first. Take the time to learn about the market and talk to a trusted REALTOR before making any decisions. <

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

Friday, April 7, 2023

Real Estate: Equal Opportunity for All

By Nicole Foster, Broker/ REALTOR

April is Fair Housing Month, and it serves as a time for increased awareness of anti-discriminatory laws as applied to housing including mortgage lending, rental, sales, appraisal, and insurance of property. The Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) believes that “equal access to housing and homeowner opportunity is the cornerstone of the nation’s federal housing policy”. HUD enforces illegal discrimination and “intimidation in people’s homes, apartment buildings, and condominium developments ~in nearly all housing transactions, including the rental and sale of housing and the provision of mortgage loans”.

The Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 (amended in 1988) prohibits inequitable treatment in the financing, sale or rental of housing based on race or color, national origin or ancestry, religion, sex, familial status and physical or mental disability. In the state of Maine the Maine Human Rights Act (MHRA enforced by the Maine Human Rights Commission) recognizes sexual orientation including gender identity or expression, those in receipt of public assistance and those who are experiencing retaliation for exercising their MHRA rights as protected classes, as well.

In the sale and rental of property no one may take prohibited actions against a protected class including refusing to negotiate, rent or sell housing, denying a dwelling or make housing unavailable or falsely deny that housing is available for rental, sale or inspection. No one can provide different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling or provide different services or facilities. Real estate agents may not try to persuade people to sell or rent dwellings by suggesting that a protected class have moved or will be moving into a neighborhood which is categorized as “blockbusting” and cannot try to influence a buyer's areas of interest based on protected characteristics otherwise known as the practice of “steering.”

Agents also cannot limit access or participation in services such as the multiple listing service (MLS).Mortgage lenders cannot refuse to make a mortgage loan, refuse to provide loan information, impose different interest rates, points or fees, discriminate when appraising a property, refuse to purchase a loan or set different terms or conditions for doing so. It is also illegal to refuse to provide homeowners insurance coverage or to discriminate in the terms and conditions when providing a policy for a dwelling because of being a protected class. It is illegal to make, print or publish advertising for a property which indicates a preference, limitation or discriminates against a protected class.

All REALTORS must adhere to Article 10 in the Code of Ethics prohibiting discrimination of any protected class. As REALTORS we are required to not share our personal opinion about the quality of school systems, neighborhood safety or demographics and instead share reliable sources of information and data. It is our responsibility as REALTORS to follow the instructions of our clients by sharing personal letters written to sellers which accompany an offer if instructed to after sharing with our clients what potential Fair Housing violation risks may exist by providing or learning about characteristics or details which may be protected under the Fair Housing Act.

Each year thousands of “testers” are employed by HUD and sent out by various housing organizations to view for sale and rental properties to assess whether landlords, lenders and agents are treating protected classes differently. Practitioners are encouraged to collaborate with their local regulatory agencies to help demystify compliance and to “reflect, repair and renew” by taking a closer look at our own stereotypical thinking to help understand bias.

If you feel that you’ve experienced discrimination or think your rights have been violated then report directly to the HUD Regional Office by emailing or by calling (617) 994-8300 or 1-800-827-5005 within 300 days of the alleged violation. After you contact HUD they will help you to file a complaint then provide you with written confirmation that your complaint has been accepted and they will contact the respondent and allow time for their response. After, they will investigate and if they are unable to complete their investigation within 100 days of filing your complaint will provide a reason in writing.

You may also file a complaint with both agencies by contact with the Maine Human Rights Commission who can help submit your complaint to the HUD office by calling 207-624-8729 or initiating an Electronic Intake Form by going online to: .

It is likely that we will see an increase in reported violations with rising tensions and an uptick in immigration populations. These laws went into effect 7 days after the assassination of Martin Luther King over 50 years ago now. We must continue to build on this important work by setting a strong example of what practices and conversations are acceptable by using the Fair Housing Act as our framework. <

Nicole Foster is a Windham parent and real estate broker with 18 years of experience. Contact her at or by calling 207-615-7558.