Friday, August 25, 2023

Navigating the Shifting Tides of the Maine Real Estate Market: A Closer Look

By Tia Morrell

The Maine real estate market, like its counterparts across the country, has experienced a whirlwind of changes in recent times. As we step into the current landscape, real estate agents find themselves needing to adapt to evolving trends, where traditional norms are making a comeback, and the art of negotiation has never been more crucial.

Slowing Trends and Reemerging Norms

One significant shift in the Maine real estate market is the gradual slowdown of previously frenetic trends. The days of lightning-fast sales and sky-high bidding wars seem to be tapering off, creating a new dynamic for both buyers and sellers. Real estate agents are observing that properties are spending more time on the market, allowing for a renewed emphasis on thorough inspections.

Inspections, once swept aside in the fervor of competitive bidding, are making a triumphant return. Buyers, now granted a bit more time, are meticulously scrutinizing properties, aiming to uncover any hidden issues that could become a burden down the road. Sellers are realizing that honesty and transparency during the inspection process can foster a sense of trust and potentially even lead to smoother negotiations.

Stringent Appraisal Standards

Appraisers, too, are making their presence felt in this evolving market. The era of inflating home values appears to be behind us, as appraisers adopt a more conservative approach to their assessments. This shift is putting pressure on sellers and buyers alike, as the disparity between perceived market value and appraised value becomes a tangible reality.

The once-common practice of bidding over asking price, while not extinct, is witnessing a transformation. Offers are still going above the listed price, but the exorbitant rates that characterized the market's peak are becoming rarer. Appraisers' strict evaluations are contributing to this trend, anchoring the value of properties in a more grounded reality.

The Triumph of Terms and Negotiation Skills

In this landscape of recalibrating norms, the true value of negotiation skills and favorable terms is becoming increasingly evident. Listing agents are discovering that offers are not solely decided by the financial aspect; rather, flexible terms and well- thought-out negotiation strategies can sway decisions in favor of one party.

Buyers and sellers alike are recognizing that the timing of a deal can be just as important as the price itself. Flexible closing dates, abbreviated inspection periods, and other such terms are gaining prominence. A buyer who can align their needs with the seller's timeline might find themselves ahead of the competition, even with a slightly lower monetary offer. On the other side, sellers who are willing to accommodate certain requests may find their property off the market sooner than expected.

The Role of Real Estate Agents in Navigating Change

Amid these shifts, the role of the real estate agent is more crucial than ever. Agents are becoming adept at interpreting the nuances of a transforming market and leveraging their insights to guide their clients effectively. Their ability to not only recognize market trends but also educate buyers and sellers about the changing landscape sets them apart in a sea of uncertainty.
An agent's role as a mediator and negotiator has become the linchpin in the real estate process. Navigating offers, counteroffers, and terms requires a delicate balance of understanding the client's goals and leveraging the market's dynamics. In this evolving scenario, it's the agents who can wield their negotiation skills and market knowledge with finesse that will truly shine.


AS The Maine real estate market shifts toward a more balanced landscape, the strategies that once dominated are giving way to a new era of consideration and negotiation. Inspections are returning to the forefront, appraisers are reining in inflated values, and the emphasis on terms is resurging. In these dynamic times, real estate agents stand as the pillars of guidance, utilizing their expertise to navigate clients through the maze of change and uncertainty. It's clear that in this evolving market, the ability to adapt, interpret, and negotiate is the key to success for buyers, sellers, and agents alike.

If you’re ready to discuss how you can come out on top of this market, don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions. I’m here to help!

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

Friday, August 18, 2023

Real Estate: Smart home energy savings

Submitted by Tricia Zwirner

Check out these ideas for how to save on energy bills and use less.

Unplug unused electronics and small appliances

According to Trulia, those electronics and small appliances that you only need for part of the day, like the microwave, phone charger and coffee maker, for example, consume a whopping 10% of your yearly energy costs. Use them, then unplug if possible. Then take a look around your home – what’s plugged in that isn’t being used? Pull that plug!

Only run your major appliances (like your dishwasher and your washer and dryer) during "non-peak hours" — pre-specified times typically associated with lower demand. Check with your utility company for the details. And try to run only a full load.
Check seals on doors and windows

Just a slim gap of 1/8 inch around a door frame is about the same as having a 2.5-inch hole in a wall to the outside. Look for visible cracks or simply feel for air by placing your hand along all edges and corners. If you feel air or see light through a crack, consider sealing with plastic insulation kits, adding more weather stripping around the doors or re-caulking windows.
Turn down your water heater

One of the biggest energy hogs in your home might surprise you: your water heater. Many are set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but 120 degrees Fahrenheit works well for daily needs. And turning down your water heater by just 10 degrees could save you $400 or more annually.
Water saving ideas

Find and fix leaky faucets — every drop costs you money. Be sure to turn off the water while brushing your teeth — no need to let that water run without being used.

How about shaving off just a few minutes from your shower time — three minutes could save about 7.5 gallons or water! And that showerhead — consider replacing it with one that has a WaterSense label and it could save you about 2,700 gallons of water a year which translates to money saving.
Utilize energy saving smart home devices

Technology continues to pay real dividends for homeowners, particularly when it comes to ways to save on energy bills. Smart lighting options enable you to check whether you left lights on when you're away from home, and smart blinds let you open and close window coverings to take advantage of sunlight or keep out nighttime drafts.
Use natural light

An easy way to conserve energy at home is to use natural light. Open the curtains and let the sun in to help light those areas used most in your home. That sunlight could even help warm your home in the winter. You can buy lightweight curtains or blinds to give you some privacy while letting in the natural light.
Ideas for long-term energy bill solutions

Get an energy audit or assessment

Your utility company typically offers these for free, and they'll visit you in your home to help identify key areas to upgrade to save energy at home. They may suggest boosts in under- or uninsulated areas, as well as offer suggestions on a new HVAC system, too.
Install a smart thermostat

A smart thermostat will change the temperature based upon the schedule you pick within the thermostat. Or you might use an app to control the temperature when you’re not home. Some thermostats have sensors that can be installed in different rooms so that each room can have its own temperature (if the air conditioner and heater are installed to accommodate this type of activity).
Swap out your light bulbs

Simply replacing standard light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs can help save you money on your energy bill, and they last much longer!
Replace inefficient appliances

An Energy Star certified dishwasher, over its average lifetime of about 12 years, can save as much as 3,800 gallons of water. And a certified washing machine uses about 30 percent less water and 20% less energy. All these savings can add up to more money in your pocket. <

Tricia Zwirner is a State Farm agent celebrating her 21st year in Windham. She and her team would love to hear from you and can be reached via phone and text at 207-892-2864 or via email at

Friday, August 11, 2023

Real Estate: Selling your home? Stage It

By Theresa Bouchard

Selling a home can be one of the most stressful events people deal with in their lifetime. Although starting a new chapter in one’s life can be very exciting, it can also create anxiety, sadness, and uncertainty as you begin to pack up the memories created in the home with your loved ones.

What is Staging?

Staging a home is an art, but also a science. Professional stagers create spaces that “feel like home” which attracts mass buyer appeal. Professional staging allows for potential buyers to visualize themselves in the home, which creates an immediate personal attachment. This will make prospective buyers feel confident about investing in a place where they feel comfortable and can visualize creating new memories for years to come!

Why use a Professional Home Stager?

The use of digital marketing promotes properties and is the first step to creating a mass flow of buyers to the property. Professional stagers understand the power of photography and know how important photography is to sell a home. With this knowledge and understanding, home stagers apply specific techniques such as appropriate placement of furnishings and décor, lighting, color, symmetry, and scale to ensure the photographer can capture the essence of the home and create an emotional connection as buyers conduct online searches. Online listings are the first step to attracting prospective buyers to a property. This will increase the number of showings and fast-track the sale of your home!

Professional home stagers consistently adapt to the ever-changing trends people see on television and social media. Home stagers incorporate these trends, while factoring in the aesthetics of the home, its location, and its market demographic. Home staging captures your home’s most attractive features while minimizing the home’s limitations. Some homes on the market are dated but with home staging, prospective buyers can visualize the house as their home and imagine the potential it may have in the future.

Staging Benefits

o Staging shows the buyers the property’s true potential

o Buyers realize and appreciate the benefits of purchasing a professionally staged property

o Professionally stage properties show better than competing ones for sale, including new construction homes and higher-priced properties

o Staged properties sell faster when compared with properties that have not been staged

o Staged properties can increase the number of offers and selling price in any market

o Buyers view professionally staged listings as well-maintained

o Buyers’ agents recognize that professionally staged listings are “move-in” ready and are more inclined to show staged properties

o Photos of professionally staged listings look better on the MLS, as well as in print

o Professionally staged listings STAND OUT in prospective buyers’ minds

Staging Statistics per Real Estate Staging Association (RESA)

o 85 percent of homes sold for 5 to 23 percent over asking list price

o Approximately 75 percent of sellers saw a ROI of 5 to 15 percent over asking price

o Staged homes sell faster, averaging just 23 days on the market

Various Staging Options

Occupied Staging Consultations

o This service includes a walk-through of your home with a professional stager that provides guidance to the seller on how to prepare the home for sale. This service includes a detailed, actionable report (checklist form) to make the process easier on the seller. The report provides recommendations on cosmetic updates, lightening fixtures, organization pointers, etc., basically anything that will allow the seller to list at a higher price.

o Additionally, the professional home stager offers services to come to your home, use your existing items and apply the home staging techniques to make your home shine above the rest!

Vacant Home Staging

o This service includes a walk-through of your home with a professional stager so they can gain the overall essence of the home and its location.

o The professional home stager will recommend which rooms should be staged and provide a proposal

o Once the proposal is accepted, the professional home stagers will select the appropriate furnishings and décor for the home and schedule an installation date to make your home ready for the go-live listing date

For more information on professional home staging or interior design services, please contact TS Staging and Design at 207-400-9393 or visit us at <

Friday, August 4, 2023

Real Estate: Diving into summer with a new home?

By Matt Trudel

Summer finally seems to have arrived and the rain has backed off a little. We all love spending our time outside in Maine while the weather is so nice. Whether the lake or camp is your thing, or maybe it’s hiking or the ocean, this could be the right time for you to consider purchasing a new home.

There are many reasons that people make the decision to purchase their first home. Tired of paying rent, living with roommates, or maybe parents, are just a few possibilities. If you are considering this and are on the fence about it, I would encourage you to do your homework and go for it. This article will provide you with some basic things you will want to do, a few things that you absolutely should not do, and hopefully create some more questions that you can discuss with one or all of the professionals that should be a part of your team for this process.

So who are the professionals that make up this team that I am referring to that are supposed to help you with this process of purchasing a new home?

The first one is pretty obvious, and that is a Realtor to assist you in all facets of this process. Selecting a buyer’s agent is important and not as easy as it may seem. We all know at least 5 to 10 realtors it seems, but sometimes using a friend or family member is not the best choice. Experience, professionalism, confidentiality, and experience are extremely important factors when selecting a Realtor.

I used experience twice because it is that important to have a Realtor who has several years of experience. It can be the difference of having a positive successful transaction or having an absolute nightmare or failure of a transaction.

Confidentiality is important to many people. People’s financial situation, credit worthiness, and personal information are things that many people don’t want their friends and family to know.

Once you have your Realtor selected, they can assist or answer questions about the other professionals to complete your team. Choosing your lender or mortgage broker is another important professional to add to your team.

This will not only get you pre-qualified for your purchase, but it also should provide you with a lot more options that you and your Realtor can use to assist in being successful in the process. Deciding on which type of financing works best for you and provides you with the strongest offer you can present to a seller is a key part in almost every transaction.

There are a lot of programs out there other than just FHA or Rural Development. First responders such as EMT, fire fighters, police, nurses, doctors, and many more, there are lender programs that might offer a better interest rate or provide some additional money toward closing costs for you.

These are all things that you should take into consideration when selecting which type of financing you are going to use.

I mentioned interest rates, and this is worth discussing since interest rates have increased from the all-time record low interest rates we saw for a couple years. Do not let interest rates scare you into not buying a house. Today’s interest rates are still really good in comparison to over the last 15 years.

I don’t believe interest rates will ever get back down to 3 percent again, or at least not in the next 10 years. So put the interest rate aside and if it does go down significantly you can always refinance your home to the lower rate.

Next is the absolutely do not do list. Some of these seem obvious, but you would not believe the number of clients I have spoken to discussing these very things and quite often I have to remind them. Do not make any large purchases at all without discussing them with your team. That means nothing, none, not a one, zero.

Well, what about a cash purchase? No, that depletes your reserves and makes you a weaker buyer. Cars, boats, and other items financed most likely wil hurt your debt-to-income ratio and lower your purchasing power. Do not apply to multiple lenders and have your credit pulled because it can lower your score and cause you to have a higher interest rate.

Do not use your credit cards excessively and run the balances up. The balances need to be below 30 percent and preferably you don’t have credit card debt. Any financial transaction, debit, or credit, over $1,000 you should have a conversation with your team.

It doesn’t mean you can’t do it but you need to be informed about how it may affect you. More than likely, they will give you some advice on the best way to do it if you want to proceed forward. <

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