Friday, February 23, 2024

Should You Buy a New Construction Home or an Existing Home?

By Carrie Colby

Here are the Pros and Cons of buying a new construction home:

The Pros

Lower maintenance costs: Newer construction means a brand-new roof, appliances, plumbing, finishes, and more. You can expect major and minor repairs to be at a minimum (if any appear at all) in the first few years of ownership in a new construction home.

More customization options: As new construction homes are being built, buyers can customize everything from fixtures to appliances to paint colors to finishes and sometimes even floor plans. If you have a very specific vision of the home you want and/or you want the ability to make it fully your own, this may be one of your biggest decision factors.

Smart home features: New construction homes are being built with smart features such as security systems, lighting, thermostats, appliances that can all be controlled from a smartphone or other remote device. These features are more difficult (or sometimes impossible) to build into older homes.

Modern floor plan: They’ve been trending for a while now, but open floor plans are still a top preference for homebuyers. They offer more flexible spaces and common areas to gather and entertain in your home. Creating open floor plans in traditionally-built existing homes often requires knocking down walls and doing heavy renovations, which can get pricey.

Energy efficiency: Smart features, better insulation and windows, metal roofs, solar paneling — these are just a few of the energy-efficient features you’ll find in new construction homes. Not only are these features environmentally friendly, it lowers monthly utility costs and makes the overall cost of home ownership more affordable.

The Cons

Move-in wait times: As with any building project, you may experience move-in wait times when you buy a new construction home. Supply chain delays or unexpected construction challenges are just two of the reasons you may not be able to get into your home when you initially expected.

The Pros and Cons of buying an existing home are as follows.

The Pros

Established community: Existing homes are typically located in more established neighborhoods with schools, business corridors, parks, and more. If you’re looking to be immediately part of an active community, this might be the better choice for you.

Character and charm older homes often have architectural detail and historical charm that you just can’t replicate in new construction homes. For some buyers, this type of character is more preferable than modern features and amenities.

More location choices: Buying an existing home gives you a much wider range of location options — you won’t be limited to new construction communities. You can search anywhere you want to live.

Fixer-upper value: While some buyers prefer customization in the form of brand new features in a brand new home, others enjoy the project of bringing their home to life.

Lower prices: Again, this isn’t always the case, but existing homes often come with a lower price tag than new construction homes.

The Cons

Repair and renovation costs: Older homes naturally come with repair and renovation costs associated with maintaining a home. You can get a good sense of how expensive these costs may be when you walk through a home and read the home inspection report, so in many cases this isn’t a huge issue. Still, it’s something to be aware of and budget for when you purchase an existing home.

Outdated floor plan: Traditionally, homes were built with separate, closed-off rooms that all served a different purpose. If an open floor plan is your preference, you may have a harder time finding it in an existing home.

No personalization options: With an existing home, what you see is what you get. If you’re looking to personalize features and finishes in your home, you’ll have to do it yourself (or hire someone to do it) after you move in. Unlike with new construction homes, these costs won’t be included in your initial purchase price.

Higher utility bills: Older homes are generally less energy efficient than new homes. This may translate to higher monthly utility costs unless you choose to make updates like adding solar panels or getting new windows installed.

How to Decide Between a New Construction vs. Existing Home

The best way to decide between buying a new construction vs. existing home is to be as thorough as possible in your assessment of each choice. First, determine if you have a strong preference for one or the other.

Next, list your must-haves vs. your wish list for your new home. This will help you decide which option best fits your preferences.

Finally, go with your gut and choose the home that feels best for you. Give yourself time to look at many types of houses and get a good sense of what you’re looking for in your future home.

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


Friday, February 16, 2024

Should your home be inspected before you list it for sale?

By Richie Vraux

When you are ready to sell your home, your listing agent should recommend a pre- home inspection.

There are several reasons why the answer should always be yes! It may be a little costly for you up front, (usually between $500 and $1,000), but by knowing what your home’s issues are in advance, a home inspection can save you as a seller many thousands later.

Your real estate agent can recommend a reputable home inspector, but ultimately the choice is entirely your decision. Sometimes an inspector will identify minor problems, which when fixed in advance, will reduce the liability for both the buyer and the seller. Having done that will raise the seller’s confidence, that the potential issues are fixed and will minimize the issues that the buyer can come back at you with.

It just gives all parties peace of mind knowing they will not need to dole out large amounts of money in advance in selling your home. Minor deficiencies, such as a missing light switch plate cover or exposed wiring out of an electrical box could mean you would have to hire a licensed electrician to close it up, and we all know how expensive they might run you for a bill. It is always better to find out what your deficiencies are in advance, correct those problems in advance, rather than to hire a professional to fix it after the inspector points out all the issues in his report.

Having a pre-inspection report and fixing the issues can reduce the liability for the seller, get it sold in a timelier manner and might even award him top dollar, even more than asking price. Also, it will reduce any chance of having to negotiate the price due to the corrections that might need to be made and the potential risk of not closing on time. It just keeps the seller on target and the buyer happy so there are not any obstacles to slow the process.

When the inspector goes to the house, he looks at all the home’s systems: electrical, plumbing, roof, basement, structure, water leakage, signs of insect/ rodent presence both inside the home and out. He looks for all and any defects and writes a report. If you so desire, he will check for radon air and water, water test, septic inspection, and all other systems in the home.

All homes, those old and new, have issues, but an inspector will look at all systems. While newer homes are required to be up to current municipal, state and federal code guidelines, older homes most likely are not up to current codes and standards of today, and do not need to be. The older homes were built to municipal code when it was built. Your inspector will know this.

An inspector will write his report, which will usually be accompanied by pictures showing the defects listed on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most important to address first in decreasing order to 1, the least important to address.

This is a good way of seeing the issues firsthand to know what order of things need to be dealt with immediately and what problems are not as extreme. A home inspector will check for leakage both in the basement and in the roof. Remember, an inspector cannot inspect anything that is not visible.

Ask your agent who he would recommend as an inspector and if they are licensed, do they have liability insurance, E/O insurance and do they have third party coverage. These are all good questions to ask before settling on someone to perform a home inspection. The agent will recommend a few inspectors they have worked with previously and someone they feel that they can trust implicitly.

Listen to your agent as they are the professionals here and have gone through this process before and are experienced at choosing a proper home inspector.

Richie Vraux is a broker at Maine’s Premier Team at Better Homes and Gardens-The Masiello Group. With offices in Gorham and Windham, call Richie to seek professional advice for buyers and sellers at 207-317-1297. <

Friday, February 9, 2024

Fall in Love with Your Dream Home: A Real Estate Romance

By Nicole Foster, Broker/ REALTOR

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, love is in the air and the pulse of the local real estate market is really beginning to heat up with a boost to the number of new listings coming to the market each day. Turn your real estate crush into more than just a fantasy in 2024 by making your move with the help of a matchmaker extraordinaire: your fabulous REALTOR!

Don’t Fall in Love to Soon: A Prelude to Happily Ever After

Picture yourself scrolling along when your heart begins to flutter after seeing a fine-looking new listing, fresh to the market. You drive by to see it’s in the perfect location and you are completely smitten, possibly obsessed. If you want a happy ending when shopping for a new home, it’s important to start at the beginning. Get pre-approved or pre-qualified with a trusted lender, ensuring that when you find “The One” it’s a match made in financial heaven.

How I Love Thee: Letters to the Seller

Looking to build a deeper connection? Prospective home buyers who wish to proclaim their love of the brick and mortar by penning a letter to the homeowner should first consult with their matchmaking REALTOR. It is possible that the sellers have requested that this display of affection not be shared with them, and your agent can help to guide you in how to draft this and help by including it with your real estate “proposal of marriage, with a mortgage.”

The One That Got Away: The Ultimate Real Estate Love Triangle

You don’t want your dream home slipping through your fingers because your current castle is practically destroyed. Get on top of things by having your current home ready for its grand entry to the spring market, if you need to sell in order to buy. Usually, a seller will want to see your current home listed with a top-notch REALTOR and on the market within a week or so.

When Not to Follow Your Heart’s Desire

It’s important not to wear rose-colored glasses when your heart quickens at the fixer upper you believed was special and not like all the others. Your heart is selecting paint colors for each room while your brain is busy calculating the costs of repairs and updating, like a dreamy waltz through the transaction. Sometimes you must allow your head to lead the dance and knowing when can make all the difference in the world. When the dance floor gets crowded with emotion and financial decisions, turn to your experienced dance instructor and REALTOR to help you find your tempo again.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Real Estate Edition

Sometimes real estate agreements hit a rocky patch, which can be disappointing, but don’t lose heart! Your REALTOR is the relationship guru who can guide you through the procedures and timeframes, as it is just like a breakup only with more paperwork. I’ve witnessed several occasions where the parties have gone their separate ways only to realize that they were meant to be, after some reflection or seeing that the grass may not be any greener elsewhere, then coming back together to close and live happily ever after.

Keeping it Fresh: After the Closing

After the dust begins to settle following the whirlwind which has been your life while moving and you begin to settle into your daily routines, it’s easy to lose that spark that you felt when you entered your home for the first time. You may be yearning for the visions of this space to finally take shape or feel discouraged that things haven’t gone as planned when you first purchased it. All too often we wait until it is time to sell and move to put the effort into making our homes look their very best. Shower your home with the affection that it craves, and you will love the results.

Be sure to work with a local expert who is passionate about real estate to save yourself a whole lotta heartache. It is rumored that buyers may start to see some love with mortgage interest rates predicted to lower in 2024.

Nicole Foster is a real estate broker with Locations Real Estate with 19 years of experience and a Windham parent who loves people and real estate. Follow Nicole on Instagram @207nicolefoster or Facebook

Friday, February 2, 2024

Interest rate reduction boosts buyer purchasing power

By Tia Morrell

The real estate landscape in Maine is currently experiencing a shift that is capturing the attention of both prospective homebuyers and sellers. With home prices remaining steady and an increasing number of properties being listed at 'priced right' values, the market is creating an ideal environment for potential deals. A significant contributor to this dynamic is the recent decline in interest rates, dropping from 8 percent in November to the current range of 5.5 to 6.8 percent. This shift has sparked renewed interest from buyers, making it an opportune time for individuals to enter the real estate market.

One of the key factors driving the positive momentum in Maine's real estate market is the stability of home prices. Despite the various challenges posed by external factors, the housing market in the state has managed to maintain a consistent trajectory. Home prices are not only holding firm, but there is also a noticeable trend towards more realistic pricing, ensuring that homes are attractive to a wider range of potential buyers.

This shift towards 'priced right' homes is a positive development for both buyers and sellers. Sellers are finding that accurately pricing their homes leads to quicker sales, reducing the time their properties spend on the market. On the other hand, buyers are benefiting from a more transparent market where they can make informed decisions based on reasonable pricing, ultimately fostering a healthier and more efficient real estate ecosystem.

One of the most significant contributors to the current buoyancy in the Maine real estate market is the substantial drop in interest rates. Just a few months ago, in November, interest rates were hovering around 8 percent. However, a noticeable shift has occurred, and they now range between 5.5 to 6.8 percent. This dramatic reduction in interest rates has far-reaching implications for both buyers and sellers.

Lower interest rates make homeownership more accessible to a broader segment of the population, as the cost of borrowing decreases. For potential buyers, this translates to increased purchasing power, allowing them to afford homes that might have been out of reach just a short while ago. Additionally, lower interest rates often lead to a surge in demand, as buyers are motivated to capitalize on the favorable financial conditions.

For sellers, the decline in interest rates has created a more competitive market. With a larger pool of potential buyers entering the market, there is an increased likelihood of multiple offers, driving up property values. Sellers are finding themselves in a favorable position, with the potential for quicker sales and, in some cases, even bidding wars, particularly for well-priced and desirable properties.

The lower interest rates have acted as a catalyst, stimulating buyer activity in the Maine real estate market. As more individuals find themselves in a favorable financial position to enter the housing market, the demand for homes has increased substantially. This surge in buyer interest has not only led to a more dynamic marketplace but has also created a sense of urgency among potential buyers.

Buyers who were previously on the fence are now recognizing the unique opportunity presented by the combination of steady home prices and lower interest rates. The result is a more robust and competitive real estate landscape where properties are selling faster, and sellers are often receiving offers at or above asking prices.

The current state of the real estate market in Maine paints a promising picture for both buyers and sellers. With home prices remaining stable and a growing number of properties being listed at realistic values, the market is ripe for potential deals. The significant drop of interest rates, from 8 percent in November to the current range of 5.5 to 6.8 percent, has further fueled buyer interest, making homeownership more attainable for a wider audience.

For sellers, this presents an opportune moment to list properties at competitive prices and attract motivated buyers. On the flip side, buyers are finding themselves in a more favorable position, armed with increased purchasing power and a broader selection of homes to choose from.

As the real estate market in Maine continues to evolve, it's essential for both buyers and sellers to stay informed and make strategic decisions based on the current market dynamics. With the convergence of steady home prices, realistic property valuations, and lower interest rates, Maine's real estate market is poised for a period of growth and activity.

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