Mooers Realty Blog
Hard to not go anywhere in a small Maine town without the question "how's the real estate market ?" asked.
It is not just being friendly or making conversation. Folks want to know how is the real estate market today? Not last year, but maybe can you predict where this one is heading is a follow up inquiry.
Maine is one big vast state so the answer to the question how's the real estate market can be misleading.
How do the local real estate market listings and sales numbers line up?
Hard like most news to sum up in a short, convenience sound bite or video clip with an industry professional. Why so hard? Because the state is the sum of it's parts and one answer to use sizing it up does not work for each of the same sixteen counties in Maine.
So like weather forecasts, one size does not fit all when talking a state as big and diverse economically as Maine. So survey says ... (ding ding ding) more than one pat answer.
Here is the latest real estate press release for Maine property listings and sales as a whole and county by county. The study of the numbers prepared and just reported by the Maine Association Of REALTORS.
Whatever you border, should you buy the property next door?
The house, vacant lot, whatever type of real estate butts up to your border, should you purchase it before someone else does? Lots of ways to look at the situation when your neighboring real estate comes up for sale. Is available for purchase from you or someone else. The timing could be perfect or the worst for the opportunity to add to whatever you now own. It just may not be in the cards to consider buying what is next door to what you already own.
So if you can not purchase today, if the option to buy is presented, take the neighboring property owner up on the chance to make it your own down the road.
A first option to purchase is not the seller next door asks you if you want to buy or not and moves on with you now out of the picture if you pass up the chance to purchase. The first option means other buyers can wheel and deal and make offers all they want. But before the seller lets the property go to a new buyer, he or she will come back to you to give you one more chance to say yes or no. You could end up getting the property cheaper, with better terms than the figure first quoted.
Get that first option to buy real estate agreement in writing and expect anything verbally promised is gone with the wind when the neighboring property owner dies before selling. The heirs of the estate often care little about previous conversations and promises made between you and your neighbor. It's show me the money and settle the estate, pay the bills and split up any profit time for those left behind that you have no connection with personally.
If the property next door is priced so high that it is too rich for your blood, others may feel the same way too and pass up the option to buy. If the property is appraised by a bank lending money on the collateral, there is no way anyone is going to pay a King's ransom to make it their own. The appraiser keeps a lid on the fair market value. And makes sure value is there before the real estate closing ever happens when a bloated price property is being exchanged.
If you had a small lot, below the square footage of what is typical for the neighborhood, buying more land can increase the value of what you do own. If raw land is what is up for sale, if the purchase does not involve renting out a home or the added expense of tearing down a structure.
Save them time, the Maine real estate buyers and sellers.
Time is money and in short supply for over-booked property owners and purchasers. The by far best way to save anyone thinking of buying or selling is by use of video. The connection is instant. The delivery of information using the eyes and ears is hooked up like a vital IV. Video channels to be effective needed to be treated like a garden though. Tilled, smoothed, planted, fed, cultivated, harvest (repeat).
Society as a whole is not so crank on trusting strangers.
The best way to stop being a stranger is to start helping others.
To be a helper it starts with a quick story of who you are as a Maine real estate professional excited about living in Vacationland. To establish a relationship as the local expert, your neighborhood partner who plans to stay your real estate broker for life. Beyond one property listing transaction.
Once the buyer or seller of Maine real estate is convinced "okay, you can be my agent or broker" the treatment changes from who I am to here is what you need to know. The same questions come up from anyone new to the area. So a local information 101 session has to start quickly. Because this buyer and seller are very busy, it is often late at night and they want to start the process before lights out. For the short wait for Mr. Sandman once the head is in the bed. And hopefully good dreams, not real estate nightmares. Buying or selling real estate in Maine should be a positive experience. It can be fun if the red flags are seen. And the potholes ahead are avoided based on real estate experience.
This video for FAQ on Maine is always showing up on Internet searches.
Idling, waiting like a tax cab driver to hit the accelerator. To push the pedal to the metal to speed to deliver the information the buyer or seller needs right now. Not tomorrow morning on a 9-5 schedule or days from now as everything is put on hold waiting for information.
It helps if upfront the website portal for real estate in Maine is set up for easy navigation, nothing to make the user feel dumb. You don't have to have a black belt in website maneuvering to use our Maine real estate website. Our local Northern Maine agency also maintains more than one real estate website for properties. Why? Because everyone drives a different kind of car for a reason. The approach is a little different, how we stock the real estate listing and local information shelves is a tad varied.
The feeling your life is put on hold and you are left wondering why my Maine home is not selling.
The decision to list your home for sale in Maine is because of a handful of reasons. The property is too big, undersized or a transfer means you can not take it with you. Until it is a mobile home that could be trucked down Interstate 95 to you new location in state or beyond.
In a small rural state like Maine, it is often cheaper to buy a better home than try to fix the weak points in your current one. The prices don't spike up and down and the marketing time can extend while a new buyer for the Maine home is located through effective far reaching marketing. Supply and demand in the housing stock can impact how long is this home selling process going to take.
So why is the Maine home not selling.
Folks wanting, needing to buy have to know about the new house on the market. Anything wil sell if fairly priced too. It begins and ends with pricing and does the figure used in the marketing match the real value in the current market. Over priced properties are not just the seller's job to keep them realistic. It is the real estate agent or broker who can through the CMA market analysis to determine if the listing price is too high to ever bank appraise for the figure the seller would like to see written on the real estate closing check.
It is best not to take over priced listings because they clogged the market, give the seller the expection the place could actually sell for this inflated figure.
And the steady flow of real estate agent planting and removing their sign out front happens. Which causes the neighbors, those following the local listings to suspect the property. The agent is blamed by the seller for why the home in Maine did not get to a real estate closing.
If the seller does not want to sell but is enticed to list for a pie in in the sky figure, a responsible agent or real estate broker will politely put the brakes on. Respectfully decline the listing after showing the sale of properties sold in the current market and listed for sale that will be competing with his real estate to locate a buyer. Too many just like this home for sale means better pricing and higher powered marketing is a must. To make it stand out from the rest of the crop for a quicker, hassle free sale. Because we all know time is money in life.
The question comes up a lot, how big a real estate deposit is needed to hold the property?
The one the out of state buyer really is interested in but can not just drop everything to trot up the pike to see it in person. That is one reason we shoot, edit, upload real estate videos so there is not lacking the show and tell property information that makes it necessary to do the expensive travel. Each time something good comes up for the property buyer to consider one by one spaced out over time.
Holding the property is not in the best interest of the seller of real estate.
Because someone else that is ready to buy is held off until the out of town, gotta come see it buyer gets here and decides to buy or not. With a deposit, a signed contract contingent upon personal inspection it creates a log jam stop on the marketing availability of the listing. Until he decides to buy or not. And you the agent can scream "Next".
He may never get here. Or come up and decide this is not something he will buy. Or he likes the property but not what is around it or the community where it is located that takes time when the property is put on hold while he clears his schedule to check it all out.
Plane tickets, paying for motels, the tolls traveling and eats on the road. They all cost money and take time out of a person's life. We get that but put anything on layaway, telling future buyers the place has a hold on it. Hurts the seller. That is not what other buyers in line want to hear and they don't hang around wasting precious time on property that may or may not be sold.
Lost opportunities to selling happen when a previous buyer who was not ready to becomes in a position to proceed with a purchase.
But is held off because someone has a first right of refusal to buy. So taking a deposit contingent on a long time getting here or a slew of contingencies is not the wise course of action. Because this buyer has loose ends, is not ready, willing and able to buy today.
Maine land, the soil quality of the dirt from the surface down is not all the same.
To someone not around the Maine land, it is easy to call it pretty much all the same. The soil profile on Maine land, important stuff to study before you buy acreage. Because the health of the dirt, the soil character better be a match to however you intend to use the Maine land.
So farm soil profiles on Maine land as a state.
More on shoreland zoning, being a good steward of the Maine waterfront land.
Small rural Maine real estate markets, they rock and roll differently than urban ones.
Eight out of ten people live in a city, not all by choice. But given their druthers, many would rather be in a Mayberry small town setting. To own a spread like the Waltons and be tucked away on a mountain farm with the woodlot for income and heat source. The dirt to scratch to raise what they place farm to table to feed their families.
So when you and I watch the news, scan the headlines and the topic is the real estate market.
What we are told online and in the newspapers, magazines and trade journals concerning real estate does not translate so well to how things groove locally. The price tags on the local real estate in Maine is not loaded up with zero places. The property prices are lower to the ground in small rural Maine community real estate markets.
Part of the difference with the real estate market city and country mouse enjoy is simply financial based.
High priced markets support layers of players to keep them lubricated and the real estate listing inventory moving to successful property closings. Home owner associations (HOA) are not going to be a thorn in a local rural real estate market. In some swanky luxury locations near population centers, HOA's carry a big club.
The land on a Maine lake, a lot of property acreage.
Just land and nothing built on it or whatever was there is long gone. Has no pulse but does have a location on the parcel that can get you up close to the waterfront. Don't tear it down yet or you lose your place in the shore land zoning regulations for land on the water in Maine.
What can you do, what you see done around the Maine lakes means time for the shore land zoning homework.
Because changes are made on the state level and local municipalities tweak the regulations concerning shore land zoning. Going above and beyond the Maine state law on lake development happens most in towns where the price tags are highest. Where there are enough people to serve on the local boards that police and protect the local Maine lakes.
So back to the blog post headline, the question about what can you do, where do you start with lake land? Or whatever lot is on the water whether a river, pond, ocean front or simple stream location. The size of the land, can it support a septic system and will it be pressure-rized water or not?
Simple is best and hurts the natural habitat less when talking building on a Maine lake lot.
Treading lightly and protecting the wildlife, the fish and the waterfront is respect. That if ignored will mean no more waterfront worth passing down to the next generation. Here is the link to the latest Maine shore land zoning regulations for development.
Being 100 feet back from the high water mark, if no structure for camp or boathouse is on the Maine lake lot makes the depth of the parcel critical. You don't want to have to try to buy more land that may not be available. Or the price too steep because the owner knows you have to have more land to complete the waterfront lake lot development.
What's lurking out there for title problems that affects the enjoyment, value of the land under all the improvements? Legal issues with real estate start when the property is listed for sale. If the seller is aware of them. Often they are there hidden and not always known about in the discussion around the kitchen table during the listing of what's for sale.
If the agent or broker takes the time to look into the deed with the seller's copy or from the registry of deeds.
That talk with the owner about right of ways or easements right up front, whatever the title issue is best handled early on.
We talked earlier about the importance to secure the letter, to get pre-approved for a bank home mortgage loan.
And moved on to what happens when you find the house of your dreams and start down the home ownership pathway. The appraisal process buying a Maine home was discussed in an earlier blog post on this channel too. But this time up is the legal hurdle, the last leg of the home buying routine. Approached once the buyer is approved to buy, the property is appraised and good to go. If the title to the real estate is squeaky clean or can be made that way with checks written and passed out at the property closing.
Legal issues are lots harder to wrestle with then a few credit issues that can often be fixed with an explanation letter, few phone calls and a little check in the mail to make them go away.
Bad FICA scores, high debt ratios, a new job or no credit can impact the getting ready to buy a home in Maine. The house appraisal can come in low and a new valuation can be sought out if the mortgage bank allows for flawed ones.
But the legal issues in a real estate sale don't go away so easily. Unless it is a garden variety property tax lien stuck on the title like a burdock. From years before when someone was slow to pay the taxes on time and a lien was placed against the property after eighteen months passed. And the yearly taxes went in arrears and someones name ended up in the town report.
A discharge of a property tax lien on the real estate for sale is an easy title issue. Getting a release deed for taxes owed that needed payment or that were paid but never released. With the tax lien removed with a simple release deed from the municipality where the property is located.
The appraisal process when buying a home that needs bank mortgage lending house valuation.
The lender that knows the combination to the big stainless hardened steel safe tumblers wants to know what you are eyeballing for a home sweet home measures up in the condition standards department. For the A-Z mortgage underwriting conditions and the quick sale of the paper on the secondary market to investors.
High tension power wires that glow blue and hum when it is pitch black at night over head are not a real estate property feature that buyers ask for in their home search.
Looking to buy a home? What do you need to bring to the bank, what paperwork do you round up to prepare for the bank mortgage home loan approval letter?
Well, take the hike. To speed up the bank home loan pre-approval process done before you set your sights on the house of your dreams, here is what is needed by the mortgage lender. Anything that verifies your income, spells out the short and long term debts, and a list of your assets to determine your net worth.
The lender with the money you need to buy the home can send or hand you the application form and you hit and run on your way.
But it is nice when you bring all you need to complete it to the bank. When you the buyer seeking pre-approval home loan status ready have what the numbers are on hand. The ones used to fill in the question spaces to get pre-approved for a home loan.
Local banks are great because they have a presence in the community and you are doing business with someone with a stake in the home town area economy where you live, work and play.
The service inside the bank and from all the venders provided is quicker on the turn arounds too. Because the mortgage approval center that creates the paperwork is in town, your state not in some other solar system where decisions are slow in the shuffle of documents needed for a home loan approval.
Sellers take home buyers who make offers way way more serious when that purchaser is carrying a pre-approval mortgage loan credentials in hand.
When the home buyer already knows the program the loan will be underwritten in and no credit history issues are holding him back from moving forward to buy the seller's home if the negotiations go well.
You bought a home that needs a house addition, but before you bring out the staging and nail gun, hold it a minute.
The addition to the house in Maine better have lots of thought put into the construction plans. Because the original home may not be designed for the addition you had in mind. The cost of the construction you dream about needs a solid quote before you go after the local building permits too.
As a Maine real estate broker, I have been in quite a few houses over the last 38 years.
And improving a home starts with careful thought if you ever hope to recover the costs of the expenditures in a small rural state. Where what works in an urban market that is more forgiving and with more zero places in the property prices does not play so well in the lower cost small rural real estate arena.
So first things first when the time comes to consider adding on the existing house in Maine to create something different.
The building addition on the house you own in Maine. Which direction for the expansion... and is developing unused space that is already here the smartest way to go?
Fill in and rearrange what you already have could be wise for the limited funds hiding in your wallet or purse. Or thinking of financing the construction when pretty close to being free and clear of a house mortgage could mean let's study this need for more, better use of space DIY project.
Maine is famous for bartering, folks pitching in to exchange skills and sheer labor to avoid the high cost of living facing a home owner planning construction projects.
Lots of homes out there on the five year construction plan that have table saws in the living room. Two by fours, plywood tables where the eventual kitchen cabinets will slide in. Unfinished but paid for and as you go for the extra materials. Slowly and carefully added into the housing creation to be a work in progress.