Blog

5 Things That Could Affect the Value of the Home You're Looking to Buy

5 Things That Could Affect the Value of Your Home

When you're looking to purchase the perfect home, you'll want to consider not just the property but the neighborhood too. A bad home location can change a perfect house into a money-losing nightmare. Crime, construction and environmental changes can all have an impact on the future value of your dream home. Here are the top five things to consider when shopping for a new house.

1. New Substantial Construction

New road construction or upcoming projects can be a good thing if they're an improvement. But if they lead to nearby property changes or substantial alterations to the neighborhood traffic patterns it can drop the value of all the homes around. Check with the town to find out any projects that are in the planning phase.

2. Flood Zones

Whether your concerns are hurricanes or changing global climate, a home in danger of flood is at risk of significant devalue. A quick search should determine the overall risk for your location. When looking at potential homes, look for signs of previous flooding such as water stains, rot, mold or even standing water.

3. School Redistricting

A top deciding factor in many peoples' home buying decisions is how well the school district scores. But even if the house your looking at scores favorably, you'll want to make certain there aren't any redistricting plans in the works as they could affect how it scores in the future.

4. Signs of Criminal Activity

Nothing drives down the value of property like a neighborhood on the decline. Excessive graffiti and gang signs can be indicators that criminal activity is on the rise in the area. There may be other markers, such as reinforced doors and gates or posted neighborhood watch signs.

5. Bad Neighbors

Conflicts in personality are hard to predict: one person's nuisance neighbor is another's quick friend. But generally speaking, if your new home is located next to a known party house, you're probably not going to be happy there for very long. Check police log archives for history of noise or other complaints in the neighborhood.

Coldwell Banker Plourde can help you not only find your dream home, but do the research to make sure it is located in the perfect neighborhood as well. Contact us today. To view all of our blog posts - click here.

Comments

  1. No comments. Be the first to comment.

The Final Walkthrough: 7 Essentials to Check

The Final Walkthrough: 7 Essentials to Check-CB Plourde

The process of buying each new home may differ on the details, but there are several major milestones you can anticipate every time, such as the first showing, the offer, the home inspection and the loan arrangements. Each milestone passed brings you that much closer to the finish line called home ownership.

But before you make that final sprint for the closing, make sure you clear one of the most important milestones: The final walkthrough.

The final walkthrough is your last chance to inspect the home and exterior property before they - and any problems they contain - become yours. This is when you’ll want to check for the completion of agreed-upon repairs, any changes made since the initial home inspection, and signs of new damage or destruction.

Here are seven essentials to check during the final walkthrough:

Plumbing:

Flush all toilets. Turn on all faucets, including hot water, and run for at least a minute. Run the shower, fill the tub with an inch or so of water, and let it drain. Don’t forget washer hookups and outside spigots as well. Look for signs of plumbing problems that may have been previously missed or developed since the home inspection (especially if the home has been vacated).

Dampness and wet spots:

Check the basement, walls and ceilings for any signs of wetness. Water can come from a leaky pipe or roof, so look carefully. Check under the sinks and behind toilets. The best method is to keep the lights dim and use a flashlight, as water will reflect the light.

Lights:

Turn on every light switch. If a light doesn’t work, make a note to find out why. It’s usually just a burned-out bulb, but it could also be a sign of faulty wiring.

Heat, air conditioning, & appliances that come with the house:

Activate the heat and air conditioning, in turn, and make sure they work properly. Make sure the service tags are marked, or that you know when they were last serviced. Check that the oven and all range burners turn on. Make sure the refrigerator and freezer(s) are cold. 

Doors & windows:

Doors and windows should open freely and latch securely. You should have, or know the location of, storm doors or screens. Make sure all doors lock and unlock easily. Inspect the frame around each one, especially in a home that is vacant, for signs of break-ins.

Pests:

Signs of pests can vary, but some of the more obvious ones include rodent droppings in cupboards and under sinks, freshly dug holes around the house and sawdust from chewing insects in out-of-the-way places.

Trash & hazardous materials:

Old cans of paint can be a pain to dispose of, so most homeowners leave them behind when they sell the house. The same is true of old building materials. The seller may think they’re doing the buyer a favor by leaving behind all those scraps of plywood, but if you don’t want them, you’re the one who is going to get stuck paying for their disposal.

The final walkthrough is a very important step of the buying process and one that the buyer should not do in a hurry. Coldwell Banker Plourde Real Estate will help guide you through the entire buying process, including the final walkthrough, so you’re not left with last-minute surprises. Contact us today. To view all of our blog posts - click here.

Comments

  1. No comments. Be the first to comment.

Your Top 5 Real Estate Questions Answered

Top 5 Real Estate Questions

Whether you’re selling your home, buying a home for the first time or upgrading to a new home, the process can be daunting. Here are answers to five of the most commonly asked real estate questions.

1. Which season is the best to sell my home?

This question gets asked most often by people trying to be strategic about putting their house on the market. The general rule is to open your listing in mid-April to get a sale in May or June. In general, the real estate market slows in the winter, swings up in the spring, lulls a bit in the summer and picks back up in the fall. However, you don’t need to plan your life around these small fluctuations.

The best time to put your home up for sale is a) when you’re ready to sell, b) when your home is ready to be presented in the most attractive manner, and c) when the buyer is shopping. You can’t control that last one, so work on the first two and sell your home when you’re ready.

2. How do I shop for a real estate agent?

Start by asking friends and neighbors for recommendations, and ask them why they would recommend a particular agency or agent. Look around the area and see who is working in the region.

Once you have a few names, do some research. Look up their listings and see what they specialize in, how long their listings are on the market, and whether they’re full-time or part-time agents. Then interview potential agents to ensure they will be a good fit. Meet them in person, preferably outside their offices. Ask lots of questions during the interviews, and rate their answers. Some agents may only have a limited amount of time to meet with you - don’t let this be a deal-breaker, as a good agent will be busy. But do watch for signs that you are not being listened to.

3. How do I get the best mortgage rate?

There are many variables to getting a good mortgage rate, but there are three things you can do before you start shopping for a home to get the best possible deal from the lender:

  1. Improve your credit rating. You can do this by eliminating debt, keeping your credit card balances low or at zero, and paying your bills on time. The better your rating, the more options you’ll have when shopping for a mortgage.
  2. Increase your down payment. The less you have to borrow, the less risk the banks have to take, and the better your rate can be. A bigger down payment is always a good recommendation.
  3. Try to match your mortgage to your plans for living in the home. A 30-year fixed rate mortgage may look more appealing with lower payments, but if you only plan to be in the house for five to 10 years, you may end up paying much more in interest.

4. What assistance is there for first-time home buyers?

While shopping for a mortgage rate, ask about options for first-time home buyers, as the lender may have loans that otherwise wouldn’t be available to you. Another option is the FHA 203(b) loan, which is backed by the federal government and can be a good choice for buyers with less than ideal credit and little cash to put down for payment.

MaineHousing offers the First Home program to first-time home buyers through the Maine State Housing Authority. There are also various discount programs for veterans, police and fire personnel, EMTs, teachers and health-care workers.

5. How do I prepare my home for sale?

Your house needs to be clean, smell good, and as be as “neutral” in color as possible. Pack up and store any personal items that you can live without. Take down knickknacks and photos that give your home the individual touch. Buyers need to be able to envision themselves in your space.

Clean up the yard and give the property as much curb appeal as possible. Don’t start any major inside or outside projects unless they’ll be 100 percent complete when it comes time to show your home. But do fix anything that needs to be fixed. A leaky faucet may not be a deal breaker, but you don’t want to indicate a general lack of care.

Have more questions, or need more clarification on the questions above? Contact our office today for all your real estate needs. To view additional blog posts - click here.

What Colors Should You Use When Painting Your House?

What Colors Should You Paint Your House

Thinking about a fresh coat of paint for your house? Not only will it help improve the look of your home, but the colors you choose can help form lasting impressions for a potential buyer. If you plan to keep living in your home for years to come, then it may not matter to anyone but you (and your nearest neighbors) what shade of pink or purple you use to paint the outside of your house. And the colors you choose for the inside may reflect your own personal style--no matter how flashy or dramatic. But if your house is on the market, or could be in a few years, you'll want to reign in your artistic creativity for some more subtle hues.

So what colors should you choose? Is white really a color? Does cream make a better sale than ivory? Here are some considerations:

Neutral Colors

Paint companies try to increase the shelf appeal of neutral colors by giving them more exciting names like "storm cloud," "vanilla latte," or "sandalwood" instead of gray, beige, or tan. Buttoned-down, neutral colors are ideal for showing a house to potential buyers. People see a neutral canvas where they can visualize their own style. This is safer than a flashy color that may not match their taste.

Update and Refresh

If you have outdated or shabby wallpaper, tear it down and replace it with clean painted walls. Use low sheen paint to hide scratches, dents, or other imperfections. If you have interesting architectural details, use a darker shade, or color (sparingly) to highlight them.

Make Spaces Seem Larger

Smaller rooms seem larger if they appear brighter. Paint the walls in light colors, including pastels, and consider painting the moldings the same color. Paint the ceiling white, and increase the lighting to make the room brighter.

You Can't Go Wrong with White

Earth tones, like beige and tan, are safe neutral colors that add warmth and character to a room. Grays are more modern and look nice with color accents. If you are going to use brighter colors, like orange or red, be sure to use softer tones and don't overdo it. Blues are nice for bedrooms, so long as you stick with softer hues. However, you can't beat white for a universal appeal. Remember, you want people to see the room, not the walls.

Accent the Exterior Rather Than Repaint

Unless the outside really needs it, you may not have to paint the entire house. Painting or staining smaller details can make a difference, such as mailbox posts, decks, porches, railings, steps, and shutters.

The wrong color can send the wrong signal, and leave potential buyers with a bad impression of a good house. Before investing your time and money in the wrong paint color, or painting rooms that do not need it, talk to an agent at Coldwell Banker Plourde Real Estate. Not only can they tell you what buyers like and don't like, but they can help you get the most bang for your buck and save you from making unnecessary improvements.

If you have any questions, contact us today. You can view all of our blog posts here.

Heather Leclair: The Glue That Holds Coldwell Banker Plourde Real Estate Together

Heather's story starts the same way all good stories do:

Once upon a time...

in the city of Waterville, a very young Heather Leclair was a new tenant in an apartment building owned by Don and Irene Plourde. She was working dutifully in the cafeteria at Thomas College, dreaming of better jobs to come.

Every month, Heather would show up at the Coldwell Banker Plourde Real Estate office, with her rent check in hand, and ask Don and Irene, "Do you have a job for me?" For the longest time, they had nothing to offer her. But persistence pays off, and one day so did hers: Don and Irene decided to take a chance on a girl who didn't know how to type, or very much about real estate or even business in general.

Eighteen years later, Don and Irene will tell you that decision to hire Heather was the best decision they ever made! Heather not only proved she can type, but she manages the office and is responsible for everything from answering phones and greeting clients to inputting data and managing advertising. Heather's co-workers describe her as "THE all-around go-to-girl for EVERYTHING" and "the best administrative assistant in central Maine and the glue that holds us all together."

When Heather isn't busy keeping the Coldwell Banker Plourde office humming like a well-tuned machine, she enjoys camping with her family, decorating her home, and watching her kids play sports. Always looking for a new challenge, her family has just welcomed a new lab puppy named Toby.

For more information about our team, visit our agents page, or contact us directly. View all of our blog posts here.

Central Maine Real Estate Professionals Receive Recognition

Central Maine Real Estate Professionals

Coldwell Banker Plourde Real Estate recently held our annual awards event, where we recognized our Central Maine Real Estate Professionals for their dedication and customer service over the past year. On average our real estate professionals serve about 400 customers per year. That’s a lot of homes, and our real estate professionals are there every step of the way, going above and beyond to help you buy or sell your property. Whether it’s shoveling out signs, researching code enforcement, or helping your home look picture-perfect before a showing, Coldwell Banker Plourde’s family of real estate professionals provide top-notch customer service. And our annual awards breakfast is when we get to show our appreciation for their efforts throughout the year.

The Annual Coldwell Banker Plourde Real Estate Awards Breakfast

For more than eighteen years, Don and Irene Plourde, co-owners of Coldwell Banker Plourde Real Estate, have held our company awards event to recognize real estate professionals who made extraordinary efforts and provided exemplary customer service over the past year. The awards were held at the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce building in Waterville, and was catered by Eric’s Restaurant. In attendance were Don and Irene Plourde and our twenty-five year, superstar Central Maine Real Estate Professionals.

20 Years of Service

Beth Satow, a real estate professional since 1995, was recognized for being with the company for twenty years. 

Diamond Society

Kim Hawkes, Lisa MacKenzie, Betty Natole Mills and Pam Natole all received the Diamond Society award. This award is for real estate professionals who performed 30+ transaction sides (a transaction side means that they completed a real estate negotiation as either the buying agent or selling agent) during the year.

President’s Circle

The President’s Circle Award is reserved for real estate professionals who performed 35+ transaction sides in the year. Rachel Anderson and Steve Roy were awarded this honor.

Broker of the Year 

Steve Roy took home Broker of the Year, with 47 transaction sides and over six-million dollars in sales.

Most Improved in Sales

Lisa McKenzie

Rookie of the Year

Terry Spenard-Church

Team Player of the Year

Terry Spenard-Church

Congratulations everyone! We at Coldwell Banker Plourde Real Estate are very proud of our team of Central Maine Real Estate Professionals and look forward to a busy and successful 2015. 

Become a real estate professional for Coldwell Banker Plourde Real Estate and you could be part of next year’s awards! Contact us today. We are always looking to add to the success of our team!

3 Tips to Buying Maine Waterfront Properties

Buying Maine Waterfront Properties

Waterfront property in Maine is equivalent to “white picket fences” for the rest of the U.S.: it’s shorthand for “perfect”. In the depths of winter, with all the snow we’ve received lately, it may be hard to imagine yourself swimming, boating, or just floating in the sunshine, but all of those things and more can be yours when your home is on the water. However, not all Maine waterfront property is the same. Working with real estate professionals who understand the intricacies of buying waterfront property can help save you a headache. Here are just a few of the things you will want to research and consider before you buy.

Water depth and/or tides

If you plan on keeping your boat nearby it’s important to know the average water depths in ALL conditions. Different boats require different depths -- a sailboat can’t get as close to shore as a pontoon boat. How you will put your boat in and get it out of the water, and how often you need to do this, are very important considerations. Find out what the channels to open water are and whether they are always available. http://www.maine.gov/ifw/fishing/lakesurvey_maps/ can show you relative depths of Maine’s lakes and ponds, but it won’t show you every rock lurking beneath the surface. Tide flow, dams and meltwater can also affect the water depth (not to mention the land-to-water ratio) of your property and impact your recreational plans.

Swimming

You might think waterfront property in Maine and swimming would go hand-in-hand, but this is often not the case. Access to the water can be difficult. Is it a sandy beach with a gradual incline or a steep drop-off with lots of trees and rocks? The water itself may not be suitable for swimming. It could be stagnant with lots of weeds, or else have a strong and dangerous current. Will you need to put in stairs or a dock or float just to get to the prime swimming area? If you’re fortunate to have ideal swimming at your property, you may face a different issue entirely if others help themselves to swimming access from your property.

Restrictions

Waterfront properties have stricter zoning restrictions than not. Erosion control and other protective measures may preclude your plans for a dock or pier. Certain wetland and shoreland restrictions can even prevent you from doing home improvements or boating and fishing from your property. The State of Maine website is a good place to start researching such restrictions: http://www.maine.gov/dep/land/slz/index.html, but be sure to check with the local town as well.

There is a lot to consider when buying Maine waterfront property. But if it’s always been your dream to go to sleep with the call of the loons in your ears, then it’s worth the effort to own a home, camp or cottage on the water. If you haven’t talked to one of our real estate professionals yet, contact Coldwell Banker Plourde Real Estate and search our listings for waterfront properties

Am I Ready To Buy Property?

Ready to Buy Real Estate

So, you're tired of renting and would rather see that monthly payment go toward a home of your own rather than continue to line the pockets of your landlord? Before you sign those mortgage papers, let’s take a hard look at a few things:

  1. Are your finances in order?
  2. Do you have money saved for a down payment?
  3. Can you afford the monthly payment without changing your lifestyle?
  4. Are you committed to living in the same place for the duration?
  5. How are you at maintenance?

Fix your credit rating

Review your credit report and FICO score. Fix any problems, and dispute any mistakes well before you talk to a lender. Mortgage lenders are looking for you to display a record of financial stability, so don’t move money around or close up credit card accounts just yet.

Start saving now for a down payment

If you can put down 20% of the cost of a prospective home, then you will have more options than someone who cannot. 20% is usually the cutoff to not be charged mortgage insurance, but even 5-10% down can mean more choices in lenders. The more you can put down, the better off you will be; however don’t completely drain your emergency reserves or you could end up in trouble down the road.

Figure out your debt-to-income ratio

You’ll want to do this for your current (pre-mortgage) debt and income as well as for your future (post-mortgage) debt and income, as prospective lenders will be doing the same. You want about 36% of your monthly income going toward your debt and other regular obligations. Any more than 43% and you will probably have a hard time getting a loan. Chances are that if you could do anything to raise your income in a significant way, you would have done that already, so work to reduce your debt as much as possible.

You’re probably going to be there for a while

In general, you want to plan on keeping new property for at least five years. Most people should probably think even longer term (10-20 years). As long as you’re continually improving your property to some degree, it will continue to gain value, and the longer you can hold onto the investment, the better the payout will be. This means that you’d better like the neighborhood, because you’re making quite a commitment to it.

Every house is a fixer-upper

One of the most easily overlooked -- or at least overestimated -- aspects to buying your own home is your ability to fix things when they break. If you don’t know how to repair a leaky faucet then you’ll want to learn, because calling the landlord to fix it is no longer an option. That doesn’t mean you have to do it all. But after the fourth or fifth call to the plumber, you’ll probably want to start learning how to fix things yourself. And every house -- no matter how old -- is going to need a fix sooner or later.

Being a homeowner is both rewarding and affordable -- if you go into it with full awareness of the pros and cons. Asking yourself these questions and answering them shouldn’t scare you off from buying a home, but will hopefully lead you to making the right decision at the right time.   If you have questions, contact us today. You can also read all of our blog posts here.

3 Things to Consider when Buying a Home

What to Consider When Buying a Home

Buying a home is (usually) the largest, and longest financial commitment of one's life. In a world of impulse-buy-oriented consumerism, a house purchase should be the least impulsive, most well-thought-out investment of your hard-earned money you make. You need to do your homework and get a really good understanding of the debt-to-income ratio your finances represent, the budget you can afford, as well as the associated costs you will have to deal with: closing, moving, maintenance, insurance, etc.

Here are three things to consider before you go house-shopping.

What's your Credit Score?

Unless you're independently wealthy, you are going to have to borrow the money to purchase a home. And to do that, you need good credit. The better your score, the better your opportunities for a favorable loan with good terms. Know your current score, and know where you need to be before you start talking to lending agencies.

Prepare a Down Payment

A down payment of 20% of a home's purchase price can put you in a much better position with the mortgage company. While there are a few ways to get the money for a down payment, nothing beats good old ahead-of-time saving. Also, different types of mortgage have different down payment requirements so you may not need as much as you think. Start setting aside money now, if you haven't already. This can keep you from having to borrow, taking it from your retirement account, or going in with a low down payment and having to pay for mortgage insurance.

Hire a Real Estate Agent

When you're ready to start looking, hiring a buyers' agent is one of the best financial moves you can make. A real estate agent is dedicated to finding the right home for you, negotiating on your behalf, and helping you navigate the sometimes turbulent waters of the housing market. The professional know-how of a buyers' agent will save you hassle, mistakes, and money.

If you have questions, contact us today. You can also view all of our blog posts here.

10 Family Activities to do in Central Maine during the Holiday Season

Snow and Christmas Lights

Looking for some interesting family activities to do this holiday season? The greater Waterville area has many to choose from. Here are the top ten:

Kringleville

Waterville, ME - November 28 - December 22, most evenings and Saturdays

Shop downtown and visit with Santa.

Festival of Trees

Goodwill-Hinckley - December 6 - 13, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm, and evenings on the 10th and 12th

Daily tree viewings, giveaways, and lots of activities.

Holiday Stroll

Skowhegan, ME - December 5 & December 6

Parade Friday night at 7:00 pm. Shop downtown and join in many holiday activities.

Service of Carols and Bells

Colby College, Waterville, ME - December 5 & 6

Readings, caroling and music.

Chester Greenwood Day

Farmington, ME - December 6

Holiday Movies themed parade, Gingerbread House Contest, Chili Contest and more. Bring your earmuffs!

Belgrade Lakes Village Holiday Stroll (PDF)

Belgrade Lakes, ME - December 6

Parade, horse-drawn carriage rides, caroling and live music.

Cut and carry tree farms

A fun family experience, you-cut tree farms make an event out of choosing your Christmas tree.

Donating/Volunteering

Donate cash, gifts, or food. Or make it a family activity and donate your time to help the hungry or needy.

Greater Waterville Area Food Bank

Mondays thru Thursdays, 10 am - noon; 2nd and 4th Monday evening 5:30 - 7:00 pm

Listing of Local Church Soup Kitchens

Various times

Greater Waterville Area Food Pantries

Various times

Chasing Lights

Drive through or stroll along well decorated streets. Some neighborhoods earn reputations for holiday decorating.

Good areas include Washington St, near Colby College; China Rd in Winslow, and any of the downtown shopping areas in Waterville, Skowhegan, Augusta, Winslow, Fairfield and beyond.