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7 WAYS TO BOOST YOUR CURB APPEAL

No matter how great the inside of your home looks, the outside is what makes the first impression. Before they’ve even walked through your door, potential buyers have made their judgments about your home. You want to make them feel welcome, safe, and eager to see the rest of the house!

Sprucing up your curb appeal should be a priority if you plan on listing your home. But not to worry, you don’t need a large budget to do so. Even inexpensive changes could help you sell faster and even add more value to the asking price!

First impressions DO matter in real estate, so make a potential buyer’s first impression, a good one.

7 Ways to Boost Your Curb Appeal:

  1. Manicure your lawn. Keep your lawn freshly mowed and hedges trimmed, especially before showings. A neatly manicured lawn implies a well taken care of property. It doesn’t matter how neat the inside of your home is if the first impression from the exterior is long grass and overgrown hedges.

    If you don’t have time to do it yourself,  take it off your plate by hiring a local professional. They can make sure your lawn stays ready for showings!
     
  2. Add a pop of color with plants and flowers. Flowers are a quick and inexpensive way to make your home look fresh, bright, and inviting. Plant them along your walkway, add colorful potted plants to your entryway area, or hang window boxes.

    Colorful flowers can instantly freshen up your home’s exterior and create a welcoming feel for potential buyers.
     
  3. Pressure wash everything. You want the whole exterior to look as clean and taken care of as possible. Use a pressure washer to remove the build-up of dirt on your porch, driveway, walkways, and siding. Like shining an old penny, a good pressure wash can do wonders to rejuvenate the look of your home. Remember, a clean and taken care of exterior implies and clean and taken care of home.
     
  4. Paint your front door. The front door is one of the first things a potential buyer will look at when they arrive for their showing. A fresh coat of paint on the front door can give a whole new look and feel to the outside of your home. Pick a color that stands out, but also goes well with the other colors of your home. Classic colors like black or charcoal are great options. Or if you want to go with a more bold option, pick a bright red or yellow.
     
  5. Give the garage doors a facelift. Your front door isn’t the only door that will be noticed. Garage doors dominate a lot of what you see from the street but are often a bland and neglected detail.

    Just like your front door, garage doors can also be painted to give the exterior a new & fresh feel. Pick a color that matches the siding to help them blend in or match the color of your front door color to create a nice contrast.

    Another quick fix that requires minimal effort is temporary decorative hardware. Magnetic handles, hasps, and faux window panels can add depth and subtle detail that takes the look of your garage doors to a new level.
     
  6. Update and add outdoor lighting. Adding new exterior lighting can instantly improve the look of your home. Exterior fixtures get more abuse from the elements and many times can use a little rejuvenation or a replacement altogether.

    But don’t just rely on a single light at the front door or a floodlight on the garage. There’s a lot you can do with outdoor lighting that can make your house stand out and improve your curb appeal.

    Putting lights along your walkway will add a level of comfort and safety to your home. You can also hang string lights on your porch or patio. Try “moonlighting,” which refers to placing lighting fixtures in trees so they shine down on your walkway or lawn to create a soft and comforting glow. Or do the opposite with “uplighting,” by angling a spotlight towards the canopy of a tree to add depth to your lighting scheme. 
     
  7. Makeover your mailbox. Your mailbox is a small detail that’s one of the first things a buyer will notice as they pull up to your address. Swap out a dated mailbox with something more stylish or freshen up your current one.

    If your current mailbox is in good shape, put a fresh coat of paint on it and replace your house numbers with new ones. If it’s standing on a wood post, add a fresh coat of stain to the wood. You can also plant colorful flowers around the base of your mailbox to add color and a welcoming feel.

Pick the updates that make the most sense for you! Need a second opinion on the best ways to boost the curb appeal on your property? Ask your CB Plourde Real Estate Agent and they can help!

 

References: https://www.mashvisor.com/blog/diy-curb-appeal-ideas/
https://www.hgtv.com/outdoors/landscaping-and-hardscaping/design/13-curb-appeal-tricks-to-sell-your-home-pictures
https://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/home-improvement/curb-appeal-ideas

SELLER QUESTION OF THE DAY: What home updates will give me the biggest return?

SELLER QUESTION OF THE DAY: What home updates will give me the biggest return?
In a hot market where it seems like houses are flying off the shelves and selling for top dollar, despite condition, some of the more expensive renovations may not give you the best ROI (return on investment).

However, there are a couple of updates you can make with more affordable price tags, that’ll also give you a great return.

One of the best returns on investment is paint! A fresh coat of paint is a lower-cost item that can make a big difference. Freshen up the walls with a fresh coat of paint to give the house a glow that will be noticeable in person and online. A freshly painted house also tells a prospective buyer that the house has been well taken care of and maintained.

Pick light neutrals to make the space feel bigger & more inviting. Doing so will appeal to a larger number of people, most likely resulting in a higher sale price (higher ROI).

Outdated fixtures can make the whole house look outdated and give buyers the impression that they would have a lot of work to do before moving in.

Swapping out the old lighting and plumbing fixtures for more updated pieces can increase a potential buyer's interest in a big way!

Need a second opinion on what would give you the biggest ROI for your property? Ask your CB Plourde Real Estate Agent and they can help!

7 Things to do Before Listing Your Home

1. Freshen up your curb appeal.

When it comes to homes, people judge a book by its cover. Make sure a potential buyer's first impression is a good one. The goal is to have them take one look at the outside and be eager to see the rest of the house!

You don’t need to spend a ton of money. Do a bit of landscaping to clean things up and boost your curb appeal. Even doing some fairly easy fixes like cleaning up your yard, planting colorful flowers, trimming bushes, repainting the front door, etc. can really make your curb appeal more inviting to potential buyers.

2. Declutter & Depersonalize

Cramped and cluttered rooms make a house look smaller and are a turnoff for buyers. You want it to be easy for them to see themselves in your home. Having rooms filled with personal items makes that a lot harder to do. Clean up any clutter and minimize the personal items you have out.

Start with visible flat surfaces like counters, tables, windowsills, and benches. Then move to other fairly visible spaces like cupboards, drawers, & baskets. Lastly to less visible places like closets, garages, and anywhere else that’s left to declutter. Hide unsightly everyday items. Dishes, kids' toys, mail, pet items, etc. Pack items up to store or donate what you’re not going to use.

Decluttering & depersonalizing will make a big difference with how your home looks to potential buyers, but also make it easier when you sell and begin to move into a new home!

3. Put a fresh coat of paint on the walls.

Painting is a fairly inexpensive fix that can offer a big return on investment. You might like the unique colors you picked out when you redid your living room, but they could be a complete turn-off to a potential buyer. Stick with light, neutral tones that will brighten up any space and appeal to the majority. 

4. Fix the small stuff.

Any broken or loose handles, towel bars, curtain rods, patch any holes in the walls, or anything else that's a quick fix. Something little can make a potential buyer think “what else is broken here?” You don’t need to fix everything and have a perfect house, but touching up the quick & small things can help!

5. Do a Deep Clean. 

A clean home implies a well taken care of home! But this is more than tidying up for when you have company over. We’re talking about a deep clean to make everything sparkle.

You know the type of cleaning your mom used to do when she was expecting a visit from your Great Aunt Linda who noticed every detail, every neglected window sill that was missed in the dusting, and always made it known? We’re talking about that level of clean...and then some.

Clean rugs & carpets to remove any stains and make them look fresh, tidy up each room, get rid of any cobwebs on high ceiling areas, organize closets & cupboards. A floor to ceiling deep clean. If it’s too daunting of a task for you to do on your own, hire out! Have a local cleaning company help you out by taking one thing off your list.

6. Add the little touches.

Any small touches of comfort that’ll make your house feel more homey and welcoming, like fresh-cut flowers on the kitchen counter or dining room table. Adding a few plants in general can add an inviting environment and natural color.

 7. Find a great agent.

And here we are!  But in all seriousness, finding an agent you relate to and connect with can make all the difference. Hiring the right real estate agent should be a top priority in your home sale to-do list. 

Realtors know what buyers want because they hear it every day. They’ll be able to help you prepare your home and pick the pieces that are most important to get it ready for selling. Not to mention help you through the entire process.

Want to know what you can do for your property specifically? Ask your real estate agent what tips they have for you. We’re happy to help!

Quarry Road Trails draw people to Greater Waterville area

By Ellen Wells

When you consider where you would like to raise a family, enjoy a successful career, or retire, what’s important to you? Perhaps it’s good schools? A vibrant downtown? Active arts community? Outdoor recreation opportunities? Well in that case, there’s no better place to call home than the Greater Waterville area - where we have it all!  If you’re an outdoor lover, Quarry Road Trails is a true gem offering an abundance of opportunity for fun and fitness in the heart of Waterville.

Something for everyone

Quarry Road Trails (QRT), managed by the City of Waterville, has helped draw visitors, occupational talent, and home buyers alike to the Waterville area for more than a decade. Located just minutes from the interstate and downtown, all are welcome to explore the trails year-round.

One of the world’s leading Nordic trail designers and two-time Olympian, John Morton, designed a trail network of exceptional natural beauty and variety at QRT. Today, the trails are expertly maintained through a unique collaboration between Waterville’s Parks & Recreation staff and well-trained volunteers.

From casual walkers, snowshoers, and first-time cross-country skiers, to mountain biking enthusiasts, seasoned runners, elite skiers, and all outdoor enthusiasts in-between, QRT has something to offer everyone on their 10+/- miles of trails. Your four-legged friends can even participate with dog walking a popular activity; for those with a more competitive nature, the annual Dryland Challenge dogsled races add to the offerings.

Year-round hub of activity

During the winter months, the area serves as a popular cross-country ski venue for all levels from beginners to national champions and home to the Colby Ski Team. Snowmaking, expertly groomed trails, lighting for night skiing, a warm welcome center, and team of dedicated volunteers all contribute to the area’s popularity for area residents and visitors far beyond Central Maine. A new generation of local cross-country skiers has arisen from QRT’s community ski-free days, after-school ski programs, and competitive events for all ages.

In the summertime, easy-to-moderate trails winding around the fields and along the stream along with the more challenging single-track are popular for walking, biking, and running. Mountain bikers and runners of all ages are encouraged to participate in annual race series offerings. A carry-in boat launch provides access to miles of easy paddling or a relaxing fishing opportunity along the Messalonskee Stream.

Quarry Road Trails is one of the many reasons people love living here in Central Maine – if you haven’t discovered this gem yet, be sure to check it out soon. Perhaps you’ll decide you’d like to live, work, and play here, too!

Learn more

Coldwell Banker Plourde Real Estate is a proud supporter of Quarry Road Trails. If you would like to learn more, visit quarryroadtrails.org or contact Ellen Wells, Coldwell Banker Plourde Real Estate Realtor and Friends of Quarry Road volunteer, at ewells@cbplourde.com.

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.

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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.

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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!