Don Plourde

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.

3 Things You Must Do Before Selling Your Home

Being in the real estate business since 1989 means we've seen it all, and not much surprises us anymore. From crazy things happening at the last minute, to people changing their minds to stuff just blowing up, literally. So we decided to talk about three important points to consider before you put your house on the market.

Deal with the Emotional Aspect Head On

Factors like how long you've owned your home, a family history of ownership, first home or birth of children, marking the kids' height on a doorway and close knit neighborhood relationships all add to the emotional impact of selling your home.

Make sure you take time to explore all the reasons for wanting to sell. Even if you are relocating to take a new job the emotional side of the sale can sometimes sneak up on you. Discuss the sale with your family and your children because it will have an impact on them as well. Take pictures of each person's favorite aspect of the property like a favorite room, porch or play area in the yard to make a scrapbook as a memento.

Do Your Homework

Don't let any detail turn into an unpleasant surprise once you make the decision to sell. Find out what you owe on the home including loans, taxes and liens. Be sure to research what comparable homes are selling for in the area. Then decide on the bottom line minimum offer that you would be willing to accept. If you are a co-owner be sure to discuss this fully with your co-owner and agree on these details prior to putting the house on the market. You may want to consider having your home inspected to identify and address any repairs that need to be made as well.

Hire a Realtor

Yes, we know it sounds obvious coming from us but the importance of having a Realtor is significant. We serve as your advocate, we market your property, we aid in negotiations with a buyer, we work hard to get the best price for your property and we do so much more to make the process easier for you and your family.

How to Read a Home Inspection Report & What to Focus On

383520_9918Having your home inspected is a critical part of the home buying process, as is finding a trustworthy and competent inspector. Just as important, however, is understanding the report when it is finished. Here are some suggestions on reading it correctly and identifying the most important elements of the document. Reports are usually presented in a checklist or narrative format. A narrative provides more specific and detailed information about the inspection. Realestate.com mentions that some reports highlight the homes issues rather than its strengths. Let the home inspector know that you want both reflected in the report. They advise that it will be easier to judge the state of the home if the report includes the positives as well as the problem areas. When reading the report, focus on potential health hazards and the most costly problems first. Multiple sources, including Angies List and My Move, concur on the most important elements:

Electrical

Your electrical system must be up to code. As described by My Move: It is critical that the electrical system can handle modern homeowners needs. Many homes have inadequate and outdated electrical systems.

Roof & Chimney

My Move warns that a faulty chimney is a prime cause of house fires. Angies List advises that the inspection be carried out on a rainy day to catch leaks or potential water damage. If this didnt happen, make sure that any water damage issues or concerns have been addressed.

Mold, Mildew, or other Health Hazards

Mold and mildew, while unsightly, and unpleasant to smell, can become a far more serious problem. Other contaminants such as radon gas should also be looked for. Many of these could become deadly if ignored.

Plumbing

My Move warns: Faulty plumbing can lead to huge repair bills. Make sure that water pressure and drainage have been addressed in the report. Angies List also highlights the importance of checking the pipes outside the home as well. Ask for clarification when and if you need it; get the most from your home inspection report. As Mortgage News Daily writes: The best inspectors are also teachersyou will learn a lot about your house and its systems. As Realestate.com suggests, keep the report as a valuable resource to be referred to later: A thorough report may contain up to 20 or more pages, detailing items that need adjustment, service or cleaning. The summary punch list, detailing the inspectors concerns, is a valuable reference for future home maintenance needs. Remember, if the report leaves you with questions, ask them. A home inspection is only worth the help that it gives the homeowner (potential or otherwise.)

 

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          Ups and Downs of Your Credit Report: Mortgage Loan Dos and Donts

          money-256314_640When applying for a mortgage loan, it is in your best interest to be familiar with your credit report and hopefully possess a strong score. Your credit score correlates directly to loan opportunities, favorable rates, and the chance to establish revolving credit accounts. Mortgage Calculator suggests acquiring copies of your credit reports from all three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) and reviewing them before applying for a mortgage. Look carefully for errors which occur in an estimated forty percent or more of all credit reports. Sheyna Steiner at Bankrate.com writes: investors demand higher yields from risky investments. This applies in the mortgage lending arenaLenders prefer borrowers with low balances, a long history of on-time payments and a mix of credit utilization -- for instance, a car loan and a couple of revolving accounts such as credit cards. The following a list of suggestions from Bankrate for keeping your credit score stable and ways to improve it:

          Avoid late payments.

          Paying bills on time is very important in maintaining a strong credit score. Blake Ellis for CNNMoney writes that payment history accounts for approximately 35% of yourscore so late payments on credit cards, student loans, mortgages or even doctors bills can all bring down your score if the company reports it to the credit bureaus.

          Keep inquiries to a minimum.

          Whenever you seek to open a new line of credit, an inquiry is made into your credit report. Inquiries typically stay on the report for two calendar years. Excessive inquiries in a short span of time are frowned upon. Ellis explains that: continually adding to your potential credit [is something] credit companies are going to look atas a risk. The concern is that you could become overextended at some point.

          Keep card balances as low as possible.

          Keeping credit card balances low, or even better, carrying no balance at all, shows you to be a lower risk for financial institutions. Mortgage Calculator advises: Carry low credit card balances, or pay them off, along with any other outstanding bills before applying for the mortgage. Ellis recommends keeping your balance low to ensure your credit utilization ratio (or percentage ofyour credit limit that you use) is in check. He writes that: with other measurements of your overall debt, this ratio accounts for about 30% of your credit score.

          Don't close your unused accounts.

          As surprising as it may seem, closing a line of unused credit can actually hurt your score. It can affect your credit ratio negatively, (giving you less potential credit to counteract the balances you could be carrying.) Mortgage Calculator counsels that a: positive credit score is a reflection of a good, positive standing with every creditor the consumer deals with, regardless of the account activity. The longer you maintain a positive credit history, the better the influence on your score. In essence, it is a good idea to keep old accountsopenrather than terminating the [unused] account these cards should be put away and the consumer should refrain from using them. Your credit score shouldnt be something you are afraid of and put off looking at. The more quickly you recognize problem areas, the more quickly they can be addressed. Remember these tips when preparing to apply for a mortgage loan and use the suggestions above to maintain your healthy credit score, or improve it if necessary.

           

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                                What To Ask A Potential Home Inspector

                                road-sign-63983_640Buying a new home can be an intimidating and complicated experience. Finding a home inspector should not be. Ask your real estate professional for a recommended list of home inspectors to interview. Below is a list of possible helpful questions a prospective home buyer should ask a potential home inspector before hiring him or her. Steve McLinden at Bankrate advises that at least three inspectors should be interviewed and that they provide sample reports and references.

                                Are you certified?

                                Michelle Sturdevant writes that if a home inspector isnt certified, dont bother asking more questions. This is an immediate sign not to employ this contractor. Under no circumstances should a person buying a new home employ an inspector who is not certified.

                                How many inspections have you performed and how long have you been in the business?

                                McLinden recommends asking first about the inspectors previous experience. He writes: To be safe, stick with a full-time inspector who has been in the business for more than five years. McLinden also advises that inspectors be questioned about their professional certifications.

                                Is your experience specialized to a particular kind of house?

                                Sturdevant also offers this tip, which is acutely important when buying a new home. The question references residential or commercial real estate. Make sure your potential inspectors are familiar with residential properties.

                                How do you keep abreast of changes in industry standards, codes, and construction advances?

                                4 Square Home Inspectors maintain a continuing education program and advise that potential home inspectors should as well. Make sure they demonstrate an up-to-date knowledge of standards. Sturdevant mentions an advantage of new inspectors, who can be very knowledgeable and may even bring another inspector to the walk through.

                                How long will the inspection take and should I be present for it?

                                CJR Home Inspections set of questions include this one. They also answer it: The size of the house, its age, and your involvement in the inspection [are all time factors]the average sized house takes about 3 to 5 hours including a conversation at the end. Sturdevant is adamant about a clients presence at the inspection. Do not miss the opportunity to be present at this home inspection. This is valuable information you need when purchasing your home. Take these questions into account when you are searching for a home inspector. They will help you make a better informed decision and will save you time and frustration in the long run. If you have any questions, contact Coldwell Banker Plourde Real Estate. We will connect you with one of our qualified real estate professionals.

                                 

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                                      Life As A Realtor...Over Glorified or Not?

                                      pamI cant tell you how many times I am asked, Isnt it great to be able to spend your days looking at ALL those houses?! I think over the years, people have come to a conclusion that jumping from property to property, and seeing beautiful homes, is what makes up this job called a Real Estate Associate. Lets put this career into a Recipe shall we? Ingredients: Time, patience, knowledge of all types of legal humbo-jumbo, accounting background, therapist, positive attitude that does NOT have an off button, continuous smile, 4 wheel drive vehicle, laptop, cell phone, professional attire, computer knowledge, GPS, able to work nights-weekends-holidays STILL holding that continuous smile, an endless supply of coffee and Tylenol. Preparation: Mix all the above into your lifestyle, separate them so you can achieve at least 5 hours of sleep per day, keep an open mind of what is to come, and get ready for an over the top rewarding career with countless rewards! In closing, this recipe should be tried by anyone who cant say each day, I love my job and today is going to be another wonderful day!

                                      Written by: Pam Natole, Realtor at Coldwell Banker Plourde Real Estate

                                      Buyer's Agent

                                      Do I have to use the real estate agent on the propertys sign? home-167734_640 Absolutely not! A lot of the time buyers think they need to use the agent whose sign is out on the front lawn of the property that they want to purchase. This is not always in your best interest. For years a real estate agent always represented the seller of the property (listing agent) and owed their fiduciary duty to them. A number of years ago, buyer agency was established in Maine and now buyers are allowed to be represented by their own agent (buyer agent). Each has a fiduciary duty to their client and must look out for their best interest. Maine also allows for Disclosed Dual Agency which allows the listing agent to work with you as a buyer agent but is only able to offer limited representation on either side. First it must be agreed upon by both parties before an agreement is signed and then the dual agent is not allowed to discuss price, terms, or motivation of either of the parties. It is usually best to have the conversation before you look at any property and find a buyer agent to represent you in what may be one of the biggest purchases in your lifetime. Using a buyers agent can save you a ton of time, hassle and expense. A buyers agent will help you find listings and tour houses with you. Remember that real estate agents may be more knowledgeable than you about the neighborhood and surrounding communities. They can also give you access to more listings including those For Sale by Owner, or FSBO. A buyers agent can prevent you from overpaying on a property and help you decide on the right offer. In my opinion the most important benefit of a buyers agent is that they are trained to negotiate the best price and sale conditions for you and not the propertys seller. Your buyers agent can serve as a buffer between you and a pushy sellers agent or the seller themselves. This alone can save you thousands of dollars over the time that you own your property. Furthermore, the buyers agent can put you in touch with mortgage lenders and home inspectors, and assist with other steps in the home buying process. Most buyers feel that they will have to pay a buyers agent to represent them. As the homebuyer, you may not have to pay this, since the buyers agent fee is usually paid by the seller (and taken out of the sellers agents commission). Since that is true, there is no reason not to get the professional advice that will help you avoid some of the pitfalls in the purchase of your new home or investment property. If you have a need for a buyers agent to represent you, please dont hesitate to contact one of our trusted professionals!