Maine Listings has released their annual figures for home sales in 2017. It was another great year for home prices! Statewide the median sale price was up 5.60% compared to 2016. Cumberland County median sale price was up 7.55% since last year and York county was up 7.82%. Home prices are well above the pre-recesion “peak!”
“Home values showed upward movement throughout 2017 with the statewide annual median sales price also reaching an historical high. The market momentum is in place for a terrific start to 2018.” – Maine Listings January Press Release
Keep in mind, these are median sale price numbers. To find out what your home is worth call today for a free market analysis.
Here are some helpful tips for getting ready to buy a home:
1. Check your credit score and report. You can obtain a free copy of your credit report once a year www.annualcreditreport.com
2. Collect tax returns, W2s for the past two years and paystubs for the past 1-2 months for proof of employment and income.
3. If you are renting, pay by check so you have a record they can verify.
4. Avoid large or unusual deposits or withdrawals from our bank account. If you are “borrowing” money from friends or family, be aware that the lender won’t allow you to “borrow” money and they will require it to be a gift with no expectation of repayment.
5. Talk to a few different loan officers at different companies so you can compare the closing fees and loan programs available. Some local banks have in-house programs that are more flexible with down payment then the loan programs that are resold to investors. However, independent mortgage brokers often have access to a larger variety of programs then local banks do. It’s a good idea to talk with someone from both. Multiple loan officers can check your credit without additional adverse effect as long as it is within a 30 day period. We can direct you to some loan officers we’ve had good experiences with.
“What is the best time of year to list my house for sale?”
This is a question we Realtors have heard many times. The short answer is that you can list your house any time of year, but spring and summer are the strongest markets. The longer answer gets to the well-known principle of supply and demand.
Nobody wants to move during a blizzard in February, so act now and at contact us for a free market analysis of your house and we can discuss further a marketing plan and the time of year that makes the most send for you.
According to a recent article by The National Association of Realtors, there is a common misconception that buying a home requires a 20% down payment.
“The average down payment on a purchase mortgage was just 11 percent in 2016. And that’s just the average; often times down payments are much lower. For borrowers under the age of 35, the average down payment was just under 8 percent, according to NAR’s survey. But there are many mortgage options that offer the opportunity to make low or even no down payments. For example, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Agriculture offer no-money down loans to those who are eligible. In 2016, 16 percent of buyers under the age of 35 put no money down on their home purchase.
NAR’s Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers has shown that the median down payment for first-time buyers has been 6 percent for three straight years and 14 percent for repeat buyers in three of the past four years. However, when asked about the amount of a down payment needed to purchase a home, a remarkable 87 percent of non-owners indicated that a down payment of 10 percent or more is necessary.”
In addition to the loan programs mentioned in the article like FHA and USDA Rural Development, there are some local banks that offer in-house loan programs with down payments in the 5%-10% range.
When buying a house you may come across a house that uses a private well for water supply instead of public water. There are advantages and disadvantages to a well water system and a public water system so it’s not something you should automatically rule out.
Is Well Water Safe?
Modern well design uses deep drilling down to bedrock to obtain water that is naturally filtered through miles of the ground. There are additional contaminants that can still occur in the water so further testing is required and possibly additional filtration. The State of Maine recommends testing your well water once a year for bacteria and nitrates and every 3 to 5 years for arsenic, fluoride, uranium, radon, lead, and manganese. Public water does water quality testing, but they test the water before it is run through miles of often very old piping to arrive inside your house. The drinking water crisis in Flint Michigan was partially caused by the faulty assumption that public water is tested and safe, but the piping between the water supply and the houses was leaching lead in to the water.
Typically lower operating cost
Control of your individual water supply
Less susceptible to outage due to water main breaks
Periodic testing is easy to forget
System potentially requires filtration system(s)
Pump/tank require eventual replacement
No water when there is a power outage
Older shallow wells susceptible to running dry in a drought
MaineListings.com has released their annual report of real estate sales by county. Cumberland county had a 2.68% increase in the number of homes sold and a 6% average price increase. York county has an 11.78% increase in the number of homes sold and a 5.75% average price increase. 2016 was the 5th consecutive year of increase in the number of units sold.
Follow these tips from Realtor.org to increase your chances of getting your dream house in a competitive housing market.
You’ll be able to make a firm commitment to buy and your offer will be more desirable to the seller.
Your agent will be on the lookout for the newest listings that meet your criteria. Be ready to see a house as soon as it goes on the market — if it’s a great home, it will go fast.
Browse sources such as realtor.com and local real estate listing sites. Set up alerts for the neighborhoods and characteristics you’re looking for. Drive through your target neighborhoods, and if you see a home you like for-sale, send the address and listing agent’s name to your agent, who can schedule a showing for you.
Spend plenty of time in advance deciding what you can afford and must have in a home so you won’t hesitate when you have the chance to make an offer.
Your first inclination may be to start out offering something less than the absolute highest price you can afford, but if you go too low in a tight market, you will likely lose out.
Restrictions such as needing to sell your home before you move can make your offer unappealing. Remember that, if the market is tight, you’ll probably be able to sell your house rapidly.
Just because there’s competition for a home doesn’t mean you should buy it. And even though you want to make your offer attractive, don’t neglect inspections that help ensure the house is a sound investment.
Scarborough average homes sold in 2016 grouped by bedroom count (Limited to homes under $700,000)
It’s easy to say you’re going to re-organize your house, but actually doing it is another story. One way to really ensure that you follow through with the somewhat large, and maybe challenging task is to get everything out of the space you are trying to reclaim. This allows you to see everything that was taking up space and forces you to decide whether you want to keep those things.
Bring 4 boxes into each room with you. One box for things you want to keep, one to donate, one for trash, and one for relocation. That way, it’s easy to see where all of your belongings are going to end up. This is a very visual way to see where you are allocating all of the things you thought you once needed. You are in control of where they end up. You decide their fate. Choose carefully.
We all have those things that you just can’t get rid of. Whether it’s your son’s 3rd grade art project, or your favorite ratty t-shirt, we’ve all been there. However, it’s easy to see once you’ve unloaded said space that you need to make some trips to Goodwill. Getting rid of things you know you don’t need allows for a new found storage space. Maybe instead of the plant whose life has clearly come to an end, choose a small bookshelf, or a comfy chair. RIP houseplant.
When you bought your house, you didn’t JUST buy the floor space, yet a lot of people forget that they can go vertical with storage spaces as well as horizontal. This allows for a more open and welcoming area. Horizontal book shelves are great, but sometimes that’s all the eye sees when looking into a room. With a vertical box shelf, or vintage ladder, or even baskets mounted to the wall, it appeases the eye. Not only does it allow for more items to be stored, it looks like there isn’t as much clutter.
This is a organizer’s dream store. There are so many options! Shelves, under-the-bed drawers, pull out beds, and basically anything you can think of. This is a great resource because it allows for creativity as well as success in being organized. Visiting the store in person is great, but even visiting their website (http://www.ikea.com/us/en/) will fill anyone with great ideas. Or should I say, IKEAs.
Tension rods show the sneaky side of organization. One great use is to put one under your sink to hang cleaning products from. Or, it can be used to hang coffee mugs with the assistance of S hooks. Another great use is to cover a space that may need a door, such as a cabinet, or the under-the-sink space. Not to mention the obvious use of hanging curtains. Wherever people choose to use tension rods, they are usually unseen, hence making them sneaky. This is a great way to declutter!
Make it into a competition – who can get rid of the most items the fastest, or who can create the most unused space. The competitive edge provides motivation for all family members to be a part of it, not just leaving it all to fall on you. Or, offer pizza.