Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Happy Holidays! What are your plans?

This year my family and I are going to Vermont to spend Christmas with my wifes family.  Her brother, wife and two girls moved to Vermont this year so it will be fun to see their new place.  I am going to get a chance to ride a snow mobile and go skiing.  I haven't done either of those in years so I am really excited.  Lets hope there is snow.
What are your plans for the holidays?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Friday, December 7, 2012

November 2012 - Real Estate Market Update

This market report gives you the real estate activity for the Greater Portland, Maine area. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Don't wait too long.

This graphic shows that interest rates, this time next year, could be up to 4.4%.   You can see how that affects your monthly payment.  Waiting too long can cost you money.  With inventory being so low it is getting harder and taking more time to find the perfect home.  If you are considering a purchase in the near future you should start keeping eyes open.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving! Going anywhere?


My family alternates every year, we do Thanksgiving with my family and Christmas with my wifes family. The next year we do Thanksgiving with my wifes family and Chrismas with mine and so on.  This year we are going to Buffalo, NY to see my family for Thanksgiving.  We load up our two girls and drive about 10 or 11 hours, spend a few days in Buffalo and then head home.  Aside from the driving it is a lot of fun.  We all get together and do the traditional Thanksgiving meal, watch football and play a game or two.  I am really looking forward to it and hope everyone has a happy and safe Thanksgiving!





Wednesday, November 14, 2012

October 2012 - Real Estate Market Update

This market report gives you the real estate activity for the Greater Portland, Maine area. Very interesting month in October.  I have been saying inventory is down and it is again in October.  Sales went up so you can see there is still demand in the market place.  Once again lets hope this continues through the winter.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

It's Election Day! Did you vote and how was it?

This post is not intended to start a political debate.  I am curious what your experience was like at the polls?

I went to vote this morning around 8 o'clock in South Portland.  I brought my two little girls and lucky for me the line was very short.  We were in and out of there within 15 or 20 minutes.  It surprised me that the lines were so short but the people there told me it was really busy at 7 am.  







Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How did Hurricane Sandy affect you?

After searching 5 different places for a generator yesterday I finally found one at Cabelas.  If the power goes out at my house the basement will get 3 to 4 inches of water within a couple of hours. With part of our basement finished I didn't want this to happen.  I was very fortunate that we didn't need the generator after all.  The power stayed on and all is well here in South Portland.
As I watch the news, my thoughts and prayers go out to all the people that weren't as fortunate as us.  Watching the fires in Queens, NY and all the damage this storm has caused up and down the east coast is heart breaking. I have confidence that America will come together once again and help rebuild what has been damaged.
Please feel free to post your story.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Are You Looking for Energy Savings in All the Wrong Places?

Here is a great interview from HouseLogic.  Enjoy!




Ack! Our energy costs are going up because too many of us are making the wrong judgment calls about how to save energy. Here’s why we’re having a disconnect.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

September 2012 - Real Estate Market Update

This market report gives you the real estate activity for the Greater Portland, Maine area. Even though most numbers went down from last month the numbers are still pretty good.  As we get closer to winter we will see numbers go down but they haven't gone down that much yet.  Lets hope this activity keeps going through the winter.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fannie Decides #RealEstateInvestors Deserve More Credit


If your strategy is to buy and rent property as an investment, Fannie Mae has a few thousand homes they’d like to sell you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's Like Buying a House in 2003, Only Better!

Prices are on the upward trend but it is still like buying a house in 2003 according to this graphic.  What makes now a better time to buy are the interest rates.  Since they are so much lower than in 2003 you can get more house for your money.  If you are considering a purchase this information is exciting.  If you are selling it is also exciting because it is this type of information that is making buyers act and in turn selling your house quicker.






Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Home Prices Are On The Rise

Nationally prices are on the rise.  This graphic shows you how Median Home Prices have gone up.  Here in Maine prices are moving up much slower than other areas of the country.  The reason is because Maine is a judicial state, meaning foreclosures have to go through the court system to be finalized.  This slows the process and in turn there are more low priced houses still on the market.  Other states are going through the foreclosure inventory quicker and starting to see prices rise more rapidly.  Any forward progress is welcoming news.



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

August 2012 - Real Estate Market Update

This market report gives you the real estate activity for the Greater Portland, Maine area. We sold a lot more properties last month but once again inventory is still creeping down.  Buyers are still active but we will see that slow down as we get deeper into fall and winter. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Negotiate Your Best House Buy

Keep your emotions in check and your eyes on the goal, and you’ll pay less when purchasing a home.

Here are six tips for negotiating the best price on a home.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Buyer or Sellers Market?

In South Portland, Maine we have 6 months worth of inventory when looking at single family homes.  In the beginnig of the year it was 9 months.  This shows you the type of activity we have had this year so far.  We are starting to creep out of a buyers market and into a normal market.  Homes are selling quicker and for a little more money!




Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Weeding Through Distressed Properties

This image is a good sign that we are weeding through the distressed properties that have been flooding the market.  There is still more to come because of shadow inventory.  Shadow inventory are properties not yet on the market but are in the foreclosure process.  As this continues to go down we will see prices start to rise.  If you are considering a purchase now is definitley the time to jump in.



Thursday, August 9, 2012

July 2012 - Real Estate Market Update

This market report gives you the real estate activity for the Greater Portland, Maine area.  With inventory still down and pending home sales up we need more homes to sell in order to keep up with demand.  It is an OK problem to have but we also need to keep buyers buying.  Prices won't go up dramatically for a little while because of shadow inventory which is all the distressed properties the banks are weeding through.  Once those are on the market and sold we should see prices start to rise.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Real Estate Return on Investment.

Depending on when you bought your home you may be in good shape.  Yes, we had a bubble in 2006 but this graph is interesting to me.  If you bought your home back in 2000 just 12 years ago you have done fairly well.  Real estate has shown to be a good investment when compared to Dow, S&P and NASDQ.  Do you consider real estate part of your invesment strategy? If not, maybe you should.






Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mortgage Lenders are Loosening Up!

We talk a lot about interest rates being at historic lows and that is true but this graph shows that banks are actually starting to loosen up as well.  When polling mortgage professionals about how "tight" the underwriters are we see a positive trend.  This is a good sign that more buyers will be able to take advantage of the low interest rates and home prices.


Doug Schauf



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fencing: A Guide to the Options


When shopping for a fence, you need to consider everything from style to function to how much maintenance it’ll require.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

June 2012 - Real Estate Market Update

This market report gives you the real estate activity for the Greater Portland, Maine area.  Since we had a great spring the big problem right now is inventory to keep up with buyers demand.  We have people calling our office all the time looking for homes to buy.   While we do have plenty of homes to look at, there just isn't enough inventory to satisfy ALL the buyers that are looking.   If you or someone you know is considering selling a home now is a good time to get it on the market.  There won't be much competition and may result in a multiple bid situation which could get you top dollar.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The 4th of July is here! What are your plans and stories?

Growing up, the 4th of July was one of my favorite holidays.  Whether I was watching fireworks in Maine, Cape Cod, rolling down a hill in Baltimore while they went off or in Buffalo I always had a great time.  As an adult I have a friend that lived on Munjoy Hill and would go there to party and watch the fireworks, which are always great in #Portland, ME.  This will be the first year my friend has moved off the hill so me and my family are going to a cottage on a lake to enjoy fireworks, camp fires, fishing, swimming etc. etc. etc.

What are doing this year to celebrate the birth of our great country?  What are some good memories from years past?

Have a happy and safe holiday!


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It's like buying in 2003 only better!


The image above shows average home prices are at 2003 levels.  I heard some news today that prices are up from last month but we need more data before we jump for joy.  With the demand surge we have seen locally and nationally prices will start to increase.  If you haven't had your home appraised recently I will do a home value report to see if you are above or below the average.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

How's the Market? Better than last Year.


Sometimes we look at the market from month to month to see if we are still heading in the right direction.  This graphic shows some great news when you compare this year to last year.  Sales and prices are up considerably but we need inventory.  There are a lot of buyers in the Greater #Portland, ME area but they are having a hard time finding what they want and avoiding multiple bid situations.




Wednesday, June 6, 2012

May 2012 - Real Estate Market Update

This market report gives you the real estate activity for the Greater Portland, Maine area.  Sales, prices and inventory are up from last month.  There is a lot of activity so if you are considering a move this data may help you make that decision.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mosquitoes Can Breed in the Oddest Places. Here’s Where to Look

Experts say we’re in for a bad mosquito season. To prevent nasty bites and the West Nile virus, remove standing water from these unlikely places, and eliminate mosquito breeding grounds.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

7 Killer Ways to Get Rid of Weeds

Summer is just about here in Portland, Maine and so are the weeks.  Here are 7 ways to murder weeds with household items. You’ll save money and show no mercy to your garden’s uninvited guests.

Let me know which one you try!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Improve Credit Score with These Home Finance Tips

How you manage your home ownership finances affects your credit score—and your ability to refinance later.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Outdoor Appliance Buying Guide: Specialty Items

Spring has sprung in Maine so if you are considering an outdoor kitchen here is some great information.

Specialty appliances for outdoor kitchens are hot items but you'll spend thousands of dollars for the added convenience.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

April 2012 - Real Estate Market Update

This market report gives you the real estate activity for the Greater Portland, Maine area.  Almost every number went up from last month which shows there is a lot of activity.  Spring is a busy time of year but lets hope this trend continues.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

6 Tips for Choosing the Best Offer for Your Home

Have a plan for reviewing purchase offers so you don't let the best slip through your fingers...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Smart Upgrades for Decks

A few cost-effective add-ons can give a modest deck an edge and deliver a handsome payback should you sell your house.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Evaluate Your House for Basement Finishing

I just finished my basement recently and it came out great.  Adding space to your home really changes your daily living.  I am in my new basement office right now writing this.
Some unfinished basements are better basement finishing candidates than others. Here’s how to evaluate your space for a basement finishing.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

March 2012 - Real Estate Market Update

This market report gives you the real estate activity for the Greater Portland, Maine area. If you are an investor, first time home buyer, looking to upgrade or downsize now is the time to act. Many experts are saying this is one of the best times in history to buy a home.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Return of Home Ownership

Low interest rates and rising rents make home ownership more attractive than renting.
New indicators suggest we might be on the verge of a housing rebound this year. Between falling mortgage interest rates, affordable home prices, and climbing rents, buying a home looks like a smart investment. Plus, property taxes are beginning to ease for the first time since the start of the recession. Read about these trends and other top housing headlines in this week’s Friday Five....

Monday, March 19, 2012

7 Hot Home Improvement Trends that Make Your Home Work for You

Home improvement trends embrace energy efficiency, low maintenance exteriors, and double-duty space.

Trend #1: Maintenance-free siding
We continue to choose maintenance-free siding that lives as long as we do, but with a lot less upkeep. But more and more we’re opting for fiber-cement siding, one of the fastest-growing segments of the siding market. It’s a combination of cement, sand, and cellulosic fibers that looks like wood but won’t rot, combust, or succumb to termites and other wood-boring insects.

At $5 to $9 per sq. ft., installed, fiber-cement siding is more expensive than paint-grade wood, vinyl, and aluminum siding. It returns 78% of investment, the highest return of any upscale project on Remodeling magazine’s latest Cost vs. Value Report.

Maintenance is limited to a cleaning and some caulking each spring. Repaint every 7 to 15 years. Wood requires repainting every 4 to 7 years.

Trend #2: Convertible spaces

Forget “museum rooms” we use twice a year (dining rooms and living rooms) and embrace convertible spaces that change with our whims.

Foldaway walls turn a private study into an easy-flow party space. Walls can consist offancy, glass panels ($600 to $1,600 per linear ft., depending on the system); or they can be simple vinyl-covered accordions  ($1,230 for 7 ft. by 10 ft.). PortablePartions.com sells walls on wheels ($775 for approximately 7 ft. by 7 ft.).

A Murphy bed pulls down from an armoire-looking wall unit and turns any room into a guest room. Prices, including installation and cabinetry, range from $2,000 (twin with main cabinet) to more than $5,000 (California king with main and side units). Just search online for sellers.

And don’t forget area rugs that easily define, and redefine, open spaces.

Trend #3: A laundry room of your own

Humankind advanced when the laundry room arose from the basement to a louvered closet on the second floor where clothes live. Now, we’re taking another step forward by granting washday a room of its own.

If you’re thinking of remodeling, turn a mudroom or extra bedroom into a dedicated laundry room big enough to house the washer and dryer, hang hand-washables, and store bulk boxes of detergent.

Look for spaces that already have plumbing hookups or are adjacent to rooms with running water to save on plumbing costs.

Trend #4: Souped-up kitchens

Although houses are trending smaller, kitchens are getting bigger, according to theAmerican Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey.

Kitchen remodels open the space, perhaps incorporating lonely dining rooms, and feature recycling centers, large pantries, and recharging stations.

Oversized and high-priced commercial appliances—did we ever fire up six burners at once?—are yielding to family-sized, mid-range models that recover at least one cabinet forstorage. 

Since the entire family now helps prepare dinner (in your dreams), double prep sinks have evolved into dual-prep islands with lots of counter space and pull-out drawers.

Trend #5: Energy diets

We’re wrestling with an energy disorder: We’re binging on electronics—cell phones, iPads, Blackberries, laptops--then crash dieting by installing LED fixtures and turning the thermostat to 68 degrees.

Are we ahead of the energy game? Only the energy monitors and meters know for sure.

These new tracking devices can gauge electricity usage of individual electronics ($20 to $30) or monitor whole house energy ($100 to $250). The TED 5000 Energy Monitor ($240) supplies real-time feedback that you can view remotely and graph by the second, minute, hour, day, and month.

Trend #6: Love that storage

As we bow to the new god of declutter, storage has become the holy grail.
We’re not talking about more baskets we can trip over in the night; we’re imagining and discovering built-in storage in unlikely spaces--under stairs, over doors, beneath floors.

Under-appreciated nooks that once displayed antique desks are growing into built-ins for books and collections. Slap on some doors, and you can hide office supplies and buckets of Legos.

Giant master suites, with floor space to land a 747, are being divided to conquer clutter with more walk-in closets.

Trend #7: Home offices come out of the closet

Flexible work schedules, mobile communications, and entrepreneurial zeal are relocating us from the office downtown to home.

Laptops and wireless connections let us telecommute from anywhere in the house, but we still want a dedicated space (preferably with a door) for files, supplies, and printers.

Spare bedrooms are becoming home offices and family room niches are morphing into working nooks. After a weekend of de-cluttering, basements and attics are reborn as work centers.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spring Cleaning Guide

Make spring cleaning less of a chore by following these smarter--and mostly greener--tips for this annual rite of homeownership.

When it's time to get down and dirty, many people start with the bathroom. Allen Rathey, founder of The Housekeeping Channel, says removing mineral deposits, rust, and such from toilets doesn't have to mean chemical warfare. Don rubber gloves and use a pumice stone to erase stubborn stains. If you want more scouring power, Rathey recommends mixing baking soda with acidic vinegar. The concoction is just as effective as conventional cleaners, and there are no toxic fumes to inhale. This approach works equally well on tub and shower stains.

Buy your supplies in bulk to save. A 64-ounce bottle of vinegar costs about $4; a 12-pound bag of baking soda, about $7. Both items can be used throughout the house. For just $1 you can mix equal parts vinegar and water in a 32-ounce spray bottle to make a terrific all-purpose surface cleaner. That's about $4 cheaper than buying a spray cleaner at the store.

Spring cleaning is the perfect time to extract dirt from porous grouted surfaces. For tile floors use your usual cleaner, but don't mop. Instead, run a wet/dry vac, which will suck contaminants out of the grout. Mopping drives the grime into the grout rather than removing it. According to Rathey, grout can harbor stinky bacteria that leave a bad odor in the bathroom. This technique is more time-consuming than mopping, but it's worthwhile to do at least once a year.
The kitchen can be a tough room to clean because there's usually so much stuff in it, says Justin Klosky, founder and creative director of The OCD Experience, an organizational service. Before you break out the broom, go through your cabinets and drawers, and put together a box of items to donate and a box of items to store somewhere besides the kitchen. Clear your countertops of everything except items you use nearly every day.

After you've de-cluttered, you can get to work cleaning. Cloud Conrad, vice president of marketing for cleaning company Maid Brigade, says one tool you shouldn't overlook is an all-purpose microfiber cloth (about $5). These aren't run-of-the-mill dusting rags. Microfiber is a densely woven synthetic fabric that picks up dirt and greasy deposits without chemicals thanks to its unique composition. You should be able to clean surfaces like countertops, sinks, and stoves with warm water, a microfiber cloth, and a bit of elbow grease, Conrad says.

Since you prepare your food in the kitchen, consider using green commercial products for surfaces, or make your own vinegar/water spray. Conventional cleaners may remove dirt, but they can also harbor some nasty substances you don't want in your PB&J. Microfiber, vinegar, and baking soda will clean and disinfect almost every kitchen surface at a fraction of the price. Don't neglect once-a-year chores like vacuuming refrigerator coils (unplug your fridge first), and tossing out expired food from the back of the pantry.
Since bedrooms are such individual spaces, there's a lot of diversity in what needs to happen. Most homeowners should at least rotate and flip innerspring mattresses, and store out-of-season sheets and clothing. Also go through your closet, and donate or Freecycleitems you haven't worn in the last 12 months. For carpets and mattresses, consider using a professional cleaning service. Figure a typical mattress will cost about $70-$90 to clean, a bargain considering how much time you spend in bed.

Even if you're getting your carpet professionally cleaned, you still need to break out the vacuum, says Leslie Reichert, owner of The Cleaning Coach. Use the hose attachment to get to the hidden particles along baseboards, under your bed, and in your curtains, favorite environments of dust mites. If you have a large-capacity dryer, throw curtains in on high heat for good measure to kill the little pests.
Living area
Another surface you should consider getting professionally cleaned is living room upholstery. It can be tricky to know exactly how to deep-clean different types of fabrics, says Rathey, especially if there are stains you can't quite identify. Costs vary widely depending on the size of the furniture piece and the quality and state of its covering, but a typical sofa might run $70 to $90.
Microfiber cloths are great to use in the living area as well. Make sure you have cloths for each area of the house, though, so you're not cross-contaminating bathroom, kitchen, and living areas. Use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe down windows, wood, mirrors, the tops of bookshelves, ceiling fan blades, and even the plastic housing of electronics for a quick, chemical-free clean.