12 Arrowwood Court South Portland Maine

12 Arrowwood Court South Portland Maine
Under Contract!!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

What You Should Know About Home Inspections

Since obtaining a home inspection is one of the most important steps in purchasing a home, I thought I'd take the opportunity to provide some insight into the home inspection process.

A qualified inspector can point out potential costly problems with the home you are considering buying, and a good inspector will give maintenance advice and ultimately give you peace of mind about your home investment. All home buyers -- whether they are buying an older home or building a new one -- should have the home inspected by a professional after making an offer and before closing.

There are a few things you need to know before hiring a home inspector. First, the home inspection industry is becoming more professional and regulated. There are professional organizations with codes of ethics, like the National Association of Home Inspectors and the American Society of Home Inspectors, but membership is voluntary.

The average home inspection costs $300, which is paid on the day the inspector examines your home. Lower or higher fees do not necessarily reflect the expertise of the inspector. Finding an experienced home inspector who provides value for your money is most important.

The American Society of Home Inspectors (www.ashi.com) recommends interviewing at least three professional inspectors in order to find one you trust and with whom you communicate well. I can provide a list of local home inspectors for you to interview, and you should ask friends and family members for recommendations as well.

Ask inspectors about their qualifications. Do they have experience in the construction or engineering industry? Do they have special training or accreditation from a professional organization? How long have they been inspecting homes in the local area? Are they familiar with problems specific to our area like drainage issues, pests or building material failures?

Once you have found a qualified professional, it's important that you attend the inspection with me and your home inspector. Some buyers like to climb into the crawl space and attic with the inspector to look at the home's major systems. At a minimum, be on site to ask questions, examine the problem areas and learn about the ongoing maintenance your home will need.

The standard home inspector's report will review the condition of the home's heating, plumbing and electrical systems. The report will also include information about the structure including the foundation and basement, as well as the roof, attic, walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors. It may include photos of problem areas or recommendations for repairs

101 Things I Love about Portland Maine

33. Day trips from Portland. Today my husband and I headed
to Portsmouth NH which only takes about 45 minutes on the highway. We parked in the quaint downtown area near the waterfront. We started with hot chocolate and herbal tea at Breaking New Grounds cafe. There are lots of baked goods as well as a nice variety of beverages. There are small bistro tables and free WiFi. It was fairly busy with the usual "hip" crowd that populates Portsmouth. We walked around and hit the boutiques, bookstores, and other shops. Notably, I checked out Footnotes, a shoe store that carries interesting brands like Cydwoq, Think, UGG. They have a discount corner in the front with good markdowns--usually 60% off price. There were lots of sales--at Beju most women's clothing 20% off and the basement had 50% off lowest price. Lots of FLAX brand linen.
I also went to the Corks and Curds Cheese shop on a little side street. I bought a nice Australian Cheddar--very creamy.
34.We stopped in Ogunquit on our way back. This little village was quiet now but in the summer count on slow-moving traffic. It is a fun area though and has a beautiful beach.
Only a few shops open today but the village market has a little cafe where you can eat their delicious freshmade deli sandwiches and soups. I got a loaf of crusty bread to go with the cheddar.
35. Harbor Candy. I have been visiting this shop since I was a child. They have a wonderful selection of chocolates, fudge--creamy style, salt water taffy, and novelty and seasonal candies. I selected penuche nut fudge and my husband had chocolate. MMMmmmmmm.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

101 Things I Love About Portland Maine

Andy's Pub on Commercial Street has delicious home-cooked food as I have mentioned before but they also have entertainment early most evenings. So you can enjoy music and eat dinner without having to stay out really late. Try the clamcakes, meatloaf, lasagna and other tasty items. The wait staff are all friendly. too. Like Syd and Kim!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

101 Things I love about Portland Maine..

31. Breakfast at Becky's, a very funky staple on Portland's working waterfront. Sit right up at the counter and enjoy a hearty old-fashioned breakfast of eggs, toast and homefries. I got mine extra crispy!
32.Borealis Bakery and Bistro on Ocean Ave has wonderful soups, sandwiches, and baked goods. I had a delicious thin slice pizza with chewy crust, chicken, roasted red peppers and pesto! Not to mention a chocolate brownie for dessert...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Maine Housing Report 2009

In 2009, the Pine Tree state showed the second highest increase in single family home transac-tions in New England, posting a 7.9% increase for the year.
According to sales figures published by the Maine Association of REALTORS®, single-family home sales increased 48.6% in November 2009, compared to November 2008, showing the significant effect of the first time homebuyer credit.
Conversely, out of all the New England states, condominium sales were hardest hit in Maine. The state showed a sales decrease of -19%. Across the border, New Hampshire faired much better posting an increase of 8.5%.
This might be due in part to the lower median price of a single family home last year, $153,000, compared to the median price of a condominium at $170,000. Consumer preference tends to run toward single-family homes if com-parable to a condominium and in the same price range.
Multi-family homes faired much better, with a 19.01% increase over 2008, most likely due to a 20% decrease in home values, making it the most affordable option in the State for many first time buyers.
Mike LePage, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Herit-age in Yarmouth and President Elect of the Maine Association of REALTORS®, saw fairly flat sales in 2009, along his coastal territories.
“We‟re slightly up over 2008, and that‟s really because the market priced itself correctly and government incentive programs had a big impact on first time buyers here.”
LePage, who services Maine‟s coast from Brunswick, through Portland, to Cape Elizabeth, services a wide array of clients from first time buyers through million-dollar home consumers. One issue common to every consumer is the dif-ficulty in getting an accurate appraisal of a home.
“Our offices work with a wide array of proper-ties at different price points. A huge problem in 2009 was trying to get an accurate appraisal. It definitely slowed the process down, ended some transactions, and is an issue we need to address moving into 2010.”
A bright spot in the State‟s market, according to LePage, is that unlike other New England states, he hasn‟t seen a real difficulty in homeowners obtaining loans. That, coupled with low interest rates and the tax credit fueled the last quarter of 2009.
Maine was largely untouched by the foreclosure crisis affecting other states in 2008, most notably Rhode Island. However, that could change in 2010 according to LePage. “We were fortunate here and didn‟t see a lot of foreclosures. Howev-er, I believe that‟s about to change, and we‟re going to see a surplus of properties in this area. In addition, because the tax incentives end at the end of April – we‟re going to see seller‟s aggres-sively put their homes on the market in the first quarter of the year, adding to our existing inven-tory.”
Maine‟s real estate market in 2010 will ultimate-ly come down to jobs. While Maine‟s unem-ployment rate hovers around 8%, higher than neighboring Vermont and New Hampshire, there will be caution in the real estate market. “The number one thing we need to look at in 2010 is unemployment. If we can hold our number, we‟ll be okay. If we start to see growth, it will trickle down into all other areas of our local economy,” said LePage.

From RE/MAX of New England 2010 Housing Market Outlook and Forecast

Monday, February 22, 2010

Final Walkthrough before Closing....

It’s guaranteed to be hectic right before closing, but you should always make time for a final walk-through. Your goal is to make sure that your home is in the same condition you expected it would be. Ideally, the sellers already have moved out. This is your last chance to check that appliances are in working condition and that agreed-upon repairs have been made. Here’s a detailed list of what not to overlook for on your final walk-through.

Make sure that:

Repairs you’ve requested have been made. Obtain copies of paid bills and warranties.
There are no major changes to the property since you last viewed it.
All items that were included in the sale price — draperies, lighting fixtures, etc. — are still there.
Screens and storm windows are in place or stored.
All appliances are operating, such as the dishwasher, washer and dryer, oven, etc.
Intercom, doorbell, and alarm are operational.
Hot water heater is working.
No plants or shrubs have been removed from the yard.
Heating and air conditioning system is working
Garage door opener and other remotes are available.
Instruction books and warranties on appliances and fixtures are available.
All personal items of the sellers and all debris have been removed. Check the basement, attic, and every room, closet, and crawlspace.

101 Things about Portland....

28. More fun trips near Portland: today I went to Freeport for a quick trip. Known for LL Bean Store--open 365 days a year-- and outlet shopping, Freeport is also an historical spot so be sure to visit the Jameson Tavern if you have time. From the Tavern site: "Old records indicate that commissioners met in the northeast corner of the second floor of the Inn to sign the final papers giving Maine her independence from Massachusetts and giving Jameson Tavern and the town of Freeport their claim to ‘the Birthplace of Maine’. Maine’s entrance into the union was accomplished through the ‘Missouri Compromise’ and a plaque hangs on the property placed here in 1914 by the Daughters of the American Revolution commemorating this historic event."
I grabbed a lunch at the LL Bean Cafe near the fishing gear. Lots of yummy all natural selections. I had a fresh rice, turkey, cranberry and nut salad.

29. Discount shopping for Women's clothes-- COOP store in Freeport. They have lots of name brands at big markdowns and final sales items are usually $19.95!

30. On the way out of town, I scored a really nice pair of CYDWOQ shoes at J L Coombs Shoe outlet. (Their logo above) They have
another store with bargain basement right in town, too.
I saved $200 off retail price!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Just for fun...

This weekend I attended a wild and crazy 70's party. Everyone wore hippy type clothing--tie/dye, bell bottoms, beads, face paint and lots of BIG hair! The music was from the era with Bee Gees, Cream, Elton John etc. Disco balls lit the room. We had prizes for best costumes and trivia games. Really a fun idea and all had a good time!

Green Energy Credits

Here is an article about the new "GREEN" tax credits that are available. Cut and paste this link for more information. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/14/business/yourtaxes/14energy.html

Saturday, February 20, 2010

101 Things I Love about Portland...

26. The Victorian Architecture; there are several neighborhoods with wonderful examples of this style and Greater Portland Landmarks has some great walking tours which point out some of the finest in the Western Prom area. The Victoria Mansion is open to the public:
Regular Season
May – October, Monday-Saturday 10-4, Sunday 1-5
Closed Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day.
This stately brownstone Italianate villa was completed in 1860 as a summer home for hotelier Ruggles Sylvester Morse. At Christmas it is decorated to the nines. The gift shop has lots of lovely ornaments for sale.
27. While you are in the West End, you can stop at Aurora Provisions at 64 Pine Street for lunch or an afternoon tea. They have a delightful eye-pleasing array of fresh baked goods and gourmet delights!

What is Your Home's Value?

Have you ever wondered why the market value of your home differs from what your bank appraises it as? And what value is being used to set and/or increase your property tax bill? It's easy to be confused about the different valuations being used in the home buying and selling process, but knowing a home's value or worth in the real estate market will help you get a fair price.

There are generally three ways to determine the value of a home: through a Comparative Market Analysis, a professional appraisal or an assessed valuation. A Comparative Market Analysis (CMA), can determine a reasonable listing price for your home. When I prepare a CMA, I consider a number of factors including the home's size, age, location and amenities. I also research the list prices of properties that are currently for sale, have recently sold or expired in your neighborhood.

An appraiser (used by a lender) determines the market value of your home by looking at the supply and demand of like properties in the area, comparing your property with others that have recently sold, determining the amount of money it would take to replace your home at current material and labor costs and/or determining how much income a property would produce (this last approach is used more often for rental property, apartments and commercial property). Lenders frequently require a professional appraisal upon which to base your loan amount.

Local governments also perform independent appraisals to determine your home's assessed value, available on public record, so that your property is taxed fairly.

When comparing the CMA and the appraised values, don't be surprised if they do not match. There are a number of reasons that these differences occur.

The "market value" determined by the appraisal can be different from the "market price" determined through my CMA. In essence, the appraisal amount reflects the cost of replacing your home. But the goal of the CMA is to determine a price that someone will pay for your home. The sale price can be much different from the appraisal value, especially if there are multiple offers on the home.

Also, the real estate market is constantly changing. A home that was worth $100,000 last year may be worth $120,000 this year and possibly more next year. Meanwhile, all city and county property assessments are assigned an effective date, valid for that particular point in time. The more time that has passed since the appraisal, the greater the possibility for disparity in the values. For example, some governments appraise properties annually; others appraise properties once every four years.

I can help you determine the value of your home by researching its appraisal history and performing a Competitive Market Analysis. I can also recommend professional appraisers. Please call me to discuss the current real estate conditions that affect the market price of your home.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Spruce up the Exterior of your Home

Low-Cost Ways to Spruce Up Your Home's Exterior
Make your home more appealing for yourself and potential buyers with these quick and easy tips:

1. Trim bushes so they don’t block windows or architectural details.

2. Mow your lawn, and turn on the sprinklers for 30 minutes before the showing to make the lawn sparkle.

3. Put a pot of bright flowers (or a small evergreen in winter) on your porch.

4. Install new doorknobs on your front door.

5. Repair any cracks in the driveway.

6. Edge the grass around walkways and trees.

7. Keep your garden tools and hoses out of sight.

8. Clear toys from the lawn.

9. Buy a new mailbox.

10. Upgrade your outside lighting.

11. Buy a new doormat for the outside of your front door.

12. Clean your windows, inside and outside.

13. Polish or replace your house numbers.

14. Place a seasonal wreath on your door.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

7 Deadly Sins in Staging your Home

The 7 Deadly Home Staging Sins
You May Be Committing Right Now!
What if you just had five seconds to sell a house but you couldn’t say a word? You are not allowed to say anything - no sales pitch, no comments, nothing. You must step aside and let the house sell itself.
Now…how would go about setting up the house? How do set the stage to impress people and make them fall in love with your listing?
How do you make a potential buyer say “Wow…this is a really nice house!”?
Home staging is the answer. It’s the crucial step needed to help a buyer connect with a listing and visualize themselves living
in the home. Staging showcases the house in the best possible light. After all, we never get a second chance to create a great
first impression so it is imperative that the house is “dressed to impress.”
Unfortunately most listings suffer from one or more of the 7 deadly home staging sins. These are often made by agents and
home sellers unfamiliar with home staging. Are you guilty of any of these potential deal breakers?


A dirty house an immediate buyer turn-off. The two most important areas are the kitchen
and the bathrooms. If you have not deep cleaned all counter and tile surfaces to a spotless
condition, you stand the chance of having the buyers walk right back out the door. Another
critical area is the fl oors - all carpets and rugs. Without question, they must be either
replaced or steam cleaned as a dirty carpet is the number one buyer turn-off.

Clutter, both inside and outside your home makes it extremely hard for the buyers to visualize
moving into your home. The disorganization will directly affect the buyer’s ability to focus on
your home and they will most likely overlook your key selling features. In addition, clutter has
the affect of making your home appear smaller than it is as the “open” feeling is gone.

Your home is your comfort zone and it is fi lled with all of your personal memorabilia, but to
the buyers it represents a huge distraction. People are generally curious and when you want
them to notice the beautiful entryway they may be focused on all the family pictures on the
piano or all the “stuff” stuck to the front of your refrigerator. Your objective is to change the
view of your home from “lived in” to “ready to move in.”

While your favorite colors may be the exact complement to your living style, the shades and
hues may be a complete distraction and turn-off to the buyers. Your favorite wall paper may
not be on the buyer’s “best” list. The best way to present a home is for the wall colors to be
painted a neutral color. This goes for the outside as well – a loud or non-neutral color may
just keep the buyers from even stopping to see the inside.

Nothing is more distracting to a buyer than to be looking at a view through a dirty window.
This area, as in cleaning the carpets is best left up to the experts. The same can be said for
the kitchen and bathroom counters and tile. A little investment here will pay big dividends
… what you don’t see is often more important that what you do see.

While your pets are a loving member of your family, for the buyers their presence, food and
boxes are generally a turn-off. Every trace of their presence should be removed so, once
again, the buyers are not distracted from the prime objective – viewing your home in the best
possible light.


A healthy, neat, trimmed and well maintained yard and fl ower beds are the keys to getting
the buyers up to the front door. The last thing they want to see is your “stuff” all around an
uncut and untrimmed lawn. A little effort in this area with perhaps the help of a professional
gardener will pay big dividends. A well maintained exterior plants the seed of a well
maintained home in the mind of the buyer.

101 Things about Portland

22.Beautiful sunny spring-like day in Portland so I decided to go downtown with a quick stop at Katie Made Bakery for a cupcake first. They serve soups and sandwiches too. The cupcake was very good bakery-style with thick frosting and moist cake.
23.Downtown Portland--I will say more about this area from time to time but today I was at the Monument Square end of town. The State Soldiers and Sailors Monument dates from 1902 and was sculpted by Franklin Simmons, one of my ancestors.
The Public Market House on the square has lots of food vendors with fresh baked goods, fruits, cheeses, and veggies. They have expanded to the second floor with space to eat or relax on couches.
24. I also made a quick run through Material Objects, a fun resale shop that has been a staple on Congress Street for many years---great vintage items. I was looking for 70's clothes for a weekend party.
25. Then I found --find--a cute new resale shop on Middle Street. They cater to young hipsters but I did find a cute barrette by local artisan Little Eye Designs, one-of-a-kind upcycled jewelry.

101 Things about Portland....

20. Portland Head Light, this falls under the waterfront and history categories;
This is a beautiful spot to visit any time of the year. Located in Fort Williams Park, owned by the town of Cape Elizabeth, this site is loaded with history since it was commissioned by George Washington in 1787 and first lit in 1791. Built by Portland masons of rubble stone and lined with brick, it stands 101' high. Today itis fully automated and run by the Coast Guard. It is a symbol for Portland Maine.

21. Breakfast spots: today I went with my husband to one of my favorites located in Woodfords corner--Bayou Kitchen. It is small and neighborly with a raised lunch counter. I always have Gator eggs with 3 "fixin's" and my husband has the Huevos Rancheros. Very good!

Repeat Buyers Tax Credit


Tax Credits at a Glance

Scenarios from the IRS

IRS Forms and Instructions for Tax Credit

Homebuyer Tax Credits Questions and Answers: Basic Information provided by the IRS.gov website.
Updated Nov. 6, 2009, to note new legislation. The new legislation extends and expands the first-time homebuyer credit allowed by previous Acts. The new law:

extends deadlines for purchasing and closing on a home
authorizes the credit for long-time homeowners buying a replacement principal residence
raises the income limitations for homeowners claiming the credit
Q. What is the credit?

A. The first-time homebuyer credit is a tax credit for individuals and couples who purchase a new home after April 8, 2008, and before May 1, 2010. There are several versions of the credit depending upon when the home was purchased:

For homes purchased in 2008, the credit, with some exceptions, must be repaid and takes the form of a $7,500 interest-free loan.
For homes purchased in 2009 prior to November 7, the credit is for a maximum of $8,000 and, with some exceptions, does not have to be repaid, but it's only for new home owners who have not owned a home in the prior three years.
Beginning November 7, 2009, an additional category of new homebuyers, long-time residents (who owned their own homes), was added. The credit for this group is a maximum of $6,500, which, with some exceptions, does not have to be repaid. (1/27/10)
Q. How much is the credit?

A. The credit is 10 percent of the purchase price of the home, with a maximum available credit of $7,500 ($8,000 if you purchased your home in 2009 or early 2010) for either a single taxpayer or a married couple filing a joint return, but only half of that amount for married persons filing separate returns. The full credit is available for homes costing $75,000 or more ($80,000 in 2009 or early 2010). Long-time homeowners who buy a replacement home after Nov. 6, 2009, or in early 2010 may qualify for a credit of up to $6,500, or $3,250 for a married person filing a separate return. (11/19/09)

Q. Which home purchases qualify for the first-time homebuyer credit?

A. Any home purchased as your principal residence and located in the United States qualifies. You must buy the home after April 8, 2008, and before May 1, 2010 (with closing to take place before July 1), to qualify for the credit. For a home that you construct, the purchase date is considered to be the first date you occupy the home.

For homes purchased after April 28, 2008, and before November 7, 2009, taxpayers (including spouse, if married) who owned a principal residence at any time during the three years prior to the date of purchase are not eligible for the credit. This means that you can qualify for the credit if you (and your spouse, if married) have not owned a home in the three years prior to a purchase. For homes purchased after November 6, 2009, long-time residents can also get the credit under a special rule for a qualifying replacement home. To qualify, you must have owned and used the same home as your principal residence for at least five consecutive years of the eight-year period ending on the date you buy your new principal residence.

If you made an eligible purchase in 2008, you claim the first-time homebuyer credit on your 2008 tax return. For an eligible purchase in 2009, you can choose to claim the credit on either your 2008 or 2009 income tax return. For an eligible purchase in 2010, you can choose to claim the credit on either your 2009 or 2010 return. (1/27/09)

Q. If a taxpayer purchases a mobile home (manufactured home) with land and qualifies for the credit, is the amount of the credit based on the combined cost of the home and land?

A. Yes. The first-time homebuyer credit is ten percent of the purchase price of a principal residence. The total purchase price (mobile home and land) is used to determine the amount of the first-time homebuyer credit.

Q. Is a taxpayer who purchases a mobile home and places the home on leased land eligible for the first-time homebuyer credit?

A. Yes. A mobile home may qualify as a principal residence and it is not necessary that the taxpayer own the land to qualify for the first-time homebuyer credit.

Q. Can a taxpayer who purchases a travel trailer qualify for the credit?

A. A travel trailer that is affixed to land may qualify as a principal residence.

Q. Can an individual who has lived in an RV qualify for the credit?

A. For purposes of the first-time homebuyer credit, an RV with a built-in motor is personal property that is not affixed to land and does not qualify as a principal residence. Accordingly, someone who has owned and lived in an RV within the past three years may still qualify as a first-time homebuyer.

Q. Can I apply for the credit if I bought a vacation home or rental property?

A. No. Vacation homes and rental property do not qualify for this credit.

Q. Who is considered to be a first-time homebuyer? What are the details for those who are long-time homeowners who buy a replacement home?

A. Taxpayers who have not owned another principal residence at any time during the three years prior to the date of purchase are considered first-time homebuyers. For example, if you bought a home on July 1, 2008, you cannot take the credit for that home if you owned, or had an ownership interest in, another principal residence at any time from July 2, 2005, through July 1, 2008.

In addition, under a special rule, long-time homeowners who buy a replacement home after Nov. 6, 2009. or in early 2010 can also qualify. To qualify as a long-time resident, you must have owned and used the same home as your principal residence for at least five consecutive years of the eight-year period ending on the date you by your new principal residence. For an eligible taxpayer who, for example, bought a home on Nov. 30, 2009, the eight-year period would run from Dec. 1, 2001, through Nov. 30, 2009. (1/27/10)

Q. Can a dependent on someone else's tax return claim the first time homebuyer credit if they otherwise qualify?

A. Different rules apply depending upon whether a dependent buys a home after Nov. 6, 2009, or on or before that date. Dependents are not eligible to claim the credit on any purchase after Nov. 6, 2009. However, a dependent who buys a home on or before Nov. 6, 2009 may qualify for the credit. (11/19/09)

Q. Can a minor buy a home and claim the credit?

A. Usually, no. However, different rules apply to purchases after Nov. 6, 2009, and those on or before that date.

Minors are generally barred from claiming the credit on home purchases after Nov. 6, 2009. To qualify for the credit, a purchaser must be at least 18 years of age on the date of purchase. For a married couple, only one spouse must meet this age requirement. A dependent is not eligible for the credit, regardless of age.

For purchases on or before Nov. 6, 2009, the tax law does not bar a minor from buying a home and claiming the credit. However, taxpayers who do not otherwise qualify for the credit do not become eligible for the credit simply by using a minor child's name. In addition, under state law, children under the age of 18 generally are not bound by any contract they sign and cannot be required to comply with the terms of the contract. Thus, it is extremely unlikely that a seller of a home, or a lender if financing is required, would enter into a bona fide sale of a home to a child. Merely using the child's name to purchase a home does not qualify the child for the credit if, in substance, the child is not a bona fide purchaser of a home. (11/19/09)

Q. When do I have to buy a new home to get the credit?

A. The credit is available for eligible home purchases after April 8, 2008. You must enter into a binding contract to buy the home before May 1, 2010 and close before July 1, 2010, in order to obtain the credit. For a home you construct, the purchase date is considered to be the date you first occupy the home. (11/19/09)

Q. How do I apply for the credit?

A. The credit is claimed on IRS Form 5405, First-Time Homebuyer Credit (revised December 2009), and filed with your 2008, 2009 or 2010 federal income tax return. If you have already filed a 2008 or a 2009 tax return without claiming the credit, you can amend your return to claim the credit using Form 1040X with the December 2009 Form 5405 attached. Certain additional supporting documentation will be required when filing claim for the credit with your 2009 or 2010 return or amended return. (1/27/10)

Q. I submitted an amended 2008 return for the first-time homebuyer credit more than eight weeks ago. How long will it take the IRS to process my return?

A. The normal processing time for amended returns is approximately 8-12 weeks. Recent changes to the tax law have resulted and will continue to result in larger than normal volumes of amended returns. This increased volume has increased our processing time to 12-16 weeks. It is not necessary for you to follow-up with the IRS regarding your amended return if you are within these time frames. (11/23/09)

Q. Are there income limits?

A. Yes. The credit is reduced or eliminated for higher-income taxpayers. The credit is phased out based on your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). Different income limits apply to purchases on or before Nov. 6, 2009 and those after that date.

For purchases on or before Nov. 6, 2009, for a married couple filing a joint return, the phase-out range is $150,000 to $170,000. For other taxpayers, the phase-out range is $75,000 to $95,000. This means that the full credit is available for married couples filing a joint return whose MAGI is $150,000 or less and for other taxpayers whose MAGI is $75,000 or less.

For purchases after Nov. 6, 2009, for a married couple filing a joint return, the phase-out range is $225,000 to $245,000. For other taxpayers, the phase-out range is $125,000 to $145,000. This means that the full credit is available for married couples filing a joint return whose MAGI is $225,000 or less and for other taxpayers whose MAGI is $125,000 or less. (11/19/09)

Q. Can a taxpayer claim the first-time homebuyer credit after entering into a contract for the purchase of a residence but before closing on the purchase?

A. No. Taxpayers cannot claim the credit before there is a completed sale and purchase of the residence. The sale and purchase are generally completed at the time of closing on the purchase. (7/2/09)

Q. Can a taxpayer claim the first-time homebuyer credit if the purchase is pursuant to a seller financing arrangement (for example, a contract for deed, installment land sale contract, or long-term land contract), and the seller retains legal title to secure the taxpayer's payment obligations?

A. If the taxpayer obtains the "benefits and burdens" of ownership of a residence in a seller financing arrangement, then the taxpayer can claim the credit even though the seller retains legal title. Factors that indicate that a taxpayer has the benefits and burdens of ownership include: 1. the right of possession, 2. the right to obtain legal title upon full payment of the purchase price, 3. the right to construct improvements, 4. the obligation to pay property taxes, 5. the risk of loss, 6. the responsibility to insure the property and 7. the duty to maintain the property. (7/2/09)

Q. I purchased a home that qualifies for the first-time homebuyer credit. I will be renting two of the bedrooms and reporting the rental income on Schedule E. Will I still qualify for the credit if I use the home as my principal residence?

A. Yes, if you meet all first-time homebuyer eligibility requirements. See Form 5405, First-Time Homebuyer Credit, for more details.

Q. I purchased a duplex home with two separate dwelling units. I will live in one dwelling and will rent out the other dwelling unit and report the rental income on Schedule E. May I qualify for the first-time homebuyer credit, and what amount do I use for the purchase price to determine the amount of the credit?

A. Yes, you may qualify for the credit for the dwelling unit that you use as your principal residence. To determine the amount of your credit, you must allocate the purchase price of the duplex between the two separate dwelling units. You may not use the entire purchase price of the duplex to determine the amount of your credit.

Q. If two unmarried people buy a house together, how do they determine how much each may take of the credit?

A. IRS Notice 2009-12 provides guidance for allocating the first-time homebuyer credit between taxpayers who are not married.

Q. I am a single co-owner of a home. How do I get this credit?

A. Depending on the year of purchase, you will claim the credit on your 2008, 2009 or 2010 federal income tax return. (11/19/09)

Q. I don't owe taxes and/or my income is exempt from tax and I do not have a filing requirement. Do I qualify for the credit?

A. The credit is fully refundable and, if you qualify as a first-time homebuyer, having tax-exempt income will not preclude eligibility. Although there are maximum income limits for qualifying first-time homebuyers, there are no minimum income criteria. Thus, someone with no taxable income who qualifies as a first-time homebuyer may file for the sole purpose of claiming the credit for a refund.

Q. Does the first-time homebuyer credit apply to homes located in the U.S. Territories?

A. No.

Q. Would I be considered a first time homebuyer if I owned a principal residence outside of the United States within the previous three years?

A. Yes. A taxpayer who owned a principal residence outside of the United States within the last three years is not disqualified from taking the credit for a purchase within the United States.

Q. If qualified, are homebuyers required to claim the first-time homebuyer credit?

A. No.

Q. Who cannot take the credit?

A. If any of the following describe you, you cannot take the credit, even if you buy a new home:

Your income exceeds the phase-out range.
You buy your home from a close relative. This includes your spouse, parent, grandparent, child or grandchild.
You do not use the home as your principal residence.
You are a nonresident alien.
Also, if the home is purchased after November 6, 2009, and you are a minor, you are generally barred from claiming the credit. To qualify for the credit, a purchaser must be at least 18 years of age on the date of purchase. For a married couple, only one spouse must meet this age requirement. A dependent is not eligible for the credit, regardless of age. For more information on this, please see the Q and A "Can a minor buy a home and claim the credit?" (1/27/10)

Q. Does previously inheriting a home and living in it automatically disqualify me as a first-time homebuyer if I buy a different home on or before Nov. 6, 2009?

A. Yes, an ownership interest in a prior principal residence would bar you from being considered a first-time homebuyer. As long as you owned and used the prior home as your principal residence, you are not a first-time homebuyer. There is no exception for taxpayers who did not buy their prior residences. (11/19/09)

Q. If I claim the first-time homebuyer credit in 2009 and stop using the property as my main home before the 36 month period expires after I purchase, how is the credit repaid and how long would I have to repay it?

A. If, within 36 months of the date of purchase, the property is no longer used as your principal residence, you are required to repay the credit. Repayment of the full amount of the credit is due at the time the income tax return for the year the home ceased to be your principal residence is due. The full amount of the credit is reflected as additional tax on that year's tax return. See Form 5405 and its instructions about repayment of the credit. (5/6/09, 1/27/10)

Q. If a person does not actually make the payments on a home that's their principal residence, but the deed and mortgage documents are in their name, can they be considered a first-time homebuyer?

A. Yes. If a taxpayer purchases a home to be used as a principal residence from an unrelated person and has not owned a home within the previous 36 months, the taxpayer is eligible for the first-time homebuyer credit regardless of who makes the mortgage payment. (5/6/09)

Q. Do taxpayers affected by Hurricane Katrina or other disasters qualify as first-time homebuyers if their principal residence (i.e. main home) became uninhabitable more than three years ago and they have not formally disposed of the uninhabitable home or purchased or built a new home in the interim?

A. Yes. They may be eligible for the first-time homebuyer credit when they purchase a new principal residence. (11/19/09)

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: February 04, 2010

Maine Association of REALTORS®
19 Community Dr. Augusta, ME 04330

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

101 Things about Portland....

19. Tonight I decided to try an old favorite for dinner. Dogfish Cafe is located on lower Congress across from the bus station. Although not in a glamorous location, the restaurant is cozy and welcoming. The bar was active and the tables filled by the time I left. I got a corner table and read the paper while I waited for my burger. They cook them the way you want and it was juicy served on a whole wheat bun. I opted for a side of sweet potato fries that were shoestring style and very crispy. Very relaxed, pleasant experience.

RE/MAX Urges Lenders to Release Properties

RE/MAX Urges Lenders to Release Properties
Record Foreclosure Numbers Need to Be Tackled Head On

(Denver, CO, February 10, 2010) – Dave Liniger, RE/MAX International Chairman and Co-Founder, urged government and economic leaders to push lenders to release foreclosures to help speed the housing recovery. Liniger made his comments as a featured speaker at the Five Star Government Forum in Washington D.C. The Forum brought government and industry leaders together to share ideas for building stability in the nation's housing market.

"Most of us feel that there is a tsunami of properties out there. I can assure you in the hardest hit areas of the country, there are bidding wars going on," said Liniger, the only speaker representing a real estate company. "So, for those lenders who are here listening, now is the time to release properties, because you've got the Homebuyer Tax Credit that's driving buyers into the market, and a limited window of opportunity to get these properties sold before the credit expires this year."

Liniger explained that in some markets experiencing high foreclosure rates, homes in price ranges that qualify for FHA financing are attracting a lot of attention. In these areas, there are multiple offers from investors and first-time buyers, which indicates there’s a real shortage of available homes.

The Five Star Forum focused on the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), and the challenges facing mortgage lenders in modifying loans under the program. It brought this group of influential leaders together to begin the hard conversation on how better to keep more Americans from losing their homes.

Over the past year, RE/MAX International has led the way on the housing recovery. Liniger and other RE/MAX representatives met with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, as well as officials with FHA, Fannie Mae, the Treasury Department, and the Homeowner Preservation Office. RE/MAX offered recommendations for streamlining the Short Sale process, some of which the Treasury Department adopted when it announced a new process last November.

In 2009, RE/MAX trained more than 10,000 agents to handle Short Sales. More RE/MAX agents have earned the Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE) designation than agents with any other real estate company. Surveys show that after earning a CDPE designation, agents are twice as likely to be able to keep families in their homes. And, if the best route is a Short Sale, CDPE agents are much more successful at completing the transaction.

"In our industry, we talk about distressed properties, but we're dealing with distressed sellers, distressed human beings," said Liniger. "They're humiliated by their situation, and that's why 70% of them never pick up the phone to help themselves when they're faced with a foreclosure. That's where Short Sales come in. They provide a better way for both the homeowner and the lender."

While some cities and markets are experiencing a recovery, as both home sales and prices rise, others are not faring as well. Overall, the real estate industry is in a correction, according to Liniger, who sees distressed properties making up the majority of sales for the next three to five years. And, after that, another housing boom may be on the horizon.

"Once this correction is over, we have a whole new generation of homebuyers waiting to get into the market. But we have to get through this first, and the best way to do that is to take it head on."

© 2010 RE/MAX International, Inc. RE/MAX Affiliates may share this article, provided they do not charge for it and this notice is included. All other rights reserved.

101 Things about Portland...

18. Sunsets, this snapped from my car.

RE/MAX By The Bay/ Number One!!!

Just heard that our office in Portland Maine--RE/MAX By The Bay--is number one in sales by volume in all New England!!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

101 Things I Love about Greater Portland...

17. Easy day trips to fun places like Camden Maine. I travelled to Camden today in under 2 hours. Of course it was quicker without the summer Route One traffic but a nice place to visit any time of year. You can also hit Rockland and Rockport if you want to see even more of the area. There are lots of restaurants. I ate at the Boynton-McKay which is a fun spot from an old apothecary/ soda fountain. There are still lots of nostalgic bottles and drugstore items on the shelves and a tin ceiling. You eat in cozy booths.
Lots of delicious items for breakfast including handmade donuts. I had a delicious scramble with fresh veggies.
The small downtown area has lots of cute boutiques and specialty shops including a mall with antiques, crafts, and clothes. The harbor is spectacular. Take a cruise in the summer. Cappy's on the corner has great Maine atmosphere and good grub.

Monday, February 15, 2010


What to Offer

A REALTOR® can help you find your perfect home, but only you can decide how much you are willing to offer for it. The REALTOR® can supply you with information about the selling prices and marketing time of other houses in the area.

Once you have determined the amount you are willing to offer, the REALTOR® will help you prepare a written offer. In most transactions you will offer to deposit earnest money with the escrow agent. Earnest money manifests your sincerity in making a reasonable offer and abiding by the terms of the written contract.

Contract forms
Your REALTOR® will help you prepare an offer using standard forms. The offer, if accepted, will become a binding contract. This document is the most important paper you will sign because it lays out all the terms of the transaction. It will contain such things as:

a legal description of the property,

any property that will be transferred with the home, (blinds, curtains, fireplace screens, etc.)

the price,

financing conditions and contingencies,

amount of earnest money deposit,

name of the escrow agent and title company,

proration of insurance, taxes, and interest,

fees to be paid and who pays for which,

rights to inspect the property and for repairs to be made,

dates of closing and possession, and

what happens if either party defaults on the contract.

Inspections and warranties
Before signing the contract, take precautions to protect yourself against unseen defects in the home. An inspection by a qualified inspector or other professional can provide you with unbiased opinions about the condition of components and systems in the property such as the foundation, mechanical systems, plumbing systems, appliances, etc.

If you can, accompany the inspector at the time the inspection is conducted. When ordering the inspection, ask the inspector the approximate time needed to complete the inspection so you can reserve sufficient time from your schedule. Be sure to ask the inspector to detail the scope of the inspection. Not every inspector inspects every component in a house. For example, does the inspector inspect foundations, air conditioning and heating units, roofs, swimming pools, septic tanks, etc.? The cost of home inspection depends on the size of the home, but the price could prove to be worth it. It's also a good idea to get a termite and other wood destroying insect inspection.

You may also want to investigate the possibility of buying a residential service contract. Such a contract is an agreement with a residential service company that certain items will be repaired by the company if such items fail to function after you move in. If you buy a new home, the builder may offer a warranty as well. Whether you buy a residential service contract or receive any other warranty, find out how claims will be processed and how any necessary repairs will be made.

Seller's options
The REALTOR® working with you will present the contract to the seller's agent or seller. The seller has three options: accept, reject or make a counter offer. A counter offer is a rejection of the offer with a simultaneous offer from the seller to the buyer. If a seller makes a counter offer to you, you then have three options: accept, reject, or make another counter offer. Whoever makes an offer or counter offer is giving the power of acceptance to the recipient of the offer or counter offer.

Binding contract
Once you and the seller unequivocally agree to the written terms and both of you sign, the document becomes a binding contract.

As part of the contract you may have the right to have the property inspected and certain repairs may be required to be completed. Be sure that you pay close attention as to when certain items must be completed. Otherwise, you may waive some contractual rights. For example, the contract may provide for you to deliver a copy of the inspection report to the seller within a specified time and to deliver a list of the items you require to be repaired. If you fail to provide the information within the specified time, the contract may provide that you waived certain rights.

The contract may also set out other contingencies that have to be satisfied. We cannot address all conditions and contingencies. Read the contract carefully, know its terms and comply with its requirements timely.

If repairs are required, the contract will specify who will bear the cost of the repairs, who will arrange for the repairs, and when the repairs must be made. Before you close, be sure that the condition of the property meets the required condition specified in the contract.

101 Things about Portland (cont)...

15.Norm's Bar and Grill on Middle Street offers a great Happy Hour from 4 to 6 pm.
Delicious BBQ wings, crackers, cheese, veggies! They have a deal on drinks--currently a $6 Stohli White Russian. Sage, the bartender, is friendly and knowledgeable. The black bean soup is top notch and comes with a nice moist piece of cornbread.
16. New England Imports car repairs and maintenance at 55 St James St
Portland, ME 04102 (207) 772-0199. The guys are fair and competent for all our cars--Jaguar, Audi TT and SAAB. They are trustworthy and reasonnable.

101 Things about Portland, the list goes on....

13. I ate breakfast, really lunch, at one of my favorite spots. Although they don't serve meals past 2pm, it is called Hot Suppa'. Located on Congress Street, this small restaurant with lunch counter serves up some great breakfast food but I am hooked on their grilled cheese and creamy tomato soup combo. You get one side with it and I always get their twice-cooked fries. You know, the ones that are really crisp and golden brown!
14. In the mood for candy? Head directly to Haven's. They have a couple locations including a shop on Forest Avenue in Portland. There are usually some samples out on the counter and the selection is fantastic. I like the Jordan crackers which are like finger-sized crackers dipped in milk or dark chocolate.
TIP to be HIP: The lastest thing is to combine sweet and salty so try a chocolate caramel with a few grains of salt on top!

Pricing Your Home

Set The Price

To set the right price on a home, combine an objective evaluation of your property with a realistic assessment of market conditions.

You are more likely to benefit by determining a fair value and sticking close to it than by asking an unrealistic figure.

Underpricing can deprive you of money that's rightfully yours. Unless rushed, aim for full market value.

Study the Comparables

Be cautious of either overpricing or underpricing if you rely on less-than-solid information. Know your competition. Learn the offering and selling prices of similar properties. Find out how long each took to sell.

Compare your home to others close in age, style, size, condition and location. Timing is all-important. If market demand is high, you should be able to increase the price. Sales prices of homes are published in local or regional sections of newspapers.

Get an Appraisal

Appraisal opinions are subject to honest dispute. Generally, an appraisal prepared by an experienced, licensed professional comes as close to an objective evaluation as you can get.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Home Buyer Tax Credit 2009/2010

The Basics:
Extended Home Buyer Tax Credit 2009/2010

As part of its plan to stimulate the U.S. housing market and address the economic challenges facing our nation, Congress has passed new legislation that:

Extends the First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit of up to $8,000 to first-time home buyers until April 30, 2010.
Expands the credit to grant up to $6,500 credit to current home owners purchasing a new or existing home between November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010.
Here is more information about how the Extended Home Buyer Tax Credit can help prospective home buyers become part of the American dream. If you have specific questions or need additional information, please contact a tax professional or the Internal Revenue Service at 800-829-1040.

Latest news:
Tax Credit Extension a Positive Step Toward Real Estate Recovery (Nov.5)
President's Podcast: Tax Credit Extended (Nov. 5)

Who Qualifies for the Extended Credit?

First-time home buyers who purchase homes between November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010.

Current home owners purchasing a home between November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010, who have used the home being sold or vacated as a principal residence for five consecutive years within the last eight.
To qualify as a "first-time home buyer" the purchaser or his/her spouse may not have owned a residence during the three years prior to the purchase.

If you or your client purchased a home between January 1, 2009 and November 6, 2009, please see: 2009 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit.

Which Properties Are Eligible?

The Extended Home Buyer Tax Credit may be applied to primary residences, including: single-family homes, condos, townhomes, and co-ops.

How Much Is Available?

The maximum allowable credit for first-time home buyers is $8,000.

The maximum allowable credit for current homeowners is $6,500.

How is a Buyer's Credit Amount Determined?

Each home buyer's tax credit is determined by two additional factors:

The price of the home.
The buyer's income.

Under the Extended Home Buyer Tax Credit, credit may only be awarded on homes purchased for $800,000 or less.

Buyer Income

Under the Extended Home Buyer Tax Credit, which is effective on November 7, 2009, single buyers with incomes up to $125,000 and married couples with incomes up to $225,000-may receive the maximum tax credit.

These income limits have changed from the 2009 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit limits. If you or your client purchased a home between January 1, 2009 and November 6, 2009, please see 2009 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit.

If the Buyer(s)' Income Exceeds These Limits, Can He/She Still Get a Credit?

Yes, some buyers may still be eligible for the credit.

The credit decreases for buyers who earn between $125,000 and $145,000 for single buyers and between $225,000 and $245,000 for home buyers filing jointly. The amount of the tax credit decreases as his/her income approaches the maximum limit. Home buyers earning more than the maximum qualifying income-over $145,000 for singles and over $245,000 for couples are not eligible for the credit.

Can a Buyer Still Qualify If He/She Closes After April 30, 2010?

Under the Extended Home Buyer Tax Credit, as long as a written binding contract to purchase is in effect on April 30, 2010, the purchaser will have until July 1, 2010 to close.

Will the Tax Credit Need to Be Repaid?

No. The buyer does not need to repay the tax credit, if he/she occupies the home for three years or more. However, if the property is sold during this three-year period, the full amount credit will be recouped on the sale.

Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

Appraisal Basics

An appraisal of real estate is the valuation of the rights of ownership. The appraiser must define the rights he intends to appraise.

The appraiser does not create value, the appraiser interprets the market to arrive at a value estimate. As the appraiser compiles data pertinent to a report, consideration must be given to the site and amenities as well as the physical condition of the property. An appraiser may spend only a short time inspecting the property, however, this is only the beginning.

Considerable research and collection of general and specific data must be accomplished before the appraiser can arrive at a final opinion of value.

Due to the many types of value, such as Fair Market Value, Insurance Value, Tax Value and Value In Use, the need to precisely define the purpose of the appraisal is essential.

Appraisal Methods

An appraisal is an opinion of value or the act or process of estimating value. This opinion or estimate is derived by using three common approaches, all derived from the market. They are:

Cost Approach to value is what it would cost to replace or reproduce the improvements as of the date of the appraisal, less the Physical Deterioration, the Functional Obsolescence and the Economic Obsolescence. The remainder is added to the Land Value.
Comparison Approach to value makes use of other "bench mark" properties of similar size, quality and location that have been recently sold. A comparison is made to the subject property.
Income Approach to value is of primary importance in ascertaining the value of income producing properties and has little weight in residential type properties. This approach provides an objective estimate of what a prudent investor would pay based upon the net income the property produces.
Then, after thorough analysis of all general and specific data gathered from the market, a final estimate or opinion of value is correlated.

Why should appraisals be ordered?

To settle an estate:
Taxing authorities such as the IRS often require appraisals to establish the value of an estate when a death occurs. Generally, the survivors want a conservative value estimate that limits their tax liability as much as possible. Most estate appraisals are ordered by attorneys, not by the survivors.

To establish the replacement cost for insurance:
Appraisals obtained for establishing the loss risk in case of fire are often limited to providing an estimate of the replacement or reproduction cost of the improvements. The insurable value may not be representative of market value and usually does not include the value of the land. Insurance agents may order appraisals when their standard cost service manuals are not adaptable to an atypical home or structure. Or property owners may order appraisals to contest the annual appreciation increases mandated by some insurance companies, especially when the increase in the insurance coverage results in an unrealistic Premium.

To establish just compensation for condemnation: The appraiser may represent either the landowner or the condemning authority. Usually, the government entity that needs the land for public use orders an appraisal and offers to purchase the land for the value indicated by the appraisal. If the landowner feels that the amount offered by the condemning authority is not enough, then the landowner may also order an appraisal. If the parties cannot agree on a price, then the matter will be settled in court with each appraiser testifying on behalf of their respective value estimates. The appraisers are not advocates for their client; they are expert witnesses trying to support their value estimates.

Often landowners do not consider ordering another appraisal from an appraiser of their choice. Usually, they try to settle with the authority by negotiation rather than incur the expense of an appraisal. It is obvious that the landowner's negotiating position would be enhanced if a supporting professional appraisal report were available.

To contest high property taxes
If property owners feel that their property is assessed too high, then they may order an appraisal from a qualified appraiser to contest the assessment. In certain parts of the country this practice is common, but many property owners are not aware that this avenue of reducing their tax burden is available. The return on investment is easy to perceive when the cost of an appraisal is compared to several years of lower taxes. Sometimes these assignments include an appearance in front of the equalization board to argue the landowner's case. The appraiser, however, must be careful not to base the appraisal fee on the dollar amount of the appraised value, which could be a violation of the USPAP.

When to Order an Appraisal

There are many reasons to obtain an appraisal. The most common reason is for Real Estate and Mortgage Transactions, but we have compiled a list of other reasons you may need to order an appraisal:

to obtain a loan.
to lower your tax burden.
to establish the replacement cost of insurance.
to contest high property taxes.
to settle an estate.
to help you make one of the largest financial decisions in your life.
to provide a negotiating tool when purchasing real estate.
to determine a reasonable price when selling real estate.
to protect your rights in a condemnation case.
to allow you to obtain a qualified appraisal report.
because a government agency such as the IRS requires it.
you are involved in a lawsuit.
Home's Market Value

In the real world, very few individuals order appraisal reports to establish an offering price or to substantiate a purchase price. At the point that an offer to purchase (in a typical residential transaction) is made, the price has been set by other parties, not the purchaser. The price has been determined by the seller, who wishes to obtain the highest price possible, or the agent, who receives a percentage of the price as compensation and often represents the seller in the transaction.

The real estate agent will typically perform a comparative market analysis (CMA). The appraisal laws in most states allow real estate agents to perform CMAs without an appraiser's license or certification. A CMA is a necessary part of the agent's preparation for a listing and consists of examining sales of properties in the area to arrive at a listing price. The reliability of the CMA depends upon the agent's experience and the characteristics of the property. The agent will suggest a selling price to the seller based upon the analysis. However, neither the seller nor the agent are bound by the results of the analysis, and the agent is not required to follow any formal procedure in completing the CMA. If a seller wishes to list the property at a price higher than the price suggested by the agent, then the agent may be forced to accept the listing at that price or risk losing a commission.

Purchasers believe that they are getting a good deal if they make an offer lower than the listed price. But how far above the market value was the property listed? 10%, 15%, maybe even 20% above the fair market value? A negotiated price of 10% less than the listed price on a property that was listed at 20% above its value is not a bargain. The agent cannot tell the purchaser that the offered price is higher than the value, or even higher than their own CMA. In most states, they must submit the offer to the seller.

The seller of a property may want to order an appraisal before listing the property. Of course, the cost of the appraisal is always a deterrent, especially if the seller knows that a buyer will pay for it when applying for a loan. But the appraisal is often justified. The seller could lose a sale if the property appraised for less than the sale price when appraised by the appraiser.

Appraisal To Obtain Loan

Usually, individuals applying for a loan are only interested in obtaining the loan and unfortunately are not worried about the prudence of buying the property at the agreed price. In fact, many purchasers will try to encourage appraisers to increase the appraised value so that they can purchase the home regardless of its value.

The majority of real estate appraisals are requested by mortgage companies to validate the property's purchase price for loan purposes. Except for periods of very low interest rates when everyone is refinancing, most loans are for the purchase of real estate and ordered after a sale price is negotiated. Purchasers mistakenly assume that mortgage companies are looking after their interests in the purchase transaction.

The law states that if the mortgage company orders the appraisal, the appraiser is responsible only to the mortgage company. We expect mortgage companies to be prudent and they should be, but being prudent is protecting their interest, not necessarily the purchaser's. The mortgage company's position:

It has two sources of repayment: the purchaser's income and the property.
The responsibility to repay the loan is not based upon the property's value, so the purchaser is obligated to pay the note even if the property value declines to zero.
The loan may be insured or guaranteed by a government agency.
The government does not promise to pay the purchaser's debt if the property value is wrong.
If the loan is greater than 80% of the value, a portion of the loan may be insured by a private mortgage insurer.
There is no decrease in risk for the purchaser regardless of the loan-to-value ratio. The investment by the purchaser is the same, a mixture of personal cash and a loan that must be repaid.
Helping the Appraiser

Once you have selected an appraiser, be prepared to answer questions and provide requested information.

What is the purpose of the appraisal?
When is the required completion date of the appraisal?
Is property listed for sale and if so, for how much and with whom?
Is there a mortgage? If so, with whom, when placed, for how much, type of mortgage [FHA, VA etc.], interest rate, and any other types of financing.
What personal property, such as appliances, are included ?
If it is an income­producing property, provide a breakdown of income and expenses for the last year or two and a copy of leases.
Provide a copy of deed, survey, purchase agreement or other pertinent papers pertaining to the property.
Provide a copy of current real estate tax bill, statement of special assessments, balance owing and on what [sewer, water, etc.].

Portland Maine Best Place to Live and Play

Today was a great reminder of why Portland is a great city. It began at the Portland Museum of Art for the jazz brunch with Mom. The museum schedules different groups from 10 to noon in the cafe. It has become very popular so you need to go early to get seats or a bistro table if you want the brunch. I had a delicious quiche with small side salad but there were lots of yummy sweets too like sticky buns and for Valentine's Day--chocolate cupcakes!

I brought the Sunday paper and enjoyed the Port City ensemble led by Carl Bradford. They play a lot of old standards like "My Funny Valentine". We used to take my grandmother to listen to this group up until a few years ago when she passed at 104 and 1/2 years old!

The current exhibit is Four Centuries of Still Life from the Norton Museum of Art--
February 4-June 6. Includes works by Chagall, Picasso, and many more.

After the performance, we ate a light lunch and headed to the Portland Stage Company also in downtown Portland. The play The Mystery of Irma Vep was a tour de force by 2 outstanding actors playing all the roles-- no matter the gender. It was full of double entendres and references to other plays and movies. I highly recommend it.

For more information:
Portland Museum of Art
Seven Congress Square
Portland, Maine 04101
(207) 775-6148
(207) 773-7324 Fax
Portland Stage Company
P.O. Box 1458
Portland, ME 04104

Box Office: (207) 774-0465

Saturday, February 13, 2010

101 Things I Love about Portland Maine continues...

11.Restaurant category: for Chinese food, my husband and I always head back to Panda Garden on Brighton Avenue. We have tried most of the others but we find the food really delicious and fresh and the staff all treat us like returning friends.
We sometimes drop in late to get a drink and appetizer and they are still very welcoming. Sometimes they give out discount certificates for $2 to $3 for your next visit, too.
12.My neighborhood, Deering Highlands is a great area with lots of old Victorian homes with charm and character, big trees, and nice people.

Feel free to add your own things to the list!

Friday, February 12, 2010

RE/MAX at the Olympics/ Bode Miller

Valentine's Day Nostalgia

I just sent an animated Valetine card out to my clients and I got thinking about Valentine's Day when I was in school. We used to decorate individual boxes with doilies and cupids and hearts. Then all the kids would go around and drop cards in the other kids' boxes. You were supposed to get one for everyone and there was always one with an apple for the teacher. I wonder how many duplicates they got each year? Anyway, the cards had silly jokes or poems but some were somewhat "lovey-dovey". You had to decide who you dared give those to.

Do kids still give out Valentine's at school? Hope you all have a very Happy Valentine's Day!

Energy Saving Tips

Go to the Energy Star website for lots of energy saving tips and information about government programs. : http://www.energystar.gov/

A Guest Spot from Lender

A loan process begins with an initial consultation. It is very important to discuss with the client what they hope to accomplish when applying for a mortgage. Then, it is my job to best determine how to accomplish that goal…based on the information provided. The best thing to remember is to disclose any / all information…even if you think it may create a hurtle. Remember, my job is to act as the representative for the borrower and I structure the loan for presentation to underwriting. It is best that I know what we are working with up front then to find out later, no one likes surprises.



Kim Brown

Senior Loan Officer

Reliant Mortgage Company, LLC

970 Baxter Blvd., Portland, Maine 04103

Direct: 207-553-7517

Cell: 207-329-2100

Efax: 207-482-7660


List for Buyers: Wants and Needs

What You Want, What You Need

Here are some suggestions to help you prepare for your search.

Needs and wants list
Make a list of your needs and wants. Do you need an extra bathroom, a garage, a fenced backyard, lower utility bills? Do you want a fireplace, a short drive to work, a lakeside view, or maybe minimal yard work?

Once your list is made, go back over it and decide what is most important to your lifestyle. It may be privacy, creativity, or recreation. Decide which items are musts and which you are willing to give up. Assign each item a priority so that you will know what to look for as you begin house hunting.

Deciding where you want to live may be the single most important factor in choosing a home. Location affects your day-to-day living. Location to employment centers, shopping centers, schools, major traffic arteries, and other attractions are important. Evaluate location carefully. Location of a property is one of the most significant influences on value.

Your choice of location may be limited somewhat by the price you can afford. Even so, make sure you consider such things as:

prices of properties and property taxes,

distance to work, schools, shopping, and entertainment,

proposed changes in land use such as commercial shopping centers and roads, and potential hazards such as flooding and noise from a nearby airport or highways.
Type of home and lot
A single-family detached home is attractive to a lot of people because it typically provides more living space and land area than other types of living units. Typically the detached structure permits you greater freedom (less restrictions) on remodeling, expanding, painting, and altering the appearances of the structure.

If you don't like spending leisure time on yard work, consider garden or patio homes. These homes are set on small lots. Many garden home developments share common garden areas.
A condominium is another option. Condos and patio homes often offer shared greenbelts or membership in private recreational facilities such as swimming, golf, and tennis.

New vs. older homes
In selecting the type of home you want, consider new versus preowned homes. Preowned homes usually have established yards, and usually the neighborhood or subdivision is built-out. On the other hand, older homes may require more maintenance and need some repairs.

New homes are not without problems. Although they require less maintenance in the first few years, you may have to put in landscaping and call the builder back to correct faults. If buildings are still active in area, you may have to endure nearby construction.

Finally, consider size and style. You may already have in mind a wood-and-glass contemporary lodge with sun decks or a two-story Victorian mansion with a cozy attic. Or you won't know what you like until you see it. Either way, your REALTOR® will listen to your preferences and help you find the right home for you.

IRS info on Tax Credit

Be sure to check out this important info about the tax credit for firsttime and repeat homebuyers. Copy and paste this link: @ http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=215827,00.html

Don't miss out on this historic opportunity.

101 Things I love about Greater Portland Maine

I have decided to start a list of things I love about this area in order to entice new buyers to the area or just to remind fellow residents about what a great city we live in. I will add a few at a time and feel free to tell me about things I might have missed. So, considering this a workin progress, here are my first 10:
1. The waterfront; we are located on Casco Bay leading out to the Atlantic Ocean and a host of beautiful islands, some populated year round.
2. The rich history; there are many historical sites and buildings including the Portland Observatory, built in 1807, it is the last surviving maritime signal tower in the United States. Using both a telescope and lantern, two-way communication between ship and shore was possible several hours before an incoming vessel reached the docks. I will return to our history from time to time.
3. Restaurants--Oh the variety is incredible! This is a category I will return to regularly since I rarely cook. Just tried a new one yesterday with my sister. The Corner Room on Exchange was very relaxed with a fun waitstaff person named James providing great service. We had a delicious pizza with olives. They served up some yummy bread with olive oil, too.
4. I feel very safe in Portland. As a lifelong resident, I have never worried about crime rates.
5. Museum of Art, always interesting with a well-stocked gift shop and cafe with fresh sandwiches and baked goods. Sunday mornings they have live jazz in the cafe. I will keep you posted about their exhibits.
6. Galleries, lots of them and on the first Friday of every month, there is an Art Walk with all the galleries offering wine, cheese etc.
7.Theater, we have several from professional to community. I will return to this category with reviews. This Sunday I am going to Portland Stage to see The Mystery of Irma Vep.
8. Cupcakes, now this category is one dear to my heart!! I have found a really good cake with buttercream frosting at Two Fat Cats Bakery.
9.Antiques, the area has lots of great shops including some really wonderful group ones with multiple dealers displaying wares. I look forward to the Spring opening of Cornish Trading Center.
10.People, I will feature interesting people that I meet or know already. This is a very friendly city!
More soon.....

Monday, February 8, 2010

What clients have said.....

"Working with Nancy took a lot of the anxiety out of buying my first place. She knows all of Portland's nooks and crannies, the character of each neighborhood, and the ins and outs of the ever changing real estate landscape. Once we were under contract, she calmed nerves, expedited paperwork and asked all the right questions. I couldn't have asked for a better buying experience!"
-Holly Parker

"Buying a home for the first time is supposed to be stressful and overwhelming, but we didn't feel that way working with Nancy. Every weekend we looked forward to having an adventure together. She was patient and relaxed - never pushy. When we finally found the place that was exactly what we were looking for, she led us step by step through the purchase process, working closely with our banker to make things clear and easy for us."--Emily and Christian

About the blogger...

Nancy, licensed Associate Broker, is a Portland native who attended local schools and graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a degree in Art History. She and her husband reside in a century old Victorian home and they enjoy the art and the culture the area offers, including the Portland Museum of Art, the many art galleries, theaters, antiques, and restaurants.

She has worked in the travel industry where she promoted the area to large groups of tourists visiting the city while on cruises. She also owned an antique business which complements her love of decorating.

Nancy has an extensive background in social services, including directing the YWCA’s Women’s Residence. She provided services to women in crisis or transition to help foster positive growth and to build their self-esteem. Her program empowered women to make life-affirming choices while residing in a safe and supportive environment. She brings this experience dealing with people in transition to her position as a real estate professional.

Nancy will be sensitive to your personal needs, conscientious, and diligent as she guides you through the process of buying or selling property. She is enthusiastic about sharing her love of the Greater Portland area and her knowledge of its vibrant housing market with you.

Nancy has successfully completed the Accredited Home Staging Specialist Course. She can provide advice that is specific to your home.

Nancy has also completed the Energy Smart Real Estate Specialist certification so will be able to make recommendations to promote energy efficiency in your home.

Welcome to my blog

In my quest to make this the year of social media to advance my real estate business by providing helpful information to clients, family, and friends, I am starting this blog. I want this to be interesting, educational, and fun. I will try to include updates on the market, staging ideas and trends, advice on buying and selling, and pertinent facts and other info about Maine with a concentration on the Greater Portland area. So let the adventure begin....