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16 Jun 2017

Five Multiple Offer Strategies

Posted by Michael Sosnowski. No Comments

Today we’re highlighting 5 of the best, most successful multiple offer strategies that really work in today’s real estate market, to ensure Maine Home Connection Buyers and Sellers end up with a purchase price that makes sense.

For would-be home buyers, competing against multiple offers to win the home of your dreams can be… more than a little stressful.  Our buyers, sellers, and friends are all curious about how best to navigate a multiple-offer real estate transaction. There’s no doubt it can be difficult if you are not prepared with the right strategies.

Southern Maine is experiencing a seller’s market. Home inventory levels are drastically low and there are not enough reasonably priced homes available to meet the demand.

This frequently leads to homes selling much quicker than normal and often well above asking. It all boils down to the basic economic principle of supply and demand. If demand is high and supply is low, prices go up.

Buying a home can be very emotional, especially when you’re competing against multiple offers. We use these strategies for our clients, and we trust they will be helpful to you, too.

1: Have Your Pre-Approval Letter Ready To Go!

Let’s start simply.  If you are looking at homes with a licensed Realtor® then you should already have a pre-approval letter in your back pocket.  When competing in a multiple offer market, it’s especially important to be prepared! The very first step in purchasing a new home is to meet with a lender, and it is best to use someone locally – and get pre-approved for a mortgage. This should be an amount that you are 100% comfortable with spending.  Too many home buyers that we meet with for the first time haven’t really given enough thought to financing.  This may seem surprising, but it is unfortunately true.

Your pre-approval amount sets the entire stage for your home search. Now you’re ready to get out there and do some serious home shopping, not just some serious home touring. The reason it’s so important to have that pre-approval letter when you do decide to write an offer (and particularly when dealing with multiple offers) is it demonstrates to a Seller that you are a serious, pre-approved buyer that actually has the financial means to buy their home. If an offer you’re competing with doesn’t have their pre-approval letter, you can see how your letter puts you in the stronger position.

Working with a LOCAL lender, especially in today’s real estate market, is more important than you might think.

2. Increase Your Earnest Money

Perhaps 80% of all Maine home buyers had no idea what earnest money was when it came time to write an offer. It’s one of those things that doesn’t get talked about all that often. The earnest money amount in an offer can be a very subtle but effective piece in the ‘multiple offer strategies’ puzzle. Typically, earnest money is between 1-2% of the overall purchase price. On a $250,000 purchase, earnest money would usually be somewhere between $2,500-$4,000 in a traditional real estate market. A Buyer pays the earnest money after their offer is accepted. If you back out or the deal falls through for a reason not covered by contingencies, the seller potentially gets to keep this money. This strategy works if you have the cash available to pay a little more earnest money to show the seller how serious you are about buying their home and winning the offer.

Ultimately, if you do end up buying the house, the Earnest Money will either be applied to your down payment or your closing costs; consider it a small down payment for your new home. Sometimes it literally comes down to just a couple thousand dollars to win the offer–especially when you are in a multiple offer scenario!

3. Be Flexible

This may sound a bit vague, so let’s expand on it.  One of the first hurdles in successfully winning a multiple offer scenario is getting the Seller to accept your offer, not the other buyer. Now that you’ve won and have the house under contract, the next few steps are the most critical in keeping the deal together and ultimately closing/purchasing the home. It’s important to remember that the seller had other options, so be as sensitive and flexible in your future negotiations as possible.

If your offer was contingent on inspection, be selective about what you ask the seller to pay for or repair. The seller is not going to be interested in spending thousands of dollars to fix a bunch of insignificant items that a buyer simply might not like or care for. In such a hot market, where the seller may have the opportunity for multiple offers, he or she may tell you to take a hike. Make sense? Respond quickly to any requests for information and be flexible if things like the closing date shift.

If you are aware of any stipulations that are of significant importance to the seller, try to accommodate them as much as possible. Remember, it’s the house you’re after, not the high efficiency washer/dryer combo or the awesome swing set in the backyard. If there are ways to accommodate the seller without giving too much, do so. And remember, don’t turn off the seller by being too demanding or overly critical of their home. It’s important to remember that, ultimately, the Buyer and Seller really have the same goal so why not be flexible with one another in an effort to reach that goal!

4. Offer More Than List Price

As the buyer, I’m sure you must be saying “There’s no way I’m paying over list price!” In the greater Portland area, as is the case in many other parts of the country, home buyers really don’t like paying the full asking price for a home; EVEN if it is perfect and EVEN if they are competing with multiple offers! The reality is, when you’re competing with multiple offers in a hot seller’s market, chances are whoever buys that house is going to pay over list price. So, if you really love the house then why not just go for it! Try not to get too caught up in the fact that you’re paying over list price. Sometimes Sellers will actually underprice a home in an effort to create a bidding war among buyers. That being said, it’s always important to remember your budget and a dollar amount you’re comfortable with spending. This is where the advice of a knowledgeable and professional Realtor® can be a tremendous asset! In a competitive market, a seller might scoff at being offered the list price for their home if comparable homes have been selling above list. Offer to pay what you think is a fair price based on the research you and your Realtor® have done.

There’s really no way of knowing what the other multiple offers are, so you have to focus on the fair market value of the home vs. a budget you’re comfortable with. We have worked with plenty of Maine home Buyers that actually decided to walk away from a home, knowing that it was in multiple offers, because they didn’t want to blow their budget out of the water. It’s easy to get caught up in “action” and forget that you have a budget. So stick to it and shop smart!

5. Include a Personal Letter with Your Offer

This is by far the MOST underutilized multiple offer strategy available.  Even if you’re not in a multiple offer situation, this is still a great strategy that might save you a little money on the front end and may make for a smoother transaction in general. Buying and/or selling a home is a very emotional process for everyone involved, and, as human beings, we all love that personal and human connection with one another. Just look at all the sharing of personal pictures and videos all over social media. So, why not embrace that connection and include a short letter introducing yourself and talking about why you love the home so much!

Chances are the person selling that home loved many of the same things you do. BOOM! …now you’ve got a connection. Often we see the “selling side” and “buying side” pit themselves against one another like they’re enemies. In every Maine Home Connection transaction, we do our best to bring buyers and sellers together – at the end of the day a Buyer and Seller really have the same goal so why not be flexible and work with one another in an effort to reach that goal? This can be especially important in a competitive, multiple offer scenario.

We hope these 5 tips will help you in the current real estate market both now and in the future. If we can assist you with buying or selling a home, please give our office a call at 207-517-3100. We look forward to connecting with you!

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19 May 2017

Maine Homes Sales April YTD

Posted by Michael Sosnowski. No Comments

Single-family homes sales in Maine continued a recent trend in April as YTD sales volume was again lower than the record setting pace of 2016. Median selling prices, however, continue their push upward. The first graph below highlights sales for Maine, Cumber and York Counties and selected local communities.

Single Family Sales

While sales across Maine were down 3.1%, many communities in the greater Portland area are significantly behind 2016. Portland sales are down 31%, followed by several other towns in double-digits. Falmouth, Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough are all ahead of last year.

Pricing is universally strong as price appreciation in Cumberland York Counties exceeds that of Maine. Nearly every town in the greater Portland area is ahead of 2016 through the first four months of 2017.

Inventory

The graph below compares active inventory at month end versus homes under-contract (pending) for Cumberland County. Inventory is drastically lower (and much lower than the pre-bubble level). For comparison, the inventory in April 2010 was 2,337!

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Categories: Sales Statistics, Video

17 Apr 2017

Single Family Sales Slow in March

Posted by Michael Sosnowski. No Comments

Through the first three months of 2017, sales of single family homes are … Only Human!  Following last year’s record breaking first quarter, homes sales throughout the state have slowed somewhat – reflecting a marginal increase of 1.2% statewide.  Sales in Cumberland and York counties were behind last year by 2 and 4 % respectively.

Single Family Homes

Nearly every community in the greater Portland area recorded sales decreases, many in double digits.  The graph below includes the details.  Portland, far and away the largest market, was down a significant 22%. – recording lower sales in each of the first three months of 2017.

Prices Continue to Increase – Inventory Low

Median pricing, however, continues to improve as the YTD level of $186,000 represents a 6% increase over 2016.  Pricing in Cumberland County is up 7%, as many local towns experienced record levels based on an unusually high proportion of upper end homes being sold. inventory continues to be low, with March’s being at the lowest level in 15 years.  Yes, 15 years!

Condo Sales are up

Through the first three months of 2017 condo sales in Cumberland County remained strong, up 8.7%.  The YTD median selling price of $245,000 is up 4.2%.  A word of caution, however, in that March 2017 prices were down from the highs recorded in the fourth quarter of 2016.  In 2016 median prices increase consistently all year, and first quarter 2017 are being compared to those results.

Until next time…..Imagine More!


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5 Apr 2017

In Search of Sunlight

Posted by Michael Sosnowski. No Comments

In case you missed it, the calendar officially turned to spring only days ago. Hi, I’m Laura Sosnowski with Maine Home Connection and I don’t know about you, but the recent cold weather and lingering dirty snow can be a little depressing.

To brighten your spirits, however, you might want to a take a few minutes to read the attached article published online by Mosaic Science: In Quest of Sunlight.

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Categories: Random Musing, Video

16 Mar 2017

Maine Homes Sale: Feb 2017 YTD

Posted by Michael Sosnowski. No Comments

Following last year’s record performance, Maine home sales have started off 2017 slightly behind 2016. Through the first 2 months of the new year, single family home sales are down 3% statewide. To keep this in perspective, however, Jan and Feb of 2016 set all time sales records by almost 20%.

In Cumberland and York Counties, sales cooled off a bit more, with both areas down 6% year-to-date.

Yet pricing continues to tend upwards. The YTD price of $185,000 is 9% ahead of 2016. Locally (the greater Portland area) pricing continues to be even stronger, reaching an MSP (median selling price) of $268,000 in Cumberland County and $240,000 in York County.

As illustrated in the graph below, you can see there are wide fluctuations by community – often reflecting the mix of properties sold in any given month and the amount of inventory available.

Speaking of inventory, the number of homes available for sale continues to be low. In Cumberland County the number of days to sell a property stands at 45 – an 18% reduction from a year ago. The number of homes currently pending versus existing inventory is 54% – which is unusually high. In some communities, like Portland for example, this statistic is almost 70% – resulting in competition among buyers for those homes currently for sale.

Across the country, inventory levels have dropped for the 20th consecutive month vs the prior year.

Home Sales 2017 YTD

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Categories: Sales Statistics, Video

24 Feb 2017

James Beard Semifinalists from Maine

Posted by Michael Sosnowski. No Comments

Twelve Maine chefs and restaurants have been named semifinalists for the 2017 James Beard Awards. They are included below, along with a short video from Laura outlining the next steps:

The semifinalists:

  • Best New Restaurant: Drifters Wife, Portland
  • Outstanding Baker: Alison Pray, Standard Baking Co., Portland
  • Outstanding Bar Program: The Portland Hunt + Alpine Club, Portland
  • Outstanding Pastry Chef: Ilma Lopez, Piccolo, Portland
  • Outstanding Restaurant: Chase’s Daily, Belfast, and Fore Street, Portland
  • Outstanding Wine, Spirits or Beer Professional: Rob Tod, Allagash Brewing Co., Portland
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Cara Stadler, Tao Yuan, Brunswick
  • Best Chef Northeast: Brian Hill, Francine Bistro, Camden; Ravin Nakjaroen, Long Grain, Camden; Keiko Suzuki Steinberger, Suzuki’s Sushi Bar, Rockland; Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley, Eventide Oyster Co., Portland
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10 Feb 2017

2016 Sales | Year in Review

Posted by Michael Sosnowski. No Comments

Maine home sales set a new record in 2016 as 17,632 single family homes were sold, representing an increase of 11.1% over 2015. Sales in both Cumberland and York counties established new records as well, up 2.5% and 11.2% respectively. All of Maine’s 16 counties experienced increases in 2016 vs 2015. Across the state, total sales volume has improved each year from 2011 to 2016.

This sustained level of growth, however, was tempered in some communities in the greater Portland area. While Portland sales exceed 600 units sold for the first time in history, other towns fell back from 2015, as the attached graph illustrates. This was a direct reflection of low inventory levels and record setting sales performances in the prior year.

Focusing on Cumberland County, where growth was the lowest in the state, monthly sales exceeded those of 2015 in only six months. Comparatively, in 2015 monthly sales exceeded those of the prior year in ten months.

In York County, where sales growth was much stronger in 2016, sales were higher in 22 of the last 24 months, compared to the previous years.

Download a Complete Report at: Maine Home Sales Report – 2016

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26 Jan 2017

Maine Year-End Unemployment Rate

Posted by Michael Sosnowski. No Comments

The Maine Department of Labor released year-end unemployment estimates for December showing the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.8%, down slightly from 4.0% in November and 4.1% from a year ago.  By comparison, The U.S. preliminary unemployment rate of 4.7% was little changed from 4.6% in November and down from 5.0% one year ago.

The New England unemployment rate averaged 3.5%. Rates for other states were 2.6% in New Hampshire, 3.1 % in Vermont, 2.8% in Massachusetts, 5.0% in Rhode Island and 4.4% in Connecticut.

Non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates ranged from 2.6% in Cumberland County to 5.5% in Somerset County. Rates tended to be lower than the statewide average in southern and central counties and higher than average in northern and rim counties.

The unemployment rate was below the statewide average in all three metro areas: Portland-South Portland (2.6%), Lewiston-Auburn (3.0%) and Bangor (3.3%).

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23 Nov 2016

October Maine Home Sales

Posted by Michael Sosnowski. No Comments

Across the US, home sales increased in October for the second straight month and eclipsed June’s cyclical sales peak to become the highest annualized pace in nearly a decade, according to the monthly report prepared by NAR.  All major regions of the country experienced monthly and annual sales increases in October.

Total existing home sales grew 2.0% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.60 million in October from an upwardly revised 5.49 million in September. October’s sales pace is 5.9% above a year ago (5.29 million) and surpasses June’s pace (5.57 million) as the highest since February 2007.

October existing-home sales in the Northeast climbed 1.4% to an annual rate of 750,000, and are now 1.4% above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $255,500, which is 2.9% above October 2015.

Maine Sales Results

Maine home sales in October were 4.4% ahead of 2015 while year-to-date results are up 10.6%, exceeding both regional and national results –and are poised to establish a new annual record.  The median selling price of $192,500 in October represented the fifth time in 2016 that the $190,000 threshold was exceeded and the YTD price of $189,900 is 4.9% ahead of last year.

In Cumberland County, the sales results continued to be mixed.  Many communities in the greater Portland area continue to experience YTD sales decreases compared to 2015, and as a result overall single-family homes sales are only up .9% in 2016 vs 2015.  The chart below highlights many nearby communities through October.  As a point of contrast, sales in York county have been above 2015 results for the last four months and 9 out of 10 so far this year.

The median selling price, however, while declining the last two months, is still 6.3% ahead of last year – well above the national average.  In all but two communities that we track regularly, 2016 prices are above 2015.

Homes priced above $500,000 were up 27.9% in October compared to the same month of 2015 and are up 12.2% year-over-year.  Interestingly, pricing in this segment is down 1.3%.

MaineHomeConnection.com is updated each month with the latest sales statistics.  You can access this information by town at Local Communities, or try our Interactive Sales Chart. If you don’t see what you are looking for, we can prepare a custom report for you.

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21 Nov 2016

Move Your Home, Change Your Life!

Posted by Michael Sosnowski. No Comments

Feeling like you need a sanctuary from the stress and hustle-bustle of modern life? You might consider moving to a 7 house. Maybe you want stability and security as you get older – then a 4 house is just the ticket. Looking to manage financial matters and maybe even start a home business? Find an 8 house and snap it up! You can change the energy surrounding your life by changing your address, thanks to a basic understanding of numerology.

Numerology is a metaphysical science that considers the vibration of numbers to be not just perceivable but actually usable in practical ways. The digits 1 through 9 are part of a symbolic language – once you learn the basics of that language, you can make choices that perhaps shore up a personal weakness, help you get unstuck from an unrewarding position, or support a future vision for your life. The number that is so prominently posted on your home creates an energy that permeates all activity within that home, and being aware of the advantages and challenges of your home’s number can have practical applications that will enrich your life!

How do you determine your home’s number? It comes from the address. Single digit addresses are easy – 2 Main Street is a 2 house. Many house numbers are longer than that, so you must simply add all the digits of your address, and every time you get a sum, again add the digits until you are left with a single number. For example, 2850 Green Street is a 6 house. Here’s how it works: Add 2 + 8 +5 +0 = 15. Add 1 + 5 = 6. Voila! Here’s an even longer one: 18497 Broadway is a 2 house. Add 1 + 8 + 4 + 9 + 7 = 29. Add 2 + 9 = 11. Add 1 + 1 = 2.

Energy in Your Home:

So what does each digit mean for the energy of a house? A 1 house is about independence and leadership. Choose a 1 house if you want to foster new beginnings, self-reliance and determination. Are you ready to be number 1? Be aware, however, you might feel isolated or alone in a 1 house – it’s an excellent choice if you value independence, not so good if you crave company. For the more socially inclined, you might consider a 2 house – like the number itself, 2 is about partnership, harmony, and cooperation. Peace, warmth and sharing permeate the 2 house. It’s a great choice for a couple, but if there’s conflict or discord, the residents will end up critical of one another. Balance is key in a 2 house. In a 3 house, brace yourself for fun and creativity. Happiness, friendships, and positive energy are the hallmarks of 3 energy. Enthusiasm abounds – sometimes too much, so watch out your energies don’t get scattered. The creative chaos of a 3 house can lead to lots of enjoyment in life.

The 4 house builds a solid foundation where steadiness and practicality are key. Common sense, hard (but rewarding) work, and order make the 4 house down-to-earth and wholesome, a great place to put down roots. There may be work required to maintain the 4 house, so be flexible and loosen up to really enjoy the stability of the 4 energy. The 5 house is all about change – if you’re feeling stuck, this is the house for you. A 5 house may be a hub of activity where life is far from dull, and those who value variety and risk taking will feel right at home here. Beware of making snap decisions, and know that there might be a high turnover rate in a 5 house, due to the prevailing energy of change. A 6 house is great for raising a family, tending to pets or a garden, and for feelings of nesting. Love is the prevailing energy in a 6 house, with lots of giving and nurturing going on. The 6 energy is warm and caring, fostering close relationships. Be aware you could end up giving too much and feeling too much responsibility, even duty, in this energy, but the lessons you would learn would be well worth it.

A 7 house is a heaven house – a retreat, perfect to rest, contemplate, and heighten intuition. Solitude and divine inspiration are part of the 7 energy, so consider this number if you want to go inward and explore. This is not a great energy for material advancement, but in this sanctuary of a home, spiritual studies will be highly enhanced. If you desire more material wealth, find an 8 house and watch your power in the world grow. Success, achievement and abundance mark the 8 energy, but be aware that money can go out of an 8 house as quickly as it comes in. With wise management of finances, the 8 house is perfect for working at home or getting recognition and respect from the community. The 9 house brings wisdom and intense humanism to its residents, inspiring philanthropy and passionate feelings of selflessness. This a great house for broad-minded people who want to focus on the larger picture. People and money will be drawn to the compassion of the 9 house residents, but watch that feelings don’t get too intense. The 9 energy marks the end of a cycle, and can be the launching point for evolving to the next level of understanding.

To Recap:

  • 1 is the energy of independence
  • 2 is the energy of partnership
  • 3 is the energy of creativity
  • 4 is the energy of stability
  • 5 is the energy of change
  • 6 is the energy of love
  • 7 is the energy of the divine
  • 8 is the energy of abundance
  • 9 is the energy of evolution

Moving to a new home often creates new challenges, but having an awareness of the dominant energy that house carries can inspire you to overcome those challenges and find undiscovered strengths, practical life lessons, and real-world strategies to enhance your life. The energy of numbers is all around us – let numerology help you find the perfect home or harmonize with the home you’re in. It’s all in the numbers!

About the Author

The article was provided to us by MK Wolfe, whose lyrics were featured in the musical Mesmerized, performed by Snownlion Repertory Company in Portland in 2012.

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