What can your Realtor do for YOU? Buyers’ edition.

Nichole Fecteau
As a buyer of real estate, it is often the case that a real estate agent’s services are of no cost to you. Now, this doesn’t mean your agent works for free, it means that the listing agent of the property you’re buying compensates your agent. Sometimes your agent will charge you to represent them, this is not uncommon. It is not a practice of mine, however.

How do I find a buyer’s agent?

The best way to find any real estate agent is ask someone you know who has recently bought or sold property. They have firsthand knowledge of their experience and can share. Another great way is to look for an agent who is actively listing property in the areas you are looking in. You can go to Realtor.com to look at houses currently listed and see who the listing agent is. Be aware that when you use sites like Zillow and Trulia, you may not be led to the listing agent, but agents who pay to advertise and buy business. They are not necessarily experienced in the areas where they pop up. http://www.Realtor.com is the BEST source of information directly from the MLS.

So what does a buyer’s agent do, anyway?

Your agent should sit down and walk you through the process of identifying, viewing and purchasing property. Choose a creative agent who finds properties by not only doing MLS searches, but also utilizing their network and social reach. Some of the best transactions are ones where the home was never listed for sale on the MLS. Once you find the perfect home, your agent should guide you step-by-step, keeping your interests ahead of their own. Your buyer agent should explain every facet of the Purchase and Sale Agreement, answer and clarify any questions you may have as well as refer you to experts for further advice.

The agent wants me to sign a contract with them. What should I do?

The first thing to know is that a contract protects both you and the agent. When you sign a contract with a real estate agent, they owe you fiduciary duties. They must be loyal, keep your information confidential and act in your best interest, among other things. The contract protects the interest of the agent if they introduce you to a property (they are the procuring cause) that you wind up purchasing. It ensures they will get paid for their services. Ultimately, signing a contract is your choice. Be sure to read it thoroughly, ask for an explanation of everything you are reading, and only sign if you understand what you are signing.

This is just an overview of what your buyer’s agent can do for you. Stay tuned for more in-depth information! For specific questions, feel free to comment below or send an email to nicholefecteau@gmail.com. I am always available via cell phone/text at 207-251-9535.

About Nichole Fecteau:

I have lived and owned in Southern Maine for over fifteen years. I raised a family in Berwick, ME and my children attend the SAD 60 school district. When not listing and selling property, you can find me enjoying the mountains and lakes of Maine and New Hampshire. I am an avid hiker and have logged countless miles on the Appalacchian trail. I particularly like the rugged Northern Presidentials. Not only do I carry a backpack and tent on the weekends, I can also be found with my fishing pole in the water of backcountry rivers and ponds. My personal motto is “work hard, play hard!.”

I began my real estate career when my youngest son was about to enter Kindergarten. Sales has always been a passion of mine and I considered homes the ultimate items to sell. Once I got my feet wet in the field, I realized that Real Estate is less about sales and more about connections and helping others realize their dreams. I was hooked right from the beginning. I love helping both my clients and colleagues realize their dreams. Each day I walk into my office energized and ready for a new start with fresh challenges and rewards. My passion is selling expired listings- quickly and for top dollar. I focus on Southern Maine and am licensed in NH as well. Nothing makes me happier than giving homeowners hope in selling their homes where they thought there was none.

2012 & 2013 Associate Leadership Council
2012 & 2013 Technology Committee Chairman
Martha Squires Award
Rising Star Award

2010 Berwick Library Committee member
2011 Berwick Recreation Committee member
2013-present Friends of the Berwick Riverfront Chairman
2013-present Berwick Trails Committee Chariman
2015-present Berwick Planning Board member
2015-present Berwick Brownfield Steering Committee member

Shopping For A Home This Winter? Pay Attention To Snow On The Roof!

This new home looks well sealed and insulated.

This new home looks well sealed and insulated.

Last Winter I spent quite a bit of money on heating and didn’t want those same bills this Winter so I recently invested in making my home (a newer condo) more energy efficient and weatherproof. I had an energy audit done and took the recommended steps toward air sealing and insulating. The difference in comfort was immediately felt. Whereas I used to keep my home around 72 degrees to feel comfortable, now I keep it at 67. I guess it is because there are fewer drafts.

Something else I have noticed is the amount of snow on my roof compared to the roofs of my neighbors. This is because there is so little heat loss through my attic now. The heat is staying in the house. One thing I like to point out to buyers who are shopping for a home this time of year is to pay attention to snow on roofs. A roof should be cold, not warm and a lot of melting on a roof (besides from the sun) could indicate a home that is not energy efficient. Be sure to check with the sellers’ heating fuel provider to see what their usage was last year and keep in mind if they have supplemental heat (fireplace, wood stove, pellet stove.)

These homes show heat loss. You can see over the garage and portico how much snow there was.

These homes show heat loss. You can see over the garage and portico how much snow there was.

One way to be sure you’re not buying a house that is leaking heat to the outside is to have a home energy audit. I talk more about home energy audits in this blog post. The energy audit can be used as a negotiating tool and I believe will be gaining popularity in New England as buyers become more savvy.

If you are in Southern Maine/Coastal New Hampshire, you can call Jeff at STP Home Performance Solutions for an audit. He can do the audit, recommend the work to be done, give you an estimate of cost AND have the work done for you. Talk about the whole package!

If you are in Southern Maine or New Hampshire and are interested in knowing what your home would sell for, contact me on the form below.

 

Vavooming The Purchase- The Multi-Family Experience!

Today I have a guest blogger writing about something that not many first time homebuyers consider, purchasing a multi-family property. There are many benefits to this type of purchase and there are a few things to know about it before you get in too deep. Check out this great information provided by Connie Margowsky of Mortgage Network.

nichole fecteau

Many a prospective home buyer contemplates purchasing a multi-family property, with the logic that rental income from an additional unit will enable him or her to enlarge the search field for a new home, or perhaps will aid in qualifying for a larger, more expensive home altogether.

Additional income from a rental unit (or two) does indeed offset the housing cost, and under certain circumstances lenders will consider it in the income being used to qualify for the loan.

It’s important to be aware of several key points with regards to financing when exploring this opportunity.

Generally, most lenders will use 75% of the rental income and credit that amount to the borrower’s other income, in calculating the qualifying ratios. However, for units that have no tenant and no existing lease, many lenders will not credit any rental amount. Others may include this income, and will rely on the Operating Income Statement provided by the appraiser to ascertain the fair market rent. A home buyer is well advised to check with his or her lender in advance to be sure that they have been prequalified according to that lender’s policy.

For an owner-occupant purchaser, a popular financing venue is with FHA. The FHA loan permits a minimum down payment of only 3.5% of the purchase price, for single, two, three and four family homes. This is an excellent product to choose if leveraging funds to purchase is a goal. For a 2 unit purchase there are no special additional requirements, but for a 3 or 4 unit home, the borrower is required to have three months of reserves (principal and interest, taxes, home insurance, and mortgage insurance times 3) documented as a liquid asset. Also, a 3 or 4 unit property must be “self-supporting”. That means: the monthly housing payment may not be greater than the total of the monthly rents.

With Conventional financing, the borrower will be obliged to make a greater down payment – 20% on a 2 unit, and 25% on a 3 to 4 unit home – and in all cases will be required to have reserves.

The mortgage “price” is typically higher for a multi-unit purchase with Conventional loans. The “price” increase may be reflected in points or in the interest rate. The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Agency (“Freddie Mac”), a government agency that securitizes loans for sale on the secondary market, adds 0.25% to the interest rate, or about 1 point to the closing costs, for loans secured by a multi-family property.

There is an additional, little-discussed, benefit to a multi-family purchase. The lending limits are higher depending upon the number of units. For example, with Conventional financing, a conforming loan amount tops off at $417,000. However, for a 2 unit the limit is $533,850 and goes to $645,300 for a 3 unit and $801,950 for a 4 unit. This presents tremendous opportunities for prospective buyers to finance the purchase of grand, desirable, well-located multi-family properties at today’s exceptionally fine conforming interest rates.

Contributed by:

Connie Margowsky

Senior Loan Officer, NMLS #80234

Mortgage Network, Inc.,

Corporate NMLS #2668

www.conniemargowsky.com

411 The Hill

Portsmouth, NH 03801

Office: 603-334-1073

Cell: 603-953-3242

Fax: 855-614-6301

Licensed by the New Hampshire Banking Department

© 2014 Mortgage Network, Inc. NMLS ID# 2668. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org) All rights reserved. Trade/servicemarks are the property of Mortgage Network, Inc. 300 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923. Licensed by the New Hampshire Banking Department 5573-MB; Maine SLM2499. This is not a commitment to lend. Rates, terms, fees, and equity requirements are subject to change without notice. Restrictions apply. Equal Housing Lender. Please consult a tax advisor for any tax implications for these types of loans.  For Full Legal please visit my website.

Do YOU need a home energy audit?

We recently bought a newer (2006) townhome-style condo and assumed that since it is newer construction, it would be pretty “tight.” The condo has central a/c which wasn’t too expensive to run in August so I was really shocked to see how high our heating bills were. We use propane to heat and the furnace is forced hot air. I know the space is bigger than where we were, but the propane consumption was much higher than I expected.

Wingate Condos in BerwickBeing a real estate agent, I have attended many home inspections and have a good idea of the in’s and out’s of homes. I decided to pop into the attic to take a look at the insulation situation. There was an inconsistent layer of blown-in cellulose insulation so I decided to add a layer of fiberglass. After adding a layer of R-30 fiberglass insulation, not using our gas fireplace, and warmer temperatures, we found we used even MORE propane the next month (over 200 gallons.) That’s when I decided to call in someone to do a home energy audit.

After asking friends and looking online, I found STP Home Performance Solutions– a local company with a comprehensive website. Scheduling was easy and Jeff was great to talk to.

Jeff St. Pierre came out to the house about a week and a half later to conduct the field part of the audit. He walked through the entire house with us, talking about issues we have noticed. Then he took out his infrared camera to see where cold air was infiltrating the house.
Nichole Fecteau

Nichole Fecteau

We confirmed some areas of cold air entering the house (the fireplace) and identified others that surprised us (the foundation.) Jeff then looked at the heating system and saw areas where we could do some sealing/insulating to prevent a lot of heat loss. Did we mention this is a newer house? I mean, I did this kind of work to my 200 year old New Englander and never thought I would have to do it in an 8 year old condo!

He then went up into the attic and found a HUGE source of heat loss that never even crossed my mind in all the time I spent up there insulating.

Next came the blower door test, where we really got to see where air was coming in. Jeff determined that the amount of infiltrations we had, when added up, was about the equivalent of having a 17″x17″ window open all of the time. THAT is crazy!

Nichole FecteauNow Jeff will compile the results of the tests into a report and a plan which will outline in order of importance, improvements we can make. I learned a lot about how this service can help both sellers and buyers of mine and will definitely be recommending energy audits to all of my clients!

I am a local real estate agent licensed in Maine and New Hampshire- focused on York and Rockingham counties. If you are interested in learning more about selling, buying or making your property more energy efficient, please reach out to me by filling out the form below.

Contact Jeff and STP Home Performance Solutions by calling (207) 831-0679, emailing info@stphomeperformance.com or going to www.stphomeperformance.com. Tell him you read all about it on my blog and receive no discount, but I will appreciate it! 🙂

Cranberry Meadow NEW to the Market

Welcome to Cranberry Meadow Rd

Welcome to 347 Cranberry Meadow Rd

What a value for the space! We had this HUGE home appraised and we are pricing it below appraised value. Perfect for anyone with a commercial business- as this home has a separate building included- complete with it’s own septic/well, HUGE garage (previously used for semi trucks) with commercial air compressor, office and a bathroom with shower. The spacious home has a ceramic tile entry, large eat-in kitchen, bright family room with sliders to the patio, formal dining room, living room, den, laundry and full bath on the first floor alone! Upstairs are 2 more full baths, and 4 bedrooms, including a Master Suite with walk in closet. Full basement has a woodstove and is partially finished. 2 car attached garage is heated. Large, level lot is sunny and has apple, cherry, pear and peach trees. Additional outbuilding has 220amp electric service, loft and is perfect for storing your toys and outdoor tools.

For More Information on this great house contact The Fecteau Group today, we would be happy to schedule a showing for you.

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Beautiful Bright Living Room

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Spacious Kitchen

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Charming Glass Door Upgrade in the Parlor

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Elegance and Light Sing in This Room

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Everything Is So Well Put Together, Even the Powder Rooms!

Price Improvement on 5C Natures Ln

We have a price improvement on this great condo at 5C Natures Ln. The price had gone from $175,000 to $170,000! This condo is a wonderful place to call home. It feels like new construction and comes with an amazing yard! Walk out the kitchen into your own little oasis. The back deck really expands your living space to the great outdoors. Walk down the steps to a clean and welcoming stone patio. Plus there is room for a pool! Deeper into the backyard is a fire pit for year round marshmallow toasting, even in the winter! Who knew you could get all that in a condo! Low maintenance living, without sacrificing back yard space.

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Welcome to 5C Natures Ln

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It has a great kitchen! But it doesn’t end there…

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Let me show you the back yard! Its out here, off the kitchen through the sliding glass doors.

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Great deck! Perfect for summer entertaining.   

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Walk down the deck steps and look… Room for a pool!!!

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Since this photo was taken a fire pit has been installed.

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You get all the perks of having a backyard but don’t need to worry about lawn maintenance. You can take full advantage of this backyard all year round!

Are you sold yet? If you want to schedule a showing at this property make sure you give The Fecteau Group a call. We would be happy to schedule one for you.

11 Tyler Ln New to the Market

This immaculately kept colonial is the perfect place to call home. Beautiful molding and archways add charm and elegance without feeling stuffy. Kitchen is bright and welcoming. Stainless steel appliances make the perfect companion to the combination of solid and glass front cabinets. The kitchen island adds the perfect amount of extra prep space for those who enjoy cooking. The dining area is open to the kitchen making it the perfect place for entertaining. The wonderful flow of this home continues to the living room complete with fireplace to warm up the house during those chilly winter evenings. First floor laundry room is convenient and includes cabinets for keeping your space tidy at all times. Upstairs are spacious bedrooms and plenty of bathrooms to go around. Master suite includes his and her sinks, and a large round tub perfect for soaking away the stress of the day. Downstairs office and upstairs office are great for getting work done at home with minimal distraction. This house continues to delight with an in law apartment, and beautiful grounds. This house is a great buy! If you would like to see it for yourself, contact The Fecteau Group to set up a showing.

Bright kitchen with ample space for prep and a display for your dishware.

Bright kitchen with ample space for prep and a display for your dishware.

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Living Room with cozy fireplace to ward off chilly nights

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Convenient first floor laundry room with tons of storage

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Bright and spacious bedrooms

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Master Bath with round tub for soaking away the stress of your day

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Office space that will stay clutter free with all that shelving

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If the grounds look this good in the snow, imagine how great it looks in the summer!

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Office #2 located downstairs

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Dining Room with big bright sliders and archways for maximum style