How to Own a Home for Less Than Average Area Rent


We love helping tenants become homeowners and we have three exciting closings scheduled for local, first-time home buyers within the next month!

Homeownership is a great investment; it will allow you to build equity in an asset, it will help you to improve your credit and it will give you countless (and sometimes endless) home improvement opportunities! Home ownership helps to improve the local economy too!

Using a very general mortgage calculator, we wanted to show you what monthly payments (INCLUDING INSURANCE AND TAXES) would look like for homes in the $100,000 range. Of course, this is an estimate; interest rates change, down payments may vary and buyers may qualify for different financing options.

Let’s see how these monthly payments break down. If you purchase a home for $100,000 with 0% down, as offered through USDA / RD loan program, with an interest rate of 3.75%, a Homeowner’s Insurance Policy of $600 / annually and estimated property taxes of $1,750 / annually; you could expect an approximate monthly payment of $659.00 (for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage)

The portion of this monthly payment would break down as follows:

$463.00 towards principal and interest

$146.00 towards property taxes

$50.00 towards homeowner’s insurance.

There are fees associated with purchasing a home and a loan, we call these “closing costs”. While you may qualify for a program that requires 0% down, there might be closing costs or APR (annual percentage rates) and your loan officer would be able to let you know what to expect that amount to be.

Want to see some houses? Here is a link to area homes that offer awesome value and would make great options for the first time home buyer!

Before you get your heart set on one of these properties, check in with a loan officer. Becky Mason issued our mortgage and I have since referred her many times to happy clients; she can be reached by clicking her name and visiting her website, or by calling / texting her cell: 207-890-3449.

Happy hunting and we look forward to helping you make this exciting transition!

~ Cassie


Posted on August 24, 2016 at 10:19 pm
Cassie Mason | Category: Buyer News, Financing, Greater Portland, Maine Real Estate, Market Trends, Mortgages, Real Estate

Five Steps Smart Sellers Take to Generate Multiple Offers

Home sales (and values) have been on a strong uptick nationwide thanks to low interest rates, freer lending standards and a drop in the foreclosure rate. Sellers everywhere are breathing a giant, collective sigh of relief! But for all of the buyer activity, it seems like most houses sit on one end of two extremes: they either get snatched up the moment they hit the market (with multiple offers and an above-asking sale price) or seem to languish on the market without an offer in sight.

All sellers aspire to be on the multiple-offer end of the spectrum. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make that happen. Here are five tips to move your listing in to the multiple offers zone.

1. Price it aggressively. Homes that get multiple offers are often sold in an "auction" atmosphere. If you think back to the last auction you saw on TV or participated in online, you'll remember this basic element of Auctions 101: the starting price is lower – sometimes quite a bit lower – than the final sale price.

In fact, it's the low list or starting price that gets people excited about the possibility of scoring a great value, whether they're bidding on an antique Chinese pug figurine on eBay or on your home. And when it comes to your home, it's that same, low-price-seeking excitement that will cause many more buyers to show up and view your home than would have come at a higher price point.

In real estate, more showings are an inescapable prerequisite to more offers.

This doesn't mean you have to give away the farm, just that sellers who get multiple offers price their properties from a retailer's or auctioneer's perspective. Work with your agent through the comparable sales data – as recent and as comparable as possible – and then do your best to list your home as a slight discount, not at a slight premium, compared to the recent neighborhood sales. That will get buyers' attention.

2. Give buyers and brokers ample access. Put yourself in your target buyer's shoes. Say there are 40 homes on the market which meet their specifications, in terms of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, price range and location. And 25 of those top the list. But they only have time to see 8 today. If the buyer's broker can't get into your house today, because you have so many restrictions around showing it, your home could very well miss out on a showing with this qualified, motivated buyer.

It might seem overly simple, but if you want multiple offers, it behooves you to make sure your home is available to be shown today. Every day that it is on the market. Inconvenient? Yes. Frustrating? Sometimes. A challenge to keep the place clean at all times? Assuredly. But consider your priorities and what is at stake. If getting top dollar for your home is at the top of your priority list, then you have to be ready and willing to deal with the inconvenience involved in churning up multiple offers and getting your home sold.

3. Make it beautiful. Really, really beautiful. The homes that get multiple offers are those with look, feel and function that can be described in one word: covetable. You're not trying to create a situation in which your home barely edges out the listing down the street in the hearts and minds of your target buyer. If you want multiple offers, you need multiple buyers to fall deeply in love with your home – enough to bid above the listing price, and enough to compete with others for it.

To generate multiple offers, prepare your home by ensuring it is:
immaculately cleaned from the inside out – closets, basements, garages and crawl spaces included
decluttered and staged to the nines – this includes fresh paint, carpet and other things that need replacing
in perfect working order – make sure things like doors, windows and systems buyers test (e.g., stoves, faucets, heating and air conditioning) are not creaky, wonky, leaky or otherwise dysfunctional.

If you've done any major home improvements or replaced any appliances or systems lately, market that! Show off how immaculate, adorable and move-in ready your home is now – and tout it's great working condition for the long run.

4. Expose it to the market. An offer the very first day your home goes on the market may sound like a dream come true. But it might also incur opportunity costs. See, many buyers can't get out to see homes that quickly – some are unable to house hunt except on the weekends. Listing agents who get multiple offers often plan from the start to expose the home to the market long enough for target buyers to see it and get their offers on the table.

Some agents expressly include open house and offer review dates in the timeline of the listing. It's not uncommon to see a listing come on the market with a calendar of 1-2 Open Houses and an offer date sometime early in the week following the second one. Ask your agent to brief you on the standard practices for market exposure in your local area.

Setting – and publishing – a timeline for market exposure and offers lets buyers know that they will be able to get to the property and get their offers considered, while still creating a sense of urgency.

5. Be ready to course correct. Is your home one of the houses that has been sitting on the market for months without any action? Do not fret – there might still be hope. In real estate, there's something insiders call the Sweet Spot Phenomenon, where an overpriced home sits on the market for months with no bites, sometimes even through multiple price reductions. Finally, the seller lowers the price to the 'sweet spot,' and it generates multiple offers and sells for more than the final list price.

Yes – there are listings whose sellers net more than they expected because they were willing to revise the list price downward in response to market feedback (i.e., no showings, no offers or lowball offers).

If your home has been lagging on the market, talk with your listing agent about what sort of price reduction strategy is likely to maximize your net sale price. Hint: many more buyers are attracted by chunky reductions or reductions below a common online search price point limit than by tiny, incremental reductions.
For example, you might draw more buyers, and ultimately more money, with a price reduction from $499,000 to $474,000 than with a series of small reductions from $499,000 to $479,000, because there is a set of buyers who may be cutting their search off at $475,000 – so a price cut below that point will expose your home to a whole new group of prospects.

Posted on August 24, 2016 at 9:59 pm
Cassie Mason | Category: Cumberland County, Education, Financing, Maine, Maine Real Estate, Real Estate, Uncategorized

What is “Upta Camp”?

Upta campThis time of year when the humidity level averages 90% for a week at a time, the hazy visibility sinks below 6 miles, and temperatures remain at a swampy 88 degrees, it is confusing to us Mainers as to why people come flocking to the inland, rural, part of our state. Sure, the cold Atlantic ocean – our picturesque Eastern Seaboard- with its scenic shoreline, lobster rolls and seagulls must be desirable any time of the year. It is no mystery as to why the entire length of Route 1 North, from York to Bangor, is backed up with bumper to bumper traffic- out of staters escaping their cities for the relief of the cooler coastal country. But those that dare to turn west and venture inland year after year, willing to face the heat, the bugs, the potholed country roads and the lack of plumbing, must be drawn by one destination and one destination only: Upta Camp.

The existence of Upta Camp dates back as far I've ever been told. Grampa tells stories of his own father's time upta camp so that must mean it's been a destination since at least the early 1900's. If you aren't part of a family that frequents their own getaway, there may be some confusion as to what truly defines an upta camp. Let me help you understand:

Upta camp is most definitely a seasonal dwelling, year round homes do not count- these classy establishments are called "cottages" or "cabins". Upta camp is not insulated- it is likely sided with logs, plywood, metal or screens. It is not heated, though it may have an old woodstove rigged up for use to extend through the summer season or during hunting season. If the dwelling can be occupied comfortably through the winter, and through the end of snowmobile season, it is likely a "cabin".

Upta camp is located in what seems to be an inconvenient place (don't worry – you will come to love it). Dirt roads have been washed out from the 8-10' of snow that melted and carried away the road's surface last month. The utilities end about three houses into the road where the year round residents live in their cabins. Beyond these cabins, the road narrows to a single lane and climbs steeply while the trees thicken and hoof prints appear (these are not horses).

Once your reach upta camp you'll know you are there because it's just as you left it. The outhouse door is propped open with a piece of firewood. While your intention was to air out the family's only composting toilet room, you may discover you have given free and easy accommodation to a variety of woodland creatures. You'll want to discourage their occupancy immediately. There will be a variety of objects left on the lawn from last year. (I use "lawn" loosely as it's really just a cleared area where a few trees have been downed and their stumps remain- really it's a dooryard. Google that one). The empty LaBatts Blue Ribbon boxes are soggy and leaning against the camp off to one side. There is likely a pink flamingo- this yard décor is important as it helps us Mainers to trick ourselves into thinking we are someplace exotic.

Your upta camp may be specific enough to fall into a subcategory (e.g "sled", "deer", "lake" are all common prefixes which replace "upta"). For example, my family proudly owns "duck camp". It is where the men in our family have been going, and will continue to go, for generations in order to most effectively hunt ducks. We do live in Maine year round, and we are located in a geographic area with plenty of wetland and waterfowl habitats. Duck Camp is located about 3 hours away (justa 'bout due North), and is true to the "upta camp" definition. It features an outhouse (no plumbing), a reclaimed woodstove, plywood siding, bunk beds, a bumpy dirt road, mosquitos, oil lamps (no electricity),a dooryard, and remnants of cases of beer. I personally feel satisfaction from visiting once annually, just to see with my own eyes that it is still standing and to experience a weekend in the tradition of being upta camp. The men of the family, however, feel the need to visit duck camp as frequently as possible throughout duck season. Whatever the draw of these questionable features and the experience one has at the property, it is no doubt that duck camp will thrive as a family destination for generations to come.

The initial investment in an upta camp varies based on the existence of infrastructure, size of the lot and quality of harvestable timber on that lot. Fortunately our experience with and appreciation for upta camp, makes us area specialists when it comes to purchasing your first one. If you or someone you know is looking for an upta camp, contact Mason Bancroft today.

Our landline telephone number is 207-824-1033.

Posted on August 24, 2016 at 9:55 pm
Cassie Mason | Category: Bethel, Education, Maine, Maine Real Estate

Why Work with Maine’s #1 Independent Real Estate Agency

The Maine Real Estate NetworkWhether you're a buyer or a seller, you'll experience the very best in service in Maine when you choose The Maine Real Estate Network. Our knowledgeable, experienced professionals are ready to help you find your new home or sell your property quickly. Our extensive network of professionals will support you through every step of the process. Real Estate Agents have many choices of companies to work for, but the agent you are considering hiring has chosen to affiliate with Maine’s number one 

INDEPENDENT Real Estate agency. What does this mean to you?

  • Since we are independent, we can be much more flexible in helping you to get your real estate 
  • We provide our agents with the ability to make their own decisions and have removed as much red tape as possible to allow them to facilitate your transaction in a timely manner.
  • We provide our professionals with up-to-date training and technology to better serve your needs. We will work to get you the best deal possible. 
  • We are 100% locally owned. No part of the commissions we earn go out of the great State of 
  • This agency gives back! Charitable contributions in 2014 will approach $100,000. 
  • With 22 locations (and more coming in 2015), you can be sure we have experts in your area – after all, Real Estate is a local business. In partnership with Leading Real Estate Companies of the 
  • World we can help you buy or sell nationwide or anywhere in the World; I’m local, I’m Global™.
  • Our listing inventory averages over 1500 properties; with an active buyer pool numbering in the 
  • We currently house almost 500 real estate professionals. Our talented agents are committed to delivering the most stress-free, hassle-free transaction service possible. 
  • Our website is second to none and provides current and relevant listing, community and real estate search resources. With over 40,000 visitors a month and 90% of buyers starting their search on-line our website is the exposure you need to sell or search!
  • We provide our professionals with 24/7 web-based resources, so they can do what they do 
  • Our Agency resources include in-house Title and Closing, Mortgage Lending services, Rental and Lease/Purchase programs, Commercial property, Short Sale expertise, New Construction divisions and numerous third party vendors. Whatever your Real Estate need-We Can Help!

Creating Relationships for Life!

Posted on August 24, 2016 at 9:51 pm
Cassie Mason | Category: Maine, Maine Real Estate, Market Trends, Portland, Real Estate, Southern Maine

Top Six Home Buyer Turn-offs

Selling a home in today's market can be a bit frustrating. There's all sorts of home staging and property preparation advice out there, and some of it seems daunting or impossible to follow unless you already live in a haute home or have a serious bankroll set aside to whip your place into shape.

You can't turn a rancher into a Victorian – so don't bother trying. But you do have more control than you may realize over how desirable your listing looks to potential buyers. In order to know what turns a buyer on you need to know what turns a buyer off.

Here are 6 big-time turn-offs that make buyers cringe at the thought of purchasing your home.

1. Cluttered, dirty and/or "fragrant" houses. You already know this one. Every seller does. Yet, even in 2013, the era of Houzz and HGTV, buyers across America walk into homes that would make your mother cringe every single day. The people who come to see your home are making one of the biggest decisions they'll ever make. Cluttered countertops, neglected toilet seats and unattended litter boxes not only invite the viewer to turn up their nose, they practically compel a buyer to walk away.

Luckily, you have all the control in the world over how you house looks to your would be buyer. Some sellers find it helpful to think not about de-cluttering, but about pre-packing. Everything that is not part of the home's decor or furnishing and that is not a must for your daily functioning should be boxed up, and neatly packed away in the garage or a storage unit. You'll have to pack it all up anyway when your home sells, and doing it in advance just makes it more likely the place will sell, stat!

Also, no matter how long it takes for your home to get an offer, do not show it without it being completely and totally tidied up: no laundry or dishes piled up, countertops freshly wiped down, mail and paperwork put away and smelly dogs or litter boxes cleaned and/or out of the house. Get every family member on board, kids/cats/canines included, and create a morning or evening cleaning ritual to minimize mad, pre-showing dashes.

2. Overpricing. Buying a house in today's market is hard work! On top of all the research and analysis about the market, buyers have to work overtime to separate the real estate wheat from the chaff, get educated about short sales and foreclosures and often put in many, many offers before they get even a single one accepted. The last thing they want to add to their task list is trying to argue a seller out of unreasonable expectations or pricing.

When buyers see a home whose seller is clearly clueless about their home's value and has priced it sky-high, many won't even bother looking at it. If they do love it, they'll wait for it to sit on the market for a while, hoping the market will "educate you" into desperation, priming the pump for a later, lowball offer.

Ultimately, you decide what to ask for your home. But you deprive yourself of the professional counsel and expertise you're paying for if you fail to listen to your agent's advice and insights on the subject of listing price. They will point you to other properties that have sold in your area with similar features and use that data to help you understand the right price range for your home. Worried about setting the price too low? Get buyer's brokers' feedback with an advance broker's open house, and work with your agent on an advance plan for bringing the price down if you get no showings or buyer interest.

4. Deceptive listing descriptions or pictures. Here's the deal: you will never trick someone into buying your home. If listing pics are photo-edited within an inch of their lives, buyers will learn this information at some point. If your neighborhood is described as funky and vibrant, because the house is under the train tracks and you live in between a wrecking yard and a biker bar, buyers will inevitably figure this out.

And misrepresentation alone is enough to turn otherwise interested buyers off. In cases where the buyer feels misled, whether or not that was your intention, they can't help but wonder: If they can't trust you to be honest about this, how can they trust you to be honest about everything else?

Buyers rely on sellers to be upfront and honest – so be both. If your home has features or aspects that most buyers will see as negative, your home's listing probably shouldn't lead with them. But neither should you go out of your way to slant or skew or spin the facts which will become instantly obvious to anyone who visits your home. And in any event, your pricing should account for all of your home's features, pros and cons.

5. New, bad, home improvements. Many a buyer has walked into a house that has clearly been remodeled and upgraded in anticipation of the sale, only to have their heart sink with the further realization that the brand-spanking-new kitchen features a countertop made, not of Carerra marble, but brand-new, pink tiles with a kitty cat in the middle of each one. Or the pristine, just-installed floors feature carpet in a creamy shade of blue – the buyer's least favorite color.

New home improvements that run counter to a buyer's aesthetics are a big turn-off. In today's era of frugality, buyers just can't cotton to ripping out expensive, brand new, perfectly functioning things just on the basis of style – especially since they'll feel like they paid for these things in the price of the home.

Check in with a local broker or agent before you make a big investment in a pre-sale remodel. They can give you a reality check about the likely return on your investment, and help you prioritize about which projects to do (or not). Instead of spending $40,000 on a new, less-than-attractive kitchen, they might encourage you to update appliances, have the cabinets painted and spend a few grand on your curb appeal. Many times, they will also help you do the work of selecting neutral finishes that will work for the largest possible range of buyer tastes.

6. Bad photos or no photos at all. Some of the listing photos that make it online are shockingly bad. They have dumpsters parked in front of the house, piles of laundry all over the "hardwood" floors touted in the listing description, and once, even the family dog doing his or her business in the lovely green front yard. Listing pictures that have put your home in anything but its best, accurate light are a very quick way to ensure that you turn off a huge number of buyers from even coming to see your house!

The only bigger buyer turn-off than these bizarre listing pics are listings that have no photos at all; most buyers on today's market see a listing with no pictures and click right on past it, without giving the place a second glance.

Before your home is on the market, ask your listing agent-to-be to see the online marketing for their current listings, to get a feel for how they operate. After your home is on the market, don't neglect to check top listing sites to be sure that the pics for your home's listing represent your home well. If not, ask your agent to grab some new shots and get them online (and say pretty please, pretty please!).


Posted on August 24, 2016 at 9:40 pm
Cassie Mason | Category: Greater Portland, Maine, Maine Real Estate, Moving, Seller News

The Spirit of Real Estate

Cassie Mason Real EstateI spent my Sunday morning preparing to file taxes for 2015 and spent the rest of the day planning 2016. I’ve looked through my list of 2015 closings and have taken the time to reflect on each of those deals. I closed 2015 with achievements that I am personally proud of, I have made lifelong friends through my work and I have identified areas of my service that could use my attention and further education for professional improvement through the coming years. I have identified areas of my personal life where I recognize the same, and have taken time to register for classes both in continuing education and for seminars in self-development. 

“Do what you love and more than money will follow” B. Proctor 

Before I started a career in the industry, I had bounced around from hourly-waged job to job. I was looking for something to sink my teeth into that would allow me to build a career in a field where I could always continue learning, growing and excelling while earning compensation based on my own effectiveness. 

Staying-put has never been satisfactory to me, I am always up for a new challenge and working towards a new achievement, and I thrive from finding answers and solving problems. Most importantly, I love to build lasting relationships with great people. Real estate encompasses everything I hoped to find in a career. 

Now that I’ve landed on real estate (3.5 short years after making the decision to give it a go), I can’t imagine spending my days any other way. Real Estate is more than open houses and pretty pictures. Under the umbrella of the “Real Estate” title, I am able to experience and grow in different realms of the business; sales, rentals, investment, and development. There seems to be endless opportunity and constant evolution; it’s an exciting path to be accelerating on at an exciting time in history. 

Being a vacation town, we do our fair share of cash deals but we also work hard to help buyers qualify for appropriate financing programs to help them transition from renters to homeowners. These particular deals have been especially meaningful to me lately! With low interest rates and a number of loan options (FHA, RD, Conventional) this is a great time to be a borrower and become a homeowner. 

Whether I am helping skiers find the vacation home of their dreams, or working with friend to help her become a first time homeowner, it is always my goal to close the deal knowing that I handled the entire transaction with the quality of service that I would wish my own family be shown if the roles were reversed. 

This is more of a personal blog post than an ad intended to share new listings and price reductions. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express my gratitude for the industry and for the wonderful people I have met through my work. 2015 has been a memorable year and I look forward to experiencing all that 2016 has to offer. 

~ Cassie 

Posted on August 24, 2016 at 7:31 pm
Cassie Mason | Category: Maine, Maine Real Estate, Real Estate