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Flood Zones & Flood Insurance

by Fontaine Family

Floodplains, Flood Zones,
& Flood Insurance...Oh My!

Since we are expecting about 4 or 5 inches of rain today, it seems like a good time to talk about Flood Zones.  The threat of your home flooding is probably not something you think about on a regular basis.  It's just not something you expect to happen, but if it does, it can be devastating...especially if you don't have flood insurance. 

How do I know if I'm in a flood zone?
  If you are purchasing a property with financing, chances are you are going to be required to purchase flood insurance if your property is located in a flood zone.  So how do you find out if you are in a flood zone and need to purchase flood insurance?  I r
ecently ran across this website,  You will need to sign up for a free account, but then you can just pop in the address in question and up pops your answer...actually, you will get something like this.  Of course, this information should be double checked but this will give you a great idea what you are getting into.

What does that mean?
  Click on the tab that says "What does this mean?" and there is
a nice explanation. This is what I got.  

Looks like this property will need flood insurance. 
The cost of flood insurance is a huge concern for home buyers and with good reason.  The costs can vary greatly! According to the average yearly cost of a policy is $700.  If your home is in a flood zone, or if you are considering buying in a flood zone, you may want to visit They have the "One Step Flood Risk Profile".  You can enter an address and this handy tool will tell you if you are a high flood risk, give you an estimate of your flood insurance premium (except in special cases), and will provide a list of agents in the area who provide flood insurance policies. 

So are you ready to shop for your next home? 
Put on your rainboots and give us a call to get started today!

Real Estate Scam Alert

by Fontaine Family

Beware of this Scam
Targeting Real Estate Deals...

It could happen to you without you noticing!

Hackers keep coming up with new scams to obtain your private information and in turn your hard earned money. 
One of the latest scams has you wiring money
right into the hackers account without even realizing it...
and it has been happening here in Maine.

Hackers have been breaking into the e-mail accounts of real estate professionals and monitoring e-mails exchanged about real estate transactions.  When a closing is scheduled, the hacker will send an e-mail to the buyer with "new wiring instructions".  You might think this would be easy to spot, but they hackers have done as far as setting up e-mail accounts with similar names to the professionals involved in the deal.  The e-mail might look like it is coming from the Lender, Title Company or agent and may even contain a company logo or even your loan number.  If you actually follow the "new wiring instructions" you could end up wiring your funds right into the account of the hacker.    

So how can you prevent this from happening to you? 

1.  If you get an e-mail with a change to wiring instructions...pick up the phone and call your agent, lender, or title company to confirm.  Do NOT use the e-mail provided in the e-mail but look up the number or use the number you have used to contact them in the past. 

2.  If the e-mail makes any reference to a "SWIFT wire"
it may be a scam.  This term indicates that the destination
for the wire is overseas. 

3.  Do not send your bank account information, routing numbers, or PIN by e-mail. 

The saying "better safe than sorry" applies in this situation.  If you have any question or feel uneasy...pick up the phone and verify that the information you were given about wiring funds is accurate. 

The National Association of Realtors recently issued an alert
about this scam. 
Click here to read it.

Are you interested in working with an agent
who will look out for you and protect your interests
during your Maine real estate transaction? 

Give us a call today
and let us tell you how we can work for you! 

Auburn (207)784-3800 
Scarborough (207)289-3830

The Real Cost of a Fixer-Upper

by Fontaine Family

How to Assess the Real Cost of a Fixer-Upper House

By: G. M. Filisko

When you buy a fixer-upper house, you can save a ton of money, or get yourself in a financial fix.

Trying to decide whether to buy a fixer-upper house? Follow these seven steps, and you’ll know how much you can afford, how much to offer, and whether a fixer-upper house is right for you.

1.  Decide what you can do yourself.

TV remodeling shows make home improvement work look like a snap. In the real world, attempting a difficult remodeling job that you don’t know how to do will take longer than you think and can lead to less-than-professional results that won’t increase the value of your fixer-upper house. 

  • Do you really have the skills to do it? Some tasks, like stripping wallpaper and painting, are relatively easy. Others, like electrical work, can be dangerous when done by amateurs.
  • Do you really have the time and desire to do it? Can you take time off work to renovate your fixer-upper house? If not, will you be stressed out by living in a work zone for months while you complete projects on the weekends?

2.  Price the cost of repairs and remodeling before you make an offer.

  • Get your contractor into the house to do a walk-through, so he can give you a written cost estimate on the tasks he’s going to do.
  • If you’re doing the work yourself, price the supplies.
  • Either way, tack on 10% to 20% to cover unforeseen problems that often arise with a fixer-upper house.

3.  Check permit costs.

  • Ask local officials if the work you’re going to do requires a permit and how much that permit costs. Doing work without a permit may save money, but it'll cause problems when you resell your home.
  • Decide if you want to get the permits yourself or have the contractor arrange for them. Getting permits can be time-consuming and frustrating. Inspectors may force you to do additional work, or change the way you want to do a project, before they give you the permit.
  • Factor the time and aggravation of permits into your plans.

4.  Doublecheck pricing on structural work.

If your fixer-upper home needs major structural work, hire a structural engineer for $500 to $700 to inspect the home before you put in an offer so you can be confident you’ve uncovered and conservatively budgeted for the full extent of the problems.

Get written estimates for repairs before you commit to buying a home with structural issues.

Don't purchase a home that needs major structural work unless:

  • You’re getting it at a steep discount
  • You’re sure you’ve uncovered the extent of the problem
  • You know the problem can be fixed
  • You have a binding written estimate for the repairs

5.  Check the cost of financing.

Be sure you have enough money for a downpayment, closing costs, and repairs without draining your savings.

If you’re planning to fund the repairs with a home equity or home improvement loan:

  • Get yourself pre-approved for both loans before you make an offer.
  • Make the deal contingent on getting both the purchase money loan and the renovation money loan, so you’re not forced to close the sale when you have no loan to fix the house.
  • Consider the Federal Housing Administration’s Section 203(k) program, which is designed to help home owners who are purchasing or refinancing a home that needs rehabilitation. The program wraps the purchase/refinance and rehabilitation costs into a single mortgage. To qualify for the loan, the total value of the property must fall within the FHA mortgage limit for your area, as with other FHA loans. A streamlined 203(k) program provides an additional amount for rehabilitation, up to $35,000, on top of an existing mortgage. It’s a simpler process than obtaining the standard 203(k).

6.  Calculate your fair purchase offer.

Take the fair market value of the property (what it would be worth if it were in good condition and remodeled to current tastes) and subtract the upgrade and repair costs.

For example: Your target fixer-upper house has a 1960s kitchen, metallic wallpaper, shag carpet, and high levels of radon in the basement.

Your comparison house, in the same subdivision, sold last month for $200,000. That house had a newer kitchen, no wallpaper, was recently recarpeted, and has a radon mitigation system in its basement.

The cost to remodel the kitchen, remove the wallpaper, carpet the house, and put in a radon mitigation system is $40,000. Your bid for the house should be $160,000.

Ask your real estate agent if it’s a good idea to share your cost estimates with the sellers, to prove your offer is fair. 

7.  Include inspection contingencies in your offer.

Don’t rely on your friends or your contractor to eyeball your fixer-upper house. Hire pros to do common inspections like:

  • Home inspection. This is key in a fixer-upper assessment. The home inspector will uncover hidden issues in need of replacement or repair. You may know you want to replace those 1970s kitchen cabinets, but the home inspector has a meter that will detect the water leak behind them.
  • Radon, mold, lead-based paint
  • Septic and well
  • Pest

Most home inspection contingencies let you go back to the sellers and ask them to do the repairs, or give you cash at closing to pay for the repairs. The seller can also opt to simply back out of the deal, as can you, if the inspection turns up something you don’t want to deal with.

If that happens, this isn’t the right fixer-upper house for you. Go back to the top of this list and start again.

More from HouseLogic

What you need to know about foundation repairs
Budgeting for a home remodel
Tips on hiring a contractor

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer whose parents bought and renovated a fixer-upper when she was a teen. A regular contributor to many national publications including, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.


Read more:
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Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

It's Apple Picking Season!

by Fontaine Family

Fall is Here...lets pick some apples!

Heading out to the orchard to pick some apples and enjoy the beautiful fall weather is one of the best things about fall!
  Maine has lots of orchards that allow you to not only
pick your own apples, but enjoy a variety of things like hay rides,
fresh donuts, and corn mazes. 
Check out our list of Maine Apple Orchards where you can pick your apples and enjoy a gorgeous fall day! 

Androscoggin County

Ricker Hill Orchard 
Wallingford's Fruit House 
Boothby Orchard's 
Benoit's Orchard 

Cumberland County

Douglas Hill Orchard
Hansel's Orchard 
North Yarmouth 
Meadow Brook Farm 
Thompson's Orchard 
New Gloucester
Sweetser's Apple Barrel and Orchards 
Orchard Ridge  Gorham

Sagadahoc County  

Rocky Ridge Orchard 

York County 

Spiller Farm 
McDougal Orchards 
Libby & Son
Kelly Orchard 

Sunday, September 13th is Maine Apple Sunday!
Click here for a list of participating orchards.

Fair Market Value, Appraised Value, Assessed Value

by Fontaine Family

What's the Value of Your Home?  
It depends on who you ask.

$ Fair Market Value -
The amount a property will sell for in an open market. 
Fair Market Value is determined by the market conditions at the time of sale.

$ Appraised Value -
Determination of value on a property, when done in a real estate transaction, usually to protect the interest of a lender. 
Appraised Value is one individual's (the appraiser) opinion.

$ Assessed Value -
Value placed on a property for the purpose of determining taxes. 
Appraised Value is determined by the city/town's tax assessor.

Displaying blog entries 1-5 of 5

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432 US Route 1 Scarborough ME 04074
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(207)289-3830 Scarborough
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