Buyers

ARE YOU PREPARED TO BUY MAINE LAND

Are you planning on buying a parcel of Maine land this year? If so, you need to know a few things before you start, especially if you are not from here and/or have never purchased land before.

FINANCING

Before you fuel the car or buy the plane ticket, have you considered how you will pay for it? Obviously, if you have cash this item can be checked off your list. If you intend to get a loan to complete the purchase, you should know it is not the same process as getting a home mortgage. Most US banks do not do land loans. So if you planned on using the BIG bank you have a credit card or your home loan with, save yourself a lot of time and money by asking if they will finance raw land. Ask them questions like:

  • What down payment would be required?
  • Is there a limit on how many acres they will accept?
  • Do they do business in Maine?
  • Do they have approved appraisers and title companies in Maine?
  • Is your credit score high enough for their land loan program?

If you find out they will not do the loan, you just saved yourself hundreds of dollars in travel expenses. There are a few solid lenders who finance raw land in Maine. So if you need financing give us a call to get the list. Also, many sellers will consider owner financing their lands.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Maybe before calling the lenders, you should ask yourself why are you buying land? What is your intended use of the property? Did you get all the information on your target properties to be sure the ground will meet your needs and desires? For example, if you intend to use the land for raising cattle, is the land zoned for that use? If not, you are going to waste time and money coming to see it. Make a list of your concerns and get the answers before you come, a few example as follows:

  • Is the zoning in line with your intended use?
  • Is the property in a tax program that prohibits your intended use?
  • Are the soils OK for your use?
  • Does the property have utilities to it? If not and you require them, how far and how much to extend them?
  • Does the property have year round access?

CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT

The next item of preparedness that I nearly always forget to tell my customers before they get here is the appropriate clothing to wear for a visit to Maine. If you are looking at forested land, for example, and are unfamiliar with Maine, the forest here can be very dense and the ground uneven. Here is a checklist of the minimum gear you should have with you when you come.

  • Good pair of boots - waterproof if you have them
  • Sun or safety glasses to protect your eyes from tree branches
  • Layered clothing options for changing weather conditions
  • A waterproof coat

If you are working with one of us to show you the land, the above list will get you by. If you intend to do some exploring on your own, think about the following items:

  • A good compass
  • GPS
  • Maps of the areas of interest
  • Backpack
  • Water bottles
  • Snow shoes in winter

CUSTOMER OR CLIENT

The final question to ask yourself is are you confident enough to represent yourself or should you hire a broker to help you with the process. If you have the time you can do your own research and represent yourself in the process, but if you do not have time a good land broker is worth a look. Maine does require a real estate agent representing a buyer as a client to have a written buyer brokerage agreement, so if you do decide to go this route be sure to carefully review the contract to see what the agent's and your obligations are to each other.

A Maine Tiny House For Sale - It's In The Trees!

Tiny homes are all the rage across the nation. I wonder if this is a trend driven by a desire to simplify our lives? No matter the reason a tiny home certainly has some upsides like reduced ownership cost from heating, electric, maintenance and property taxes.095

For those interested in the tiny home concept, we have a newly listed property in Springfield, Maine you need to see. Not only is this home tiny, but it is built as a tree house. The multi-level home is perfect for a simplified primary residence or the ultimate get-away second home or sporting retreat.

 

The 544 square foot tree house is perched in a pine grove on 23 +/- acres fronting for about 1,000 feet on babbling Wrights Mill Brook. The land for sale with this unique home is a mixture of forestland, fields, apple trees and meadows. The home is located on a secondary road and is the last home on the town maintained section of the road. Privacy should not be a problem here.FB_IMG_1444066599213_resized

 

Springfield is located on the edge of large forestlands with lots of game and within a 10 minute drive to the boat launch of the Grand Lake chain of lakes. The lakes include Junior Lake, Sysladobsis Lake, Scraggly Lake, West Grand Lake as well as other lakes and ponds. For the outdoor enthusiast there is no better location. ATV/Snowmobile trails can be reached from the property.

 

 

Call 800-286-6164 and ask for Traci Gauthier for a chance to see this one of a kind tiny home.

 

 

 

Conservation Vs. Production in an Off-Grid Power System

I've produced most of my homes electricity for several years now.  Seven years ago I installed a 10 Kw Bergey wind turbine and three years ago I added an additional 3000 watt solar array with battery storage and inverters.  At peak production with both devices I am producing 13,000 watts of power on a sunny and windy day.  On a monthly basis I have seen as much as 1200 kilowatt hours of production from my turbine and an additional 360 kilowatt hours of power from my solar array.  The average home uses 600 kilowatt hours of power on a monthly basis, so at times I am able to produce more power at my home than two average homes in the U.S. consume. This production ability came at a pretty steep upfront cost.  I have around $60,000 in my turbine and about $20,000 in my solar array with its associated inverters, batteries and top of pole mount.

 

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3 Kilowatt Solar Array

 

I have read in various places studies showing the costs for energy conservation compared to the costs of energy production.  The number that I have seen is on the order of for every $1.00 spent in conservation, it would take about $8.00 spent to produce that amount of energy.  So what does this have to do in real life when thinking about building an alternative energy system?  Well quite simply the less energy you really need to produce to live comfortably, the smaller the investment you need to make to produce that energy.

A well thought out off-grid home is going to be well insulated as well as well positioned to take advantage of passive solar heating, natural lighting and have efficient electrical appliances and lighting.  The lifestyle of the inhabitants of that home will be different as well.  They will turn off lights when not in the room.  If they watch television, they will turn it off when it is not being watched.  Pretty common sense items you would think, but not in reality.  It is amazing the people that I have had as guests in my home that leave the lights on, leave the television playing and just waste electricity.  I guess they either believe since I produce my own, it is free to waste it.  It just takes a second to turn off appliances not being used, and all that conservation adds up pretty fast when you figure it is an eight to one return.

 

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10 KW Wind Turbine

 

The inhabitants of a well designed off-grid home will most likely heat with wood, cook with propane or natural gas, and use efficient LED lighting in the home.  The electrical appliances will be energy star rated and they will decide what is truly important to them.  The home will probably not have a dishwasher, although it could.  It depends on what they consider necessary for their lifestyle.  I have seen some pretty amazing properties that were built off-grid and produce all their own electricity.  I have also seen some pretty modest homes with modest energy production investments with above average energy consumption as well.  Utilizing a conservationists approach to living your life will yield large dividends in money saved and still living comfortably in an off-grid home.  Decide what is important to you, what you could use less of, what you can get by without entirely and have an appropriately sized system installed for your home.  A good friend of mine with hundreds of off-grid system installations under his belt has stated that he never tells anyone that it can't be done, what he says is "how large is your budget?"  Eight to one adds up pretty fast.

Buying Maine Land With A Self-Directed IRA

If you are like many of our customers concerned with having all of their retirement investments tied to the stock market you may want to look into a self-directed IRA. With a self-directed IRA you will be ready to act when you find that Maine land for sale that you know is a good investment.

What is a self-directed IRA?

The Individual Retirement Account or IRA has been around for many years as an incentive for individuals to save money tax deferred for their retirement. A self-directed IRA is simply an IRA that gives you complete control over what you invest in.

What can you invest in?

Unlike most IRA's offered by banks or custodians the self-directed IRA can be used for nontraditional IRA investments like real estate, notes, precious metals and many others. Maine timberland, farmland, land with development potential, waterfront and more could be a great diversification to you investment portfolio.

Pros

The best benefit of the SDIRA is the ability to have control over what you invest in. No one cares more about your retirement than you do. You can invest in what you know instead of letting others have control of your future. You can partner with friends and others on new investment opportunities. Your investments will grow tax deferred.

Cons

All investments have risk and a self-directed IRA will require you to do your own due diligence to mitigate risk.

Because this type of tax deferred account could have a lot of potential tax advantages for you the IRS has a lot of rules that need to be followed.

Is it right for you?

You will need to decide if the ability to control your own destiny is something you are comfortable doing. If you do not have time for researching your own investments you may want to stick with a traditional IRA. If you are one of a growing number of individuals concerned with the course of traditional banking and investing, the self-directed IRA is worth a look.

 

Realtor Land Institute Conference 2015

This past week Peter McPhail and I attended the Realtor Land Institute National Business Conference in Tucson Arizona. We were among a contingent of United Country Real Estate ALC's and RLI members from Maine to California to attend the conference. The 3 day event featured national expert speakers on the economy, instructors on new real estate training and technologies plus networking opportunities with over 200 of the best land brokers in the country.

 

economist at RLI

Dr. Mark Dotzour Speaking at 2015 RLI Conference

 

The conference opened with Lawrence Yun, The NAR's chief economist, KC Conway Senior VP of Sun Trust Bank and Dr. Mark Dotzour of Texas A&M. The three gave the group their predictions on what we should expect from the economy in 2015. Here are some of their predictions; o The U.S. GDP will underperform again this year staying below the historic norm of 3% growth, while Europe will remain around ZERO. o Interest rates will remain low but will increase slightly midyear. o Farmland prices are expected to fall with lower commodity prices o Foreign investment in US dollar assets will increase o Supply chain will switch from West Coast to the East Coasts more modern and efficient ports o Oil prices should remain low throughout this year, but gas predicted to hit $3 per gallon because of a lack of refining capacity to keep up with demand o None of the three are concerned with inflation with one predicting deflation for 2015 All three economists feel that the recovery is being slowed by the 2010 Dodd/Frank legislation that came in the wake of the banking meltdown of 2008. All agree that the legislation should be loosened to exempt smaller local banks from much of the restrictions intended to keep TOO BIG TO FAIL BANKS in check. Small banks simply can't afford the legal army needed to wade through this complex law. They have become more selective than they want to be in making loans because of fear of the new laws. These banks were not at the core of the financial crisis and most are doing well. Ask your state senators to get behind reforms to Dodd/ Frank which will encourage lending to home builders and new home buyers.

Recreational Land Investment For Sale Somerset County

This newly listed forested lot for sale in Concord Township, Somerset County has all of the components for quality recreation and investment. When buying land many of our customers have a list of similar requirements. Here is a list of the most commonly requested features which this lot enjoys.

  1. Good Access - A parcel of land that you cannot legally get to has reduced value. The savvy buyer will be sure the acreage they are looking for has a good deeded right of way or fronts on a maintained public road. Care should be taken to certify an apparent access is a legal one.
  2. Power - Some customers will consider off grid locations, but the majority of people like the convenience of being on the grid because it is simply cheaper and easier.

     

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    136 +/- acres Concord Twp - Little Houston Brook Road frontage with electric at street.

     

  3. Dry Land - Maine buyers know that finding a large parcel of property that is completely free of wetland is probably impossible with all the streams, ponds, vernal pools and forested wetlands in our state. They look for a good percentage of dry land with soils that promote the growing of trees and other plants. The dryer the land the more options for building sites and future development there will be.
  4. Water Frontage - Almost every potential buyer either wants to be on or near some kind of water. Man is naturally drawn to wild rivers, streams, lakes and ponds for the recreation, views and resources.

     

    Frontage on Houston Brook in Winter 2015

    Lots of Frontage on Houston Brook

     

    Interior Roads - On larger tracts of land having a road or trail system is a great advantage to better use the land. The best parcels have a road through the property that makes available different building sites and a reduced cost for managing the timber on the property.

  5. Views - It is difficult to put a value on great views, but most customers hope to find them on the parcel they purchase.

     

    Nearby Kennebec River in Bingham Maine

    Nearby Kennebec River in Bingham Maine

     

  6. Nearby Recreation - When buying a property location is a big consideration. For those investing in land for recreation, things like maintained trails for snowmobile, ATV riding and hiking are a big benefit. Nearby waterways for fishing and boating appeal to the outdoor minded buyer. Another important  consideration is the culture in the area. Do the local residents also appreciate the natural environment and are there nearby businesses and services catering to the rec buyer.

     

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    Nearby Groomed and Maintained Snowmobile Trails

     

  7. Timber - Not all buyers are focused on commercial timber value, but few desire to own a recent clear cut. As an investment, timber has always been a pretty safe bet for the long run. Healthy stands of trees of various ages, quality soils for better growth and the proximity of nearby markets for the harvested timber all will be considered by the educated investor.

If you are reading this and are like many of our other customers looking for the features listed above, this new listing in Concord Township has all of these features. It contains 136 +/- acres of wooded land with frontage on a 4 season road, electric at the street, frontage on a mountain trout stream, some quality trees, interior road and just minutes from the Kennebec River and other recreation. See more details at our LISTINGS or call or email for a complete property information package.

Coastal Timberland Investment Near Belfast Maine

 

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Downtown Belfast, Maine

 

Anyone looking for a reasonable investment in coastal Maine land should consider the Belfast area a great place to start. You can find land here for timber/recreation as well as development use. Prices will vary greatly depending on the size of the parcel, its proximity to the shore and many other factors.

One of the big attractions to many of the small Waldo County towns is the close proximity to the Coast and Penobscot Bay. Belfast is one of my favorite small cities in Maine. It is not as well known as Bar Harbor and Rockland but that is not a bad thing.

 

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Boardwalk Along Belfast Bay

 

Belfast has a great downtown area with small specialty shops. One of my favorite don't miss spots is Rollie's Pub located at 37 Main Street. The atmosphere is energetic with staff and locals who are Maine friendly. After a meal at Rollie's a short walk down to the town board walk along the bay will help burn off a few French fries. The boardwalk and public park area on Belfast Bay is a great chance to see some impressive yachts in harbor.

 

Swanville 103 +/- Acres

Swanville 103 +/- Acres

 

Peter and I listed a gorgeous 100+ acre woodlot in Swanville this week. The weather was beautiful for a snowshoe but the snow conditions were not. Anyone who snowshoes knows how much fun three feet of fresh powder can be. A little sun, wind and warmer temps should improve the conditions for this winter activity. This property located on Oak Hill Road has some nice timber, a long access driveway and a partly constructed home/cabin in need of some TLC and good carpenter skills. There is an existing well, septic and concrete pad for a garage. Power has been run onto the property. It is just 5 miles from the property to downtown Belfast!

If you own a home in town and have been looking for a place to hunt, hike, cut firewood or invest, you should look into this new listing. Call us to if you want to see this property this winter. If you need more information click the link here for more details.

Property Information Package - Oak Hill Road Swanville, Maine

 

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Unfinished building near end of driveway

 

 

 

How To Buy Land In Maine

Purchasing a property, especially land, can seem like a difficult task. To make it easier you need to start with a plan. Here is a step by step check list of how we approach purchasing.

1. How much can you spend? Are you paying cash, getting bank financing or hoping to find a parcel with owner financing? If you are financing the purchase, work with a lender to see how much you can borrow. This is the most important step. Knowing your price limits and securing financing before you start looking at parcels will save you time, money, shorten your search for land and improve your negotiating position. Statistics from the statewide MLS show the average parcel of land that sold in Maine during the last 12 months closed at about 87% of asking price. This would indicate that looking at lots priced more than 15 - 20% above your price limit is most likely a waste of your time.

2. Pick a location or at least narrow it down. Prices will vary a lot in Maine depending on where you look.  Do a little research online and you can find out a lot about most areas of the state. Call local chambers of commerce for information on the areas of interest.

3. Start looking for property. The internet makes this process much more efficient. Most sites will allow you to save searches and notify you when new land comes on the market that matches your criteria. If you are working with a land broker you can ask them to set up a saved search on the statewide MLS. The broker can program this to automatically send you new listings.

Helpful Hint - When using search engines like Google, be specific using search terms for the type of land you are looking for. For example: timber, waterfront, farm, recreation, hunting, fishing, development, investment or combinations  of these terms and others.

If your timeline is more than 3 months out, subscribe to local magazines such as the Northwoods Sporting Journal. While the property you see advertised there has probably been on the market for a month or more, local magazines, newspapers or journals can help you experience the flavor of different areas, the recreation available in these locations and any current social and or political issues.

Helpful Tool - Download Google Earths free software to your computer. Don't confuse this with the online Google Maps, this is a more useful tool. Ask the owner or Realtor to email you a shape files which will show you the approximate locations of the property you are looking at. These files can be opened in Google Earth. This bird's eye view (and in some areas street views) showing the outlined area of the prospective land can help answer a lot of your questions.

4. Now that you have located some promising Maine land, have studied the data and maps sent by owners or brokers, it's time to take a trip to see the properties. If you are not familiar with Maine weather, you should know to bring layers of clothing and sturdy foot wear for changing conditions. Other good items to help make looking at land more enjoyable would include a small back pack, raincoat, snacks, water bottle, a Delorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer and camera.

If you are going it alone, also bring detailed maps of the area, a compass and GPS if you have one and know how to use them. Because Maine is a large state with a lot of remote regions of interconnected forests, if you have no experience in land navigation we highly recommend bringing along someone who does. Our agents always let someone know where they are going just to be safe, we advise you do this as well in case you do not return on time.

5. Get on the property to look at the features that attracted you to it. Be sure to view some property lines and abutting properties for potential concerns. Are there nearby areas of interest that make the land more appealing? If so, take time to see them.

6. Now that you have found some acres that satisfy your wants and needs, it's time to write an offer. The emphasis is on the word "write". Verbal agreements don't carry much meaning with an owner who does not know you. Review required property disclosures for any potential hazardous materials, rights of way, tax status and other issues. Write in any contingency you need including due diligence inspections if you have unanswered questions. Don't forget to bring your checkbook for earnest money deposit.

Words of wisdom we can pass along from our own experience. If you find a property that you like and want and you know that the price is fair. Don't mess around offering a lot less, UNLESS you are prepared to lose it to another buyer. A land owner and their real estate agent know when they have a properly priced lot. Even if the property has been on the market for a few months don't assume the owner is going to sell way below market. The average time on market for Maine land last year was over 7 months. Even well priced land in Maine can take some time looking for its new owner.

7. Your offer was accepted! It is time to start the closing process. Ask your lender or your land broker for a list of title companies or attorneys that handle real estate transactions. Work out your due diligence, get that title checked, buy title insurance and close the deal.

8. Enjoy your Maine land.

How Snowmobile and ATV Trails Effect Maine Real Estate

Why do you want to purchase a Maine log cabin or seasonal home for vacation with lots of land? Many buyers do for recreation opportunities. Acreage that fronts a local trail system or one of the statewide ITS snowmobile trails is appealing to many buyers who love outdoor power sports. ATV riders often enjoy rules in Maine that allow their machines to be operated on or along paved roads to access connecting trails.

Are Trails an Easement?

Riding the trails in Maine is a tradition that goes back nearly 100 years. Aside from a few state owned trails, snowmobile and ATV trails are on private land with land owner's permission. Keep this in mind while you are enjoying the ride and appreciating the views along the trail. The property owner has no obligation to allow this access. Large land companies allow this for public relations. Private individual landowners may allow access because they like to ride or just do so to help their neighbors enjoy Maine. All do this for free. You can help avoid losing this access by staying on the trails and practicing carry in carry out ethics.

Trails Impact Market Value

We are often asked if a trail on near a land listing has a positive or negative effect on the property's market value. The influence on value will be a positive if the majority of prospective buyers like snowmobiling and off road vehicle sports. A large segment of buyers do enjoy it and either live here or come to Maine for the extensive trail system. The trail can have a negative impact on value if it is poorly situated, too close to an existing home or camp and if it has damaged the property with deep ruts and litter left behind by irresponsible operators.

Liability

Another question that is often asked us by prospective buyers is "What liability will I have because a trail crosses or fronts my property?" The State of Maine has a landowner liability law also referred to as the recreational use statute. The law favors Maine landowners and protects them from suits brought by persons on your land for recreation and other uses.  According to the Maine.gov web page, there has not been a single reported successful case against a landowner where the Maine Landowner Liability law applied.

Join a Club

If you love power sports you need to join a snowmobile or ATV club or organization. These groups are organized by community leaders who help maintain trails, work to get landowner permission for the trails, organize rides, do community and charitable fund raising, maintain club houses for a place to stop or trailer to and so many other benefits not mentioned here. If you do not have time to participate, at least make the monetary contribution of membership. This money will help keep your favorite trails open.

Finding Trail Maps

Maps are not always easy to find. Local club membership will help make locating a map easier. Club membership also will introduce you to experienced riders who often will show you the trails. Many of Maine's recreational trails are in remote regions, for safety, try to ride with others in case of a breakdown. The Maine Snowmobile Association has an excellent trail map of Maine's ITS trails. See the links below to help understand Maine liability laws, locate trail maps and clubs for different regions of Maine.

Maine Landowner Liability Information

https://www1.maine.gov/IFW/aboutus/commissioners_office/OutdoorPartnersPgrm/landowner_liability_explained.htm

Maine Snowmobile Association

http://www.mesnow.com/

ATV Maine

http://www.atvmaine.org/

Owner Financing Maine Land

If you are interested in buying Maine land with owner financing find some great land parcels at our listing page. Are you trying to sell your land? Maybe you should try financing your Maine land sale. Why should you consider this option? Because owner financing can help get your land sold faster and earn you more money. Here are a few reasons why and other things you should know.

Most Banks Don't Offer Land Financing

When a buyer for Maine land is looking for options to finance their purchase they usually start with the bank that holds their checking and savings accounts. In many cases, if the acreage of the parcel is larger than a simple house lot, the lender will not consider the loan. If they do interest rates may be high, or worse, the down payment requirement is not reasonable.

Specialty property types such as Maine timberland investments, hunting/fishing/recreational land, larger waterfront land parcels, farmland and other large acreage properties can be difficult to secure financing for. In Maine there are traditional banks and credit unions that offer attractive terms for land. However, the average buyer looking to purchase land will not know who those lenders are and will often get frustrated with the search. They will naturally look for ways to make the process cheaper or less complicated.

Buyers Prefer Owner Financing

Many buyers prefer the ease and speed that owner financing allows them to purchase land, so they search land for sale with such offers. This gives the land owner who is offering financing terms competitive advantage over other sellers. Although owner financing interest rates are usually higher than a bank rate, the lower down payment requirements, fewer required fees and closing costs combined with a less hassle process are often preferred by potential land buyers.

Amortization

Not only does it help get your land sold faster, another good reason to finance your land is the interest you can earn. When your Maine land sells, what will you do with the proceeds? If you said "put it in a savings account" why? Unless you need the liquidity cash, your money could be working better for you with amortized payments for the land. The front end of an amortization is mostly interest. Even if the borrower pays off early, you will be assured to collect a return on your investment. Looking at all of the options out there, owner financing can be hard to beat.

Less Risk than other investments

If done properly, holding a first mortgage on your land is a safe position to be in. Should the buyer/borrower default on repayment, you will have the land as security. There will be costs to pay for the foreclosure action should the borrower default. To reduce your risk, require enough down payment to cover your legal expense of recovering the property.

Things to consider

How much down payment should you require? That depends on many factors. Among others these are a few: how much risk are you willing to take, the interest rate you will receive, the buyers qualifications and standing timber values that could be removed.

The process for lending has become more complicated for the land owner than it was just a few years ago. The reason is the need to be in compliance of new federal regulations on lending. You will hear a lot of different opinions from lawyers, land owners, buyers and others about these regulations. We advise our clients to consult with legal counsel and private lending loan originators regarding owner financing to be sure that all legal documents, lending processes and disclosures are complete.