When Your Seller Doesn’t Want to Sell

It’s a tough market out there for Buyers.  Period.  Blog ended.  Haha kidding. Seriously though, it is a tough market for buyers.  Why you ask? One word…Inventory.  Or lack there of I guess you’d say.  Buyers are searching for homes and Sellers aren’t listing because of the lack of inventory here in the Greater Portland Area of Maine.  Thus, my recent experience on the Seller-Side of a transaction.  Buyer-Side too, actually.  The Seller wanted so badly to move from his current home and buy something in a different town that he could fix up and turn a profit someday. Until then, the new home would be fine enough for him to live in and put his own stamp on until he was ready to one day sell it.  He was ready and months went by waiting for his home to sell.  He wanted top dollar (don’t we all), so he didn’t mind waiting and the winter passed us all by.  Spring arrived and the perfect Buyer came along and made an amazing cash offer on the home.  So exciting, right?! Well, yes…if your Seller wants to sell.  No, if your Seller has had a change of heart.  This Seller had a change of heart. Why you ask? Tough one…maybe a little fear? Uncomfortable? Probably a little (or a lot of both).  The big reason? Inventory.  He didn’t see anything that he loved and hasn’t seen anything in months.  So, instead he said NO to a next-to-full asking price CASH offer.  He would rather stay in his home that is tailored to his liking then risk settling for something mediocre.  Yes, that hurts indeed.  Lesson learned? It doesn’t matter how good an offer on a home may be…If the Seller wants to sell, he will.  If he doesn’t…well then, he won’t.

-Lori Lavoie, The L’Heureux Real Estate Group of Keller Williams Realty

Featured Image Credit: http://listingcenter.com/



New Listing in Scarborough, Maine

Your chance to live in Scarborough! Large, level lot (1.6 acres), 2+ bedroom home, with Douglas Fir flooring in living room and dining area adds to the ambiance of this Contemporary Cape/Cottage style home. The addition adds a first-floor bedroom and second-floor bedroom with expansive den and office space making the second floor a large private suite. Detached two car garage will be painted in the spring when weather permits. Don’t miss this one!

Gorgeous Sebago Lake Home!

The best of Sebago Lake, ideally situated on a peaceful, private 3 acre setting, boasting 186 feet of sandy beach, dock and moorings. The home has extraordinary entertaining space inside and out. This open-concept retreat artfully blends the interior with the natural world. Beauty and functionality describes the designer’s vision of this masterpiece home with state-of-the-art systems, top-of-the-line amenities and pristine condition. An additional waterfront lot allows this to become your own private compound!

MLS#: 1290725
List Price: $1,450,000



Our Newest Listing in Gorham, Maine!

Country living at its best! Extraordinary pastoral setting offering 10 private acres, convenient to Portland amenities and yet is “country.” Solid home built with every detail in-mind and updates to kitchen and baths that add to the value of the cosy, quaint, traditional Cape Cod style home. Snowmobiles, hiking trails, and peaceful country road add to the life-style. Sit in front of one of your wood-burning fireplaces and enjoy the best of what this home offers.  Call/Text Lori Lavoie @ 207-713-4011 or Email @ lorilavoie@kw.com.
@lorilavoie @thedonlheureux

MLS#: 1319937
List Price: $375,000


Experiencing the Emotional Multiple Offer

We are in Seller’s multiple offer heaven and Buyer’s multiple offer hell!  For the past 12 months in Portland, Maine we have been in a very strong Seller’s market.  At Team meeting, Team owner and agent discussions in general are about topics such as: Buyer agents sharing strategies, concerns, war stories, and the emotional roller-coaster their clients are on in the inventory-starved market.  As primarily a Listing agent/Team Owner, I have just been an observer and counselor for the most part; however I have had a few multiple offer Buyers as well. Something happened last weekend that made me experience the roller-coaster first hand- my wife and I made an offer on a lake front cottage!  Guess what? We were in a multiple offer!  I discussed the comps with my wife, talked about the topics we always discuss with clients, like: “How will you feel tomorrow if you don’t get the property?”  What’s your best and highest- most likely you won’t get a second change to counter”.  We decided to make an offer $17,000 over asking price. I told myself what I tell my clients, “If it’s meant to be, it will be.”

As the clocked ticked away Monday morning, I had a feeling something wasn’t right.  At noon time I received a text. Yes, a text and not a call.  I was amazed this was how I was being notified that we were in a backup position.  I was in a state of disappointment and needed to share the information with my wife and this is how I was notified with a text? We had taken the time to go through the whole process of making an offer?!  The next thing I had to do was to make a call to my wife… or should I text her?  The text would leave the emotion and drama out, but … that’s what the other agent did and that was less than professional.   So I called her and I could tell she was really disappointed. I started to ask questions; then I started to wonder how I could let this happen?  I had let her down and I felt to blame. Did I ask enough questions, Should I have discussed an acceleration clause with her?  Should we have paid cash and really made it a strong offer?  I didn’t realize she REALLY wanted that cottage on the lake, on a big lot, and turn-key.

As bad as I feel about this event, it was a good for me to experience. It brought me back to what our Buyers are feeling. The regret, the losing the property and the pain of knowing we will never have a chance to get that property again weighs on my mind.  I know we will compare every house we look at to that one that got away!  I have seen that so many times when it’s so hard for a client to not use that property as the “Barometer” property that I so often call it.  Every real estate agent should experience what I experienced firsthand.  It’s so easy to become calloused to the emotion of the process.  I suspect keeping your emotions out of it keeps an agent from burning out;  if they internalized the frustration, the disappointment, and/or the regret the “Buyer” feels when they lose out it would probably be too much to handle over time.  I have also called more clients than texting them a response on an offer if it’s bad news.  I realize it’s a generational thing and Millennials prefer texting; however on rejection topics like offers I think a call is in order. I called my 28 year old client a few minutes ago to inform him that our offer was rejected.  It was a little more time and a conversation; however I felt better about it than I would have if I had just texted him. That said, let’s remember to have compassion for our clients in this multiple offer Heaven and Hell we are in.

First Time Buyers and Parents

I have the honor and privilege to mentor new agents who are on our real estate team or attend classes I volunteer to teach for new agents.  One of the questions I get often is “If there is one thing you would tell a new Buyer agent about first time Buyers, what it would be?”

There are so many things to say on this topic. It could be that you are helping someone with the biggest purchase of their lives and the responsibility that goes with that.  I could be the roller-coaster of emotions that are involved in buying a house; however, when I think of a first time buyer and the role of an agent I put on my counseling hat and start with you are going to need to be a counselor.  You are their trusted advisor, counselor, and expert.  It’s easy to be an expert- it’s called experience and knowing you don’t know everything and you need to be problem solver and solution “finder”. Sometimes you need to check your ego at the door and find an expert that knows more about septic designs, easements, and installing. It’s harder to be a counselor, it takes being a good listener and truly understanding what a client is feeling.  That said, I want to share my one thing I think agents and first time buyers need to recognize.  When a Buyer puts a home under contract and starts the process of being a home owner, you are now becoming an adult in an adult world.  This is a break from a world of being a young adult to an “adult” and the roles of parents, friend, and family change.  Parents have been comfortable with a son or daughter moving out and renting, but until now their parents could protect them from making a wrong “BIG” decision.  They were comfortable with them in the pigeon hole called a “renter”.  Suddenly they are making “big boy or girl” decisions and their parents may not be involved.  Friends who don’t own a home yet may feel threatened that their friend is moving forward into the world of adulthood before they are ready.  Friends often try to put them back into the “pigeon hole or box” because they are more comfortable with their friends being like them- renters. Siblings can also feel this way, but I find parents and friends subconsciously try to sabotage the purchase more often than family.

So what does an agent say to a first time home Buyer who has parents who are trying to protect them-especially at a building inspection?  The building inspection is often the first time parents are involved and it’s where they make their stand. The first thing I ask the agent is: are the parents right? Is it a bad decision to buy this house?  We walk away from houses that are homes that need too much work or have problems that will affect the value when they try to resell it all the time; however, when the parents are clouded by their own fears it’s up to the agent to counsel the Buyer. I say, “John, your parents mean well, but they are stuck in a paradigm that they are comfortable with- buying a house is a huge symbol of your independence and that they no longer control your decisions.  That’s scary for them and they just want to put you back into that box where you are safe.”  Now don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of parents who encourage their children to a buy house or invest in property, but the purpose of this article is focus on the one thing that I find is the biggest hurdle that I see in helping first time buyers purchase a home.  Counseling skills are so important and observing behavior is as well.  Our job is to advise our clients and it is our clients who decide what they think is best for them. Pointing out the strong emotions that are involved and talking about them helps the client have a better understanding of the dynamics of parent involvement in the process.

In my next Blog I will discuss the “Mac and Cheese every night” counseling session I have with my first time Buyers.  That’s probably the first counseling session I have with my Buyers.  That said, there’s more than one thing I would tell an agent when asked what is the “One Thing”.

Plumber with Leaky Pipes

Plumber with Leaky Pipes

We have all heard the saying “plumbers have leaky pipes” because they just don’t see their own problems and they get paid to fix leaks in pipes. As a real estate agent I go into people’s homes, and with the help of a stager, I tell them that they need to update their flooring, windows, light fixtures, clean, and the list goes on.  Around my house, my wife Kelly said last month “we need to change these light fixtures, I can’t look at them anymore”.  Well, we had been living with them for 25 years and they seemed fine to me. A matter of fact, one of them was an original from when the house was built in 1947.  There are so many reasons why people don’t change out fixtures in their homes.  It’s the leaky pipe issue: they work fine, I’m comfortable with them, why spend money on a perfectly paid for light? The reason this is top of mind for me is because I was just in a million-dollar house and it hadn’t been updated in 35 years.  It was so “retro” that the fads were coming back into style. Now the location was outstanding and the “bones” were excellent, however, it would have brought so much more in today’s market if the property had been updated over time.  Buyers today want “move in” condition. Did you know that antique stores have just about gone out of existence due to the younger generations not wanting anything to do with “old, lead paint stuff”?  Today’s Buyer will pay premium dollar for ready to go, move in ready homes.  For the home owner, the key is “over time”.  When you update, you will enjoy the updates; if you’re wise, they will stay in style until you sell or decide to replace them. One of the most common occurrences that I see when I come in and suggest improvements to get top dollar for a person’s house is that they don’t want to sell after they improve their home.  I often hear, “I wish we would have done this years ago”.  The funny thing is that I feel the same way about our new kitchen and bathroom lights.  Should have done this a long time ago.  So, when you walk around your house, even if you’re not thinking of selling, walk around with the eyes of a Buyer.  What are some things that could be done that will add to the enjoyment of your home, add to the value, and not be overwhelming 25 years from now?  I am always available for free consultations and I can provide you with the name of an amazing interior decorator as well. Whether you are selling your home now or five years from now, please just ask. I have attached a couple of pics of the old light (retro 1947) and a couple of new ones we replaced them with. Happy house updating, and fix those leaky pipes!

ceiling new1947 light

Took It To Heart Award

We are proud to announce that Keller Williams Realty – Portland, Maine won the “Took It To Heart Award” for 2015 and 2016.  Portland donated $23,989 to the fund in 2016.  The “KW Cares Fund” is an International Fund that helps people when tragedy strikes. When Katina hit Louisiana and Hurricane Sandy destroyed the East Coast, for example, not only did KW send money but also volunteers.

Keller Williams Realty – Greater Portland also has a local Fund called “Friends and Family” that helps out locally when a need arises.  We have helped people who have needed assistance with medical bills, operations, personal needs, etc.  I am proud to say many agents give to these funds on every closed transaction. If you know of someone who needs a “hand up”- let me know and I can help you connect with the proper contact person.


Thanks again to Keller Williams Realty for giving back to the Community.


KW cares Pic

Dirt Road Desire

Ride with me.

Fatigue hung around my shoulders on a recent Friday night yet I collected my boots, left the company of the wood stove, and prepared for a social engagement with clients. See, Dave and Paula were loving their new house and wanted to share design and furnishing touches with Nicole and I.

Beautiful stuff, and a true reward for this career in real estate, yet I was uncertain my energy could match the occasion.

But something happened during the ride that allowed me to catch a second wind and savor the evening. The branches of hardwood trees bowed toward the center of the road, like a tunnel, or mother nature’s regal courtesy. Pavement turned to gravel, our tires felt more secure in the falling snow, and light flakes traipsed in March’s late winds.

Briefly I thought of Christmas, child-like. And isn’t a new home the biggest Christmas present of all? I held Nicole’s hand, we helped these folks and they are happy I thought to myself.

Dave and Paula met us at the door, our earlier business-hand-shakes now traded for hugs, and the couple beamed with satisfaction and pride, comfortable and at ease in their new environs.

My eyes traced their elegant home and caught subtle changes: the elegant mirror by the wet-bar, the New England art on the south facing well, the shade of the new couches near the fireplace. Inviting.

Our one hour visit turned to three as we talked about life, kids, writing, and back country ski plans for the following winter. While I know Congress Street, Ocean Avenue, Stevens Ave and Forrest Ave too, I traded those streets for deep woods, farm-country, and mountains decades ago.

If you are seeking the quiet of a Western Maine get-away, I can help. We’ll likely discuss fishing and family before we begin on real estate, but I love these hills and lakes and I feel the topography of this part of the world in my bones.

I can get you here. Glad to be on board.

Ryan (207) 462-3874



Our New Blog is Finally Here!

I have been wanting to start this blog for years and finally we’ve started it!  There are so many “Chic” restaurants, breathing taking views, unknown natural wonders in Maine. There are so many places I have visited as a Register Maine Guide and outdoorsman  over the past 60 + years I have lived here as a “Mainer”. I want to share my experiences and places that most people will never experience living here simply because they are kept secret or at least forgotten on purpose. I’ll share some of those places in Maine that I have discovered like the Allagash Waterway or Grand Falls on The Dead; but most of all I will share trends in Maine Real Estate because real estate is “local”.  We can predict a “shift” in real estate in Maine from the National  Sales Report numbers and indicators, the rate changes in the Ten Year Bond, but we can also see Micro and Macro trends in Maine real estate as well as from what’s happening in Cumberland/York Counties compared to the rest of the state.

That said, today’s topic is the deregulation of banks’ lending practices and the products I see lenders offering again.  I am a student of history, one of my majors in college was history and if I learned one thing it was that history will repeat itself. Now that can be a positive thing or maybe a negative thing, but it will repeat itself.  I meet with banks and mortgage brokers on a regular basis. I’m always being called and ask to meet for coffee. Two weeks ago I met with a lender who I haven’t done business with in the past and he reviewed his new products he was offering.  He had the usual products, but he pulled out this flyer and said , “this product allows cash to be used, we don’t need two years of employment status, and money can be gifted.” I said to him, “Isn’t that a no doc. loan?”  The interesting part of that was Buyers could use cash. I can not remember non- verification of funds for a loan during the past 16 years I’ve been a Real Estate Broker.  This wasn’t the first time I have had red flags on financing in the past year or so.  Back in September, a client wanted to use an online lender and one of the biggest in the industry.  When we called to get a pre-qualification letter, the mortgage agent basically said the way he “qualified the Buyer” was he ask them how much the made on W-2s and plugged in their credit score directly into the Fannie Mae website and “presto” they were qualified.  When I said, “isn’t that a “NO DOC” loan. He said, “Don, they are well qualified and we hold the note on their primary residence”.  Granted, these clients owned a Brownstone in Boston somewhere in the $1 million  range; however this is how banks and people got in trouble when Clinton (not to get political here) said in 1996 that we want “80 % on Americans to own their own homes”.  Well, the deregulation of banks and lending due to the new regulations caused the mess to happen and it was primarily due to “No Doc” loans.  What are “No Doc loans”?  Documentation of income was not required to get a loan sold on the secondary market with these high risk loans that were basically sold to hedge funds, and large banks, and investment companies, etc.  If you haven’t seen the movie “The Big Short” pull it up on Netflix.

I’m proud to say during that period from 2007-2011 I did not have a client go through foreclosure. In Maine, the problem wasn’t as bad as California, Nevada, and Florida due to the solid local banks we have here in Maine and our culture in general.  I think as we enter into this period where lending seems to be very “relaxed” it is important to ask our clients a question that I have asked my clients since the beginning; especially young first time home buyers: ” Sally and Jeff, if you buy this house, the questions is do you have enough income to go out and have fun? Will you be able to have dinner with friends?  Will you be able to put gas in your car?  Will you be able to go to the movies?  You see, I ask you this because you’re going to want to do these things and if you can’t afford it- it will stress out your relationship, make you use that credit card, and put so much pressure on you that it will be a mess.  “House Rich and Cash Poor” just doesn’t work.  So I ask you again, “Do you have enough income to support your lifestyle?” If they say said or they say they can handle it – I’ve done my job. You see, those same clients who were in their 20s are now in their 30 and 40s and I have helped them sell and buy their next “Dream House”.  Our goal should always be to look out for our clients’ best interests and create clients for life.  I what my clients to know that I want to be their “Real Estate consultant” for life.

There may be a place for the loan I mentioned with no documentation of cash or employment; I can think of a few honest people who work in a cash business that it may benefit;  it may be a legitimate product, but we seem to forget the history on banking and lending.  I think as a real estate professional, we need to educate our clients and point them in the direction of other real estate professionals like attorneys, trusted loan officers, bankers, and other real estate service professionals that will help them navigate though the process of being home owners.  I have loved this business and there’s nothing better than helping someone with the biggest purchase in their life time.  I hope this stimulates some questions and thoughts.

Photo credit: http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/film/77357815/oscars-2016-the-significance-of-props-in-this-years-best-picture-nominees