Below is a list of the most frequently asked questions. If you have a questions, please feel free to contact me.
What is Sebago Lake? Sebago Lake is the deepest and second largest lake in Maine. The lake is 316 feet (96 m) deep at its deepest point, with a mean depth of 101 feet (31 m), covers about 45 square miles (117 km) in surface area, has a length of 12 miles (19 km) and a shoreline length of 105 miles (169 km). The surface is around 270 feet (82 m) above sea level, so the deep bottom is below the present sea level.
How do I know if the property has deep water access? The water will be deep at the edge of the property instead of a gradual decline or if the property has a dock that sits in deep water and has no problems tying up a boat.
What are the top 4 considerations when buying on the lake/pond? And are these important to you when buying?
- Is there motorized vehicle access (boat, jet ski, etc.)?
- Is the property seasonal or not?
- Does the property have deep water access?
- Is the wasterfront shared or privately owned?
What is the different between seasonal & non-seasonal? Some cottages/cabins located on or near a lake may be considered seasonal and therefore cannot be lived in during the off-seasons. In most cases a seasonal home doesn’t have a year-round wastewater disposal system or the roads are not maintained throughout the winter. You can convert a seasonal property into a permanent, year-round home but you may be required to obtain a seasonal conversion permit from the local Plumbing Inspector to ensure adequate subsurface wastewater disposal systems are in place to handle increased usage. Frye Island though is an exception to this rule as Frye Island is only accessible via boat and therefore is only open to the public from early May to late October or very early November.
Is the water safe and OK to swim in? Sebago Lake is the water source for Greater Portland, 15% of Maine’s population. Sebago Lake is exceptionally clear and soft – clean enough to be exempt from the expensive filtration process required with most surface water sources. The lake offers many different beaches (public & private) with secured and marked swimming areas.
Is the water safe to drink? While it is permissible to pull water from a lake or river, the problems are potability and freezing of waterlines, so this is typically a seasonal source for uses other than drinking. Drilled wells are the best permanent source.
How is the fishing on Sebago Lake? The lake contains natural populations of land-locked salmon and smelt. Other game fish that can be found in the lake include lake trout, brook trout, brown trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and northern pike. Some of these are stocked by the state, either in the lake directly or in connected bodies of water.
What are the pros & cons of a private road? Private roads are not owned by the government and instead are owned and maintained much like a homeowner’s association. The homes along the road share the ownership and under a road association contract give each owner different rights and responsibilities for plowing, paving, clean-up and repairs. Private roads are very common in Maine and are usually left as a plain dirt road or are partially paved. You can find a guide to forming a road association here: http://www.maine.gov/dep/land/watershed/roadassociation.htm
What are the pros & cons of a homeowner’s association? Many homeowners prefer to live in an HOA for several reasons, including: community/neighborhood appearance, low maintenance, recreational amenities, and association management. Rules and dues vary but, in general, homeowners who live in an HOA must abide by its regulations and pay a monthly, quarterly or annual fee that pays for management and maintenance of the community. For some buyers, the idea that a management association can tell you when you can put out a decorative flag or that you can’t park your truck in front of your property is a deal-breaker. If you have a concern that something that’s important to you, such as your ability to run a business from your home, could be banned by HOA rules, then be particularly careful to read all the regulations before you buy a home in a community with a homeowners association.
What is the DEP? Department of Environmental Protection is responsible for protecting and restoring Maine’s natural resources and enforcing the state’s environmental laws.
What is the different between shared & owned water frontage? Many waterfront, waterview and water access properties are located in developments where the original developer subdivided a large tract and reserved the waterfront for the use of all of the houses in the neighborhood. Interior houses may be listed as “waterfront” properties and have affirmative rights to community beaches, boat ramps and other facilities. In many of these developments, there is also a strip of land that lies along the water and surrounds the entire community and was intended to allow for members of the community to walk and have access to the entire waterfront.
What is the different between waterfront & waterview? A true “waterfront” property is exactly that, a home that sits along the shoreline and gives the owner any rights associated with it (right of way, building a dock, etc.) In contrast, a “waterview” property is generally one that is close to the water, but has land owned by someone else between their property and the shoreline. Anyone with a waterview doesn’t have a guarantee that another owner will not build a fence, structure or put in plantings that obstruct the waterview. Careful consideration should be paid to what might be placed between the waterview property and the water — if it is community land on which nothing can be built that is very different than private land on which someone in the future may build a multi-story home.
Should I be concerned that the lake has a dam? A dam controls the lake level.
What is erosion? Most lakes are geologically young and shrinking since the natural results of erosion will tend to wear away the sides and fill the basin. FOSL (Friends of Sebago Lake) believes that increased water levels in Sebago in recent years have contributed to this erosion.
What are the pros and cons of building on a lake vs. buying a pre-existing structure? It is very important to be aware of the local rules, laws & codes that encompass lakefront property when you are interested in buying either vacant land or a pre-existing structure.
When buying a pre-existing structure you will want to ask if it is seasonal or can it be occupied year-round? Some advantages of purchasing a pre-owned home result from what you already know about the home, especially if you buy in a developed neighborhood. Also, if the home is already built you will have your waterview already in place and know what to expect. The most obvious advantage is that the house is already built and ready to move in. Some other things you can find out before buying are: what kind of neighbors you have, how much the property taxes are, how much the average utility bills cost, how the house has withstood extreme weather and what the current owners like about the house.
When looking to build a new home you will need to know if it is a buildable lot, and if so, is it within shoreland zoning? Also, is there a homeowner’s association where restrictions are in place for what type and size of home that can be built? Building a new home can be an exciting process to design your own house and then watch it being built step by step. It offers all the advantages of choosing everything for yourself, such as: fixtures, design, layout, location, etc. On the other hand, when choosing a waterfront lot to build on, you need to be aware that the waterfront can’t be changed. Which means, if there are trees currently blocking your view, plan on them staying there, as the city most likely will not allow you to remove them. Just like an existing home, a new house comes with its own problems, big or small.
What is Milfoil? A widely distributed and highly invasive aquatic plant with whorls of fine submerged leaves and wind-pollinated flowers.
What is Wetland? Land consisting of marshes or swamps; saturated land.
What is the Basin? The Basin is a small water body accessed from the south east end of Jordan Bay.
What is the Songo Lock? The Songo Lock is a 6-mile long meandering river that runs through the park and takes you up to the Songo Lock. Songo Lock is the last of 28 locks remaining along a 22-mile long canal system connecting Portland with interior Maine towns like Harrison and Bridgton. The canal system grew during the early 1800’s when the “Golden Age of Canals” when canal construction across the country was booming. Canals were used to move goods (especially timber) throughout the state. Today the Songo Lock is still in use. It is manually operated and used primarily by pleasure boaters traveling from Brandy Pond to Sebago Lake.
What is the difference between a lake and a pond? A lake is a large body of water surrounded by land. A pond is a small body of still water formed naturally or by hollowing or embanking.
What are the rules for septic systems in shoreland zoning? All first-time disposal systems must be sited at least 100 feet from perennial water bodies. Clearing or removal of woody vegetation necessary to site a new system and any fill extensions shall not extend closer than 75 feet from the shoreline. Holding tanks are not allowed for a first-time residential use in the shoreland zone.
What is the 30% expansion rule? A non-conforming structure that existed on January 1, l989 may be expanded less than 30% (based on the floor area and volume of the structure). A municipality may adopt an alternative to the 30% expansion rule for non-conforming structures. Under this alternative, expansion limits are set on the total amount of square feet allowed based on where the structure sits. Within 75 feet of either a lake or tidal area, a total of 1,000 square feet of structure is allowed. Between 75 and 100 feet and adjacent to a great pond or river flowing to a great pond, a total of 1,500 square feet of structure is allowed.
Why do I need flood insurance? Flood zones are always subject to change. To get secured financing to buy, build, or improve structures in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) property owners are required to purchase flood insurance. Lending institutions that are federally regulated or federally insured must determine if the structure is located in a SFHA and must provide written notice requiring flood insurance. Please visit FEMA’s FloodSmart web site (http://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/) to find out about flood insurance policies and coverage, finding an agent in your area, how to purchase flood insurance, how to file a claim, and more.
What is the difference between a broker/associate broker/agent/realtor?
Real Estate Sales Agent: Real estate sales agent means a person licensed by the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation to offer, attempt to conduct or to conduct services on behalf of another for compensation which includes, but is not limited to, listing real estate for sale; promoting the purchase, sale or exchange of real estate; buying, advertising or holding oneself out as offering specific services defined by law and selling or exchanging real estate [reference 32 MRSA Chapter 114 §13001 “Definitions”].
This license may only perform brokerage services in the employ of or on behalf of a licensed real estate agency and under the supervision of the agency’s designated broker.
A sales agent licensee must be affiliated with a licensed real estate agency to be eligible to perform brokerage services.
Real Estate Associate Broker: Associate Broker means a person licensed by the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation to offer, attempt to conduct or to conduct services on behalf of another for compensation which includes, but is not limited to, listing real estate for sale; promoting the purchase, sale or exchange of real estate; buying, advertising or holding oneself out as offering specific services defined by law and selling or exchanging real estate [reference 32 MRSA Chapter 114 §13001 “Definitions”].
An associate broker licensee must be affiliated with a licensed real estate agency to be eligible to perform brokerage services.
This license may be held on inactive status.
Real Estate Broker: Real estate broker means a person licensed by the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation to offer, attempt to conduct or to conduct services on behalf of another for compensation which includes, but is not limited to, listing real estate for sale; promoting the purchase, sale or exchange of real estate; buying, advertising or holding oneself out as offering specific services defined by law and selling or exchanging real estate [reference 32 MRSA Chapter 114 §13001 “Definitions”].
A broker licensee must be affiliated with a licensed real estate agency to be eligible to perform brokerage services.
In addition, a licensed real estate broker may act as designated broker for an agency and, as such, is responsible for the actions of the agency and its associates or employees.
This license may be held on an inactive status.
REALTOR: A real estate agent is a REALTOR® when he or she is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, The Voice for Real Estate® — the world’s largest professional association.
The term REALTOR® is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.
Founded in 1908, NAR has grown from its original nucleus of 120 to today’s 720,000 members. NAR is composed of residential and commercial REALTORS®, who are brokers, salespeople, property managers, appraisers, counselors and others engaged in all aspects of the real estate industry. Members belong to one or more of some 1,700 local associations/boards and 54 state and territory associations of REALTORS®. They can join one of our many institutes, societies and councils. Additionally, NAR offers members the opportunity to be active in our appraisal and international real estate specialty sections.
REALTORS® are pledged to a strict Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. Working for America’s property owners, the National Association provides a facility for professional development, research and exchange of information among its members and to the public and government for the purpose of preserving the free enterprise system and the right to own real property.
What is a Selling/Buyer’s agent? You may engage the services of a agent to represent you exclusively as a buyer of real property. In this case, the agent represents you and is accountable to you only. He or she must obey your instructions, and keep confidential anything you tell divulge that may affect your purchase of real property. In negotiating for the best price and terms, the agent must always put your interests first, just as in the case of the selling agent.
What is a Listing/Seller’s agent? An individual that helps homeowners sell their home. Not to be confused with the selling agent that represents buyers. If you engage the services of a listing agent to sell your property, you become the brokerage’s client. That agent then represents you, the seller, and owes you undivided loyalty, confidentiality, and accountability. In negotiating for the best price and terms, your interests first are the agent’s first priority.
What is a dual agency? An agent can work for both the buyer and the seller on the same transaction, providing that there is consent of both parties…in writing! In this case, the agent is considered a “Disclosed Dual Agent.” This agent then owes both the seller and the buyer a duty to deal with them fairly and honestly, and to hold each of their respective interests in confidence. In this type of agency relationship, the agent does not represent either the seller or the buyer exclusively, and neither party can expect the agent to put one party’s interests ahead of the others, or to advise either party on how to gain an advantage over the other. Undisclosed Dual Agency by a broker is illegal in the state of Maine.
What is an earnest money deposit? The earnest money deposit is an important part of the home buying process. It tells the seller you’re a committed buyer and it helps fund your down payment.
What is a Grantee/Grantor? General Warranty Deed example: In this type of deed guarantees the grantor’s “good and marketable title” to a property and his right to sell said property with no restrictions. This goes on to include the entire line of the property’s ownership, not just the time that the grantor owned it.
Grantor: transferor (giver)
Grantee: transferee (receiver)
Why is insurance so important for lake properties? An amazing number of lakefront property owners are underinsured when it comes to liability insurance coverage for their lake property. Many lakefront property owners still have liability insurance coverage of only $300,000 to $500,000 for their lake property. Where jury verdicts or even settlements in excess of $1,000,000 (or even more) are not uncommon, prudence dictates that liability insurance coverage below $1,000,000 (and in many cases, even more) is probably unwise.
Lakefront properties and their appurtenances pose potential injury or death situations which are not present for conventional dry land properties. For instance, lakefront properties carry water risks such as drowning, diving into shallow water from a dock or swimming raft and similar situations. Boat propellers, high speed boating, water skiing, personal watercraft, water trampolines and other water “toys” all increase the risk of injury or even death.
What is the difference between assessed value & appraised value? An assessment is the value placed on a property by the town or city’s assessor’s office for the purpose of determining the property tax due. An appraisal is a report done by an appraiser to determine value. The appraiser will use recently sold prices of similar properties making adjustments for differences between the subject property and the comparables. Appraisals are done most commonly when a property is to be financed or refinanced, but may also be requested for a variety of other reasons.
What is transfer tax in Maine? The transfer tax is collected on the following two transactions. The rate of tax is $2.20 for each $500 or fractional part of $500 of the value of the property being transferred. The tax is imposed ½ on the grantor, ½ on the grantee. In real estate the transfer tax is imposed on each deed by which any real property in this State is transferred.
What are zoning laws for property on a lake (can an rv be placed on lot visiting or permanent)?: Certain zones may allow or not allow RV’s to be parked on a lot. It is important to check with the city code ordinances prior to your arrival if you are unsure.
The Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Act (MSZA) requires municipalities to adopt, administer, and enforce local ordinances that regulate land use activities in the shoreland zone. The shoreland zone is comprised of all land areas within 250 feet, horizontal distance, of the
- normal high-water line of any great pond or river;
- upland edge of a coastal wetland, including all areas affected by tidal action, and
- upland edge of defined freshwater wetlands; and
- all land areas within 75 feet, horizontal distance, of the normal high-water line of certain streams.
The purposes of the MSZA are as follows:
- to prevent and control water pollution;
- to protect fish spawning grounds, bird and wildlife habitat;
- to protect buildings and lands from flooding and accelerated erosion;
- to protect archeological and historic resources;
- to protect commercial fishing and maritime industries;
- to protect freshwater and coastal wetlands;
- to control building sites, placement of structures and land uses;
- to conserve shore cover, and visual as well as actual points of access to inland and coastal waters;
- to conserve natural beauty and open space; and
- to anticipate and respond to the impacts of development in shoreland areas.
What activities require a permit on the lake? Examples of activities which require a permit include:
- removing or displacing soil, sand, vegetation or other materials in a water body or wetland or within 75 feet of a water body and certain wetlands; and
- constructing, repairing, or altering a permanent structure in, on, or over a water body or wetland, or within 75 feet of a water body and certain wetlands.