Friday, January 19, 2018

Selling your home in the winter can be the right decision by Kevin Ronan

Are you thinking about selling your home this winter? Winter brings some unique challenges when selling, which are different than other seasons. 
Don’t lose hope, winter can also be a great time to sell. Why sell now? You beat the spring rush to list your home, local housing inventory levels continue be low and interest rate continue to be favorable for buyers. 

Be assured, you can make your home stand out from other houses on the market during those long,
gray winter days when sunlight is in short supply.  

Curb appeal is just as important in the winter, when snow is on the ground, as in the warm weather months. I spoke to Rhonda at Windham Flower Shop (892-5459) on how to improve your home’s curb appeal.  She suggested some great inexpensive ideas that will spruce up your home even in the dead of winter.  

Consider wreaths and hanging arrangements of fresh cut greens and berries. A front door wreath is a must but also consider a wreath on your mail box post or even the For Sale sign.  

Colorful birdfeeders that attract Maine’s wild birds in front of a kitchen window or by the back porch also adds a nice touch. Remember curb appeal may be a little harder in the cold months but is well worth the effort.

As the days get shorter exterior and interior lighting becomes more important. Lights are a great way to highlight your home’s best features. When someone drives up to the house what do they see? Hopefully the exterior lighting is both inviting and sufficient for buyers to view the house safely.  

Take the time to upgrade any light bulbs that are out or not of suggested wattage as well as add lighting in areas that appear to be too dark. Keep in mind, lighting is not only a great for curb appeal but is also necessary for safety.

I now wish to discuss the “S” word. Shoveling! This would all include walking surfaces including driveways, sidewalks and any exterior decks or balconies you want buyers to view. 

It may be challenging for a buyer to visualize their furnishings in a house with a couple of feet of snow on the ground and a deck that is totally immersed in snow. In addition, it can be very challenging for prospective buyers to visualize the beauty of your home’s landscaping and gardens during the winter. Why not include pictures of your landscaping taken during spring and summer? How inviting pictures of flower gardens in bloom can be! 

As you prepare for a showing or open house let’s consider what you can do to create a cozy inviting atmosphere.  

This is the time to turn up the thermostat and possibly light the fireplace. One safety note, if you light your fireplace it should be attended to at all times. You want the temperature to be comfortable and give buyers the opportunity to enjoy the warmth during the cold winter days. 

Let the light in on the inside.  As always turn on all the lights and open any curtains or shades. Fresh baked cookies, hot chocolate or cider are always welcoming.

In closing, although many would never consider selling during a New England winter, I suggest this can be done successfully with some simple, inexpensive activities.
If you have any questions please contact Kevin or your local realtor.
Kevin Ronan, Associate Broker affiliated with Alliance Realty, 290 Bridgton Road in Westbrook can be reached at 207-838-4855 or

Friday, January 12, 2018

Tips to keep your home warm in the winter by Mel Oldakowski

To say it's freezing outside would be an understatement. We're all feeling the effects of this brutal Maine winter; and for those looking to reduce your heating bill without a big investment, here are a few tips.  
Be sure to use the correct ventilation.
Replace bathroom exhaust vent switches with timer switches so vents will not be left on accidently and vent only when needed. 

Winter air tends to be dry, so if you don't mind a little less privacy, open your bathroom door and let
the steam escape into the house instead. Make sure bathroom fans/vents have baffles/draft blockers on the outside so you don't have cold air blowing back into the house.

Switch ceiling fans (reverse them) spring and fall.
If you have heated floors turn off the ceiling fans but if you have forced air heat, turn them on. 
Close the doors and vents in unused rooms if you are trying to reduce heating costs or keep your living space warmer in an emergency.

Get heat where it’s needed.
If you have radiators, line the inside of the exterior wall with tinfoil. This will reflect some heat back inside.  

Double check to make sure you aren't blocking airflow from forced air vents with furniture or other objects, and that the vents are open where you need heat. 

If you have a chimney and are not using it, make sure its flue and draft (if it has both) are closed. Open chimneys can suck the heat right out of your home. This is one of the biggest issues with open fireplaces – too much heat loss from the room. Consider blocking the chimney with a fireplace insert for insulation to reduce heat loss if it will be unused indefinitely – just don't forget to take it out if you use it again.
Insulate inside.
Insulate hot water/radiator pipes and duct work running through non-living areas. You don't want that heat dumped in a crawl space or utility area you want it to get your house warm.  

Attic access can be the source of large amounts of heat loss so make sure your attic access is well insulated.  

Don't let the cold radiate up from your floor. A non-insulated floor can cause more than 10 percent heat loss in a home. This is especially important if your home is on a slab. Insulate the floor with warm rugs or carpets.  

In extreme cold, hang blankets along the wall, even where there aren't windows because the wall can radiate cold through it if the insulation isn't good enough. If this happens regularly you need to check
your wall insulation.

Reduce window heat loss.
Uncover the south facing windows to let in solar heat on sunny days.

Add interior window insulating kits, insulating shades, and curtains. You can purchase these items inexpensively online and in most major stores. If you have very large window, you can tape a large clear shower curtain to the inside (just past the frame).  It will allow sun in during the day and still provide an air gap to reduce heat loss.

Never forget your Realtor can always be a great resource, and may have pull, should you need an experienced contractor. We are always available and willing to help.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Owning your own home in 2018 by Carrie Colby

Being a homeowner gives you the security of owning the roof over your head, the feeling of contentment, satisfaction, fulfillment and it is the wish of most, if not all, Americans.

Homeownership is the American Dream. 

Homeownership is also the best investment. The value of your home appreciates, which means that if you decide to sell it, its price will be much higher than your purchase price. Homes appreciate about 5 percent every year (of course some areas appreciate more than others).  And as we have seen in our area in the last few years, appreciation is not always the case but just like all investments, if you hold onto them for the long term they will appreciate. Try, if you can to wait out the market and only sell when you will make a profit.

Homeownership, in a way, is a form of forced savings because you’ll have to allot a certain amount of money for monthly payments or risk losing your home. You also need to set aside money for future repairs or improvements.

Homeownership gives a sense of permanence where your family can live and grow. Emotional security goes with this. It gives you and your family security and peace of mind knowing that you have a home to call your own. 
You will develop lifelong friendships and a sense of roots and community for you and your family. Homeowners become attached to neighbors, become interested and involved in events and work towards the betterment of the community to protect and preserve property.

Homeownership eliminates landlord hassles. You will have no more worries with regard to a lease have pets, or change the color or the d├ęcor of your home to your own taste as you desire. It also gives you privacy; it’s not like renters wherein landlords can have access to the place.
not being renewed or an increase in rent. It gives you the freedom to redecorate, remodel, make improvements,

Keeping up on maintenance is crucial to making sure your home does appreciate and also keeps your family safe while living in your house. Maintaining your house on a regular basis also eliminates costly big-ticket repairs. For an example, if you have a septic, it is important to having it pumped every couple years as it will help you prevent costly back-ups and extends the life of your septic. The same goes for your furnace. 

Painting your house every few years keeps your home from needing costly repairs; like if the wood rots and it helps prevent leaks around windows and doors. 

You also save on taxes. All the interest and property taxes (up to $10,000 per year as of 2018) you pay in a given year can be deducted from your gross income to reduce your taxable income. You can borrow against your equity because the value of your home increases against what you owe on it. You may also have a better credit rating. Mortgage payments paid on time contributes to an outstanding credit history.

Owning a home is the biggest and best investment a person can ever make and, so you have to manage that investment to the best of your ability. It requires extraordinary commitment not only of funds, but time and attention as well. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Making your home your winter sanctuary by Nicole Foster

The warm glow of the holiday lights will soon be fading, just as we begin to scratch the surface of Old Man Winter. We all will be spending more time indoors and at home. So why not take
deliberate steps to keep the cozy spirit of the holiday season with us all the way through until
the first thaw of spring this year?

Cosagach (coze-a-goch) was recently introduced as the newest trend to rival the wildly popular,
Danish inspired hygge (hoo-guh) in 2018 by the Office for Tourism in Scotland. Therefore, we may soon be seeing more tartan and plaid throws making their way onto the scene; which could be great news for us here in Maine!“Lagom” is the popular Swedish practice of “having just enough” and encourages purchasing things which are made to last and creating balance. All are very similar and equally important themes used to convey a feeling of contentment, shelter and well-being; living a slower pace of life inside your home and creating a welcoming space where neighbors and family can share the simple joys of daily life.

There is real value to be found in these design and decorating trends, especially for some
of us New Englanders. All too often people only declutter and clean out their homes with real
purpose and intention when they are preparing to sell. It seems somewhat tragic to watch
home-owners seeing their homes at their very best, only when it is time to leave them. 

One of the most basic principles all of these design concepts share, is the lack of clutter and “stuff” in
every space of your home, allowing clean lines and a more open feel in the rooms. 

If you want to create a more calming living environment for yourself then you need to give things away and throw things away. If a room has furniture pushed up against the walls on all sides of the room, you may want to consider if each of those pieces are truly functional and necessary anymore. If the furniture is just a catch-all for clutter and junk then it may be best to open up that space and create a larger feeling room which is less busy and more inviting. 

Focus on creating more negative space (empty space) on bookshelves and on top of surfaces.
Maximize natural light by using sheer white curtains instead of heavy dark draperies or

LED lighting has become increasingly popular and has its advantages, but when you
are looking to achieve “cozy” - it is best to use floor lamps, candles or even twinkling white lights instead of bright ceiling fixtures. 

If your home did not come already equipped with a fireplace, you may want to take a look at some of the vent-less electric fireplaces with a real flame that are available today. There are many affordable options to choose from and they have come a long way in both style and functionality; so you may want to consider investing in one for cold rooms that could use some added warmth or a focal point.

Add braided or throw rugs to hardwood floors and incorporate pieces of textures from nature
such as stone, wood, leather or fur mixed with cozy chunky knits. Using neutral tones on your
interior walls allow you to add punches of color where needed and to change those out
seasonally. Some of the new bold colors we will be seeing more of in 2018, will be palettes
using blues with emerald greens and teals.

Nicole is a Broker of twelve years, specializing in single family, residential and new construction
at Locations Real Estate and resides in Windham. Follow Nicole on Facebook at or visit

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Five myths about renters’ insurance by Tricia Zwirner of Windham State Farm Insurance

Moving day has come and gone. Your furniture is in place, the utilities are hooked up, and your rental unit is starting to look like a home. Is renters’ insurance next on your to-do list?
If you answered no, you’re not alone. According to the Independent Insurance Adjusters & Brokers of America (IIABA), almost two-thirds of residential lessees in the United States don’t carry renters’ insurance.

Yet a renters’ policy is more important, accessible, and affordable than you might think. But renters are often unclear about what renters’ insurance is and what it covers.

Here are the top five myths-and the facts-about renters’ insurance:

The landlord’s insurance covers your possessions. Don’t count on it. Most landlords’ insurance covers only the building and damages due to negligence. Coverage for some of the most common causes of property damage and loss, such as theft, vandalism, and fire, is entirely up to you. Without
renters’ insurance, you may have to bear the financial burden of a loss on your own.

Renters’ insurance is expensive. In this case, the numbers speak for themselves. According to the IIABA, the average renters’ policy costs just $12 a month for up to $30,000 in personal property coverage. That’s solid coverage for less than the cost of a couple of cups of coffee a week. 

Still concerned about price? Your insurer will work with you to find the combination of coverage and costs that suits your needs. You might even qualify for a discount by taking some simple home safety precautions or purchasing another policy, such as auto insurance, with the same insurer.

You don’t need insurance if your stuff isn’t expensive. Most renters’ belongings cost more than they think. In fact, the average person has over $20,000 worth of belongings that are probably not covered by a landlord’s policy.  

Think that number is too high? Take a moment to add up the approximate cost of your computer, television, stereo, furniture, jewelry, and clothing. If a fire gutted your apartment tomorrow, would you have the cash to replace it all?

Renters’ insurance covers only your possessions. In fact, renters’ insurance covers much more than just your personal property: The average policy also includes up to $100,000 in liability coverage. 

That means in the event of a covered loss your insurer will help cover the costs if you’re held responsible for injuring another person or damaging another person’s property, including your landlord’s. Moreover, this coverage applies whether the incident occurred within your residence or elsewhere.

Renters’ insurance is hard to get. The Internet makes getting renters’ insurance easier than ever. You can research providers, compare quotes, and even find an agent online. Or, just as easily, you can place a quick call to an insurance representative. Answer a few questions and you’re likely to get a rate quote almost immediately.