Friday, April 3, 2020

How to Increase humidity in a dry house

High humidity levels can be unbearable, but what really catches homeowners by surprise is low humidity levels. With so much of a focus trying to cool a home down in the summertime, we often forget just how dry our homes can become in the winter. An increase in the use of our heaters and furnaces will lower the moisture levels in the house, making our skin dry, worsening allergies, creating static electricity, exasperating breathing issues, and even increasing our susceptibility to viruses like the flu. Luckily, there are a handful of easy ways to humidify your home even without the help of a humidifier.

Why Homes Become Dry

Aside from significant problems that would require home improvement solutions, it's normal and expected that many homes become drier during the colder months. However, dry air can certainly impact your level of comfort and potentially contribute to damages throughout your homes such as peeling wallpaper or wood cracking. Our homes are humid during the summer because warm air holds moisture. When temperatures outside begin to drop, the air holds less moisture. When cold, dry air makes its way inside, it settles beneath the hot air pumping through your air vents.

How to Increase Humidity in a Dry House

Adding moisture to the air in your home can offset the dryness you're experiencing. Except for air sealing your home, which can be a significant home improvement project or require a professional, there are plenty of ways to create moisture in rooms throughout your home.

•    Invest in a Humidifier
The most obvious solution is typically the most effective. Humidifiers come in all shapes and sizes, many of which can comfortably fall within your home improvement budget. If you feel particularly dry when you wake up or spend a lot of time in a specific room, a portable humidifier is an excellent solution. For homeowners who feel dryness throughout the home, a whole-home humidifier will restore healthy moisture levels evenly and consistently across each room.

•    Cook on the Stove
Cooking meals on a stovetop, or even boiling water in a kettle, releases moisture into the air. If you're not cooking but still want to use this trick, boil a pot of water. After the water and pot have cooled, place the pot of water onto your heat registers or radiator. When the furnace turns on, it will heat the pot again and release humidity into the air.

•    Shower with the Door Open
Who doesn't love a hot and steamy shower in the dead of winter? Leave your bathroom door open and let the steam drift into the surrounding areas. Though it likely won't increase the humidity much farther than your bedroom, this trick works very well for increasing humidity levels to help you fall asleep more comfortably.

•    Air Dry Your Clothes
Although it may take hours longer than a normal dryer cycle, air-drying your clothes can also increase humidity levels in the home. We suggest using this home improvement trick before heading out for the day. When you return home, your clothing will be dry, but your home will feel more humid.

•    Use Houseplants to Generate Humidity
Houseplants go through a process called transpiration in which moisture on the leaves or stems evaporates. By placing a plant in front of a sunny window, you'll double the humidity output as the sunshine evaporates the plant's water supply. Just be sure to continually check on the water levels of your plants — a dry home makes them just as uncomfortable as it makes you.

Humidity levels will fluctuate throughout the year, but that doesn't mean your comfort as to do the same! Say goodbye to dry air and hello to humidity with these easy and affordable home improvements tricks.

This article was brought to you by Richie Vraux Broker with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate/The Masiello Group. He can be reached anytime at 207-317-1297.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Home matters

Virtual tours offer a way to continue looking for your dream home
By Nicole Foster, Broker/ REALTOR®

People will now have some time to focus on those nagging home improvement projects like organizing & decluttering, fresh paint or flooring upgrades. It would appear that homeowners may even have a few weeks to get a head start on exterior or lawn and garden tasks as well. Homes have never been cleaner than now, with the majority of people taking extra efforts to thoroughly disinfect in addition to spring cleaning. With more people wanting to move to Maine than ever before, we are seeing that in spite of all that is happening our real estate market is still strong and moving.

Is now the time to buy or sell a house? If you are one whose income will not be affected by the pandemic, then now could be a great time to buy. Some of the intense competition may finally ease up a bit, even if only temporarily. Buying real estate during a time when “money is on sale for cheap” is a still a good investment. First time home buyers will have the advantage of no home to sell during uncertain times as a contingency.

Certain sellers have decided to delay putting their home on the market, but we are absolutely seeing a steady stream of newly listed homes both coming to the market each day as well as swiftly going under contract. The technology available today is remarkable and makes virtually touring homes incredibly detailed and accurate. We are now able to provide additional marketing programs as a
courtesy to our seller clients so buyers can feel they are able to “walk into” the home.

Most agencies have been able to quickly implement important changes to the ways we practice real estate. Every aspect of the buying and selling process from how showings and viewings of homes for sale are handled to the building inspection, appraisal process and closing have been significantly modified. The tenacity and creativity of all parties to work together has never been greater and has been awe inspiring to witness in motion. We, as REALTORS® are mindful to screen all clients and customers in the same manner to determine the extent of travel and exposure while being conscious of potential Fair Housing Act violations prohibiting us from discriminating against any segment of the population in regard to ethnicity.

Mortgage rates have increased over the past few weeks as many continue to scramble to refinance but rates still remain significantly lower than they were one year ago at this time. Some lenders feel they may come down again slightly.  If you are considering making an application for a loan in the coming weeks, taking steps such as getting verification of your income or if you are self-employed obtaining verification of any tax returns could be helpful. You do not need to currently be under contract to gather this type of information and there may be temporary waivers or exemptions for certain

Nicole Foster is local real estate Broker in the trenches of the spring market while helping three at home students who is thinking about you all each day and knows that we will get through this.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Facts about the present Maine real estate housing market

By Lisa DiBiase

According to the Maine Association of REALTORS® sales of Maine’s single-family existing homes increased dramatically last month. Maine Listings reported a 26.76% rise in sales this January when compared to statistics from January 2019. The statewide median sales price (MSP) jumped 10.45% to $220,900. Specifically, Cumberland County MSP has reached an all-time high to $325,000.

“After a record-breaking 2019, the new year 2020 continued that strong momentum with the highest number of January sales (1,061) since we began keeping statistics 20 years ago,” says Tom Cole, 2020 President of the Maine Association of REALTORS®. “We’re continuing to experience low supply and high demand, with buyers ready to purchase—and waiting for homes to come onto the market.”
Some more interesting facts for Cumberland County based on information provided by Maine listings:

Highest median sold price and number of sales 2005-2019.
Approximately one in four sales are in Cumberland county (23%).
More sales occur in Cumberland County than in Franklin, Knox, Lincoln, Piscataquis, Sagadahoc,
Somerset, Waldo and Washington counties combined.
The number of sales peaked in 2016 at 4,252.
Median sold price in 2019 is 44% higher than statewide median price.

As we embark on another fast and furious year in real estate, it is important to understand how it affects you. Dependent upon whether you are looking for a new home or considering selling your home, will determine your position. Whether you find
yourself in a seller's market when demand exceeds supply, or there are more buyers seeking to purchase homes than there are available homes on the market or if other buyers are interested in the same property you're making an offer on, or if you are trying to get a lower sale price you will likely pay over asking price.

The Federal Reserve has indicated that it plans to keep rates steady in 2020 and recently cut interest rates to near zero. This affects the interest rates banks use to lend money to each other, which in turn lowers short-term interest rates (credit cards, car loans, home equity loans etc)

While Fed rate decisions don't directly affect current mortgage rates, they can create economic trends that lead to mortgage rates trending up or down. Recently, mortgage rates have remained extremely low. These are all very key ingredients to keep a strong healthy market.

And, as of today – this is the most recent Maine real estate facts as you proceed to purchase a new or sale your existing home. Good luck.

This article was written by Lisa DiBiase Broker/Owner/Realtor®, Landing Real Estate 207-653-0823

Friday, March 13, 2020

What you should know when selling your home

By Mel Oldakowski

Selling a home certainly comes with its share of challenges, but there are plenty of people who have been in your shoes before. Leaning on the advice of an experienced real estate agent is a great way to simplify the process. Here are some proven selling tips.

Price to sell
Trying to squeeze every last dollar out of the deal by starting with a high asking price may ultimately lead to a lower final sale price for your home. A home that's priced too high is likely to sit on the market, and homes that linger on the market ultimately tend to sell for less. You don't need to offer a bargain basement price, but you may want to go a bit lower than other similar homes in the area, especially if you're hoping for a quick sale.

Clean and de-clutter your home for potential buyers. Get ready to clean your home from top to bottom, including those hidden corners that you haven't thought about in years. Now is also the time to start clearing out clutter and storing personal items, so buyers will be able to imagine their lives in the home.

Prioritize fixes and improvements 
While you want to make your home as appealing as possible for buyers, upgrading every last little thing is unrealistic and likely to result in lost money. Instead, focus on upgrading the important stuff, with special attention given to kitchen and bathroom areas because buyers tend to look at those spaces first. Look for upgrades that cost little but make a big difference in appearance.

Smart, simple staging you've cleaned your home top to bottom and made the most cost-effective upgrades, you'll be ready to start thinking about how to stage your home for open houses. An experienced agent can help you with staging tips that will allow you to showcase the most important areas of your home. Open spaces, ample lighting, and attractively arranged furniture are great places to start.

Consider curb appeal
You want buyers to be impressed from the moment they arrive at the curb, so it's important to make sure that your yard is clean, your landscaping is well-maintained, and the entrance to your home is looking its absolute best when selling a home.  If you’re selling in winter months, be sure to give your agent some spring and summer photos to showcase in addition to your new photos.

Be ready for anything
Selling a home is a complex process, so there may naturally be some ups and downs while your home is on the market. Financing can fall through, buyers can have second thoughts and appraisals may not always match the value you expect to get for your home. Stay focused on your goals, work closely with your agent and you'll be ready to overcome any obstacle.

Friday, March 6, 2020

The Bangin’ first quarter of 2020 - What just happened?

By Nicole Foster Broker/ REALTOR®

We have all been predicting an early spring market, but I do not think that any of us were prepared for what we have been seeing each day so far this year. January sales of single family already existing homes is up statewide 26.76% over January of 2019 with an increase of 8.33% in the median sale price for Cumberland County to $325,000.

The Maine Association of REALTORS® (MAR) reported that this January had the highest number of sales of any since they began keeping records twenty years ago! That momentum has only continued through the leap month of February and March is definitely “in like a lion” but no signs of it closing “out like a lamb” with the number of days on the market dwindling and inventory continuing to be tight.

In November of 2019 the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) passed the Clear Cooperation Policy dramatically changing the ways real estate agents are able to market new listings limiting “pocket listings” and restricting “coming soon” property marketing. This is an important change that has already taken effect in January of 2020 that we as professionals are learning to adopt and integrate the new policy passed by our trade organization into our practice, so as a consumer you may be noticing some changes in how marketing is conducted both locally and nationally. (Not all real estate agents are REALTORS® or members of MAR or NAR).

On Tuesday the Federal Reserve announced the first unscheduled rate cut in response to the economic impact of Coronovirus. It is the largest one time cut in twelve years at one-half a percent point which will cause mortgage interest rates, which were already hovering around the lowest we
have seen since 2016, to drop even lower with some speculating they could reach 3%.  We will absolutely see this entice even more buyers to the growing buyer pool and for those of you who are staying put: You really need to call you lender this week to discuss a refinance., it’s easy to forget that you are paying property taxes each month when they are included in your monthly mortgage payment. Take a moment to complete the very simple one page application for the Maine Homestead Property Tax Exemption available online or at the Town Hall (or text me your address, I will be happy to mail you one!) and send to the Tax Assessor prior to April 1st to have your property’s taxable valuation reduced by $20,000 next year. If you have moved this year and were receiving the Homestead Exemption at your previous address you do not need to wait 12 months at your new home to be eligible, just complete the application for the new address and submit to that municipality Tax Assessor for the uninterrupted reduction.

Don’t forget to spring your clocks ahead this weekend and change the batteries in your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors!

Nicole Foster is a Broker/ REALTOR with Locations Real Estate Group and is a Windham resident who loves people and real estate.

Friday, February 28, 2020

The importance of a commercial real estate broker being connected to the business community

By Larry Eliason

Commercial real estate brokerage is about the numbers such as income and expenses, the leases in place, return on investment, the zoning, permitted uses and the bricks and mortar as well as the location.  It is also very much a people business.  To be successful, a commercial broker should stay connected to clients and customers, existing as well as potential new ones.

One of my favorite ways to stay connected in my business community is through my membership and board affiliation with the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. I have been a member for several years and enjoy volunteering and also receive a wide range of benefits.  So, I would like to share what the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce has to offer.

The Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, representing the towns of Casco, Gray, Limerick, Limington, Naples, New Gloucester, Raymond, Sebago, Standish and Windham is one of the most active chambers in the State of Maine.  It is comprised of business members ranging from young entrepreneurs and ‘mom & pop’ shops to the largest employers in our region.

Tourism is one of the largest industries in our scenic region. Windham, Raymond and surrounding communities are a top vacation destination in Western Maine. The Chamber constantly promotes our region and recommends our businesses to visitors through special events, trade publications, information centers, the internet, and by phone and mail.

So, how can your business benefit from the chamber?  The benefits listed below are included with a membership. Consider these advantages as a return on your investment!

The chamber is a collective voice for local business in municipal and government affairs. And, the chamber membership and board are actively engaged in economic development and legislative issues that affect the quality of life and the business climate in our region.

Access to membership lists and marketing leads are a great way to target regional customers. The chamber maintains data on over 300 businesses in the Lakes Region.

By having your website business listing with business description and link displayed on the Chamber’s online business search directory your display is seen by hundreds of potential customers each month, generating sales and/or brand recognition.

The Regional Guide Listing provides a business description and contact info displayed in 12,000 of our printed guides used by tourists, locals and businesses as a reference for regional services, recreation etc. It is also viewable on the chamber’s website!

A professional leads group only for chamber members meets once a month to specifically discuss and share leads with no added fee and no strict parameters. One industry is represented in each group.
Customer inquiries and referrals come into the Chamber, about 2,000 information and referral requests each and every year, and the Chamber only refers Chamber members.

Ribbon cutting events provide an event where town officials, chamber staff and chamber ambassadors celebrate your business. Ribbon cuttings are prominently displayed in the chamber newsletter seen by over 400 contacts. The chamber will also post the photo on our Facebook page which averages hundreds of views!

The monthly “Business Breaks” open up business networking opportunities with the potential to meet dozens of new contacts (or reconnect with old). Learn about other chamber members while marketing your business in a fun social setting.

The chamber gives people an easy way to be part of a collective voice and to participate in something larger than themselves and their respective organizations. The chamber offers a sense of purpose through a united voice involving mutual interests and opportunities.  The chamber is at the table representing the interests of business at most community functions including local government, economic development, and education.

The chamber holds an annual meeting each January. This event is one of the community’s largest business events. The event sets the tone and spirit of the chamber initiatives for the remainder of the year. In addition, the chamber bestows some of its most prestigious awards at this event.

Compared to other businesses, chamber members are believed to have better visibility and strive to use better business practices. They have a better reputation within their community.  Members have greater visibility among customers and are perceived as more caring towards their customers. They are seen as more supportive of their community. Chamber members are considered to be more stable and therefore more reliable.

An innovative collaboration between the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine has enabled small businesses (groups 2-50 and self-employed) across the state to purchase health plans which were previously only available to larger employer.  Learn more about Chamber Blue Options or call 1-800-541-4

Friday, February 21, 2020

Tax refunds equal new buyers and more money

By Matt Trudel

It is the season of taxes and many people are getting refunds and will now have enough money to put down on their new home. That means there will be more buyers in an already hot market.  More buyers translate to less inventory, and less inventory works in a seller’s favor.  So, what does this all mean for the spring market?  It means that if your thinking about selling it is time get ready and get your house listed sooner rather than later. Here are a few tips for everyone.

Pricing your home is number one, and this includes picking an experienced broker to work with who has the knowledge and experience regarding area home values. 

I have written numerous articles on this subject alone. Pricing a home too high will virtually eliminate almost all buyers and is the number one reason houses do not get shown and do not sell. In this market your house should not be on the market for more than 30 days, tops.

Cleanliness is another important factor when preparing to sell your house. This includes getting rid of all the clutter, especially all those photos on the fridge and knick-knacks on the shelf.  Pack those up along with the extra clothes and pots and pans. Box it up, you are going to need to do that anyway since you will potentially be moving in 30 to 60 days. Doing so will allow closets, cupboards, and pantries to look much more spacious and appealing.
Repairs on the inside and on the outside should be addressed before listing your house. The outlet or light that is not working needs to be fixed. The trim around the front door might need to be replaced. It is all the little maintenance items that we tend to overlook and just live with. Make that to do list and get it done.

Curb appeal and first appearances are very important. The easiest way to determine what your house might need is to ask a couple of friends what they would do or change to make your house look better. It’s too early to get the flower gardens going, but you can buy fresh cut flowers for the kitchen table for showings. Having a welcome to our home note for potential buyers is often a good idea. The fresh baked cookies idea is an old one, but it has been proven to help make new buyers feel at home.
Last one, turn the lights on and the heat up for every single showing. You don’t want buyers cold as they are walking through. You also don’t want them searching for light switches and struggling to figure out where the switch is that turns on the vanity light. Showings need to be a pleasant experience for buyers, and that will lead to more money in your pocket. 

Thinking of selling and want to discuss more about pricing and marketing ideas, then reach out to a local Realtor® who has plenty of experience and ask for a free market analysis.  

This article was written by Matt Trudel, Owner Five Star Realty, Windham 207-939-6971.