Thursday, February 26, 2015

Ice Jams? By Dan McGowan

Icicles hanging along the eaves of your house may look beautiful, but they spell trouble. That's because the same conditions that allow icicles to form—snow-covered roofs and freezing weather—also lead to ice dams: Thick ridges of solid ice that build up along the eaves. Dams can tear off gutters, loosen shingles, and cause water to back up and pour into your house. When that happens, the results aren't pretty: Peeling paint, warped floors, stained and sagging ceilings. Not to mention soggy insulation in the attic, which then loses R-value and becomes a magnet for mold and mildew.

If you live in a cold, snowy region, you already know about the damaging effects of ice dams. The gutters clog up with ice, then water runoff from the roof gets trapped by the dam and eventually backs up the roof, travels under the shingles, and leaks into the house. While a permanent fix for ice dams usually requires increasing the insulation, sealing, and ventilation in the attic, there is a simple way to diminish the damage after the dam has formed. Fill the leg of discarded pair of panty hose with a calcium chloride ice-melter. Lay the hose onto the roof so it crosses the ice dam and overhangs the gutter. If necessary, use a long-handled garden rake or hoe to push it into position. The calcium chloride will eventually melt through the snow and ice and create a channel for water to flow down into the gutters or off the roof.
When we get a snow storm, make sure you get out after the storm and roof rake the areas that tend to build up.

If the ice jam is too large, the removal of ice buildup on a roof can be completed by trained professionals that use special steam equipment to ensure quick and safe removal without causing damage to the roof.

To keep ahead of water damage, snap photos where you see frosty buildup. Use the pictures to help target an interior inspection, during which you should check for leaks. 

If you’re selling your home, and you have had previous ice jams that have caused problems, don’t forget to write the problems on the Sellers Property Disclosure form. Not reporting the problem on the disclosure form could cause problems for you down the road long after you have sold your home. Your Real Estate agent can go over that with you. Just remember,
 Spring is coming…eventually!

Buying a house in the Winter - By Lisa DiBiase

While winter is a great time to buy a property at great prices, moving costs can be less expensive as well (i.e., it's cheaper and an easier time to rent a moving truck or hire movers). However, you need to be aware of possible moving issues so that you can avoid them before they occur. Here are some suggestions for moving during the winter.

Preparing your new home to move in:

Make sure that the truck you rented or the moving truck can access your street and home! Regardless of what time during the year you are moving, you should always make sure there is parking for your moving truck and additional vehicles.

Make sure you have heat and lights! You should make sure to have the utilities transferred over into your name and that they are fully functioning for your move in date. Prior to moving in, make sure the heat is turned on and functioning properly as well. Make sure the house is nice and warm for the day you move in.

Make sure all the exterior walkways are clear of snow! Visit your new home the day before you move in to make sure all access points you will be using to move in are clear of snow and ice. If needed, salt or sand the area. 

Make sure you create a path along the entry way! Lay rugs or towels on both sides of the front door to keep from tracking mud or water onto your floors. As you carry boxes and furniture in, you’ll catch any mud or water from your feet before it causes any damage inside.

Preparing your old home to move out:
Make sure all the exterior walkways are clear of snow! Use salt or sand to ensure areas are free of icy and slippery conditions. Parking area should also be cleared with ample room for movers to use dollies.

Make sure to protect the inside space as the new buyer will be moving in to their new home too! Lay down large pieces of cardboard or plastic sheeting to ensure high traffic areas are protected from snow, sand and water. Cardboard works best for carpeted areas.

Make sure to have sand/salt and shovels on hand in case you need to adjust during the move. Throughout the move, monitor the weather and future conditions so there are no surprises.
Make sure you have hot drinks for all the movers. This will be appreciated by everyone who is helping you with the move. Extra hats and gloves may come in handy!

Make sure you have a backup plan in case a large storm blows in. Have a backup date already scheduled with the moving company and/or friends and helpers. Some moving companies may not be willing to have a backup date, so be sure you have the conversation prior to moving. They may still pick up your belongings, but may have to delay the delivery. It’s very important to identify these things upfront! No matter what you decide, just understand this is a stressful time for everyone involved! Have lots of patience and remember to thank all the helping hands!

As I have said before, please call a local REALTOR for all your real estate needs no matter how big or small. We are trained professionals here to make your life easier. It's best to surround yourself with the right team of professionals that can continuously give you the right advice for all your circumstances.

Lisa DiBiase is a co-owner/broker for The Landing Real Estate.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Cheap upgrades - By Realtor Rick Yost

So, you have finally decided to take advantage of these incredibly low interest rates. You’re going to sell your house and trade up to the house of your dreams. Great choice, but now you have a dilemma. You want top dollar for your house, but don’t want to spend a bunch of money on a house you are not going to stay in. There are some relatively cheap upgrades that you can do to your house that will help it show better and fetch top dollar.
The old adage, that the kitchen is the most important room in the house, has been dispelled by data collected by Zillow and presented in a new book “Zillow Talk”. According to Zillow, the first and most important room to upgrade is the bathroom. The kitchen is still second, by the way. (For record, I like the home search site better than

A bathroom can look significantly better for not much money. A pedestal sink and a new toilet seat go a long way. Vinyl tiles go down easy and can often go over the existing floor. Replacing chipped tiles and re-grouting give a clean appearance. For a bigger budget, install a pre-fabricated tub and surround insert over your existing tub. The bathroom can go from dingy eye-sore to enticing on the cheap.

The kitchen can use some cheap upgrade also. New cabinet hardware and an upscale faucet set can be installed for a couple hundred dollars. Miss matched appliances hurt homes value. Order new doors or face panels from the manufacturer for a more appealing kitchen. For a bigger budget, contact a company that can replace cabinet doors and drawers. It is much cheaper than all new cabinets, but can give the same effect. These are some cheap ways to turn your kitchen into an attractive heart of the home.

The next three all go together for cheap ways to really improve that way your home looks. Replace worn and dated carpets. The large home improvement chains are always running a deal on whole house installation. Paint dingy and marked walls. It is amazing what a can of paint can do. Replace light fixtures with high efficiency, attractive pieces and throw in some accent lighting while you are at it. You might not want to move after the painting, carpeting and lighting is done.

If you have those nagging problems that most households have-dripping faucets, flickering lights, small roof leak, etc., hire a plumber, electrician, roofer, etc. to come in and take care of the issues. Button up your little projects. A home inspector will find the issues and point them out. Spend a little money now to avoid costly home sale negotiations later. 

 You don’t have to do all of these projects. Just do the ones that are most needed. With some frugal shopping, some elbow grease, and a few bucks, your house can look its best. These cheap upgrades should get your house sold faster and for more money.

Rick is a Realtor, real estate author, and long-time Windham resident. You can reach Rick with any of your real estate questions or needs at

Monday, February 2, 2015

Many questions arise when one inherits a home - Matthew Trudel

Quite often when someone inherits a house there are a number of questions that arise. Do I have to tell the lender that I have inherited the property and will they make me pay off the loan or sell? If I decided to sell, do I have to pay capital gains on the difference between the loan and selling price? How do I know what the basis was for the value of the home when it was purchased and does that matter?

For the first question, you should absolutely notify the lender immediately that you are now the new legal owner. They can not force you to pay off the loan or sell, if the property was transferred to a relative due to the death of a borrower. I am sure they will want copies of the transfer, but you want them to be aware that you are making the payments so you can get credit for it. Even if you don't currently qualify to get a loan, they can not call the note due as long as you continue to pay the mortgage according to the terms. You also want to be given credit for making the payments for credit purposes and being able to claim the interest you pay on the loan on your tax returns.

If you decide to sell the home immediately there are more than likely no capital gains tax owed, even if there is no mortgage. The reason for this also answers the third question. The value of the home at the time of transfer to you, or up to 6 months after, is your new basis for the value of the property. It does not matter what your relative paid for property. Example would be if your grandfather paid $15,000 for the home 50 years ago and in passing left you the home which is now worth $300,000, then your new basis is $300,000 and you can sell it and not pay capital gains. If you wait a year and you sell it for $400,000, then you have a gain of $100,000 which you would have to pay capital gains on (less closing costs, improvements and perhaps a few other deductions). Consult a tax advisor or attorney to review your particular situation because all situations have variables. This article is just an overview and may not apply to your own current situation.