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.

Should I rent or should I buy? By Richie Vraux

That is the question of the day!

We all must live somewhere so the golden question becomes - what is best for you and or your family? 

There are benefits to both renting and owning. You have to ask yourself, where you want to be in five years or 10 years? Are you looking to start a family? What happens if you get a job change and you have to relocate?

Other important questions to consider are:  Can you afford to buy? Do you have enough money for a down payment? How is your credit? Will you be able to keep up with the payments? What happens if you get married?  Have a child? What if mom comes to live with me?  

If you chose to rent, questions to consider include: Does it come with utilities? Should you have to buy renter’s insurance? Will you be required to? Are there limitations from making excessive noise such as walking too heavy which can upset the tenants downstairs or will you have to prevent the dog from barking and your child from crying or playing too loud?

There is a lot to ask yourself if you want to be the ideal tenant. Renters have a commitment only until the end of the contract - then what? You sign a new lease or move on. You cannot take any deduction for renting, so it is pretty much lost money.

On the other hand, there is home ownership. Ownership has benefits - like pride. Owning your own home is considered to be one of the highest achievements in life and it is like owning your own little piece of heaven. Plus, it has other benefits such as, taking the mortgage deduction when you file your taxes.

For the first five or so years, most of your payments go towards interest and at the end of the year, you have a huge tax benefit. 

You can also deduct a lot of home improvements that you will do to your new home. You can turn up your stereo (within town limitations, of course) and just do as you please in your new home. Don't you feel a sense of accomplishment that comes with owning a piece of the American Dream? Wow!

You should certainly consult your tax accountant for exact details to assure your maximized deductions. There are certain limits on how much mortgage interest homeowners can deduct, capping it on mortgage debt of up to $1,000,000.

So, there are lots of benefits from home ownership. Contact your local Real Estate Broker to determine if buying is right for you.

Richie Vraux is a local Real Estate Broker/ Realtor® with RE/MAX Allied here in Windham.  He lives in Raymond with his lovely wife, Kathleen and two boys, Wesley and Justin.