Friday, December 31, 2021

Real Estate: Brighten inside your home

By Nicole Foster, Broker/ REALTOR 

Not every home has the benefit of having excellent southern exposure or receives full sunlight through the day. During the shorter days of winter, we are indoors more and many of us are inside our homes instead of the workplace or commuting. Our bodies are regulated by exposure to sunlight in a number of ways, including the production of serotonin affecting mood, feelings of well-being and calmness and Vitamin D supporting a strong immune system and more.

Whether you plan to sell or stay put in 2022 and beyond, taking a quick and objective look around to find ways to brighten up your living space is a great way for you to bring in the New Year!

Start with taking a walk around the exterior of your property to identify areas where sunlight might be blocked and unable to reach your home.  Trees which have grown very tall or are close to the house could be obstructing more daylight than you realize.  Shrubs, hedges and vines should be trimmed so they are not covering the windows. 

Some recommend painting the underside of the eaves which overhang with a bright white paint to help reflect sunlight into the windows of your home. Larger structural changes like replacing existing windows with larger ones, adding skylights or light tubes will all help to let in more natural light.

There are other immediate and cost-effective measures you can get started with to improve the lighting inside your home as well.

  1. Clean your windows. Window washing can generally fall into spring and fall cleaning routines, but some homeowners prefer to have it done more frequently. If doing this yourself plan to do it during warmer days when windows may still be left open and the outside water spigots and hoses are still connected. Window screens are best done during a warm day to dry in the sun while window glass should be cleaned on a cloudy day to reduce streaking. Different types of glass may require different maintenance so understand what to avoid by checking manufacturer’s instructions.

2. Change your lightbulbs.  Daylight lightbulbs have a much higher lumen than bright white and soft white bulbs. Try replacing older lightbulbs with new daylight bulbs and watch a room with only a single bulb be dramatically brightened immediately. While changing the lightbulb wash the globe or shade of the fixture to get rid of dust which accumulates and filters the light.  Check for any missing bulbs or ones which are not working and replace.

3. Window treatments. Curtain rods should extend beyond the window frame 4 inches to 10 inches depending on style of curtain panels to have a space for your curtains when open.  A common mistake is to mount the rods too short with little to no overhang, so the curtains constantly cover up part of the windows even when they are open all the way. This is a fantastic way to highlight the windows and make them appear larger.  Curtains and draperies which are made from heavy fabric block out the natural sunlight and can also make a room feel less spacious and more cluttered. Choose window treatments made of lightweight or sheer fabrics and panels which will allow sunlight to enter the room and help to create an airy and open quality.

4. Placement of furniture.  Deep furniture or large pieces are best situated towards the center of the room and away from windows.  Whenever possible leave the framing of windows open and unobstructed with limited knick-knacks, window décor or interruptions.  Floating shelves placed too near a window could block incoming light during certain times and items may filter the natural light so consider how the light will work when placing.

5. New doors. If you have a solid exterior door you may consider one with windows or decorative glass to increase light in a dark entry or staircase. Adding transom windows over exterior doors and side lights to your casing will also make a big impact on natural light. The use of a full glass door in place of a ho hum steel one can immediately turn a dreary hallway into a focal point without breaking the bank. Swap out a light blocking interior door in an office or library with timeless French doors to dramatically lift the whole space.

6. Reflective décor. Hanging mirrors on the wall opposite of windows will reflect the light into the room and significantly amplify a room’s natural light. The larger the mirror the more light, however even smaller decorative mirrors can also have a huge impact when hung in the right spot. Consider wallpapers with metallics or the use of a glass or acrylic coffee table in place of a wooden one or a mirrored dresser.  Choose metallic fixtures and drawer handles and pulls or add a reflective backsplash in the kitchen to brighten the room.

Adding layers of artificial lighting can now easily be achieved through the use of LED light tape, but you may try up-down lighting or wall sconces, as well, not just buying more lamps. Be mindful when making paint color and finish selections for your walls and ceilings and remember dark flooring and cabinetry will also drown out light so those rooms may need a light lift as well. These small changes to the inside of your living space are sure to brighten your days when we need it most! <

Nicole Foster is a Broker and a Windham resident who may be reached at 207-615-7558 or .

Friday, December 17, 2021

Real Estate: Commercial Real Estate Due Diligence

By Larry Eliason

Buyers today should consider engaging a Commercial Real Estate Professional to assist them with Buying a Commercial Property and incorporate Due Diligence as part of the process to purchase a Commercial Property. 

A Real Estate/Title Attorney should also be engaged to review the Title, Zoning, Land Use Regulations and in some cases, the Purchase and Sale Agreement before it is fully executed by the Buyer(s) and Seller(s).

Site Inspectors/Engineers are also recommended depending on the size and scope of the property.  If the subject property has always been an office building, the scope and level of investigation may be limited.  However, if the property was ever a Gas Station or a Dry Cleaner, then expect to go further into the history of the property.  Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) records can be researched to determine if any spills or contamination may have occurred at the site or adjacent to it.

Building Inspectors/Engineers can offer insight on the condition of the structure, the systems, estimate remaining useful life of those components and point out potential problems such as Mold. 

And, in the case of new commercial development, a Civil Engineer will certainly offer insight as to a property’s development potential along with expectations for costs, timelines for approvals and construction and expectations from governing agencies such as Town, State and in some cases Federal Approval.

A typical Commercial Purchase and Sale Agreement spells out Inspections, Permits and Due Diligence.  In many cases, the Seller is asked to provide any title history, surveys, engineering studies, architectural, geotechnical, storm water, utility, sewage, etc., as a request with the Seller’s documents being provided for informational purposes

The Subject Premises are being conveyed “as is” or possibly “as complete” depending on the specifics of the building or project.  The Seller generally grants the Buyer and/or his/her Agents to enter the property for reasonable investigations as part of the Due Diligence work.

The Contract should “Spell Out” to Buyer’s Satisfaction and in his/her sole discretion with its investigations, reviews, reports and findings and those specific items such as Environmental Testing specifically spelled out in the contract.   If the Buyer is unsatisfied with his/her investigation, the Contract may become null and void, can be renegotiated or the Buyer and Seller may agree to extend the contract to allow more time for Due Diligence.

As Ronald Reagan used to say, “Trust but Verify.”  Property Disclosures are a guide to a Commercial Property; however, Buyers should verify the facts as what someone thinks is the case may have changed due to occupancy by Tenants or Zoning changes by a Town or the State such as setbacks from roads, wetlands, and lakes.

It is a good idea to get a title history done early on so that any title issues may be addressed during the normal course of the contract.  A lot of times, title is done just before closing, problems with obtaining title insurance pop up and the deal must be extended to clean-up clouds on the title so an acceptable title policy may be issued.

Due Diligence on the Title can include a survey, easements of record, restrictions, exceptions, errors with legal description, undischarged liens to name a few.

Some Commercial Property Sales include the assignment of leases as the property may be a multi-tenanted shopping center.  As part of the Lease Due Diligence, a Buyer may want to see any extensions in the leases and a payment history as well as any pre-existing Landlord consent given to a Tenant.

An Environmental Site Evaluation may become a requirement for a Buyer to obtain commercial bank financing.  And this Due Diligence can help avoid inheriting potential liability such as Environmental Contamination. 

A Phase I Environmental Report can help determine the presence or likely presence of any hazardous substances or petroleum products in or at the property.   This can be due to a release in the environment or under conditions that could pose a threat of future release to the environment.  The Phase I Environmental Report generally includes a site visit, local, state and federal environmental records, historical research, interviews and visual observations.

In the event further investigation is warranted, a Phase II Environmental Report may be required.  In this case, testing is performed on site such as borings to look at soils samples and to determine an area of possible contamination.

If clean-up is required, this is what I would refer to as Phase III.    Soils may need to be removed from the site to mitigate a problem.  The remaining contaminated soils might need to remain as they are under a building or a road.  The DEP has a program - Voluntary Response Action Program (VRAP) that helps reduce the liability for a Buyer and his/her Lender.  The VRAP allows applicants to voluntarily investigate and cleanup properties to the Department's satisfaction, in exchange for protections from Department enforcement actions. The VRAP is intended to encourage the cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated properties within the state.

A property Condition Evaluation by a Building Inspector/Engineer can give Buyers valuable insight as to the physical assets associated with a particular property.  Site improvements, building components and operating systems such as HVAC can be observed, tested, and evaluated.  Building deferred maintenance, anticipated capital repairs and replacements can be prepared.  Some lenders require Property Condition Evaluations as part of their mortgage lending commitments.

Like your teachers in school used to say, “Do your homework.”  When buying commercial real estate and/or commercial land, I would urge all Buyers to do their homework and engage professionals for the Commercial Real Estate Buying process like a Real Estate/Title Attorney, Environmental Site Inspector/Engineer and Building Inspector/Engineer. <

This article was brought to you by Larry Eliason, Commercial Broker with Butts Commercial Brokers in Raymond. You can reach him at 207-415-2112.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Real Estate: Tips for Buying or Selling this Winter

By Matthew Trudel

Buying or Selling during the winter is not impossible, but it can be a little more challenging.  A large majority of people tend to avoid looking to purchase a home during the holidays.  So, if you are thinking of selling and putting your house on the market right now, this means you may have a smaller pool of buyers to work with.

On the other hand, if you are looking to buy a house right now, this might mean you have less competition with fewer buyers out shopping.  Either way, there are several other things that both buyers and sellers should be aware of and take into consideration if they are going to move forward right now.

Buying a house in the winter when there is two feet of snow everywhere can present several challenges and concerns.  One is that it is pretty hard to complete exterior inspections when there is snow all around the house and foundation.  Also, if the roof is covered in ice and snow then is pretty much impossible to inspect the shingles and determine the life expectancy of them. 

Another issue is being able to see the yard, landscaping, and condition of the lawn when it is covered with snow.  There are some positive aspects to looking at homes during the snowy winter months.

One thing you will be able to see about a home when we have a lot of snow is how easy or hard the snow removal process might be.  For example, is there adequate room to plow or shovel the snow?  You will likely be able to tell where there might be issues with ice dams on the roof.  The steepness and ice build up on the driveway is another potential issue you can identify.  Does the driveway get a lot of sun light which might help melt any ice build-up on the driveway?

Selling a house during the cold snowy months of January or February has its own set of challenges and can be a lot of work.  Keeping all the walkways and driveways cleared of ice and snow is just the beginning.  Keeping a path cleared around the house so buyers can get around the house easily can be very time consuming.  Hopefully you took some nice pictures over the summer of the landscaping and yard so buyers can see what it looks like in the warmer months.  Unless of course your lawn doesn’t look so good then it being covered in snow might be a positive thing.  Keeping your house clean is a little harder when you have buyers coming in with snowy or slush covered boots. 

You will also want to keep the heat close to 70 degrees or a little higher for showings.  A warm home sells a lot better than a cold house does.

There are some positives for selling your house this time of year.  There are fewer homes on the market which means you have less competition on the selling side.  There are fewer homes on the market because most people don’t like moving in January or February when you have to deal with snow, ice, and bitter cold weather. 

On the upside, this means the buyers who are out there looking at homes are serious buyers. 

So, whether you are a buyer or a seller and think you want to get in the game now, make sure you find yourself a REALTOR to work with and assist you in the process - someone with experience and knowledge of the area who has the time to devote themselves to whatever your real estate goals might be.  Remember that interest rates are still at all time lows, so buyers have more purchasing power which results in higher selling prices.  <

This article was written by Matthew Trudel, the Owner of Five Star Realty in Windham. Call him at 207-939-6971.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Real Estate: Should I sell my home myself or should I list it with a real estate agent?

By Richie Vraux

I know, the first question will be, If I sell my home myself- I can save myself thousands of dollars and I wouldn’t have to pay a Realtor. But, will I run the risk of doing something wrong that could cost me way more than I would have saved by not listing with a Real Estate Agent.  Make sure you know the drawbacks of selling it yourself. 

A Real Estate agent has to take several hours of classroom studying  through an accredited Real Estate school to learn how to sell, what to know to keep out of Real Estate jail. Then there is a state section you also have to pass on. He/ she then has to take continuing educational classes consisting of at least 21 hours to maintain their license. These classes keep us up to date with the latest trends and newest rules and regulations set forth by the Realtor “Code of Ethics” and the “Real Estate Commission.”

Questions you should ask yourself are, what are you going to price your home out at? Will you know what is required to have to sell your home by the state of Maine. Do you know there is a transfer tax that both the buyer and seller have to pay on every transaction? Do you know there is a 2.5 percent withholding tax if you live as an out of state resident? Do you know that, in the event you, the seller, do not pay this, then the buyers are on the hook to pay it. That will make for unhappy buyers. If you have an experienced agent working for you, he will know that if you bought your home years ago, most likely you have made improvements. You might be eligible waive the withholding tax. An experienced Real Estate Agent will guide you how to file a REW5 with the state of Maine. Would you know how to handle these things yourself, probably not. Your real estate agent will guide you properly.

When setting the price to sell your home, will you know how to price out your property to get the highest and best price. An experienced agent will know your neighborhood and know where to place your home to yield the highest price. When an agent writes up the disclosures on your home, he lists all your systems, the condition of every system and lists any improvements and any deficiencies you will need to expose. He/ she knows what should be mentioned to keep you out of court. Do you know if your garage or shed is actually on your property or is it encroaching on your neighbor’s property?

If you thought that you might have saved yourself a boat load of money by selling it yourself, if the buyers take you to court because you didn’t share all the deficiencies that you knew were wrong but didn’t disclose it, you just might be paying out way more than you made by selling it yourself.

Another risk is knowing who you allow into your home. A realtor will have already met up with them. Because of the news you hear of today, with questionable people coming into your home, you might want to have an agent there.

A Real Estate Agent will only work in your best interest when selling your home. There are lots of reasons to have an agent sell your home, but the biggest reason is your piece of mind and knowing your agent best represented you and your interests. <

Richie Vraux is a real estate broker with Maine’s Premier Team at Better Homes and Gardens- The Masiello Group. Call Richie If you at 207 317 1297 for Real Estate advice.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Real Estate: A homeowner’s guide to fall home maintenance

By Jonathan Priest

Fall brings colorful leaves and cooler temperatures, but seasonal home care should also be on the calendar because winter has no mercy on homes unprepared for its surprises. 

Roof and Exterior

A visual inspection of a home, from the chimney to the foundation, can help reveal vulnerabilities that lead to trouble when wind, freezing temperatures, snow or winter rains rule. Homeowners can use a drone or binoculars to look for debris, which will need to be cleaned up, and missing or loose shingles, which should be fixed or replaced before they lead to leaks. Overhanging tree limbs should be trimmed, so they can’t come down, potentially puncturing the roof and causing leaks, water damage and mold.


To keep gutters running well, check them monthly for twigs, leaves and other debris. Plan bigger cleanings — including running water down all the downspouts — both before autumn leaves fall and again after trees are bare, to be sure fall and winter rain and snowmelt can flow down and away from the house — instead of into the walls, which can cause rot and mold and invite insects.


Some experts note that grass will fare better if it is fertilized after the hottest days of summer are over, when the fertilizer can encourage blade growth and strengthen the root system for winter. Rake off all leaves and give the lawn a final mowing once it stops growing. (A local garden center can guide you on fertilizer formulas suited to your climate and lawn.)

Outdoor pipes and water sources

Frozen water can burst pipes and hoses. Garden hoses should be detached and drained. Outdoor faucets can be left on to drain after water to the outside is shut off, says Mark Dawson, chief operating officer of a chain plumbing business. He notes that irrigation systems should be blown out using an air compressor or risk freezing — and having to replace irrigation lines come spring.


Sealing a deck can help prevent damage from rain and snow. That means repairing or replacing loose or cracked boards, washing off dirt and mildew, vacuuming and applying a wood sealer. If a path through the snow on a deck is needed, consider using a shovel with a plastic or rubber blade to avoid damaging the wood.

Outdoor furniture

Umbrellas and furniture that could be blown over can be brought inside or stacked and weighted down, to reduce the risk of damage. Grills should be moved indoors and outdoors appliances such as mini fridges should be unplugged.

Indoor Maintenance

Doors, windows and other drafty spots

To keep houses warm without sending heating bills through the roof, and to save energy, the federal Environmental Protection Agency recommends sealing spots where cold air can sneak in, focusing on the attic, foundation and around windows and doors. Caulking, weather stripping and door draft guards can be inexpensive DIY fixes.


Insulating the attic and sealing all gaps and cracks around recessed lighting, plumbing, chimneys and other breaks in the attic floor — any place where warm air can escape and cold air can sneak in — is the top recommendation of the nonprofit Center for Energy and Environment. It pays for itself quickly in reduced heating costs.


A good time for an annual HVAC system check — to look for wear in parts like the blower motor — is before having to turn on the heat, according to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors.

Also, check with local utilities to see if they offer free energy audits or rebates for energy-efficient appliances, including furnaces. It is also good practice to change furnace filters every 60 to 90 days.


Along with cleaning gutters, making sure a basement is ready for winter means checking the foundation for cracks, which freezing water can widen and make for a very expensive repair. Sump pumps need to be checked for wear.


Fall is a good time to test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace batteries, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Update first-aid kits for home and vehicles, replace flashlight batteries and check that emergency go-bags are stocked with fresh water, food, medicines and weather-resistant supplies to last at least 72 hours.

The big payoff is savings on repairs — and peace of mind. <

This article was brought to you courtesy of Farmers Insurance agent, Jonathan Priest with an office at 57 Tandberg Trail, Suite 7, Windham.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Real Estate: How to move during the holidays!

By Lisa DiBiase

One of the most stressful moments in life is moving. Both the holidays and moving can be stressful. Combine these two events together and your level of stress will shoot through the roof. But certain circumstances can make a holiday move necessary, and some people prefer to move during the holidays as they can more easily take time away from work and school. 

If you are planning a residential move during the holiday season, take extra measures to reduce your stress and make the move a joyous journey toward a new beginning.

Here are a few tips to help:

● If you are moving right before Christmas, put extra thought into packing. When combining the busy holiday season with a move, you may prefer to only unpack necessary household items in your new home until after the holidays pass. If that's the case, pack and label those items separately from ones you won’t likely need until after the holidays. Keep holiday decorations and gift-wrapping materials in boxes separate from your household items. If you already started shopping for gifts, make sure those are separate, too, along with your decorations and wrapping materials.

● Purchase moving supplies during sales like Black Friday.

● Don’t let the moving process dampen your spirit. Play holiday music while packing and do your best to create a festive atmosphere!

● If you have young children, put together a box of holiday coloring books, puzzles and other activities to keep them occupied. Also make sure they understand that Santa will find them in their new home. They may be worried without ever telling you.

● Create personalized moving announcement holiday cards to send to friends and relatives. A couple ideas would be to take a picture of the exterior of the home, or your family on the doorsteps and provide your new address.

● Take time out to relax, watch a holiday film, bake cookies, or simply soak in the tub. Although moving during the holiday season creates more chaos than normal, it helps to keep the quote in mind.

● Lastly, hire a mover if it makes sense to help pack and move. If you plan to hire a mover, you must contact them as early as possible to set the date. No matter what you decide, just understand this is a stressful time for everyone involved. Have lots of patience and remember the time of year and what the holidays are for!

As I have mentioned 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 the process easier for you. It is best to surround yourself with the right team of professionals that can give you the best advice for your circumstances. <

Lisa DiBiase is a Broker/Owner. She and her company represent buyers and sellers throughout the great state of Maine. For all your real estate needs contact or 207-653-0823.

Friday, November 5, 2021

Real estate: Are you buying a FLIP or a FLOP?

By Carrie Colby

When properties are “flipped” for a quick profit, the sellers usually make out OK. But what about the buyers? How can they be sure you’re not buying a flop? 

Buying a flipped house has a lot of appeal: They’re usually attractive, move-in ready homes with updated fixtures, appliances, and finishes. However, the quality of renovations done during the flipping process is a big factor for a potential buyer to consider. While some home flippers do top-notch jobs and pay attention to every detail while updating a property, others do it in a rush to make a quick buck — sometimes with subpar work.

While an inspector should point out the major flaws in a home before you buy it, such as roof or foundation issues, there are smaller red flags you can look for while touring a property that indicate it may have been flipped in a hurry.

Some surefire signs of a too-quick flip include loose railings that have been poorly reinforced, painted-over water damage under sinks or on ceilings, painted-over dust in air vents, smoke detectors that weren’t replaced, or leftover renovation debris remaining in the home.

Here are a few other things to watch out for.

Flaws in the new flooring
If you want an immediate assessment of the overall quality of a flip, just look down — at the flooring. Poor workmanship on new flooring is a warning sign. You might spot a cracked tile and figure that’s an easy fix. However, it could indicate a much bigger problem: the flipper might not have laid the subfloor correctly. If it just doesn’t look right, particularly at the trim, that’s going to be the most obvious to a potential buyer. If there is flooring butted up to base molding and butted up to door jambs, that’s a big red flag. The proper method is to remove the base molding and cut out the bottoms of the door jambs and lay the flooring beneath them.

Crooked cabinets
In the kitchen, don’t just look at the amount of cabinet space or the quality of the hardware. Check to see if the cabinets are properly aligned vertically and horizontally. If not, that’s a sure sign they weren’t level and even all around.

Ceiling spots
Always look at the ceilings for signs of water damage, If there’s been a leak, you can usually tell by spots, patches, or discolored paint. Be sure to check around light fixtures, where water is likely to pool. If you see signs of water damage, ask the seller what happened, because it could indicate a problem with the roof that might not have been properly addressed — leading to costly expenses down the road. Go to the attic, and look up at the inside of the roof, if you can. Roofs are expensive to replace, and if there’s a leak, you’ll see it there.

Shoddy painting
If the flipper spent the time and money on a proper paint job, you shouldn’t notice things like uneven edges, errant drips of paint on fixtures or the floor, or electrical outlets and light switches that have been painted over instead of removed first. These items are really cheap to buy and easy to change out, so I don’t know why some people do this. Also look closely at the baseboards and check to see if they were cleaned before being painted.

These are just a few items to look for on your own. The best practice is to hire an experienced home inspector. Perhaps one who specializes in inspecting recently renovated “flipped” homes. <

Carrie Colby is a Broker with Allied Real Estate, 909 Roosevelt Trail in Windham. She can be reached at 207-232-5497.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Real Estate: Buyer’s Remorse on the Rise

By Nicole Foster, Broker/ REALTOR

A growing side effect from the pandemic real estate frenzy has been an uptick in reports of buyers who have regrets about their home purchase. Many who recently bought now feel that they have overpaid for their homes or have found that they were not prepared for the maintenance needs and costs associated with repairs and renovations. 

It is easy to get caught up in the extremely fast moving pace this market demands at times and to deviate from your original home buying plan or intentions. We move the goal post by expanding your search to less familiar areas or stretch your maximum offering price to find more inventory. You feel pressure to compete so you remove any contingency that you’re able to when writing your offer(s) just to get a house. When you do finally get the news that your offer has been accepted, perhaps you are feeling a bit disadvantaged having given up so much, but relieved to have something under contract. Given the circumstances and uncertainty we were faced with during the pandemic it is not surprising that so many people have possibly not been making their best decisions.

Even the most seasoned industry professionals have found the market conditions to be challenging times to help and advise their buyer clients. With prices seemingly on steroids, timeframes pumped up to hyper speeds and the normal course of events for residential real estate transactions bypassed entirely or drastically altered, many agents are seeing that their buyer clients are becoming fatigued. Home prices will continue to rise, though at a slower pace, and inventory is projected to remain tight in the foreseeable future. If you are shopping for a home and you want to feel good about your home purchase as an asset and not have it weighing on you as a liability, then you must stay centered.

Moving forward with submitting an offer should only be done after thorough examination of your overall financial position.  Is it necessary that you make a move right now or should you work on your credit score and save up more for your closing costs and a higher down payment for one more year? You should not be moving forward with submitting an offer because you feel bad about wasting the time of your agent or lender or because your friends have been talking about buying. Ideally, you should be fully prepared to purchase this specific property for the price you’ve offered no matter how many other offers you have already written on other properties because this could wind up being THE ONE every time you put an offer in.

If your situation permits, then allow yourself plenty of time to look for what you need to have and remain patient in your search. Keep the end result in the forefront of your mind and know what details you are unwilling to compromise on or settle for. Sometimes buyers will continue to visit properties during the evenings and weekends when they are available to for many months, a year or longer. If you need to take a few months off to regroup or place your attention elsewhere then do so and resume your search with fresh enthusiasm, and perhaps wisdom.

Keep your expectations in check by searching in a price point lower than your upper limit of what you are willing to spend (which may be a different amount than what you are eligible to spend) so you have room to go over the asking price when necessary to compete. We have seen an exponential increase in the usage of escalatory verbiage included in agreements. This clause is used in a multiple offer situation as a buyer strategy to outbid all of the other offers. A purchase price is offered, and the buyer then discloses their escalated offering price to meet and exceed any other higher offers.  Buyers should use caution when using an escalator and it’s also worth noting that many sellers prefer to work with offers which do not have an escalated price and have the buyer instead understand the price they are offering to pay for the property.

Maintaining clarity of purpose and a forward-thinking attitude will help to sustain you during your search and assure you do not wind up regretting your home buying decisions.

Nicole Foster has been serving buyer and seller clients in Southern Maine since 2005 and is a Broker with Locations Real Estate Group.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Real Estate: Commercial Leasing Basics

By Larry Eliason

A commercial lease can be a large expense for any business. Commercial leases are a lot different from residential leases as they have provisions that could impact your business from an economic standpoint to the practical use of the space.

Whether it is for a small office, retail, warehouse, commercial garage or a ground lease, a Tenant should perform some due diligence to assure that the space and the site are properly zoned for the proposed use. In many towns, Building and Life Safety Codes will certainly be part of the discussion for occupancy.

Below you will see some highlights of what to expect in a commercial lease agreement.

AGREEMENT of Lease made this 22nd day of October 2021, by and between ABC, LLC (hereinafter “Landlord”) and XYZ, LLC (Hereinafter “Tenant”).

WITNESSETH That Landlord for and in consideration of the rent reserved, covenants and agreements hereinafter set forth to be kept, observed, and performed by Tenant…

Description Leased Premises. Landlord does hereby lease and rent unto Tenant, one commercial building…

Terms. The term of this Lease shall be for a period of Five (5) years commencing on November 1, 2021…

Rental. Tenant agrees to pay to Landlord as rent, the sums as set forth in Schedule “A”…

Renewal. At the expiration of the term of this Lease, said Lease may be renewed at the option of the Tenant for two (5) year options.

Specific Use. The Tenant may use the Premises for Commercial Uses allowed by Local and State Laws.

Personal Property Taxes. Tenant will pay all personal property taxes levied or assessed on personal property used by the Tenant.

Real Estate Taxes. Tenant shall pay all real estate taxes assessed against the Demised Premises.
Insurance by Landlord. Tenant shall, at his expense, maintain extended fire insurance protection for the Demised Premises.

Insurance by Tenant. Tenant shall maintain, at his/her expense, insurance protection for his/her own personal property and his/her leasehold improvements…

Utilities - Refuse. Tenant shall, at his/her expense, provide for reasonable electricity used of consumed at the Demised Premises…

Assignment - Sublease. Tenant shall have the right to sublet the Demised Premises with Landlord’s express written consent.

Signs. Tenant may not place any signs on the building or in or on windows or doors without Landlord’s express written consent…

Alterations and Improvements. Tenant will not make any interior or exterior improvements, modifications, or alterations without the prior written approval of the Landlord…

Trade Fixtures. All trade fixtures including shelving, light fixtures, and other equipment shall be installed at the expense of Tenant.

Repairs and Maintenance. Tenant shall repair, renovate, and maintain at their own expense.

Indemnity - Security. Tenant agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Landlord from and against all claims and demands
arising from negligence of Tenant.

Maintenance of Common Areas - Contribution. Landlord shall maintain all common areas in the building including the walkways and parking lot in good repair and condition.

Access. Landlord shall have access to the Demised Premises during reasonable hours for the purpose of insuring compliance with this Lease…

Requirements of Law - Insurance Rates. Tenant shall comply with all laws of Federal, State, County and Municipal authorities.

Insurance. Landlord and Tenant mutually agree that with respect to any loss which is covered by insurance then being carried by them respectively…

Fire Clause. If the Demised Premises are destroyed or damaged by fire or other unavoidable casualty, then the rent herein before is reserved.

Condemnation. If any portion of the Demised Premises shall be condemned for any public use by any legally constituted authority, then this Lease shall terminate.

Default and Landlord’s Remedies. If the Tenant shall neglect or fail to perform or observe any of the conditions contained in the Lease, the estate hereby created shall be taken on execution or by other process of law.

Subordination. This Lease is and shall be subordinate to the lien of any mortgage or mortgages.

Waiver. Failure of Landlord to complain of any act or omission on the part of the other shall not be deemed to be a waiver by Landlord of any of his rights.

Quiet Enjoyment. So long as Tenant pays the rent and performs the covenants required Tenant may peacefully hold and enjoy the premises during the term.

Late Fee. All rent payments received after the 10th of each month will be subject to a 5 percent late fee of the total rent.

Tenants today should consider engaging a Commercial Real Estate Agent Broker assist them with the leasing process including market conditions so expectations can be met.

And in most cases, a Real Estate Attorney should also be engaged to review and negotiate some of the terms of the lease agreement depending on the size, scope, and complexity of the lease. <

This article was brought to you by Larry Eliason, Commercial Broker with Butts Commercial Brokers in Raymond. You can reach him at 207-415-2112.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Real Estate: Strong seller’s market continues

By Matthew Trudel

Heading into the holiday season the strong seller’s market continues to thrive as buyers are offering well over the listing price and multiple offers are common and becoming the norm.   

Selling a house offers challenges all on its own.  You need to prepare the home and generally make several repairs.  Then there is the search for an experienced Realtor to assist you with finding the optimum list price for your house and creating a marketing plan to bring in the most buyers.  Another potential issue is figuring out where you are going to move to once your house sells.  Many sellers need to sell their home in order to purchase another home. 

This presents a little timing issue so sellers only have to move once. So which one does a seller do first? Do you list the home and then find the house you want to purchase? Or do you find the house you want to purchase, put it under contract, and then put your home on the market 

Both options work and I will go over each, but regardless of which option you choose there are a couple steps that should happen before you decide.  One of those steps is deciding on an accurate listing price that will bring in the most buyers and create competition amongst the buyers.  This will also include a marketing strategy to get your home sold quickly.  Another step is getting pre-qualified so that you know exactly what your purchasing power is.  This way you are all set up when you go to make an offer on your next home.  Once you have all this in place you are ready to make a decision on whether to list first and buy second or put your new house under contract first and then list.

If you choose to list your house first before finding your house, you will need to let all the potential buyers know how much time you would like to locate a suitable property.  This will also mean that the closing date will likely need to be 60 days from the time of going under contract on the house you are selling.  That date can be moved up after you have located the house you want to purchase and put it under contract.  One advantage to this method is that you know exactly what you are getting for your home and know exactly how much money you are going to have to put toward your new home.

If you choose to try to put your new home under contract and then list, this option is fine but sometimes a bit tougher in this type of seller’s market.  Putting in an offer contingent upon the sale of your house when it isn’t on the market puts you at a disadvantage when going up against other offers.  There are several ways to make your offer desirable in other ways.  The most obvious is of course the price you are offering on the new house.  How much over asking price are you willing to go in order to make your offer good enough for a seller to consider your offer with the condition of listing and selling your home?

There is another option that is not very common, but I have used it a few times over my 20-plus years of selling real estate.  This option is listing your home and selling it with the condition that you can lease the home back from the buyers after you close.  This time period is generally 60 days if need be.  The terms of the lease all need to be figured out ahead of time.  The upside is it allows you more time to find the home you want to purchase.  It also allows for more flexibility in moving into your new home.  This option works particularly well when someone is having a new home built but isn’t exactly sure when it will be finished. 

This article was written by Matthew Trudel, the owner of Five Star Realty here in Windham.  Call to find out how Five Star Realty can assist you in all your real estate needs. 207-939-6971.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Real Estate: Should I sell my home this fall?

By Richie Vraux

Well, you have decided to sell your home, but now we are going into the fall season. Yes, you could have listed your home in the Spring/ Summer season and yes, you might have sold it quick, but life throws us curve balls; you get a job offer in another town and need to move, you need to downsize/ up-size due to family, a change in your families’ lives, a family member passes and you just need to move. There are a thousand reasons why the fall is still a good time to sell. Find a real estate broker that is experienced with selling in the different seasons and long enough to know the market is different by season.

First off, make sure the grounds are clear from fallen leaves and debris from plants or flowers that have gone by and are encroaching on your foot path. Those flowers were beautiful during the early spring and summer but now are wilting, turning brown and not so attractive anymore.

So, at this time of year you want bright colorful flowers to stand out and command your walkway. Pick the doorway you want to direct the flow of buyers through- That’s where to make the best example of showing your colors. Make sure you put away all your gardening tools, your lawn mowers, shovels, rakes, etc. are out of sight. Make sure your roof is cleared from branches, moss, acorns and whatever else those pesky varmints leave behind.

Make sure your chimney is swept (Call a chimney sweep to do it right).

Make sure it is wide open and cleaned of any and all creosote. Also – make sure you have a chimney cap that fits your chimney opening. It prevents snow, rain, and animals coming down your chimney to get into your nice warm house. Make sure your windows are functioning correctly and are sparkling clean. It makes a difference. Make sure you have your furnace serviced and cleaned. Make sure your burner has a service tag showing when and how the furnace has been maintained over the years.

Make sure your fireplace, pellet stove, wood burning stove has been cleaned and serviced as needed.

Before actual buyers show up to view your home, make sure it has the smells of fall; an apple pie and cinnamon- maybe the plug ins. Yankee Candle sells wonderful, scented plug ins giving you the smells appropriate with the season. Usually, these scents of the season will cover the remaining lingering, unpleasant smells. Make sure your lighting is adequate.

During showings you want to put all the lighting on. Bright is always better. Decorate for the many festive seasons coming up; Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. Display colorful throws over your chair, couch. Make sure your home looks warm and cozy. Remember, a clean house always sells better.

The holiday season is coming upon us real soon. Use your holiday décor to promote the reason a buyer will buy your home over others listed on the market.

Remember, you only get one chance to make the best impression. Make sure it is not cluttered with stuff you don’t need now. You are moving so put it away. Make sure all your personal items are gone off the walls. These buyers want to take possession of your house in their mind, and with your personal stuff there – it is hard to imagine. Good luck with selling your home in the fall market. <

About the author: Richie Vraux is a partner with Maine’s Premier Team at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate with locations in Windham and Gorham offices. If you need real estate advice, Call Richie at 207- 317-1297.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Real Estate: Signs it is time to overhaul your kitchen

Submitted by Kristin Piccone

Remodeling a kitchen adds value to a home. Remodeling Magazine's "Cost vs. Value Report" indicates mid-range kitchen remodels cost about $66,000, and homeowners can expect to recover about 60 to 80 percent of that cost at resale.

Homeowners may wonder if remodeling their kitchens is worth the investment. But homeowners should not just consider cost, but also the current conditions of their kitchens when deciding if a renovation project is the right move to make. These signs indicate it may be time to renovate a kitchen.

* Breakers are triggered: If the lights go dark from a tripped circuit breaker every time you try to microwave and run the toaster oven at the same time, your wiring is likely not up to the task of handling the workload and could be out of date. A kitchen remodel will assess wiring load needs and an electric overhaul may be necessary.
* Lack of storage: One of the biggest hassles homeowners encounter in their kitchens is a lack of storage space. If making a meal involves a Jenga-like stacking and rearranging of kitchen tools, or if an avalanche occurs whenever you search for an item, you might need more storage. A carefully planned redesign can achieve this, even in a smaller kitchen.

* Outdated appliances: Even if your appliances are not avocado green or mustard yellow relics of the 1970s, they might still need to be replaced. According to CRD Design, appliances are only expected to last around 10 to 15 years. If appliances have become unsafe or energy hogs, it could be time for a remodel.

* Family is expanding (or shrinking): Kitchens often are the heart of a home. They need to meet the needs of the family that resides in that home. A remodel can add space as needed. On the flip side, when a couple becomes empty nesters, kitchens can be redesigned and downsized to reflect their new needs and desires, such as the addition of a wine chiller or espresso station.

* Poor lighting: Task lighting is essential in a kitchen, but older homes may not be equipped with lighting where it's most needed. A carefully designed remodel can improve lighting with under-cabinet lights, pendants, overhead lighting, and even natural light to make the space attractive and more functional.  

* Frequent run-ins: The notion that you can have too many cooks in the kitchen refers to having too many people trying to pitch in or offer their opinions. However, it also can apply to when too many people are gathering in a small space. Redesigning a kitchen can improve the efficiency of a space and make the room feel larger.

* Aesthetic appeal: Many kitchen remodels have been inspired by unsightly kitchens. Cosmetic changes can lead to big improvements.

Kitchen renovations can add instant appeal and help address issues that tend to plague outdated rooms. It can also provide one of the largest returns on investment should you be considering putting your home on the market.

Kristin Piccone is a REALTOR for Landing Real Estate in Windham. Reach her at 207-951-1393 or by email at

Friday, September 24, 2021

Real Estate: Is damage from water in my basement covered by homeowner's insurance?

By Jonathan Priest

Q: My wife and I bought a new house and we suspect the basement may have flooded in the past. It's not my first home, but it is my first basement, and I like to be prepared. If flooding happens in my basement, will my homeowners' policy cover the damage?

A:  The last thing any homeowner expects or wants to see is water in the basement, but it's the type of thing that can occur. Whether your incident will be covered under the policy usually depends on what caused the damage. Here's how I think about questions based on these situations.

Is there coverage if a pipe bursts?

A homeowner insurance policy will typically cover structural damage caused by "sudden and accidental" events that occur inside the house, like a burst pipe or a broken washing machine. This will likely cover the walls and carpeting. Depending on the amount of personal property coverage in your policy, some damaged belongings may be covered as well. If you're in an apartment building and a water overflow causes damage to someone else's property, your liability insurance will likely cover it.

What if it's damage from flooding during a storm?

Damage from a weather event outside your house is another thing entirely, which I make clear to customers when helping them understand their coverage options.

Homeowners policies in general do not provide coverage for flooding that comes from rising water levels due to a hurricane, rainstorm, melting snow, etc. You can, however, purchase separate flood insurance via the National Flood Insurance Program. Your insurance agent can help you with the purchase.

Only about 12 percent of homeowners have a flood insurance policy opens in new windowaccording to the Insurance Information Institute. Some mortgage lenders require that you purchase flood insurance if you live in a flood-prone area, but you might want to consider purchasing such a policy regardless of where you live. Floods are the most common national disaster in the U.S., and more than 20 percent of flood claims occur in properties that aren't in a high-risk flood zone, according to the National Flood Insurance Program opens in new window

Am I covered if water seeps into my basement from the ground?

Sometimes groundwater gets into a basement through cracks in your foundation or due to inadequate drainage around your house requiring maintenance. Damage typically is not covered in those cases.

You seem like the type of homeowner who knows this already, but regular maintenance and upkeep are also essential to help reduce your chances of needing to file a claim at all. Chores like regularly inspecting your appliances, draining outdoor faucets and knowing where your emergency shut-off valve is located can help keep you on top of emergency situations before they happen.

Given that water-related damage can occur, it's important to make sure that you understand what is and isn't covered under your current policy. If you have questions, or want to learn about available insurance options, a conversation with an agent might be beneficial so you can get the coverage you want.

This article was brought to you courtesy of Farmers Insurance agent, Jonathan Priest with an office at 57 Tandberg Trail, Suite 7, Windham. <

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