Friday, March 25, 2022

Real Estate: Poisons in your home

By Richie Vraux

So, you were the lucky one to be able to buy your first home. Congratulations on your recent purchase. It is exciting!  You now are amongst the many new lucky buyers that won your dream home. Most of us, including me don’t think twice about the dangers right in your home. 

Normal everyday cleaning fluids are highly toxic to adults, so you can imagine how much more toxic they could be on your dog, cat and especially your new son or daughter.

So, you want to be fit and take vitamins or medicines to keep you healthy but left unattended could be dangerous to your little one. As we know they are fast and put everything in their mouth. They make those hasps to guard your kids from getting under the sink. Holy Moley, we know what’s under there.

There isn’t anything under the sink that is not toxic. Simple kitchen products such as Windex, dish soap to adults may not be a big deal to us but they are monumental to kids and pets. When you are buying your home, your agent should give you the fact sheet on arsenic-treated wood and arsenic in your well water. 

The state mandates that we submit these documents each and every time we submit an offer or work with buyers alike. It identifies the risks of pressure treated wood and arsenic in drinking water. And, of course children and pets are the most susceptible.

A simple water test will usually detect and abnormalities or spike points on each test. For more information or to learn more about these very important topics, contact the CDC at: for more details.

Now, the spring/ summer season is just upon us, and we want to rake up last years’ leaves and put down fertilizer/ lime to make everything green, weed killer and all the things to make your yard the envy of the neighborhood.

But do you realize that those items can sometimes be toxic to your dog that eats the grass because maybe he ate the grass that was just fertilized, and the crabgrass preventer keep your expensive, highly seeded Kentucky Bluegrass or your clover you sent away for from getting overcome by crabgrass.

Those products contain some sort of poison, so protect your family. Look for products, and make sure that say pet friendly or child safe to be extra sure.

Lead paint is another hazard. If you bought a home that was built prior to 1978, your home could have wood painted with leaded paint. Lead paint injested by young children or pets can create permanent neurological damage and disabilities, and it also poses a high risk to pregnant women. If you have an idea there might be the presence of lead in the house, you can have it tested.

Our children and our pets are our precious family members. Don’t take chances with your loved ones. <

Richie Vraux is a Realtor/ Broker with Better Homes and Gardens- The Masiello Group, 76 Tandberg Trail- Windham. If you are looking for sound advice from a 25-year Real Estate Expert, call Richie at 207-317- 1297.  

Friday, March 18, 2022

Real Estate: A Homeowner's Guide to Spring Home Maintenance

Submitted by Jonathan Priest 

Outdoor Spring Cleanup

Roof & Exterior

Do a ground-level inspection of the roof and home exterior to check for signs of winter weather damage. If you spot problem areas, you may need to schedule a professional inspection. 

Look for: Loose or broken shingles

Cracks or signs of wear on the chimney

Damaged wood around windows and doors

Signs of animal/pest intrusions or nesting

Although a home exterior is designed to withstand exposure to the elements, periodic cleaning can improve the appearance and, in some cases, prolong the life of siding and other exterior details, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). 

Lawn Mower

Before firing up your mower for the first time this spring, inspect the blade. If it needs sharpening, have a professional sharpen it. Set the blade height at 1.5 inches to 2 inches for the first cutting. (Cutting more than one-third of the leaf blade when mowing can “shock” the lawn and cause browning.) After the first cut, set the blade height to 3 inches, which can help promote grass color and root growth.


Carefully remove debris that can clog gutters. Water overflow from a clogged gutter can damage fascia boards and the foundation, as well as cause leaks across walls and ceilings.


Hammer or tighten nails or screws that have popped from deck boards. Look for loose or cracked boards and repair as needed. Wash wooden or composite decks with a cleaning solution designed for the material. 


Inspect valves, filters and equipment for signs of wear or damage, and change or clean as needed. Or schedule an opening date with a pool service. 

Indoor Spring Cleanup


Even with the best range hood, grease can build up on the tops (and fronts) of kitchen cabinets. Feel around for stickiness and use a good degreaser on the surfaces.

Freshen up the garbage disposal by grinding ice cubes (even better, lemon/vinegar ice cubes or rock salt and ice cubes), then flushing with hot water and baking soda.

Vacuum dust buildup from refrigerator coils to restore its efficiency. Clean seals and change the water filter.

Clean the range hood; clean filters (if you can, remove and run them through the dishwasher). 


Attics need a post-winter once-over to check insulation for dampness (replace any that's wet) and seal cracks and leaks. Look for mold, insects or animals that may have crept in. Assess the area around vents to ensure nothing is blocking vents before summer heat builds.


Dampness loves a dark, underground space. Look for moisture and mold around the bottom of the foundation and seal any cracks. Check for excess humidity (consider a dehumidifier if needed). Open vents. Look for evidence of insect tunneling in any wooden framing.

Heating & Cooling

The heat has been running all winter and the air conditioner needs to be ready to go. Replace HVAC filters and check the drain pan to make sure it is draining and hoses are sound and connected. (Or schedule a biannual checkup/servicing.) If you use window air conditioners, it's time to install them.


The most common type of water damage to homes isn't caused by hurricanes or floods. It's caused by the dishwasher, hot water heater and other appliances or plumbing. Spring is a good reminder to give toilets, sinks and connecting pipes and hoses a good once-over for signs of cracks, leaks or dampness. Replace anything that appears worn or loose. 

Check ceilings for telltale water stains and track leak.

Fix drippy faucets and showerheads and replace worn toilet flappers.


Check all outlets and cords for frayed wires, loose outlet covers or cracked plugs. Make sure extension cords and outlets aren't overloaded. Put surge protectors where needed to protect electronics. 


A home's workhorses are easy to take for granted, but a small problem can cause a disastrous leak or fire. Spring is a good time to check washer and dryer hoses and connectors for wear and tear. Also, detach the dryer vent tube and vacuum or brush out lint.

Draining the hot water heater to remove sediment can help prolong its life. If you have a water pressure gauge, test the temperature/pressure relief valve. Most plumbing codes state that the maximum water pressure in a home should be 80 PSI or less (ideally between 50 and 60 PSI).

With snow melting and spring rains starting, it's a good time to run the sump pump through its paces. Clean out any debris. Pour in water and make sure it starts. Check the outflow hose. 


Even if you don't regularly use your fireplace, an annual chimney inspection can ensure the flue is clear and sound, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America. <

This article was brought to you courtesy of Farmers Insurance agent, Jonathan Priest, with an office at 57 Tandberg Trail, Suite 7, Windham. Call him at 207-893-8184 or send him an email at 

Friday, March 11, 2022

Real Estate: Understanding our local real estate market

By Lisa DiBiase

What is happening to our local real estate market? This actually can be a challenge to answer, especially as numbers and reports are published frequently, and in so many different places. This is especially true when it comes to getting your arms around pricing and value. There is a big difference in “average” price vs “median” price when it comes to looking at what has sold recently. In many cases not spending time to dig through the details can lead to bad interpretations of the market. 

For most buyers, price by itself is not the only key factor when a purchase is being considered. This is because most buyers compare the features and benefits to other properties and do not simply make their purchase decision based solely on a property's price. In essence when a purchase situation arises, price is one of several variables buyers evaluate when they mentally assess a property's overall value.

As a reminder, the median is the midpoint, which is something completely different from the average. A rise in the median does not necessarily indicate an overall increase in prices across the board. Rather, it is reflective of more activity at higher price ranges than had been experienced in the recent past - just as a lower price would be indicative of the opposite.

Considering our low inventory of properties for sale, sellers who are thinking of listing their homes are positioned to sell quickly. A sense of urgency has driven traditional buyers hoping to take advantage of still-affordable home prices and historically low mortgage rates. Buyers found selection limited and were often forced into bidding wars with investors and other buyers. Sellers are reaping the rewards in terms of quick sales, often above the asking price.

How all of this impacts our current market


Still, with historic low interest rates, potential new homeowners are entering the market excited but finding a lot of disappointment. There are fewer homes for sale, sometimes resulting in months of searching, dozens of showings, and rejected offers. Some buyers have had to compromise on the size.
and features they require for their new home and in many cases waiving their contingency for a home inspection. The lack of affordable homes is the biggest challenge many potential homeowners face. 

Many homes are selling extremely fast and far above asking price. Buyers on a strict budget have little room for negotiation and repairs.


It’s a “seller’s market” but being a seller is hard, too. While a homeowner can sell their home faster and at a higher price, the real struggle begins when they need to find a home that fits all of their needs, in their specific time frame. The equity is lucrative, the stress of the unknown of where to go is overwhelming.

It is not all doom and gloom. With the right advice of your local Realtor® and lender, both buyers and sellers can have success with this riveting real estate market. As I have said since the beginning, 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 Broker/Owner at Landing Real Estate. She and her company represent buyers and sellers in the Greater Portland area. For all your real estate needs, please contact Lisa at (207) 653-0823 or

Friday, March 4, 2022

Real Estate: Renovating Your Home in 2022 - Three Things to Know

By Carrie Colby

Homeowners planning to renovate in 2022 should prepare for challenges including supply chain delays, inflation, and labor shortages.

A home renovation may be easier than buying a turnkey property that draws buyer competition, but the remodeling industry is facing its own obstacles in 2022. 

Taking on a home renovation can be a great option to save money on the purchase price of a property and create a customized space that can be a real source of pride. For most people, though, a home renovation is a major undertaking, even under the easiest of circumstances.

Meeting with contractors, understanding various proposals, choosing materials and budgeting are time-consuming and often fall outside the wheelhouse of the average homeowner’s skill set. Once these plans and decisions are made, renovations can be costly and disruptive, regardless of whether everything goes smoothly.

Even minor makeovers are proving more challenging than ever before.

Planning for a home renovation in 2022 poses additional challenges including supply chain delays, inflation, and a shortage of tradespeople. Here are the things to know to help make your home remodel experience as positive and productive as possible:

Questions to ask yourself before you renovate:


Includes developing a set of plans for the renovation. This can include filing for permits with the town. In today’s climate, planning ahead is very important. Previously, a contractor could order materials as the project progressed, on an as-needed basis. Now, because of supply chain delays and escalating costs of materials, anyone renovating should wait until all the materials are on site before commencing the project. You should expect delivery delays, and it’s better to deal with these before demolition begins. Have the contractor check off every item before the project starts. You don’t want your kitchen to be all set, but with a gaping space between cabinets and counters while you wait for your oven to arrive.


With supply chain delays and labor shortages, more time is required than ever before. Delivery of materials and approval processes are currently slower than they used to be. And the contractor you may prefer is probably very busy, so you have to get in line. Furthermore, the supply chain issues we are all reading about are not an illusion. Everything from framing to sheetrock to appliances is experiencing delays.


Cash is also something you’ll need more of than you thought, especially due to delays and inflation. Prices have escalated in all facets. The best contractors are extremely busy, and their prices reflect the fact that they can pick and choose the projects they are most interested in. The cost of raw materials and the prices of appliances have gone up, too.

Price Gap between renovated and unrenovated homes widening

Renovated properties sell for more than those in need of a gut job. Buyers will pay more for renovated or new homes and expect a discount if they need to put thousands of dollars into updating the property. But with today’s supply chain delays, a shortage of skilled labor and the escalating costs of materials, that gap has widened.

That said, if you have the vision, patience, and budget, it’s a great time to take on a renovation, since a renovation can elevate the value of a home for today’s buyers.

This is the perfect time to tackle a renovation. The properties that need renovations are less competitive because most buyers are looking for places that are move-in ready. <

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