Friday, May 27, 2022

Real Estate: Three factors to consider before coverting attics into livable space

Submitted by Kristin Piccone

At the onset of the pandemic, many homeowners found themselves in need of more usable space in their home; whether being required to work from home OR home-schooling their children, millions of working professionals suddenly found themselves setting up shop at kitchen tables or islands, in alcoves, garages or even walk-in closets. Those makeshift offices were never supposed to be permanent, but as companies loosen workplace policies and embrace full remote or hybrid working arrangements, professionals are seeking more permanent home office solutions.

Home additions are a possibility for homeowners who need more usable space, but add-ons may not be the right option for everyone. If adding-on won't work, homeowners may want to look up ... at their attics.

Attics with ample space can make for ideal home offices or classrooms, as they're away from the hustle and bustle of a home's main floor. That can make it easier to concentrate when everyone is in the house and reduce the likelihood that video calls with colleagues, clients or teachers will be interrupted.

Attic conversions are not always possible, and the following are three important factors homeowners may need to consider before they can go forward with such projects.

1. Dimensions: Both the renovation experts at This Old House and the real estate experts at UpNest indicate that at least half of a finished attic must be a minimum of seven feet high and seven feet wide and 70 square feet. Requirements may differ depending on where homeowners live, but that 7-7-70 guideline is generally the minimum requirement. An attic that fails to meet such requirements won't necessarily be a lost cause, but it might be costly to make adjustments that ultimately align with local codes.

2. Access: Access is another aspect that must adhere to local safety guidelines. Many attics are accessible only through pulldown ladders, but that will have to change if homeowners repurpose their attic spaces. A staircase that complies with local laws will need to be installed, and contractors can work with homeowners to build that and estimate the cost. Homeowners who simply want to put desks in their attics without going with full-fledged conversions are urged to adhere to local access requirements anyway, as they're intended to ensure residents can safely escape attics in the case of a fire or another emergency.

3. Climate control: Attics are converted to provide residents with more livable space. Converted space is only livable if the climate within the attic can be controlled so it's cool in the summer and warm in the winter. An existing HVAC unit needs to efficiently heat and cool an extra room. If it can't, bills might spike because the rest of the home likely won't be as comfortable, forcing homeowners to adjust thermostats to offset that discomfort. That also could affect the unit's life expectancy. Before going forward with an attic renovation, homeowners should contact HVAC professionals to determine if attic spaces can be serviced with the existing units and ductwork, or if an alternative arrangement must be worked out to make the spaces livable.

Attic conversions can be great ways to make existing spaces more livable. Homeowners considering such projects should pay attention to three important variables as they try to determine if attic conversions will work for them.

If you find that an attic conversion will NOT work for you and you want to start the conversation about selling your current home and/or buying a home that will meet your needs, do not hesitate to reach out to me today!!

Kristin Piccone, Broker, at Landing Real Estate 207-951-1393,

Friday, May 20, 2022

Real Estate: How to be a winning buyer in today’s real estate market

By Richie Vraux

What I tell my buyers in this market is simple. You are in a hurricane of buyers all around you, be patient, expect to be let down, and most likely you will lose some properties before you are the winner of your next home. You have to stand apart from the other, several buyers looking at these same homes. 

First- Get pre-approved. There is a difference between getting pre-qualified and pre-approved. A prequalified buyer is one that has been given an estimate of the amount a buyer could qualify for, based on their current financial situation from a lender. This is usually a fast estimate from a lender based on what is told over the phone.

A pre-approval is a much more detailed review of your financial assets and debts you really have. A pre-approval letter from a lender is much more widely accepted in accompanying an offer today. Before looking at homes get one of these because most agents will not bring you to properties without one.

You have to be on the fast-track and aware that there are 50 other potential buyers waiting to buy this home- so be prepared!

Another winning method is the inspection clause. While I always, always, always recommend my buyers to have a home inspection after you go under contract, some agents are winning these offers by foregoing the inspections process to stand out over other offers. This can be very dangerous to buyers but some are willing to accept this in order to be the winning bidder.

Another method is writing in an appraisal gap addendum. What this means is that the buyer is willing to make up the difference if the bank appraisal comes in short from what the contract states.  The buyer will need to make up the difference. If the buyer is lucky enough this will not happen.

So, your offer meets the asking price, but the buyer is approved for way over asking price. The buyer may choose to write an escalation clause. This is a means of bidding higher than your offer without coming in way over on price.

This addendum allows, that if another offer comes in higher than your offer, this addendum allows you go higher in increments to beat the higher offer.

Example: your offer is $400K on a certain property, this addendum automatically allows you to incrementally increase the price by $1,000 up to, let’s say $475K so the other offer is $460K. Your accepted offer would be $461K.

Team up with a good broker who knows your wants and needs and knows the neighborhood. Listen to his/ her advice and you will be in your new home before you know it.

There are many ways of being creative to put you at the top of the offers, but it always comes down to the highest and best offer. And remember, cash is always king.

In my 25 years in this business, I have never seen a market like the one we are in today.       

Richie Vraux is a broker/ Realtor with Better Homes and Gardens-The Masiello Group, 76 Tandberg Trail, Windham. Call Richie if you need real estate advice 207-317-1297 or by email at <

Friday, May 13, 2022

Real Estate: Homeowner’s Guide to Summer Home Maintenance

Submitted by Jonathan Priest

By fixing, cleaning and maintaining a home while it’s warm and dry is like shopping for winter holidays in July. It pays to get it done early — before bad weather can cause emergencies. 


Giving a home extra attention when the weather is good can help homeowners avoid emergencies — like a waterfall in the basement — months later, says Dan DiClerico, a home expert for a national online home renovation website. From his decades of working in the home-repair industry, DiClerico knows homeowners should always be planning ahead.

“I compare it to Christmas shopping in July,” DiClerico says: getting it done ahead of time is a good idea.

If the gutter system — including gutter guards, downspouts and gutter extensions — is working properly, water will flow through and out at least five feet away from the house, DiClerico says.

Start with a visual inspection of the whole system and look for these signs of wear or damage, suggests Kevin Chang, cofounder of a San Francisco Bay Area company that provides year-round home maintenance to roughly 200 homes.

· Pieces that are loose, corroded or pulling away from the house.

· Signs of ground erosion. If the grass has washed away beneath the roof edge, for example, it may indicate that water is splashing down because the gutter system isn’t effective.

· Leaves, twigs and other debris in the gutters.

· Spray water onto the roof to make sure it funnels into the gutter and downspouts. Overflows or slow flow could be signs of obstruction.

Make repairs as needed and clear out debris. (Professional cleaning costs roughly $150, but pricing will vary depending on location and other factors.) Even with gutter guards, debris, silt, mud and mold can still build up, and Chang recommends a thorough cleaning every five years.


Summer is a good time for homeowners to inspect roofs, inside and outside, to help avoid emergency repairs later. Roofs are generally low maintenance, DiClerico says, but when they need repairs, he recommends calling a professional. DiClerico says binoculars can help homeowners do a visual inspection from ground level, before heading into the attic, and he recommends paying attention to these common signs of roof problems.

· Missing or loose shingles

· Seams where two sections come together, and to flashing, seals around windows, chimneys and other openings.

Inside, check for missing insulation in the attic, and signs of moisture like discoloration or mold in the attic or on ceilings, which could indicate the roof is not watertight.


Every year, DiClerico hears stories of decks collapsing during the year’s first big cookout. Although most people are gathering in smaller groups this summer, he recommends a thorough annual deck inspection, regardless of how much it is used.

· Inspect the deck for mold, mildew, popped screws and loose boards. Pay close attention to the place where the deck meets the house, the railings and the stairs.

· Jump around and give railings a firm shake. Any softness and wobbling could be signs that the deck needs repairs.

· Scrub the deck with soapy water once per year.

· Clear sealants often need to be applied annually; opaque solid stains may only need to be applied every three to five years. Semi-transparent stains should be reapplied every two or three years, DiClerico says. How do you tell if it’s time to reseal the deck? DiClerico suggests sprinkling water on the boards. If it beads up, it’s good; if it soaks in, time to reseal.


A strong coat of paint can be good protection against winter leaks. But too much heat makes it hard for new paint to cure, so exterior paint projects are best done at the beginning or end of the summer, when temperatures and humidity are lower, says DiClierico. His additional painting recommendations:

· The ideal temperature for painting outside is between 50 and 90 degrees.

· Don’t skimp on sanding, scraping, filling and other prep work. They’re the key to a paint job that lasts.

· A good paint job should last 10 years.

If you’re not painting, wash the outside of the house with soapy water and a sturdy bristle brush, he advises. Use a pressure washer sparingly; in DiClerico’s opinion the gentler option is preferable. Pressure washing a roof can damage shingles, he warns. A spray-on roof cleaner will take care of mold or mildew.


· Vinegar, water and clean, lint-free cloths are all that’s needed to wash off winter grime, says Chang. He recommends starting with the frame, where the most dirt accumulates, and using a foam paint brush to clear hard-to-reach window tracks.

· Take down screens (keep track of where they belong), spray them gently and lightly brush with soapy water. Rinse, air dry and rehang. Small tears can be fixed with clear nail polish. <

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, May 6, 2022

Real Estate: Terms you should know, A to G

Submitted by Lisa DiBiase

Do you “Understand” what your agent is saying? For home buyers and sellers, the real estate jargon can be intimidating. 

Some people are not comfortable asking what it means, therefore I have put together a list of the most common acronyms and real estate terms we use daily!

Appraisal Gap: An appraisal gap is the difference between the fair market value determined by the appraiser and the amount you agreed to pay for the home. An appraisal gap doesn’t mean you have to cancel the sale, but it may mean you have to negotiate with the seller or pay the difference for the home out of pocket.

“As-is”: A contract or offer clause stating that the seller will not repair or correct any problems with the property. Also used in listings and marketing materials.

Back on market (BOM): When a property or listing is placed back on the market after being removed from the market recently. This typically occurs when a listing was previously under contract and the buyers terminated the purchase and sale contract.

Back-up offer: When an offer is accepted contingent on the fall through or voiding of an accepted first offer on a property.

Broker’s price opinion (BPO): The real estate broker’s opinion of the expected final net sale price, determined prior to the acquisition of the property. Agents will perform this upon the request of a bank, typically when a property is in the foreclosure process.

Clear to Close: A term used by a lender when all conditions have been met by the buyer for the loan to be funded at closing. 

Closing: The end of a transaction process where the deed is delivered, documents are signed, and funds are dispersed.

Commission: The compensation paid to the listing brokerage by the seller for selling the property. A buyer agency agreement may require the buyer to pay a commission to his or her agent.

Commission split: The percentage split of commission compensation between the real estate sales brokerage and the real estate sales agent or broker.

Competitive market analysis (CMA): An analysis done by real estate sales agents and brokers using active, pending, and sold comparable properties to estimate a listing price for a property.

Contingency: A provision in a contract requiring certain acts to be completed before the contract is binding.

Continue to show: When a property is under contract with contingencies, but the seller requests that the property continue to be shown to prospective buyers until contingencies are released.

Cooperative (Co-op): Where the shareholders of the corporation are the inhabitants of the building. Each shareholder has the right to lease a specific unit. The difference between a co-op and a condo is that in a co-op, one owns shares in a corporation; in a condo one owns the unit fee simple.

Counteroffer: The response to an offer or a bid by the seller or buyer after the original offer or bid.

Credit report: Includes all of the history for a borrower’s credit accounts, outstanding debts, and payment timelines on past or current debts.

Credit score: A score assigned to a borrower’s credit report based on information contained therein.

Days on market (DOM): The number of days a property has been on the market.

Dual agent: A state-licensed individual who represents the seller and the buyer in a single transaction.

Earnest money deposit (EMD): The money given to the seller at the time the offer is made as a sign of the buyer’s good faith.

Escalation Clause: An escalation clause, or “escalator,” is a section in a purchase and sale contract that states that a prospective buyer is willing to raise their offer on a home should the seller receive a higher competing offer. The clause will state how much more the buyer is willing to pay than the highest offer and their spending limit.

Escrow account: An account for real estate taxes and insurance which borrowers pay monthly prorations for real estate taxes and property insurance.

Expired (listing): A property listing that has expired per the terms of the listing agreement.

FHA: Federal Housing Administration.

For sale by owner (FSBO): A property that is for sale by the owner of the property.

Gift letter: A letter to a lender stating that a gift of cash has been made to the buyer(s) and that the person gifting the cash to the buyer is not expecting the gift to be repaid. The exact wording of the gift letter should be requested of the lender. <

Lisa DiBiase is a Broker/Owner of Landing Real Estate. She and her company represent buyers and sellers and is your trusted partner for all the years to come. For all your real estate needs contact Lisa at 207-653-0823 or