Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Real Estate: How to limit your risk of lightning damage to your home

By Tricia Zwirner

Electricity means much more than an ever-growing variety of conveniences. The dangers lightning and electrical surges present are very real, in fact, electricity is the 3rd highest cause of home fires every year. For example, a sudden electrical surge could silently damage many of your appliances or an arc fault could spark an electrical fire.

Lightning is the most dangerous and frequently encountered weather hazard that most people experience each year, according to the National Severe Storm Laboratory. So, take time to review some steps you can take to help protect yourself and your property.

Where do electrical surges come from?

An electrical surge is a sudden increase in voltage that can damage your home's electrical components. A surge can happen when:
Your electric utility switches power from one area of the grid to another.
Air conditioning units, furnaces, refrigerators or vacuum cleaners turn on or off.
Electric utility lines touch one another.
Nearby lightning strikes occur.

Surges can travel down power, telephone and cable TV lines. When there is a surge, unprotected electronics and appliances can be damaged. The damage builds up over time, until the appliance components fail. Properly installed Surge Protection Devices (SPDs), combined with a good grounding system, should help protect your electronics and appliances from all but the most severe electrical surges. An SPD diverts the surge to the ground around your home, where the surge dissipates. That's why a good grounding system is important for surge protection.

A step-by-step electrical surge protection plan

Step 1: Consider asking a qualified electrician to check your home's grounding system to help ensure it's in working order.
Step 2: Plug your electronics and appliances into point-of-use SPDs. Use single-port SPDs for appliances that only have a power cord and multi-port SPDs for appliances that have antenna, cable, telephone and power cords.
Step 3: Consider installing a whole-house surge protection system to absorb larger surges that come from outside your home. This device can be installed on the electrical meter by the utility company, or next to the electric service panel by an electrician.

What is a home lightning protection system?

When lightning strikes, the resulting electrical surge can travel through utility transmission lines to nearby homes. If your home has a lightning protection system, a surge caused by lightning may more often be safely deflected into the ground. A lightning protection system is not intended to prevent a strike. Its purpose is to provide a safe path on which the current can be safely directed to the ground.

What does a lightning protection system look like?

Air terminals: Also referred to as lightning rods, these inconspicuous copper or aluminum rods are vertically mounted on the roof at regular intervals. The air terminals serve as strike receptors, designed to intercept the lightning strike.
Main conductors: Constructed of aluminum or copper, these braided cables connect the air terminals to the other system components and the grounds.
Grounds: A minimum of two ground rods, driven at least 10 feet deep in the earth are required for all structures. The ground terminations direct the dangerous current into the ground, to eliminate the chance of injury or damage to the structure.
Bonds: Bonding joins metallic bodies (roof components) and grounded building systems to the main conductor to ensure conductivity and prevent side flashing (lightning jumping between two objects).
Surge arresters and suppressors: A surge is an increase in electrical current due to a lightning strike on or near a power line or utility service. Surge suppression is installed at the electrical panel(s) to prevent the entrance of overvoltages which can cause a fire. Arresters installed at electrical panels help protect heavy appliances and prevent fires at service panel entrances. Additional devices may be needed to protect other in-house electronics. Surge protection devices are typically installed in conjunction with a lightning protection system.

These systems should be designed and installed by a qualified electrician or specially trained contractor.

For additional information on how to protect your family and home, or for a list of certified professionals, please contact the Lightning Protection Institute or Underwriter Laboratories.

What should you do when lightning is nearby?

Seek shelter immediately. An enclosed building offers the best protection. If there are no sturdy buildings nearby, get into a vehicle and close the windows.
If you cannot find any shelter, go to a low-lying area, crouch down with your feet together and hands on your knees, and wait until the storm has passed.
Keep away from utility poles, towers, isolated trees or bodies of water.
Don't use a corded phone except in an emergency. Cordless and cell phones are safe to use.
Keep away from electrical appliances, TVs, fireplaces, metal objects, windows or doors.
If someone has been struck by lightning, call 9-1-1 or your local ambulance service. Give first aid if you are qualified. Lightning victims are safe to touch and need medical attention immediately. <

Tricia Zwirner is a State Farm agent celebrating her 21st year in Windham. She and her team would love to hear from you and can be reached via phone and text at 207-892-2864 or via email at

Friday, May 26, 2023

Real Estate: How to make your AirBnB /VRBO shine above the rest

By Theresa Bouchard

Theresa Bouchard is the 
owner/designer of
TS Staging And Design.
AirBnb and VRBO are hot in today’s vacationing market! People want to get away from their everyday lives for rest and relaxation and to gain a new and exciting experience! How can AirBnB and VRBO owners provide this to their vacationers! Here are some tips on how to make your rental property shine and gain positive reviews to create an attraction whether seasonal or all year round!

o Easy access to the property and how to leave it when checking out.

o Cleanliness. The property is CLEAN and tidy!

o Kitchen and Bathroom Amenities are very important to guests.

o Complementary coffee, tea, and hot cocoa (and a variety of sweeteners)

o Adequate dishware, glassware, and pots and pans. Basically, anything that you would use in your everyday kitchen.

o A lobster pot and tools should guests want to truly experience Maine.

o Complementary toiletries such as toothpaste, extra toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, soap, and the list goes on! Ask yourself, “what amenities would I like while I am on vacation?”

o Clean and COMFORTABLE beds. Don’t skimp on the beds as a good night’s sleep is what vacationers are looking for. A cheap, uncomfortable bed can be a deal breaker for return guests, reviews and referrals.

o Clean and comfortable linens. While vacationing, I want to crawl into a cozy bed with sheets of comfort and fluffy, soft blankets and comforters. Additionally, having soft, large bath towels makes all the difference for showering. And always have extra of everything on hand.

o Living space should be comfortable and accommodate the number of guests the property allows. A TV with access to local channels, Netflix and Hulu are always appreciated.

o Internet access. It is important to have your internet access information easily accessible for your guests. Another nice touch is to have a charging station available to accommodate all types of phones.

o Games. Both indoor games and outdoor games (depending on the season) will thrill your guests as this gives them something to do while waiting for the others to get ready before they leave to explore areas of Maine.

o Outdoor area to lounge and relax during those summer months. If you have room on your property for a firepit, that is a huge bonus. Who doesn’t love a good fire with drinks, good conversation and family and friends.

o Information. Provide your guests with information about the local area, hot spots of Maine and where to get a good lobster roll! Providing information on restaurants, beaches, events, etc., creates an ease for your guests so they don’t have to figure out what are best places to go!

o Rules. A guest handbook is a great way to communicate the rules to your guests. Do they need to use certain trash bags, where do they put the trash, is there a noise curfew, etc. Having rules creates an expectation for both guest and property owners which leaves no guessing for either party.

o Décor. Your rental property should stand out above the rest! How? Don’t have mediocre décor in the rental property. Instead, have different conversation pieces that people can talk about. Create a theme. My AirBnB is called Theresa’s Maine Adventure and is everything Maine. Each room is themed with the Ocean, Lake/Camp room and a birch tree room. The reviews from my guests always mention the décor and the theme I created. My guests love it.

Incorporating these suggestions will serve you well as a property owner from a return-on-investment perspective and also ensure people have the best time possible during their stay in Maine.

If you would like assistance on how to enhance your existing rental property or are interested in creating an AirBnB or VRBO, TS Staging and Design would be happy to assist.

As the owner and designer at TS Staging and Design, along with my team of talented designers, we can turn your rental property into a reoccurring vacation spot for your guests and attract even more vacationers! < 

Theresa Bouchard is the Owner/Designer of TS Staging and Design. Call her at 207-400-9393.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Real Estate: Very strong real estate market continues

By Matthew Trudel

Many people were saying the market was slowing down late last year and that interest rates would cripple the market. I was not one of those people and have always felt the market tends to slow down a little over the winter because of the snow and holiday seasons. However, once the snow starts to melt and temperatures start heating up, so does the real estate market. This year was no different and the market is in full swing and not slowing down at all.

One reason we are still seeing multiple offers and most of the offers well over the asking price is the lack of inventory.

As of right now while writing this article, there are only four homes active on the market in Windham under $500,000. Although there are two more that will hit the market later this week, that is still a very limited inventory.

These types of inventory levels across Cumberland County are making it very difficult for buyers to purchase a home. This creates higher prices because of the demand, even with the interest rates up around 6 percent.

I know of one property that hit the market and after just two days on the market had over a dozen offers come in. Each one of those offers were submitted for more than the asking price and many were around $50,000 over the asking price. Several of the offers waived inspections, several waived the financing condition, and several were very creative in the way the offer was presented. All of the buyers were trying to put their best foot forward in hopes of being selected as the buyer that the seller wants to work with.

While I cannot share with you details about who the seller selected, I can share that it was not the highest offer that was chosen.

Why would a seller accept less money for their house? There are a lot of reasons that the sellers make those types of decisions and as a buyer, you want to try to use as many of those tricks as you can so that your offer stands out among the rest.

You can ask any reputable builder in the area, and they are all booked out until late in the fall and many are booked out until next summer. I share this with you because new construction is a great indicator for the real estate market and the demand for new construction remains very high.

The inventory of new construction homes for sale is very low and most are under contract long before the home is even close to being completed. So, what should a buyer in today’s market do to improve their chances of putting a home under contract and finally being able to call a property home?

Each buyer’s situation is very different and unique to their own circumstances. There is not a one-shoe-fits-all when it comes to writing offers. Working with an experienced realtor as your buyer agent is almost always a must in a market like this one. Having a mortgage broker that knows the business well is important if you are using financing. It is also important that all three of you work well together as a team and hopefully spend some time going over different scenarios that may arise.

Also, you can all have input together when it comes to being creative in preparing an offer and presenting it. All of this should be discussed ahead of time so everyone is on the same page and things will move much more smoothly when your offer gets accepted.

Lastly, I would suggest trying to stay positive and open to new ideas. I know it is difficult trying to find a home, putting in offers and not having them selected over and over again. Don’t give up. When the right home comes along, it will work out for you if it is meant to be. Good luck out there! <

This article was written by Matthew Trudel, Owner of Five Star Realty, Windham, 207-939-6971.

Windham’s Myer earns ‘REALTOR® of the Year’ honors

Yvonne Myer, a broker and the designee/owner of the Windham branch of Maine Real Estate Experts, has been honored as REALTOR® of the Year by the Greater Portland Board of REALTORS®.

She has been selling real estate since 1999 and prior to becoming a REALTOR®, Myer owned and operated the Depot Market Convenience Store in Readfield for 12 years.

Yvonne Myer of Maine Real Estate Experts in
Windham has been honored by the Greater
Portland Board of REALTORS® as this year's
A native New Yorker, Yvonne’s family moved to Maine in 1978. She graduated from Maranacook Community School and attended Boston University where she was a member of Gamma Phi Beta Sorority. Yvonne is married to Wes Myer, a custom home builder; they reside in Windham. Together they have four grown daughters.

Yvonne is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®, and has earned her CRS, Certified Residential Specialist designation, administered by the Residential Real Estate Council. She is a current member of The Maine Association of REALTORS®, the Greater Portland Board of REALTORS® and secondary member of the Kennebec Valley Board of REALTORS® and the Maine Commercial Board of REALTORS®.

She is a member of the WCR- National Women's Council of REALTORS® and a member of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. She also holds a Real Estate license in Florida and is a member of the REALTORS® Association of Lake and Sumter Counties.

Myer actively participates in her community working during elections. She started in November 2012 as a Ballot Clerk and then, in November 2019 she was elected Warden of Elections and has been a Warden for every election since and continues to serve.

She has been a Director for the Maine Association of REALTORS® for multiple years, 2006-2007, 2017-2022 and also served on the MAR Convention Education Task Force in 2019. She has served as a director for the Greater Portland Board of REALTORS® in 2018, Treasurer from 2019-2022, as well as serving on the Consumer Outreach Committee in 2018 and Co-Chair of the Consumer Outreach Committee in 2019. Yvonne previously served on the Kennebec Valley Board of REALTORS® as a Director in 2005 and was Secretary in 2006 and Vice President in 2007.

A past member of the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber’s Membership Committee, Yvonne was a volunteer advocate for children with special needs with the Disability Rights Commission, a past member of National Federation of Independent Business, a past member of the Augusta Rotary Club and past President of the Maine Alumnae Panhellenic Chapter of the National Panhellenic Council.

Yvonne said she loves being a REALTOR® and looks forward to helping her clients achieve their Real Estate goals. She also enjoys working with her agents to motivate them and encourage further skill development, so they can also love what they do as much as she does. When she is not busy with Real Estate, she and her husband like to spend time with their family, travel, attend NASCAR races and ride motorcycles. <

Friday, May 12, 2023

Real Estate: Does your home have enough curb appeal for spring market?

By Richie Vraux

So, you made it through the winter and now you are planning to sell your home. Well, you will need to create a checklist. Take a slow walk around the inside and outside of your home. Let’s start with the outside. By now you have raked all your grass to liven up your soil and if your house is like mine, you have a gazillion fall leaves to rake up, and get rid of.

Fill your flower beds with fresh mulch and plant very colorful flowers. The mulch will give the flowers a fresh rich look. Trim back your bushes and shrubs, and if you have a pool, make sure it sparkles. If your home needs painting, get someone on it immediately, because these guys get real busy, and you might have to wait until September because those slots fill up fast.

Do a cognizant assessment of what looks good and what you may have to do to make it more attractive. Freshly cut grass, new mulch, and shrubbery that is groomed back effectively will boost the curb appeal of any home. You might want to replace those overgrown bushes with an array of green healthy plants and colorful perennials and annuals. Try surrounding bushes and trees with reddish-brown mulch and that will certainly give a rich feel and facelift to your yard. Place distinctive edging around your garden beds, pull out the weeds and invasive plants, and add a few colorful geraniums in pots to liven things up.

Curb appeal will either drive their interest to make them want to see your home, or not. Remember, you don't always get a second chance to make a first impression. Make sure all your windows are clean and your driveway is sealed. Keep all windows, including the garage, clean inside and out, sweep cobwebs from the house eaves, and spray down downspouts with a garden hose. Don’t forget to pay attention to your garage door to keep it a bright shade of white. For those who can’t spray off the dirt that has built up over the winter months, scrub it off with a solution of 1/2 cup trisodium phosphate – available at local grocery stores, hardware stores, and home improvement centers – dissolved in 1 gallon of water.

Paint your front door. Pick a color that will stand out but will compliment your house color. Red is a color that denotes success. Also, maybe a bold door knocker. Make sure your walkway up to your front door is brightly illuminated. Nothing ever looks better than a nice lit-up entrance to show off the charming aspects of your home. Also consider adding a new mailbox, new metal house numbers, or a colorful address plaque that can make your house truly stand out from the competition.

If you have a patio or deck, make sure all your seating is inviting with a colorful umbrella, tables, and chairs. This is where you will spend a lot of time in the summer, so make it look casual, but tasteful. If you are lucky enough to have a pool, make sure that it is clean and you have efficient lighting surrounding it for safety reasons.

Another great tip is to make sure you have provisions to ward off flying bugs with a good bug repellent or bug zapper or tiki torches to keep insects at bay. There is nothing worse than having family and friends over and each of them looking like demented windmills flailing their arms to keep the bugs away. You will find they won't stay too long under those conditions. Summer is short enough, especially in Maine, so you want to have as much outdoor time as possible.

I think now you should be ready for those inside jobs you might have before listing it. Inventory is very low, and the market is still on fire, so if you are planning to sell this year, put it on the market as soon as it is ready. <

Richie Vraux is a Realtor/ Broker with Better Homes and Gardens-The Masiello Group 76 Tandberg Trail, Windham. Call Richie for a free written evaluation at 207-317 1297 or by email at

Friday, May 5, 2023

Real Estate: Commercial Leasing Today in Windham, Maine

By Larry Eliason

I previously wrote an article on Commercial Leasing Basics. In this article, I want to revisit some commercial leasing basics as well as talk about the current commercial leasing environment.

A commercial lease for any business can be a large expense and legally binding commitment for any business. Commercial leases are a lot different from residential leases as they have provisions that could seriously impact your business from an economic standpoint as well as you personally guaranteeing a lease.

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 and/or uses. You also want to make sure that you do not inherit some environmental consequences left behind by a prior tenant.

In many towns, Building and Life Safety Code review and interpretation will certainly be part of the discussion for occupancy. Sometimes it is just a change of occupancy and sometimes it is a change of use that could trigger additional work and costs. On many occasions, current septic system capacity or lack of capacity has killed leasing deals for prospective Tenants and Landlords.

Landlords as well as Tenants today should consider engaging a Commercial Real Estate Agent Broker to assist them with the leasing process so expectations can be met.

And in some 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.

The overall vacancy rate for commercial space in the Windham Marketplace appears to be very low. Not all Landlords and Brokers participate in Commercial Leasing data bases like the New England Commercial Property Exchange (NECPE). So, sometimes you end up driving around town looking at “For Lease” signs. Today, I can share generic information on a few recent Windham based deals.

The Windham Shopping Plaza did lose Olympia Sports after being a tenant for many years. The Furniture Gallery expanded their retail footprint by absorbing this space adjacent to their existing storefront. I believe that The Furniture Gallery owners recognized the trends and growth happening in Windham.

Shaw’s Plaza lost Fashion Bug, Day’s Jewelers, GNC and Dollar Tree years ago. The shopping center recently changed ownership and the former Fashion Bug location is now occupied by a Martial Arts School specializing in Brazilian Jujitsu. A couple of other small spaces have been filled by a Hair Salon and a Pool Hall. The end cap to the left of Staples is still vacant but is actively being marketed.

The Windham Mall was reported to be full last year after 25 years. There may be some small vacancies periodically as tenants move around but overall, a strong indicator that business at the Windham Mall is good!

A vacancy at 48 Tandberg Trail in Windham that is a well-appointed professional/medical arts space, was recently leased to a Day Spa. This is an existing business growing into larger space to accommodate its customers.

A vacant older commercial office building at 733 Roosevelt Trail was recently leased to a Chiropractor and that building is being refurbished now for occupancy later this month.

A private office in an adjacent building at 733 Roosevelt Trail was just leased to professionals that work remotely and needed flex space. Other recent office leases at this location include a Massage Therapist and an Occupational Therapist specializing in young children.

A 1,260-plus Square Foot Commercial Warehouse space at 91 Tandberg Trail has been leased to a Maine family-owned Sign Company. This space offered 3-phase power, prominent signage, and a convenient North Windham location.

A letter of intent has been signed for 3,100-plus Square Feet of professional office at 35 Main St. in South Windham. The space offers several office suites, open flex space, conference rooms and a large kitchenette.

There continues to be a lack of commercial warehouse/commercial garage bay space available. If space becomes available, it generally leases up quickly especially if the overhead doors and warehouse have necessary heights desired as well as other amenities.

The cost of land, the cost of new construction, the cost of permitting and impact fees and the cost of commercial money have been key factors in new buildings not being constructed for additional leasing capacity. Development costs can at times outway the return on investment needed.

Do you wonder why some spaces sit vacant for long periods of time? Well, timing and cycles in a market are, of course, factors. And landlords control the lease rates for their own spaces. Tenants look for location, amenities and look at infrastructure as well.

Windham has had a lack of infrastructure such as no public sewer, so we have had to rely on existing private septic systems or install new very expensive systems. The light is at the end of the tunnel so to speak with an investment in public sewer coming to the business sector of North Windham in about three years’ time.

If you are looking to list commercial space for lease or are considering leasing commercial space, please feel free to reach out to us at Butts Commercial Brokers. We have many years of Commercial Leasing experience in Windham and the surrounding communities. <

Larry Eliason, a Windham resident, is a Commercial Broker with Butts Commercial Brokers and can be reached at 207-415-2112 or by email at

Friday, April 28, 2023

Real Estate: Value of Realtor®

By Lisa DiBiase

Choosing the type of agent that will represent you is vital to a successful experience. Let me start with explaining the very difference between a licensed agent and a Realtor®. It may not seem like there is a difference, but there actually is a big difference regarding the service you will receive.

While all Realtors® are real estate agents, not all real estate agents are Realtors. Being a Realtor® is a voluntary designation that agents can choose to pursue. The main difference between Realtors and licensees is that Realtors® are held to a higher standard of ethical and professional behavior by the National Associations of Realtors®, NAR. Additionally, Realtors® have access to a wider range of resources and networking opportunities through their membership in the NAR.

"Your neighborhood Realtor® is a champion able to help you achieve the dream of homeownership," said NAR President Kenny Parcell. I was personally inspired by Kenny Parcell’s message when I attended the NAR Leadership conference last August as I was preparing to become the 2023 Greater Portland Board of Realtors® President. Kenny has made it his commitment to enhancing the value of a Realtor® for all of you, the consumers. I share his sentiment in wanting to spread the message.

The National Association of Realtors was formed in 1908 and formed the first ever business ethical code in 1913. NAR is one of the largest trade associations in the United States. The main objectives of the NAR include service to the public and commitment to professionalism.

The Code of Ethics imposes social responsibility and a patriotic duty beyond a normal licensee. The Code of Ethics must be reasonably and consistently construed with the law. It also restates certain fundamental legal principles such as contract, agency, and fair housing. A section of the Code is Pathways to Professionalism, which is a list of service criteria for the industry and professional courtesies to enhance REALTOR® professional conduct – Respect for the public, Respect for property and Respect for peers.

Local Market update:

According to the Maine Association of Realtors®:

Interest rates and lower-than-normal inventory led to a single-family existing home sales decline of 16.78 percent in March. According to Maine Listings, 858 homes changed hands last month, compared to 1,031 homes in March 2022. The median sales price for homes sold rose 3.85% to $337,500 comparing March 2023 to March 2022.

National Market update:

According to National Association of Realtors®:

● Low-income homeowners built $98,900 and upper-income households built $150,800 from home appreciation since 2012.

● Black homeowners experienced the smallest wealth gains among all racial/ethnic groups but were able to accumulate more than $115,000 in wealth in the last decade.

● Homeowners who benefited from home price appreciation in the last decade were able to drop their debt by 21 percent.

● Middle-income homeowners accumulated $122,100 in wealth as their homes appreciated by 68 percent in the last 10 years.

"This analysis shows how homeownership is a catalyst for building wealth for people from all walks of life," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "A monthly mortgage payment is often considered a forced savings account that helps homeowners build a net worth about 40 times higher than that of a renter."

What does this mean for you?

Our real estate markets can vary greatly by location and are influenced by a variety of factors, including the economy, interest rates, supply and demand, and government policies. It is always best to do your research and consult with a Realtor® who has experience in our local markets.

In general, if you are looking to buy a house, you may benefit from shopping for the best interest rates and sticking to your budget. On the other hand, if you are looking to sell, you may be able to take advantage of a seller's market with limited inventory and high demand, leading to potentially higher sale prices.

Ultimately, the decision to buy or sell a house should be based on your personal and financial goals. As I have said before, please call a local REALTOR for all your real estate needs no matter how big or small. We are trained professionals here to make your life easier. It's best to surround yourself with the right team of professionals that can continuously give you the right advice for all your circumstances. <

Lisa DiBiase is the President for the Greater Portland Board of Realtors®. As the Broker/Owner of Landing Real Estate, she and her company represent buyers and sellers in the Greater Portland area. For all your real estate needs contact by email or phone 207-775-SOLD.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Real Estate: Why isn’t it covered?

By Jonathan Priest

As an insurance agent for 20 years, one of the most common questions I get is the title of this article!

A recreational vehicle such as an ATV, side-by-side, or snowmobile, however, should have its own policy to protect against loss. A small boat with a motor may be covered if it’s under a certain value, but that can vary by carrier, and the coverage amount can also vary.

Here is a helpful list of exclusions brought to you by J Priest Insurance and Nerdwallet!

1. Ground movement

Earthquakes, landslides and sinkholes generally aren’t covered under home insurance. Exceptions include Florida and Tennessee, where insurers must offer optional sinkhole protection. Aside from that, you’ll need separate coverage for these disasters, which your insurer can help you find. For example, a "difference in conditions" policy can cover earthquakes, landslides, and other risks, such as mudflows and floods.
2. Floods

Floods, like those from overflowing rivers or torrential rain, are not covered by most home insurance. Flood insurance is widely available through the National Flood Insurance Program in partnership with more than 50 different insurers. It can cover both the physical structure of your home and your possessions. Beyond floods, your home insurance policy likely excludes other types of water damage as well, such as backed-up sewer lines or overflowing sump pumps. You can fill this gap with a water backup endorsement, or add-on, to your policy. However, a standard policy will generally cover burst pipes — for example, if the water pipe behind your washing machine bursts and spews water.
3. Mold

Coverage for mold is complicated because it’s often hard to identify the root cause of a mold problem. For damage to be covered, your insurer must deem the cause of the mold to be sudden, accidental and a problem covered by your policy. This means that, for example, home insurers generally won’t pay to fix mold damage if it’s caused by water associated with a long-term leak or poor home maintenance. However, your policy may cover repairs if the mold stems from a sudden plumbing leak, as long as you take action to fix the problem right away.
4. Wear and tear

Home insurance is meant for sudden or accidental problems, such as storms, burglaries, and fires. It’s not a cure-all for general wear and tear. You’re expected to perform basic maintenance to keep your home from slipping into disrepair. Maintaining your home’s roof, replacing worn-out flooring and tending to slow-leaking pipes are a few ways you can avoid large expenses that your insurance won’t cover.
5. Infestations

Bedbugs, termites, mice, and other vermin are typically excluded from home insurance for the same reason wear and tear isn’t covered. From an insurer’s perspective, getting rid of infestations and fixing the damage left behind are simply part of maintaining your home.

  6. Nuclear hazards

Home insurance doesn’t provide coverage for nuclear accidents. Thankfully, you're unlikely to need it. Nuclear power companies are required to have liability insurance to cover damage if you live within the affected area of a hazard.
7. Government action

Acts of public authorities are not your insurer’s problem. If the government confiscates your belongings, for instance, or condemns your home and takes over the land, your policy won’t cover the cost to repair or replace your property. The only exception might be if governmental action were taken to prevent the spread of a fire that might otherwise affect your home.
8. Dangerous or aggressive dogs

Insurance companies spent $882 million paying claims for dog bites and other dog-related injuries in 2021, with an average claim amount of about $49,000. Because of these high costs, insurers may not cover certain aggressive or dangerous dogs. Having one could even prevent you from getting approved for a policy. Some companies refuse to cover breeds that are known for inflicting severe injuries, such as pit bulls, Rottweilers, and wolf hybrids. Other insurers, such as State Farm, won’t deny coverage based on breed alone but instead will look at an individual dog’s history of aggression. If you own a potentially dangerous dog, you may get leeway from your insurer by improving your pet’s behavior through training and socialization. <

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, April 14, 2023

Real Estate: Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Buy Real Estate

By Carrie Colby

One of the biggest misconceptions about buying real estate is that waiting for the perfect moment will result in getting a better deal. However, the opposite is often true. The longer you wait, the more the price will go up, and you may end up paying more for a property in the long run. Additionally, interest rates also have a significant impact on the affordability of a home. If you wait too long, interest rates may rise, making it even more challenging to secure a mortgage and purchase a home.

Picking the right time to buy a house is tricky. You don’t want to wait too long, or prices could go up and you’ll end up paying more than you wanted. So what’s a potential home buyer to do? The answer is simple: buy now, and then wait. By buying now, you take advantage of today’s low prices, and by waiting, you avoid the risk of prices going up in the future. It’s a win-win situation! So don’t wait any longer — start looking for your dream home today.

For starters, it’s important to understand that the real estate market is constantly changing. That means that there are always going to be good and bad deals out there. If you wait too long to buy, you might miss out on a great opportunity.

While many people are hesitant to take the leap and purchase a home, waiting to buy real estate can often be a costly mistake.

Here are some helpful tips:

1. Don’t wait for the perfect deal. There’s no such thing.

2. Do your research and work with a trusted professionals (for example, Realtor, Mortgage Company/Bank)

3. Be prepared to act fast when you find good property. It is important to be pre-approved for a mortgage and know what your price range is first before you start looking.

4. Have realistic expectations. The market is constantly changing, so remember that today’s fantastic deal might not be so great tomorrow.

If you keep these things in mind, you’ll be in a good position to take advantage of opportunities as they come your way.

Owning a home provides a sense of stability and security, as well as a tangible asset that you can use to build wealth over time. Real estate values tend to appreciate over time, meaning that the value of your home can increase, providing you with a substantial return on your investment. Additionally, as you pay down your mortgage, your monthly payments will remain fixed, providing you with a stable housing expense for years to come.

In addition to building wealth through appreciation and paying down your mortgage, owning a home can also provide you with additional tax benefits. The interest paid on your mortgage, as well as certain other expenses, can be deductible from your taxable income, lowering your overall tax bill.

But at the same time, you don’t want to rush into a purchase without doing your homework first. Take the time to learn about the market and talk to a trusted REALTOR before making any decisions. <

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

Friday, April 7, 2023

Real Estate: Equal Opportunity for All

By Nicole Foster, Broker/ REALTOR

April is Fair Housing Month, and it serves as a time for increased awareness of anti-discriminatory laws as applied to housing including mortgage lending, rental, sales, appraisal, and insurance of property. The Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) believes that “equal access to housing and homeowner opportunity is the cornerstone of the nation’s federal housing policy”. HUD enforces illegal discrimination and “intimidation in people’s homes, apartment buildings, and condominium developments ~in nearly all housing transactions, including the rental and sale of housing and the provision of mortgage loans”.

The Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 (amended in 1988) prohibits inequitable treatment in the financing, sale or rental of housing based on race or color, national origin or ancestry, religion, sex, familial status and physical or mental disability. In the state of Maine the Maine Human Rights Act (MHRA enforced by the Maine Human Rights Commission) recognizes sexual orientation including gender identity or expression, those in receipt of public assistance and those who are experiencing retaliation for exercising their MHRA rights as protected classes, as well.

In the sale and rental of property no one may take prohibited actions against a protected class including refusing to negotiate, rent or sell housing, denying a dwelling or make housing unavailable or falsely deny that housing is available for rental, sale or inspection. No one can provide different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling or provide different services or facilities. Real estate agents may not try to persuade people to sell or rent dwellings by suggesting that a protected class have moved or will be moving into a neighborhood which is categorized as “blockbusting” and cannot try to influence a buyer's areas of interest based on protected characteristics otherwise known as the practice of “steering.”

Agents also cannot limit access or participation in services such as the multiple listing service (MLS).Mortgage lenders cannot refuse to make a mortgage loan, refuse to provide loan information, impose different interest rates, points or fees, discriminate when appraising a property, refuse to purchase a loan or set different terms or conditions for doing so. It is also illegal to refuse to provide homeowners insurance coverage or to discriminate in the terms and conditions when providing a policy for a dwelling because of being a protected class. It is illegal to make, print or publish advertising for a property which indicates a preference, limitation or discriminates against a protected class.

All REALTORS must adhere to Article 10 in the Code of Ethics prohibiting discrimination of any protected class. As REALTORS we are required to not share our personal opinion about the quality of school systems, neighborhood safety or demographics and instead share reliable sources of information and data. It is our responsibility as REALTORS to follow the instructions of our clients by sharing personal letters written to sellers which accompany an offer if instructed to after sharing with our clients what potential Fair Housing violation risks may exist by providing or learning about characteristics or details which may be protected under the Fair Housing Act.

Each year thousands of “testers” are employed by HUD and sent out by various housing organizations to view for sale and rental properties to assess whether landlords, lenders and agents are treating protected classes differently. Practitioners are encouraged to collaborate with their local regulatory agencies to help demystify compliance and to “reflect, repair and renew” by taking a closer look at our own stereotypical thinking to help understand bias.

If you feel that you’ve experienced discrimination or think your rights have been violated then report directly to the HUD Regional Office by emailing or by calling (617) 994-8300 or 1-800-827-5005 within 300 days of the alleged violation. After you contact HUD they will help you to file a complaint then provide you with written confirmation that your complaint has been accepted and they will contact the respondent and allow time for their response. After, they will investigate and if they are unable to complete their investigation within 100 days of filing your complaint will provide a reason in writing.

You may also file a complaint with both agencies by contact with the Maine Human Rights Commission who can help submit your complaint to the HUD office by calling 207-624-8729 or initiating an Electronic Intake Form by going online to: .

It is likely that we will see an increase in reported violations with rising tensions and an uptick in immigration populations. These laws went into effect 7 days after the assassination of Martin Luther King over 50 years ago now. We must continue to build on this important work by setting a strong example of what practices and conversations are acceptable by using the Fair Housing Act as our framework. <

Nicole Foster is a Windham parent and real estate broker with 18 years of experience. Contact her at or by calling 207-615-7558.

Friday, March 31, 2023

Real Estate: Market starts to pick up as spring arrives

By Tia Morrell

Spring has sprung! The arguably best season in real estate has finally arrived. It is now time to open those curtains and enjoy the sunshine. Perhaps over the winter you have been debating on packing up and making a move. Now is a great time for sellers, as there is an influx of buyers who are patiently waiting to scoop up a home before summer. In the last few weeks, we have seen an insane amount of interest in homes — with open houses packed, and multiple offer situations on almost every home. Buyers and sellers are finding common ground, with both parties pleased even during negotiations. If you are thinking to list, you do not want to miss this spring market. As a Realtor®, it is important to me to ease the process for my clients when it comes to preparation prior to listing. Here are some tips and tricks to getting your home listing ready!

#1: Declutter — It’s time to simplify and get rid of that stack of mail that has been sitting on the counter. You don’t need to get rid of anything but start by cleaning up tables, cabinets, closets… You want to make things look as crisp and organized as possible. When buyers attend showings, they want to be able to imagine their own personal belongings in the home.

#2: Touch Ups + Painting — Maybe there’s a ding in the door or a little scratch in the bedroom. Grab a couple cans of paint, and a paintbrush and go to town. Be elaborate, as trim and walls are some of the only things that buyers will see if a property is shown vacant. Is the bedroom orange? Let’s change that to something a little more neutral. The home will show so much better and add value if you are able to get these small things fixed.

#3: Depersonalize — Studies find that buyers will be more attracted to a space, if the home resembles a blank canvas. Neutrality is important, It gives buyers the opportunity to see themselves living there and what they would do to make a home feel more like them. As cute as the photos of the family may be, and as proud of the awards you have displayed may make you.. they unfortunately won’t get your home closer to sale.

#4: Cleaning — Without a doubt, this is probably the most important thing you will need to do. Cleanliness is key. You want the home to look as large and clean as possible; No laundry on the floor, clean counters, floors, and carpets; bleached bathrooms; dust bunnies and cobwebs vacuumed. It may seem like a daunting task if things have gotten away from you for a while. We all know that cleaning takes time — which is why I personally hire cleaning teams or organization teams for all my listing clients. You don’t want buyers to think your house should be worth less because of something as small as a dirty toilet or unorganized pantries.

#6: Landscaping — Curb appeal is so important. It is of course the first thing people see when approaching your home. Buyers want to feel warm and fuzzy and safe when they walk up! Get out the power washer and start spraying to clean up your vinyl, and foundations; clean your windows and glass doors. The land is a huge part of a buyer’s assessment so it is imperative that you get out and mow the lawn or even seed the grass; replace the lightbulb by the front door. If there isn’t a mailbox, maybe head over to Lowe’s to grab one! If there are any dead bushes or trees, it could be time to rip those up! Remember: Blank Canvas.

#7: Add Special Touches — The scent of fresh cookies before an open house, or the aroma of fresh flowers are always a great way to welcome buyers into your home. You don’t have to go above and beyond to impress them, but something as small as a welcome mat, or accent pillows and lit candles can do a world of difference. Even getting the documentation available on your home and labeling your electrical panel will really show that you gave thought and consideration to listing your home!

Hopefully, with these tips you will be ready to sell your home in a jiffy! If you have questions about this process and would like to see what services I offer as a Realtor®, you can contact me anytime. Good luck, and happy spring!

Tia Morrell is a Realtor for Landing Real Estate in Windham. Call her at 207-317-1833 or send her an email at

Friday, March 24, 2023

Real Estate: Buyers and Sellers, It’s Officially Spring!!

By Matthew Trudel

Spring is here and the weather is certainly getting a little more tolerable with temperatures warming and the sun is a little higher in the sky. This all means the snow is melting and along with it so should any hesitation that buyers or sellers might have about getting into the market now.

This is a great time for both buyers and sellers to prepare properly and get off the side lines and into the game. Let’s go over some of the reasons for both parties to act sooner rather than later.

Sellers you have plenty to do over the next few weeks so that you are well prepared to put your house on the market. First is to find yourself an experienced real estate broker who knows the area and the pulse of the current market. They will help you determine a strategy for marketing your home and what the listing price should be.

There is plenty more that needs to be done, and hopefully you have already accomplished a lot of those things over the winter months. You want to have your home in the best shape you can so that it shows well. You want to be ready to hit the market in three to four weeks. The snow should be gone and the grass coming in greener.

There are a lot of buyers out there waiting for new listings to hit the market. This is one reason to get in the game sooner rather than later. More buyers mean more competition for competitively priced homes which generally translates into higher offers, multiple offers, and ultimately more money in your pocket.

Another reason to sell now versus later is that we really don’t know what the next year or next two years might bring. We do know that currently housing prices are holding and appear to still be in high demand. Inventory is still extremely low giving buyers fewer and fewer options. These are a few reasons why I would encourage sellers to get ready and list their home for sale within the next month or so. Now onto the reasons that buyers should get into the game.

Buyers should get into the market now for many reasons, and buyers should always remember there really is never a bad time to get in the game and invest in real estate. Real estate is a very good investment when it is done appropriately.

Just like with sellers, buyers also need to select an experienced broker to work with and help them achieve their goal. Buyers also need to secure their financing plan so they are prepared to make the most powerful offer they can when they locate the right property.

Interest rates have crept up and buyers have had some remorse that they missed the 3 percent mortgage rates. 6 percent or 6.5 percent is still a good interest rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage. Those rates were very much considered excellent rates for many years.

We do not have a crystal ball to tell us where interest rates will be in a year or two, but I highly doubt they will come down. It seems more likely that they might increase a little. Get in the game now and start working on building equity and improving the value of your new home. It is often called “sweat equity,” but doesn’t have to involve you sweating to build equity.

There are a lot of easy things you can do to maintain and improve your home over time. This will increase the value for when you might decide to sell. The other thing to consider is if you are currently renting. The rental market is at an all-time high and seems to be trending even higher.

You will be way ahead of the game if you get off the sideline and get into the game and pay yourself instead of your landlord. That’s just building them more equity in their investment property.

The point I am trying to make is that this a good year to buy or sell for all parties if you are ready to get into the real estate market. Selling might be a little trickier for some sellers. They have a lot to consider and knowing where they are going to live is probably at the top of the list.

This is why I always try to emphasize that finding and working with an experienced broker is very important. The longer someone has been in this business the more likely they have seen and solved a majority of problems that arise. They also can help navigate and answer your questions or concerns ahead of time. This is true for both sellers and buyers.

Find an experienced broker you are comfortable working with and your transactions in real estate will be much smoother, less stressful, and more successful. <

This article was written by Matthew Trudel, Owner of Five Star Realty, Windham, 207-939-6971.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Real Estate: The frustration of today’s home buying

By Richie Vraux

We are living in a time where we as Realtors’ have a gazillion buyers looking to buy into the American Dream of owning their home. They want to buy a new home but are living in a time of low inventory.

Last week my buyers placed an offer on a property and after the deadline expired, we learned that there were 22 offers that were submitted on this property we lost to another bidder. Our offer was way over the asking price and also offered an escalation addendum up to $50,000 over that price and we still lost.

It is very frustrating for buyers, but don’t lose sight of your goal, your turn will come. Stick it out. You eventually will win. Be patient. Listen to your real estate agent, he will guide you to success. He will offer you the best advice for your given situation.

After you know what your mortgage lender has approved you for, ask your agent to leave a window, to add an escalation addendum to your offer with a higher cap value to boost your offer.

Of course, your agent will advise you every step of the way. I have never seen more escalation addendums added to offers than in the past few years.

There are many other issues buyers then experience after their offer has been accepted.

Some of these include inspections of the house. Your agent will offer you a list of local home inspectors to choose from to check this home for defects including: all systems of the house, electrical, plumbing, roof, chimney, appliances, septic system, etc.

Unless you are paying cash for your home, the lender will require an appraisal to see if the bank is protected in their investment and to make sure there are no safety issues that would be excluded based on the type of loan you were approved for.

Once the inspections have satisfied the buyers, and the appraisal has been completed, then it goes to the bank’s underwriting team. There it gets bank approved and if the house’s title is clear, the bank gets a clear signal to close. Hooray! You are almost there.

There will then be some closing costs that were not part of the contract that you should know before closing.

Make sure the house’s heating fuel is paid for. Who pays for it? This should have been part of the initial sales contract.

Also make sure you know if there is a homeowners or neighborhood association that requires membership fees. Who maintains the road? Is there trash pick-up by the town or do you take it yourself to the dump? Ask these and any other questions you may have before you leave the closing table.

Good luck in purchasing your new home. <

Richie Vraux is a local Broker/ Realtor (Raymond) with over 25 years of experience in Real Estate and licensed in the in the state of Maine - Better Homes and Gardens- The Masiello Group in Windham. You can reach Richie at 207-317-1297 or by sending an email to

Friday, March 10, 2023

Real Estate: State of the Maine Market

By Lisa DiBiase


Sales of single-family existing homes in Maine continue to be affected by rising mortgage interest rates and a smaller number of available homes for sale. Maine Listings announced a 34.99 percent sales decrease in January 2023, compared to January 2022. The median sales price for homes sold in January 2023 reached $325,000, an increase of 11.21 percent over January 2022.

While we are feeling the effects of the lack of inventory, we are continuing to see multiple offers and properties selling for over asking.

Based on Single Family Homes in Cumberland County, in the graph you can see the median sales price is still up at $505,500 which is slightly below what we recorded compared to last year.

The number of closings fell 14.3 percent this year. Also, the number of new listings fell 11.8 percent. This will continue the sellers’ market we are currently still experiencing.

Then we have interest rates. Despite these increases, many housing market watchers still hold out hope that interest rates already hit their peak last year. However, most experts also expect mortgage rate increases to continue for the next few weeks or until inflation is more clearly under control—whenever that is.

Mortgage Rates Predictions for March 2023

According to Forbes Advisor, though the average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage has cooled from last year, home shoppers remain locked out of the market due to a trifecta of high interest rates, tight inventory and elevated home prices. Consequently, mortgage applications have slumped in recent weeks.

“After a brief revival in application activity in January when mortgage rates dropped to 6.2 percent, there has now been three straight weeks of declines in applications as mortgage rates have jumped 50 basis points over the past month,” says Joel Kan, vice president and deputy chief economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), in a news release. “Data on inflation, employment, and economic activity have signaled that inflation may not be cooling as quickly as anticipated, which continues to put upward pressure on rates.”

Those who purchased homes in recent years at record-low interest rates are staying put.

Moreover, new home construction fell again in January, compounding the long-standing inventory problem. Tight inventory issues, in part, are keeping prices from dropping off, which is perpetuating affordability challenges for many, especially first-time homebuyers.

Though home prices remain high year-over-year, they’re not as eye-popping as they were in early 2022. Even so, how much further home prices dip in 2023 will likely depend on where mortgage rates go.

Housing Market Forecast for March 2023

Home prices will be steady in most parts of the country with a minor change in the national median home price,” according to NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. Due, in part, to the ongoing inventory problem keeping home prices elevated, many economists predict the housing market is more likely to correct itself from the double-digit percentage jumps seen in home prices the past few years rather than crash.

Buying a house, in any market, is a personal decision. Because homes represent the largest single purchase most people will make in their lifetime, it’s crucial to be in a solid financial position before diving in.

Best advice is to start with a budget and stick with it.

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

Lisa DiBiase is the President for the Greater Portland Board of Realtors. As the Broker/Owner for Landing Real Estate, she and her company represent buyers and sellers in the Greater Portland area. For all your real estate needs, contact by email or phone 207-775-SOLD.

Friday, March 3, 2023

Real Estate: Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

Submitted by Jonathan Priest

Believe it or not, Spring is right around the corner! It may not feel like it, with the back-to-back snowstorms we’ve had, but the days are getting longer and Easter is just over a month away!

Bearing that in mind, here are some tips to help you make sure your home is in tip-top shape for the warmer months of the year, brought to you in partnership with Farmers Insurance and HGTV.

Examine Roof Shingles

Examine roof shingles to see if any were lost or damaged during winter. If your home has an older roof covering, you may want to start a budget for replacement. With the severe 50+ mph winds we had earlier this Winter, severe stress was put on all traditional asphalt shingle roofs. However, the summer sun can also really damage roof shingles. Shingles that are cracked, buckled or loose or are missing granules need to be replaced. Flashing around plumbing vents, skylights and chimneys need to be checked and repaired by a qualified roofer.

Check the Attic

Check your attic for proper ventilation and birds’ nests. Look for obstructions over vents, damaged soffit panels, roof flashing leaks and wet spots on insulation. Keeping a good airflow will save you when it comes to cooling costs. When you’re rooting around, wear long sleeves and gloves to protect yourself from insulation.

Inspect the Concrete

Inspect concrete slabs for signs of cracks or movement. All exterior slabs except pool decks should drain away from the home's foundation. Fill cracks with a concrete crack filler or silicone caulk. When weather permits, power-wash and then seal the concrete.
Replace Rotted Siding or Trim

If any of your trim or siding has begun to rot or crumble, replace and repaint it. Repainting siding or trim is often more than a one-weekend project. For color consistency, you just can’t just touch it up—you need to paint a whole section.

Move Firewood

Remove firewood stored near the home. Firewood should be stored at least 18 inches off the ground at least 2 feet from the structure.

Check Outside Faucets

Check outside hose faucets for freeze damage. Turn the water on and place your thumb or finger over the opening. If you can stop the flow of water, it is likely the pipe inside the home is damaged and will need to be replaced. While you're at it, check the garden hose for dry rot.
Re-caulk Windows and Doors

Inspect and, if necessary, caulk around your home's windows and doors annually. That will help keep out heat and humidity in the summer and cold drafts in the winter—and save money on your utility bills all year round. Open and close all windows as well. Do they all open easily, yet close tightly? If not, check the weather stripping. There are a number of different types to consider.
Repair Window Screens

To fix a small hole in a window or door screen, dab clear household cement over the hole with a toothpick. If the screens are plastic, test the cement on a scrap to make sure it won't melt the material. Use the same technique to repair screen tears. Pull the two halves of the tear together and hold them in place with masking tape on one side. Apply the household cement to the tear, then smooth with a putty knife. When it's dry, gently remove the tape and apply cement to the other side.

Service the AC Unit

Have a qualified heating and cooling contractor clean and service the outside unit of the air conditioning system. Clean coils operate more efficiently, and an annual service call will keep the system working at peak performance levels. Change interior filters on a regular basis.

Check Power Equipment

Check your gas- and battery-powered lawn equipment to make sure it is ready for summer use. Clean equipment and sharp cutting blades will make yardwork easier. With ethanol in almost all gas station fuel, make sure you run each engine dry of fuel at the end of each season, or alternatively, use a fuel stabilizer or an ethanol-free fuel like Trufuel for your small engines. Ethanol blends can corrode your carburetor, fuel tank, and other fuel system components and damage engine seals and O-rings, according to industry experts. And that means costly repairs at the very least–and engine damage at worst.

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, February 24, 2023

Real Estate: Why homes come back on the market

By Carrie Colby

Why do pending home sales fall through?

When a buyer and seller agree on a home, everyone hopes things will go according to plan. Unfortunately, sometimes life throws you a curveball. Some issues can lead a home under contract to come back on the market, some more difficult to deal with than others.

Nobody wants to go through all the work of completing a real estate sales agreement only to fall short. Some of the reasons houses come back on the market are out of the seller’s control. Other times that is not the case. Right or wrong, sometimes houses that come back on the market are considered damaged goods. Remember, just because a home comes back on the market does not mean it is undesirable. If you can verify the issues that caused the original agreement to fail and that those issues have been resolved, such homes can still be a good buy.

Some of the most common reasons homes are back on market

There is a Problem With The Home Inspection. A home inspection will look at all of a home’s major components to identify any problem areas. Home inspectors can make mistakes from time to time, but generally, they are well-trained and competent—so if they find a serious issue, chances are it is worth worrying about.

Some examples of what home inspectors could find include the following:

Mold Found in The Home. Mold indicates moisture penetration which is undesirable for many reasons. Mold remediation is an option, mold can be remediated from your home fairly quickly. There are professional companies that provide mold remediation services.

The Septic System Fails. Every home needs a working sewer or septic system. Unfortunately, a poorly maintained septic system can fail. An inspection can discover such a failure and cause a buyer to back out of a transaction, but most issues can be repaired. The buyer and seller can negotiate and come to an agreement to get to the closing table.

Here is a great tip!

Get a home inspection before going on the market! Knowing the condition of your home before listing it for sale makes a lot of sense. It can save a lot of heartburn as well.

The Buyer Does Not Get Their Mortgage Commitment.

Mortgages are not fully guaranteed until the buyer has signed a final agreement with a lender. While buyers can get pre-approved and pre-qualified for mortgages, things can change between these pre-verifications and when the money needs to exchange hands. A buyer that makes significant financial changes, like losing a job, changing a position, taking out another loan, etc., may find that the mortgage they thought was a sure thing is no longer available.

Title Defects Are Discovered on The Property.

Title defects can be a real pain when it comes to home sales. There are so many ways that these can occur, so it is essential to conduct a title search as soon as possible. Title defects include illegal deeds, public records errors, unknown easements, forgeries, and more. The main reason to purchase title insurance is to help you overcome these defects, should they arise.

Misrepresentation by The Seller or Their Agent.

There are times when home sales fall apart because of misrepresentation on the part of either the seller or their real estate agent. There are lots of examples of how misrepresentation can take place. It could be factual, like the home’s condition or where the property line is located.

One of the more common misrepresentations in real estate sales is the number of bedrooms in a home. When selling a house, you are only allowed to market the number of bedrooms based on septic capacity.

Final Thoughts on Back on Market

Home sales fall apart from time to time for various reasons. In some circumstances, the deal could have been kept together with better planning. Back on the Market doesn’t mean the home is unsaleable and someone may have discovered all the reasons it failed to close, and those defaults have been fixed and the buyer will have an easier time getting the home to close. <

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

Friday, February 17, 2023

Real Estate: Be prepared when making or accepting offers

By Nicole Foster, Broker/ REALTOR

Whether you are a soon to be seller who has been working hard to prepare your home to hit the market or you’re a prospective buyer who has taken all the preliminary steps and is tirelessly looking for a home, it is important to prepare for the critical steps that lie just ahead. When the time finally arrives for you to work with drafting or responding to an offer or more than one offer, do you know what to expect?

In 2014, the Department of Professional & Financial Regulation Maine Real Estate Commission approved consumer guidelines for working with offers and counteroffers in a real estate transaction. These guidelines are required to be provided to clients and are often shared when you first enter into a brokerage agency agreement as a buyer or a seller. This four-page brochure includes guiding principles, as well as a list of commonly asked questions and helpful information that is specific to both seller and buyer clients.

This brochure is an excellent reference highlighting what options and obligations you have during the important offer and acceptance process during what can feel like a fast-moving part of your transaction. Take the time to familiarize yourself with this, especially if you are entering the market for the first time and be sure to ask your agent any questions you have about this part of the buying and selling process before getting started. When you know how offers and counteroffers will be handled, you will feel more confident in your decision-making.

The guidelines state that listing a property for sale is “an invitation by the seller for buyers to make offers”. When you begin to work with a listing agent, they will ask for your written permission to disclose the existence of a competing offer or other interest in your property, after discussing both the benefits and hazards of doing so. Disclosing that an offer has been made or received is not confidential and the agent must keep their client informed of stated interest in the property.

It goes on to emphasize that “the decision about how offers will be presented, negotiated and ultimately accepted or rejected are made by the client ~ not the agent.” Because the seller is not obligated to respond to an offer or to disclose the existence of a competing offer to buyers, it is important for buyers to understand they may not get the opportunity to change the terms of their offer after it has been presented to the seller and “….only one offer may result in the sale and the others will be faced with disappointment.”

It outlines that offers, counteroffers as well as the withdrawal of an offer should be made in writing to ensure that the terms, timeframes and legal obligations are understood by both parties. The terms in offers and counteroffers are confidential and may not be shared by the agent without prior written consent from the client.

The first or highest offer made does not bind or otherwise limit the seller to act upon that offer before considering any other offers. Sellers do not have to place priority on offers based on the order that they are received. Sellers are not obligated to accept a full price or cash offer and may accept an offer based on terms other than price.

A buyer or seller who is not represented by a real estate agent in the transaction is a customer, and not a client, who cannot receive advice or counsel from the agent who represents the other party. If you are a buyer who wants to write an offer while unrepresented by a real estate agent, the seller’s agent is permitted to help you by filling in the blanks on a purchase and sale agreement after providing you with a copy of the Maine Real Estate Brokerage Relationship form.

Ask your real estate agent about the best ways to develop a strategy based on the options which are listed in the Offer and Multiple Offer Guidelines and be well positioned to meet your real estate objectives when it is time to take action!

Nicole Foster is a Broker with Locations Real Estate Group and a Windham resident and parent who loves real estate and people. Call her at 207-615-7558 or visit

Friday, February 10, 2023

Real Estate: Conference outlines 2023 forecast for Maine

On Jan. 26, Tom Bartell, Executive Director, of the Windham Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) along with WEDC Board Members and Town Staff represented Windham’s Economic Development Opportunities while attending the Annual Conference and Forecast held at the Cross Arena in Portland.

Over 800 of Maine’s real estate and development professionals gathered at the Cross Insurance Arena to learn about the latest trends and predictions for the real estate economy at the Maine Real Estate & Development Association’s (MEREDA’s) Forecast Conference and Member Showcase. MEREDA also streamed the conference for those who could not attend in-person. “Even though Sugarloaf was having an incredible powder day, there is no other place I’d rather be than the Forecast Conference,” shares MEREDA President Craig Young. “This is a day where you have great conversations and make great connections. You get to be in the room with the people who are driving responsible development in our state.”

With a dynamic lineup of industry experts presenting on the ins and outs of Maine’s real estate economy, the Forecast Conference provided an opportunity for real estate professionals to learn from each other and map out what lies ahead for their industry. The day began with a discussion of one of the most pressing issues in Maine: affordable housing. Keynote speaker Greg Payne, a Senior Advisor on Housing Policy with the Governor’s Office for Policy Innovation and the Future, said “We have got to rededicate ourselves to investing in affordable housing and working on solutions.” Payne went on to outline the ways in which Governor Mills has made a historic commitment to building more housing in Maine. “As big and frustrating as our housing challenges are, we’ve never been in a better position to do more,” Payne said, urging people to participate in the effort to ensure all Mainers have access to safe and affordable housing. Next, James Marple, a Senior Economist from TD Bank provided an economic outlook on both a national and state level, sharing an expectation for the economy’s growth to slow, the real estate boom prices to unwind, and for the labor demand challenge to continue to impact Maine’s economy.

Looking at the industrial sector, Justin Lamontagne and Sam LeGeyt of The Dunham Group reported on another healthy and competitive year that was also beginning to show signs of a plateau in the future. That said, demand continues to be there for industrial spaces, with Lamontagne wondering if there will be zoning changes to facilitate the conversion of office space into low-impact industrial use, and if speculative construction will move north where there is land to develop for new Innovation Districts.

Dava Davin of Portside Real Estate Group gave a presentation on the single family residential market in Southern Maine, an $8 billion market, succinctly summarizing, “In 2022, prices went up and sales went down.” Diving into the details, Davin put a spotlight on three “stand out” towns that were seeing incredible increases in home prices: Lewiston, Westbrook, and Cumberland. Looking at the luxury market, Davin reported that homes selling for over $1 million have tripled since 2019, and in 2022 the most expensive home sold in Maine was in Camden at $13.7 million. Predicting that housing prices will level off, there will be fewer transactions, and a return of the seasonal market, Davin sees less frenzy and more thought in 2023’s residential market. Especially since many Mainers cannot afford to buy the home they live in today, so they aren’t able to move anyplace else.

Bricks and mortar retail locations continue to create great demand in the Portland area, Peter Harrington of Malone Commercial Brokers reported. “The demand is there and it’s getting really expensive to get a retail space in downtown Portland.” With more national chains moving into the Old Port district, Harrington discussed how there is a need for a mix of retailers in the market. “It brings life; we need that at street level,” he said while recalling the old days when offices occupied prime locations and had their shades perpetually drawn. Harrington predicts that retail will continue to be a strong market with growth opportunities: its healthy demand is helping historic buildings get rehabilitated and bringing more people to shop and eat downtown.

Other presentations included Elizabeth Frazier of Pierce Atwood with an update on MEREDA’s Legislative Agenda. In the year ahead, Frazier said that MEREDA’s Public Policy Committee will be focusing efforts on reducing the barriers for housing creation and has three bills in the works for the upcoming session. Reporting on the Bangor area market, David Hughes of Epstein Commercial Real Estate cited the challenges of low inventory in the industrial and office sector, and also highlighted a few game changers for the area including downtown apartment conversions, the Maine Savings Amphitheater, and the transformation of Main Street. Brit Vitalius of Vitalius Real Estate Group provided a report on the multi-family market in Southern Maine, highlighting the incredible growth of Lewiston/Auburn in particular. In a look at the Central Maine market, Frank Carr of Maine Realty Advisors echoed the story Vitalius shared of a booming market in Lewiston/Auburn, and shared his outlook for Augusta and Waterville. Dave Holman of RE Max Riverside Commercial gave an update on the Midcoast Maine market, highlighting the renaissance that Bath is seeing, and outlined the exciting projects in the pipeline for the Brunswick area including a community recreation facility and housing for asylum seekers. Matt Arrants of The Arrants Company discussed how the return of business travel and international travel were impacting the Maine hospitality sector, predicting that Maine will continue to be a popular travel destination and lamenting the labor shortage for hotels. Nate Stevens of The Boulos Company provided a report on the Southern Maine Office Forecast, saying that there are still a lot of unknown questions post-pandemic. Outlining the difference between downtown Portland and suburban markets, Stevens sees opportunities for conversions to housing and industrial spaces, and opportunities for office tenants if they know where to look.

Overall, strong demand and limited supply continue to shape many of Maine’s real estate sectors. How that demand will continue to drive growth is one of the remaining questions. What’s clear is that MEREDA members will be working together to ensure that growth will be defined by responsible development, which must include more affordable housing for Mainers. Sponsors of the event include TD Bank, Mainebiz, The Downs managed by Maine Properties LLC, Bangor Savings Bank, FirstPark Business Park, Haley & Aldrich, Landry/French Construction, Partners Bank, and Pierce Atwood.

The Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) is a non-profit entity whose members – commercial real estate owners, developers, and related service providers – banded together in 1985 to found the first statewide association established specifically to present the views of participants in the state’s commercial real estate industry to lawmakers in Augusta.

MEREDA’s mission is the same today as it was at its founding – to promote fair and responsible development and ownership of real estate throughout the State of Maine. MEREDA remains firmly committed to vigorously presenting the views and concerns of its members on issues that affect them to state lawmakers and other government officials, and advocating effectively on their behalf. <

The above article and information has been authorized for reprint by Shelly R. Clark, Executive Director, of

Larry Eliason, a Windham Resident, is a Commercial Broker with Butts Commercial Brokers and is currently President of the Windham Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), a subsidiary of the Town of Windham.