Friday, October 27, 2023

Real Estate: On your mark, get set, let the holiday decorating begin

By Theresa Bouchard

Yup, that time of year is right around the corner. The good ole’ Maine chill has begun, the clocks will soon be turned back and bam, Halloween will turn to Christmas in a flash! Don’t let it get you down, embrace it!

According to psychologist and author Deborah Serani, holiday decorations trigger that happy hormone called dopamine. The bright lights and festive music create a soothing ambience which in turn permeates joy. It’s no wonder some folks begin their holiday decorating well before most- maybe they are on to something!

Decorating for the holidays can be a daunting task for some due to lack of time, cost or even their lack of enthusiasm for the time of year. Don’t try to keep up with the Jones’, just focus on your home, your space and how to create holiday magic on either a very small or over-the-top scale… it’s entirely up to you! Here are some tips (small and large) to help you brighten your home and mood with some holiday cheer as we approach this merry time of the year.

Lights, lights, and more lights! There is something about lights that make us smile. When you see a Christmas tree light up for the first time, it makes our hearts sing. It lifts our spirits and creates happiness in all of us. Adding a simple string of lights (fairy lights or Christmas tree lights) to a window frame, existing plants in your home, a mantel, and/or a doorway, creates a cozy, warm feeling within us. Add greenery to those lights and wow, just sit back and enjoy!

Some think that wreaths are just for the exterior of your home. Well, that is just not true. You can add real or faux wreaths to interior doors or windows– a simple touch to create a calming, serene environment. If you are using faux wreaths and want to add a smidge of that Christmas tree scent to really get you into the spirit, grab some scented pine tree sticks or spray to flourish your home with holiday joy!

Decorating small spaces is so much fun! If you are working with a limited space but want to bring in some elements of the holidays, simply get small Christmas trees made of wood, glass, cloth material, and add to any surface in your home. Incorporate candle sticks or lights (yes, lights!) to brighten any corner or surface in your home whether it be your kitchen, dining room, bathroom, bedroom, or entryway. Mixing different materials will create interest and softness. Your friends and family will surely be asking for your festive decorating tips!

You can’t cozy up to a good movie or a hot cup of cocoa without the perfect pillows and throw blankets. Simply changing out your pillows and throws with warm winter materials such as Sherpa, fleece, faux fur, or quilts and decorative pillows in patterns such as plaids, holiday patterns and trendy colors, will create a welcoming and inviting holiday atmosphere. You will not want to leave the comforts of your home, why would you?

Greenery in a home creates immediate warmth to a space during the holidays and all year round. During the holidays, garland adds that finishing touch to any room. There are many types of decorative garland such as pine, cedar, boxwood, the list goes on. Garland of any type draped around windows, doors and mantels immediately transforms a room into a haven for rest and relaxation. Add those lights and you have got yourself a holiday sanctuary!

Lastly, vases can go a long way when decorating for the holidays. You can fill vases with ornaments and lights (I use battery operated fairy lights) to add a festive flair to a corner or space that needs a little pop of cheer. Or you can gather branches from your yard and place them in a vase for a very natural look or even lightly spray paint them white to create a birch tree effect. Something as simple and basic as this can really enhance your space during the season and lift your spirits as we work our way through another holiday season in Maine!

If you love the ideas in this article but are strapped for time or are not a shopper or DIYer, call TS Staging and Design to help create an inviting, festive environment in your home for you, your family, and friends this holiday season. Don’t let the holidays get you down, boost your mood through holiday decorating! <

For more information about professional home staging or interior design services, please contact TS Staging and Design at 207-400-9393 or visit

Friday, October 20, 2023

Real Estate: Selling Maine

By Richie Vraux

As a kid, I always remember the spring, summer and fall weekends and holidays at our camp on Granger Pond in Denmark. The nightly bonfires, the great fishing and canoe trips we would have as a family. At that time, I told myself, This is where I want to live. I always love the different lifestyle where you know the true change of seasons.

When you think about Quality of Life, Maine has to be ranked in the top 10. According to the US News and World Report, Maine has one of the safest states to live in.

The fall is truly one of my favorite seasons, warm days and chilly nights that leads to the most colorful foliage in the country. Winters can be severe depending on what part of Maine, a land area of 30,836.600 square miles, you live in.

The true Mainers say, that depending on whether you live north or south of Maine, there are only two seasons: summer and preparing for winter.

There are lots of snowbirds that go south for the winter, but then, always come back in the early spring to arrive back to open up their summer homes.

Then get their boats ready to launch and tear open the BBQ for some of Maine’s red hot dogs and hamburgers and oh yes, the lobster bakes. We are so lucky to live in an area that starts off the new year with dog sled races and skiing on some of the best slopes in the country. We also have the fishing derbies, both in the summer and winter ice fishing.

Maine has over 6,000 lakes and ponds where even the biggest fishing enthusiasts are found at either Sebago or Moosehead lakes or any other wonderful water bodies. Whether is salt water or freshwater, Maine is for you.

Forbes Magazine has rated Portland one of the most livable cities and one of the most affordable cities to retire to according to AARP. Maine has one the most spectacular coastlines and spectacular lakes. Just think of other parts of the country: the mudslides and wildfires on the west coast, temperatures over 100 degrees, the tornadoes of the mid-west, and other parts of the country with natural disasters. I will always choose Maine.

Buying a home-especially your first home-can be filled with twists and turns. You never need to go it alone with one of our real estate pros to guide you through your journey.

Our team of real estate agents makes finding a home in our neighborhoods easy. Not only do we work in our local communities, we live here too. We know the right people and have the right connections to find you the right home at the right price.

Homeownership is within your reach. We can help you get there.

Selling your home can seem like a rollercoaster ride. One day you're euphoric, and the next day you're frantic.

Not to worry. When you list your home with us, we'll be by your side from start to finish showing you the way.

Our real estate agents are focused on our local communities and know what it takes to sell your home for the most money in the least amount of time.
There will be plenty to think about... staging your house, pricing it right, sealing the deal, and moving to your new home. You can trust our real estate pros to guide you through every step of the selling process.

If a property is priced appropriately, it won’t be on the open market for very long. As a result, be very prepared. Unless you are making a cash offer - always, always, always have a pre-qualification letter in hand so it can be presented to the seller’s agent, at the time of the offer.

Be aware that if there has been a lot of activity on a property, it has become commonplace that agents are submitting offers well above asking price.

Also, other things you should know about houses are if they are: occupied, vacant, in foreclosure, short-sale or bank owned. You should know as much information as possible about each property before making an appointment. Make sure you tell your Realtor® your timeframe for buying or selling. <

Richie Vraux is a Realtor/ Broker with: Better Homes and Gardens-The Masiello Group 76 Tandberg Trail, Windham, ME 04062. You can contact Richie at 207-317-1297 or by email at


Friday, October 13, 2023

Real Estate: High Interest Rates – Low Inventory

By Matthew Trudel

Today’s market is very challenging for both buyers and sellers, which in turn makes our job as a REALTOR representing our clients all that more important. With interest rates hovering around 7 percent for buyers with good credit, there are some options out there that buyers should keep in mind. We will go over a few of those later in the article, but first I want to go over some of the challenges sellers are facing whether their house is on the market, or they are considering putting it on the market this fall.

A limited pool of buyers is a big issue for any seller or soon to be seller. The rise in interest rates has certainly lowered most buyers’ purchasing power by 25 percent or more. What this means is that a buyer who qualified for a $425,000 home might only qualify now for a $300,000 home. That is a huge difference, and it has been affecting the market for months. This means that fewer buyers can qualify to purchase a seller’s home which results in two things likely happening. The house could be on the market for a longer period of time, and the price you get might be lower than what it would have been six months ago.

Another thing sellers are facing is time. Fall has arrived and the temperatures are cooling down. When this happens the market cools down as well. There is not a lot of time left before December arrives and with that comes the snow. Houses do sell during the winter, but they don’t sell as fast as they do in the Spring and Summer. That being said, sellers also have to figure out where they are going to live once their house sells. Which might mean they become buyers and face a whole new set of problems, which is what we will discuss now.

Buyers are faced with low inventory and their purchasing power has been lowered. This is mostly because of the interest rates. Making sure your credit is in excellent condition will really benefit you when the market is in this condition. There are programs out there that will get your rate below 7 percent, but you need excellent credit. Another option is to have the seller pay a couple of points to buy your interest rate down a little. This could get you down below 6.5 percent interest rate. Buyers should remember this as well, you “marry the home and date the rate.” This simply is a reminder that you are not locked into the rate forever. If interest rates come down, you can simply refinance to a lower rate. Many lenders even offer streamlined refinance programs where it will cost you very little to do this.

Another option to consider is an adjustable-rate mortgage or ARM. I personally am not a fan of these, but they do have a valuable place under the right circumstances. This is something that I would advise being very thorough in reviewing all aspects with your lender and comparing all the positive and negative possibilities. Like I stated before, I am not a fan of the adjustable-rate mortgage programs, but it is an option that is available.

Here is an option that won’t work for everyone because some people don’t have a lot of money saved up for a down payment. If you do have a sizable amount saved up like 20 percent of the purchase price to use as a down payment, then you might want to consider private financing. This can be a creative way to get you into the property with minimal costs and not as many hoops to jump through. The rates can be very competitive and occasionally better than the banks. Generally, these are based on a 30-year term, but they balloon in three to five years which means you need to refinance in that timeframe and pay the balance off.

With all of that being said, buyers or sellers both should do one thing the same way. That is to find an experienced Realtor to work with to assist you through the process. In this type of market creativity and experience can be the difference in achieving your real estate goals or being unsuccessful. <

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

Friday, October 6, 2023

Real Estate: Top Communities and Real Estate in Maine’s Lakes Region

By Lisa DiBiase

Maine’s Lakes Region is known for its serene beauty, lovely communities, and exceptional real estate options. This picturesque area attracts homeowners looking to enjoy peaceful living near the tranquil waters, lush forests, and ample outdoor recreational opportunities found within the region.

With charming towns and diverse housing options, there is a perfect lakeside community for everyone. In this article, we explore some of the top communities in Maine’s Lakes Region and the real estate options available in each.
About Sebago Lake

On the southern tip of Maine’s Lakes and Mountains region near the bustling city of Portland, you’ll find marvelous Sebago Lake. Translated from Native American language, Sebago means “great stretch of water” – and it is certainly that, as the second largest lake in Maine. The vast, 45-square-miles of broad, clear and deep water offers plentiful recreation opportunities from fishing its depths to summertime dips and paddles. Its northeast corner is home to Sebago Lake State Park, a relaxing haven of lakeside camping, picnic areas and boat launches. The serene lake is intricately linked to Brandy Pond via the meandering Songo River, and this connection ultimately leads to the pristine waters of Long Lake in Naples. This remarkable chain of water bodies opens up an array of extraordinary lakefront real estate prospects.
Windham: A Vibrant Lakeside Community

Windham is a bustling community that perfectly balances small-town charm with the convenience of contemporary living. Known for its excellent school system and thriving local businesses, this town is ideal for families and individuals alike. Nestled among Sebago Lake, Little Sebago Lake, and Pleasant Lake, Windham offers a wealth of waterfront real estate options ranging from cozy cottages to luxurious estates. In June, join the town for their Summerfest Celebration – browse booths featuring food vendors, crafters and community organizations, participate in a scavenger hunt or enjoy live music.
Naples: The Heart of the Lakes Region

Nestled at the crossroads of Long Lake and Sebago Lake, Naples exudes a quaint, hospitable charm that attracts both year-round residents and seasonal vacationers. Home to several pristine beaches, miles of nature trails, and vibrant community events, Naples is perfect for those seeking a home with a strong community connection. Naples’s real estate market includes charming single-family residences, waterfront cottages, and contemporary homes with stunning lake views.
Raymond: Scenic Beauty and a Rich History

The picturesque town of Raymond is known for its rich history, stunning landscapes, and numerous sparkling lakes, including Crescent Lake, Panther Pond, and Sebago Lake. Raymond’s charm and natural beauty make it an ideal destination for those seeking a tranquil, scenic place to call home. Raymond’s diverse real estate options range from historic farmhouses on spacious parcels to contemporary homes boasting waterfront access and modern amenities.

If it’s more trails that you’re after, Raymond is also home to a lovely forest trail system that is friendly to both hikers and mountain bikers. Raymond Community Forest features 365 acres of land, four trails of varying skill levels and spectacular views of Crescent Lake from Pismire Bluff.
Bridgton: A Four-Season Destination

Bridgton is a popular, four-season destination located on the shores of Long Lake and Highland Lake, offering exceptional year-round recreational opportunities. Known for its vibrant downtown area filled with local shops, galleries, and eateries, Bridgton presents a thriving artistic and cultural scene. Various real estate options can be found in Bridgton, including charming Victorian homes, modern waterfront residences, and affordable single-family houses.
Casco: Lakeside Living at Its Finest

Embracing the shores of Sebago Lake, Pleasant Lake, and Thompson Lake, Casco is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and waterfront living aficionados. With numerous nature preserves, recreational facilities, and annual events, Casco offers an engaging small-town lifestyle with a strong sense of community. In July, Casco Days kicks things off with several days of family fun involving parades, rides, food booths, games and more. In September, the town cools down with the Sebago Spirits Festival, a lakeside spirits-tasting event with casual classes showcasing recipes and cocktail-making tips. Real estate options in Casco include traditional Maine farmhouses, contemporary lakeside homes, and spacious family residences with panoramic lake views.
Gray: Home to Maine Wildlife Park

The town includes frontage on Little Sebago Lake, Crystal Lake, and Forest Lake. Gray is home to regional headquarters for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, which maintains a fish hatchery and wildlife park. It is also home to the Gray/Portland Weather Forecast Office of the NOAA's National Weather Service, which issues forecasts and weather warnings for New Hampshire and western Maine. Far from the blandness its name may suggest, Gray offers a host of opportunities the whole family will enjoy. Head to the Maine Wildlife Park to learn about and appreciate all the different species of the state’s wildlife. You are guaranteed to see a moose, as well as other small and large species.
Find Your Dream Home

Maine’s Lakes Region offers an incredible variety of communities and real estate options for those seeking the idyllic lakeside lifestyle. From the bustling town of Windham to the picturesque village of Casco, each community boasts its own unique charm, providing a diverse array of choices for eager homebuyers. If you’re ready to begin searching for the perfect lakeside home, trust your local Realtor® to make your dream a reality.

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

Lisa DiBiase is a Broker/Owner of Landing Real Estate, a locally owned and operated Maine real estate agency with offices in Windham and South Portland. She and her agent have the knowledge and experience to guide you through every step of the home buying or selling process in these one-of-a-kind communities. Whether you’re looking for a quaint cottage or a luxury waterfront. For all your real estate needs contact Lisa at 207-653-0823 or email