Friday, July 19, 2024

Real Estate: Cooking up a kitchen remodel

By Warren O’Shea

Kitchen remodeling is a popular home improvement project homeowners undertake to enhance the functionality and aesthetics of their kitchens while increasing the value of their homes. People choose kitchen remodeling for a variety of reasons.

According to a 2022 Houzz study, 43 percent of respondents remodeled because they could "no longer stand the old kitchen.” while 40 percent said they wanted to update their kitchen all along but just became financially ready. It makes sense that the price tag can stop some people from considering a renovation project. Whether you’re planning for just a few well-chosen updates or a complete overhaul of your current space, kitchen remodels don’t come cheap.

While some homeowners may attempt to tackle a kitchen remodel on their own, hiring a contractor can offer numerous advantages. If the homeowner begins a remodel on their own, they may quickly find themselves over their heads and finding a qualified contractor willing to take over in a timely manner could be quite difficult, potentially leaving them without a functioning kitchen for an extended period. Empty pizza boxes will be stacked high, and someone is going to be sleeping on the couch.

One of the primary reasons to hire a contractor for a kitchen remodel is expertise. Contractors are skilled professionals with experience in various aspects of construction and remodeling. They possess the knowledge and expertise needed to plan and execute a successful kitchen remodel, ensuring that the project meets building codes and safety standards. Contractors can also provide valuable insights and recommendations based on their experience, helping homeowners make informed decisions about design, materials, and layout and sometimes they show up with coffee and doughnuts.

Additionally, contractors have access to a network of subcontractors and suppliers, which can streamline the remodeling process. From attaining the proper permits and vetting and scheduling plumbers and electricians to cabinet makers and countertop installers, contractors can coordinate all aspects of the project, saving homeowners time and hassle.

Another benefit of hiring a contractor for a kitchen remodel is project management. Contractors are responsible for overseeing every aspect of the project, from initial planning to final completion. They create a timeline for the project, coordinate workers and materials, and ensure that the remodel stays on schedule and within budget. Contractors also handle any issues that may arise during the remodel, minimizing stress for homeowners and ensuring a smooth and successful project.

In terms of impact, hiring a contractor for a kitchen remodel can significantly increase the value of a home. A well-designed and professionally executed kitchen remodel can enhance the overall appeal of a home, making it more attractive to potential buyers. A modern, functional kitchen is a key selling point for many homebuyers and can result in a higher selling price and faster sale. Therefore, investing in a kitchen remodel with the help of a contractor can offer a substantial return on your investment.

According to a 2023 survey from Remodeling Magazine, a major kitchen renovation or upgrade has an average ROI (return on investment) of 31.7 percent. Kitchen cabinetry is generally the most expensive part of any kitchen remodel. Cabinets currently make up 29 percent of the overall budget. In most cases, you can count on your updated kitchen to boost the value of your home. It’s no shock that buyers are willing to pay more for high-end finishes and thoughtful upgrades.

Looking ahead, the future of hiring a contractor for kitchen remodeling is promising. As technology continues to advance, contractors will have access to new tools and techniques that can enhance the remodeling process. From virtual reality design tools to sustainable building materials, the possibilities for innovative and eco-friendly kitchen remodels are endless. Homeowners can expect more streamlined and efficient remodeling projects in the future, thanks to the expertise and dedication of contractors in the field.

In conclusion, hiring a contractor to remodel your kitchen offers numerous benefits, including expertise, project management, cost savings, and increased home value. The impact of this decision extends beyond the individual project, influencing the overall appeal and value of a home. Ultimately, hiring a contractor for a kitchen remodel is a wise investment that can transform a kitchen into a functional and beautiful space for years to come.

Warren O'Shea is the owner of O’Shea Builders LLC, Maine’s most award-winning remodeling contractor. He has 35-plus years of residential remodeling experience. He is a certified home inspector and has been featured on HGTV, Food Network, and Maine Cabin Masters. He is a recipient of the Portland Police Department’s “Citizen Award,” and is a staunch consumer advocate. Warren has, and continues to, co-author articles for nationally distributed trade magazines. <

Friday, July 12, 2024

Real Estate: Representation Matters

By Tia Morrell

In today’s competitive real estate market, having an agent who genuinely represents your best interests can make all the difference between a smooth, successful transaction and a stressful, regretful experience. It's not just about finding someone to handle the paperwork or show you properties; it's about having a dedicated advocate who goes to battle for you, ensuring that your needs and preferences are prioritized. Let’s delve into why it’s essential to have a real estate agent who truly represents you and upholds the highest ethical standards.

True Representation in Multiple Offer Situations

The real estate market can often be a battlefield, particularly in a multiple offer scenario. In such situations, it's easy to feel pressured into making offers far above the asking price, driven by the fear of missing out. However, a good agent will not simply push you to overextend yourself financially. Instead, they will strategically navigate the process, using their expertise to craft a competitive yet sensible offer.

An agent who represents you will analyze the market, understand the value of the property, and advise you on a reasonable offer. They should be skilled in negotiation, knowing when to stand firm and when to be flexible. This approach not only saves you money but also ensures that you don’t fall into the trap of buyer’s remorse.

Ethical Foundation and Client-Centric Approach

At the core of a stellar real estate agent’s practice is an unwavering commitment to ethics. This means always putting the client's interests first and being transparent throughout the transaction. Ethical agents will not manipulate situations for their gain or pressure you into decisions that aren’t in your best interest.

The foundation of their practice should be built on honesty, integrity, and respect for their clients. They should provide you with all the necessary information, explain the pros and cons of each decision, and respect your opinions and choices. An agent who prioritizes ethics will foster a trusting relationship, making you feel confident and supported throughout the process.

The Importance of Knowledge and Expertise

A proficient real estate agent must be knowledgeable about various aspects of the transaction, including appraisal means and financing. Understanding the appraisal process is crucial, as it ensures that the property is valued correctly and that you are not overpaying. Your agent should be able to interpret appraisal reports and advise you accordingly, ensuring the property is worth the investment.

Financing is another critical area where expertise is essential. A knowledgeable agent will help you navigate different financing options, understanding the implications of each and assisting you in securing the best terms. This includes knowing when to recommend mortgage brokers, understanding loan types, and being aware of any potential red flags in your financial agreement.

The Art of Bluffing and Honest Feedback

Bluffing, when used appropriately, can be a valuable tool in negotiations. An experienced agent will know how to read the room, understand the motivations of the other party, and strategically use bluffing to your advantage. However, this tactic should always be used ethically and transparently, without misleading or deceiving anyone.

Moreover, honest feedback, particularly regarding inspection issues, is paramount. An agent who truly represents you will be upfront about any problems discovered during the walk through or inspection. They should explain the potential impact of these issues and help you make an informed decision about whether to proceed, negotiate repairs, or walk away. Honest feedback protects you from future liabilities and ensures that you are fully aware of what you are buying.

All in All

In the dynamic and often challenging world of real estate, having an agent who genuinely represents you can significantly impact your buying or selling experience. Such an agent will go to battle for you, ensuring that your needs are met without unnecessary compromises. They will operate with the highest ethical standards, prioritizing your interests and providing transparent, honest advice.

Knowledgeable in appraisal and financing, adept at strategic bluffing, and committed to giving you honest feedback, the right agent will guide you through every step of the transaction with confidence and integrity. When choosing a real estate agent, look beyond the surface and seek someone who truly embodies these qualities, ensuring that your real estate journey is as smooth and successful as possible.

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

Friday, July 5, 2024

Real Estate: Did you get a permit for that?

By Nicole Foster, Broker/REALTOR

Maine has some of the oldest housing stock in our nation, often predating building codes, land use ordinances or zoning requirements. More often than not, these older homes have changed ownership a number of times over the years and had modifications along the way. As real estate professionals, we witness daily how building trends from bygone eras have either endured the test of time or fallen short, presenting a spectrum of outcomes.

If given the choice, would you prefer to purchase a home that was constructed in the 1920s or one which was built in the 1970s? Consulting with a local REALTOR can help to shed light on the market inventory and its unique features and distinctions.

One of the first tasks that the listing or buying broker will undertake will be to check and see what information may be found in the file for the property at the Code Enforcement department of your municipality. This is a free, public record and anyone is welcome to view the contents and ask any questions that they have.

Homeowners must apply for and receive a permit for any changes or improvements beyond minor upgrades prior to beginning the work to the inside or outside of their home. Regardless of whether the work is completed by a contractor who has been hired by the homeowner or the homeowner does the work themselves, most alterations beyond a new faucet, change in flooring or new paint will necessitate a permit from the municipality. Larger projects or renovations will likely require more than one permit to be obtained.

Each town or city has its own requirements for inspections and fee structure when applying for permits. The permitting process is intended to help safeguard buildings to make them safer for the current and future occupants. Having the required permits for the improvements that you do ensures that the work complies with the current local standards for energy and safety.

A lender could deny a borrower the loan to purchase the home, or an insurance company can reject a claim due to unpermitted work. Properties with all the necessary permits for upgrades appeal more to buyers and achieve higher valuations compared to those with unpermitted improvements.

Reasons homeowners may forego obtaining permits vary, and many view the process of obtaining them as tedious. Some wish to avoid any increased property taxes by keeping improvements undisclosed to the Tax Assessor. Others fear that permit requirements may impose unwanted scrutiny or will reveal other potential violations during inspections. Additionally, homeowners may hesitate due to the expense of the permit fees, or they simply may be unaware of the requirements and standards.

When selling a home, the owner must disclose any improvements which have been done to the property, both during their ownership and all previous ownership (yes all the way back to the beginning of time). A failure to do so can lead to legal liability down the road after the closing. When unpermitted upgrades and alterations are disclosed to buyers the new owners have accepted the responsibility, shifting liability from the seller to the buyers.

Owners may choose to or could be asked to obtain retroactive permits for already completed work.

Identifying unpermitted work can be straightforward at times by comparing visual inspection to what is in the code file, but it can also be extremely challenging to know where work was done that permits were not obtained for, intentionally or unintentionally. Consulting with a seasoned building inspector or trusted contractors can help to identify any areas of concern, though visual inspection alone may not always reveal permitting noncompliance.

It's important to confirm that the contractors you hire will handle the required permits on your behalf. You will want to verify this directly with Code Enforcement by checking in the municipal code enforcement files for your property yourself, as ultimately, the homeowner holds the responsibility

This is an entirely common and relatively normal occurrence, and I have encountered a costly oversight where a high-end contracting company failed to secure the necessary permits from the municipality for a kitchen remodel, unbeknownst to the seller until the property was going to be listed. Similarly, an insurance claim following a fire was denied due to an electrical issue stemming from work performed without permits.

Upgrades and improvements are an excellent way to support a higher value for your property, don’t sell yourself at a discount by skipping the bureaucratic procedures involved.

Nicole Foster is a real estate broker with Locations Real Estate with 19 years of experience and a Windham parent who loves people and real estate. Follow Nicole on Instagram @207nicolefoster or on Facebook at <

Friday, June 28, 2024

Real Estate: Summer home maintenance checklist

By Tricia Zwirner

Check out these interior and exterior home maintenance tips to consider while the weather is warm.

Summer is the perfect time to take advantage of the warm weather and get some work done around the house. Help keep your home performing efficiently during the summer by adding these tasks to your home maintenance plan.

Indoor spaces

· Switch your ceiling fan blade direction to counterclockwise to help cool the air by providing a downdraft.

· Clean your refrigerator coils since they have a tendency to accumulate dust and pet hair. This can help your fridge run more economically.

· Wash windows and check screens. A good cleaning of the inside of your windows, patio door and tracks can help remove any buildup from dust, cooking, smoke, candles and fireplaces. While cleaning the windows, look at the screens to see if repairs are needed.

· Check your windows and doors for leaks to help keep cold air in and hot air out & consider sealing leaks with weather stripping or caulking.

Outdoor home maintenance

· Service your air conditioner because regular maintenance can help ensure your air conditioner is working as efficiently as possible during the summer.

· Hose down your exterior air conditioner condenser unit with a garden hose to remove buildup and help it run more efficiently.

· Wash the outside of your windows with soapy lukewarm water to help remove any water spots or dust buildup and dry with a microfiber cloth.

· Wash siding with a garden hose to avoid potentially damaging the outside of your home or having water get under the siding. Apply a coat of fresh paint if needed and repair any damaged vinyl or aluminum siding.

· Check garden plants, trees and shrubs for insect infestations. Termites can easily go undetected until considerable damage has been done. Look for telltale signs like flaking wood or mud buildup and tunneling systems in the exterior wood of your home. Professional pest control inspections are recommended if you have any suspicions of possible infestation.

· Spruce up the exterior of your home by pressure washing your sidewalks, porches and driveways. Fences and decks can also use a lower pressure cleaning.

· Tidy up your landscaping:

o Trim shrubs and bushes as needed.

o Get weeds under control.

o Remove dead or unhealthy plants so that others may thrive & consider replacing with new ones.

o Add a fresh layer of mulch to mulched areas & introduce some pops of color to increase curb appeal.

· Trim trees to avoid potential damage to your home. Keep their branches pruned and at least 25 ft from power lines and your home to help prevent storm-related damage.

· Check gutters to ensure they are free of debris & make sure downspouts are still routed properly so water drains away from the house.

· While on the ground, step back from your home and inspect the roof for maintenance from all sides to see if shingles are cracked, curled or missing.

· Clean the outside clothes dryer vent to remove any built-up lint and allow your dryer to work more efficiently.

· Inspect the pavement for cracks and holes to help prevent accidental slips, trips and falls. It may also help you avoid larger repairs or resurfacing in the future.

Garage maintenance

· There are many items that should not be stored in a garage as the temperature will be rising throughout the season. Don't store heat-sensitive or combustible materials in the garage and keep hazardous materials such as paint, solvents and chemicals away from children and disposed of properly

Energy Efficiency

· Install window coverings or use reflective film to reduce heat gain from the sun and keep your home cooler during hot summer days.

· Check your attic insulation and add more if needed to improve energy efficiency and keep your home comfortable.

· Consider installing a programmable thermostat to regulate your home's temperature efficiently and save on energy costs.

These are just a few summer home maintenance suggestions tailored to our state so that you can ensure that your home is prepared for the unique challenges of the season. Regular maintenance and attention to detail will help prevent costly repairs and maintain the value of your property.

Remember to prioritize safety, energy efficiency, and protection against Maine's ever changing weather conditions. Don't hesitate to seek professional assistance when needed.

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, June 21, 2024

Is Home Staging Worth the Money?

By Theresa Bouchard

Home staging, the process of preparing a home for sale to make it more appealing to potential buyers, can significantly impact the return on investment (ROI) for homeowners. Here’s a detailed look at how home staging can affect ROI:

Benefits of Home Staging

1. Faster Sales:

** Reduced Time on Market: Staged homes often sell faster than non-staged homes. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), staged homes typically sell 73% faster.

** Buyer Appeal: A well-staged home helps potential buyers visualize themselves living in the space, making the property more attractive.

2. Higher Sale Price:

** Increased Offers: Staging can lead to higher offers. Studies show that staged homes can sell for 1% to 5 percent more than similar unstaged homes.

** Perceived Value: Staging highlights the home's strengths and minimizes its weaknesses, often leading buyers to perceive it as more valuable.

Costs of Home Staging
Professional Fees: Hiring a professional stager can cost anywhere from $2000 to $5,000 or more, depending on the size of the home, the extent of staging required, and the market.

Calculating ROI

To calculate the ROI of home staging, use the following formula:

ROI = (Increased Sale Price – Staging Costs divided by Staging Costs x 100)

Example Calculation

1. Scenario: A homeowner spends $3,500 on staging.

2. Initial Listing Price of Home: $450,000

3. Sold for $20,000 over Asking: $470,000

ROI – ($470,000 - $450,000 divided by $3500 x 100 = 471

In this example, the staged home listing price was $450,000 but sold at $470,000; a $20,000 over asking sale. With an investment of $3500 to stage this home, the ROI would be 471 percent.

Factors Influencing ROI

1. Market Conditions: In a seller’s market, staging might have a more significant impact due to higher competition among buyers.

2. Quality of Staging: Professional and high-quality staging can result in a better ROI compared to amateur or poorly executed staging.

3. Home Condition: Homes that need minor cosmetic updates can benefit more from staging than homes in need of major repairs.

TS Staging and Design has been staging homes for 3 ½ years and have found that many homeowners and realtors are experiencing the benefits of home staging. Here are just a few testimonials from our clients:

“Our home was staged and listed within a two-day period. Once active, we had an offer in hand and many compliments on the staging that was carried out. I know this investment made a huge difference in the sale of our home as we received offers over our initial asking price.”

“The staging at the house was spectacular and the buyer wanted to not only buy the house, but all the staging furniture too!”

“TS Staging and Design staged a vacant listing, and they blew it out of the park! Everyone wanted to buy the house fully furnished! It ended up selling with multiple offers and $56,000 over asking price! The staging made all the difference, and I can’t thank them enough!”

In summary home staging generally offers a high return on investment by reducing the time a home stays on the market and potentially increasing the sale price. While the upfront costs can vary, the benefits often outweigh these costs, resulting in a substantial ROI for homeowners.

If you would like more information regarding staging services, please contact TS Staging and Design at 207-400-9393 or check us out on Facebook, Instagram or our website at We are a 7x award winning professional home staging company that provides superior customer service and beautiful designs that attract buyers to your home!

Don’t leave money on the table! Call TS Staging and Design to discuss your staging needs! <

Friday, June 14, 2024

Real Estate: Quarry Ridge Business Park needs signal light

By Larry Eliason

The time has come for the Town of Windham, the Maine Department of Transportation and our legislators to develop a team to bring a signalized light to the intersection of Route 302 and Enterprise Drive for public safety, traffic calming and to help attract new investment to the Quarry Ridge Business Park.

An aerial photo show Quarry Ridge Business Park 
in North Windham. SUBMITTED PHOTO
The Quarry Ridge Business Park offers an incredible opportunity for Windham to expand an existing business park to attract companies with good paying jobs and to provide a stronger commercial tax base for the town.

Over the past several years, I have written articles about commercial real estate, lot sales and development activity at the Quarry Ridge Business Park with an emphasis on Enterprise Drive and Bedrock Terrace. Enterprise Drive is just off Roosevelt Trail/Route 302. This Business Park is a Grondin Family investment in Windham.

As many will agree, the intersection of Route 302 and Enterprise Drive has become a very busy intersection as Enterprise Drive, Bedrock Terrace and Storm Drive have several businesses from retail, office, service, manufacturing, engineering, public storage with many valued business owners, their employees and customers. Cars and trucks sit for very long periods of time waiting to get off Enterprise Drive onto Route 302 without a signalized light. My biggest fear is a carload of kids going for ice cream pull out onto Route 302 at the wrong time and there ends up being a tragedy that can be prevented.

There is an existing MDOT traffic movement plan in place that will eventually include a much-needed traffic signal at the intersection of Enterprise Drive and Route 302. It is certainly time to wipe the dust off this plan and make an action plan and implement it asap. The chicken and egg story for this intersection has been going on for way too long in my opinion.

The intent of the Enterprise Development District is to provide a unique area within the Town of Windham to allow manufacturing, processing, treatment, warehousing, storage, research, and distribution with safe, well-regulated vehicle access located off a major street which can conform to the performance standards set forth in this section and in all other applicable ordinances of the Town of Windham.

The following uses are currently allowed in the Enterprise Development District:

Auction House, Automobile Auction Facility, Automobile Repair Services, Building, Accessory, Business and Professional Office, Contractor Services, Contractor Storage Yard, Construction Services, Heavy, Major Construction Services, Heavy, Minor, Convention Center, Distribution Facility, Forestry, Hotel, Industry-Heavy, Industry- Light, Marijuana Cultivation Facility, Marijuana Manufacturing Facility, Marijuana Testing Facility, Mineral Extraction, Motel, Public Utility Facility, Retail Sales, Accessory, Small Engine Repair, Use, Accessory Warehousing, Private Warehousing, Public, and the Wireless Telecommunications Tower and Facility.

Quarry Ridge Business Park off Enterprise Drive is located on approximately 1,000 acres of land. Phase 1A was built in 2004 and was anchored by Genest Concrete products and LaValley Lumber Building Supply. The LaValley property was acquired by Tube Hollows International in 2012.

Phase 1B was approved by the town of Windham in 2006 and since then mining of the gravel pit and quarry has progressed enough to leave behind flat buildable lots available for industrial use. The entire development is served by public water, electric including (3-Phase) and natural gas.

As a Commercial Real Estate Broker, I see millions of dollars in new investment coming to this Business Park in the coming years. The commercial tax base being generated will provide the Town of Windham with a valuable commercial tax base to help provide additional infrastructure and services to the residents of Windham.

Please feel free to contact me on my cell at 207-415-2112 or email me at Butts Commercial Brokers is at 1265 Roosevelt Trail, Raymond, Maine 04071 <

Friday, June 7, 2024

Why You Should Use a Buyer's Agent When Purchasing a Home

By Lisa DiBiase

As we navigate the ever-changing real estate market, it's crucial to understand the importance of having buyer representation when purchasing a home, regardless of market conditions. Buying a home can be one of the most difficult and complicated purchases you make in your lifetime. Not only is the amount of money you’re dealing with substantial, the complex legal aspects of real estate transactions can be confusing for those who don't work directly in the field. This is why many home buyers choose to use a buyer’s agent when searching for a new home to purchase.

Step inside a real time testimony from my clients who are currently in the process of purchasing their first home:

“As first-time home buyers, we did a ton of research online. What we quickly realized is no amount of self research would have prepared us for the real market we faced, especially in today’s market! We needed the expertise that comes from an agent’s own experience. Lisa’s guidance and connections have been instrumental in our home buying journey.” Chad and Will

Let's explore how and why it is so essential to have a Buyer’s Agent:

To Start, what is a Buyer’s Agent?

A buyer’s agent is a real estate professional who represents the interests of the buyer in a real estate transaction. Unlike a listing agent, who represents the seller, a buyer’s agent is solely dedicated to helping the buyer find and purchase a home. They have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the buyer, ensuring that their needs and concerns are prioritized throughout the transaction. This arrangement offers several benefits and can add significant value to the home-buying process.

Here are some key advantages of having buyer representation:

1. Professional and Expert Guidance: A buyer’s agent has specialized training and knowledge of the real estate market, including current trends, pricing, and neighborhood insights. They can provide expert advice and help buyers make informed decisions.

2. Access to Listings: Buyer’s agents have access to multiple listing services (MLS) and can provide buyers with detailed information about properties that match their criteria, including those that may not be widely advertised or are new to the market. An advantage for the buyer is real-time access to listings as soon as they become available through automated email alerts. This feature sends new listings directly to the buyer the instant a listing agent adds them to the MLS.

3. Negotiation Skills: Experienced buyer’s agents are skilled negotiators who bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table. They advocate on behalf of the buyer to secure the best price and terms possible while leveraging their understanding of market trends, property values, and seller motivations. By understanding the details of the negotiation process, they can identify opportunities for concessions and expectations, potentially saving the buyer money and setting the buyer's offer apart from others.

4. Market Analysis: Buyer’s agents can perform a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) to determine the fair market value of a property. This provides the ability for the buyer to make educated decisions and potentially avoid overpaying and ensures they are making a sound investment.

5. Transaction Management: The process of buying a home involves numerous steps, from making an offer to closing the deal. Each of these steps comes with its own set of paperwork, deadlines, and requirements. Managing all these elements can be overwhelming, especially for first-time buyers. A buyer’s agent handles the transaction management, ensuring all paperwork is correctly completed and submitted on time. They keep track of deadlines and coordinate with other professionals involved in the process, such as mortgage brokers, home inspectors, and title attorneys. This comprehensive management helps prevent costly mistakes and delays.

6. Local Knowledge: Buyer’s agents often have extensive knowledge about the local area beyond just property values. They can provide insights into the community, including information about market trends, schools, community amenities, future developments, and overall lifestyle. This local knowledge is particularly beneficial if you are moving to a new area and are not familiar with its characteristics. Having a better understanding of the neighborhood can assist you in selecting a home that fits your lifestyle and long-term needs.

7. Professional Network: Please do not underestimate the value of real estate professionals and the relationships that are established through working together on a daily basis. Real estate transactions often require the involvement of various professionals, including mortgage brokers, home inspectors, contractors, and attorneys. Buyer’s agents typically have a network of trusted professionals they can refer you to. This network ensures that you receive quality service from reliable experts, making the home-buying process smoother and more efficient.

8. Advocacy: A buyer’s agent is legally obligated to act in the best interests of the buyer. This fiduciary duty ensures that the buyer's needs and concerns are prioritized throughout the transaction. There are many different fiduciary duties that an agent must uphold, including the duty of loyalty, confidentiality, disclosure, obedience, reasonable care and diligence and accounting. They must disclose all relevant information regarding the transaction and act with the utmost care and loyalty to the client.

9. Peace of Mind: Having a professional on your side can reduce the stress and uncertainty of buying a home. Knowing that someone with expertise is handling the complexities of the transaction can provide peace of mind.

Overall, using a buyer’s agent when purchasing a home offers numerous benefits, including expert guidance, market knowledge, skilled negotiation, and comprehensive transaction management. Their local insight, professional network, fiduciary responsibility, and cost efficiency make them an invaluable ally in the home-buying process. By enlisting the services of a buyer’s agent, you can navigate the complexities of purchasing a home with confidence and ease, ensuring a successful and satisfying experience.

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 Broker/Owner for Landing Real Estate. She and her company represent buyers and sellers in the Greater Portland area and surrounding areas. For all your real estate needs contact Lisa at or call 207-775-SOLD. <

Friday, May 31, 2024

Real Estate: Summer Has Arrived

By Matt Trudel

The Memorial Day Weekend was fabulous, and summer has finally arrived. Also heating up is the real estate market with inventory still being low keeping buyers aggressive with their opening offers.

Sellers who are prepared and have done all the things sellers should do before putting their house on the market are being rewarded handsomely for their efforts.

Here is a recent example of how it can be very effective in getting the most for your home.

Seller X has his home and wants to list it for sale for a certain price. Upon doing the walk-through prior to doing the Market Analysis, it is obvious the house needs major decluttering inside and outside. There are some repairs that are needed. This is sometimes one of the hardest things to explain to sellers, but it is important to explain it thoroughly and give them the hard facts. Seller X committed to everything on the list and was shocked he was able to accomplish it all in such a short time. His property sold for more than $50,000 over the asking price on the first day it hit the market.

This is a good example of why you want to hire an experienced broker when selling your home.

Find a broker with a proven track record and who knows the location and how the market is trending. Just hiring a friend who has a real estate license is not always the best choice when getting ready to sell or buy.

Experience is a very valuable asset when it comes to real estate and successfully achieving your real estate goals. It can easily be the difference in getting the home you want or missing out on putting it under contract. Here is a good example of a buyer who recently was successful in the process and strategic planning and aggressive negotiating skills prevailed.

Buyer Z was looking for a new house with me. She did all the preplanning we discussed with getting financials in order, all pre-approved, and was ready to go if we found the right property. In my daily search that I do, I also check the “coming soon” market to see what is about to hit the market. That’s where I found the right house and it was going to hit the market the next day. I scheduled the first appointment the next day for us to view it.

She loved it but I warned her there were eight other showings scheduled over the next two days. We went back to the office and wrote a very strong offer, slightly over the list price with a short window for the seller to respond within about eight hours. We successfully blocked out all the buyers in the other showings and went under contract that evening.

These are just a couple of examples of recent transactions that have taken place. Hopefully they will help you think about how important it is to find the right broker for yourself. Interview or at least talk to a couple of real estate brokers about what their own strengths are in real estate.

Hopefully they can easily provide you with some recent examples or even provide a few previous clients you can talk to. And if you do have a friend who has a real estate license, you should not be concerned about not using them. We are professionals and should never get upset about our friends choosing to work with someone else. It is part of the business and nothing to take personal. If they do get upset with you that is not your fault and maybe it’s a good thing you don’t use someone who isn’t professional.

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

Friday, May 24, 2024

Real Estate: Welcome to Spring

By Richie Vraux

So, finally we are feeling the warmth of the sun on our heads as we clean up from a very mild, but yet a very devastating winter.

The storms have left a lot of fallen trees, branches, sea wall damage and homes being swept away due to historic high tides and high winds. But you know, Maine is still, in my opinion, one of the best places to live in America.

The West Coast has forest fires every year, heavy and drenching rains, flooding, then landslides. The middle of the country has repeat tornados and extremely high heat.

Yuk! Bring me back to New England where I love the four seasons and all that each brings us.

I see everything starting to turn green and flowers blooming. It’s a great time to sell your home.

Upsizing or downsizing, the real estate market is still at its peak. Home sales are at peak levels for sellers. If priced appropriately, they are still getting top dollar.

Who would ever think this sellers’ market would last this long?

One of the reasons is that the rental market is out of control. Rentals start anywhere from $1,800 to $2,200 for a 2-bedroom to $3,000 to $4,000 for anything above that.

So being that I’m a real estate broker, I think the better investment here is buying your next property.

Besides that, in a rental, you have to abide by the rules and regulations set forth by the association. Your television and your radio have to be at levels most people find inadequate for their listening pleasure.

In short, you are not in charge of your own situation.

Although interest rates are still 7.0 plus or minus, the monthly payment to own is still lower than renting and somewhere down the road the rates will come down to the 5.0 percent level which is more comfortable to buyers and homes become more affordable at that time.

Real estate ownership has for most people always been the American dream, so why rent when you can own your own little bit of heaven?

Richie Vraux is a real estate broker with Pine Tree Realty of Maine. We will be back at our same location at 76 Tandberg Trail in Windham shortly. Richie has been a real estate specialist for more than 25 years, so take advantage of his expertise. Call him at 207-317-1297.

Friday, May 17, 2024

Real Estate: Kitchens are my favorite

By Warren O’Shea

I love kitchens.

It’s where I keep my dark roast coffee and thick-cut bacon.

Speaking of coffee, there is a rising popularity of kitchen remodels utilizing integrated coffee and beverage stations. These drink centers keep supplies organized and readily available for guests and family members. Positioning the location of the beverage station just on the outskirts of the main prep and cooking area allows for the thirsty hordes to comfortably craft their concoctions without getting in the way of the cook! Upper cabinets may have glass doors and interior glass shelves and be back lit to show off your collection of fine crystal or Cristal. Under cabinet lighting with adjustable light tones and colors illuminate the workspace below.

The countertop may be of almost any material but my go-to is an oiled cherry butcher block. Natural wood does need a bit more maintenance over time compared to a stone or engineered surface, but I feel it’s well worth the extra effort for its warm color and it’s softer on your delicate stemware. Having the beverage station plumbed in can be a bit of a project if it doesn’t currently exist in that location, [1] but the benefits are worth the expense.

The installation of a small bar sink allows you to not only do some basic washing but can also double as an ice bucket for highly popular and most consumed beverages. Having water available also allows you to have a hard-plumbed espresso or coffee maker, and an on-demand, high temperature water faucet for tea and cocoa. For larger appliances, a dedicated ice machine and a dishwasher will make hosting your gatherings exceedingly more efficient. Let’s not forget the refrigeration. Many wine refrigerators fit nicely under a countertop as well as regular refrigerators that have drawers instead of doors.

There are many new innovations aimed at making both cooking and cleanup easier and healthier. Some products are available now; others are rolling out in the coming months. One of the new features is a hinged cooktop grill and griddle. As anyone with a gas cooktop knows, removing and cleaning under the grates can be a real chore. First, the users need a clear safe space to set the grates down. And then, they must avoid dirtying or scratching that surface, and back to the cooktop itself, with the heavy grates.

Whirlpool recently introduced a simple solution to the problem with its 30-inch gas cooktop with EZ-2-Lift hinged cast-iron grates, which users can lift so they can clean easily underneath. For a deeper clean, the grates can be removed and popped in the dishwasher.

Not as innovative but incredibly useful are the smart solutions for storing food and kitchen tools. Roll-out drawers behind cabinet doors make accessing items much less arduous. Many rollouts are rated for up to 100 pounds so heavy pots and even small heavy appliances like a 5-quart mixer will store comfortably. Double-sided spice racks speed up your flavor game, and drawers made specifically designed to hold aluminum foil, plastic wrap and parchment paper help with prep, cooking, and food storage.

An item that has seen many transformations is the humble kitchen sink. Stainless steel is commonly used, but there are still slate and soapstone used as well as other materials. Many are divided on the question of one bowl vs two bowls, but most can get behind the new sink workstations that contain myriad accessories built to perfectly fit on the lip of the basin. The choices include cutting boards, prep bowls, knife blocks, colanders and racks for dishcloths or cleaning utensils. These items can centralize and organize prep work.

This is just a short list of what your kitchen could have, follow O’Shea Builders LLC on Facebook for remodeling tidbits.

Warren O’Shea is the owner of O’Shea Builders LLC, Maine’s most award-winning remodeling contractor, winning gold in Portland Radio Group’s “Best of 207, 2024”. He has 35+ years of residential remodeling experience. He is a certified home inspector and has been featured on HGTV, Food Network, and Maine Cabin Masters. He is a recipient of the Portland Police Department’s “Citizen Award” and is a staunch consumer advocate. Warren is the vice president designate of the Home Builders and Remodelers association of Maine, has, co-authored articles for nationally distributed trade magazines as well as having published articles featured in CEO World, USA Today and New York Weekly. O’Shea builders was nominated for DownEast Magazine’s “Best of Maine 2024”, “Builder” category and we would love your vote! <

Friday, May 10, 2024

Real Estate: Prepping for the summer months

Complied by Jonathan Priest

Summers are a great time to spruce up the look of your home and bring in some cool elements, to escape the scorching heat. The easiest way to keep a house cool is by using heavy curtains and shutting the windows and drawing the curtains at 11 a.m. sharp. One can go in for blinds and bamboo curtains, to keep the excess heat out and keep the space cool. One can keep small pots filled with water in the corners, to cool the space, especially in areas where there is breeze blowing in. Also, in the evening hours, ventilate the house by opening the windows and allowing some air in.

Opt for cool and soothing colors

Use light colors as much as possible within the house, as it will reflect light and heat and give a pleasant ambience to the living space. In summer, let light colors be the base of your interiors. Work with neutral colors like ivory or shades of green, to retain the cooling effect. Warm tones like olive, lilac or burgundy can be soothing, without seeming overwhelming. Blues, greens and beige, are all ideal to use during the summer. Accent pieces, inspired by nature, can also brighten up the home. Prints that are abstract or floral and bright can remind one of the better side of summer, and not just the temperature.

Spruce up the home with natural fabrics

Cotton is by far the best natural fabric to use in the summer, for bedding and sofas, followed by linen. These fabrics are ‘breathable’ and have great insulating properties, allowing you to remain cool when it is hot. Natural fabrics are skin friendly and environmentally friendly, as well. Moreover, changing the bed linen according to the season, and also livens up the décor.

Cool the home with indoor plants

Keeping indoor plants is a simple way to cool a space and purify the quality of air. Indoor plants or plants on the windowsills, not only bring the temperature down, but also add style to the house, when arranged in fancy pots. Some house plants like English ivy and peace lily, absorb moisture from the air and reduce humidity. Plants that are tolerant to heat, such as sunflower, lemon grass, banana and palm, give a cooling touch to the house, while areca palm, aloe vera and baby rubber plant are known for removing toxins from the air. Homeowners can also grow plants on a terrace, to protect the house or building from the sun’s rays.

Choose energy-efficient and cool lights

Artificial lighting tends to add heat to a space. Homeowners can counter this by switching to cooler lighting fixtures, such as compact fluorescent or LED lamps, in place of incandescent bulbs. In addition to reducing heat, these lights also help to save energy. For a pleasant ambience, you can even experiment with mood lighting.

Dust off your outdoor furniture

Summer is the perfect time to give your outdoor furniture a makeover. With a little effort, you can restore them to their former glory. Start by removing any dirt, cobwebs, and debris accumulated from the winter and spring storms. Warm soapy water is an effective and affordable way to do this. For wooden furniture or benches, a pressure washer can be used to get rid of stubborn grime. If your furniture still looks a bit worn out, consider giving it a new look with weatherproof paint or a coat of varnish. These simple steps can go a long way in rejuvenating your outdoor furniture without having to buy new ones.

Add a splash of vibrancy

Are you planning to give your home a seasonal makeover? Try incorporating fresh colors such as zesty yellows, pastel blues, and oranges to create a vibrant summer vibe. You can start by painting one wall of a room with a bright hue or adding some sea-green turquoise scatter cushions to your sofa. Alternatively, consider buying new bed linen that captures the essence of a bright summer morning. Summer provides an excellent opportunity to experiment with home decor and add splashes of color and texture to your space.

Décor tips for summer

Insulated walls and roofs and double-glazed windows can substantially reduce heat gain and reduce the load on air-conditioning units.
Ensure that the air-conditioners in the house are serviced regularly and their filters cleaned, to maximize efficiency.
For beds, do away with heavy duvets, velvet satin silk and opt for lighter cottons. <

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

Friday, May 3, 2024

Rental properties provide investment opportunities for homeowners

By Carrie Colby

For years, the popularity of vacation rentals has been skyrocketing and continues to do so. Many of today’s travelers now prefer unique local stays, more space, and more privacy. All things vacation rentals offer that most hotels don’t.

Own a second home and want to get in on the action, but don’t know where to start?

Fear not! Comprehensive property management services, including short-term and vacation rentals are available in the Lakes Region.

They provide a full range of services to property owners who want to make the most of their investment properties. Whether you’re interested in renting your property for a short-term vacation, or you need assistance with long-term leasing and tenant management, they get your property in front of the right audience using a range of digital and traditional marketing strategies to attract high-quality tenants. They make it easy for tenants to book your property online and handle all aspects of payment processing and refund management, ensuring a seamless experience for all parties involved.

But that’s just the beginning! They offer comprehensive guest screening and management process guarantees that vet all potential guests to ensure they are trustworthy and responsible individuals who will take good care of your property. They provide ongoing support and assistance throughout the renters’ stay to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

They work with trusted vendors to keep your property in top condition with regular cleaning and maintenance, ensuring that it’s always ready for the next tenant. Plus, in addition to property management services, they take care of the collection and payment of Maine’s lodging tax, which is paid by the renter, and handle all the necessary paperwork to ensure compliance with local regulations.

They provide owners with 1099s at the end of the year, which is a document used to report income earned from rental activities. This makes tax reporting and filing much easier for the homeowner.

The best property management companies offer hassle-free property management services that allow owners to maximize their rental income, minimize their stress, and make it easy for property owners to enjoy the benefits of owning a rental property without the associated headaches.

So why not take advantage of local property management services today? Whether you’re interested in renting your property for a weekend or a year, hire a property management company with expertise and resources to help you succeed. Maximize your rental income and minimize your stress and hassle.

The best way to find a reputable property manager is by referral. Who sold you your home? Does your real estate agent know any good property managers? Do you have friends with investments in the same area? Referral-based recommendations for finding reputable property managers are invaluable, as they provide peace of mind and a level of trust from the outset. Interviewing potential managers allows owners to assess their expertise and compatibility with their needs and preferences.

Overall, the availability of comprehensive property management services in the Lakes Region provides an excellent opportunity for second homeowners to maximize their rental income while minimizing stress and hassle.
Carrie Colby is a Broker with Allied Real Estate, 909 Roosevelt Trail in Windham. She can be reached at 207-232-5497. <

Friday, April 26, 2024

Real Estate: The Green Grass Grows All Around

By Nicole Foster, Broker/REALTOR

No Mow May has been steadily gaining popularity and even receiving official designations in some surrounding communities. This is a concept which helps to protect our pollinators including bees who winter in the “duff layer” of the grass. They benefit from the extra time for flowering weeds like dandelions, which are their first source of food after winter, time to bloom and can continue to find warmth on cold nights.

This new trend is well received by many homeowners as spring in Maine often arrives suddenly, catching many of us off guard as we transition from storm clean-up to yard maintenance. One moment, you're still removing winter's remnants; the next, your lawn is turning green and flowers are beginning to bloom, while your neighbor's Christmas decorations still linger. If you're feeling behind on your spring yard work, don't worry! 

Here are some expert tips to keep your lawn looking its best throughout the year.

Maine's climate, characterized by cold winters and relatively short growing seasons, requires special attention when it comes to lawn care. Start by thoroughly de-thatching your lawn to remove dead grass, leaves, and debris that have accumulated over the winter. Use a flexible metal rake or one that can be weighted and pulled. This will allow your soil to breathe and creates openings for the new shoots to grow.

There will be areas where you will need to add more grass seed to patches. Be sure to purchase new grass seed each year to maximize germination. The best time to overseed your lawn in Maine is in September, but the next best time to is during May.

Making sure that you select the correct type of seed for your site is very important so be sure to read the information label on the back of the bag of seed to confirm that the amount of shade and drainage your area has is suitable for what you are using. A blend that is high in fescues can best tolerate shade and foot traffic. Use a drop seed spreader to evenly coat the area in one direction, then make a second passage in right angles to the first passage.

Help to build nutrient rich soil by top-coating up to half an inch with a 50/50 mixture of compost and loam, but avoid doing this more than once per year. This mixture helps improve soil structure and fertility, reducing the need for additional fertilizers. For homeowners with mature lawns older than ten years, the lawn can often recycle nutrients naturally, eliminating the need for fertilizer altogether.

Mature lawns older than ten years old are able to recycle nutrients on their own. If you do choose to use a fertilizer on your lawn, then it is best applied between Labor Day and Columbus Day no more than once per year and select a phosphorus free product.

The majority of homes in Maine have soil that is acidic which favors the growth of weeds over grasses. Weeds will continue to grow and thrive even with the use of herbicides if you do not take steps to lower the pH in your soil. Contact the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Falmouth to get a soil test box that can be tested in the laboratory so you can raise or lower your soil’s pH and add nutrients that it requires.

Often homeowners will mow their grass too frequently or cut it too short, leaving it more susceptible to drought, insects, and disease. A good rule of thumb is to cut no more than a third from the length of the blade of grass, so allowing it to grow to four inches then cutting off one inch can help to prevent it from turning brown. Leaving the clippings can also help to prevent sun scorch, is nutrient rich, and should not contribute to thatch if minimally fertilized.

If your lawn has been richly fertilized then participating in No Mow May could result in too much lush growth and clumping once cut, contributing to mold or tick habitats so you may opt to participate in Less Mow May by reducing mowing to once four inches in length instead of eliminating for the month. <

Nicole Foster is a real estate broker with Locations Real Estate with 19 years of experience and a Windham parent who loves people and real estate. Follow Nicole on Instagram @207nicolefoster or Facebook

Friday, April 19, 2024

Real Estate: ‘Silver tsunami’ nearing for Maine real estate market

By Tia Morrell

Maine is well known for its beautiful coastline, picturesque landscapes, as well as vibrant, and wholesome communities. Over the last few years, these charming Maine features have captured the hearts of those from out of town and have put the state on the map as a popular moving destination.

However, our Pine Tree State is now at the forefront of grappling with the implications of an aging population on its housing market, ranking as the “oldest state” in the nation.

A recent analysis from Freddie Mac discussed how by 2035 there could be 9.2 million fewer baby boomer homeowner households in the United States. Experts predict that this wave of homeowners exiting the market could trigger a “silver tsunami,” which would involve an influx of homes coming into the market as baby boomers seek to sell.

Freddie Mac ranked Maine as the #1 state to find a good bargain, as there is a higher-than-average number of households that are occupied by homeowners aged 65 and older with the median age of Maine residents being 45, and 22 percent of the state’s population being aged 65-plus.

As this demographic continues to grow, so too does the demand for suitable housing options being tailored to the needs of our older population.

Fortunately, one solution stands out amidst the housing crunch, Accessory Dwelling Units. In the face of this demographic shift, ADU’s are emerging as a practical and innovative solution to address Maine’s housing needs.

ADU’s are secondary housing units located on the same property as a primary residence — think “in-law” apartments, or a backyard cottage. These units offer a range of benefits that include affordable housing, as well as fostering intergenerational living arrangements, and enabling aging homeowners to age in place, while also maintaining their independence.

For homeowners looking to capitalize on the burgeoning market for senior-friendly housing, investing in ADU’s could present a compelling opportunity. By incorporating these units into their properties, homeowners can unlock additional rental income streams as well as increase the overall value of their home.

Not to mention, ADU’s also offer a flexible housing solution that can adapt to changing needs over time, which makes them an attractive option for aging homeowners to downsize, without needing to leave their community. This is huge considering that the availability for assisted living, and nursing homes come with long waitlists, and large price tags.

Maine’s rich architectural heritage is reflected in its housing stock and Maine has some of the oldest homes in the country. While this adds to that “charm” I mentioned earlier, it also means that many properties are going to require renovations or updates to meet modern standards of comfort and accessibility. Fortunately, homeowners looking to undertake these renovation homes and projects (or ADU’s) may find themselves eligible for a variety of programs tailored to fit their needs.

Several financing options are available to assist homeowners to renovate or construct their homes. Programs such as the FHA 203K loan, or the Homestyle Renovation Mortgage, can offer homeowners flexibility to finance both the purchase of their property, as well as the cost of renovations in a single mortgage. Loans like these could just be the way to unlock the full potential and meet the evolving needs of Maine’s aging population.

According to recent projections, Maine is set to witness a surge of homes becoming available in the next six to eight years, with a significant portion of the population entering retirement age. It’s estimated that 40,000 homes are expected to hit the market by 2030, which will present both challenges and opportunities for homeowners and real estate developers.

If you’re interested in setting up a strategic real estate plan to set your family up for success in the future or have an innovative design that you’d like to configure into financing for a property, I am only a phone call away. Let’s stand together to lead our state to unlocking its housing potential for our residents, for generations to come.

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

Friday, April 12, 2024

The importance of calculating, reviewing and revisiting the replacement cost value of your home

By Tricia Zwirner

Oftentimes people will purchase a homeowners insurance policy when they purchase their home; however, many pay little attention to their policies after that. Over time, as they make renovations such as upgrading their kitchen, adding a deck, building a new garage, etc, they fail to review their homeowners coverage with their agent to ensure they are properly covered. This, unfortunately, can lead to a potential gap in coverage.

The replacement cost of your home is a critical factor in determining the adequacy of the coverage provided by your homeowners insurance policy. It represents the amount of money required to rebuild your home from the ground up if it were to be completely destroyed by a covered peril, such as fire, severe weather, or vandalism. In Maine, like in many other states, this cost can fluctuate over time due to various factors, making regular reviews of your insurance coverage essential.

Most Important Factors Influencing the replacement cost of homes in Maine

~ Construction Costs: Maine's construction industry is influenced by factors such as material prices, labor rates, and regulatory requirements. Construction materials like lumber, steel, and roofing materials can experience price fluctuations based on market demand, supply chain disruptions, and global economic conditions.

~ Regional Economic Trends: Maine's economy, including its real estate market and overall economic health, can impact construction costs. Economic growth, employment rates, and industry trends can influence the availability of skilled labor and the cost of building materials.

~ Environmental Considerations: Maine's unique environmental factors, such as its coastal location, weather patterns, and risk of natural disasters like winter storms and coastal flooding, can affect construction costs. Homes in coastal areas may require additional measures to withstand saltwater corrosion and coastal erosion, adding to replacement costs.

~ Building Codes and Standards: Compliance with building codes and standards, which can vary by location and evolve over time, can impact construction costs. Upgrades or modifications needed to meet current building codes may increase the replacement cost of your home.

~ Home Improvements and Upgrades: Any improvements or upgrades made to your home, such as remodeling projects, additions, or energy-efficient upgrades, can affect its replacement cost. These enhancements may increase the overall value of your property and necessitate adjustments to your insurance coverage.

Importance of Reviewing Home Replacement Cost for Insurance in Maine

Accurate Coverage: Ensuring that your insurance coverage reflects the current replacement cost of your home is crucial for adequate protection. Underestimating the replacement cost could leave you underinsured in the event of a total loss, while overestimating could result in unnecessarily high premiums.

~ Compliance with Policy Requirements: Many insurance policies require homeowners to maintain coverage equal to a certain percentage of their home's replacement cost. Reviewing and updating your coverage helps ensure compliance with policy terms and avoids potential coverage gaps.

~ Protection Against Inflation: Inflation erodes the purchasing power of money over time. The cost of materials, labor, and services needed for home reconstruction can increase due to inflation. Regularly assessing and adjusting your insurance coverage protects against the effects of inflation and ensures adequate financial protection.

~ Risk Management: Maine is susceptible to various risks, including severe weather events like winter storms, coastal flooding, and wildfires. Understanding the specific risks in your area and adjusting your insurance coverage accordingly is a proactive risk management strategy.

~ Cost-Effective Premiums: Accurately assessing your home's replacement cost helps ensure that you're paying appropriate insurance premiums. Overestimating the replacement cost may result in higher premiums than necessary, while underestimating could lead to inadequate coverage. Finding the right balance helps maintain cost-effective premiums.

~ Expert Guidance: Working with an experienced insurance agent familiar with Maine's insurance market and construction industry can provide valuable insights. They can conduct accurate assessments of your home's replacement cost, recommend appropriate coverage levels, and help you navigate policy options.

In conclusion, reviewing your home’s replacement cost for insurance in Maine in 2024 is a fundamental aspect of responsible homeownership. It involves understanding the various factors influencing replacement costs, such as construction costs, economic trends, environmental considerations, and regulatory requirements. Regularly assessing and updating your insurance coverage ensures accurate protection, compliance with policy terms, and proactive risk management against potential perils. Seeking guidance from insurance professionals can further enhance your understanding and help you make informed decisions regarding your homeowners insurance coverage.

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, April 5, 2024

Spring has sprung so make your home shine

By Theresa Bouchard

Spring has arrived, which means it’s time to get your home in tip-top shape. Whether you are staying in your home or preparing it to sell, a good, deep spring-cleaning is essential both inside and out!

Traditionally, spring cleaning is a way to promote wellness in your home by keeping your environment clean, organized, and tidy. If you are selling your home in the impending spring market, this is your opportunity to make your home sparkle to attract buyers and show your home is well cared for.

Spring cleaning can be overwhelming so making a checklist can be helpful and keep you on track. Assigning a task or two each day for two weeks will help you accomplish a much-needed refresh to your home after the winter months.

Day 1

Declutter. As we hibernate during the winter months, we tend to accumulate more items than we need. If you haven’t seen or used something in a year, get rid of it! This includes food items, clothing, toiletries, etc. This will make you love your home again or attract a buyer’s eye!

Day 2

Organize. Organizing creates order in your life. From kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities, laundry rooms, linen closets, basements, garages, you name it, organizing will give you a great sense of accomplishment!

Day 3

Wash your windows inside and out! With the buds blooming and the beautiful shades of green showing through, we want to be able to see it from our homes. Get those windows to shine!

Day 4

Clean all baseboards, banisters, walls, and mirrors then move on to all surfaces such as kitchen counters, backsplashes, vanities, etc. Then wipe down all electronics throughout the home and your office. Boost the air quality in your home by eliminating all that dust and grime! You will be happy you did!

Day 5

Power wash. Winter can cause a lot of wear and tear on the exterior of a home. Break out that power washer to give your home a new refreshing look! While you are at it, clean and sanitize your outdoor furniture and trash cans!

Day 6

Focus on soft materials in your home such as washing all curtains (including shower curtains) and all bed linens in each room. Use a cloths line to give your soft items a fresh spring smell!

Day 7

Clean and sanitize all appliances inside, outside, top and bottom!

Day 8

Change all filters such as furnace, water filters, heat pumps, etc. Replace burnt out lightbulbs.

Day 9

Clean all kitchen and bathroom cabinetry. Also, clean toilets, sinks and showers/tubs. Cleaning makes everything look new again!

Day 10

Vacuum out couch and chairs (you may find some money), wash couch cushions, wash rugs and sweep, vacuum and mop all floors. Make those floors shine!

Day 11

Shampoo all wall-to-wall carpets and change out batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Day 12

Step outside! Begin yard clean up with weeding, racking, blowing leaves, power washing decks and patios, etc. The exterior of your home speaks volumes! Driving into a well-manicured property is a great feeling and shows the homeowners care for their home.

Spring cleaning is a lot of work but well worth it in the end so you can relax and count down the days to summer in Maine!

If you are selling your home, this spring-cleaning checklist will make your home stand out above the rest! Along with an excellent real estate agent, talented photographer and professional home stager, you will be well on your way to attracting buyers to your decluttered, well organized, sparkling clean home!

If you are interested in making changes in your home such as paint colors, design changes or even selling your home and require staging services, please call us at TS Staging and Design at 207.400.9393. We are a seven-time award-winning home staging and interior redesign company based out of Windham. We are certified color experts, design experts and professional home staging experts. Call us today! <

Friday, March 29, 2024

Real Estate: Who needs a REALTOR these days?

By Matthew Trudel

Seems like a funny question to ask, but with today’s technology and real estate sites like and Zillow, people have a lot of information at their fingertips. You can look at a house on Zillow and see what they feel the value is. You can see what the taxes are and what houses in that neighborhood sold for recently. You also see when the house was built, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and there are usually plenty of photos of the property.

So, who really needs a REALTOR with all this information out there? The short answer is almost everyone should have a realtor representing them when selling or buying. We are the ones who have gathered and input all that information for years. The next question then is who pays the REALTOR their commission?

The quick answer that most people go with is that the seller pays the commission to both the listing agency and the selling agency. I have also heard people say that if you are buying a home, you should have a REALTOR representing you because it doesn’t cost the buyer anything. It is the seller who pays the commission to the buyer agent that is representing you and helping you through the process of purchasing a home. I believe this to be a false statement and I will quickly explain why and how I look at the whole commission situation.

Let’s say that seller Dennis wants to sell his house and calls listing agent Kelly to help him sell it.

Kelly charges 5 percent and says the house is worth $380,000. Dennis says let’s try it at $400,000. Along comes buyer Kathy who is represented by her buyer agent Matt.

Kathy likes the house and Matt writes up the offer at $400,000 and Kathy buys the house. The REALTOR Kelly splits the commission with REALTOR Matt, and each get paid $10,000. So, the seller paid the commission in this situation some might argue.

I say buyer Kathy paid the commission and here is why.

Seller Dennis was happy with getting his $380,000 for his house. If he had happened to meet or know Kathy and had dealt with Kathy directly without any REALTORS, then Kathy could have likely bought the house for $380,000.

I say Kathy paid both realtors because she paid $400,000 for the house. Kathy is the one who brought $400,000 to the closing, the realtors each took $10,000, and seller Dennis got $380,000.

I bring up this conversation because I think this whole commission structure is going to be changing by the end of the year. I think we will see that clients will be responsible for paying their own agents separately. It will or can still be a part of the deal, but I think it will clarify things a little better, especially for buyers.

The buyers will be able to see that if they do want representation and assistance in purchasing a home, that there is a fee for that service that they are going to be responsible for it. This is going to bring about a significant change to a lot of agency’s company policies and how we list and show properties in the future.

Buyers might find it a little more difficult to see houses without using a REALTOR as a buyer’s agent. This will also likely affect sellers as well.

What if buyers are from out of town and don’t have an agent they are working with and want to see the house on short notice. They might not be able to see it before they have to head out of town.

Five Star Realty is looking ahead and researching some more creative ways to implement some of the changes that we are expecting to happen.

More information will be coming out over the next couple of months, but you can always call us or email us if you would like to know more.

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