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! <