10 Inspiration Drive, Scarborough ME

10 Inspiration Drive, Scarborough ME
Gorgeous Gambrel

Monday, September 27, 2010

Energy Efficient Fireplaces: Wood-Burning and Gas-Burning

Energy Efficient Fireplaces: Wood-Burning and Gas-Burning

By: Rich Binsacca
Published: September 21, 2010Energy-efficient fireplaces, both wood-burning and gas, let you enjoy the glow of a fire without letting your home heating energy go up in smoke.

Effort Low 3-4 hours (pro install)
Investment Low $300-$500 (glass doors installed)

EPA-qualified wood-burning fireplaces regulate how much air is used for combustion, reducing energy use and emissions. Image: Industrial Chimney Company
A traditional wood-burning fireplace adds warmth and romantic ambience to a home’s interior. But most are energy hogs, converting only 15% of wood’s energy into useful heat. Fortunately, new energy-efficient fireplace designs are helping wood-burning fireplaces achieve efficiency ratings of 75% or more. Fireplace inserts and gas fireplaces are even more efficient.
Energy-efficient wood-burning fireplaces
If you’re adding a wood-burning fireplace, avoid the standard design, which sends too much of your home’s heated air up the chimney. Consider these energy-efficient wood-burning fireplaces:
Rumford fireplaces feature a shallow box design that reflects more heat into the room.
EPA-rated fireplaces have good performance and high energy-efficiency ratings. They are designed to pull in outdoor air for combustion, and circulate room air around the firebox to extract as much useable heat as possible. In addition, EPA-approved wood-burning fireplaces produce much less air pollution than standard fireplaces.
Fireplace inserts are sealed metal boxes designed to fit inside masonry fireplace openings. They use outside air for combustion, and are designed to circulate and warm inside air. Inserts burn a variety of biomass fuels, including wood and pellets. Some units are rated at 80% efficiency.
If you already own a standard wood-burning fireplace, make it more energy efficient by installing glass doors. Glass doors limit the amount of room air that is sucked into the fireplace during combustion.
Glass doors work particularly well when a fire is burning down for the night and you must leave the damper open. Otherwise, glass doors block radiant heat; keep them open when your fire is blazing. Expect to pay $300 to $500 for glass doors, installed.
In California, glass or solid metal doors are required on all fireplace openings.
Energy-efficient gas fireplaces
If you want the convenience and low maintenance of a energy-efficient gas fireplace, you have two good options:
Direct-vent gas fireplaces, which use two-way vents that supply outside air for combustion, have energy-efficiency ratings as high as 77%. That’s better than the top gas fireplaces connected to a chimney.
Vent-free gas fireplaces are even more energy-efficient because they don’t send exhaust outside. But they release a lot of moisture into inside indoor air.
Tax credits for fireplaces
Some types of fireplaces qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $1,500 until the end of 2010. After that, certain states may provide tax credits for various types of energy-efficiency improvements, including fireplaces.

Rich Binsacca is the author of 12 books on various home-related topics and is currently a contributing editor for Builder and EcoHome magazines. He has written articles for Remodeling, Home, and Architectural Record, among several others. He intermittently uses the wood-burning fireplace and the gas-fueled freestanding stove that came with his current home.

Seven Selling Mistakes You Don't Want to Make!

Mistake #1 -- Pricing Your Property Too High

Every seller obviously wants to get the most money for his or her product. Ironically, the best way to do this is NOT to list your product at an excessively high price! A high listing price will cause some prospective buyers to lose interest before even seeing your property. Also, it may lead other buyers to expect more than what you have to offer. As a result, overpriced properties tend to take an unusually long time to sell, and they end up being sold at a lower price.

Mistake #2 -- Mistaking Re-finance Appraisals for the Market Value

Unfortunately, a re-finance appraisal may have been stated at an untruthfully high price. Often, lenders estimate the value of your property to be higher than it actually is in order to encourage re-financing. The market value of your home could actually be lower. Your best bet is to ask your Realtor for the most recent information regarding property sales in your community. This will give you an up-to-date and factually accurate estimate of your property value.

Mistake #3 -- Forgetting to "Showcase Your Home"

In spite of how frequently this mistake is addressed and how simple it is to avoid, its prevalence is still widespread. When attempting to sell your home to prospective buyers, do not forget to make your home look as pleasant as possible. Make necessary repairs. Clean. Make sure everything functions and looks presentable. A poorly kept home in need of repairs will surely lower the selling price of your property and will even turn away some buyers.

Mistake #4 -- Trying to "Hard Sell" While Showing

Buying a house is always an emotional and difficult decision. As a result, you should try to allow prospective buyers to comfortably examine your property. Don't try haggling or forcefully selling. Instead, be friendly and hospitable. A good idea would be to point out any subtle amenities and be receptive to questions.

Mistake #5 -- Trying to Sell to "Looky-Loos"

A prospective buyer who shows interest because of a "for sale" sign he saw may not really be interested in your property. Often buyers who do not come through a Realtor are a good 6-9 months away from buying, and they are more interested in seeing what is out there than in actually making a purchase. They may still have to sell their house, or may not be able to afford a house yet. They may still even be unsure as to whether or not they want to relocate.

Your Realtor should be able to distinguish realistic potential buyers from mere lookers. Realtors should usually find out a prospective buyer's savings, credit rating, and purchasing power in general. If your Realtor fails to find out this pertinent information, you should do some investigating and questioning on your own. This will help you avoid wasting valuable time marketing towards the wrong people. If you have to do this work yourself, consider finding a new Realtor.

Mistake #6 -- Not Knowing Your Rights & Responsibilities

It is extremely important that you are well-informed of the details in your real estate contract. Real estate contracts are legally binding documents, and they can often be complex and confusing. Not being aware of the terms in your contract could cost you thousands for repairs and inspections. Know what you are responsible for before signing the contract. Can the property be sold "as is"? How will deed restrictions and local zoning laws will affect your transaction? Not knowing the answers to these kind of questions could end up costing you a considerable amount of money.

Mistake #7 -- Limiting the Marketing and Advertising of the Property

Your Realtor should employ a wide variety of marketing techniques. Your Realtor should also be committed to selling your property; he or she should be available for every phone call from a prospective buyer. Most calls are received, and open houses are scheduled, during business hours, so make sure that your Realtor is working on selling your home during these hours. Chances are that you have a job, too, so you may not be able to get in touch with many potential buyers.

Friday, September 24, 2010

101 Things I Love about Portland Maine







121. York Animal Park: York, Maine
This zoo has some very interesting and colorful animals from all over the world.  The cages and areas for the animals are clean and well-groomed.  The animals seem to be healthy and entertained.  The off season rate is only $8 for an adult. 
http://www.yorkzoo.com/

Saturday, September 18, 2010

101 Things I Love About Portland Maine

120. HART Shelter for cats in Cumberland ME--
This is a no-kill shelter for homeless cats and kittens where I found my newest cat Carter.  Here is their website if you might like to adopt or donate:
http://www.hartofme.com/

101 Things I Love About Portland Maine

119. The Goldenrod Kisses, York Beach---This establishment has been around since the late 1800's.
They make delicious salt water taffy fresh daily on machines prominently displayed in the shop windows.
There are lots of flavors but I love the peanut butter.  There is a little gob of crunchy peanut butter in the middle of the molasses taffy.  The maple walnut and wintergreen are good, too. http://www.thegoldenrod.com/

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pricing Right Is Key To Selling Your Home

When you decide to sell your home, you want the highest possible return from its sale. Determining price is the most critical step in preparing your home for sale.

Obviously, pricing your property too low won't provide the best return. You are apt to be deluged with lookers and may get many offers, but you could lose thousands of dollars on your family's largest investment.

Likewise, pricing a property too high is risky. Homes priced too high miss their target market. Qualified buyers who might find the home just right for their needs won't see your home, or make an offer on it, because it is out of their price range. If they are shown an overpriced home during its early marketing stages and do not buy because it isn't a good value, they are unlikely to revisit your home once the price is lowered. Real estate agents will hesitate to show an overpriced home, unless it will make a competing property look like a better value.

Many home sellers make a mistake by implementing the 'let's try it and see' pricing attitude. But testing the market can be dangerous. A property receives its best exposure during the first three to five weeks on the market.

If your home is priced right from the outset, you maximize your opportunity of reaching the most qualified buyers. Buyers who have seen most available homes in their price range are waiting for the right house to come on the market. This is why a well priced home often sells quickly once it is put on the market.

Multiple listing association statistics show that the longer a home is on the market, the lower the selling price. The home becomes stale and a price reduction results.

Pricing a home is part art and part science. It's based on hard evidence by looking at sale prices for comparable properties. But, no two homes are identical. That means the evidence must be evaluated by an experienced sales associate, like myself.

The right price really is the right price range to attract the maximum number of qualified buyers within a time frame that suits the sellers' needs. Pricing strategy depends on the market conditions at the time your home is put up for sale. It can best be determined by an agent who is active in the market, who constantly views homes and is monitoring the changing market conditions.

If you need help to determine the right price for your home, in order to sell your home in the least amount of time for the highest return, please contact me for a comparative market analysis and consultation.

101 Things I Love about Portland Maine

118.Ed's Batteries in Westbrook Maine-- Need a new car battery?  Never fear, Ed is here!  I saved $70 by checking with Ed and probably even more if I went to the dealer.  It was quick and easy.  http://www.edsbatteries.com/

Saturday, September 11, 2010

101 Things I Love about Portland Maine


117. Anthony's Restaurant on Middle Street--- This Italian eatery offers a really fun and entertaining evening combining a five course meal with a musical show.  On the evening I attended it was 'The Rat Pack" with fve performers singing tunes made famous by Frank Sinatra and friends.  Soup, salad, an entree of Italian selections and a big cannoli for dessert for $39.95 per person.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Tips from Emily

Emily would like to share some fashion advice for women:
You should stick with your oranges and pinks; those are really hot this year!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Role of A Title Company

Now that you've decided to buy a home, what happens between now and the time you legally own it? The next step is to obtain title for the property from the title company. A title gives the owner the right to possess and use the property. But before receiving title, the title company will need to complete the following:
Earnest money: To show the seller and his agent you are a serious buyer, you will be asked to give the title company a deposit called earnest money. If the sale goes through, the earnest money is applied toward the down payment. If the sale falls through, the earnest money will not be given back unless it is stated in the offer to purchase that it is refundable.

Title search: A title search is a thorough check of the records concerning the property. It is performed to verify the seller's right to change ownership. A title search will uncover any demands, faults, liens and other privileges or restrictions on the property.

Document preparation: Appropriate forms are prepared for settlement.

Settlement: Many events happen during settlement. The seller signs the deed, the buyer signs the new mortgage, the old loan is paid off and the new loan is established. The seller, real estate professionals, attorneys, surveyors and others performing services for the parties are paid. Title insurance policies are then delivered to the buyer and their lender.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

101 things I Love about Portland Maine

116. Local 188:  This tapas restaurant on Congress Street has outside dining and a very large bar area for drinks or meals.  You can pick from their extensive wine and beer menu and enjoy "tastes" from an  interesting variety of food items.  We had an appetizer of nicely seasoned meatballs and a grilled whole wheat flat bread with fresh hummus.  The blueberry and oatmeal tart for dessert was fab!  Always good and nice atmosphere!  http://local188.com/

Monday, September 6, 2010

101 Things I Love About Portland Maine

115.The deck at the Dry Dock Restaurant on Commercial St in Portland.  The food is good here--hearty, fresh sandwiches, burgers, soups and chowders.  But, throw in a table on the upper deck, sunny skies and a nice breeze--perfection!

101 Things I Love About Portland Maine

114. Rapid River Clothing in Freeport Maine.  This is a great stop for trendy and funky women's clothing-- especally linen items.  They also carry cute accesories and unusual costume jewelry.  Get on their mailing list so you will be notified about sales when things are marked down an addtional 70%!   

185 Lower Main Street
Freeport, ME 04032-1002
(207) 865-6403

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Why Use a REALTOR®

- Reasons For Professional Assistance -

All real estate licensees are not the same. Only real estate licensees who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® are properly called REALTORS®. They proudly display the REALTOR "®" logo on the business card or other marketing and sales literature. REALTORS® are committed to treat all parties to a transaction honestly. REALTORS® subscribe to a strict code of ethics and are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate. An independent survey reports that 84% of home buyers would use the same REALTOR® again.

Real estate transactions involve one of the biggest financial investments most people experience in their lifetime. Transactions today usually exceed $100,000. If you had a $100,000 income tax problem, would you attempt to deal with it without the help of a CPA? If you had a $100,000 legal question, would you deal with it without the help of an attorney? Considering the small upside cost and the large downside risk, it would be foolish to consider a deal in real estate without the professional assistance of a REALTOR®.

But if you're still not convinced of the value of a REALTOR®, here are a dozen more reasons to use one:

1. Your REALTOR® can help you determine your buying power -- that is, your financial reserves plus your borrowing capacity. If you give a REALTOR® some basic information about your available savings, income and current debt, he or she can refer you to lenders best qualified to help you. Most lenders -- banks and mortgage companies -- offer limited choices.

2. Your REALTOR® has many resources to assist you in your home search. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your agent to find all available properties.

3. Your REALTOR® can assist you in the selection process by providing objective information about each property. Agents who are REALTORS® have access to a variety of informational resources. REALTORS® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning. schools, etc. There are two things you'll want to know. First, will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?

4. Your REALTOR® can help you negotiate. There are myriad negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession and often the inclusion or exclusion of repairs and furnishings or equipment. The purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.

5. Your REALTOR® provides due diligence during the evaluation of the property. Depending on the area and property, this could include inspections for termites, dry rot, asbestos, faulty structure, roof condition, septic tank and well tests, just to name a few. Your REALTOR® can assist you in finding qualified responsible professionals to do most of these investigations and provide you with written reports. You will also want to see a preliminary report on the title of the property. Title indicates ownership of property and can be mired in confusing status of past owners or rights of access. The title to most properties will have some limitations; for example, easements (access rights) for utilities. Your REALTOR®, title company or attorney can help you resolve issues that might cause problems at a later date.

6. Your REALTOR® can help you in understanding different financing options and in identifying qualified lenders.

7. Your REALTOR® can guide you through the closing process and make sure everything flows together smoothly.

8. When selling your home, your REALTOR® can give you up-to-date information on what is happening in the marketplace and the price, financing, terms and condition of competing properties. These are key factors in getting your property sold at the best price, quickly and with minimum hassle.

9. Your REALTOR® markets your property to other real estate agents and the public. Often, your REALTOR® can recommend repairs or cosmetic work that will significantly enhance the salability of your property. Your REALTOR® markets your property to other real estate agents and the public. In many markets across the country, over 50% of real estate sales are cooperative sales; that is, a real estate agent other than yours brings in the buyer. Your REALTOR® acts as the marketing coordinator, disbursing information about your property to other real estate agents through a Multiple Listing Service or other cooperative marketing networks, open houses for agents, etc. The REALTOR® Code of Ethics requires REALTORS® to utilize these cooperative relationships when they benefit their clients.

10. Your REALTOR® will know when, where and how to advertise your property. There is a misconception that advertising sells real estate. The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® studies show that 82% of real estate sales are the result of agent contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, family and personal contacts. When a property is marketed with the help of your REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR® will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.

11. Your REALTOR® can help you objectively evaluate every buyer's proposal without compromising your marketing position. This initial agreement is only the beginning of a process of appraisals, inspections and financing -- a lot of possible pitfalls. Your REALTOR® can help you write a legally binding, win-win agreement that will be more likely to make it through the process.

12. Your REALTOR® can help close the sale of your home. Between the initial sales agreement and closing (or settlement), questions may arise. For example, unexpected repairs are required to obtain financing or a cloud in the title is discovered. The required paperwork alone is overwhelming for most sellers. Your REALTOR® is the best person to objectively help you resolve these issues and move the transaction to closing (or settlement).