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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Wishing You And Yours A Happy Holiday

I know its a busy time of year, but I just wanted to take a moment to send you warm Holiday Greetings.  Wishing you and yours the quiet beauty of a peaceful holiday season. Debbie Mae Kershaw/ Realtor, Weichert Realtors Points East Yankee Trader, Portsmouth, NH 063801 - 603-430-1003

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Home Ownership Matters

Home Ownership Matters - Don’t let Congress take away your Home Interest Deductions!
Right now, there is a discussion going on in Congress that could have a huge impact on your home and your wallet.
How? Congress is considering eliminating income tax deductions for our homes.
If some lawmakers in Congress have it their way, we could see big changes not only to federal income tax deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes, but also a change to the homeowner’s capital gains exemption. What that means is that current and future homeowners would pay more taxes every year!
In these tough times, we can’t afford to lose important deductions. By signing our petition and sending a letter to your representative, you cantell Congress to keep our home interest deductions intact.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Living Trust - Something To Think About

Do You Have A Living Trust?
Do you have a Living Trust?  It's something to think about.  And If you own your home, or plan to, or if you have children, or plan to, you should consider the creation of a  Living Revocable Trust.

Basically, A revocable living trust is a written agreement designating someone (can even be you), to be responsible for managing your property.

It's called a LIVING trust because it's established while you are alive.  

It's Revocable because, as long are you are alive and mentally competent, you can change or dissolve the trust at any time, for any reason and at your own discretion.

When you die,  it typically  becomes irrevocable (cannot be changed) and can be written in a way that it will pass your assets on to your beneficiaries immediately upon your death or you can designate how and when it will be portioned out, avoiding the need for probate.

I am not an expert on the subject, but I've seen a lot of sadness and misunderstanding when a loved one has passed, leaving the surviving family emotionally unprepared to deal with the loss. I've seen families torn apart by the bitterness that can ensue from siblings who all of a sudden become like raiders of the lost arc, with all sense of fairness or equal distribution gone out the window and in some cases creating phishers so wide between family members, that they sever those once very tight bonds that held them together never to speak to one another again.  All because of the distribution of Assets after someone passes.   It doesn't have to be this way, and you can remain in control.

 Learn more about this and if it's something you might want to put together now.

Talk to your Estate Planner or Attorney or if you don't have an attorney seek out a Qualified Estate Planner or Trust Attorney. There are plenty of great articles on the subject, and the folks over at AARP do a  great job of publishing informative articles like the one below.  

 Don't let Life take you by surprise, plan ahead for yourself and your loved ones.

AARP Article :

10 Things You Should Know About Living Trusts

More info:

Differences Between Wills & Living Trusts:

Estate Planning and Elder Law in Maine
National Association of Estate Planners

Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Must Read For EVERY Pre-1978 Homeowner

 Do you own a home built prior to 1978-   If the answer is YES, and you need to have any Repairs or Renovations done on your home,  YOU NEED TO READ THIS. These new EPA rules have been fully effective since 2012..

Click HERE or  Renovate Right  to read this very important brochure - before you decide to do any Repairs or Renovations on your PRE-1978 Home.  

It's easy reading and if you are ever thinking of Selling or Renting your home this is important information. 

(The following is taken from the first page of the above brochure)  

Federal law requires contractors that disturb painted surfaces in homes, child care facilities and schools built before 1978 to be certified and follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination. Always ask to see your contractor’s certification.

Federal law requires that individuals receive certain information before renovating more than six square feet of painted surfaces in a room for interior projects or more than twenty square feet of painted surfaces for exterior projects or window replacement or demolition in housing, child care facilities and schools built before 1978.

• Homeowners and tenants: renovators must give you this pamphlet before starting work.

• Child care facilities, including preschools and kindergarten classrooms, and the families of children under six years of age that attend those facilities: renovators must provide a copy of this pamphlet to child care facilities and general renovation information to families whose children attend those facilities.

EPA’s RRP Rule is designed to prevent exposure to lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards. The rule requires individuals performing renovations for compensation at most pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities to be properly trained and certified (in all States). There are certification and training requirements for individual renovators and firms performing renovations to ensure that safe work practices are followed during renovations. 

• You can verify that a contractor is certified by checking EPA’s website at or by calling the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323). You can also ask to see a copy of the contractor’s firm certification.

For more information on LEAD go the EPA's web site -

Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Program Rules click here.

If you are a homeowner or contractor and want to know how to comply Click Here

Friday, March 14, 2014

(H.R. 3370) Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act - PASSED

US Senate Passed the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (H.R. 3370) 

Yesterday, March 13, 2014, the United States Senate voted 72-22 to approve the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (H.R. 3370). The Senate acted quickly to pass the bill as amended by the House to avoid the need for a conference committee to reconcile any differences. The new bill further reins in and holds the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) accountable for the Biggert-Waters implementation issues.

As passed- 
T he bill repeals FEMA’s authority to increase premium rates at time of sale or new flood map.

​R​efunds the excessive premium to those who bought before FEMA warned them of the rate increase.

​L​imits premium increases to 18% annually on newer properties and 25% for some older ones. 

Additionally, the bill adds a small assessment on policies until everyone is paying full cost for flood insurance.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law when it arrives at the White House. NAR had urged a swift vote in the Senate.

For additional resources and information please visit the following links:

Read NAR’s letter of support for the billNAR Issue Brief: 

Flood Insurance Side by Side Comparison Government Affairs National Association of REALTORS® 500 New Jersey Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20001

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Your Mortgage and The Ability To Repay Rule

The CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) "Ability to Repay Rule" went into effect January 10th. This rule is designed to protect consumers from debt traps by requiring mortgage lenders to evaluate whether borrowers can afford to pay back the mortgage before signing them up. The rule was required by Congress, as a response to the financial crisis and nationwide foreclosure epidemic.

It's important to be able to separate Fact from Fiction with regard to these new rules.  If you are a consumer looking to purchase or even sell a property, invite your local lender to go over all of your options before taking the next step, it will make the process less stressful and in the end probably go much smoother.

The CFPB has put out a FACT vs FICTION   (You may  read the entire piece  by clicking HERE : )  Here are a few of the clarifications that the piece covers.  

Fact vs. Fiction

1. Fiction: The CFPB’s Ability-to-Repay Rule will cut off consumers' access to credit by requiring all loans to be Qualified Mortgages.
     Fact: The Ability-to-Repay Rule does not require lenders to offer any specific type of mortgage. Lenders can offer any mortgage they believe a consumer has the ability to repay, as long as they have documentation to back up their assessment. Not all loans will be Qualified Mortgages.

2. Fiction: Banks aren’t going to make any loans that are not Qualified Mortgages.
     Fact: The Ability-to-Repay Rule is designed to protect consumers without disrupting the U.S. housing market. Some of the nation’s largest banks have already said they plan on making loans that fall outside of the Qualified Mortgage guidelines.

More importantly, however, the vast majority of loans being made today are already compliant with the Qualified Mortgage guidelines. The CFPB estimates that roughly 92 percent of mortgages in the current marketplace meet the Qualified Mortgage requirements, and reports by independent economists have confirmed the Bureau’s calculations

(click Here) for the other 5 Fact vs Fiction from the CFPB. 

Will sellers be reluctant to accept offers from buyers who will require financing? As of today, it’s still too early to know how real estate transactions and the market will be impacted by the Ability-to-Repay and Qualified Mortgage rules  (Read more here).

Stay in touch with your Local Lender and stay on top of how these new rules are impacting consumers.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Renting and Dealing With Frozen Pipes

The headline on a CBS Chicago website this morning read "Suburban House Fire Caused By Tenant Thawing Frozen Pipes" - Apparently this this guy was in the crawl space using a blow torch. How terribly sad for he and his family.

I noticed the article because we had just spent 13 hours yesterday thawing out our own frozen pipes.  And after reading the article I realized how fortunate we were as we are also tenants but one of us is a contractor who knew what to do. 

In our situation there were several factors that contributed to our freeze up (Extended period of extreme cold for a number of days, high winds, a loss of power and a heating system that did not have anti-freeze).  For several days prior we had 10 degree weather so we were using our wood stove in addition to the heating system to help with the heat as the house is poorly insulated and drafty. 

So on Thursday with news of a Nor’easter coming through we brought in probably 2 wheel barrels full of wood in preparation. We had the place nice and cozy (about 72 degrees).  We also had the thermostat set at 59 (which is the normal set back we use for the night) so when the fire went out, the system would come on. But that apparently never happened.

At some point during the night we lost power - for how long we don’t know.  When we woke up around 5 AM on Friday morning we noticed that the heating system wasn't on at all.  Even after resetting it, it wasn't heating.  RUT-ROW – FROZEN PIPES.

We got the fire going again, but by this time there had been no movement of water in the pipes for some time as we soon heard a BIG BANG. So using commercial grade space heaters we went through the process of heating the pipes in the crawl space as well as using localized heaters up on the first level. All the while it was freezing outside with a wind that had a chill factor of about minus -20! At about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, we finally cut into the wall where the one pipe had burst and discovered that the chase wall between the rooms was without any insulation so we applied spray foam insulation and a heat tape. At about this time as well, we ventured into an area of the crawl space that we’ve avoided as it’s only 8” deep. The copper piping in this area is about 20’ feet long and was laying on the ground and basically had no insulation on it (as it was put down in the 60’s and the insulation on the piping had since deteriorated). This section of pipe by the way had not been replaced when the new heating system was put in as it was in a inaccessible area).

The heaters were put up in this small area in an effort to help thaw the still frozen pipes. At about 6 o’clock PM we were almost at wits end and BJ was just about to cut into the oak flooring which he had been reluctant to do (as it would have surely meant a bigger job than it already was). I was sitting across the room thinking to myself, “watch the heat come one just as he cuts the floor”, and almost at that moment THE HEAT CAME ON - CRAZY GOOD!  And fortunately it was before he cut!

While we lost a day of our real jobs dealing with the freeze up, at least we still had a roof over our heads. Frozen Pipes are nothing to fool around with. You need to know what you’re doing. Spend the extra money to winterize your forced hot water heating system with a proper anti-freeze which will save you tons of money and for some quite possibly their home.

I’m told that the calculation for 20’ feet of ½ inch copper NOT TO FREEZE is for cold water to move a minimum of once every 20 minutes. Insulated or un-insulated, at the extreme temperatures we have had over the last several days it is most likely pipes would freeze when there is no movement of water through them for an extended period.
Just an FYI, we have the ok to make repairs to the house we live in.
*The article that prompted my rant can be found here

Friday, December 13, 2013

Please No TORCHES!

With Old Man Winta right around the corner, we are already hearing about FROZEN Pipes in different parts of the country.  The winters everywhere seem to be getting more severe, but with a little preparation and knowledge, you can save yourself the aggravation, inconvenience and in some cases serious damage to your home from Burst  Pipes. 

 Here are 4+ 1 Tips to get you started!

  • Know how to shut-off the water to your home and unhook outside hoses from faucets.
  • Place foam covers over outside faucets and crawl space openings.
  • Leaving a trickle of water running from a faucet farthest away from the water meter can be helpful.
  • You can also wrap insulating material or electrical wire heating wrap around the pipes. This can be purchased at any home improvement store.
  • and #5 - Never use a propane torch or an open flame to thaw a pipe due to the risk of igniting wood beams, flooring and other combustible materials around pipe.
Preventative Maintenance is the best medicine when it comes to your home.  I would also suggest that you have in your Phone Book the names and telephone numbers of: a Local Licensed Plumber (recommended to you by someone you know), and good General Contractor (A general contractor could be a Finish Carpenter, a licensed Plumber or Electrician or someone with another specialty, but also has the skill set that allows them to do a variety of projects and is not limited to just one specialty. They usually have the resources and contacts to bring in other specialized help when needed, so having a good GC in your phone book would be a good idea).   

Here is some additional help from State Farm on the subject of Pipes that you may find helpful

Your Best Bet: Don’t Let It Happen

There are a number of preventative steps you can take to keep your pipes from freezing. Here are a few simple tips:

Before The Cold

Remember the three central causes of frozen pipes? Quick drops in temperature, poor insulation, and thermostats set too low. You can prepare by protecting your home during the warmer months. Here’s how:
  • Insulate pipes in your home's crawl spaces and attic, even if you live in a climate where freezing is uncommon. Exposed pipes are most susceptible to freezing. Remember: The more insulation you use, the better protected your pipes will be.

  • Heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables can be used to wrap pipes. Be sure to use products approved by an independent testing organization, such as Underwriters Laboratories Inc., and only for the use intended (exterior or interior). Closely follow all manufacturers' installation and operation instructions.
  • Seal leaks that allow cold air inside near where pipes are located. Look for air leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents, and pipes, and use caulk or insulation to keep the cold out. With severe cold, even a tiny opening can let in enough cold air to cause a pipe to freeze.

  • Before winter hits, disconnect garden hoses and, if possible, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This reduces the chance of freezing in the short span of pipe just inside the house.

When The Mercury Drops

Even if you've taken the right preventative steps, extreme weather conditions can still harm your pipes. Here are a few more steps you can take:
  • A trickle of hot and cold water might be all it takes to keep your pipes from freezing. Let warm water drip overnight, preferably from a faucet on an outside wall.
  • Keep your thermostat set at the same temperature during both day and night. You might be in the habit of turning down the heat when you’re asleep, but further drops in the temperature – more common overnight – could catch you off guard and freeze your pipes.
  • Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to un-insulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.

Before You Leave

Travelling in the winter months might be good for the soul, but don’t forget to think about your pipes before you leave. What can you do?
  • Set the thermostat in your house no lower than 55°F (12°C).
  • Ask a friend or neighbor to check your house daily to make sure it's warm enough to prevent freezing.
  • Shut off and drain the water system. Be aware that if you have a fire protection sprinkler system in your house, it may be deactivated when you shut off the water.

If Your Pipes Do Freeze

What do you do if your pipes still freeze, despite your best preventative measures? First step: Don’t panic. Just because they’re frozen doesn't mean they've already burst. Here’s what you can do:
  • If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, leave the faucets turned on and call a plumber.
  • Do not use electrical appliances in areas of standing water: You could be electrocuted.
  • Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame because it could cause a fire hazard. Water damage is preferable to burning down your house!
  • You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe with the warm air from a hair dryer. Start by warming the pipe as close to the faucet as possible, working toward the coldest section of pipe.
  • If your water pipes have already burst, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve in the house; leave the water faucets turned on. Make sure everyone in your family knows where the water shutoff valve is and how to open and close it.
Have a safe and WARM Winter. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Long Live Wood Island

Wood Island Life Saving Station Will Be Restored!
At the mouth of the Piscataqua River in Kittery, Maine a graying old structure is slowly crumbling on a small island. The Wood Island Life Saving Station has stood watch for more than 100 years. Taking a tour of the area you are sure to see this beautiful site. Thanks to the citizens of Kittery and friends of Wood Island, this structure is going to be restored for future generations to appreciate.

 Learn more about the history of this Icon of the River and how it was almost lost forever.  Get involved if you like.

You can get involved!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Impact of Government Shutdown on Real Estate

As an Associate with Weichert Realtors Points East Yankee Trader I would like to share some information provided by our Gold Service Team regarding the Government Shutdown and it's potential impact on Real Estate.
A short-term shutdown should have limited effects, but please, if you have questions, contact your lender.  If you don't currently have a lender contact your Realtor who can provide you with lenders in your area. 
  • The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will be able to endorse single-family loans during the shutdown; however, only a limited number of FHA staff will be available to underwrite and approve new loans so the process may take longer.
  • There will be no significant effect to Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will continue to operate, which means lenders will be able to continue originating VA-guaranteed loans.
  • The U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA) will cease all but essential functions and no new loans or guarantees through Rural Development will be made.
  • Lenders may not be able to continue to verify social security numbers through the Social Security Administration.
  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will not process any forms, including tax return transcripts. Without tax transcripts, loan processing may be delayed, depending on individual housing agency requirements and aggregator guidelines.
  • Mapping issues or amendments through FEMA will be impacted.
We will continue to keep you updated as we receive more information.
Thank you.