If you are looking at homes, consider this!

If  you are a first-time home buyer, it is easy to let “wants” get in the way of reality or to ignore factors that may make a major difference.  Instead, try each of the following suggestions to learn more about your potential home:

1. Visit at different times of the day to observe the noise level, the way the sun shines on the lot and into some rooms/ windows, and the amount of traffic that goes past the house.

2. Talk to the neighbors and learn if they  are young families or retirees and if they are owners or renters.

3. Ask if the sellers had problems with the house- with water in the basement,  ice dams, or leaks, and take preventative measures rather than experience disasters.

4. Have the house inspected to learn what needs repair soon, what can wait, and attempt to negotiate a lower price if needed.  Also have  radon and wood-eating pest tests done.

5. Ask for records on past improvements.

6. If you are considering immediate remodeling, inquire of seller or contractors if  previous improvement would impede your plans.

7. Inquire about utility and heating/cooling bills.

8. Check with town hall regarding zoning liens, easements, or other restrictions.  If it is in the shoreline zone, many rules must be followed.

9. Scrutinize the neighborhood- is it all residential or partially commercial?  Is there a fire station nearby?  Would the noise of an airport bother you?

10. Learn the cost of property tax, insurance and mortgage, as well as the closing costs and any capital gains tax.


Neighborhood Profile – Pleasant Avenue, Scarborough

10 Pleasant Ave Scarborough Maine

Pleasant Avenue

Life on Pleasant Hill is comfortable. The kids can attend Pleasant Hill Elementary School, just a block away; play lots of games at the Black Point Community Park; learn to surf – get their gear at Black Point Surf Shop and head to Higgins Beach, just a mile away. There is a new community house where they can shower and change.

Pleasant Hill Elementary School Scarborough Maine

Pleasant Hill Elementary School

Black Point Community Park Scarborough Maine

Black Point Community Park

Black Point Surf Shop Scarborough Maine

Black Point Surf Shop

Higgins Beach Scarborough Maine

Higgins Beach

On the way home they can pick up some lobster at the Lobster Shack, some veggies for a colorful salad at Higgins Beach Market (and perhaps an ice cream cone, if they are too hungry to wait), and some tasty pastries at the bakery inside Highland Avenue Garden and Greenhouses. Or if they prefer they can stop at Al’s Variety for a quick sandwich, or visit Pleasant Hill Café for some corned beef hash, before going down the street to Lifestyles Fitness Center to work off all the goodies that they just ate. More formal dining is available at Garfalo’s inside the Higgins Beach Inn or at the Spurwink Country Kitchen.

The Lobster Shack Scarborough Maine

The Lobster Shack

Higigns Beach Market Scarborough Maine

Higgins Beach Market

Als Variety Shop of Scarborough Maine


Pleasant Hill Cafe Scarborough Maine

Pleasant Hill Cafe

Lifestyles Fitness Center Scarborough Maine

Lifestyles Fitness Center

Spurwink Country Kitchen Scarborough Maine

Spurwink Country Kitchen

All of these places are just a short distance from 10 Pleasant Avenue, where there is a wonderful backyard to enjoy a lobster bake.

Neighborhood Profile – Waterview Road, Gray, ME 04039

Waterview Road Gray MaineWe have a home for sale on the waterfront here in Gray, Maine. Let’s take a look at the neighborhood.

While enjoying the luxury of a brand new home on Little Sebago Lake, you will want to amuse the kids as well as the adults. Even the teenagers like to stop at “Skippy Scoops” for a delightful ice cream sundae. If you run out of gas for the outboard, or even need some milk for the morning breakfast, nearby ” Lil Mart” is just like a general store. If Rover cuts his paw on one of the rocks, North Windham Veterinary Hospital is just a short distance away. “Mardens,” a surplus and salvage outlet, will entertain the most discriminating shopper, but we must not forget meal time. If you are too tired to barbecue dinner, DiSanto’s and Cole Farms are just around the corner, and directly across the street is Spring Meadow Golf Course, which will help to keep you in shape after a relaxing day at the lake..

Skippy Scoops Ice Cream Maine

Skippy Scoops

Lil Mart, Maine

Lil Mart

North Windham Veterinary Hospital

North Windham Veterinary Hospital

Mardens Salvage Outlet Maine


DiSanto's Restaurant Maine

DiSanto's Restaurant

Cole Farms Maine

Cole Farms

Spring Meadow Golf Course, Maine

Spring Meadow Golf Course

Click Here to see more information on our Waterfront Property in this neighborhood.

Los Tapatios of South Portland ME: Local Business Review

Los Tapatios South Portland MaineDo you ever become tired of the same old Mexican food? Does it all start to taste alike? Last month Los Tapatios opened at 671 Main Street in South Portland and serves authentic South of the Border food. Starting with the tasty, not screaming with cilantro, salsa and light, but not too salty or brittle, tortilla chips, smiling Moasse served two combination plates a tostaguac, a chile poblano, and a taco ($9.49), and a burrito, an enchilada with rice and beans ($9.49).

The food was delicious, the service good, and the prices are reasonable. Los Topatios is decorated with colorful Mexican flags, ceramic tiles, and memorabilia, and serves a wide selection of imported and domestic beers, but boasts about offering the best margaritas in town.

Los Tapatios Staff South Portland ME

the food at Los Tapatios in South Portland

Real Estate on The Islands of Maine

Maine Custom Realty is here to help you find homes for sale on the islands near Portland Maine. After each island description, you’ll find a showcase of all the homes currently for sale on the MLS on that island, including Peak’s Island, Great Diamond Island, Chebeague Island, Long Island, Cushing Island, Bailey’s Island, and Cousin’s Island.

Islands of Maine Real Estate for Sale

Peaks Island is the most populated of the Casco Bay islands, is considered part of the city of Portland, and is about three miles from downtown Portland. The 740 acres became known as the Coney Island of Maine in the 19th century when it became a poplar summer destination. Although it was an important outpost during World War II, today it is home to artists, retirees, and some commuters, but swells by a substantial summer population. Casco Bay Lines makes 14 departures daily for the 20 minute trip to the island. Homes for sale on Peak’s Island:

Visitors can enjoy the three museums-most dealing with the Eighth or Fifth Maine Regiment and the Peaks Island Military Reservation, the library, the ice cream and gift shops, the three restaurants, but most of all, the scenic views, the master gardens and lots of art galleries. Peaks Island is a quiet scenic retreat surrounded by friendly locals. Great Diamond Island, also part of Portland, is a 20-25 minute ferry ride from the city. Golf carts and bicycles are popular modes of transportation since private gasoline powered vehicles are not allowed. Diamond Cove, a ferry stop on the northeast side of the island, is the former Fort McKinley which was built between 1894-1907 to defend the coast during the Spanish American War. The army barracks and officers’ quarters were renovated into gracious homes which now have slate roofs, wooden porches, grand staircases, and multiple fireplaces. The former Quarter master’s storehouse is now Diamond Edge Restaurant, a 5-star seasonal eatery. Also in renovated buildings are Diamond Cove General Store, Art Gallery, and Museum. Diamond Cove is on the National Register of Historic Places. Little Diamond Island, a 15 minute ferry ride from Portland, is a private island, known as Little Hog Island during the colonial era. At low tide it connects to Great Diamond Island by a sandbar. Approximately five persons live on the island year round, but 55 homes or cottages are on the island. Homes for sale on Great Diamond Island and Little Diamond Island:

Long Island, which is six miles off the coast of Portland, is about three miles long and one mile wide, and well known for its sandy beaches. The population rises to about 1,000 during the tourist season and shrinks to about 200 in the winter. Many of the locals work in the lobster industry.
It served as a fueling depot for the US Navy during World War II, and many of the military buildings still stand along the shore today. In 1993 the Town of Long Island, Maine was formed and is now a vibrant community with improved municipal services, a dynamic school system, and lower taxes since they seceded from Portland. They offer a new library, an art gallery, state of the art fire and rescue department, an active recreational department, a post office, two stores, an inn, a seasonal gift shop, and a community center. Homes for sale on Long Island:

Chebeague Island, the island of many springs, is a 60-70 minute ferry ride from Portland. It is five miles long and one and one half miles wide, is the largest island in Casco Bay, and home to about 360 year round natives, but swells to 1,600 during the summer. Although they have one taxi, a bike or a golf cart is the recommended mode of transportation to find the Niblic Boatyard, the library, Doughty’s Market, town hall, Calder’s Clam Shack, the Museum of Chebeague History, the Chebeague Island Inn, the Great Chebeague Golf Club, or the post office. Homes for sale on Chebeague Island:

Cliff Island, about a 70-90 minute ferry ride from the city, is the smallest year-round island in Casco Bay and the last stop for the ferry. There is an extensive amount of property in conservation land for permanent protection of its rural atmosphere including its unpaved roads which explains why few cars are used and many bicycles and golf carts are seen. The 60 year-round residents are greeted by another 150 tourists during the summer. Among the amenities are the Cliff Island Library, Cliff Island Historical Society, and “Ace” organizations – athletics, conservation, and education- which hosts events involving the environment, sports, arts and crafts, and entertainment. They have one market and restaurant (Pearl’s Seaside Market and Café) open ear round, a post office, tennis court, and community hall, as well as a one-room school house.

Cushing Island is privately owned land which is also part of Portland. Fewer than 50 families live there seasonally. The US Army built Fort Levett in the 1890’s and named it after the English explorer and first settler of what is now Portland. The island was originally known as Levett’s Island, and was last used for coastal protection during World War II. The 200 acre parcel was purchased by the island residents in 1970.

Bailey Island, a part of Harpswell, is a mecca for tourists looking for a taste of salt water living, a serene way of life, and lots of scenic, natural beauty. Connected to the mainland by a bridge, Bailey Island includes lots of beaches, walking trails, Sea Life Learning Center with tidal pool touch tanks, gift shops, art exhibits, and Cook;s Lobster House, a work famous restaurant which was featured in a world-wide Visa commercial in 1997. It is surrounded on three sides by water, and diners can watch the fishing boats unload their catches while enjoying a Maine lobster. The Baily Island Bridge is a historic civil engineering landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places because it is said to be the only one in the world built as a cribstone bridge. There are also two inns on the island. Homes for sale on Bailey Island:

Cousin’s Island in Casco Bay, is home to the Wyman Energy Center. There are some nice homes on the shoreline of the island. It’s accessible by a ferry ride from Chebeague Island or a bridge from the mainland. Homes for sale on Cousin’s Island:

Island real estate in Maine is limited, but you have some options between the islands in the Casco Bay and the Harpswell Sound. Please don’t hesitate to contact Maine Custom Realty if you see a home you like, we’re your source for Island Real Estate in Maine.

What Renovation Spurs Sales?

If you plan to list your home on the market this spring or summer, you might be looking for the most cost-effective renovation to set your house apart from the competition. If your kitchen and bathrooms have been updated lately, your next best project is a master suite upgrade.

The master suite is the area of the house where you want to feel most comfortable and at ease. A mid-range master suite addition or renovation recoups 67.5 percent of its cost, and a modest remodeling can create a big impression. Consider skylights. Concentrate on natural light and fresh air to make a room feel larger and welcoming. Energy Star certified solar-powered, fresh-air skylights provide day lighting, privacy, and more security than an open window as well as cost effective passive ventilation. Solar powered blinds are a plus. They could also be eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit.
Paint the walls a neutral color, and remember that the baseboards also need attention as well as the window trim, ceilings and inside the closets too. Luxurious bedding will created a restful atmosphere. The master bathroom should also be repainted in a color that complements the bedroom. Add plush towels, a toweling-warming rack, and an upgraded shower head and faucets always make a good impression. Also consider the shower door. Replacing it is a simple, quick fix which will put a shiny look. Replace the straight shower curtain rod for a curved one that greatly increases the spaciousness of the shower area. Add airy curtains to make the rooms look bigger and brighter.

These simple tasks will create a master suite which will certainly be an asset when it comes time to sell. Please contact us for professional assistance if you are thinking of selling a home here in Maine.