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Diversifying your Retirement Savings through Real Estate

Saving for retirement can be stressful, especially considering the current economic situation. Experts recommend diversifying your savings across different types of accounts, but there are other ways to create additional security when you retire through real estate investments. With lower mortgage rates and legislature passed in the CARES Act, now might even be a great time time to start diversifying your retirement plans. Today we are going to examine the ways that real estate investment can help you in retirement.

What does a real estate investment do?

Real estate investments create passive income, which can help stretch out your retirement savings, and even create more security if economic situations change. Some people who create enough passive income streams can rely solely on that for the majority of their monthly income and save their retirement savings for emergencies or other purposes. Being savvy about creating passive income through real estate can help you utilize additional property you may already own.

Types of real estate investments

Most people may think of renting out a traditional single-family residence for creating passive income, but there are multiple types of rentals. You can create more stable, long-term rental passive income through commercial buildings, retail properties, multi-family units, and apartment complexes. You may also be able to utilize smaller properties or pieces of land in prime vacation areas to create passive income through short-term rentals, although keep in mind that this income tends to be higher risk (although high reward), seasonal, and more involved unless you use a property management company.

Creating two or more streams of rental units through passive income helps mitigate missed income from repairs, renovations, and vacant properties between renters. As you can imagine, the more streams, the more stability comes with your passive income. While apartment complexes and multi-family units might offer you the best stability, you can still look at ways of converting larger single family residences into multiple units following local guidelines. You may also want to keep in mind the cost of utilizing a property management company, especially so that you can enjoy the best years.

Current mortgage rates and the CARES Act

Right now, mortgage rates are the lowest they have ever been, which may make buying a multi-family building more reasonable. Especially if you are willing to live in one unit and rent out the rest, this could be an opportunity for first-time homeowners to step into retirement diversification and passive income streams early on.

The CARES act also gives provisions to allow people to withdraw money from their 401(k) or IRA’s before the appointed age with the traditional 10% penalty being waived for the rest of 2020. In addition, you have three years to pay income taxes on your distributions. In addition, you can also take a loan out of these accounts, allowing you to borrow 100% of your account up to $100,000 vs the usual 50% up to $50,000. While normally touching the money available in your 401(k) or IRA is considered a poor financial choice due to the restrictions in place, this temporary loosening could be a potentially smart decision if utilized towards creating a means of passive income.

Where do I get started?

Interested in learning more about diversifying your retirement investments through real estate? Talk to your local Real Estate Agent about your goals and needs. They can help you find the best properties, connect you with property management companies, and aid in calculate best mortgage plans. Your local real estate agents can also help you navigate the new laws in place to figure out what works best for your situation.

Live in the Southern Maine area? You can always each out to the experts at the Real Estate Store to find out more!

Want to keep updated on local real estate listings, stories, and tips?  Follow us on Facebook or Instagram!

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Future of Contactless Rentals

As we’ve talked about with Work-From-Home business styles might affect the future of home buying, we think that digital age and the current events will affect the future of rentals. From marketing, to tours, to property management, there may be a stronger emphasis on “contactless” rentals where the entire process of finding and attracting tenants will be remote. Managing properties may rely more on third party companies as well as even securing payment. Today we’re going to talk about a few aspects that may change as rentals move towards being contactless between tenants and property owners.

Contactless Marketing

Much like with regular home-buying, property owners can take advantage of video/virtual tours, allowing future tenants to explore the layout and size of the space. Using a phone or desktop, some virtual tours allow for a 360 degree walkthrough and even take measurements of the space to comfortably see if furniture will fit from the comfort of home.

In addition, AI-driven rental apps can help property owners free up valuable time while advertising. Chatbots with AI learning are able to answer common questions and inquires from potential tenants, as well as receiving valuable feedback on their experience. These apps can then keep track of rental logistics to help manage potential interest, advertisement systems, as well as help schedule in-person appointments that coordinate with a property owner’s or property manager’s calendar.

Application Process and Screening

Finding and screening for qualified tenants is always a struggle between contacting references and getting appropriate documentation. With some of the same AI-driven apps that can answer questions for potential tenants, they can help manage the application process by reminding those that have applied to turn in required documents. They can send missing document notifications to potential tenants on your behalf and let you know once all the proper documentation in ready.

These same apps may be used to check references by texting or emailing previous property managers about a potential renters. This once again helps property owners free up valuable time in checking references. In addition, much like what we see on AirBnb and other short-term rental sites, longer-term rental properties may give property owners the ability to see ratings/reviews that other property mangers and left about potential tenants from previous rental experiences in the future.

Property Management and Payments

For existing or new tenants, many of these apps may even be able to help with property issues, scheduling maintenance, and managing tenant communication. Many property owners already use property management companies that help with common issues, but the growing use of these kinds of apps can be appealing for the younger generation as well as those who are practicing physical distancing. Plus it allows property owners who manage their own properties to have their communication centralized to one app managing texting and emails.

In addition, tenant payment can be more centralized using apps to help tenants pay deposits, rent, and other fees associated with the property. Apps can set up automatic payments and send notifications to tenants to either remind them of upcoming payments or notify them of late payments. These notifications can then be set up to let property managers know if payments have been received or not.

For future generations, contactless rentals may become more and more the norm as technology becomes more advanced. Hopefully these new apps help not only protect people during times when physical distancing is important, but also for added convenience of both potential tenants and property owners.

You can always each out to the experts at the Real Estate Store to find out more about real estate!

Want to keep updated on local real estate listings, stories, and tips?  Follow us on Facebook or Instagram!

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Moving Between States with Restrictions in Place

With some restrictions lifting and travel opening up, people are beginning to look at moving again, some even out-of-state. However navigating the move can be incredibly challenging, especially as there are still restrictions in place in many states. We’re going to outline a few guidelines today to help navigate moving through states.

Moving Into Maine

The State of Maine has a great FAQ for visitors that can be applied to people moving or planning to move. A basic breakdown of the current restrictions/allowances are:

  • Visitors and Maine residences coming in from most states must either:
  1. Getting a recent negative COVID-19 test. -or-
  2. Maintaining Compliance with a 14-Day self-quarantine upon arrival in Maine.
  • Visitors from New Hampshire and Vermont or Mainers returning from these states are exempt from these requirements.
  • These restrictions may change as potential outbreaks may affect these. Everyone is highly encouraged to get a test before traveling and check for updates whether or not you are required to do so.

With these things in mind, if you are planning to move into Maine (or other states with similar restrictions), you want to keep these things in mind as far as travel goes.

Remote Viewing

With many states adopting similar restrictions to the ones listed above, you will want to consider how this might affect your moving process. If you are planning on moving to state with an extended self-quarantine upon arrival, you might want to consider using remote viewing options when house shopping. You can reach out to a local real estate agent to start curating some homes based on your needs and desires, as they can give you expert advice on the area. An agent can also preview homes for you to help answer any questions pictures and videos can’t.

Quarantine Lodging

You can also look into short-term/medium-term rentals to give you the time to quarantine in the area before shopping for homes. Many short-term rentals and hotels that are normally geared towards tourist season and resort locations are offering special rates and services during these times to accommodate people staying in quarantine. Some are even offering reduced rates for medium-term and long-term limits if you want to give you and your family more time to settle in and find the right home in your new area.

Moving Storage & Other Considerations

If you need to utilize a moving company, check out the tips we offer in this blog , and also take a look at what storage options they have to offer. With quarantines in place, it may take more time to officially move into a new home, so consider the costs of monthly storage rates along with lodging in a new area. Make sure to do some research into having meals and groceries delivered during the quarantine, and make sure you have plenty of safety supplies on hand like hand sanitizers and masks. Transferring of utilities is generally handled without anyone having to come on site, but internet/ tv/ phone may require an installer to come out. Try to schedule this well in advance of your arrival to avoid having someone need to enter your home while you self-quarantine.

Reminder: Be Flexible

As much as planning ahead can help mitigate many issues, it’s important to understand that at any point in your home buying and selling process, someone may fall ill or be inadvertently exposed to COVID-19. This not only includes people in your own family, but your buyers and sellers as well during this process. Timelines can easily be moved out, which is why having all parties signing the new COVID-19 Addendum to any contract can be incredibly helpful to protect all parties and handle it extensions automatically.

You can always each out to the experts at the Real Estate Store to find out more about real estate!

Want to keep updated on local real estate listings, stories, and tips?  Follow us on Facebook or Instagram!

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Progressing into Reopening Phase 3

With traffic slowly returning to pre-COVID-19 levels and business reopening, it is clear to see that Mainers are eager to return to normal. However, with cases of COVID-19 still increasing in Maine daily, precaution still needs to be observed as Maine begins to reopen. In real estate, we are still navigating how we plan to return to normal while observing the best precautions for our agents and clients.

Current Status

At this time we are still holding off on open houses. We are starting to allow home-buyer appointments as long as all parties are in agreement and following safety protocols set by both the sellers and agents. Especially when viewing homes that are still occupied, we are recommending mask wearing, sanitation, and limited visits to keep all parties safe. We also are still recommending that people utilize as many remote features as possible when home-buying.

Appraisers and inspectors will still be using remote practices when possible, but may begin performing home visits while respecting everyone’s safety utilizing masks and hand washing. Agents are encouraged to continue utilizing Docusign and other remote methods for signing documents throughout the entire process. Other real estate businesses, such as title and mortgage companies, will still be utilizing remote document signing and separate closing rooms to reduce groups sizes as well to keep all parties safe.

Future Phases

While remote home-buying features and technology are not likely to ever go away, we will continue to wait-and-see how COVID-19 is progressing before we go back to more in-person appointments. As we enter Phase 3 of Maine’s Reopening and gatherings of less than 50 people will be permitted, we may possibly see open houses being allowed with some agencies. However, we still recommend avoiding in-person open houses, and opting instead for virtual open houses or scheduled appointments instead. You can check out all the information about what will be reopened for Phase 3 of “Restarting Maine’s Economy” .

There is no doubt that the way we conduct real estate will be changed forever. Becoming more reliant on remote viewing a document signing has allowed us to improve our practices to the benefit of both our home buyers and sellers. Hopefully our “new normal” will ultimately lead to more convenient, safer means of conducting real estate for both our clients and agents in the future.

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Reopening Guidelines for Businesses

In the next few months, many businesses in Maine will begin to allow employees to return to their offices, stores, and buildings following the Maine Reopening process. However, with COVID-19 cases still increasing daily, we must keep in mind the safety of our employees. With the help of information through the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commision (EEOC), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), we’ve created some general guidelines to help businesses reopen along with Restarting Maine’s Economy plan.

Organizational Plans

For an owner of a smaller business, you can use the information from the organizations above to create a COVID-19 Response Checklist or Plan that is personalized to your business. While the information we have can be used for general workplaces, keep in mind that there may be certain intricacies of your industry that you will want to keep in mind while you are reopening~ especially if that includes keeping the safety of your clients and visitors in mind.

For larger businesses, consider creating a COVID-19 Response Committee or Task Force with people throughout the various sections of your business. This can include representatives from human resources, facility operations, administrative, and legal departments to help delegate the planning process for reopening, as well as monitoring the progress and protocols once reopened. These representatives can also be tasked with keeping up to date on news and updated methods to inform and implement as the environment around COVID-19 evolves.

Before Employees Return

You’ll want to make sure you have your building/workspace prepared before employees:

  • Identify and procure sanitation supplies as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees as well as any visitors.
  • Place these supplies in locations that are easily accessible and readily available.
  • Post signage and information posters that elaborate on the cleaning procedures as well as personal hygiene protocols from the CDC. Also include signage that helps locate where supplies can be found easily.
  • Restrict access to larger common areas (such as cafeterias, break rooms, meeting rooms, shared work-spaces, gyms, etc.), and/or change the layout of these rooms to encourage social distancing.
  • Use floor decals or stickers to mark out social distance spacing in areas with high traffic, as well as signage that expresses a room’s occupancy limit for safety.
  • Decide on the ideal points of access to your building that can easily be monitored so that all employees and visitors can be accounted for.
  • If possible, update high-touch areas such as light switches and plumbing fixtures to have a hands-free alternative. Also if possible, consider high-efficiency air filters for your HVAC systems.

Maintaining Safety

Once employees are back in the workspace, you’ll want to establish protocols to maintain safety:

  • Make sure employees aware of the ongoing protocols and locations of supplies, updating as needed, and giving any training as necessary.
  • Have a plan in the event of a local outbreak. Keep track of the news in case
  • Encourage the use of remote technology to help reduce exposure and employee contact.
  • Stagger scheduled breaks to minimize the number of employees in break/common rooms.
  • Decide on regular cleaning guidelines that correspond with the CDC’s recommendations, including guidelines before the building is open, throughout the day, and after the building has closed.
  • Establish regular scheduled supply checks to make sure all sanitation items are fully stocked.
  • Make sure any in-person meetings are limited in size.
  • If an instance of an employee contracting COVID-19 happens in the workplace, have a protocol in order to have them sent home immediately, cleaning and disinfecting the office/workspaces, and informing others who have had potential exposure. Remember throughout this to keep the identity of the individual with COVID-19 completely confidential.
  • As any new laws or updated protocols change in the workspace, remember to update or add any signage that addresses these changes, along with reaching out to employees via meeting, email, or other messaging systems.
  • Restrict non-essential travel in and out of the office to reduce exposure.

Employee Value and Protection

Along with safety protocols in relation, keep in mind the needs of your employees navigating through these times.

  • Establish a contingency plan if employees are feeling possible COVID-19 symptoms in the past 14 days, including testing in accordance with medical guidelines.
  • Hold regular, virtual meetings that gain your employees feedback throughout this process. Be open to critique and feedback.
  • Prepare for leaves and absences in accordance to federal, state, and local laws. Follow the 14-days free of COVID-19 symptoms (at least) for any one experiencing symptoms, and
  • Keep in mind that employees that contract COVID-19 in the workplace may file a workers’ compensation claim.
  • Review and implement reasonable accommodations for employees with ADA-qualifying disabilities as well as pre-existing mental conditions that might be aggravated by COVID-19.
  • Remind employees of their value, safety, and security, as well as your commitment to their privacy.
  • Do not ask employees if they have any underlying medical condition that makes them more susceptible to COVID-19. At the same time, if an employee with higher susceptibility offers that information, provide accommodations and more flexibility for them, while not compelling them to stay at home.
  • Keep track of whether schools or daycare facilities are open for employees with family, providing flexibility for employees with child or elder care responsibilities.
  • Also be aware of the availability of safe public transportation for employees who might need this.

These guidelines are by no means a complete list, and depending on your business, you may need tailor some of these to fit your needs. We hope these can help you keep in mind the protection and well-being of your employees as businesses begin to reopen. And remember to review the sources through WHO, CDC, EEOC, and OSHA for updated guidelines as the situation changes.

You can always reach out to your local experts at the Real Estate Store for more information on real estate!

Want to keep updated on local real estate listings, stories, and tips?  Follow us on Facebook or Instagram!

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Challenging Bias in Housing

In light of current events surrounding racism and being Pride month, we want to discuss the obligations of the real estate businesses in overcoming bias in regards to housing and home-buying. With information from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), we are going to take a look at the history of discrimination and what realtors are doing to work towards overcoming bias in regards to fair housing.

Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) and Redlining

Inequality in housing opportunities existed for a long time before the Great Depression, but redlining is seen as one of the greatest impacts on racial disparity in the United States. After the Great Depression, the New Deal helped people find “relief for unemployment and poverty, recovery of the economy back to normal levels, and reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression” frequently referred to as the “3 Rs”. One of the programs under this act was the Home Owners Loan Corporation. On the one hand, it focused on providing low-interest/long-term refinancing to home owners facing foreclosure.

However, this program also created maps of neighborhoods that were defined by “socioeconomic” status in order to influence who would receive assistance or not. Neighborhoods that were defined as “high risk” or “hazardous” were color coded in red, and with the racist attitudes that were pervasive in the HOLC appraisal sheets and maps put the majority of African American neighborhoods in the red zone. This meant that people in these neighborhoods had great difficulty getting any kind of financial support of relief during the end of the Great Depression. The impact of the redlining done under the HOLC program affected the institutionalized racial discrimination and segregation that can still be seen even today.

The Fair Housing Act

Over thirty years after the impact of HOLC’s redlining practices, the Fair Housing Act was enacted to help combat the effects these discriminatory maps. At the time, this act outlawed discrimination in the sale, lease, or rental of housing because of race, color, religion, and national origin, but has been expanded to have other protections. While this act was a step in the right direction towards overcoming racial discrimination in housing, there are still issues that face BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) in real estate. “Real Estate Steering” was still a common practice after the passing of the Fair Housing Act that steered prospective home buyers towards or away from certain neighborhoods based on race. U.S. Senator Cory Booker has a compelling story about the racial discrimination his parents faced after the passing of the Fair Housing Act.

While the Fair Housing Act has added many additional protections since its inception, sexual orientation and gender identity are not yet protected under the Fair Housing Act. Twenty two states, including Maine, have stepped up and passed laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In addition, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity issued regulations to prohibit LGBT discrimination in federally assisted housing programs in order to keep these the programs open to all eligible people. These laws and regulations move in the direction towards better equality, but there is still work to be done in many states.

Facing these Problems Today

While there is some legal protection in the face of discriminatory bias, there is more work to be done. As individual realtors and businesses, we have an obligation to challenge hidden biases. The National Association of Realtors worked with the Perception Institute to create both a training video “Bias Override: Overcoming Barriers to Fair Housing” as well as an Implicit Bias Test to help identify hidden biases that people may have. Tools like these can help us understand and work towards a better future in real estate.

Continuing to understand the past and understanding its affects on the present are important in challenging the biases that still exist present day. We also want to continue being proactive in being the change that we want to see in the future. Supporting laws and action plans that give legal ramifications for discrimination in real estate helps us create an environment that supports all potential home-owners and renters in the best way possible.

You can always reach out to your local experts at the Real Estate Store for more information on real estate!

Want to keep updated on local real estate listings, stories, and tips?  Follow us on Facebook or Instagram!

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Work-From-Home and the Future of Home Buying

As more and more companies are embracing the work-from-home model in light of the current events, we think that some of the parameters that normally drive home-buying decisions will change. As people are making plans to buy new homes, a number of new factors are going to affect the types of homes people buy as well as their locations. This could potentially create a new market for home sellers to take advantage of when advertising their homes. Today we are going to speculate on some of these qualities that may affect home-buying in the future.

The Home Office

Where once having a office space or spare bedroom was considered more of a luxury, people may be more and more drawn to requiring a dedicated home office area in their new home. They may even need multiple rooms to function as usable office spaces if partners have work-from-home jobs.

If this is something you are looking a dedicated office space for in a new home, you may want to keep these questions in mind:

  • Is this room wired for internet and phone?
  • Is this room located away from distractions such as TV, kids, street noise, etc?
  • Is there enough space for your equipment, files, office furniture, etc?
  • If you are meeting with clients in your home, is there easy access to the space from the entrance or is it possible to install a dedicated entrance? Zoning rules might be a factor if you’re having frequent business visitors.
  • If there is not a spare bedroom/office, are there spaces in the home with enough room to multi-function as an office? Maybe a space in the basement or above a garage could be finished to gain additional space?

Home sellers may also start featuring extra rooms as potential office spaces and using in-person or virtual staging to showcase this more often.

City, Suburbs, or Rural?

One of the biggest factors for choosing a new home often times is the job commute. However, with more work-from-home options, people are able to open up to the possibilities of choosing places further away as on-site job work become more optional/flexible. Especially with the motivation to having a dedicated home office space, people may look further out of major cities and towns for larger yet more affordable homes. Families may also be able to focus more on moving into desirable towns/communities or places located closer to preferred schools without having to triangulate work locations. One unique consideration in Maine especially, is access to reliable high speed internet as you get in to more rural areas.

At the same time, younger professionals who may not need a vehicle to commute back and forth to work may be more drawn to finding new homes in the city. Saving on car payments, insurance, and car maintenance, they may be able to utilize these funds towards affording better apartments and condos within city limits. Enjoying the city life and being within walking distances of major shopping, venues, and attractions may be a draw for young professionals with the ability to work from home.

Personal preference will be a greater drive towards how people look at locations for their new homes, which means sellers have a great opportunity to sell their homes in a way that caters more towards work-from-home opportunities vs convenient commutes.

Cross-Country Locations

We are seeing entire companies and industries emerging that are exclusively based online or as a work-from-home model. With these kinds of jobs, more and more people may be focused on moving to places based on desire instead of convenience. Often people have been drawn to major cities across the country as a matter of finding more job opportunities, but in the future, people may choose to stay closer to their families, friends, or familiar areas. At the same time, people may feel they have more freedom to move to new places driven by factors such as cost of living, climate, crime rates, educational access/quality, and community as opposed to work locations.

With home-buying tools like virtual tours and document signing, people who work for these kinds of online companies may feel more confident about taking the plunge of buying a home in a new state. Especially with their job still waiting for them once they move, buyers may have more freedom to research and consider many possibilities for new areas and regions.

While we speculate on how work-from-home jobs may affect future home buying and selling, we still believe there are always going to be jobs that require working in a physical office, building, or job-site. Most people will probably still make considerations on their regular job commutes and convenience as a part of their home buying journey; however, we think that the work-from-home culture may create a new marketing opportunity and strategy for home sellers who may not normally be able to benefit from easy access to major cities or companies.

You can always reach out to your local experts at the Real Estate Store for more information on real estate!

Want to keep updated on local real estate listings, stories, and tips?  Follow us on Facebook or Instagram!

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Ideas for an Empty Short-Term Rental

With the fears of COVID-19 and the restrictions on travel, many owners of short-term rental properties are finding their short-term rentals empty for the peak tourism season. This can be struggle for those that use short-term rentals as their sole or primary income, but many owners are looking into new ways to adapt. Today we’re going to talk about a few ways that short-term rental owners in Maine are redirecting their short-term rental strategy.

Traveling Professionals

For short-term rentals in/near large metropolitan areas or near hospitals, there is an opportunity to advertise/rent to traveling medical professionals who may need a place to stay on a month-to-month basis. A couple of sites that geared towards medical professionals are Travel Nurse Housing (https://www.travelnursehousing.com/ ) and Furnished Finder (https://www.furnishedfinder.com/ ). Most mandates that are currently in place regarding short-term rentals allow these properties to still be used for traveling medical professionals, so this is a great way to utilize your short-term property during this crisis.

Local Vacationers

With the 14-day mandated quarantine in Maine for people traveling in or out of the state, most people are staying at home or looking for local places to vacation. Plus, people are going to look at vacation places that are within driving distance to avoid using air travel or otherwise. Many short-term renters are capitalizing on this by offering discounted rates to Maine residents. While this might lower the typical income stream, this is a way to hopefully help increase the number of bookings while there are travel restrictions. Make sure to keep up with the state-wide guidelines (https://www.maine.gov/covid19/sites/maine.gov.covid19/files/inline-files/Restarting_Maines_Economy_Book.pdf ) as well your local municipalities guidelines for when/how to operate as a short-term rental.

Medium-Term/Month-to-Month Conversion

Other traveling essential workers, much like medical professionals, may be looking for a place to stay on a month-to-month basis as they work on projects in different cities/locations. People who were in the middle of a moving process before the pandemic came to the US may also need month-to-month housing as they can quarantine for the 14-days and then start to look for more housing. Some non-traveling medical professionals may also be looking for medium-term housing as they self-quarantine from family members while working in hospitals. These are a great ways to convert a short-term property to a medium or month-to-month lease during this crisis and allow you to re-open back up to short-term once things return back to normal. Even at discounted or lower rates, these kind of opportunities can at least provide a steady stream of income for the coming months.

Long-Term Rentals

For out-of-state renters requiring self-quarantine for 14 days, a longer term rental might be appealing. There may be ways to help facilitate this like getting their groceries brought to the property before they arrive. Generally, during quarantine you are still allowed to go outside for essential supplies and exercise as long as you maintain social distancing and mask wearing.

Adapting to these uncertain times can be difficult for those who rely on short-term rentals as their sole or primary source of income. We hope that these tips and ideas can help you adapt your business to a sustainable model to use during this crisis, while still giving you flexibility to return back to a short-term rental once things go back to normal.

You can always reach out to your local experts at the Real Estate Store for more information on real estate!

Want to keep updated on local real estate listings, stories, and tips?  Follow us on Facebook or Instagram!

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2020 Memorial Day Weekend: Ideas and Activities

Memorial Day is traditionally a holiday of remembrance and coming together. The weekend also marks an opening to warmer temperatures and summer time for students and families. While COVID-19 has affected the typical social events that would happen this weekend, there are still ways to enjoy this weekend and honor the people who have died while serving the U.S.

Honoring Fallen Soldiers

VA National Cemeteries will not be holding memorial services open to the general public to protect people. Visitors will still be allowed to place flowers and American flags at veteran gravesites throughout the weekend, but are being asked to consider visiting on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday to avoid possible crowds on Memorial Day itself. These cemeteries are also requesting that visitors still follow safe, physical distancing practices and mandates for being out in public.

As an alternative, you could consider sending a donation to the Maine Veterans Home in Scarborough, which was sadly hit by several cases of Covid-19 in April/May. In addition, you can also donate to the Southern Maine Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery Association. Donations go towards the beautification of the cemetery and are a great way to remember soldiers while staying safe.

Other national events that would normally occur will be having televised versions that can be enjoyed safely at home. The National Memorial Day Parade has been replaced with a televised event, The National Memorial Day Parade: America Stand Tall, occurring on May 25th at 2:00. The National Memorial Day Concert is planning to be broadcast on PBS, May 24th at 8:00 P.M. (EST).

Going Outdoors

With Friday temperatures predicted to finally peak above 70 degrees and the whole weekend looking to be partly cloudy to sunny, people are going to be looking to be outside and enjoy the weather. When going out in public, remember 6ft physical distancing and wearing masks while avoiding gatherings of 10 or more people. The Maine.Gov website provides more in-depth guidelines to keep in mind when going out.

Trails are open for walking and you can check out some of the many trails in Scarborough on the town website. Maine Public Land Beaches are also open for people walking, but keep in mind that people are still not allowed to lounge. Beaches and walking trails are expected to by very popular this weekend, which can complicate maintaining social distancing. Getting out early is probably the best way to beat the crowds! Remote camping is permissible but once again, people being urged to stay cautious and prepare appropriately since not all the typical services and public buildings may not be available. Consider back-yard camping described below as an alternative.

Boating and kayaking are another popular warmer weather activity that can be conducive to social distancing. However, the water is still very cold so this is probably best left to the very experienced. It can be life threatening very quickly to fall in to water at the current temperatures. Bringing some extra layers would be wise despite the heat because the cold water might make for some cold breezes.

Drive-In Theaters will also be open during this time, which is a great way to enjoy the semi-outdoors while keeping physical distancing. Near Scarborough, the Saco Drive-In will open on Friday, May 22nd and Pride’s Corner Drive-In in Westbrook already opened this past weekend. Slightly further north, the Bridgeton Twin Drive-In also opened last weekend.

Staying At Home

You can always plan some at-home activities to enjoy! With a little research and creativity, there is plenty of things to do from home to keep safe but have fun! Backyard camping is a fun family activity that gives you all the conveniences of having your home only a few steps away while still being outdoors. Plus, cookouts and picnics are still great ways for your household to enjoy the warmer weather while physical distancing with your family. It’s probably a good idea to get your propane/charcoal and other grill supplies during the week instead of waiting until the weekend.

You can support local restaurants by ordering curbside pick-up or delivery over the weekend, but keep in mind that many people will be taking advantage of these services during the holiday, so plan ahead and be patient!

This weekend is also a common time to start home-improvement/summer projects. Home-improvement stores are also offering delivery and curbside pick-up to make ordering supplies for projects even more convenient. It takes a few days generally to get the curbside orders filled at bigger stores so plan ahead and get your order in now. With the predicted last days of frost having past for the Southern Maine region, this is a great time to sow seeds directly in the garden or planting sprouts that have been started indoors.

Memorial Day is a reminder to take the time honor those who have fallen, which is ever more important as we face this crisis. As we put winter behind us to embrace the warmer weather, we recognize that the sacrifices of those who gave for this country and continue to give. We hope that everyone has a safe and fulfilling Memorial Day weekend!

You can always reach out to your local experts at the Real Estate Store for more information on real estate!

Want to keep updated on local real estate listings, stories, and tips?  Follow us on Facebook or Instagram!

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How to Support Local Businesses During These Times

In the face of an enormous crisis, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by all the hardship going on around us. The multi-phase reopening of Maine is designed to help keep people as safe as possible during these unpredictable times, but these steps also mean that many local businesses may not be able to go back to businesses as usual. While everyday people may feel like they cannot affect change on a global level, supporting our local businesses as they adapt to these changing times is one way you can reach out and help your neighbors during this crisis.

Scarborough Buy Local

We are proud members of the Scarborough Buy Local organization, which includes a business directory where you can find local goods and serves in Scarborough Maine. If you are resident of Scarborough, we highly recommend checking out their website in the link above to find out about local businesses offering delivery and curbside pick up options for goods and services. If you are a business in Scarborough that is offering these kinds of services, you can sign up on the website for free to have your business included.

You can also follow this organization on Facebook and/or follow #scarboroughbuylocal on Instagram to keep up to date on local businesses in the Scarborough neighborhood. Supporting these businesses not only helps your neighbors, but also helps support Scarborough as a whole.

Not a Resident of Scarborough?

We’re certainly happy if you would like to support businesses in Scarborough and the rest of Maine as a whole, as this still contributes to the health of our state’s economy and neighbors’ businesses; however, there are many opportunities out there to support your town or municipality as well! You can do a little research through your town’s website to find directories of local businesses to support. Along with delivery and curbside pick ups, many businesses are utilizing online websites to facilitate both goods and services while protecting their employees and customers. You can also see if gift cards are available to purchase so that you can use their services once they reopen!

You can also reach out to your friends and neighbors through social media. Do they know of local business owners who are offering their goods and services in alternative ways during these times? Or are there local artisans, bakers, shop keepers, or other smaller businesses that could be impacted by the effect that the pandemic will have on summer tourism? Many of these craftspeople are utilizing sites like Etsy or their own websites to promote their smaller businesses to a bigger audience, but could still use the support of their local neighbors. If you love their products and want to support them, you can offer to signal boost their business through social media or by recommending to your friends.

As smaller, local businesses begin to adapt to these uncertain times, they hugely appreciate the support that their fellow neighbors can give. If you were planning to buy certain good/services anyway, such as groceries, take-out, home improvement supplies, and many more, take the time to research what local businesses you can support by shopping there if you are able!

You can always reach out to your local experts at the Real Estate Store for more information on real estate!

Want to keep updated on local real estate listings, stories, and tips?  Follow us on Facebook or Instagram!

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