Laura Blake Brings Knowledge and Enthusiasm to Newcastle Realty’s Team

Laura Blake, a real estate broker in mid-coast Maine for close to a decade, has been with Newcastle Realty since 2014. Laura’s passion for her job and clients is evident in her positive, upbeat nature. Whether she is working with a buyer, finding the perfect home, or marketing a property to potential buyers, she does so with panache. Laura’s eye for detail and compassionate nature makes any real estate transaction a positive experience.

Raised in the Boothbay Harbor region and a graduate of University of Maine, Laura resides on Southport Island with her husband, Tom and their two golden retrievers, Parker and Gus. Laura enjoys walking, boating and spending time at their condo in Sugarloaf.

A member of the National Association of Realtors, Maine Association of Realtors, she currently is serving as secretary for the Lincoln County Board of Realtors. Laura is affiliated with Rebuilding Together and Friends of Windjammer Days.

Laura can be contacted at Newcastle Realty’s office, 87 Main Street in Damariscotta and reached at 207-563-1003. Her email address is To learn more about Newcastle Realty, please visit

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage and Roof Leaks?

Whether you’re dealing with a slow leak in the basement or a steady drip from a hole in the roof, water can wreak havoc on your home—and your bank account. Once the water recedes, one of the first questions you’ll have is whether your homeowners insurance covers water damage and roof leaks. Well, we have you covered with the answers below.

Is water damage covered?

In a word, yes! A standard homeowners insurance policy will cover water damage and roof leaks unless they’re the result of gross negligence on your part. Even if the roof leak is caused by a windstorm or a tree crashing through the shingles, you’re covered.

Roof leaks are typically covered if a windstorm damages a home and creates an “opening” in the roof, says Dennis Hilton, owner of Cheney Insurance and Newcastle Realty. Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover any “preventable” damage to a property, so the key here is determining if the leak is caused by a sudden and unexpected event. For example, rain that drips in through a pre-existing hole is generally not a covered loss, because the insurance company would likely say you should have fixed the hole.

If a broken or frozen pipe turns your basement into a swimming pool, you can file a claim with your homeowners insurance and the policy will cover damages. Of course, each policy’s terms may include specific coverages and exclusions, so always read the fine print.

When is water damage not covered?

Water damage due to sewage and drain backups generally requires additional insurance coverage beyond a standard policy, says Suzanne Strachan, manager of the Personal Insurance division at Cheney Insurance.

Say your rain gutters are clogged because you haven’t cleaned them. With nowhere to go, water flows down the sides of your home and pools around the foundation, causing interior water damage.

“This type of claim, known as seepage, is a maintenance issue and often isn’t covered under your home insurance policy,” says Strachan. That’s because the damage is due to neglect that could have been prevented through proper home maintenance. Damage caused by manufacturing defects in your roofing material or installation errors are also not covered.

Another type of water damage homeowners insurance policies specifically exclude is that from flooding caused by a natural disaster (e.g., a hurricane). But you can purchase a separate flood policy.

Flood insurance premiums are pricey, however, and depend on the risk of flooding in the area where your house is located as well as the value of the home and its contents, says Holly Harris, a flood insurance specialist with Cheney Insurance

How to protect yourself from hidden costs

According to a study by Erie Insurance, nearly 27% of homeowners mistakenly believe their insurance will pay for damage that occurs to their roof through normal wear and tear. So proper home maintenance (clean your gutters!) and routine inspection (check and maintain your roof!) can go a long way to ensure any pooling water and roof leaks are caught early and fixed. If left unchecked, bigger—and potentially damaging—problems are likely to occur.

And of course, the better maintained your property is, the higher price it will command when its’ time to sell! Reach out to any Newcastle Realty agent to discuss the market value of your home!

Six Things You Don’t Want To Say When Selling

You know that expression about loose lips sinking ships? It holds true for selling your home as well. Sure, there are some things you have to disclose to buyers—such as if your home has lead paint or is located in a flood zone. But there’s plenty more you might feel like saying when you would be truly better off keeping your mouth strategically shut.

We’ve already revealed the things buyers should never say to sellers. Now, let us share some things that sellers should never let slip to buyers, or the agents representing them.

To help hone your “less is more” attitude when it comes to talking with prospective buyers, here are a few doozies that agents recommend never, ever saying.

“Our house is in perfect condition”

“Your home is your castle, and in your eyes it may seem perfect—but don’t make claims that aren’t true,” says Ken Gray, a Newcastle Realty broker.

“The home inspection may reveal otherwise, and, as a seller, you don’t want to wind up putting your foot in your mouth,” he explains. Bottom line: “There simply is no such thing as ‘perfect condition.’ Every house, whether it is brand new or a resale, has something that needs to be fixed, adjusted, replaced, or improved upon.”

“It’s been on the market for X…”

“Never, ever discuss how long the home has been on the market with prospective buyers,” says Bill Byrnes, an experience Realtor that has been with Newcastle Realty for 17 years. This info is often listed and available on the home’s information sheet, but bringing it up—especially if the home has been available for eons—can send sellers the wrong message. No one wants to buy a white elephant—and, if they do, it’s probably because they think they’ll be getting it dirt-cheap.

“We’ve never had a problem with…”

If you’re hoping to move quickly, you may be tempted to tell a few little white lies. So you never had a problem with weird neighbors, eh? Or flooded basements? Or vengeance-seeking poltergeists? Realtors agree that your mistruths—however insignificant they might seem—could come back to you with teeth.

“You’re setting yourself up for potential liability,” explains company owner Dennis Hilton. “You may not even be aware of the problem at first, but it could translate into an embarrassing moment upon inspection.” So, come clean with what you know and admit what you don’t.

“We always wanted to fix/renovate that, but…”

Tempted to mention, “We always thought about knocking this wall down and opening the space for more light?” How about “We planned on renovating this bathroom but ran out of cash”? Mum’s the word when it comes to fixes you intended to address. Nobody cares about good intentions.

“When sellers point out things they might change, this only alerts the buyer of more upcoming costs for them,” says Newcastle Realty associate broker Debby Schling. Who knows? Your buyers may not even want to knock down that wall or redo the bathroom. So why plant those ideas, along with those dollar signs?

“We spent a ton of money on X, Y, and Z”

Just because you love the Brazilian Koa wood flooring you installed throughout the first floor, that doesn’t mean prospective buyers will be willing to shell out for it.

“The buyer doesn’t care whether you spent $10,000 or $100,000 on your kitchen,” says Schling. “They are only going to offer what they feel the home is worth in relation to area comparable sales.” So, save your breath, or else you’ll risk sounding like you’re trying too hard to justify your price. Desperation isn’t cool.

“I’m not taking less than X amount for my home”

When it comes time to sell, it makes sense that you want top dollar. We get it! But at the same time, it’s important to be realistic and open to offers within a reasonable range.

“If you send a message that you are inflexible or not open to negotiating, it may not invite buyers to even try to work out acceptable price and terms as they will feel defeated from the start,” says Byrnes. “Word may spread that you have this sentiment as a seller, and people may start to avoid the house.”

When you are considering buying or selling, reach out to the professional agents at Newcastle Realty. We know the business and the marketplace, and will guide you through the real estate process while helping you avoid some of the pitfalls!

Pirate Rendezvous Returns to Damariscotta!

Following a hiatus in 2016, the Damariscotta River Pirate Rendezvous will return on Saturday, June 24 – bringing a motley crew of buccaneers both young and old to invade the Twin Villages and raise funds for local non-profits.

The restructured event will be a bit leaner, with a focus on activities at the Pirate Bazaar located at Schooner Landing including music, pirate re-enactments, pirate history exhibits, non-profit fundraising as well as food and beverage service.

There will be no children’s area on Water Street, allowing that road to stay open to normal traffic. However, the event will continue to provide plenty of action and activities for little buccaneers, including the pirate invasion at high noon.

“This event has always been about the children, and we plan on continuing that tradition,” said Charlie Herrick of Schooner Landing, the event host.

Also continuing will be the participation of the Pirates of the Dark Rose professional re-enactment group. They will bring sword fighting, black powder weapons, artillery, and the armed topsail yawl SV Must Roos to the event.

While many of the details are still being worked out, the general event schedule has been established. The Pirate Bazaar will open at 10 a.m., pirates will attack at high noon and invade the village with their numbers bolstered by young pirates who will join the crew, and there will be a Kid Pirates Costume Contest at 2 p.m. Schooner Landing will provide musical entertainment through the day, and the Pirates of the Dark Rose will create their “Tortuga Village” with exhibits, games and other activities. A variety of non-profit fundraising activities will also take place. Activities will continue at the Pirate Bazaar until 4 p.m.

While Schooner Landing will now host the event, Pirate Rendezvous originator Greg Latimer will still be on hand to assist with both preparations before the event and operations during the event.

More announcements regarding the Damariscotta River Pirate Rendezvous will be forthcoming soon. For further information on the Damariscotta River Pirate Rendezvous, including sponsorship opportunities, contact Greg Latimer at 207-380-9912 or

The Brokers’ Team at Newcastle Realty Welcomes Dean Jacobs

Long-time residents of Damariscotta may remember Dean Jacobs working at the Waltz Pharmacy Soda Fountain when he was a young boy, or behind the counter as a pharmacist in later years. Raised in this community, Dean has been an integral part, then and now, of his family’s business on Main Street. Still very passionate about being a part of the community he’s always called home, Dean can now also be found in another Main Street location just a few doors down, at Newcastle Realty. Becoming a real estate sales agent enables him to share the passion he has for the mid-coast area, the people who live and work here, and the natural beauty intrinsic to this region. An avid skier, having the mountains only two hours away, adds to the charm of the lifestyle he enjoys with his family. 

 Dean credits Newcastle Realty owner Dennis Hilton with building a great team of real estate professionals, who are supportive and enjoy collaborating with each other. “There is a real sense of community and entrepreneurship among the Newcastle Realty staff,” says Jacobs. “A team that works together effectively makes each individual happier and more successful, and that translates to satisfied clients. I am looking forward to this new endeavor.”  

 Welcome Dean in his new role serving the community by visiting with him at Newcastle Realty’s office at 87 Main Street in Damariscotta. He can also be reached at 207-557-0669, or by email at To learn more about Newcastle Realty, please visit

Carmen Reed Joins the Newcastle Realty Team

Carmen Reed is a people person, and is looking forward to helping clients navigate the process of buying and selling their home. Previously a director of a mid-coast area Chamber of Commerce, she has always loved being involved in community and sharing her passion for the area. Carmen chose to join Newcastle Realty because she recognized both owner, Dennis Hilton, and his team of professional agents, have the largest resources of cutting edge services to offer clients.   

A native of Wiscasset, Carmen currently resides in Nobleboro, with her husband Michael Prentice, and their three sons. Together, they own and manage Bayside Plumbing and Heating.  Along with being an advocate for her clients’ best interests, Carmen has a wealth of knowledge that can help those new to the area with service providers, school system advice, and ways to connect with community.

Contact Carmen at Newcastle Realty’s office, 87 Main Street in Damariscotta at 207-563-1003, or on her mobile at 207-380-6613, or by email. To learn more about Newcastle Realty, please visit on the web.


The Home-Buying Process in 10 Simple Steps

Wouldn’t it be great if buying a home were as simple as playing a board game like Monopoly? All you’d have to do is find a desirable neighborhood, hand the bank a few bucks, and get your house. Of course, the home-buying process is more complicated in real life. We have put together the following list to help you anticipate some important steps.

Step No. 1: Chose an agent

The first step in the home-buying process is to find an agent you feel comfortable working with on what will likely be the largest financial decision of your life. Each of the brokers at Newcastle Realty are a great choice—they are efficient and professional, and can help with your search and help get you to closing.

Step No. 2: Find a lender

Once you’ve chosen a real estate agent you trust to be your advocate, ask him or her to recommend lenders. Choosing someone to handle the financial part of the home-buying process can feel like a scary step, but choosing a lender that’s competitive on rates, communicative, and available is key. Our agents work with several local and regional banks, and can offer you  recommendations and contact info.

Step No. 3: Clean up your credit

Now that you have a great agent and lender, you can ask for guidance on any credit score issues you may be facing. Whether it’s a small or large problem, the lender can provide guidance to help repair your situation and make sure you’ll be approved for a loan.

Step No. 4: Apply for mortgage pre-approval

A lender will help you determine exactly what you can afford and, therefore, which houses you should be considering. To arrive at a purchase price, you’ll factor in expenses like homeowner’s insurance, association dues, and utilities to make sure you can comfortably make your mortgage payments. The lender will then identify the total amount of money it’s willing to lend you.“Having a pre-approval letter in hand when you’re ready to purchase a home adds strength to your offer, which can be an important advantage in a competitive home-buying market,” says Lorrie Zeiner, a top-producing broker at Newcastle Realty.

Step No. 5: Create a home wish list

Once you know what your purchasing power is, talk with your real estate agent about your ideal home. Come up with a few “musts,” as well as “wants” you’d ultimately be willing to compromise on. Think bigger than just the color of the kitchen or the floor plan, advises Zeiner. For instance, do you want to be within walking distance of restaurants? Do you want space between you and your neighbors? Or is proximity to a good school the most important factor?

Step No. 6: Search the listings

Now comes the fun part: searching for homes that meet your parameters. Visit Newcastle Realty’s award-winning website for a smooth online real estate search experience. When you begin touring homes that are on your short list, take along a notepad and jot down your thoughts as you approach each home. Can you imagine yourself living there? “Peruse them and make note of what you like about each home,” says Zeiner.

Step No. 7: Make an offer

Your real estate agent will walk you through the steps required to make an offer on a home in your area. “Your offer will likely include earnest money that will apply toward your down payment on the home and may include contingencies such as hiring a home inspector,” says Dennis Hilton, owner of Newcastle Realty. Expect some negotiation, and discuss a competitive offer with your agent.

Step No. 8: Get final mortgage approval

Once your offer to purchase is accepted, you’ll work with your lender to get final approval for your home purchase by the date specified for the closing. The lender may require you to pay property taxes or homeowners insurance for the first year at the time of closing, so make sure you know what funds will be expected. “Don’t make any major purchases like that big-screen TV or riding lawn mower until after closing, especially if you’d be using credit, as that can affect your mortgage qualification,” says Hilton.

Step No. 9: Do your due diligence

The due diligence process usually includes getting a home inspection to make sure you haven’t missed any hidden problems on your walk-throughs. If issues are found, consult with your agent about options. Those could include asking the current owner to fix them or take the cost of repair off the closing costs.

Step No. 10: Attend the closing

Once all of the above steps are completed, you’ll be on your way to the closing table. This is when the deed to the home is transferred from the seller to the buyer. Every transaction varies, but plan to sign a lot of paperwork. An attorney or settlement agent will guide you through the process. Then you’ll officially be a homeowner and receive the keys to your new home. Congrats!

Newcastle Realty Unveils New State-of-the-Art Website

People love to search online for properties and real estate, and an easy-to-use search function is the foundation for any great real estate website. For more than six months, Newcastle Realty has worked with a leading web design firm to create one of the best search experiences anywhere. The new website was recently unveiled and can be found at It will automatically render itself to be easily navigated on any device, so a visitor can find what they are looking for from a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet. Search for all properties in Maine, or by county, town, or MLS number. A search can easily be limited to just those listings offered by Newcastle Realty.
“We are very excited to have one of the newest and most easily navigated real estate websites around,” said company owner Dennis Hilton. “Working together, our staff and web design firm have taken time to carefully evaluate what most people want–and what they feel they really don’t need–as part of their online real estate search experience.” 
Select properties are prominently featured on the home page, the design is fresh and uncluttered, information about the broker staff can easily be accessed, as well as the many cutting edge services offered to buyers and sellers. The website offers information about the local area, and describes ways in which Newcastle Realty supports the communities they serve. Visitors can easily request more information about specific properties, or ask to speak with a broker.  The “What’s New” blog keeps buyers and sellers informed on the latest real estate news, trends and educational articles.  A subscribe button enables visitors to sign up for periodic updates.  Ongoing efforts to maximize search engine results and rankings, as well as interfacing with social media outlets, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube,  and Vimeo,  mean that clients who list their properties with Newcastle Realty are getting the widest possible exposure. Visit to learn more. Newcastle Realty is located at 87 Main Street, Damariscotta and can be reached by calling 207-563-1003.

Tight Inventory Creates Opportunity for Home Sellers

Sales of previously owned homes tumbled in February as the housing market remained choked by tight inventory. Existing-home sales were at a 5.48 million seasonally adjusted annual rate last month, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. That was down 3.7% compared with January’s sales pace, which was the strongest in a decade.

The median forecast among economists surveyed by MarketWatch was for a 5.45 million pace. Sales in February were still 5.4% higher compared with a year ago, but the supply situation has worsened. Inventory was 6.4% lower than in February 2016. Meanwhile, the median home price rose 7.7% compared with a year ago to $228,400. At the current pace of sales, it would take 3.8 months to exhaust available homes for sale, the lowest in any February back to 1999.

Sales increased in only one region in February. They rose 1.3% in the South. The regional declines ranged from a 13.8% tumble in the Northeast to a 3.1% decline in the West. In the Midwest, sales were down 7.0%. Across the country, properties spent a median 45 days on the market, down from 59 days a year ago. That’s evidence of strong interest in home buying, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said. Despite all the headwinds, demand remains “surprisingly resilient,” he added.

What this all means to us in mid-coast Maine is that now is a great time to list your home if you are considering selling in 2017. If you would like to talk about your homes value, or how we can help you sell quickly for the best price, please contact a Newcastle Realty agent, or call 207-563-3435.

Sara Rogers Joins Newcastle Realty

A Midcoast native, Sara Rogers is excited to bring her talent and commitment to Newcastle Realty’s professional team of agents. Sara has always been interested in real estate and gets excited about helping clients envision the possibilities a new home offers.   She and her husband, Jason, along with children, Kadence and Logan, live in Nobleboro and love the friendliness a small town has to offer. A familiar face in the community, Sara previously worked at Cheney Insurance and at Newcastle Publick House.  Sara is enthusiastic about helping people to learn to love the Maine she has grown up in; the quiet, peaceful lifestyle, the beauty of the area and the welcoming nature of the community.  
Dennis Hilton, owner and manager of Newcastle Realty, the Damariscotta area’s leading real estate company, is pleased Sara has chosen to follow her passion for becoming a broker. “Sara is willing to do whatever it takes to get a job done.  She is dedicated, trustworthy and a good listener and will be an asset to our team and her clients.”
Sara may be contacted at Newcastle Realty’s office, 87 Main Street in Damariscotta and can be reached at 207-563-1003 ext 121, or on her mobile at 207-380-7218.  Her email address is