PFD Wins Stair Climb … AGAIN!

As most of your know, my husband Lenny is in the Portland Fire Department (and is also a Realtor). Since 2008, he and his fellow colleagues have participated in the American Lung Association’s Race Up Boston Place. This year, the department won the fire fighter division for the third time in five years!

The stair climb takes place at the BNY Mellon Building at One Boston Place – the third tallest building along Boston’s skyline with 41 stories. The guys in the PFD  joined this event in 2008 and decided that they were not going to just climb, they were going to climb wearing their full turnout gear, including helmet and breathing air from their SCBA air packs. It was a first. That first year the Portland Fire Department did not win, but they would the next year and the year after that!

Since the PFD did not win in 2011, this year seemed less stressful and everyone seemed to just be going to have fun and do their best – not defend a title. There was lots of talk around the building that morning about other departments and how they trained and how some fire fighters were also triathletes and how so many departments wanted to win. I was able to volunteer at the top of the stairs for a bit and see some of the other teams finish – and some of them were SO fast and they were hardly sweating once they reached the top. About 15 minutes into the fire fighter division, I was sure there wasn’t a chance that we would win.

Once the competition was over, we headed over to the award ceremony at a local pub called Scholars. The PFD and all us wives found a great place to view the trophy presentation along a second floor balcony. Of course the fire fighter division is always announced last, so as we were listening to all the individual awards, a familiar name was called – Liz Westburg – she was one of the wives who climbed with me on the Wives of the PFD team. She won the women 30-39 age group! And then, when they started to announce the mens division, two more familiar names were announced – Ryan Thomson, fastest male fire fighter in the 30-39 age group and James Westburg (Liz’s husband!) was number three in the same category! Three champions in our group – SO EXCITING and SO PROUD! This was clearly as far as we thought our winning streak was going this year.

And then it was time for the fastest fire fighter team. In years past they have drawn this out. Starting with third place and then second and so on. This year, well, you can see here. It was SO EXCITING and so unexpected! We had all planned on going out to dinner to celebrate recent promotions, but this gave us another reason to celebrate! OH! And the PFD and Wives of the PFD helped lead the company rank fundraising division with a total of $7,940.50. Only $59.50 from $8,000! If you would like to help us top $8,000, donate here!

Congratulations to all participants!


“It needs too much work!”

Lenny & I outside our house. Notice the paint on his fingers :)

Real Estate today is SO different than it was 6, 7, years ago. I’m not just talking about financing, I’m talking attitude. I got my license in 2005 and my clients were SO excited to buy their first homes and were willing to buy homes that needed work without hesitation. Today’s buyers are just as excited to buy their first home, yet they want a perfect home. Perhaps because they are busy working or perhaps because they do not know how to do the work and are afraid of the expense. Below are a few of the items we see buyers squirm at the most and how they really aren’t as hard or expensive to fix as you think.


We have all walked into houses and seen crazy colors – kitchens with red cabinets, bedrooms with hot pink and purple walls, woodwork painted forest green. These seem like HUGE projects to fix; however, they really aren’t and they offer a great opportunity for sweat equity. You say you don’t like to paint? SOLUTION: Have a painting party! In your group of friends you are bound to find some peeps who enjoy painting and are actually really good at it. AND! Having friends help you with things you do not enjoy makes it more fun. TIP: PAY THEM! NO! Not with cash – with food! Order pizza from Portland Pie and get a keg from Shipyard Brewing. If the weather permits, have a BBQ. You’re friends will be stoked and you will have customized your house a bit and added some equity all at the same time.

(This friends helping out thing can also apply to heavy yard work!)


I know, bad mental pictures are already circling through your head. Shag green, torn, stained, smelly – okay, I will stop. Carpet is not as hard to fix as you think. Many times, Lowes or Home Depot have specials – free installation on 3 or more rooms, save _% when you buy and have your carpet installed by them and so on. OH! You don’t have the money because you will be using it all on your appraisal, inspection and down payment? Okay. Have you thought about asking the seller to give you a credit at closing? Get an estimate from your preferred carpet installation company and ask the sellers to offer you a credit at closing. Even if they are only willing to pay half, that’s more than you had before you asked.


The three major items that buyers are looking for to be in tip top condition are heat systems, windows and roof. This is because they can be the most expensive items to repair and replace. When it comes to roofs, you can often tell just by looking at them that they need to be repaired; however, your building inspector will ultimately be able to tell you if the shingles have a few years left or if they are beyond their design life. Replacing roof shingles is not cheap; however, there are many ways to do it at a discount and still get quality work. ASK AROUND! Everyone has a friend who can install shingles and I bet he does it as his side job. Don’t know anyone? Look into your local fire department. I know, this sounds funny; but, did you know that most fire fighters only work a couple of shifts a week (albeit they are 24 hour shifts) at the fire department and on their days off have trades? Many are master electricians, plumbers and you guessed it, roofers! They are typically insured and charge MUCH less than a general contractor you find in the yellow pages.


ACK! One sight of giant floral arrangements on dining room walls will typically send my clients right out the door. I even had a seller remove all the wallpaper in her house because she was sick of all the feedback coming back about the wallpaper. Really it’s not that hard and just takes a little patience. HINT! This is another project to try and enlist your friends to help with! (You may want to have some sweet treats around for after the pizza though. This is a bit more tedious than painting.) When I was a kid, my mom rented a steamer and went to town in our house. However, these days you can find water mixing solutions at the hardware store and spray it on the wall with a basic garden sprayer and scrape (GENTLY!) away. However, most have had GREAT success with fabric softener and hot water. Here is a great step by step guide from the DIY Network!

SEE! There is no need to be afraid to buy a home that needs some work. And most likely, at the end of your projects, you will have WAY more equity in your home than the person who buys a house that is perfection inside.

As always, if you are looking to buy a home in Maine, we would love to help you! (207-831-0495)BONUS! We know PLENTY of people who can help with any project you may have (remember, Lenny is a fire fighter for the City of Portland!)