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Property Tax Appeals

The statewide average of error on assessed property value is a whopping 11%! This means you may be paying more property taxes than necessary on your home.

Why is there such a high percentage of error? Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington counties have dedicated staff that search through home listings looking for recently-improved properties in order to raise assessed values and collect more taxes. Typically, they are looking for “assumed remodels.” When they find an assumed remodel, they will look at the final occupancy permit (issued by the contractor once the remodel is complete and the home is move-in ready) for the increased value of the property. Unfortunately, remodeling contractors will often erroneously include costs on the final occupancy permit that are not associated with home value, such as dumpster rentals, porta-potty rentals, or remodeling materials. If you are remodeling your home, make sure to ask the contractor not to include these costs on the occupancy permit.

(scroll down for more information...)

When you get your tax bill in November, look over it carefully to make sure the numbers are accurate. Check to see if an increased assessed value is correct and not due to any sort of “maintenance improvement”. For example, new paint or carpet, a roof replacement, or new furnace should not count as added value. What should be included as added value are structural changes like a bedroom addition, a kitchen/bath remodel, or finishing a basement. If you find errors in your assessed value, you have one year to contest it, and can only argue one year’s worth of taxes (unless the increase is 20% over the market value, in which case you can contest the past two years of taxes).

How do you contest your home’s assessed value? The best way to appeal your assessed value is by using comparable (similar) properties in your neighborhood that are more representative of your property’s current value. Have this information prepared and outlined before your scheduled hearing because you will only have 10-15 minutes to make your case. Make sure your evidence is strong and to the point! In all cases, the property assessor is assumed correct unless you can prove otherwise. And, of course, reach out to us if you have questions! We have great professionals that can help you contest your property taxes.

 

For more information, check out our "Dear Claire" Facebook Live series.

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Preparing for Tax Season

Tax season is upon us! If you're gathering all your documents together to file your taxes, you're not alone. We've compiled a list of documents you'll need for you or your tax preparer to file this year:

  • Your W-2 or 1099 from your employer.
  • A copy of your property tax bill for 2018.
  • 1099s from all your mortgage holders (lenders). Remember, mortgage interest is deductible for up to $750,000 in mortgage loans. 
  • A copy of your settlement statement for any property bought or sold in 2018. There may be other deductions here!

 

For more information, check out our "Dear Claire" Facebook Live series.

 Subscribe to our YouTube channel today to help us reach our goal of 100 subscribers.

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Home Ownership: Your First Year

10 Things to Remember During Your First Year of Home Ownership

  1. Hire a locksmith to change your locks.
  2. Switch all utilities (electric, gas, water/sewer, garbage, cable/internet, etc.) into your name as of your move-in date.
  3. Be sure to change your address with the post office and anyone you receive bills from (bank, credit card companies, student loans, etc.). USPS will forward mail to your new address for up to 6 months.
  4. Make note of where all your shut-off valves and electric panel are in your new home.
  5. Change all smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector batteries.

  6. Have your heating, air conditioning, and all major appliances serviced if not done recently. And be sure to change your furnace air filter regularly!
  7. Hire a yard care company, or purchase any yard care tools you may need for each season (including lawn mower, weed-wacker, shovel, etc.).
  8. Check and clean your gutters as needed.
  9. Check and clean your dryer vent regularly.
  10. Winterize your home during cold months by disconnecting and insulating outdoor faucets.

Want more home maintenance tips? Contact us, or check out our YouTube channel series on 5-minute home maintenance throughout the year!

 

Follow our Facebook events page, or visit our Instagram or Twitter feeds to see the most current open house updates and details.

Join us on Tuesdays at 1pm PST for our "Dear Claire" Facebook Live series. Subscribe to our YouTube channel today to help us reach our goal of 100 subscribers.

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Portland Real Estate Market Stats November 2018

According to the latest real estate statistics from RMLS,  the Portland metro area saw a decrease in average home sale price, down to $448,900. Median sale price in the Portland metro area also went down, to $391,400. The number of days homes are on the market increased by 4, now up to 57 days. This indicates that prices are slowly decreasing and inventory is slowly increasing. 

Wondering what this means for you? Contact us

 

Follow our Facebook events page, or visit our Instagram or Twitter feeds to see the most current open house updates and details.

Join us on Tuesdays at 1pm PST for our "Dear Claire" Facebook Live series. Subscribe to our YouTube channel today to help us reach our goal of 100 subscribers.

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Winter Home Maintenance List

Here’s our checklist of home maintenance tips to give you a jump start on Winter and keep your home in tip-top shape. And be sure to check the rules in your city or town to see what homeowners are responsible for during snowy days!

Safety Maintenance:

  • Rake and compost fallen leaves to prevent slips.
  • Check and repair entry stairs and railing.
  • Inspect and replace outdoor lighting.
  • Shovel snow and add salt to walkways as needed*.

*Note: In Portland, the sidewalk in front of your property is considered homeowner responsibility. In other words, if someone were to slip and fall due to unmoved snow, the homeowner would be held responsible, not the city.

(Scroll down for exterior and interior home maintenance lists...)

Exterior Home Maintenance:

  • Seal any cracks in walls or foundation.
  • Update or repair weather-stripping.
  • Clean leaves and debris from gutters.
  • Cover and insulate hose bibs.
  • Protect or move outdoor furniture.
  • Remove and clean window screens.
  • Cover air conditioner.
  • Store seasonal yard tools.

Interior Home Maintenance:

  • Protect indoor flooring by adding an interior entry mat to collect outdoor water and debris.
  • Check and replace smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries.
  • Have your fireplace inspected and cleaned.
  • Check and repair attic insulation if needed.
  • Check and repair caulking around doors and windows.
  • Insulate pipes near windows and doors, or other unheated areas.
  • Reverse ceiling fan to turn clockwise (this pushes heated air down, as opposed to up).
  • Keep the thermostat at 55 degrees or higher when away from your home to prevent pipes from freezing.

 

Want more home maintenance tips? Contact us, or check out our YouTube channel series on 5-minute home maintenance throughout the year!

 

Follow our Facebook events page, or visit our Instagram or Twitter feeds to see the most current open house updates and details.

Join us on Tuesdays at 1pm PST for our "Dear Claire" Facebook Live series. Subscribe to our YouTube channel today to help us reach our goal of 100 subscribers.

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How to prepare for a home showing

When you have your home listed for sale, it can be a bit overwhelming. Most sellers aren’t sure how to prepare for home showings or open houses. To help give you a better idea, we’ve compiled a list of how to prepare your home (and yourself!) for home showings: 


1. Keep your home clean and tidy. A buyer’s first impression is important, and nothing detracts from a good impression more than an unkempt house. Before your home goes on the market, deep clean it (or hire a professional cleaner) and then tidy up before any home showings. Make sure beds are made, toys are put away, and no dirty dishes or laundry are visible.


2. Remove clutter and unnecessary items. Your home should be clutter-free for home showings. Buyers won’t be able to picture their own belongings fitting into the house if the space is already filled with too much stuff. Box up all unnecessary items and store them out of sight. 

3. Create an inviting space. When a buyers walk into your home, they should feel welcomed. The more comfortable they feel in the house, the more likely they are to want to live there. To create an inviting space, be sure to turn on lights, open curtains, and leave the heat or A/C on prior to showings. If you want to set your house apart from others, you can also create pleasant smells by baking cookies or heating cinnamon in a pan right before an open house. Just make sure the scent isn't too overpowering because that can backfire!

4. Make sure pets are removed or crated. We love pets, but not everyone does! Make sure your pets are secured prior to showings by either removing them from the home, or crating them. Remember that putting your pet in a closed room will prevent buyers from seeing that room and should be avoided. 

5. Leave the house prior to potential buyers arriving! This is the most important way to prepare for a home showing. Buyers want to be able to envision themselves living in the house, and if you (and/or your family) is there, they won’t be able to see it as their potential new home. 

It can be difficult to leave for showings, particularly if you have small children at home, but it doesn’t have to be boring! Here’s a list of things to do around Portland that are sure to keep your little ones entertained.

Want more tips? Contact us! We're always happy to answer any questions you may have about the home selling process.

 

Follow our Facebook events page, or visit our Instagram or Twitter feeds to see the most current open house updates and details.

Join us on Tuesdays at 1pm PST for our "Dear Claire" Facebook Live series. Subscribe to our YouTube channel today to help us reach our goal of 100 subscribers.

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How to Winterize Your Home Exterior

 

Preparing your home for the cold Winter months ahead can be fast and simple! One of the first things you should do is to winterize the exterior of your home to prevent your pipes from freezing. Make sure to disconnect your hose from your hose bibb on any exterior faucets. To do this, unscrew the hose attachment and let the water drain from the hose bibb. Once you’ve done that, insulate the hose bibb to prevent pipe freezing. You can purchase products specifically for this (like a frost-proof hose bibb) at places like Home Depot or Lowe’s. Alternatively, you can use something simple from around your house like a small towel or rag to insulate your exterior faucet. Just make sure it’s secured around the bibb and won’t fall off. Check out our video showing you exactly how to disconnect your hose from your outdoor faucet here!

Want more home maintenance tips? Contact us or check out our YouTube series on 5-minute home maintenance tips throughout the year. 

 

Follow our Facebook events page, or visit our Instagram or Twitter feeds to see the most current open house updates and details.

Join us on Tuesdays at 1pm PST for our "Dear Claire" Facebook Live series. Subscribe to our YouTube channel today to help us reach our goal of 100 subscribers.

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What's The Difference Between a Condo, Co-op, and Townhouse?

There are several differences between condos, townhouses, and co-ops, the largest being that co-ops are not considered “property”, whereas condos and townhouses are.

When you own a townhouse, you own the interior of your unit, the exterior walls outside your unit and land that your unit occupies, but not the common areas. When you own a condo, you own the interior (walls in) of your unit, but not the exterior walls, land, or common areas.

With a co-op, you own “shares” of the building equal to the value of the unit you occupy, but not the unit itself or any part of the building, structure, land, or common areas.

Another difference is that townhouses and condos are often part of a homeowner’s association that manages the common areas, and may also manage the exterior maintenance of the structure, in exchange for HOA dues. HOAs are often run by property management companies, which are also paid for through the HOA.

Additionally, with townhouses and condos, you may sell your unit of your own accord, to whomever you choose, without approval from the HOA. In other words, you are not subject to any restrictions on who you sell to. Also, with townhouses and condos, you can often make interior improvements without approval from the HOA.

(keep scrolling to learn about co-ops!)

With co-ops, on the other hand, you usually pay a higher monthly “maintenance fee” to the co-op board (all of the share owners), that go towards maintenance, repairs, and taxes. Additionally, co-ops are subject to many restrictive rules when selling your shares (all new owners or renters must be approved by the board), and you must get board approval before making any changes to your unit.

Another significant difference between townhouses and condos verses co-ops are that the latter do not qualify for traditional home mortgages. A co-op would require a loan to purchase shares, rather than a mortgage to purchase property (such as a condo or townhouse).

It’s important to know the difference between these three types of housing, so you know what your individual responsibilities are, as well as what type of loan you may qualify for to purchase.

Purchasing a co-op is often a more complicated process than purchasing a townhouse or condo, so it’s important to plan accordingly if you plan on going that route. Note, however, that co-ops are not very common in Portland, and are found most frequently in New York city.

Have more questions? Contact us! We're always happy to answer any questions you may have about your different home purchase options.

 

Follow our Facebook events page, or visit our Instagram or Twitter feeds to see the most current open house updates and details.

Join us on Tuesdays at 1pm PST for our "Dear Claire" Facebook Live series. Subscribe to our YouTube channel today to help us reach our goal of 100 subscribers.

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6 tips for saving money to buy a home

The first step in saving for a home down payment is to assess your financial situation. Take a look at your income, debt, and where your money is going each month.

Getting a better idea of where you are financially now will help you figure out the best ways to save a larger down payment, faster. When you have a handle on your current financial situation, consider the following six ways to help you start saving money for a home: 

1.    Cut out the extras.


Once you’ve assessed where your money is being allocated, you may be able to see areas where you can cut back. Do you have an expansive cable plan but rarely watch TV? Are you paying an annual fee for a gym membership but work out at home? Did you forget to cancel a free introductory offer that you’re now being charged for? All of these small extras can add up, and by eliminating them you can save for a home faster.   

2.    Dine in instead of eating out. 


Speaking of unnecessary expenses, a huge way to save money for a home purchase is by making your own meals rather than going out. All of those morning coffees, delivered lunches, and expensive dinners can add up quickly. Make the most of your money by buying groceries and preparing meals yourself.

A great way to do this is by meal-prepping. Make it a weekly routine to plan meals ahead of time. Set your coffee maker, pack your lunches, and cook dinner at home. You’ll be amazed at how much money this will save you! 

3.    Pay off or consolidate debt.


If you’re accruing and paying a high interest rate on your current debt, it will undoubtedly affect your ability to save for a down payment on a house. 

To maximize your down payment saving potential, begin by planning how and when you will pay off your debt. A good way to start is to pay down the debt that has the highest interest rate first until it has been paid off. Keep in mind, however, that certain debt is better to have than others (for instance, student loan interest is tax-deductible, whereas credit card interest is not). 

If paying off debt seems too insurmountable, consider consolidating it. Many credit unions have lower-interest credit cards and may be willing to increase your credit limit if you transfer your outstanding balance from another (higher interest) credit card.

There are also debt consolidation companies that will work with you to negotiate with companies to consolidate all your debt at a fixed interest rate and fixed payment every month. 

4.    Set up an automatic savings deposit each month.


One way to ensure you’re saving money each month is to set up an automatic deposit into your savings account. You can do this through most online banking systems by setting up a recurring transfer from your checking into your savings on a particular day of the month. Setting aside $300 a month would add $3,600 into your down payment fund per year!

5.    Consider a second part-time job. 


Depending on your availability, a second part-time job may be a great way to save up extra cash. It doesn’t have to be a conventional job, either. Do you have a special talent you’re not utilizing? Are you experienced in wood working, art, or knitting? You could start an etsy shop and sell your handmade goods, or run a booth at a local craft fair!

6.    Look into down payment assistance programs, such as the Oregon Bond Residential Loan Program through Portland Housing Center.


Certain areas (including Portland!) have buyer assistance programs that help you save by matching some of your down payment funds (or giving you a lower interest rate on your home mortgage) if you fall within certain income limits, and take home-buying classes. For more information about this program, check out the website here

Have more questions? Contact us! We're always happy to offer tips or advice about saving for your first home!

 

Follow our Facebook events page, or visit our Instagram or Twitter feeds to see the most current open house updates and details.

Join us on Tuesdays at 1pm PST for our "Dear Claire" Facebook Live series. Subscribe to our YouTube channel today to help us reach our goal of 100 subscribers.

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How to stage your home to sell


(With Special Guest, Appetite Shop)

In a recent digital newsletter we sent out, we talked about the importance of making a good first impression on buyers when you’re selling your home. As we noted, first impressions make a big difference in how fast your home sells, and for what price. And If you’re looking to make a good first impression and don’t know where to start, a good place to focus is on staging your home. We called in local experts to get their advice on how to best stage your home so that it makes a good impression on potential buyers. Erin and Megan, from Appetite Shop here in Portland, graciously agreed to lend their expertise in home decorating and home staging. Here are just a few of her valuable tips on how to stage a bedroom to make it look cozy...

1. Start with a blank canvas. Remove all clutter and unnecessary items so you can really see the space and furniture:

2. Add textiles (such as blankets and throw pillows that have an interesting design or pop of color) and texture (such as baskets, rugs, and weavings).

3. Add plants and personal touches. Plants and other personal touches such as books or figurines create an inviting space and give a bedroom that cozy feel that people desire.

All of these small changes can make your home more desirable to buyers, and get your home sold faster and at a potentially higher price! You can find the all of the items shown here (and more!) by visiting Appetite Shop in person at: 2136 E Burnside St. Portland, OR 97214, or checking out their website here.

Have more questions? Contact us! We're always happy to offer tips or advice about staging and selling your home.

 

Follow our Facebook events page, or visit our Instagram or Twitter feeds to see the most current open house updates and details.

Join us on Tuesdays at 1pm PST for our "Dear Claire" Facebook Live series. Subscribe to our YouTube channel today to help us reach our goal of 100 subscribers.

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