DIY Projects & Home Care

How to Winterize Your Home

 

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. A simple way to do this is to disconnect your hose from your hose bibb. 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 freezing. You can purchase products specifically for this at places like Home Depot or Lowe’s, but you can also use something simple from around your house like a small towel or rag. Just make sure it’s secured around the bibb and won’t fall off. Check out our video showing you exactly how to do this here!

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

 

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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.

 

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Is it cheaper to remodel my home or move to a new home?

A lot of factors can affect a decision of whether to remodel your home or buy a new (or already-renovated) home. What is the most cost-effective option to upgrade your house? How difficult is it to get a home equity line of credit? How difficult will it be to sell my house? Can I afford a new house?

The thought of moving into a new house may seem overwhelming, but in most cases, moving into a new house is easier and more cost-effective than remodeling your home. There are several different reasons for this, the biggest being that mortgage loans tend to be easier to qualify for and are usually at a lower, fixed rate than home equity lines of credit.

Home equity lines of credit tend to be higher and at a variable rate, similar to a credit card. So, unless you have a substantial cash savings to pull from, a major renovation or remodeling home project (such as a bathroom or kitchen) may not be a great option for you. In these instances, buying a new home that already has the upgrades you are looking for is probably smarter.

To find out what types of loans and interest rates that you may qualify for, it’s best to contact your local lender or credit union. They’ll be able to help you understand your loan options, and what you may qualify for, including home equity lines of credit, should you choose to go that route.

For those who have enough cash savings to cover remodeling costs, it’s best to compare the out of pocket costs verses potential home value increase. To do this, answer the following questions as accurately as possible:

(scroll below for 3 questions to ask before you renovate)

  1. How much money will my renovation cost? This includes contractor time, labor, and materials. It’s best to get estimates from at least two or three contractors who are licensed and bonded, and who have a good reputation in the community. Be sure to tell the contractor exactly what type of materials you’d like to use in your renovation (i.e. quartz counters vs. granite counters, type of wood and style of cabinetry, carpeting vs. laminate vs. wood floors, etc.) so they can estimate material costs more accurately.
  2. How much value will this renovation add to my home? The best way to find out the potential added value now verses after remodeling is to consult an experienced real estate expert who is familiar with your area or neighborhood. A Realtor can help you find out what your current home value is, and what your home may be worth after the renovations have been completed.
  3. Given this information, is remodeling my home the best investment of my cash? If the renovation cost is higher than the potential increase in home value, then it’s probably better to move than to remodel. If, on the other hand, the renovation will add a significant amount of value to your house that outweighs the cost of the remodel, then it’s probably better to renovate.

Have more questions? Contact us! We're always happy to help you fully understand your options.

 

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How to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient: 12 Energy Saving Tips Everyone Should Know

“Responsible homeowner” may not be be a very exciting way to describe yourself, but it’ll definitely save you money and keep you warm this winter! We’ve gathered the best tips to make your home energy efficient without breaking the bank so you can enjoy a Portland winter like a pro.

Bonus! Potentially useful tax benefits that initially expired but were then retroactively renewed for 2017 involve energy-conservation and improvements made to your home. The new extension allows you to get a tax credit of 10 percent of what you spent on certain energy saving improvements such as insulation, energy-efficient windows and doors, and roofs. Check with your tax professional to see how you can take advantage of this benefit and make your home more energy efficient!

In the meantime, try implementing these DIY home energy saving ideas:

Start at the Source: Walls, Windows, and Doors

1. Add Insulation Especially to Leaky Areas

  • Escaping heat can become an easy way to lose a huge amount of energy in your home during the winter. You can find inexpensive insulation from Lowe’s or Home Depot to fill in all the areas in your home that might allow heat to escape in the winter or cool air in the summer.

  • If you have an unfinished attic in your home, adding insulation to it can save energy and money in the long term.

2. Seal All the Windows and Doors.

  • Use window treatments that improve energy efficiency throughout your home.

  • Add foam weather stripping for your doors and windows. It’s easy to apply and an affordable way to conserve heat.

3. Use the Sun to Your Advantage

  • When the sun is out, open window coverings and let the sun heat your home! Sun can pass through your windows and help keep rooms in your home warm without turning on your furnace, making it both cost-effective and energy saving. 

4. Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air.

  • Moist air feels warmer AND holds heat better, so you can feel more comfortable even when your thermostat is set to a lower temp.

Create Efficient Systems: Water Heaters, Thermostats, and HVAC (continued below)

5. Lower Your Thermostat - Invest in a Smart Thermostat

  • Set times that you’re not typically home for cooler temps. Change the heat setting (or automatically schedule with a smart thermostat) from anywhere to avoid wasting energy heating your home when no one is there.

  • Limit space heater use, which can be more expensive and less energy-efficient to heat your home.

6. Tune Up & Maintain Your HVAC System

  • A well maintained furnace and vent system will reduce home energy consumption. Check your furnace’s filter monthly and replace it regularly to keep your home systems energy efficient.

  • Consider replacing an older furnace with a new high-efficiency furnace system. 

7. Turn Down Hot Water Heater Setting to 120 Degrees

  • Many conventional water heaters have their temperature set too high, which can cause you to lose a lot of energy in your home because it’s keeping water warm when no one is using it. Turn the temperature setting down to 120 degrees, which will easily get your clothes and dishes clean without wasting excessive home energy.

8. Consider a Zone Heating & Cooling System

  • A zone heating and cooling system allows you to heat the areas of your home that need more warmth without wasting heat in areas of your home that don’t need it. 

Simple Tricks to Easily Conserve Home Energy

9. Bundle Up!

  • Pull out those cozy sweaters, blankets, and socks to keep warm without cranking up the heat. You can even add area rugs to insulate floors, reducing the amount of heat energy you use.

10. Adjust Ceiling Fans

  • Create better airflow by changing your ceiling fans to turn clockwise on a low setting in the winter. This will trap heat inside to keep rooms in your home warmer during cooler months.

11. When decorating for the holidays, use LED lights to reduce cost and energy.

  • If you want to conserve energy but still want to decorate with lights this holiday season, replace older, incandescent lighting with new LED holiday lights (these use at least 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than the incandescent lights). They also don’t emit as much heat and are less likely to break.

12. Only use exhaust fans when necessary.

  • Exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom pull the hot air up and out of your home. Use them sparingly to save home energy for where it's really needed.

We’re always available to talk through any additional questions you may have. Don’t hesitate to reach out via email or phone to contact us!


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Be Prepared: Our Home Maintenance Tips for Fall in Portland


Living in Portland gives us the opportunity to enjoy every season the way they were meant to be enjoyed! This means autumn’s warm colors and cooler days and winter’s crisp air and festivities. But each transition into the next season comes with its own annual upkeep to keep the inside and outside of our homes looking good and running smoothly!

Now is the perfect time of year to get a head-start on important home maintenance to keep your home looking good and working efficiently. Save money on your energy bills, prevent unexpected repairs, and relax with your pumpkin ale in hand knowing your home is looking good and ready for cooler weather!

Need help getting started? Here’s our checklist of home maintenance tips to give you a jump start on autumn and keep your home in tip-top shape.

Safety Maintenance:
•    Rake and compost fallen leaves to prevent slips. 
•    Inspect and replace outdoor lighting. 
•    Trim tree branches in preparation for rain and snow.


Exterior Home Maintenance:
•    Clean or replace old entry mats.
•    Clean outdoor dryer vent.
•    Clean leaves and debris from gutters. 
•    Disconnect hose from hose bib and drain water.
•    Tighten home-affixing hardware.
•    Check and address any damage, rust, or peeling paint.

(continue below for the home's interior checklist)

Interior Home Maintenance:

•    Check windows and doors for cracks, seal as needed.
•    Repair or update weather-stripping.
•    Inspect and clean appliances (tip: to clean the interior of a washing machine, we run an empty cycle with a cup of vinegar).
•    Re-caulk around the shower/tub, sink, and cabinets, if needed.
•    Dust fans and light fixtures.
•    Inspect all carbon monoxide and smoke detectors to make sure they are in working order.
•    Clear any dust or debris from radiators and grates.
•    Replace your HVAC air filter.
•    Have your furnace inspected.

We’re always available to talk through any additional questions you may have. Don’t hesitate to reach out via email or phone.

 

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The May Edition

May has finally arrived and it. is. amazing. Today is gorgeous. The forecast for tomorrow and the upcoming days look promising. Here are a few things we're looking forward to this month:

1. Taste: It's Oregon Wine Month, which means it's the ideal time to learn about the region's incredible wineries and the perfect reason to pop into your favorite wine shop.

2. Maintain: If you're like us, you probably waited until the evenings warmed up a bit more before prepping the deck for use. With all the great weather at our doorstep in the upcoming week (or two!), it's the perfect time to clean and maintain your deck before it becomes your home's MVP for backyard gatherings and lazy mornings with a cup a coffee.

3. Plant: Speaking of backyards, if you're thinking about creating your own produce, kitchen herbs, and/or flower garden, now is the time to get everything in their pots or in the ground! 

4. Enjoy: last, but certainly not least, Mother's Day is coming up soon: May 13th! Celebrate the special lady in your life with a delicious brunch on a clean deck, looking over a freshly maintained garden, while sipping a favorite Oregon wine. (See what we did there?)

In other news, the Portland market is starting to move and open houses are popping up everywhere! If you spy a home you'd love to check out, give us a call! We're always happy set up a visit for you. Also be sure to follow us here or on social media to track our weekend open houses and new listings!

 

Don't forget to join Claire and Heather on Tuesdays at 1pm for their weekly Facebook Live chat!

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Does Location, Size or Condition Matter the Most?

When looking for a home with my clients, I'm often asked what's more important: the home's location, size or condition. Heather and I talked about this yesterday on our "Dear Claire" Facebook Live session - and here's a few more questions to ask yourself when looking at homes:

Size: Does it fit your lifestyle? And what about future lifestyle?
If a two-bedroom bungalow is calling your name today, that's awesome! But if you're also planning on starting a family or possibly thinking about having an aging parent live with you in the next few years, will that bungalow fit your long-term needs? While selling a home is always a possibility, it's also important to know you may not see returns on your purchase within the first few years depending on the market.

Condition: Does it need repairs?
When viewing a home, you'll want to make an honest assessment of your own handiness, abilities, and time. No matter the project, it can take a lot of dedication and finances. Many buyers look only at what their monthly payment is going to be, and of course, you’d like that to be as low as possible. But if you buy a house needing $75,000 worth of work - for instance, a new kitchen - financial wisdom tells us cash now is worth more than cash later. Following that advice, you might want to consider buying a house $75,000 more expensive, with a kitchen you want already installed, because you’ll be paying for it over time, instead of all up front.

Location: Is it everything?
As Heather noted in the video, "location is everything"; but when buying solely based on location, you’ll have to compromise on other things. A family of 6 buying a 2-bedroom home with a semi-finished basement in a fantastic location is compromising on square footage. There may be a 5-bedroom home further out, at the same price. One location might enable you to get home in an easy 15-minute trip, but there isn’t easy hang out space for the whole family, while the bigger house affords you tons of space, but means you’re commuting 45 minutes to and from work. These are the difficult considerations when deciding between properties and unfortunately not a decision we can help you make, because you ultimately have to live with the choice; but we're ready to help you talk through your options.

Budget: What does your budget allow you to do?
If you're already stretching your budget to buy a home and pay the mortgage, you'll want to consider what your finances will be afterwards, as you adjust to being a homeowner. After moving in, you may discover you need new curtains and a cute couch; and you’ll want some extra cash for that. However, there are ways we can structure a loan to minimize your out of pocket costs and will help with your cash reserves after closing (perhaps seller pays some of your closing costs!).

Bottom line: ultimately it's about what is important to you and what fits your lifestyle, both current and potential. Sometimes those top priorities can be in conflict and our job is to help you figure out what’s most important to you.

 

Have a real estate question you want Claire and Heather to answer on their weekly live chat? Let us know below!

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The April Edition

April is Portland is one of best times of the year. From viewing the cherry blossoms by the river to shedding the winter jackets, here are three things we're excited about this month:

1) Out & About: Sometimes during the bustle of daily life, it's easy to forget so many amazing wineries are right at our doorstep thanks to the Willamette Valley and Columbia Gorge. They have all the makings for a fun day trip - or fantastic weekend getaway. Can't make it out? Check out Portland's Grand Tasting on April 12 at the Lefthand Annex.

2) Build Community: Join our team on Thursday, April 19th, for a day of volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. If you'd like more details and wish to sign up, please email us.

3) In the Garden: We're excited about enjoying evening meals in our backyards and watching our gardens grow as the weather warms up. Want to get the most from your space whether it's a yard or deck? Check out Portland Nursery's blog, which offers great care tips for plants both in and outdoors.

If you're thinking about buying or selling a home or investment property, please let us know!
We're always excited to help people set and reach their real estate goals.

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The March Edition

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friends, good news: Spring officially arrives next week, which means it's time to air out, clean up, and check off our spring maintenance list - and get our yards ready for summer entertaining!

1. Portland Eats: There's still time to enjoy Portland Dining Month! Try a few new-to-you spots and be sure to make your reservations at participating restaurants using OpenTable to support Oregon Food Bank. (We think it's the perfect way to reward yourself after a conquering the below lists and projects.)

2. Spring Clean: we know some people love spring cleaning; and others, well, not so much. To help make the process easier, here are some great articles to bookmark for future reference: cleaning and organizing closets and storage spaces, how to price used furniture, and a spring cleaning checklist for your home.

3. Spring Maintenance: it's time to roll up your sleeves and get through the seasonal home maintenance checklist. It's a great time to change your home's air filters, check your roof, and - grab your work-gloves! - clean the gutters. 

4. Homes for Sale: The market is starting to heat up with inventory. Thinking about selling or buying in 2018 or 2019? Give us a call. We're here to help whether it's sorting out a short or long-term timeline to meet your homeownership goals.

And speaking of help, that leads us to... 

5. Are you a Facebook user? We are too - and we just created a special Facebook Group for our friends! We'd love for you to join us for weekly insights from Claire and the PGR team, via videos and articles, as they share their experiences in and around the Portland-area real estate market. (And yes, please answer those anti-bot questions to join!)

If you're thinking about buying a home or investment property, please let us know!
We're always excited to help people set and reach their real estate goals.

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Portland's Home Energy Score

You may have heard single-family homes for sale within the City of Portland are now required to include a home energy score in their listings.

To answer a common question: this doesn’t replace a home inspection, which the buyer pays for, prior to purchasing a home. The home energy score audit, paid by the seller, needs to be conducted prior to listing a home for sale.

Why? Per the City of Portland's website:

Home energy scores are a market-based solution for conveying previously unknown but critical information to both buyers and sellers of homes. When homeowners invest in improving the energy efficiency of their homes, those costs may be recouped as scores translate into a value that can be recognized by the market. A recent analysis that included over 20 studies worldwide of homes with green certifications demonstrated that green-certified homes sell for up to four percent higher than a comparable home.

Beyond lower energy bills and greater housing affordability, energy-efficient homes are more comfortable and livable. The indoor air quality of these homes is better, leading to healthier lives. Home energy scores afford consumers a measure of protection when making one of the biggest financial investments most people ever make. [more below]


Benefits for Owners
- Information on money-saving home improvements.

Benefits for Buyers
- Better insight into the full costs of owning or renting a home.
- Ability to compare energy costs and performance between homes.
- Knowledge of potential home improvements in advance of purchase.
- Access to additional mortgage products.

Benefits for Sellers
- Recoup investments in energy efficiency upgrades at time of sale.

Have questions? Not to worry, we're here to help answer questions and help you understand these changes - and benefits - regardless if you're a currently a homeowner thinking about remodeling, looking to buy, or thinking about selling.

 

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