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.
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!
Join us this Saturday, April 28, 12-2p, for an open house in the St Johns neighborhood!
If you're looking for your own fixer upper, this one might be the one for you! Located in the heart of St. Johns, this 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home needs a little updating - and TLC - to shine. It's a solid house on quiet street, blocks from all the fun! Big windows in the front room, open kitchen dining area, large master bedroom, and a basement for storage. Be sure to see it this weekend - or contact us to schedule a walk-thru!
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!
Join us in St. Johns for an open house this Saturday, 4/14, from 12p to 2p.
A 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom fixer home in the heart of St Johns! This house needs a little updating - and imagination - to shine. Big windows in the front room let the light in and an open kitchen-dining area is great for entertaining. A large master bedroom with two other rooms, ideal for an office and guests. Listed at $300k.
Click the above link to see for additional details. Cannot make it this weekend? Call to schedule a viewing.
Did you buy a home in 2017? If so, congratulations! One of the perks of home-ownership: you’ll have several great tax deductions this year! You may be able to write off portions of your mortgage payment, your interest, insurance, property taxes, and mortgage insurance, to name a few.
If you bought a home with a Paris Group Realty agent in 2017, we recently sent you a final settlement statement for your real estate transactions from the year. You, or your accountant, can use this to document deductions - and lower your tax burden! If you have questions about your deductions or if you have not received your letter yet, please reach out to us. We're always happy to help!
Wish to better understand home-related tax deductions? Here are a few articles worth referencing as you prepare taxes:
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.
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.
"Finding Home" is a collection of interviews with our team, friends and clients about adventures in buying their first home, remodeling lessons, and other discoveries of owning a home.
Jasmine, PGR's Transaction Coordinator, shares why compromising on a house's size in a preferred neighborhood made perfect sense to her thanks to a fantastic layout and yard.
1) How did you know you wanted to buy your home? We bought in 2012 when inventory was very low. This was the nicest house we could afford in the neighborhood we wanted to be in. I knew it was the one because it had a wide open yard for gardening and ADU. Plus the house has a fantastic layout for an 825sq/ft house and a big kitchen to tie everything together.
2) Was there a trade-off you felt was necessary to make to purchasing your home? It is smaller than we would like, but the location makes it worth it.
3) Any surprises you discovered *after* moving in? No unfortunate surprises in our situation. We did put in radon mitigation a few months after purchasing, but not a huge surprise for St Johns.
4) Anything else you'd like to share about your home? The house was a flip by Portland Development Group so there wasn’t much to fix. Originally built in 1908, the house was brought down to the studs and everything redone, so that was part of the appeal. We added an ADU not long after buying it and we hired a contractor for that. It was a great experience!
Thank you, Jasmine for sharing your home adventures with us!
Would you like to share your home search adventures, remodeling tales, or how you made your house a home with us on our blog? Send us a quick note and we'll be in touch! We'd love to hear from you!
Today we're interviewing Jay Hensleigh of Associated Master Inspectors, a home inspection firm based in Tigard, OR. Jay has been an inspector since 2006 in the Portland area. We asked him to share his insights about home inspections, what buyers and sellers can expect from an inspector, and what sellers should have ready if they remodeled their home.
1) Can you please describe what a typical day looks like for you? My work day consists of either one or two inspections. For a typical home inspection, I’m onsite for about 4 hours, looking at the home and talking to the client and realtors. When you add in travel time to and from the office or between successive jobs, it can make for a very full day.
After the inspection(s), I spend an additional 2-3 hours in the office to compile my inspection findings and photos, research any unique issues discovered at the home, and review and finalize the report. Given these time investments, I find it’s logistically impossible to do more than two inspections a day. When I do have two inspections in one day, I make sure to reserve time the next morning to complete the reports.
2) What is your process for inspecting a house? In Oregon, home inspectors are required to follow and meet tightly defined rules known as the Oregon Standards for Home Inspection, which define the extent, limits, and requirement of an inspection. Within these standards, my process of performing an inspection is primarily a visual process of discovery, essentially starting at one end of the home (roof) and finishing at the other end (the crawlspace). I carry a collection of tools to help me inspect the home, including ladders, flashlights, screwdrivers, probing tools, moisture meter, various electrical testers, and a pick-hammer.
To document issues I discover, I carry a digital camera and also have my laptop on a portable stand to enter information as I move around the property. Some areas may be fully inaccessible for various reasons or my view of various areas of components may be limited by furnishings, stored items, or appliances, and these limitations are noted in the report.
I encourage my clients to attend the inspection, but to arrive towards the end of it. This allows me time to fully focus on the home. Toward the end, I meet with my client and their realtor to review my findings so everyone is aware of the more serious issues present at the home. Sometimes we walk around the home and look at any areas the client wants to see. As we wrap on onsite, payment is usually collected from the client, and I let them know when they can expect the report.
3) If a homeowner is planning a home remodel, what should they take into consideration if they decide to sell their home in the future? The three most important considerations are permits, permits, and permits. Did I mention permits?
In today’s world, making sure you obtain permits for renovations or repairs when required is very important. If you choose to do work without permits, it’s very likely it will come up when you go to sell the house. Most buyers will ask for permits to be obtained. Obtaining permits retroactively can be very expensive and time consuming. In worse-case scenarios, you may be required to open up walls to expose work for inspection or could even be required to demolish additions.
4) What’s one tip you can share with sellers? How about three? First, make sure all utilities are on. Having the water, power, or gas shut-off severely limits the inspection and almost always requires a second inspection visit that often results in added inspection fees and almost always delays.
Second, making sure attics, crawlspaces, furnaces, water heaters, and electrical panels are not blocked by stored items, furniture or appliances also ensures a complete inspection without delays.
And finally, please plan to be away from the home during the inspection. Your presence can slow down the inspection process and makes it difficult for your buyer to learn about your home without some sense of unease.
5) What’s one tip you can share with buyers? Homes are a complex compilation of materials, systems, and components. Over time, materials weather, systems age, and components wear out. As a home inspector, my primary job is to alert you to health and safety issues, structural problems, and conditions that may lead to safety and structural issues, but keep in mind that the inspection is a snapshot in time. Conditions in and around the home can and do change over time. You can be your home's best ally by consistently performing seasonal and annual maintenance, and monitoring your home to catch and resolve any conditions that may lead to significant damage.
6) BONUS Q: What drew you to home inspection? The first time I saw a home inspector in action was 1995 when I bought my first home. At the time, I was well established in a career path as a fishery biologist, but I was intrigued as I followed the inspector around the house, and later as I read the report.
Seven years later my career transition, I started working as a handyman for a property management company, which led to construction work for a local developer, which led to getting my contractor's license. While construction work was fun and rewarding, I wanted a more flexible and independent schedule, with more variety in my work tasks. I also wanted more interaction with clients. Home inspection seemed like it would meet these needs and would allow me to use the skills, knowledge, and experience I had built-up as a contractor and as a biologist. It took a little more training and testing, but soon I was working as a home inspector. I have found that indeed, it’s a great fit for me. The joy of the job is the mix of technical expertise required, camera and computer work, seeing all kinds of houses, and of course, meeting people as they proceed with the exciting, and stressful, process of buying a home.
Thanks Jay for taking the time to share your insights with us and our readers!
"Finding Home" is a collection of interviews with our team, friends, and clients about adventures in buying their first home, remodeling lessons, and other discoveries of owning a home.
Today Heather, PGR realtor and Claire's sister, shares why her home was "The One," a discovery made 10 years after purchasing, and why a finding a great floor plan ranks high when searching for a home.
1. How did you know you wanted to buy your home? As soon as we walked in our house, I knew we needed to make an offer. The open floor plan, great location near Mt. Tabor, room to grow and ability to renovate all sealed the deal.
2. Was there a trade-off you felt was necessary when purchasing your home? No trade-off as it was purchased 17 years ago. However, there are always trade-offs today at any price range.
3. Was there an unfortunate surprise/issue you discovered *after* moving in? The biggest surprise we discovered after living in the house almost 10 years were the two cesspools in the backyard that needed decommissioning.
4. How did you fix it? We've done an extensive amount of work on our house and for every project we have hired contractors to do the work.
5. Would you have changed your mind about the purchase if you had known this would've happened? No, there are very few repairs that would steer me away from any house. I think finding a neighborhood, floor plan, and layout is much harder than facing any needed repairs or work.
Thank you for sharing your story with our readers, Heather!
Over the next few months, we're sharing stories from our team, friends, and clients about adventures in buying their first home, remodeling lessons, and other discoveries of owning a home.
1. How did you know you wanted to buy your home? My brother and I had been looking for a year. It was 2001 and a seller’s market, which meant properties sold quickly and for over listing price. We were looking for something we could fix up. Andy and I walked into the house and it was a wreck: blue walls, weird wall paper, dirty carpeting and more. We saw past all of that to the built-in bookcases and china hutch, the hardwood floors, and the fantastic layout. We were sold.
2. Was there a trade-off you felt was necessary to make to purchasing your home? Our budget was low, so we’d already agreed to compromise on condition. But this house could be fixed up and look beautiful.
3. Any lessons learned while remodeling? I had my mom layout the kitchen perfectly and we went to a discount cabinet store (long before Ikea was here!). They didn’t have one of the cabinet sizes my mom had instructed us to buy. I figured if I added the inch and a half the cabinet that was in stock to another cabinet, it wouldn’t make any different in the length of the cabinets, so why not? I didn’t realize my mom had centered that particular cabinet so the stove began past the windowsill. So instead, the windowsill was broken with the stove.
It was a small error, but it was a big lesson in paying attention to the details. Every time I go in my kitchen, I think about it.