Monday, December 19, 2016

November 2016 Real Estate Market Statistics

The following is the latest Real Estate Market Statistics for November 2016.
Click here for the full report

  • Sales:   2,434 in November 2016 vs 2,153 last November:  13.1%
  • Pending Sales:   2,266 in November 2016 vs 2,502 last November:  -9.5x%
  • New Listings:   2,080 in November 2016 vs 2,148 last November:  -3.2%
  • Average Sales Price:   $394,800 in November 2016 vs $353,400 last November:  11.7%
  • Total Market Time: 45 days in November 2016 vs 52 days last November:  -13.8%
  • Inventory in Months: 1.8x months in November 2016 vs 2.0 months last November
Inventory by Area:
  • NW Washington County   1.55 months
  • Beaverton/Aloha               1.15 months
  • Hillsboro/Forest Grove     1.60 months

Friday, November 18, 2016

October 2016 Real Estate Market Statistics

The following is the latest Real Estate Market Statistics for October 2016.
Click here for the full report

  • Sales:   2,589 in October 2016 vs 2,717 last October:  4.7%
  • Pending Sales:   2,842 in October 2016 vs 2,996 last October:  -5.2%
  • New Listings:   2.929 in October 2016 vs 3,063 last October:  -4.4%
  • Average Sales Price:   $393,900 in October 2016 vs $353,400 last October:  11.5%
  • Total Market Time: 41 days in October 2016 vs 46 days last October:  -12.5%
  • Inventory in Months: 2.0 months in October 2016 vs x.x months last October
Inventory by Area:
  • NW Washington County   1.72 months
  • Beaverton/Aloha               1.33 months
  • Hillsboro/Forest Grove     1.63 month

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

7 Tips for Selling Your Home During the Holidays

Selling your home during the holidays can be advantageous for many reasons - less competition with other homes for sale, buyers are more serious, decorated homes may show better, relocation buyers or family from out of town may be thinking of moving into the area.  Here are some tips to keep in mind if you choose to put your home up for sale during the last few months of the calendar year -

  1. DECORATE your home with the holidays in mind - tastefully add holiday decor to your home, while ensuring buyers can still envision their own family enjoying holiday celebrations in your home next year.

  2. Keep your home at a COMFORTABLE TEMPERATURE for showings.  It can get cold during winter months, so ensure your thermostat is set at a comfortable temperature to make your home feel cozy and inviting.  If the home is too cold, buyers may not stay long enough to really get a sense of the home's layout and desirable attributes.

  3. CURB APPEAL should be a top priority - keep leaves off the ground, maintain the exterior, ensure walkways are free of debris and ice.

  4. Make sure LIGHTS are in good working order inside and out.  There is less sun during these months and you want your home to feel bright and comfortable during the darker days.

  5. PRICE TO SELL. A home that is priced low for the market will  make buyers feel merry!  You don't need to slash the list price too much below market value, but ensure it is attractive to potential buyers.  Buyers looking during this time of year are serious and they know that more inventory is coming soon after the beginning of the new year.

  6. DAILY MAINTENANCE - keep the house ready for showings. Vacuum well and often to avoid the presence of tracked in mud, snow, leaves and other debris. 

  7. WORK WITH BUYERS' AGENTS on showings - while you remain in control of when you make your home available for showings, try to make it convenient for buyers to see your home. People understand this is a very social time of year and will work with you to arrange for convenient showings.
If you've decided that you really need to sell during the holidays, I hope that you receive a holiday gift of a quick and easy sale of your home.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Scott Says... Who (k)new

Who would think that new construction homes need independent third party inspection?   On the surface one would think that new homes should have no defects because of the fact that they are brand new.  County inspectors inspect them don’t they?   Builders are all meticulous aren’t they? Well the answer to both questions is “not always”.   In homes that are not inspected, many defects go undiscovered until they cause a problem sometime down the road.  County code inspectors are very busy and may not always as thorough as they should be.  And builders may be rushing to get the house built so they can move on to the next. Furthermore, the different trades on the job may undo/compromise each others work.   And yes, some honest mistakes do happen, everyone is not perfect in the work they do.

Here is a short list of some of the items I’ve found in new construction homes.
  • The crawl space drain is not installed properly which resulted in 6 inches of standing water in the crawl space.
  • Cut sewer pipe resulting in raw sewage in the crawl space.
  • Insulation not installed in the attic and crawl space.
  • Improper venting of gas water heaters/furnaces which could have resulted in carbon monoxide buildup in the dwelling.
  • Heat ducts full of construction debris and water laden ducts from laying in standing water in the crawl space.
  • Improperly installed siding which would have allowed water to penetrate the structure and cause rot.
  • Improperly cut framing from plumbing pipe installation.
  • Improperly installed roofing materials which may have resulted in roof leaks.

And the list goes on….!

Sure many home builders give the buyer a one year warranty but it would be much better to find the problem before you pay the builder and move in. I have done numerous one year warranty inspections which uncovered issues that were present when the home was brand new. These home buyers would have benefited greatly by having their new construction home inspected. Not all builders willingly rectify problems uncovered at the one year mark, often blaming the owner for lack of maintenance. Furthermore, the builder may not be in business in a year … so much for your warranty.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many very fine builders out there and yours may very well be one. Why take the risk? An independent inspection of your new home is cheap insurance, which should give you, the buyer, peace of mind.

Scott Says...  Contributed by Scott Wagar, Scott Wagar Home Inspections

Thursday, November 3, 2016

9 Ways to Say Thanks

What's the best way to show appreciation and improve relationships with family, friends and anyone you associate with each day? Express gratitude.  Aesop, the ancient Greek storyteller, said, "Gratitude is the sign of noble souls." While we may appreciate something a person has done for us, our gratitude often goes unexpressed or unnoticed. When someone goes above and beyond to help you out, acknowledge their efforts and show your appreciation with one of these thoughtful suggestions.

  1. Give Food - freshly baked cookies and pies, whether you made them yourself or bought them from the local bakery, are a nice way to show someone you appreciate them, or to say "Thanks" for a good deed. Why? Everyone loves food. Find out their favorite treat and deliver it in person.

  2. Write a Note - Nothing expresses gratitude better than a heartfelt, handwritten note card. You don't have to be a poet or have perfect penmanship. Just write from the heart and say why you're thankful.

  3. Return the Favor - If someone did something nice for you, return the favor. Did a neighbor pick up your newspaper and mail while you were gone on vacation? Pick up their newspaper and mail when they go on vacation, or offer to lend a hand if you see they need help.

  4. Pay it Forward - When someone does something nice for us, it's natural to pay that generosity forward. If the person in front of you at your favorite coffee place buys your coffee, say "thanks" and pay their generosity forward by buying coffee for the person behind you.

  5. Deliver Flowers or a Colorful Plant - Brighten someones day and show you appreciate them with a bouquet of flowers or a colorful, easy-to-care-for plant, such as lavender, aloe, jade, ferns and snake plant. All of these plants are resilient in case the recipient doesn't have a green thumb.

  6. Give Them Something Useful - Never underestimate the power of a useful and thoughtful gift. If you know the person well, thank about their interests - what do they like or enjoy doing? For example, if they garden, get them a pair of gloves to say "thanks" for their help. If they love wine, buy them a bottle of their favorite wine. They'll know how grateful you are and will appreciate you personalizing the gesture.

  7. Give a Gift Card - Gift cards are ideal for those you may not know well, but have some ideas about their daily life. If they're into cooking, get them a gift card from the local kitchen store. If you know the person spends a lot of time in their car zipping around town, get them a gift card from a local coffee shop so they can enjoy a beverage on the go.

  8. Sing Their Praises on Social Media - When you write a message on a connection's profile, the comment will be shared with their family, friends and colleagues. Sing their praises by tagging them in a post thanking them for their help.  When people within your networks see it, they can "like" the status, which will make the person feel appreciated.

  9. Donate Money to Charity in Their Name - If you want to say more than "thank you," and the person has everything, donate to one of their favorite charities, in their name. Either browse for favorite organizations on their social media pages, or ask them directly for the name of their preferred charity. They'll not only enjoy the gesture, they'll also appreciate you listened to them and respected their interests, which helps to build relationships.
  10. 2016 Buffini&Company Used by Permission

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Downsizing Advice for Home Sellers

Selling a home is an emotional process for many sellers, especially for those who have lived in their homes for a long time.  While a majority of sellers who downsize do so when they retire, there are many reasons home buyers seek a smaller home. Perhaps you want to save more money with a smaller mortgage payment or you don't want the maintenance that comes with a large home. Whatever your reasons for scaling down, you may also be focused on selling for a profit to pay cash for your next home and stash some extra money in savings.

Near term plan to move:  Here are a few tips to get your home prepared to sell -

  • Clear the clutter - since you'll be moving to a smaller space, you'll want to sift through your belongings and sell, donate or toss anything you can live without.  Your new home may not have the storage available to save items that have outlived their purpose.

  • Update the interiors - depending on the age of your home, you may not have to undertake an expensive renovation. Instead, update your appliances, make repairs and never underestimate the revitalizing power of a coat of paint.

  • Hire a professional stager - if you're selling in a competitive or high-end market, a professional stager can bring out the best in your home to set it apart from similar homes on the market.

Preparing for a future move: If you think a move might not be for a few years, here are things you can do now to prepare your home for when you're ready to list.

  • Upgrade - many buyers pay attention to homes with unique value-adds, such as upgrades to kitchens and bathrooms.  So focus on those eye-catching projects as you prep your home for sale.  Keep your receipts, as they may provide a tax benefit when you sell.

  • Look for ways to save energy - today's buyers are interested in money-saving, energy-efficient features, so install energy efficient windows, replace outdated furnaces and water heaters and insulate the attic or basement, if you have one. You may be able to get a tax credit and even save up to 25% on your utilities.*

  • Keep up with routine maintenance - the better condition your home is in, the more you may be able to sell it for. Plus, routine maintenance helps to prevent expensive repairs following a buyers home inspection.
* Source: US Department of Energy,
Adapted from Buffini & CompanyRMMK October 2016

Monday, October 17, 2016

Scott Says... Help Yourself Breathe Easier

Help Yourself Breathe Easier: 9 Tips to Banish Mold from the Home

If you live in Oregon, you know how moist it can get inside your home throughout the year.  Mold can be present in many homes, and often can be present in the attic, bathrooms, and basement. In many cases, the mold found in Oregon homes is a non-toxic variety, but it’s presence may still cause runny noses, sneezing, and offensive odors for some people. No matter the type of mold found, you will want to eliminate it from your home to ensure a healthy environment and to maintain the structural integrity of your home.

How do you find the mold in your home? Sometimes it’s easy—it may be right in front of you and you can visibly see it, or you may be able to find it by its distinctly musty smell. Though it’s harder to find hidden mold, you can do so by looking behind and beneath fixed materials and appliances: refrigerators, dishwashers, sink cabinets, washer/dryers, carpets, vinyl flooring—areas where water flows or where air doesn’t penetrate readily. Also, look for signs of staining or discoloration on walls and ceilings; this can denote a moisture buildup behind which mold may lurk.

If mold is found, it can generally be easily remediated such that it will no longer be a problem. But remediation alone is not always enough.  Here are some tips to help you control the likelihood of mold in your home.

Follow these 9 tips to reduce the presence of mold in your home:
  1. If you've lived in your home for several years and haven't had a recent home inspection, considering having a home inspector check out your attic and crawl space for the presence of mold that may have accumulated since you purchased the home.
  2. Call in a professional to assess water-damaged areas due to bathtub overflows, broken pipes, leaky roofs, etc.
  3. Keep humidity low. Use of a de-humidifier may be necessary to keep humidity levels between 30% and 50% to prevent condensation on building materials.
  4. Replace any carpets and furniture that have ever been significantly damaged (i.e. saturated in water), even if they look OK on the outside.
  5. Carpet in the bathroom or basement? Don't even think about it. There was a time when builders installed carpeting in bathrooms in front of the sinks, around toilets, and sometimes in front of the shower.  it's time to get rid of it.
  6. Use an air conditioner during the summer and fans to keep the air circulating.
  7. Ensure your home has sufficient roof ventilation - roof vents and soffit vents - to keep air moving throughout the attic space.
  8. Provide adequate ventilation in hot areas. The kitchen and bath are two of the highest-risk rooms for mold. Install exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms and be sure to use them!
  9. Don't neglect areas underneath the house.  Have a professional drainage contractor evaluate your crawl space for the presence of water and adequate ventilation.  Water in a crawl space can evaporate through the home and get caught in the attic, creating a ripe environment for mold formation.
The most important tip is to fix the underlying issue - eliminate as many causes and sources of mold as possible.  Mold is not the problem.  It's an indicator of a moisture problem.  You can get rid of the mold, but if you don't address the leaky pipes, high humidity and water intrusion, the mold will come back.    

Scott Says... contributed by Scott Wagar, Scott Wagar Home Inspections

Thursday, October 13, 2016

September 2016 Real Estate Market Statistics

The following is the latest Real Estate Market Statistics for September 2016.
Click here for the full report

  • Sales:   2,823 in September 2016 vs 3,010 last September:  -6.2%
  • Pending Sales:   2,875 in September 2016 vs 2,971 last September:  -3.8%
  • New Listings:   3,673 in September 2016 vs 3,424 last September:  7.3%
  • Average Sales Price:   $392,600 in September 2016 vs $352,500 last September:  11.4%
  • Total Market Time: 35 days in September 2016 vs 46 days last September:  -24.5%
  • Inventory in Months: 2.0 months in September 2016 vs 1.9 months last September
Inventory by Area:
  • NW Washington County   2.0 months
  • Beaverton/Aloha               1.27 months
  • Hillsboro/Forest Grove     1.54 months

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Mortgage Rates by Decade

A recent post from blog provided information on mortgage rate trends over the past decades.

This table shows the average 30-year fixed mortgage rates and approximate payments for a $200,000 mortgage (principal and interest only).

Interest rates are still at historic lows.  This is a great time to lock in your housing cost and protect yourself from increasing rents, or refinance your current mortgage.

Smoke Alarm Advice: Test Monthly, Replace Every 10 Years

Fire Prevention Week runs October 9 - 15 this year, which is a good time to remember to replace your smoke alarm batteries.  

Do you really need to have smoke alarms in your home?  Yes!  You are four times more likely to survive a home fire if you have a working smoke alarm.  During a fire, you may have less than three minutes to escape.  Smoke spreads fast, and smoke alarms alert you to the danger and give you time to get out.

Different types of smoke alarms are available - Ionization vs photolectric, battery operated vs wired in.  The place to install smoke detectors in your home depends on when your home was built and how many levels - but there should be one on each level of your home and near bedrooms.

Actually, do you know how old your smoke alarms are?  If the
Back side of Smoke Alarmmanufacture date of the smoke alarm is older than 10 years (not the date when you bought the alarm), it is time to replace the whole smoke alarm unit.  Look on the back side of your smoke alarm to find the manufacture and expiration dates.

Smoke alarms must be maintained, tested and batteries replaced according to the manufacturer's recommended instructions. If the alarm chirps, it's time to replace the battery - or possibly the entire smoke alarm.

It is also important to have a carbon monoxide alarm in your home near the bedrooms.  You may replace a hard-wired smoke alarm with a hard-wired with battery back-up smoke/CO alarm.

For more information on types of alarms, place for proper installation and what to do if your smoke alarm sounds visit the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal Smoke Alarm FAQs website.

Be Safe!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

August 2016 Real Estate Market Statistics

The following is the latest Real Estate Market Statistics for August 2016.
Click here for the full report

  • Sales:   3001 in August 2016 vs 3098 last August:  -3.1%
  • Pending Sales:   3325 in August 2016 vs 3347 last August:  -.7%
  • New Listings:   4203 in August 2016 vs 3880 last August:  8.3%
  • Average Sales Price:   $400,100 in August 2016 vs $364,600 last August:  9.7%
  • Total Market Time: 34 days in August 2016 vs 41 days last August:  -17.1%
  • Inventory in Months: 1.9 months in August 2016 vs 1.9 months last August
Inventory by Area:
  • NW Washington County   2.06 months
  • Beaverton/Aloha               1.09 months
  • Hillsboro/Forest Grove     1.75 months

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


Yes - it's true: Fall is just around the corner. 
The changing of the seasons is always a good time to invest in a little home maintenance so your abode is running smoothly and you catch any potentially large (and expensive) problems before they get out of hand.  Follow this check-list and you'll be in good shape for the winter.


  • Check ceiling and surfaces around windows for evidence of moisture.
  • Check caulking around showers, bathtubs, sinks and toilet bases.
  • Ensure all stairs and railing do not have any loose sections.
  • Test all fire and safety systems, including carbon monoxide detectors.

  • Clean or change furnace filters.
  • Keep area around heating and cooling equipment clear.
  • For boiler systems, check water level and shut-off valve for leaks.

  • Periodically check for exposed wiring and cable. Replace as necessary.
  • Check all lamp cords, extension cords and receptacles for wear.
  • Trip circuit breakers every six months and ground fault circuit interrupters monthly.

  • Check for any missing, loose or damaged shingles.
  • Look for open seams, blisters, and bald areas on flat roofs.
  • Clean gutters, strainers and downspouts.
  • Check flashing around all surfaces projections, sidewalls, and protrusions.
  • Trim back all tree limbs and vegetation away from the roof.


  • Look for loose or missing glazing putty.                               
  • Check caulking for deterioration at the openings and joints between dissimilar materials.
  • Check weather stripping.
  • Check for broken glass and damaged or missing screens.
  • Check all faucets, hose bibbs and supply valves for leaking.
  • Check for evidence of leaks around and under sinks, showers, toilets and tubs.
  • Inspect lawn sprinkler system for leaky valves and exposed lines.
  • Check the main water shut-off valve for operation and leakage.


  • Check foundation walls and floors for cracking, heaving, deterioration or efflorescence.
  • Inspect chimney for loose, deteriorated or missing mortar or bricks.
  • Verify basement and crawlspace has no moisture or leaks.
  • Inspect all decks, patios, porches, stairs and railings for deterioration.
  • Cut back and trim all vegetation from structures.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

July 2016 Real Estate Market Statistics

The following is the latest Real Estate Market Statistics for July 2016.
Click here for the full report

  • Sales:     2776 in July 2016 vs 3452 last July:  -19.6%
  • Pending Sales:   3302 in July 2016 vs 3494 last July:  -5.5%
  • New Listings:   4375 in July 2016 vs 4275 last July:  +2.3%
  • Average Sales Price:   $407,000 in July 2016 vs $369,100 last July:  +10.3%
  • Total Market Time: 32 days in July 2016 vs 45 days last July:  -25.7%
  • Inventory in Months: 1.9 months in July 2016 vs 1.7 months last July
Current Inventory by Area:
    • NW Washington County   1.61 months
    • Beaverton/Aloha               1.05 months
    • Hillsboro/Forest Grove     1.84 months

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Become a Great Neighbor - National Night Out

Just living next door to someone doesn't necessarily make you a neighbor.  It makes you an adjacent homeowner.  One of the great opportunities we have on the first Tuesday in August is the chance to build real, meaningful relationships with the people who live closest to us.  National Night Out organizers suggest hosting or attending a community event or neighborhood party and invite your local public safety officials to get to know them as well.

While I understand the desire for privacy, I also think it is important we realize that regular, helpful communication with our neighbors makes us both safer and paves a smooth road for difficult conversations we might face with our neighbors in the future.

Small gestures such as a nice note about landscaping, an invitation to a potluck, or an 'all hands on deck' community improvement project allow us to get to know our neighbors.  This is vital when you consider the people around you are the most likely to spot smoke in a fire, tell you about water flowing into the street from a broken water pipe, clue you in to suspicious activity and have the opportunity to share vital local information.

What's more, if you build a positive base with your neighbors, if a time comes to have a difficult conversation (such as a nuisance dog, kids running amok, or intrusive lighting issues), you'll have a buffer of mutual respect and goodwill to draw on.  If your opening conversation with a neighbor is a complaint, you're setting yourself up for a long, antagonistic relationship.  Who wants to live next to that?

It doesn't take much to start off the right way. Consider leaving a nice note at their door, a small 'thank you' gift for looking out for the neighborhood, or some other 'olive branch' act that will build rapport.  A civil community depends upon our connection to our neighbors.  We all benefit when we depend on and trust one another.

Why not take advantage of the National effort tonight to begin building rapport with your neighbors and people in the community.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

5 Tips to Get Your Home Ready to Show

Recent surveys have shown that the demand for housing continues to increase as our economy slowly improves.  Surveys also show there is a pent-up supply of sellers who have wanted to move but haven't been able to due to various reasons.  With the economy improving and more homeowners getting to a point where they have equity built up in their homes, it is anticipated the supply of available homes for sale will increase in the coming months.

If you are one of those homeowners with pent-up desire to make a move and are thinking of putting your home on the market for sale, here are some suggestions for preparing your home to maximize the buyer showing experience -

Courtesy of Buffini & Company

Friday, May 27, 2016

Scott Says...

Scott Says…. Moss – Be Gone!

Some may feel that moss growing like a lawn on a roof may look pretty, but it is actually creating a lot of damage to the roof shingles.  Patches of moss on a roof hold water against the surface of the roof causing the roof materials to rot.  The more that moss grows and thickens, it creeps under the shingles, lifting them up and allowing water, ice, pests, wind etc. under the shingles causing even more damage.  Removing moss from your roof will help ensure you get the most life out of each shingle.

Some tips for removing moss and keeping your roof moss free –
  1. Be sure your roof is safe to walk on - if you have a very steep roof, or there is a lot of moss making it slick, it may be best to hire a company who specializes in cleaning/repairing roofs to do it for you.

  2. Don't power wash a composition shingle roof - the water pressure washes away the granules on the shingles, wearing down the materials and reduces the life span of the shingles.

  3. Apply a moss-killing product. If there isn't much moss on the roof, you might be able to let nature take care of the issue with rain and wind washing it away.  Sometimes, you may need to use a long-handled brush to gently dislodge the moss and brush it away.

  4. Trim tree branches away to allow more sunshine to directly hit the roof, eliminating the damp environment where moss likes to grow.
                                                                                     Courtesy of Scott Wagar Inspections

Monday, May 23, 2016

Tips For A Stress Free Move

Moving can be very stressful, so what do you do when circumstance or opportunities require that you relocate?  How do you get through a move in one piece? WFG National Title pulled together some great tips to help with stress relief when faced with a move.

Start early - Few feel relaxes under a deadline, but having the benefit of time can help calm the nerves. The time to start planning for your move is as soon as you know you need to move.

Get Organized - The number one method for alleviating emotional stress when moving is to feel like you have control over what's happening. As illusory as that control may be, being organized will help you handle the unexpected.

First, come up with a relocating schedule that will help you break the moving process inot phases. Detail exactly which task needs to be accomplished when. Use a checklist to make sure you are taking care of necessary goals by their due dates.

Create a system that works to help you keep track of everything. Whether you make up your own or get help from someone with moving experience, having a model to work from will be your saving grace.

Make it easy - Don't be married to an initial moving plan simply because it was your first. As you do the footwork, you may discover there is an easier way to get the move done, and you should embrace this! Sure, driving your care cross-country might have seemed the only affordable option initially, but a search for reputable auto shippers and a sale on air fares could make all the difference between a stressful move and a more relaxed one.

The same philosophy goes for packing. Rather than take on the entire process yourself, be sure to get quotes for having movers assist you.

Schedule time for stress relief - In the weeks leading up to your move, you may be so focused on getting everything done that you neglect your own health. Coping with a move requires that you stay physically and emotionally fit, so get plenty of sleep, eat well and get some exercise. this would also be a good time to schedule a massage or a spa session. If time allows, try to get a weekend or at least a night away so that you can take your mind off your move for a little while.

Ask for help - Obsessive-compulsive people and the detail-oriented among us often have trouble asking for help. While you are making your thorough preparations, also be sure to contact friends and family on both sides of your move to help you in any way possible. Many hands really do make the work lighter, which can relieve a lot of stress. You'll be glad for the company, too.

Look forward to the end results - Yes, you know moving will be hard and potentially fraught with stresses, but you will survive it. Many others have gone before you and lived to tell about it. Know that there is nothing that can happen that you can't handle and focus on the potential for new growth and adventure in your new home.

Moving is one of the more stressful things we can experience, but there are ways to make it easier. Prepare, get organized and stay flexible. before you know it, you'll be unpacking your things in your new home and wondering what all that worry was about!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Budget Friendly Projects with a Big ROI

Not all home improvement projects are created equal. Some renovations may cost a lot but not add significant value to your home. This list goes in the opposite direction.  Here are some inexpensive home improvement projects that will not only increase your enjoyment of your home, but will also increase the home's value.
  1. High quality ceiling fans: In a recent National Association of Home Builders survey, ceiling fans ranked No. 1 as the most wanted decorative item. If your ceiling fans are outdted, replace them wtih something in th e$400 range - it will make a big difference when it's time to sell.
  2. Trees: Mature trees can be worth as much as $10,000 toward the value of your home. Trees also protect your home from the elements and prevent erosion.
  3. Energy efficiency: Buyers are increasingly interested in saving energy, so any efficiency update is worthwhile. Switching from a wood to gas fireplace is a great start.
  4. Outdoor lighting: Exterior lighting is great for highlighting the accents of your home, and you can typically expect a 50 percent return on investment.
  5. Molding: You can finish a room with crown molding or railing for as little as $1.50 per foot if you take a DIY approach, and it's extremely desirable among prospective buyers.
According to the 2016 Remodeling magazine Cost vs. Value survey, the average return on home-improvement projects was 6.7 percent higher than it was a year earlier.  Simple replacements often provide a better return than major remodeling.  While returns will vary by region, the average national return at resale for projects was 64 percent. 

A sample of return on value for some projects, if the home sold within a year:

     Remodel a bathroom      66%                     Replace the roof             72%
     Build a wood deck         75%                      Refresh the kitchen        83%
     Replace the front door   91%                    

For more information on the Cost vs Value survey results, visit

Monday, May 16, 2016

Market Action Report - Portland Metro

There was a slight increase in the number of homes available for sale in April, helping buyers make their desired moves.  Homes currently are averaging less than 45 days on the market before they get sold, so buyers are still needing to react quickly when a desirable home comes on the market.

More information on the Portland Metro area Real Estate activity can be found at Portland Market Action Report

Friday, May 13, 2016

Curb Appeal: First Impressions Count

If you're thinking of selling your home this Spring, you should know that the number one factor in beginning the sales process is ensuring the view of your home from the street is what lures buyers inside the door.  All the upgrades you may have done inside the home may never be seen by buyers if the outside doesn't welcome them inside.

What needs to be done to create great curb appeal?  Here are some easy, inexpensive fixes that will help create that outside appeal and get you one step closer to a sale.

  • Check the condition of the roof - de-moss it if needed, fix any missing shingles, clean the gutters.
  • Make sure windows trim is painted and well maintained, and that windows are clean. 
  • Repair cracks in the sidewalk and driveway - particularly if there are any tripping hazards getting to the front door.  Have a professional fill and repair any large cracks so the buyer can feel comfortable driving their car on it safely.
  • Fix faulty handrails - make it safe for buyers to grasp handrails to assist them up steps to the front door.
  • Improve lighting for the address number - be sure it can easily been read from the street.  Also, change any dated, outside light fixtures to give the exterior an updated look.
  • Add lighting to your front walkway or along the driveway.
  • Get a new doormat.
  • Consider painting the home - or at least the trim and shutters.
  • Paint or clean the garage doors.  If the garage door is metal or dented, it may need to be replaced.
  • Paint the front door an attractive color - especially paint the door if it shows any weathering.
  • Put planters on either side of the front door. 
  • Move visible storage, recycling boxes or other containers into the garage or behind a fence.
  • Throw in some attractive landscaping and the house -  Mow and edge the lawn, trim plantings away from the house, fill in bare dirt under large shade trees - anything that will spruce up the front yard.

Remember, many home buyers drive by homes for sale before deciding to schedule a showing.  Many cannot visualize even these simple changes and clean-ups in a house - so if the front facade isn't appealing, that buyer may move on to the next home.  To sell the house quickly at top dollar - enhancing your home's curb appeal will get the right buyer inside the door!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Downsizing: Good Ideas for Getting Started

Downsizing is a fact of life for many people these days. If you are preparing for retirement or living in a newly-empty nest, it may be the perfect time to take stock of your belongings and part ways with items that no longer serve you.  Downsizing your belongings and your home can be a great way to enter a new phase of your life – one that is less stressful and more relaxing.   Here are some tips to help begin winnowing down personal belongings and make the process of downsizing easier!

  • Start by writing a list of all the items you love and can’t live without.  Since you won’t be able to take all of your belongings, the list helps when sorting through your belongings.  Keep those items that made it on the list and set other items in one of three boxes:  sell, give away to family/friends, or donate to charity.
  • Begin early. Once you have made the decision to sell, you should start the weeding and moving process about 3 months – even up to a year - before you anticipate moving.  
  • Begin by eliminating things that aren’t used frequently. Belongings that have been relegated to the basement, the garage or the attic are good candidates for sale or donation.  It often helps to have someone nearby give you an objective opinion. If you can’t decide to keep your 1985 sewing machine, having someone say ‘oh please, you haven’t used that for 15 years!’ may get you focused in the right direction.
  • Next, Do A Room-by-Room Purge. Take some time each day, or one morning each week, to methodically go through each room to find things that haven’t been used for years, things that were bought several years ago and still have the tags on them, or clothes that have never been worn.  Part ways with things that represent who you used to be.  A side benefit is that this winnowing of belongings will make your home more attractive to buyers.
  • Get the whole family involved. As you go through rooms that are housing the belongings of adult kids who have moved out, try to have them present.  Ask grown children to take their own belongings while sharing your desire to get of anything that is no longer meaningful or necessary.  Also ask them to take what they want of your belongings - they can painlessly remove a significant portion of belongings from your home.
  • Digitize photos and other paper. Storing memories online can keep them safer longer as well as eliminate clutter.
  • Consider including some of the furniture in the sale. This may expedite the transaction for both buyer and seller.

As you winnow through your collection of items, don't throw anything in the garbage. Recycle, reuse, sell and donate instead. As tempting and easy as it is to pitch wire hangers, musty clothes and shabby furnishings, be environmentally responsible and find a home for everything. 

For additional tips, spend some time exploring for ideas on processes for sorting through belongings or visit’s article on the  Ultimate Guide to Downsizing Your Home

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Water and Electricity Don't Mix!

I am sure you’ve heard the saying “water and electricity don’t mix!” Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) help make sure that doesn’t happen. They also protect in other situations as well. In houses built after 1980 and older remodeled homes, you may have noticed some electrical receptacles with buttons between the two outlets, the buttons can be red and black or the same color as the rest of the outlet.  These are GFCI protected outlets and are designed to protect you from electrical shock.

If someone drops an electrical appliance, like a hairdryer, into a water filled bathtub or a kitchen mixer/blender falls into the sink, the water will provide a path for electricity to leak out of the appliance into your body. Using a power tool in the rain or sticking a knife in a toaster could also produce the same hazard.

A GFCI shuts off the flow of electricity when it detects electric current leaking out of a circuit. This leakage could be the result of electricity flowing through a person instead of its intended route of electric appliance and wires. When the level of electrical current across your heart reaches .05-.1 amps, it will likely stop beating. For comparison, a 60-watt light bulb uses .5 amps of electricity. The GFCI circuitry will turn off the power when it detects .05 amps of imbalance. The circuit breakers in the main panel will not trip until they detect 15-20 amps, which is way beyond any tolerable amount of electrical current through your body, especially across your heart!

Current electrical codes (for new construction) require GFCI protection for all outlets over kitchen counter tops, all bathroom outlets, all exterior outlets, all garage outlets and all other outlets that could get damp or where the user could be in direct contact with the earth. Many older homes especially those built before 1993 may not have this level of GFCI protection installed. Although there is no requirement that older homes be updated to the new electrical code levels, I believe that every homeowner should consider upgrading their GFCI protection since it is very inexpensive and reasonably easy to do.

GFCI protected outlets will have a test and a reset button on the front of them. Locating one or more of these outlets means that at least some outlets in the home have GFCI protection. However, it may be difficult to determine if all of the proper outlets are GFCI protected without a GFCI tester. It would be well worth your money to have an electrician inspect your home and upgrade the GFCI protection if necessary. A GFCI outlet will cost about $15 plus labor to install. One GFCI outlet has the ability to give protection to more than one location. Therefore, depending on the electrical configuration in your home, you may not need to install a GFCI outlet at each location that should have protection.

I should point out that three prong outlets are not the same as GFCI. While three prong outlets protect electrical equipment, may help prevent short circuits and may prevent electrical fires, they are no substitute for GFCI protection.

If your home already has GFCI protection, be sure to test the outlets monthly with the test buttons on the outlet. Pressing the “TEST” button should cause the power at the outlet to shut off. Then press the “RESET” button and the power should come back on. If either of these does not happen, call an electrician to repair/replace the outlet.

In my opinion, all Inspectors should recommend that proper GFCI protection to be added to all required outlets as part of their inspection, even if the home being inspected is older. It makes perfect sense from a safety point of view, especially considering the reasonably low cost.

Submitted by Scott Wagar, Scott Wagar Inspections 503-956-3515

Monday, May 2, 2016

What's it Worth?

Maybe you're thinking of selling, maybe you're thinking of refinancing, or maybe you're just curious about the market. But the question is, "What is that domicile of your's worth?"

Such a simple questions should be returned with a simple answer, right? Well unfortunately, determining the value of your home - or any home for that matter - can be a tricky process. Online websites will give you a general feel for what is happening in your neighborhood or community, but they generally don't know the dynamics of the local real estate market, that a new high school is being built, or that the road is being widened to a 4-lane road.  They also don't know of the condition of your home - if it is well maintained or if you have remodeled since you purchased the home.

If you're just curious about the relative value of your home in the current real estate market, these websites can give you a general feel for price range.  If you're serious about getting an informative valuation for your home, you should contact a local real estate professional.  Realtors work with the actual people who will ultimately determine the value of your home - the home buyer themselves. This is their profession and they will be happy to sit with you and explain the current market conditions that affect your home value.

For those of you curious about your current home value, go to What's My Home Worth?
and input your address for a quick look at potential home value.

If you are serious about selling your home, give me a call for a more thorough evaluation.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

May is National Bike Month!

May is National Bike Month!  Time to take your bike out for a ride through the country side or explore local neighborhoods.  Check out this link for some suggested trails to explore the beautiful state of Oregon! Oregon Bike Trails

While enjoying the scenery and fresh air, be sure to be aware of what's going on around you.  Keep these Safety Tips in mind on your travels:
  1. Wear a helmet and bright clothes
  2. Watch for inattentive drivers or doors opening when riding past parked cars
  3. Behave like a vehicle - ride in the direction of traffic, signal your turns, and obey all stop signs and lights
  4. Show courtesy to pedestrians - slow down on multi-use paths whenever walkers are near
  5. Safety sound track - if using headphones or earbuds, but sure you can also hear the road noise, pedestrians and other cyclists approaching 
  6. Light up - when riding at night use both front and rear lights on your bike to ensure visibility 
  7. Connect with other cyclists to help promote protected lanes, paths and intersections to increase safety of biking enthusiasts!

Happy Trails!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Spring Home Checkup - 7 actions to take

April showers may bring May flowers, but they can also bring leaky basements, moldy walls and costly cleanup. Regular maintenance on the outside of your home could save you thousands of dollars. Here are some recommended actions to take as the weather begins to get nicer.

1. Make sure gutters are clean and stable.

2. Examine your roof carefully, looking for worn, curled or missing shingles - and have those replaced.

3. Examine fascia or soffit boards for soft or rotting spots which may allow rain into your attic or the top of interior walls.

4. Make sure downspouts are sloping away from the house and carrying water at least 5 feet away from foundation walls.

5. Ensure lawn sprinkler heads are not spraying the walls of the house.

6. Inspect your attic looking for moisture or surface discoloration.  If dark staining is visible, have the sheathing treated with a moldicide.

7. Examine window and door flashing, seals or weatherstripping to ensure sealants are pliable and continuous.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Happier Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors make for a beautiful, stunning addition to your home. However, they can bring new cleaning and maintenance challenges that aren't present with carpet.  Here are some tips for simple, efficient and thorough hardwood floor cleaning.

Make the job easier   Place mats on either side of your exterior doors and always remove your shoes before entering your home - an make sure your guests do the same. Protect the floors by placing felt (or similar) protectors on the feet your your furniture, and use area rugs to designate play areas for the kids.  This will reduce extra dirt, dust, and floor scratches.

Weekly cleaning   Sweeping with a standard broom will remove some dirt and dust, but not as much as a mop, wipe or broom that's been treated with a dusting agent such as a Swiffer.  you could also invest in a vacuum that is designed for hardwood floors.  Just be sure that the vacuum won't leave scratches!

Deeper cleaning   Regular sweeping will remove most dirt and dust, but occasionally you'll need to give the floors a deeper cleaning to remove the dirt and grime that builds up in your floors' seams. Use a wood-cleaning soap to thoroughly mop your floors, but make sure the mop isn't sopping wet - you don't want to leave standing water.

Spots and scuffs   Most of the marks that occasionally show up on your floors, such as scuffs from rubber soles on boots and shoes - can be wiped away with a rag or very fine steel wool.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Three Ways to Ease Your Fears about making a move

With low inventory in many markets throughout the Portland metro area, many homeowners are afraid to sell their homes because they're concerned that they may not be able to find a new one. This can be a real problem, but if you are seeking to sell - whether to upgrade or find a new neighborhood - there are a few ways to combat the low inventory.

Look to Buy First  In most markets, it is a real mistake to put your home up for sale before you start looking for your new property.  Even if you don't see anything on Zillow, it doesn't mean you can't or won't find the right home. Establishing a good relationship with a Realtor who networks effectively will be beneficial in potentially hearing about homes targeted to come on the market before they are open to the public.

Think Outside the Box  Be proactive!  Keep in mind that there are probably many people like you who want to make a move but are afraid as well.  Have your Realtor send a letter to the neighborhoods in the geographic areas where you want to live.  The letter should be heartfelt and personal while announcing that you are ready to buy a home in that neighborhood.  You could find a home to buy that may not even be currently listed or for sale.

Protect Yourself   In today's market, sellers will often indicate when listing their home for sale that the sale is subject to seller finding a suitable home to buy, or may indicate that sellers need a month or two of possession after closing on a sale to allow time for them to find their next home.  Talk with your Realtor to determine what is best in your situation.