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!