Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find my blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to helpful home tips. That’s because we care about you and your home and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Sept. 13, 2018

What's on your autumn to-do list?

What's on your autumn to-do list? These are the chores and tasks pros recommend before temperatures drop.

Summer may be peak home improvement season, but as this comprehensive fall home maintenance schedule suggests, autumn is king when it comes to maintaining your home. Some of the easiest fall chores can save you big dollars on your energy bills — not to mention prevent major potential problems — this winter, if you complete the tasks on our fall home maintenance checklist below.

Angie's List contacted highly rated service providers to put together a fall home maintenance checklist with the most important fall chores for homeowners. Here's what they say should be on your fall to-do list for your home:

Fall Maintenance Guide

Download the Angie's List Fall Maintenance Guide for tips on preparing and caring for your yard, car and home this autumn.

1. Seal drafts and add insulation

• Caulk, seal and weather strip: Pay special attention to drafts around windows or doors, especially if you haven't installed new energy efficient windows. Here's a simple way to detect air leaks that can cost you money: Hold a lit stick of incense or a candle and go around the perimeter of windows and door.  Drafts will pull the smoke in their direction, making it easier to determine where the cold air is seeping in. Add or replace worn weather stripping or caulk in those spots.

• Measure your insulation: Look in your attic. If you see exposed joists, you should add more insulation. The amount of insulation you need depends on where you live — the colder the climate, the more insulation you should have.

Bottom of Form

• Audit energy waste: Want to really improve your home's energy efficiency. Consider scheduling a professional energy audit for a comprehensive look at air leaks and insufficient insulation, which wastes energy.:00

• Schedule fall HVAC maintenance: The majority of emergency service calls answered by heating specialists result from improper maintenance. Schedule an appointment for a fall furnace inspection and tune-up to help avoid a breakdown in the middle of a freeze.

• Replace furnace filters: The changing season is also the perfect time to check and change dirty furnace filters. Clean filters make your HVAC system run more efficiently, so it distributes heat better and cuts your energy costs. Plus, it’s an inexpensive and easy task.

3. Protect your plumbing

• Insulate water lines: Look at your plumbing pipes and water lines — especially those on exterior walls — and make sure they're insulated to avoid frozen pipes and leaks this winter. Cleaning all lines can help remove clogs that cause backups, which can freeze, then cause the weakening of pipes and bursting. Wrap your pipes with insulation designed for plumbing. In many situations, insulation will be all you need to protect your pipes.

• Drain your water heater: You can improve your water heater’s efficiency by as much as 50 percent by draining sediment buildup from the water heater holding tank. So while you're checking your plumbing, drain and flush your water heater to make it last longer and work more efficiently.

• Remove and drain outside hoses: Before the first freeze, you should detach outdoor hoses, drain any standing water and store them inside. Be sure to drain your outdoor faucets and close the interior shut-off valves to the hose bibs or spigots to help prevent frozen pipes over the winter.

Allowing leaves to gather and sit on your roof and gutters can lead to clogs and ice dams during the winter. (Photo by Steve C. Mitchell)

4. Check your gutters, roof and chimney

• Clean your gutters: Dead leaves, the hallmark of autumn, can quickly accumulate and lead to blocked gutters. Those dead leaves and other muck can lead to backups that cause water damage or even contribute to an ice dam this winter. You can hire a professional for gutter cleaning, or get up on a ladder and clean the gutters yourself. Even if gutters aren't clogged at the start of fall, check again after the leaves have fallen.

• Inspect the roof: While you're looking up, perform a visual roof inspection. Make sure your shingles are in good condition, that none are missing and that they’re properly attached. Look for any dips or sags, which may indicate a problem with the wood underneath your roof shingles. If the roof is more than 20 years old, you may want to schedule an inspection with a roofing contractor.

• Schedule a chimney sweep: Creosote buildup can lead to a chimney fire, so get your chimney and fireplace cleaned before you put it back into use this winter. You should have your chimney inspected at least once a year, and more often if you use it regularly.

5. Wrap up seasonal lawn care

• Remove dead leaves: Fallen leaves can also accumulate and get wet, leading to mold growth and a breeding ground for pests. Dead leaves will also deprive your grass of crucial sunlight. So, rake, mow or use a leaf-blower to collect and bag or compost the leaves before the first snowfall.

• Finish fall lawn care: If you want a green lawn next spring, do the prep work now. In the fall, you want to aerate and fertilize your lawn, as well as pull weeds and put down weed preventive. Depending on the type of grass, you may need to fertilize twice this season — at the beginning and end of fall. If you have damaged sections or bare patches, lay down new grass seed now. And as the growing season wanes, cut your grass higher, leaving your lawn at a height of about 3 inches over winter.

• Pack away lawn equipment properly: Drain all gasoline containers, including lawn mowers and other gasoline-powered tools. Clean your garden tools and lawn equipment before hanging it up for the season. Don't forget end-of-season lawn mower maintenance, which includes cleaning and an oil change.

6. Take stock of your garage

• Inspect your garage door: You probably won’t think much about your garage door this winter — unless the garage door freezes — but fall is a good time to have your garage door inspected before the cold weather hits. A garage door inspection should include adjusting springs and cables; lubricating moving parts; tightening hardware, track and hinges; and inspecting the safety sensors and opener gears.

• Remove items that can freeze: Properly discard or store paint, caulk or adhesives in a heated area to prevent them from freezing. Call your local hazardous material removal service for instructions on disposing of paint or other products that could be toxic.

• Get out the winter gear: The best time to get out the snow shovels and make sure you've got ice melt is before there's a run at the hardware store during a storm. Make sure you know where your winter gear is before the first winter storm.

7. Clear your deck and store outdoor furniture

• Put away patio furniture: Once temperatures dip, close your deck or patio for the season. It's best to keep outdoor furniture — especially cushions, umbrellas and other fabrics or metals — out of the elements, preferably in a closed garage or shed. This will help prevent rust and damage from freezing. It's a good idea also to clean your patio furniture before storing. If you store your outdoor furniture inside for the winter, as recommended, allow for some airflow; encasing furniture tightly in plastic could lead to moisture damage.

• Clean the deck: Fall is ideal to complete a deck safety inspection and repairs, since deck companies won't be as busy. Look for missing or rusted bolts, boards that need to be replaced and signs of rot, which may worsen over a long, wet winter. While you're out there, clean off the fallen leaves and other debris, which can hold moisture against the boards and create a slick surface under snow.

8. Complete a safety check, inside and out

• Review outdoor lighting: With dark days ahead, exterior lighting is crucial for home security and your safety. Not only can security lights help deter criminals, but path lights can spotlight any potential hazards before your family or guests stumble in the dark. If your yard isn't well lit, you may want to contact an electrician or outdoor lighting company for an estimate before the ground becomes too hard to install new outdoor lighting this year.

• Replace burnt out bulbs: Check all of your outdoor bulbs and fixtures and consider using solar timers to turn outdoor lights on at dusk and off in the morning.

• Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: Common advice is to test smoke and CO detectors when you set your clocks to "Fall Back" and "Spring Forward." We recommend doing it before your furnace kicks on for the first time this season. Make sure the detectors are all working as expected and replace any batteries in units that aren't hardwired to your home. Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas that can be deadly at high levels, and while CO is dangerous any time of year, it's especially of concern in the winter when windows and doors are shut while gas furnaces and fireplaces are on.

9. Schedule a car inspection

• Get a complete car inspection: Summer travel can take a toll on your car, so it's a good idea to get a complete car inspection in fall — even if you don't suspect a problem. Scheduling a vehicle safety check with your mechanic gives you confidence the car will be in good working order throughout the long winter months.

 

• Pack an emergency car kit: Fall is also a good time to prepare for the unexpected and pack your trunk with an emergency kit. If you have a kit, review its contents and replace anything expired or broken. At a minimum, you should pack jumper cables, a working flashlight, basic tools, a first-aid kit, blankets, water and non-perishable snacks, and a properly inflated spare tire, plus a jack.

Posted in Helpful Home Tips
Sept. 7, 2018

Non-Toxic DIY Cleaner

Ever thought about how “clean” disinfectant wipes really are? Some—if not most—have harmful ingredients, a few even toxic (like bleach) or irritant, especially for those with allergies or asthma. (FIY: That's me!)
And to make things worse, they’re not reusable. Talk about trying to be “green”! Don’t you think it’s time to make your own?
So today I want to share with you those easy cleaning DIY recipes

non toxic reusable diy cleaning wipes, cleaning tips, diy, go green, repurposing upcycling, Ready to make green wipes
Ready to make green wipes?

I know you have a bundle of shirts and towels hiding in the closet.
Now it’s time to pull them up, and get ready to use ‘em once and for all with this DIY cleaning solution.
Let’s get rolling!

non toxic reusable diy cleaning wipes, cleaning tips, diy, go green, repurposing upcycling, A few ingredients and rags is all you need

A few ingredients and rags is all you need!

STEP 1: GATHER YOUR INGREDIENTS
Though both are somehow similar, there are a couple of recipes you can use to make the cleaning solution. I’m going to give you two. Let’s get started!
DISINFECTANT WIPES > RECIPE #1
• 1 cup distilled or purified water
• 1/2 cup – 1cup white vinegar
• 8-10 drops lemon essential oil
• 8-10 drops eucalyptus, pine essential oil or lavender (preferred)
• 5-7 drops tea tree essential oil or white thyme essential oil
You'll also need:
• Towels
• Glass jar (because you’ll add essential oils glass is preferred to plastic)
• Measuring cup

non toxic reusable diy cleaning wipes, cleaning tips, diy, go green, repurposing upcycling, First add water vinegar to your jar
First, add water & vinegar to your jar!

STEP 2: DIRTY SPOT? WATER & VINEGAR TO THE RESCUE.
It doesn’t get any easier than this!
Grab your jar and start by adding 1 cup of distilled water and 1/2 cup to 1 a cup of white vinegar.
TIP: purified water will do if you don’t have distilled handy.

non toxic reusable diy cleaning wipes, cleaning tips, diy, go green, repurposing upcycling, Next let s kick it up a notch
Next, let’s kick it up a notch!

STEP 3: A LITTLE MAGIC TO MAKE IT EXTRA-CLEAN.
Add 5-7 drops of tea tree oil to you water & vinegar solution. And voila! That makes your basic cleaning solution.
TIP: To dispense the tea tree oil use a glass dropper.
CAUTION > TEA TREE OIL is a great disinfectant—long valued for its antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties—but it can be dangerous to pets, even a drop on the skin can cause harm in sensitive animals.
So if you have furry friends, don’t use the wipes in areas within their reach or better yet, get WHITE THYME essential oil.
White thyme essential oil contains phenols that also have antimicrobial properties which can inhibit growth of bacteria, fungi and viruses – in short, as good of a cleaner -- though tea tree can be applied onto the skin to cuts and to treat acne as well.

non toxic reusable diy cleaning wipes, cleaning tips, diy, go green, repurposing upcycling, Finally let s add a nice fragrance
Finally, let’s add a nice fragrance!

STEP 4: A COUPLE OF ESSENTIAL OILS TO ADD A NICE SCENT.
Time to add a few essential oils! You can do a few combos here.
1. Lemon and citrus are good disinfectants so I’m going to add 10 drops of lemon essential oil.
TIP: You can use 10 drops of grapefruit essential oil instead.
2. 10 drops Lavender oil.
It is definitely one of my faves with an impressive list of properties: antifungal, antiseptic, antibacterial and antimicrobial — as well as anti-inflammatory, antidepressant (i.e. mood lifting) and sedative.
I know cleaning may make you feel down but you won’t be able complain of feeling depressed! ;)
TIP: If lavender oil is not available, you can replace it by eucalyptus or pine or better, a combination of the two, since both have also antiseptic, antifungal and antibacterial properties.
CAUTION > Essential oils (even diluted) are better kept in glass. They will react with the plastic—especially full strength—and may break it down, destroying the oil and often causing leakage.
I recommend you use a glass jar to make and store these recipes.

non toxic reusable diy cleaning wipes, cleaning tips, diy, go green, repurposing upcycling, Time to soak the wipes
Time to soak the wipes!

STEP 6: SOAK THE CLOTH RAGS TO MAKE THE WIPES.
One more step and we’re done!
To make the wipes, soak your cloth rags into the solution. Put them in the jar, pressing well down to ensure they soak up the liquid, close tightly, and shake.
TIP: make sure rags are completely into the cleaning solution and lid is well closed. You don’t want air coming in.
Soak rags for a few hours and turn jar upside down for a few more.
FIY: I got these rags from my dollar store, but you can use old kitchen towels, socks, tee shirts, or any other lint free cotton fabric.

non toxic reusable diy cleaning wipes, cleaning tips, diy, go green, repurposing upcycling, Wait a minute Don t forget to label
Wait a minute: Don’t forget to label!

STEP 7: LABEL YOUR JAR BEFORE YOU START USING THE DIY WIPES!
Guess what? There’s one more thing to do — that is, labeling your jar (Remember how much I LOVE to label all my concoctions?)
Grab a little tape and a pen, and write down ingredients and date.
Now we’re ready!

non toxic reusable diy cleaning wipes, cleaning tips, diy, go green, repurposing upcycling, Ready Go Start
... Ready. Go. Start!

STEP 8: WIPE, WIPE AND THEN, WHIPE SOME MORE!
Now, we’re ready!
Use wipes in your countertops, glass, shower, toilet, and any surface that needs cleaning.
CAUTION: Since the solution contains vinegar, stone and concrete surfaces not well sealed (or sealed with a food safe sealer) — in bathrooms and countertops — can get damaged. They are often sensitive to acidic solutions.
Unsealed wood may also get damaged if used repeatedly.
TIP: If unsure, make a test on a small area, or better yet, use RECIPE #2 – coming next!

non toxic reusable diy cleaning wipes, cleaning tips, diy, go green, repurposing upcycling, Stone or wood Recipe 2 to the rescue
Stone or wood? Recipe #2 to the rescue!

STEP 9: LET’S TACKLE ANOTHER RECIPE.
As you just read on Step 8, vinegar can damage stone, concrete, and wood. Use this recipe for these delicate surfaces, or if you just prefer to skip the vinegar.
DISINFECTANT WIPES > RECIPE #2
First, gather your ingredients:
• 1 cup distilled or purified water
• 2 - 4 tbs of alcohol
• 1-2 Tbsp Castile Soap, ideally Bronner's
• 8-10 drops tea tree essential oil or white thyme oil.
You'll also need:
• Tee shirts, towels, socks, or any no lint cotton fabric
• Glass jar
• Measuring cup
• Tablespoon
• Scissors

non toxic reusable diy cleaning wipes, cleaning tips, diy, go green, repurposing upcycling, Water Alcohol make this basic recipe
Water & Alcohol make this basic recipe.

STEP 10: ADD ALCOHOL TO YOUR WATER.
Grab your glass container and add 1 cup or distilled water plus 2-4 tablespoons of alcohol.
TIP: Again, you can use purified water if you don’t have distilled handy.

non toxic reusable diy cleaning wipes, cleaning tips, diy, go green, repurposing upcycling, A little castile soap and we re almost done
A little castile soap and we’re almost done!

STEP 11: NEXT IS CASTILE SOAP!
Add 1-2 tablespoons of castile soap to your water/alcohol mix.
TIP: Use a biodegradable organic soap—such as Bronner’s pure castile (my favorite!)—to make this recipe all green.
CAUTION > Resist the temptation of adding castile soap to the previous recipe, or vinegar to this one. Vinegar will desaponify castile soap, making it less effective.
If you MUST have soap in your DIY cleaning solution, make sure it's the non-castile type (i.e. no olive oil at all!) Pure castile soaps contain only 100% olive oil but in reality, most commercial ones combine olive with coconut, palm, or castor oils among others.

non toxic reusable diy cleaning wipes, cleaning tips, diy, go green, repurposing upcycling, Last step Tea Tree or Thyme oil
Last step: Tea Tree or Thyme oil.

STEP 11: FINALLY, TEA TREE (or THYME) OIL!
Can you believe we’re almost done? But first, let’s add a 8-10 drops of tea tree oil. As I mentioned in STEP 3, Tea Tree oil can be harmful to our furry friends.
CAUTION > Again, avoid using the DIY Cleaning Wipes in areas they can lick, or replace the TEA TREE by WHITE THYME oil.
TIP: for more on the properties of each oil, go back to STEP 3. Both have antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.
Also remember tea tree oil—as with any other essential oil—is best stored in glass containers, even when diluted. So make sure you use GLASS for this recipe too!

non toxic reusable diy cleaning wipes, cleaning tips, diy, go green, repurposing upcycling, Almost done Let s get those rags ready
Almost done! Let’s get those rags ready.

STEP 12: PULL YOUR OLD RAGS & TOWELS OUT OF THE CLOSET!
Remember those shirts and towels rags you’ve been saving? Now it’s time to pull them out of the closet.
Thick cotton tee shirts make nice rags as socks, old towels, or other lint-free fabrics you can have around the house. Start by cutting them into small to medium sized pieces and fold — or roll — to fit them in your jar.
Again, make sure the rags are well soaked into the solution, press down well, close tightly, and shake. Soak rags for a few hours and turn jar upside down for a few more.
TIP: make sure rags are completely into the cleaning solution and lid is well closed. You don’t want air coming in.

non toxic reusable diy cleaning wipes, cleaning tips, diy, go green, repurposing upcycling, Last step Label your concoction we re done
Last step: Label your concoction & we're done

STEP 13: FINALLY, LET’S LABEL IT!
As in step, get tape and pen to write down the ingredients and the date.
Now we’re ready to rock!

non toxic reusable diy cleaning wipes, cleaning tips, diy, go green, repurposing upcycling, Start using your wipes Ready Go
Start using your wipes. Ready? Go!

 

STEP 14: SQUEEZE, WIPE, RINSE, AND SOAK!
Get rags out of your jar as needed. Squeeze and twist wipes to get rid of excess liquid before using and wipe down surfaces with them.
Once used, rinse the cloth with clean water and use to wipe surface again if necessary. After several uses wipes can be also machine-washed and returned back to the container.
TIP: Keep your wipes handy!
Ideally in a dark place (oils may degrade with light, that’s why they come in dark glass bottles) in your cleaning cabinet or under the sink. And pull them out as needed it.
Happy cleaning!

For more helpful hints, visit https://www.hometalk.com

Posted in Helpful Home Tips
Sept. 6, 2018

5 Surprising Questions to Ask a Real Estate Agent

Before signing on to work with a Real Estate agent, it's par for the course to peruse how this pro will meet your needs by asking some questions. For example: How many homes have you sold? What neighborhoods do you specialize in?

While these are all perfectly fine questions to ask, they'll take you only so far.

To really know which real estate agent is right for you, you'll need to throw a few curveballs and dig beneath the surface. To get you started, here are some more surprising questions you probably never thought to ask a real estate agent but totally should—because they can shed a whole new light on this professional's abilities, weaknesses, and personality.

1. Who has been your most challenging client, and how did you handle it?

This is a great question because it sheds light not only on an agent's biggest horror story, but also on how the agent deals with the inevitable challenges and tensions that crop up when buying a home.

“Any potential client who sees their prospective agent trashing a former client should immediately wonder what the agent might eventually say about them," points out Kevin Deselms with Re/Max Alliance in Golden, CO.

All in all, you want an agent who shows he has patience with all personality types, and who is happy to teach his clients what he knows. In particular, “First-time home buyers tend to be skittish and cautious about every item, but an agent's job is to reassure and educate them,” Deselms says.

2. If you were looking to buy a place, where would you move and why?

This can give you some insight into what neighborhoods are being buzzed about as “up-and-coming.” But you also want to consider the source: Do your agent’s needs necessarily align with yours? Having an agent with a similar lifestyle can make it easier for the pro to pinpoint factors that might matter to you, too, says Brian Simmons, CEO of Ask a Lender.

For example, if your agent has kids, she'll be clued in to which neighborhoods have the best parks and schools, or if she's outdoorsy, she can point you to locations with hiking trails and bike paths.

Another way to get a more personal viewpoint is to ask, "If I were a friend or family member, where would you recommend I live?" This question is telling because it prompts the agent to put his loved ones in your shoes.

“It’s liable to lead to more detailed observations and maybe a more specific pro/con list than an agent might initially have offered," says Michael Edlen, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker.

3. How can you help me narrow down my choices and fit house hunting into my busy schedule?

Visiting house after house is not only exhausting but also time-consuming. So it's smart to find out if—and how—your agent is willing to do some of the legwork for you, suggests real estate agent Kerri O’Hara, relocation specialist and new construction specialist with BHGRE 43 Degrees North.

"I’ll go to a new listing when my buyers are at work and shoot a video, then give my honest opinion on any positive or negative features, which can help us eliminate a visit to a home that doesn’t work from the start,” O’Hara says.

See if your agent is able to help you whittle down your options and save you time. If all he says is, "Why don't you just look through listings and tell me what you'd like to see," that could be a sign he won't go the extra mile.

4. What are some ways to make my offer more attractive besides just increasing the price?

If you want to nab a house in a hot market, money talks, of course, but home buyers should expect their agent to have more tricks up her sleeve than just upping the offer, says Deselms.

For instance, your agent should be able to ask the right questions that can give you an advantage, such as whether the sellers need a quick closing because they’re relocating, or conversely if they want to wait until the school year is over before moving their kids.

All in all, Deselms points out, “Good agents will have a laundry list of possibilities, based on the information they can get."

5. How do you help buyers come to a decision?

A list of pros and cons can take you only so far sometimes. What you may need is some professional input from a third party, so make sure your agent is someone you will feel comfortable using as a sounding board, O’Hara says.

“When you see a lot of homes, it’s easy to get distracted by the pretty fixtures or the great backyard," O'Hara explains, "so you want agents who help their clients focus on what they really need.”

Article courtesy of Cathie Ericson is a journalist who writes about real estate, finance, and health. She lives in Portland, OR. through Realtor.Com

July 31, 2017

Curious About Local Real Estate?

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Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

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We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates