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Time to Declutter and Donate!

Now that the warmer months are upon us, it’s a wonderful time to take an inventory of your home and clear out the clutter. There are many ways you can approach this project and coming up with a plan before you take on the big task, is essential. Decluttering is much easier when done systematically, for example, if you do it room by room, it isn’t as overwhelming, and you can focus on the items you use on a regular basis for that specific room in the house.

A good rule of thumb when clearing out clutter is to consider the last time you used the item or wore the piece of clothing. Many people believe it’s not worth holding on to if you haven’t used it or worn it in a year’s time. With that rule in mind, visit your drawers, open your closets and start a pile of items you are willing to part with.

A helpful exercise used by many is to imagine if you lost everything, then figure out what items you would want to replace. That gives you a good vision of where to start with the clean-out and starts the process of letting go of the items that do nothing but take up space. Depending on the size of your home, you may need to purchase bins or a storage system if there are heirlooms you want to keep but might not want to display in your home.

Focusing on the function of the item in question gives you a chance to really think about its importance in your home. Figure out if it has a specific function and if not, get rid of it. Try to leave sentimental feelings out of the consideration so you don’t get caught hanging onto things that just take up space.

Once you’ve done the declutter, it’s time to decide what you want to do with the pile of items you no longer want or need. Donating is a terrific way to get rid of a lot of it, and most household items donated can be a tax write-off. Call shelters or teen-challenge programs in your community that take donations and find out what they are currently in need of. You can also sell on eBay or craigslist if you want to make some money on certain high-value items. If you decide to donate, survey the item to make sure it still works and if it’s clothing, consider how worn it is and make sure it’s clean before you give it away.

There are so many benefits to decluttering and you’ll no doubt enjoy your space much more once it feels organized. Donating to local organizations helps your community and gives your items a new lease on life!

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A Quick Checklist for Staging Your Home for Showings

Once you decide it’s time to sell your home, you discover there are all kinds of preparations needed to get the best-selling price possible. Staging your home requires some effort and ultimately a little bit of depersonalization if you want potential buyers to connect with the home. One common assumption is that staging means getting the inside of the house looking good, but a thorough staging includes both inside and outside of the home. Consider the following tips while you prepare your home for selling.

  1. Clean out closets, drawers and storage areas- When potential buyers walk around your home, they will open every closet door, pull out every drawer and look at every square inch with a detailed eye. Clutter, messy closets, packed storage areas, and junk drawers don’t allow the buyers to see the actual storage potential in the home. Organized, clean and spacious presentations appeal to buyers because they are trying to imagine their own belongings in your home and less distraction allows them to do this.
  2. Do a deep clean, including appliances and baseboards- The first impression is the most important, so sparkling countertops, clean floors, tidy bathrooms and clean walls are a must. Clean the inside and outside of all appliances, it gives the potential buyers evidence that you’ve treated the home with care. Wash the baseboards, clean the floors, replace the carpet if it’s tattered and stained. Investing a little bit of money to replace old, worn carpet will help you get closer to the listing price when you sell.
  3. Remove furnishings that block doorways or windows, create open space- Generally less is more regarding furniture when you are showing your home. Too much furniture or oversized furniture can make rooms feel small and cramped. Potential buyers want to be able to visualize their own furniture in each room so pare down yours to allow better visualization.
  4. Bring in the light- Open those blinds or curtains and bring the light into your home. The lighter the better and buyers like to see as much natural light as possible when touring your home. Change lightbulbs before buyers walk through and replace any old lighting that doesn’t match the décor.
  5. Repair the fence, clean up the yard- Curb appeal is a big one, from the moment buyers pull up to your house, they are on point looking at every little detail. Making sure your repairs are done, the leaves are off the ground, the grass is mowed, and the dog waste is picked up, will ensure a good first impression.
  6. Eliminate orders- Our beloved pets can give off odors that we don’t even notice. Pick-up worn or tattered pet toys, store pet beds in the garage, steam clean upholstery, and carpets and be sure to take your pets to a different location during your open house. Not everyone is a dog or cat lover and having them around can be a distraction for many potential buyers.

 Selling a home can be stressful but staying organized and mindful will help reduce the stress and allow you to focus on the bigger picture. Staging your home can be fun, satisfying and give you the chance to finish projects you’ve been meaning to complete for years!



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Home Improvement Projects to Complete Using Your Tax Return

After tax time and your return comes in, you have to decide what to do with the extra money. Many people decide to reinvest the money back into their homes. They may upgrade old furnishings and appliances, bring more functionality into existing spaces, and increase the value of their homes. If you are trying to decide on a home improvement project to complete by using your tax return, check out the following suggestions.

Focus on Essentials First

While you may not like the look of your outdated kitchen cabinets or old outdoor landscape, you may want to focus the money on items that you know will need fixed soon. Replacing old appliances like your refrigerator or stove now while knowing that they might not last another year allows you to take your time and shop for the items you want.

Replace Water Heaters and HVAC Systems for Energy-Efficient Benefits

Upgrading old water units with tankless models, as well as updating heating and cooling systems, can help you save more water and electricity. You can use less electricity while having higher efficiency equipment that can lower your utility bills. Always consider replacing mechnical systems that are over 15 years to 20 years old.

Seek Simple Remodels That Make Homes More Livable

Replacing outdated cabinets, installing wood flooring, laying in new countertops and upgrading bathroom fixtures are simple home improvement projects to perform when you know that you won’t be getting a large tax return. These projects can instantly change the look of the space, make rooms more functional, and won’t require a lot of time or work to complete.

You can renovate your home so that it will be beautiful and comfortable for your needs. Using your tax return money allows you to make the changes you need to increase the value of your property.

Create a Home Inventory to Protect Your Possessions

It only takes one disaster, such as a flood or fire, to lose the possessions in your home. If you have created a home inventory, you can let the insurance adjuster know exactly what you had before the disaster as you can get compensated for the lost items in a faster manner. Check out this list on how to create a home inventory.

First, Check Your Policy Regarding What Is Covered

While people think every item will be covered at its face value, some insurance policies will have limits on what they will compensate. If you have rare and valuable possessions, such as jewelry and works of art, getting a policy rider can provide extra coverage.

Pick a Room and List Items

Record what the item is, where you bought it, the serial number, the date of purchase and any receipts that you kept. Take your time and don’t miss anything. Items such as clothing can have more generalized descriptions, such as how many jeans or dresses you have, if you didn’t keep any receipts.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

Having visual recordings of your items can provide extra proof for the insurance adjuster. You can easily take photos or videos using the camera feature on your smartphone. There are also apps available that help you make a home inventory.

List Items in Storage

Don’t forget to list the items you have in an offsite storage facility. These places can also become damaged in a disaster.

Update Your List Periodically

You will have more items the longer you live in the house. Make sure to update your home inventory list. Keep a copy at a different location, such as with a family member, if the original list becomes destroyed.
Once the home inventory list is made, it becomes easier to update and remove items that you no longer have. Keeping a home inventory makes it easier to become compensated, as you can return to your normal life faster after a disaster strikes.

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3 Common and Costly Mistakes that New Homeowners Make

When you purchase a new home, you are ready to enjoy all the creature comforts it will provide. However, some new homeowners commit some common mistakes once they start doing simple remodels and renovations. These updates can be costly problems, as you can not only damage your new home but spend even more money to have the mistakes fixed. Here are the 3 most common and costly mistakes to avoid when becoming a new homeowner. 

Performing Extensive DIY Electrical and Plumbing Work 

Unless you are a licensed plumber or electrician, or have been adequately trained in such work, it’s usually a bad idea and can be extremely dangerous to perform electrical and plumbing jobs on your home. Anytime you find an electrical outlet no longer working or there is water rising up from the drain in the basement, it’s time to get professional workers to look into the issue. 

Tearing Out Walls to Make the Room Bigger 

Before tearing out a wall completely, you need to figure out if it is a load-bearing wall. Load-bearing walls help support the structural weight of floors and the trusses for the roof of the house. If you tear out a load-bearing wall, this structural weight has to be transferred to some other support structure or you will end up seriously damaging your home. 

Changing Finished Grades to Add Landscape Elements 

Finished grades on the property are designed to redirect rainwater away from the house and into nearby storm drains or creeks. Unfortunately, homeowners may change the finished grade by adding driveways, patios, in-ground pools, sidewalks and other landscape elements that impact the grade. If water is redirected back toward the house, it can cause the foundation to shift and heave as structural damage can occur. 

Avoiding these common mistakes that new homeowners make when purchasing a property will ensure that you won’t accidentally damage your home. You can make the house perfect and comfortable for you and your family so you will enjoy living there. 

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Making Your Home Deposit Go Further Without Feeling Financially Pinched

Saving up to purchase a home feels daunting. You’ll need to come up with a 5% deposit out of your own finances. Also, the more you save, the better your interest rate. Yet how to save more funds at a faster rate? Here are some tips you can use to make your home deposit go further so you get the place that you desire. 

Look for the Best Bank Account Rates 

You have to place the saved money somewhere. Different banks offer varied interest rates, so you will want to check out their rate terms and conditions so you can build your savings faster. Some places may offer you up to 5% interest. Review the competitive rates to select the one where you will be able to grow your savings. 

Qualify for Help to Buy Programs 

There are a range of different schemes available to help people purchase a home. A first-time home buyer can get into the Help to Buy ISA program where if you save up to £12,000, you will be able to get a 25% return that is tax free. Another program is the Help to Buy Equity Loan that is open to everyone (not just to first home buyers). If you are able to save 5% on your home deposit, you can get a loan of 20% to 40% of the property value. 

Buy a Home with Someone Else 

If you know of a friend, relative or partner who is looking for homes to buy, you can buy a place together. So you only have to save up for half the deposit. Just make sure you can be comfortable living with the person under one roof and discuss what will happen if you or the other person decides to sell their share of the house. 

Get the home you need without going through financial hardship. Check out the above ideas on how to make your deposit go further so you can purchase a home. 

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Increase the Curb Appeal of Your Home This Spring

Selling a home? Increase the curb appeal without spending a lot of money by doing the following tasks. While these ideas won’t significantly increase the value of your home, it will entice people to stop by and check out the interior of the house as you may get a great sales quote on the spot. 

Wash the House 

The rainwater won’t wash away the years of grime that has stuck to the siding and the brick. You’ll be amazed how a little soap and water can restore the color of the exterior. Use a soft bristle brush and be careful when using pressure washers on the materials as you could damage certain architectural aspects of the house. Instead, use the power washer on walkways and driveways to blast away the oil and stains. 

Add a Splash of Paint to Outdoor Structures 

A lot of people forget to brighten up the look of separate garages, garden sheds, and fences as they focus most of their attention on the house. Make sure to repair, wash and paint or stain these structures so they are presentable. You may even decide to paint the house. 

Make Minor Repairs 

Potential homebuyers will notice the minor problems you may have skipped over, such as cracked caulking around windows, sagging gutters or loose mortar on flagstone walkways and brick steps. Many of these repairs won’t break your budget and can be performed quickly. 

Spruce up the Yard 

It is usually a good idea to wait until after the last frost before planting flowers. Yet you still have time to weed the garden and prune certain flowering shrubs and bushes while they are still dormant. Clean up the property and add bright flowers to tended beds so the yard looks beautiful. 

By using the above tips, you can have a beautiful property this spring. Once buyers see the curb appeal, they will eagerly want to check out the rest of the house. 

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Consider Saving Your Tax Refund for Home Down Payment

Usually when you get your tax refund, you think about buying a new car or using it to go on a vacation. Yet if you plan to move to a new home in the next few years, you may want to consider saving the refund to place it toward the down payment. 

Why Save Your Tax Refund? 

Collect more interest: The refund you get from the IRS doesn’t include any interest. Yet if you place the refund into an interest-bearing checking or savings account, you can grow your money from the compounded interest. After several years of saving your tax refund, you will have even more money to place toward the new house. 

Make a bigger down payment: People will often look for home programs, such as an FHA, so they can take advantage of the low 3.5% down payment option. However, when you make a higher down payment toward a home, such as 10% or even 20%, most lenders will offer better interest rates. You also can get a smaller mortgage loan that you can pay off sooner. Combine your tax refund with what you have saved already for the down payment to get a range of additional benefits toward your mortgage loan. 

Have Emergency Repair Funds: Even if you have more than enough money to cover the down payment, it’s still a good idea to save the tax refund for unexpected surprises. You may find a serious issue with the home that needs to be repaired quickly. The tax refund can go toward those repairs without hampering your other finances. 

There are many advantages to saving your tax refund. Whether you are putting it toward the down payment, making an emergency repair fund, or paying off your debts to improve your credit, the extra refund money can make it easier to purchase a home. 

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The Million Dollar Question: Should You Buy or Rent?

When it comes to renting a place or buying a home, everyone’s preferences and lifestyles are different. For some people, it is more ideal to rent a home or apartment because they can live closer to the downtown area near their work. Other people want to purchase a house because they plan to live in it for a long period of time as they want to have children. 

As you are deciding on whether buying or renting is best for you, you have to take a look at your present finances and where you want to live, as well as your current and future lifestyle goals. Here are several things to consider to help narrow down your choice. 

Renting a Home or an Apartment 

Renting a home or apartment is desirable for people who are constantly on the move for work. They have more of a mobile lifestyle, and purchasing a home that they will hardly live in isn’t always desirable. In addition, rental prices may be lower than mortgage payments in certain locations. So a person can save money if their finances are currently tight. Another advantage to renting is that you don’t have to deal with the responsibility or costs when it comes to dealing with apartment repairs. These repairs, and costs, fall on the landlord. 

Buying a Home 

Buying a home becomes ideal when you are looking to build a retirement savings. With a home, you can begin to build equity that can be tapped into. You will also be able to will it to beneficiaries as part of your retirement estate. 

In time, the mortgage payments will always be less than rental payments. Rent can go through a yearly increase while your mortgage payments stay the same rate. Also, you will be able to eventually pay off the mortgage and own your home outright. While you have to make all repairs yourself and pay for those costs, you also can make changes to your home, which is not allowed for a rental property. If the time comes to sell the house, you will be able to pocket the sales proceeds. 

The choice of buying or renting a place will be based on a person’s circumstances. In the long run, you can build equity and make lower payments when purchasing a home. Consider all the advantages and disadvantages before making such a big decision. 

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Buying a Home Near a School: Is it a Good Idea?

As you are searching for a new home to buy, you happen to see one that is perfect. It has everything you are looking for: a large outdoor space, plenty of bedrooms, and a newly updated kitchen. Yet the one thing you aren’t sure about is its location. The house is near a school, as you wonder whether buying the home here would be a good idea.

Homes Near Schools Offer a Range of Benefits

While you may be worried about having the occasional kid taking a shortcut through your yard to make it to school on time before the bell rings, having a house in walking distance to a school can offer advantages to you and your family. If you currently have children that will be attending, or will soon attend, the school, they will have an easy commute to get to the building.

Even if you don’t currently have children but plan to have them someday, buying a home in a school area will allow you to properly prepare for the day when you have kids. You don’t have to worry about finding a home later on as you will already be established in the neighborhood. Also, your neighbors and other people in the community will be there to help you out by offering you advice about the school and the activities they provide.

Advantages to People Who Don’t Plan on Having Families

Even if you don’t plan to have children, purchasing a home can be an ideal investment. If you are going to be living in the house only for 3 years to 5 years before selling it off, you can market the house to a larger selection of buyers. Home buyers who are looking for properties near a school will be more interested in your property than in others. You can make this into a great selling point in the home listings as you can appeal to families.

If you are searching for a home to purchase in a school area, you need to understand the school district boundary lines if there is more than one school nearby. This tactic will ensure that your child can go to the school of your choosing. Taking the chance of purchasing a home near a good school offers a range of benefits to you and your family, as you can find a wonderful place to live in and a place where your child can get a great education.

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January Real Estate Forecast shows an energetic start to the 2018 Central Oregon Real Estate Market

The beginning of 2018 showed a robust start to the year in real estate. January was a highly active month, with a higher number of active listings, a higher number of completed sales, a higher number of pending sales compared to January 2017, all  expected to close in February. All indications point to a strong spring in Bend.

Extremely Strong Seller’s Market

The number of active listings increased this January compared to 2017, going from 355 to 409. Central Oregon is currently experiencing a strong seller’s market, with anticipated inventory increasing in time for Spring Selling trends. Now is a great time for property owners to list their homes in order to have less spring competition by other home sellers entering the market.

High Pending Sales

January was an exceptionally strong month for pending listings with 207 this January vs. January 2017 with 185 pending. With the number of pending listings in January sky rocketing compared to the last few years, it’s fair to expect a chart topping spring season. We expect these pending sales to complete in February, making February sold properties higher than previously anticipated. It shows that now is a great time to buy and that the Central Oregon Real Estate Market is still thriving through the winter months.

Average Completed Sales

Given the mild winter weather we’ve experienced this January, a higher number of completed sales is to be expected with more buyers enticed to get out and about checking out neighborhoods, new construction, locations, etc. Considering the high number of pending sales, the number of sold properties for the month of January was expected to be higher due to shoppers grabbing onto spring season thoughts earlier in the New Year.

Final Analysis

The Central Oregon Real Estate market is expected to see a lot of traffic in the coming warmer months, as the Bend area is still experiencing energetic interest. We’re predicting that fewer priced reductions will take place, as the low number of listings encourages more competition per property, and negates the need to price more competitively. With a strong seller’s market, now is the time to get a property listed. Learn about what we can do to help you with buying or selling real estate by visiting, browsing our Facebook page, or calling us at (541) 382-8262.