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The Feeling You Get from Owning Your Home

by Amy McLeod Group


We often talk about the financial reasons why buying a home makes sense. But, more often than not, the emotional reasons are the more powerful and compelling ones.

No matter what shape or size your living space is, the concept and feeling of home can mean different things to different people. Whether it’s a certain scent or a favorite chair, that feeling of safety and security you gain from owning your own home is simultaneously one of the greatest and most difficult to describe.

Frederick Peters, a contributor for Forbesrecently wrote about that feeling, and the pride that comes from owning your own home.

“As homeowners discover, living in an owned home feels different from living in a rented home. It’s not just that an owner can personalize the space; it touches a chord even more fundamental than that.

Homeownership enhances the longing for self-determination at the heart of the American Dream. First-time homeowners, young or old, radiate not only pride but also a sense of arrival, a sense of being where they belong. It cannot be duplicated by owning a 99-year lease.”

Bottom Line

Owning a home brings a sense of accomplishment and confidence that cannot be achieved through renting. If you are debating renewing your lease, let’s get together before you do to answer any questions you may have about what your next steps should be, and what is required in today’s market!

Starting the search for your new home? Let the professionals with The McLeod Group Network help you find your dream home! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com

By: KCM Crew


I don't know about you, but once the thermometer ticks past 70 degrees, a lightbulb goes off in my head: Is this the year, I ask myself, that I can finally build the outdoor space I deserve?

Of course I can! And so can you. With a little work, you'll soon be grilling in your outdoor kitchen or reading in a hammock on your sunny patio.

But don't drop the ball: There are some elements commonly forgotten during an outdoor renovation that can ruin it all. Go through this list before breaking ground, to ensure your backyard space is up to snuff. And get ready to enjoy the summer!

1. Proper lighting


Photo by Native Son Design Studio 

You'd think being able to see at night would be an important patio requirement, but you'd be surprised how often lighting systems are skipped.

"Many homeowners spend time and money creating an outdoor space but forget about this key element," says Joe Raboine, the director of residential hardscapes at Belgard.

Consider first how you intend to use the patio. If you're hoping guests might linger over long conversations, provide low lighting around your seating nooks. And if your backyard BBQ plans involve lots of late-night drinking games (because, why not?), illuminate the entire space with string lights.

2. Electricity

Nothing is worse than planning your perfect patio layout—complete with a keg cooler, botanical garden-worthy lighting, and a show-stopping Christmas display your neighbors will never top—only to realize you forgot one essential element: electricity.

"Be sure to install a few electrical outlets for supplemental holiday lighting or just working on a laptop," says architect and interior designer Leslie Saul.

And no, you can't just add one outlet and be done with it. Will you want speakers? A fridge? A TV? Make sure everything has juice.

3. The position of the sun

Photo by Prime Design Tasmania Pty Ltd 

You can't bask in the sun if there is no sun. Before constructing the patio of your dreams, pay close attention to the trajectory of that big ball in the sky.

"The location of the sun relative to an outdoor area is one of the most important elements to consider when designing an outdoor living space," says Shaun Gotterbarn, an architect with Alisberg Parker. "Understanding the sun’s path throughout the day and studying the shadows cast by trees and neighboring buildings allows you to make sure you have your seating area in the perfect place."

4. Outdoor storage


Photo by Harrison's Landscaping 

Once temperatures dip, it'll be time to store away all the things that made your outdoor space an enviable destination to begin with. But unless you factored in storage space from the jump, you might find yourself shoving patio cushions into your kids' closets and gardening tools into your pantry.

"Lots of water-resistant outdoor storage allows for a beautiful, clean outdoor space," says patio designer and blogger Eric Clark. "You need multiple easily accessible areas to store outdoor cushions and throw pillows and protect them from rain and mildew."

Or, build your storage into your patio design. If you're adding an outdoor kitchen, leave plenty of cabinet space for your outdoor must-haves, or construct custom cabinetry that blends seamlessly with your siding.

5. Drainage

Here's a shocking secret: Your patio is outside. Where it rains. And rain loves to wreak havoc.

"When rainwater pools on your foundation, you’ll find yourself not only dealing with a safety hazard, but also eventually, you’ll need to redo the entire groundwork," says Robert Himmaugh, manager of Acadian Windows & Siding.

Prevent damage by installing a gutter around your patio roof—if it has a roof, of course—and by paying attention to drainage. Your patio should slope away from your home's foundation, and the ground should slope away from your patio base, as well.

6. Privacy and noise


Photo by Wolf Design Studio 

Plan on throwing raucous parties in your new outdoor space? Good for you—unless you've built it right next to your neighbor's backyard.

Alternatively, maybe your neighbor is the one throwing the ultra-loud parties. Consider building your outdoor living space on the opposite side of the property, allowing you to enjoy your evenings quietly reading, not growling about the sixth keg stand (so far).

Of course, in a tiny backyard, you might not have many options. Get clever about your construction to add privacy and reduce sound.

"Vertical gardens can double as fences, and water features can mask noises," Raboine says.

And Saul recommends adding trellises, on which you can grow beautiful climbers, like clematis. That's a two-for-one deal: privacy and style.

7. Utilities

Adding utilities, like gas lines for BBQs and water lines for your wet bar, can be a pain. But installation is significantly easier if done during construction.

"Think about their location before you start construction," Gotterbarn says. Even if you're not building a kitchen now, you might want to later, so make sure all necessary utilities are easily accessible.

8. That winter view

Sure, your patio offers a fantastic summer view. But what will you be staring at come winter?

"For those of us who live in northern climates, our patio may be shut down for half the year, although we will be looking at it all year long," Clark says. "Often we're staring at ugly furniture covers protecting mini-mountains of clustered furniture, half covered with snow."

To save your eyes this sadness, Clark recommends choosing decorative outdoor lighting (weather-resistant, of course), landscape rocks, and colorful all-weather chairs to "focus the eye on more interesting views, as you stare at the patio through the window while cooking dinner."

9. Future plans

Chances are, your gorgeous outdoor space is just a fraction of your eventual dream landscape, Saul says.

"It's always good to create a master plan, even if you don't plan to implement it all at once," she says. "Then you'll know what infrastructure to install early, so you'll be ready to go later, without all the mess."

Do you plan to turn your rocky sideyard into a gorgeous grassy expanse? Consider in-ground sprinklers. And if you're dreaming about a koi pond, water pipes can turn that fantasy into reality. You can design around the empty space, leaving it unimpeded for whatever your future brain cooks up.

Contact The McLeod Group Network for all your Real Estate needs! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com

By: Realtor.com, Jamie Wiebe

5 Hot Hardscaping Trends Homeowners Should Try Right Now

by Amy McLeod Group


Whether you're putting your place on the market or just looking to give your crib some extra curb appeal, your property's exterior design deserves just as much attention as the interior.

But while you might've spent hours contemplating new window shutters, light fixtures, and foliage, there's a good chance one exterior improvement has fallen toward the bottom of your priority list: your hardscaping. After all, how much can you possibly change a pathway or sidewalk?

Well, a lot, apparently.

The truth is, hardscaping is one of the first—if not the first—things to consider when sprucing up your outdoor space. We're talking about the structures or materials that divide sections and provide places to walk and sit.

"Hardscaping should be the first component considered [because] it’s really the structure of the landscaping," explains Frederico Azevedo, founder and CEO of Unlimited Earth Care. "If hardscaping is left as an afterthought to the overall design, it will disrupt the flow of any property."

And, just like the plants you choose to grow in your backyard or the color you use to paint your front door, there are plenty of hardscaping trends that will help your property shine. Below are five expert-approved ways to improve your property’s walkways, sidewalks, and pathways.

1. Grass
Photo by Westover Landscape Design
 

Once upon a time, having grass sprout between your slabs of stone was considered sloppy and distasteful. Today, however, it's actually encouraged to integrate greenery into your hardscaping.

"Grass-jointed paving paths combine structured geometry, lush natural textures, and vibrant color," says landscape architect Janice Parker. "They provide an overlapping of formal and informal elements. Thoughtful stone selection, based on the architectural aesthetic of the home, ensures that the style works equally well for contemporary or traditional landscapes."

While a symmetrical and evenly spaced pathway will pair nicely with a manicured yard, it doesn't have to be perfect. Mixing different-sized and -shaped slabs will create the illusion of a naturally made pathway, which is also trending.

2. Crushed stone
Photo by Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC 

Want to create a beautiful walkway but don't have the time for a big project? Consider using the ever-so-trendy crushed stone.

"It's loose, has lots of texture, and produces great sound when traversing," explains Michael McGown, senior landscape architect at KAA Design Group. "It speaks to casual informality, and lets the plantings define the path."

Not only does crushed stone look nice, it's also easy on your wallet andMother Nature. The total cost will vary based on the pathway, but a 50-pound bag of crushed stones can cost less than $40.

"It's very inexpensive, so replacing existing hardscape is probably within the means of a typical homeowner or home buyer," McGown says.

And it's eco-friendly: Crushed stones are more permeable than, say, a slab of concrete, so the water and grass underneath your pathway will still be watered and nourished, McGowan adds.

3. Reclaimed brick
Photo by The Design Build Co.

As the saying goes, one man's trash is another man's treasure—and the world of hardscaping is no exception. Specifically, McGowan says, reclaimed brick is having a moment.

"Reclaimed brick [has] color and texture," he explains. "It’s got a natural patina and looks authentic and timeless. [Bricks] blur the line between contemporary and traditional."

Don't get us wrong, we love a freshly paved sidewalk as much as the next person; however, there's something cozy and inviting about reclaimed materials.

4. Sustainable sidewalks
Hailshadow/iStock

Installing solar panels and planting trees are two obvious steps toward sustainability, but did you know you can apply the same eco-friendly ethos to your hardscaping?

“I’ve always been engaged in working sustainably, so seeing more options and materials coming forward in the past few years is really exciting,” Azevedo says. “Sustainable hardscaping materials are produced in a way that is least damaging to the environment and allow water to penetrate the ground.”

While Azevedo points to urbanite (aka repurposed concrete) and recycled granite as suitable alternatives, he encourages homeowners to think outside the cinder block.

“Crushed seashells, particularly mollusk shells, which have been a burden on landfills in recent years, make an excellent ground cover for paths, or as acidity-controlling mulch for flower beds,” he says.

5. Luxurious limestone
Photo by Hutker Architects 

All of the architectural greats feature limestone: the Pentagon, the Empire State Building, and, now, your walkway. While crushed stone and brick are suitable materials for your hardscape, they give your property a very specific look and feel. Limestone, on the other hand, is versatile enough to be a blank canvas so you can let your yard's foliage take center stage.

It "can provide elegance to either" contemporary or traditional style, McGowan explains.

And unlike brick, which has a predetermined shape, you can cut limestone any way you'd like. So whether you want a straight sidewalk or something with more curve, this is one material that can get the job done.

Contact The McLeod Group Network for all your Real Estate needs! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com

By: Realtor.com, Kelsey Mulvey


If you're a homeowner who takes pride in staying on top of interior design trends, you've no doubt been busy lately. High-end kitchen island? Check. Living wall in the living room? Sure thing! And you've most certainly got a Chip and Joanna Gaines-inspired farmhouse sink or shiplap lurking somewhere, too.

Sorry to break it to you ... but those trends are très passé. The rest of the world has moved on, and they're decking out their homes with way hipper stuff than that.

Relax, your friends at  realtor.com  are here to help! Just feast your eyes on four of the hottest, hippest home trends we've seen lately.

Kitchen islands with beds

Kitchen island with bed

iStock; realtor.com

Kitchen islands have been getting bigger and more souped up than ever. This so-called "hub of the home" can now incorporate sinks, ovens, breakfast bars, charging stations, and far more. But let's be honest here: All that kitchen multitasking can leave home chefs feeling pooped. And alas, if there's one thing kitchen islands lack, it's a place to lay your head, much less your whole body.

But that's about to change with the kitchen island's newest accoutrement: a sleeping bunk!

That's right, thanks to a stowaway mattress incorporated just underneath the counter, now you can take a power nap as you wait for your pasta water to boil. You can lounge longitudinally while you slice and dice onions. Guests who hover around your island can now really kick back with that glass of merlot, or just crash for the night if they've had one too many.

This may explain why this home feature has popped up in the kitchens of party-hard celebs including David Hasselhoff, who says, "In the past, I had to choose between staving off hangovers with sleep or a bacon cheeseburger. But now, I can do both at once!"

Indoor yards

Fun for the whole family!

iStock; realtor.com

For years, we've all been bringing the indoors outside, with outdoor kitchens and fully decked al fresco living spaces. So get ready to flip the script. Are you wishing you could enjoy the great outdoors from the comfort of your couch? Well, now you can, by rigging up your home with an indoor yard. In-floor irrigation systems now enable homeowners to go beyond a few potted plants and have wall-to-wall grass beneath their feet—all without the hassles of inclement weather, nosy neighbors, mosquitoes, or other outdoor annoyances.

Due to the added privacy, indoor yards have really taken off with celebs, including Angelina Jolie ("It's so natural and earthy") and even Barack Obama, whose Portuguese water dogsSunny and Bo, "were confused at first," he admits. "Although these indoor lawns are rigged with drainage systems so canines can relieve themselves inside, I had to 'house train' them again, only in reverse. They eventually caught on, particularly once I installed a few bushes."

Wall-to-wall wallpaper

Wallpaper wall-to-wall

Getty Images

From florals and metallics to textures, the wallpaper trend is truly taking over. But get ready for the next level.

Although many choose to paper an accent wall, this hot new trend sees paper covering not only the traditional four walls, but also the ceiling, floor, furniture ... sometimes even pets and family members!

Celeb fans include Kim Kardashian West—who might like to bare all when it comes to her wardrobe, but wants her walls completely covered at home. Kicking hubby Kanye’s minimalist style to the curb, the reality star supposedly has designers scrambling to order rolls upon rolls to paper the 15,700-square-foot Los Angeles estate she and Kanye bought for $20 million in 2014. Reportedly, their kids, North, Saint, and Chicago, have pajamas and bedspreads that match the wallpaper in their rooms.

"It can be a bit dizzying sometimes, and it's frankly even hard to find them now," Kardashian West admits. "But it's worth it. Now I never have to ask, 'Does this go with that?' ever again."

Farmhouse furniture straight from the barn

Hay, ya!

iStock; realtor.com

The modern farmhouse style has been all the rage since Chip andJoanna Gaines' show "Fixer Upper" hit the airwaves and developed a devoted following. They have their own home line at Magnolia, Target ... yet some think those aren't quite farmhouse enough.

Enter their newest venture: real farmhouse furniture, straight from the barn to you! Think: hay bale coffee tables. Side table butter churns. Manger beds. Of course, Chip and Jo have incorporated these elements into their own home too. Just ask Chip: "We swapped our regular alarm clocks for a rooster. Since there's no snooze button, he really gets us up!"

So if you love living on the very cutting edge of design, you're probably eager to incorporate these into your home. But before you do that, maybe check the date on this article first.

Contact The McLeod Group Network for all your Real Estate needs! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com 

By: Realtor.com, Liz Alterman

Your Tax Refund Is The Key To Homeownership!

by Amy McLeod Group


According to data released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Americans can expect an estimated average refund of $3,143 this year when filing their taxes. This is down slightly from the average refund of $3,436 last year.

Tax refunds are often thought of as ‘extra money’ that can be used toward larger goals. For anyone looking to buy a home in 2019, this can be a great jump start toward a down payment!

The map below shows the average tax refund Americans received last year by state.

Many first-time buyers believe that a 20% down payment is required to qualify for a mortgage. Programs from the Federal Housing Authority, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae all allow for down payments as low as 3%. Veterans Affairs Loans allow many veterans to purchase a home with 0% down.

If you started your down payment savings with your tax refund check this year, how close would you be to a 3% down payment?

The map below shows what percentage of a 3% down payment is covered by the average tax refund by taking into account the median price of homes sold by state.

The darker the blue, the closer your tax refund gets you to homeownership! For those in Oklahoma looking to purchase their first homes, their tax refund could potentially get them 85% closer to that dream!

Bottom Line

Saving for a down payment can seem like a daunting task. But the more you know about what’s required, the more prepared you can be to make the best decision for you and your family! This tax season, your refund could be your key to homeownership!

Contact The McLeod Group Network to find your new home! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com 

By: KCM Crew


New year, new home renovations? Whether you're getting ready to transform your entire kitchen into a farmhouse-chic dream (hello, shiplap and apron sink!) or maybe just to add some new wood floor for the foyer, it pays to know what kind of return on investment your home renovation might deliver. According to Remodeling magazine's annual Cost vs. Value report, not all home remodeling projects deliver the same bang for the buck. Far from it, in fact.

So which projects give you the biggest return on investment these days? This year (like last), the No. 1 finisher was garage-door replacement. While not as fabulous as a full-kitchen remodel, this project essentially pays for itself, earning you a whopping 97.5% of your money back.

For this report, now in its 32nd year, researchers analyzed 22 popular home improvements in 136 markets nationwide. The magazine polled contractors on how much they charge for these jobs, as well as real estate agents on how much they think these features would boost a home's market price. They then used those figures to calculate what percentage of its cost each project might recoup—or not.

As it turns out, the price of a few key projects skyrocketed from the last year, while their value dropped, says Clayton DeKorne, chief editor of the JLC Group (which includes Remodeling magazine) and manager of the report. In other words, Americans might spend more on certain renovations and get back a lot less of the money they spent.

So what's going on?

According to DeKorne, President Donald Trump's new import tariffs on steel, lumber, and other building materials are destined to jack up renovation costs all round, leading to thinner margins on their return. Plus, as the housing market wobbles towards a peak in market prices, homeowners are less likely to renovate their homes, and real estate professionals predict that the renovation market will tighten.

"The economy is a little chaotic right now, and homeowners are holding their breath," says DeKorne. "People are very cautious to enter the market, which affects the willingness [of] people [to] pay for projects big and small."

Overall, the report found that in 2019, Americans should expect to make back 66.1% of the money they spend on renovations—a slight bump from last year's 65.8%.

And the report found that for some projects, the ROI is really worth it, especially those improvements that the whole neighborhood can see—in front of your house.

"The primary points of the evidence show us that curb appeal projects add to overall value of the house more than interior projects," DeKorne notes. "It's all about first impressions."

The chart below gives a full rundown of the top renovations, including how much they cost, their value at resale, and the percentage that can be recouped. After garage doors, the top finisher was manufactured stone veneer, with a 94.9% return on investment. Glamorous? No. Valuable? You bet.

A new project on the list this year speaks to another decidedly unsexy but invaluable trend: installing metal roofing. Compared with asphalt shingles, metal roofing costs significantly more, but offers much greater durability. And while metal roofs only yield a 60.9% ROI, DeKorne predicts their value will increase.

"This is the first year we've included metal roofing, and it's gotten a lot of interest," he says. "It's more expensive, but you'll get a better value over time than a common asphalt roof."

And if you're absolutely dying to renovate something indoors this year, DeKorne suggests keeping it in the kitchen. While most of the projects with the highest returns are exterior replacements, a minor kitchen repair cracks the top 10, with an 80.5% recoup.

"When buyers are looking at a house, they want to know the kitchen is something they can live with," says DeKorne.


A look at return on investment for popular home renovations.

Remodeling magazine

A look at return on investment for popular home renovations.

Contact The McLeod Group Network for all your Real Estate needs! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com

By: Realtor.com, Allison Underhill 

Your Winter 2019 Home Maintenance To-Do List: Have You Checked It Twice?

by Amy McLeod Group


We won't sugarcoat it: The thought of doing home maintenance right now is pretty blah—especially with the holidays looming and weeks of gloomy winter days on the horizon. Who wants to do housework when you can curl up and binge-watch "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" instead?

So you're forgiven if this is one article you don't want to read. But before you take up permanent residence on the couch, you should at least skim it. That's because winter chills bring a number of home-related ills—and if you don't keep up with a little maintenance now, you could be in for catastrophic repair costs later.

So pull yourself out of hibernation mode and get started. The good news? We've done the heavy lifting for you, identifying the top tasks to tackle—and what professional help will cost you if you find yourself in over your head.

Give your gutters one last scrub

Hopefully, you've been clearing out your gutters on the regular. But once every tree is bare, it's time for one final cleaning session to "avoid moisture building up against your house—and ice dams," says Derek Christian, the owner of Handyman Connection in Blue Ash, OH.

Ah, ice dams: winter's favorite boogeyman. These troublemakers happen when warm air meets a cold, wet roof, creating supersized icicles. Eventually, that ice and moisture can find their way underneath your shingles, rotting your roof, and leaking into the living spaces below.

But ice dams are easily avoided—as long as you do a little prep.

DIY: Cleaning out your gutters is simple enough to do yourself. For extra protection, Jason Metzger, the head of risk management for PURE Insurance, recommends installing heat strips on your gutter or roof edges to keep frozen precipitation from building up.

Call in the pros: Have you been really lackadaisical with your gutter cleanings? An expert can scoop out all the gunk. Expect to pay $100 to $250.

Turn on your humidifier


Holiday humidifier. istock/Qwart

Is your furnace prepped for winter? While this might vary based on your specific model, Christian advises homeowners to check their furnace for a "winter" and a "summer" switch, which controls your humidifier.

"In the summer, the airflow to the humidifier needs to be cut off; but in the winter, you want air going through it," he says.

That keeps your skin from drying out, your eyes from itching, and your floorboards from creaking.

DIY: Switching your humidifier on is an easy task. If your furnace lacks this feature, a stand-alone humidifier, like this Honeywell model, will do the job.

Call in the pros: Adding a humidifier to your furnace is simple. Costs start at about $370.

———

Insulate (and inspect) the attic

House always feel drafty? Your attic could be to blame. Check to make sure this space is sufficiently insulated. And while you're up there, make sure no rodents can shimmy in and create their own winter retreat. (Eek!)

"Make sure any gaps and holes into your attic are sealed tight," Christian says. "As winter approaches, critters will be looking for somewhere to spend it."

DIY: Stuff gaps with insulation, and fill cracks with caulk to keep the critters—and the cold—out.

Call in the pros: If you're noticing a severe lack of insulation (or you require six blankets just to keep your body temperature normal), hiring a pro to add insulation will be worth the cost. The national average to install blown-in insulation is $1,400.

———

Create a cleaning schedule for the new year


Seasonal cleaning calendar. 
istock/ RapidEye

With 2019 rapidly approaching, now's the time to institute good home habits that will keep your space clean and organized year-round. And what better time to tackle the mountain of grime that's accumulated over the year than the frigid winter months when you can't go outside?

DIY: Creating a regular cleaning schedule makes a huge difference in keeping your home tidy and organized.

"Hang a calendar in your kitchen where your whole household can see it," and assign tasks to the household, says professional organizer Kacy Burns.

Take it one step further with weekly, monthly, and quarterly reminders.

Call in the pros: Just can't bear the thought of starting a new year with chores? If you've ever considered a cleaning crew, now’s the time. Figure on paying $200 to $300 for a one-time cleaning, but you may be able to negotiate that price down with a regular cleaning schedule.

———

Fireproof your home

With temps plummeting, you've probably already switched on your heat a few times, gathered around the fireplace, or lugged out a portable heater to warm your feet on chilly nights.

"With all these heat sources in use, homeowners must take precautions to protect themselves from house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning," says Sophie Kaemmerle, a home improvement expert with NeighborWho, a property information website.

DIY: If you haven't done so recently, replace those smoke detector batteries.

Call in the pros: If you smell gas or your carbon monoxide detector starts beeping, leave the house and call 911, followed by your utility company, which will send out a team to investigate the problem. Still feeling wary? Most fire departments will do a home safety check if you request one.

———

Maintain a smart temperature

Consider installing a smart thermostat to keep your home's temperature even. Today's models —like the über-popular Nest—will alert you if the temperature inside your home suddenly falls. That can be a lifesaver when you're on vacation, preventing frozen pipes and other winter disasters.

DIY: If you're not ready to upgrade your thermostat, you can do your part to maintain an even temperature.

"Leave interior doors, cabinets, and vanities open to keep the whole home heated," Metzger says.

Call in the pros: Is your thermostat struggling to keep temperatures even? Are cold spots in your living room bugging you on snow days? A whole-home energy audit, which costs about $400, can identify the cause.

———

Hunker down for winter storms


Ice storm

istock/DenisTangneyJr

In most parts of the nation, the first snow has already fallen—and more is surely on the way. Before the next bomb cyclone/polar vortex/sharknado blizzard (hey, it could happen), make sure you're prepared for the worst-case scenario.

"Heavy snows and ice can take down power lines and leave you in the cold and dark," says Krystal Rogers-Nelson of home safety and security company SafeWise.

DIY: Make sure you have a (working) generator, and stock up on batteries for flashlights and lanterns. Invest in a solar-powered or battery-operated radio to stay up to date with news in case you lose cellphone reception. Store wintry weather supplies—such as snow shovels and window scrapers—somewhere you can access them easily.

If you live in an area particularly prone to snow, mark the sides of your driveway and other key places with reflective poles to help snow plowers see where to go, suggests home maintenance expert Laura Gaskill.

And remember: A buildup of heavy snow on tree limbs can make them more prone to breaking, Gaskill notes, so brush snow off tree limbs after each big snowfall, using a broom to extend your reach.

Thinking about buying or selling a home in the new year? Contact The McLeod Group Network for all your Real Estate needs! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com

By: Realtor.com, Jamie Wiebe, Holly Amaya 


Painting appliances is one of the best ways to update your kitchen without having to take on an expensive renovation. Like painting exposed bricks or a bathtub, putting on a fresh coat of appliance paint can make your hardworking machines look brand-new. But before you grab a paintbrush, here's what you need to know.

Appliance paint is different

You can achieve professional-looking results by painting your appliances yourself. However, this is not the time to use up that extra wall paint in those rusty cans in your garage. Appliance paint is specially formulated for metal surfaces and for the kind of extra-tough wear and tear to which appliances are subjected.


Refrigerator painted with white appliance paint- 
Rust-Oleum

Types of appliances that can be painted

The type of appliance you’re painting will determine which type of appliance paint you should get.

“Appliance paint is available in heat-resistant finishes, which would work best for your appliances that get warm over an extended period of time,” according to Amy Davis, a franchise consultant for Five Star Painting.

In fact, you should use only high-heat paint on your stove, oven, or toaster—but avoid painting the actual heat coils.

"Spray paint should not be used on any surface that comes in direct contact with food, as our paint is not tested for food safety,” says Melinda Childress, product marketing manager at Sherwin-Williams.

For appliances like the refrigerator or dishwasher that can get wet, you'll achieve the best results by choosing a moisture-resistant appliance paint.


White refrigerator painted with stainless steel appliance paint - Giani 

Choosing the right appliance paint

Rust-Oleum, Krylon, and Giani are three popular household appliance paint brands. Rust-Oleum and Krylon are both available in black, white, almond, and bisque/biscuit colors. And Giani offers Liquid Stainless Steel, a DIY kit that allows you to give your boring, outdated appliances the sleek, luxurious look of stainless steel.

Davis recommends spray paints because they are easy to use on appliances.

Prepping appliances for painting

To achieve professional-looking results, you’ll need to adhere to tried-and-true pre-painting rituals.

“A thorough cleaning will be the No.1 prep step for most appliances, since they are subject to fingerprints, grease, and food residue,” says Childress.

If the appliance is old and has traces of rust, she recommends sanding the rust to remove it before you start painting.

A lot of people try to skip the cleaning and sanding steps, but if you don’t remove grime and other residue, the paint won’t adhere to your appliances.

“You should also unplug the appliance, and remove or cover all the hardware and handles,” Davis says.

When you start painting

The best way to avoid a mishap is to follow the manufacturer's instructions on the product you're using.

To avoid inhaling paint fumes, don't paint your appliances indoors. Instead, paint outdoors or in a well-ventilated garage.

Also, it’s best to have everything that you need on hand before you start on your project.

You'll need the following tools and materials, according to Ami Gruenenfelder at the Giani paint company:

  • Painters tape
  • Paint roller tray (unless youre using spray paint)
  • Phillips head screwdriver (for detaching handles)
  • Fine #600 grit sandpaper (for sanding any accidental drips)
  • Water-based plastic primer (any plastic areas must be primed prior to using appliance paint)

Contact The McLeod Group Network for all your Real Estate needs! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com. 

By: Realtor.com, Terri Williams

Embarrassed by Your Kitchen? Try These Cheap, Fast Fixes

by Amy McLeod Group

It's the most wonderful time of the year, and nothing can bring you down—except, of course, a kitchen that's too small, too dated, too messy, or otherwise not fit to be seen by others (or on Instagram).

If your lackluster kitchen has you reluctant to host holiday festivities in your home, you're not alone. Home shame is real, and according to one survey of 1,000 homeowners, 61% of adults in the United States have admitted to not inviting guests into their home because they're embarrassed of what lies inside.

But you don't have to sit out from the hosting rotation this holiday season. We asked the experts for quick and easy solutions to your biggest kitchen problems, and their answers will have you sending out invites in no time.

Scuffed counters

Your kitchen counters are going to get a lot of attention during your holiday gathering—after all, that's where you're going to lay out that delicious spread, right? So what are you to do if yours are scratched, scuffed, or bear the marks of a few unfortunately hot pots and pans?

Interior designer Mikel Welch, of HGTV's "Design Star" and TLC's "Trading Spaces," says the fix is easier than you might think—and it doesn't involve installing new counters.

"As an on-camera designer, I often have to mask and camouflage things to look 'camera ready,'" says Welch. "You can do the same thing in your kitchen by creating a vignette of holiday decor nestled right over the top of any countertop imperfections."

Dated cabinets

Your cabinets may be straight out of the 1960s, but it's not the end of the world. Your best option, according to Sherwin-Williams director of product information Rick Watson, is to paint your cabinets.

"Paint is a great, affordable way to refresh old cabinets," he says. "It helps to cover up imperfections and stains, and you can choose from thousands of colors. However, if you want a professional, lasting finish, it requires a lot of prep work."

If you don't have time to remove cabinet doors, sand, and paint, you're not out of options.

"For a simpler update, adding new cabinet hardware can help bring them back to life," says Build.com's in-house interior designer, Lauren O’Donnell, from Chico, CA. "I often see cabinets without hardware, and I always see that as a easy opportunity to add a little flair."

Botched backsplash

A backsplash is supposed to catch the eye, but what if yours draws the eye right to a mislaid or missing tile?

"Counter backsplash can make or break a kitchen," Welch says. "Try a peel-and-stick backsplash applied directly over your botched backsplash job. There’s no grout, spaces or level needed."

For an even simpler solution, designer Susan Serra, president of Susan Serra Associates in Northport, NY, says you can always just hide those embarrassing spots on your backsplash.

"My favorite trick is to put out a decorative item or a small appliance to block the offending area," she says.

Mismatched appliances

It's not often that all your appliances stop working all at the same time, so there's a good chance the ones in your kitchen don't exactly match. If they're really different—completely different colors, for example—Welch says there's no need to purchase new ones just to make them harmonize.

"You can easily fix this problem with stainless steel contact paper that can be cut and affixed to your appliances in a jiffy," says Welch. "Within two hours, all of your family hand-me-down appliances will look like they just rolled in off a delivery truck."

Worn or cracked vinyl flooring

Redoing floors is a major expense, especially with the holidays right around the corner. But even if your floors leave a lot to be desired, you don't have to rush into a major construction job.

"If your vinyl floors are cracking, chances are the flooring is old. Which probably means the pattern is dated as well. Give new life to your floor by covering it up with peel-and-stick wood-plank vinyl floors," suggests Welch.

Lack of counter space

For some homeowners, the scariest part of holiday hosting is trying to find a place to set out all the food. Designer Leslie Saul, president of Leslie Saul & Associates, says this problem can be solved with a quick online shopping spree.

"Wayfair has many rolling islands that add counter space and can store things that you used to keep on the counter," she says, adding that this one purchase extends your counter space in two ways—by adding more surface area, and by giving you a place to store some of the clutter on your existing counters.

Scratched-up sink

White kitchen sinks are gorgeous—at least, until you use them a few times. After you've washed a few loads of dishes, they start to look scratched, stained, and a lot less attractive. But they don't have to stay that way.

"If sink stains and scratches are a problem, then you need to head down to your local hardware store and pay the paint aisle a visit," says Welch. "There are several easy to apply tub paints and tile refinishing kits that will have your sink Martha Stewart-ready in a quick weekend."

Lauren McKinney, director of marketing at Judd Builders in Asheville, NC, had an even easier solution. "Buy stainless steel grids to hide scratches and stains, if they're only on the bottom of the sink," she suggests.

Scratched table

The last thing you want to do is have friends and family sit around a scratched-up old table for the big meal. DIY expert and blogger at Heathered NestHeather Thibodeau, has a simple solution you might not have thought of.

"Grab some crayons! Yep. Crayons work great in a pinch for covering scuffs, chips and dings in furniture," she says.

If you're not comfortable turning your table into a coloring project, McKinney suggests adding a tablecloth—it's a perfect opportunity to both hide the imperfections and add a touch of holiday cheer.

Let the McLeod Group Network help you find a home with the kitchen of your dreams! Contact us today - 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com.

By: Realtor.com, Whitney Coy

6 Changes to Make After a Move to Start Off on the Right Foot

by Amy McLeod Group

You're moving! And along with a new address, you get to enjoy a fresh start at life. OK, maybe you can't easily erase everything from your past—nor would you want to—but it is a good opportunity to break old habits that weren't helping, or were costing you money without much payback, or were causing more headaches than they solved.

For instance: If you usually have a landline phone, consider cutting the cord and going cellular. Or since you're changing your mailing address, sign up for paperless delivery of your important bills. Here are six other ways to change up your home life and daily routine for the better.

1. This time, actually unpack all those boxes

When people move, they eventually get tired of unpacking after a few weeks (and who can blame them?). And once you've unpacked the essentials, it's easy to take a break from unpacking—never to go back.

"Whether it's four more boxes or 14 more, you don't want them sitting in that same spot until your next move," says Kelly Tenny, content and social media manager for Zippboxx.com, a moving and on-demand storage company. So after you've moved households, make a realistic goal of when you'd like to have everything unpacked—and stick to it!

2. Purge unused subscriptions and other auto-renewal fees

"When you move, it's a good idea to look at all the deductions from your bank account," says agent Katie Messenger of Keller Williams Louisville East.

Services with auto-renewals you simply forgot to cancel—like that streaming channel that you subscribed to for just one show, or a magazine that goes straight to the recycling bin—can add up to a lot being deducted from your bank account.

"When my wife and I moved, we went through our budget line by line," says Mark Aselstine, founder of Uncorked Ventures. "We found subscriptions and subscription boxes—admittedly mostly for the kids—were starting to pile up unused."

Aselstine canceled the subscriptions his family no longer used and kept track of their savings.

3. Cut the cord—or consolidate streaming services

"When my wife and I looked into cable TV plans in the area we were moving to, we were met with plans that totaled $130 per month," says Aselstine. He realized the pared-down local internet service provider cost only $35 a month; that, combined with Netflix for $10 and other cheap add-ons, could meet most of his TV needs for much less.

Already subscribed to streaming services? Make sure you use them all; if not, it's time to pare down, or go back to good ol' public TV! That's what photographer S.J. Brown did when she moved into a house that had an antenna.

"For the price of one month's cable, I had it reconnected and am now enjoying free television," Brown says.

4. Switch to energy-efficient lightbulbs and dimmers

You'll be handling all of your lamps when you move, so why not make the swap to energy-saving LED lightbulbs? These lightbulbs can help the typical home save about $1,000 over 10 years. And while dimmers are best known for their ability to improve a room's ambiance, these devices also reduce energy consumption and cut costs on your power bill, leaving more money in your wallet.

5. Resolve to keep records of all of your home improvements

Even though you just moved, you never know where life is going to take you. A surprise job offer may have you selling your new house sooner than expected.

"Having a record of when you fixed something at a glance is hugely helpful," says Messenger.

If you bought your current digs, those records will also help with capital gains. And from a budgeting perspective, you'll know when the last time major systems such as the furnace, air conditioning, or roof were maintained, so you can budget for future upkeep.

6. Start a new cleaning ritual

"If you've been in a house for years, chances are you learned to live with some deferred maintenance–type things," says Messenger. When she moved, Messenger made it her mission to always keep her house tidy in case someone stopped by for a surprise visit.

"It's challenging with pets, but I feel much more pride in my new home knowing I'm taking care of it," she says.

Another bonus? Messenger found doing a few small things daily meant her free time wasn't spent on massive cleanup days.

Are you searching for your new home? Let's the experts on The McLeod Group Network help you find it! 971.208.5093 or mcleodgroupoffice@gmail.com.

By: Margaret Heidenry, Realtor.com

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**Disclaimer: Amy McLeod, and her team, do not initiate, process, or service mortgages.  And provide this information only as a service.  You should confirm information here with your Licensed Mortgage Lender.