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Have You Outgrown Your Home?

by Amy McLeod Group


It may seem hard to imagine that the home you’re in today – whether it’s your starter home or just one you’ve fallen in love with along the way – might not be your forever home.

The good news is, it’s okay to admit if your house no longer fits your needs.

According to the latest Home Price Insights from CoreLogic, prices have appreciated 3.5% year-over-year. At the same time, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports inventory has dropped 4.3% from one year ago.

These two statistics are directly related to one another. As inventory has decreased and demand has increased, prices have been driven up.

This is great news if you own a home and are thinking about selling. The equity in your house has likely risen as prices have increased. Even better is the fact that there’s a large pool of buyers out there searching for the American dream, and your home may be high on their wish list.

Bottom Line

If you think you’ve outgrown your home, let’s get together to discuss local market conditions and determine if now is the best time for you to sell. Contact The McLeod Group Network at 971.208.5093 or [email protected] for ALL your Real Estate needs! 

By: KCM Crew

The Only 6 Things You Need to Throw a Holiday Party at Home

by Amy McLeod Group


Pulling off a holiday party at home can seem stressful, but it's made infinitely easier if you remove a few things from the equation. Namely, the dining table and chairs. Oh—and nix the forks and knives.

No, we're not suggesting people sit on the floor and eat with their hands. Instead, skip the sit-down affair and host a cocktail party with a few key essentials, including the right glassware and serving pieces, so your soiree is headache-free.

 
 
 

Your first step in this party process is to clear some space in your coat closet or designate a spot for guests to put their things (a guest bedroom works here).

"There's nothing worse than having people drape their jackets over the backs of your sofa and chairs, because it takes away from the beautiful event you've set up," says Roxy Te, CEO and founder of Society Social.

Next up, pull out (or pick up) the following items to outfit your bar and kitchen. Then, plan to serve your party bites on a buffet—a good use for your dining table. This option is more affordable, and it gives you the chance to style a pretty vignette or centerpiece, notes Te.

Make serving guests at your fete easier with these choices—and you'll have more fun at your own party.

1. All-purpose wine glass

Nope, most of the time, you don't need red and white wine stemware—and a simple glass like this one ($3, Crate&Barrel) can even hold a mixed drink. "Unless you're serving champagne, try using one round wine glass as your all-purpose go-to at a cocktail party," says Andrea Correale of Elegant Affairs Caterers. And a stem-free option is less likely to break when you pop it in the dishwasher.

2. Paper napkins

Cloth napkins are lovely—at Christmas and Easter—but paper is your pal at a casual drinks party.

"I definitely recommend paper napkins for cocktails and small bites, and suggest five per person on average," says Correale. Pick goofy sayings in bright and cheery colors, and your little stacks will become part of your party decor ($7, Sur La Table).

3. Pitcher

Everyone wants a Negroni, but mixing them up individually is a pain. Don't get stuck playing bartender, warns Te.

"Stock up with what you need, and serve the classics or a signature cocktail," she says.

Making a pitcher of spiked punch ahead saves time and makes pouring a breeze, especially in this gorgeous vessel with dragonflies ($62, Macy's).

4. Platters

Rather than put out a bunch of small bowls for snacks, choose larger serving pieces for your buffet.

Just be sure to skip heavy stoneware and go for a melamine platter like this one ($25, Williams Sonoma), which comes in four fun colors. And using platters for parties is on trend, says Te.

"I've been pulling inspiration from grazing boards, because these bountiful spreads are visually striking, and they allow guests to mingle and encourage seconds and thirds."

5. Cakestand

Along with your platters, you'll want to create height on your buffet—and that's where cakestands come in ($25, Walmart). By interspersing stands with plates below them, you'll double your offerings and create visual interest too.

6. 3-tier server


A little tower like this tiered piece ($25, Amazon) is a nice way to serve a tiny sweet at the end of your party. Arrange it ahead of time, and then place it in the middle of your buffet when the savory foods have disappeared.

Happy Holidays! Contact The McLeod Group Network at 971.208.5093 or [email protected] for ALL your Real Estate needs! 

By: Realtor.com, Jennifer Kelly Geddes


Ten years ago, many homeowners were desperately hoping to hang on to their homes. Others were doing everything they could just to scare up potential buyers. Meanwhile, said buyers were struggling to get financing from newly skittish lenders. Ah, memories. What a difference a decade makes!

It has, in fact, been the most consequential stretch in American real estate history, one that has fundamentally altered the landscape. Cosmopolitan coastal cities are out; affordable midsize cities are in. Baby boomers and Gen Xers are no longer the dominant forces in buying, ceding that turf to millennials. Yet after all this time, it seems that home buyers still can't get much of a break, according to a new report from realtor.com®.

 
 
 

“In 2020, there will be opportunity for buyers, but in many ways the challenges they’ve faced for years are going to persist—challenges like difficulty finding the home that’s right for them, and competing with other buyers, especially in affordable price points," says Danielle Hale, chief economist at realtor.com, whose team pulled together a forecast of housing trends for 2020.

In other words: The more things change, the more they'll stay the same. A lack of homes for sale has been making things difficult for buyers since 2015, and next year, inventory could reach historic lows. And although single-family home construction is expected to increase 6%, it still won't be enough to keep up with demand.

There is a bright side, though: Mortgage rates are expected to remain reasonable, at an average 3.85%.

Let's take a closer look at the biggest factors that will shape the real estate market in 2020.

Affordability, affordability, affordability

OK, it's not as catchy as "location, location, location," but achievable price points will be key in the coming year, especially as millennial buyers solidify their position as America's main home buyers (more on that later).

Now that we've apparently hit the ceiling of crazy price growth, it seems that buyers are just over overpaying.

"Many people would prefer to live in the San Franciscos and [other] big cities, but for the right price they will make the decision to go to another city," says Hale.

Perhaps a city like, say, McAllen, TX, where sales are expected to rise 4.4% and home prices to appreciate 4% in 2020. Compare that with a 9.5% drop in sales for Las Vegas, and 1.1% decrease in home prices.

Texas, Arizona, and Nevada are expected to welcome an influx of home shoppers priced out of California. Meanwhile, would-be buyers from pricey Northeastern markets will likely head to the Midwest or Southeast. There, they can find affordable housing as well as solid, diversified economies.

Millennials mature into home buying

"The largest cohort of millennials will turn 30 in 2020—historically, that's when people tend to think of buying their first home," says Hale. The oldest millennials will be turning 39. By the middle of the year, she says, this generation will account for more than 50% of mortgages taken out in the country. Yes, that's more than all other generations, combined.

Surprised? Well, the popular notion that millennials aren't interested in settling down just isn't proving true as members of this generation, born in 1981 through 1997, partner off and start families.

"Family changes tend to drive home-buying decisions," Hale notes. "Millennials are going to be active in the housing market not just because they're just at the age when they're thinking about becoming first-time home buyers, but they're also in the age range when they're having kids."

But while they may be motivated, they'll face a lot of competition for the scarce homes on the market—from roughly 71 million of their peers nationwide.

Where are the homes?

While millennials are raring to buy, Gen Xers and boomers are pretty comfortable where they are, thank you very much. Boomers are living longer, healthier lives, and staying in their houses longer. Gen Xers often aren't quite done with raising kids or ready to retire, so except for the lucky ones trading up, they also aren't inclined to move.

Since older owners aren't quite chomping at the bit to give up their houses en masse—and with levels of new construction still low in most parts of the U.S.—there just won't be enough housing to meet the demand. And while in previous years this scarcity has driven up home prices, home price appreciation is finally flagging, with predicted growth of just 0.8%.

After the housing crash in 2008, which wiped out quite a few builders, those who remained have largely focused on higher-end developments with bigger profit margins. Although they're finally showing signs of a shift toward building more entry-level homes, faced with overwhelming demand, it will take a few years for a significant number to come to market.

How to buy a home in 2020

Those looking to buy an entry-level home will face a tough search, so they should be prepared for it to take a while—and to act quickly when needed.

"Finding a property that is right for you and snatching it up before someone else does is going to be the primary challenge," Hale says.

Those with a bit more to spend will have more to choose from, less competition, and possibly more motivated sellers.

How to sell a home in 2020

Sellers of entry-level homes should be sitting pretty, as those will continue to be the most in-demand properties next year. If anything, those sellers should be prepared to move out quickly!

Others should brace themselves for a longer wait, especially as the price point moves up. The number of existing-home sales is expected to dip 1.8% next year. Higher-end sellers should do their homework: "They might need to think about the competition and pricing their home competitively," Hale says.

Thinking about buying a home or selling your current home in the new year? Let's get together and discuss your options. Reach us at 971.208.5093 or [email protected]

By: Realtor.com, Cicely Wedgeworth

5 Reasons to Sell This Winter

by Amy McLeod Group


Below are five compelling reasons to list your house this winter.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing, and able to purchase, and are in the market right now. More often than not, in many areas of the country, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy the same home.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Inventory is still under the 6-month supply needed for a normal housing market. This means in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in the market.

Historically, a homeowner would stay an average of six years in his or her home. Since 2011, that number has hovered between nine and ten years. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years due to a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners will be given the freedom to move.

Many homeowners were reluctant to list their homes over the last couple of years, for fear they would not find a home to move into. That is all changing now as more homes come to market at the higher end. The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until additional inventory comes to market before you decide to sell.

3. Buyers Are Serious at This Time of Year

Traditionally, homeowners think about spring as a great time to list their homes, when more buyer traffic may be out there actively searching. In the winter, however, the buyers who are seeking a home – whether for relocation or otherwise – are serious ones. They’re ready to make offers and they’re eager to move, often quickly. Your house may be exactly what they’re looking for, so listing when other potential sellers are holding off may be your best opportunity to shine.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If your next move will be into the premium or luxury market, now is the time to move up. There is currently ample inventory for sale at higher price ranges. This means if you’re planning on selling a starter or trade-up home and moving into your dream home, you’ll be able to do that now. Demand for your entry-level home is high, and inventory in the luxury or premium market is too.

According to CoreLogic, prices are projected to appreciate by 5.6% over the next year. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and in your mortgage) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move On With Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it’s worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Are you ready to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to these questions. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market this winter. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

Contact The McLeod Group Network at 971.208.5093 or [email protected] to find out how much your home is worth!

By: KCM Crew

Does Homeowner Insurance Cover Renovation Damage?

by Amy McLeod Group


Part of the thrill of a renovation is dreaming up a brand-new look for your home. The best part of the process is, of course, walking through the finished rooms and settling into your new space.

But that dream can quickly turn into a nightmare if any damage occurs during the process. Falling ladders, broken pipes, and scratches on the hardwood floor are all snafus that can delay the process and cost you serious dough. In these scenarios, who is responsible for the damage? Will your insurance cover it?

“A home insurance policy will cover damage to your home in most cases, even if it’s related to renovations,” says John Espenschied, owner of Insurance Brokers Group in Chesterfield, MO.

“Rewiring the electrical system, updating the plumbing, adding a room addition—all of these come with potential risk to the existing property.”

That's good news; however, "in most cases" doesn't guarantee you're covered. Here’s what you need to know before you start that renovation project.

Where to find out what’s covered

For the details about your coverage, you’ll need to check your home insurance policy document. Your insurance company usually mails a physical copy every year, and it should also be available online when you log in to your account.

“Your policy document will outline what is covered, the applicable exclusions to be aware of, and any specific requirements pertaining to construction, renovations, and other situations where your home’s use or occupancy changes," says Stefan Tirschler, product and underwriting manager at Square One Insurance Services, which serves the United States and Canada.

When you find your policy, refer to the "causes of loss" section, saysKevin Foley, CPA, CPCU at PFT&K Insurance Brokers in Freehold, NJ.

“The dwelling is usually covered for all risk of direct physical damage, unless one of the exclusions apply.”

Before the renovation starts

Don't let a single wall be torn down until you've called your insurance company.

“You may need to update your policy, or buy extra coverage, if necessary, to extend coverage to the work,” Tirschler says. “If you’re renovating your bathroom and investing $15,000 into labor and materials, your home’s replacement cost should be adjusted to match this new cost.”

Without this pre-renovation step, the value of your improvements may be uninsured and, in this case, you would have to pay out of pocket for any repairs.

What’s covered during a renovation

Foley says that if the damage is not named in your insurance policy, then it's not covered. So what is typically covered?  Fires, explosions, water damage, and thefts.

“Renovations would be covered for the same perils as the rest of the dwelling coverage, as long as the policy is updated to do so,” says James Fleming of Country Financial in Bend, OR.

The same goes for any work performed inside the house.

“If the contractor caused a fire, broke a window, left a hole in the building, dropped a ladder on your dining room table, your insurance covers it,” says Foley.

What’s not covered

"If you don’t like the work, there’s no coverage for that,” says Foley. “If it’s really poor work and you need to have it done over, you won’t find coverage in your policy, but I would recommend filing a claim with your contractor's general liability carrier.”

Tirschler agrees that damage caused by faulty workmanship is generally not covered by your policy.

“This is because home insurance policies are designed to cover sudden and accidental direct damage, not to provide a warranty for work performed by manufacturers and contractors.”

However, depending on the cause of the damage to your home, another option may come into play.

“If a contractor caused damage, most likely your home insurance company will pay for repairs quickly and then subrogate, or seek recovery of payment, from the contractor or their insurance company for damage,” says Espenschied.

Damage to your neighbor’s property

Let’s say that during the course of the project, your neighbor’s property accidentally sustains damage. Does your insurance cover that? Once again, it depends!

If you were negligent, for example for not removing a tree that you knew needed to be removed, your homeowner’s liability would cover you, according to Tim Surber, owner of Tim Surber State Farm Agency in Yakima WA.

But suppose your contractor causes the damage.

“Since the contractor was the cause of the damage, the contractor's commercial insurance policy would be responsible for the neighbor's home damage,” Espenschied explains.

Tirschler agrees that the contractor is responsible for compensating the neighbor.

“Your home insurance policy covers your own liability, not your contractor’s liability for accidental damage to others’ property.”

Your contractor should have a commercial general liability insurance policy to cover any accidents that may happen on the job.

“Request that your contractor have their insurance agent fax or email a copy of this insurance certificate directly to you, as confirmation that it is in force,” says Tirschler.

In fact, he says your home insurance provider may even request this certificate from you in advance of the renovations.

“To help protect yourself against negative circumstances, make sure your contractors are licensed, bonded, and insured," Tirschler says. "Carefully review any guarantees or warranties they offer, to make sure you are satisfied with how they plan to stand behind their work.”

Contact The McLeod Group Network at 971.208.5093 or [email protected] for ALL your Real Estate needs! 

By: Realtor.com, Terri Williams

How to Remodel Your Kitchen in Three Days (Really!)

by Amy McLeod Group


How long does a kitchen remodel take? On average, four to eight weeks—long enough to become sick to death of takeout food options in your area. But it doesn’t have to be that way. These days, a kitchen remodel can be done in the far shorter time span of a mere three days. That’s right! ThreeDays.

OK, maybe you can’t do a full gut renovation in that span of time, but you can certainly give your kitchen a whole new look over a long weekend. Here’s how, with renovation tips and cool products that are easy (and cheap) to install.

Give your cabinets a face-lift

Many homeowners love their kitchen layout, but they simply desire an updated look. Enter the cabinet makeover. Most existing cabinet boxes are in excellent condition; it’s just the exterior color that’s outdated.

By leaving these cabinet boxes intact and building off of them, homeowners get a whole new look in three to five days.

You can simply paint the existing kitchen cabinets. Or you can swap out just the doors.

Another option is the Home Depot Cabinet Makeover program. Here’s how it works: “The makeover keeps the base cabinets in a kitchen, but includes new custom doors, drawers, and drawer fronts, hinges, and glides,” says Eva Rich, Home Depot’s interior program merchant. “Existing cabinet boxes are refaced via a lamination refacing process.”

Give your kitchen cabinets a face-lift.
Give your kitchen cabinets a face-lift. Photo from HomeDepot.com
Meh kitchen cabinets before a quick makeover...
Meh kitchen cabinets before a quick makeover… photo from HomeDepot.com

The best part about all three options? You’ll have full use of your kitchen before and during installation.

... and after! (OK, the appliances and lighting were upgraded, too—but those are also easy to do.)
HomeDepot.com

The cost: The average cost to repaint cabinet doors runs about $1,000. To buy new ones, prepare to spend around $70 to $100 per door. Ikea’s Bodbyn door costs $80 and has a beveled panel for a traditional look.

A cabinet makeover varies by layout and desired features, but the cost is typically only a few thousand dollars. (Remember, it generally costs $30,000 for new cabinets.)

Time it’ll take: Painting cabinets can take three days, a lot of which is drying time allowing for other kitchen work to get done. Swapping out doors takes a half-day. Plan on a few hours to meet with experts in your home in the beginning of a cabinet makeover. Then once the new doors arrive, installation takes about three to five days.

Upgrade your countertops

Don’t have the time or cash to replace your laminate countertops? Paint them instead! Or you can add adhesive onto your current countertops that looks just like real slab granite, only without the high price.

“It’s so simple, yet adds a realistic granite look that elevates your counters for a fraction of the cost,” says Sophie Kaemmerle at real estate site NeighborWho.com.

The cost: To paint countertops, you need to spend about $100 for sand paper, primer, paint rollers, a gallon of acrylic interior paint, and polyurethane seal. Granite adhesive typically costs $40 to $120, which is way more affordable than real slab granite. It’s also a breeze to install—almost the same as applying contact paper, but at a much higher level of quality.

Time it’ll take: About 2 hours for the work. Several days for the paint to cure.

Install new hardware


Photo by Elizabeth Lawson Design.

“Unscrew old hardware and take one knob or pull to your local hardware store,” says Megan Neugebauer of letspaintfurniture.com. Have a store attendant help you measure the length between the holes. This will ensure your new hardware will match up perfectly with your existing cabinet holes.

“You can add blasts of color by choosing knobs in the color du jour, like navy and dark green, or go whimsical and quirky with animal figures,” says Sayre Ziskin of SVZ Interior Design.

The cost: Small drawer pulls may cost as little as $5, although the price can rise depending on the size and finish. An 8-inch Edgecliff Pull in natural brass from Schoolhouse, for instance, costs $44.

Time it’ll take: Plan for six hours total. Shopping will take several hours, as will installation.

Add a peel-and-stick backsplash

Create a cool DIY backsplash.
HomeDepot.com

Adding a peel-and-stick backsplash is as simple to install as it sounds.

“It’s a great way to easily and quickly update your decor,” says Home Depot’s Matt Kunkle. Just make sure the tiles you select are heat- and moisture-resistant.

The cost: A 4-pack of Metro Campagnola Mosaic Wall Tile Backsplash that covers 2.20 square feet costs $26.95.

Time it’ll take: 2 to 3 hours.

Upgrade your lighting

Photo by Synergy Building Design.

“Changing a light fixture in your home can take less than 20 minutes and yet makes some of the biggest differences to a space,” says Mark Luongo, owner and project Manager at Luongo Electric.

Many older homes have small fixtures, leaving rooms feeling dark and gloomy.

By replacing them with a new, higher-output LED fixture, the color of your walls can appear different and the wood grain in your furniture can pop. Also replace old or broken plugs and switches.

“There is nothing uglier—and more dangerous—than broken counter plugs and stained cover plates,” says Luongo. For a couple of dollars a unit, replacing your plugs and switches makes your home safer and gives it a new look.

The cost: Price varies, but to give you an idea, an Amanda 3-Light Kitchen Island Pendant costs $153.99.

Time it’ll take: Plan for 20 to 30 minutes a fixture and about 10 minutes per outlet. Always hire a licensed electrician if you are not comfortable dealing with electricity.

Replace your faucet


Photo by Kitchen Kraft

“Hardware styles and even the metals used can date your kitchen today,” says J.B. Sassano, president of Mr. Handyman, a Neighborly company.

Bring your sink up to date with a new chrome, stainless-steel, brushed-aluminum, or even a dark nickel sink faucet. This small change will do wonders for your kitchen’s appearance.

The cost: A chrome Project Source pull-down kitchen faucet goes for $79.


Time it’ll take: 2 hours. Here’s more on how to replace a kitchen faucet.

Finally, floors
Luxury vinyl plank can go over existing floors.

HomeDepot.com

Consider putting luxury vinyl plank, or LVP, flooring over a worn-out tile or hardwood kitchen floor.

The new LVP flooring looks just like wood but is 100% waterproof and scratch-resistant. It is also easier to install, so it’s less expensive than previous options.

Cost: The above Woodacres Oak flooring is available at Home Depot at $59.98 for a case that covers 20.06 square feet.

Time it’ll take: You can lay an LVP floor in a 10-by-20-square-foot room in 2 or 3 hours.

Contact The McLeod Group Network at 971.208.5093 or [email protected] for ALL your Real Estate needs! 

By: Realtor.com, Margaret Heidenry 

7 Home Maintenance Projects You Might Overlook—but Really Need to Do

by Amy McLeod Group


The big improvements always get all the glory—the classic kitchen remodel, the bathroom addition, the transformation of a once creepy basement into a media room. But what about all those little projects around the house?

Sure, they may not be as gratifying as ripping out 1980s cabinets, but tackling necessary home maintenance chores now will save you big headaches down the road. So before you undertake another huge home improvement, check out these projects that you might have neglected—but really should take on.

1. Clean your exhaust fans

"Two maintenance areas that home buyers often overlook have to do with fans—bathroom exhaust fans and attic or ventilation fans," says Kathleen Kuhn, the CEO and president of HouseMaster.com, a home inspection franchise.

Bathroom exhaust fans play an important role in reducing odor as well as moisture, which helps prevent mold and mildew. And attic or ventilation fans are designed to expel hot air from the top of a home and draw cooler air in. This helps save energy and reduces the potential for costly heat-related damage to the roof or roof framing.

 

Both fans should be cleaned and wiped down every three months to ensure they are functioning properly.

2. Fix broken window seals

"One of the most harmful delayed maintenance issues I see in the field is broken window seals," says real estate agent Jodi Moody of Smoky Mountain Realty in Lenoir City, TN. A homeowner might notice a piece of caulk peeling up around a window's edge and think it’s no big deal. Most often, it simply goes unnoticed.

"Unfortunately, once a window seal is broken, problems are created that homeowners can’t see until major damage occurs," says Moody.

Those problems include moisture, condensation, mildew, mold, and wood rot, which build up in the window framing and eventually move into the wall. Entire window frames and even sections of flooring can eventually rot, due to the moisture seeping in through missing or damaged window caulk.

"Homeowners should inspect their windows twice a year, and repair any cracked or torn caulk, rubber seals, or damaged wood as soon as possible," says Moody.

3. Repair small foundation cracks

Foundation cracks can naturally develop over time. And though tiny cracks may not be a problem at first, it's a good idea to patch them before they increase in size. Large cracks could result in your having to replace the foundation completely, which could cost you big bucks.

"You can repair a small crack with a concrete sealer that you can find at any home improvement store," says Sacha Ferrandi, founder and principal of Texas Hard Money and Source Capital Funding.

4. Lube your garage door springs

Preserve the longevity of your garage door with some simple maintenance, so you won’t have to replace it sooner than needed.

"Lubricating the springs will help a garage door last a lot longer," says Ferrandi.

Be sure to apply a lubricant annually to the rollers, hinges, and tracks. Since garage doors have a heavy workload, use a heavy-duty lubricant such as silicon spray or motor oil.

5. Drain and clean the water heater

Water heaters naturally build up mineral deposits over time. This forms a thick, crusty coating that will begin to chip off and clog faucets, drains, and the water heater valve. Such deposits can also cause your water heater to run constantly, which can crack the inner lining and run up your utility bills.

"You may even end up needing to replace your water heater, which can cost you a good amount of money," says Shawn Breyer of Atlanta's Breyer Home Buyers.

The good news is that the fix is simple. Every six to 12 months, place a small bucket underneath the drain valve on your water heater and drain the sediment out of the tank. Here's more on how to flush a water heater.

6. Check out your crawl space

One commonly overlooked area of the home is the crawl space below your house.

"That cramped underbelly of your house actually has a purpose, and just like any other part of a home, it needs maintenance and can save a home from costly damage," says Nick Rorabaugh, brand advocate for Rev Sells, a realty group based in Athens, GA. "I have seen several instances where a homeowner received the unpleasant news after a house inspection that their crawl space had moisture damage."

Avoid that possibility by laying a vapor barrier or installing a humidifier to protect against mold, water damage, and termites. Bonus: This can improve the air quality of a house as well.

7. Caulk your kitchen sink

The sink is subject to daily wear and tear. And the chemicals in cleansers added to the frequent exposure to water, can damage the caulking.

"Avoid leakage under the sink, with the simple fix of recaulking," says Vivian Young, senior content manager at GoodNightsRest.com.

Removing all traces of the old caulking is key and a trusty utility knife will do the trick. Clean up any loose grout, rinse off the area, let it dry completely, and you’re ready to caulk. Here's more on how to caulk sinks, windows, and more.

Contact The McLeod Group Network at 971.208.5093 or [email protected] for ALL your Real Estate needs! 

By: Realtor.com, Margaret Heidenry 

The #1 Reason to List Your House in the Winter

by Amy McLeod Group


Many sellers believe spring is the best time to put their homes on the market because buyer demand traditionally increases at that time of year. What they don’t realize is if every homeowner believes the same thing, then that’s when they’ll have the most competition.

So, what’s the #1 reason to list your house in the winter? Less competition.

Housing supply traditionally shrinks at this time of year, so the choices buyers have will be limited. The chart below was created using the months supply of listings from the National Association of Realtors.

As you can see, the ‘sweet spot’ to list your house for the most exposure naturally occurs in the late fall and winter months (November – January). 

Temperatures aren’t the only thing that heats up in the spring – so do listings!

In 2018, listings increased from December to May. Don’t wait for these listings and the competition that comes with them to come to the market before you decide to list your house.

Added Bonus: Serious Buyers Are Out in the Winter

At this time of year, purchasers who are serious about buying a home will be in the marketplace. You and your family will not be bothered and inconvenienced by mere ‘lookers.’ The lookers are at the mall or online doing their holiday shopping.

Bottom Line

If you’ve been debating whether or not to sell your house and are curious about market conditions in your area, let’s get together to determine the best time to list your houseReach us at 971.208.5093 or [email protected]

By: KCM Crew

Serenity Now! 8 Ways to Turn Your Home Into a Peaceful Retreat

by Amy McLeod Group


When you open the door to your home, do you breathe a sigh of relief? Or do you cringe at the pile of mail on the counter and the overstuffed closet where you hang your coat?

Our home should be our retreat from the world, where we feel calm and relaxed. So if that's not how you feel at home, it may be time to rethink your design or decor. To aid your quest for serenity, here are eight ways to set up a peaceful refuge at home.

1. Interview yourself


Photo by Martha O'Hara Interiors

Everyone has a slightly different definition of what makes a peaceful home, so experts urge homeowners to start by asking a few personal questions, such as "Who am I?" and "What do I want from this space?"

"For example, if books are important to you and make you feel at peace, get a great bookshelf and organize them. But if the sight of all your books makes you feel stressed out and reminds you of cramming for exams, consider hiding them away in cabinets," suggests Drew Henry of Design Dudes.

Just keep in mind that a plethora of clutter isn't necessarily bad if those objects bring you joy. Julie Coraccio, a professional organizer with Reawaken Your Brilliance, is at peace with all the cat toys in her home.

"We're a cat family and are fostering them, and yes, their toys are everywhere, but the cats make me happy," she explains.

2. Consider the flow

Photo by Huntington House 

A serene home is one that's easily navigated. If you find yourself tripping over the dog bed in the kitchen or struggling around a too-big couch to enter the den, you'll lose out on those Zen vibes.

"Think of the best traffic patterns for each room and then arrange furniture so it's easy to access and sit down," urges Karen Gray-Plaistedof Design Solutions KGP. Too much furniture or items that are too large can be draining, so pick and place your pieces carefully.

3. Serenity starts at your front door

Photo by Crisp Architects 

Coming home at the end of the day should be painless. In other words, don't let your foyer become a catch-all for everyone's belongings! Make sure you have a place to sit so you can untie your shoes, a spot to corral footwear, hooks for coats, and a container for keys and mail.

4. Get organized

Photo by Heidi Caillier Design 

You've heard it before—and it's still true. Clutter can overwhelm a homeowner and kill any chance of serenity.

"Clutter makes you lose peace of mind, because it takes up so much space, reminding you of what needs to be done," notes Coraccio.

In fact, clutter is the chief complaint that homeowners say affects their mood.

"Simply put, people don't feel happy or comfortable creating meals in a cluttered kitchen," says Jamie Gold, a San Diego-based wellness design consultant and author of the forthcoming book "Healthy Living, Healthy Home."

5. Define stations

Photo by Vincent Longo Custom Builders 

"Creating a zoned space definitely adds to the potential for harmony," says Gold. Zones in your kitchen make for easier meal prep (put all the critical tools in one area) and zones in the garage make you happier to return after work.

If you're a reader, a book nook is a smart idea, while dog owners need an organized station for puppy chow and toys.

"I have a meditation chair, and as I walk toward it, my body begins to relax, because it knows what's going to happen there," Coraccio says.

6. Let colors soothe

Photo by Ethan Allen Design Center Viera 

Gold says that blues and greens are connected to nature's healing elements, including the sky, ocean, and forest. But one size doesn't fit all when it comes to colors that promote joy. An all-white room may calm one person but annoy another, she adds.

Sara Chiarilli, an interior designer with Artful Conceptions, votes for cool colors for the most serenity at home. "Shades on the cool side of the color wheel evoke a sense of calm in the brain," she says. But Henry picks whites and grays, as lots of blue can look too beachy. "Of course, the beach is relaxing, but this theme can be a little kitschy, and kitsch is not relaxing," he explains.

7. Choose comfort above all

Photo by Ben Gebo Photography

Your chairs should look great—but feel even better. If your pieces are stunning but no one wants to sit in them, what good are they? asks Chiarilli. And a streamlined look adds to a sense of calm in the room, says Henry, because it's peaceful to the eye.

8. Add textures

Photo by Serena & Lily 

A chunky throw on a bed is an easy way to add texture to the home.

"I love mixing jute with cottons and leather, and velvets combine nicely with wools and linen," says Chiarilli.

Along with metals, wood, and stone, you'll have a full complement of textures, which the brain needs to see to truly relax in a space, she adds.

Contact The McLeod Group Network at 971.208.5093 or [email protected] for tips on remodeling and design.

By: Realtor.com, Jennifer Kelly Geddes

8 Home Improvement Hacks That Won't Break Your Back

by Amy McLeod Group


Part of the adventure of owning a home is tackling a few home improvement projects. But now that it's fall, what if you don't want your last few warm weekends swallowed in renovation hell?

The solution: knowing which home improvements can be done quickly, with minimal effort. And that's where this article can help!

Below are eight home improvement hacks that won't break your back or your bank account. Read on to reclaim your weekend, while still renovating your way to domestic bliss.

1. Pressure-wash your home's exterior

One of the easiest ways to give your home's exterior a face-lift is to clean it. And to be honest, there's just something satisfying about aiming a blast of water at a surface and watching it come clean, with no scrubbing or elbow grease required.

"Pressure-washing is safe for brick, concrete, masonry, wood, and siding," says Kealia Reynolds, an editor at House Method. (Avoid pressure-washing painted surfaces, asphalt roofing, and stained wood.) Plus, you can pressure-wash most homes in under two hours.

You can generally rent pressure-washers for $50 to $100 a day at your local home improvement store. Just note that pressure-washing is different from power washing: Power washing removes extreme dirt, grease, and moss from hard surfaces—think driveways—that can withstand high heat and pressure.

2. Caulk your first-floor windows

Most window-frames are made from wood, vinyl, or metal, which expand and contract over time. This causes old caulk to crack and open small openings where air can flow freely into your walls.

"Focus solely on caulking your first-floor windows—to save time and avoid having to balance on a ladder," says Teris Pantazes, co-founder of Settle Rite, which helps sellers prepare post-inspection repairs in Maryland.

Sealing up holes properly insulates your home and reduces your energy consumption, by keeping heat rising instead of escaping on the ground floor.

Caulking is not only an easy job that might take 10 minutes per window, it's also piecework.

"You can do one or two windows at a time, as you feel up for the task," says Pantazes.

Here's more on how to seal windows and other areas of the home.

3. Fake new countertops

​thehandymansdaughter.com

Vineta Jackson of The Handyman's Daughter plans to remodel her kitchen in a few years. "But I didn't want to live with my ugly blue countertops for that long," says Jackson.

So she covered the countertops with heavy-duty, faux-granite contact paper. Not only did it take only an hour, but the whole job also cost less than $50.

"And it held up great and is still going strong after three years," says Jackson.

4. Use painting shortcuts

If painting a whole room seems like too much work, try just painting your door frames, doors, and baseboards. This will freshen up your room in a quarter of the time of a full-on paint job (plus you'll save a ton on paint).

"Paint door and trim in an accent color you already have in the room," says Marty Basher, home organization and improvement expert with ModularClosets.com. You can also simply paint one wall in a room to add some color and interest.

Next up: kitchens. We all know changing the color of cabinets can breathe new life into a drab kitchen space, but painting them all is a lot of work. So go two-toned with your cabinets.

Paint only the bottom half under your countertops, says Kate Gailunas, interior designer and owner of N-Hance Wood Refinishing.

If you have light floors and countertops, go for dark colors (or vice versa). Think navy blues, with whites, pastels, and wood, or gray with bold colors.

5. Update outlet and switch covers


Photo by MS Colours Inc.

An easy and inexpensive improvement that refreshes a room's appearance is to replace dirty, crusty switch-plate covers with an upgrade from the standard plastic ones.

"If it isn't in your budget to replace them all, refresh your old ones," says a licensed real estate agent and all-around DIYer Kimberly Blaker.

Remove the covers, soak them in water, and then scrape off any old paint.

"Then simply spray-paint them with a metallic or colored hue, and in an hour, they'll be ready to put back on," says Blaker.

6. Refinish your bathtub

"Instead of buying a new tub for hundreds of dollars, refresh your old porcelain, ceramic, or fiberglass tub’s finish," says Michelle Felux, a DIY home renovator at BreakingDowntheBox.com.

You just need an epoxy kit for tubs, which will run you about $30 at the hardware store, an abrasive cleaner, tub repair product to fill in holes (about $20), sandpaper, and some caulk.

Prep your tub by removing the hardware, and then clean it with the abrasive cleaner. Next, repair the tub’s imperfections with your tub repair product and sand it smooth.

"Finally, mix up the epoxy and paint it on in two thin coats, letting each coat dry thoroughly," says Felux.

Wait three days before running water in it, and then caulk to seal it—you'll have a tub that looks brand-new!

Here's more on how to paint a bathtub.

7. Stick on a wood accent wall


timberchic.com

A fast and easy upgrade to your home is to create an accent using real reclaimed wood planks that you can peel and stick.

"Wood planks are easy to install and, in just a few hours, will instantly transform the look of any room in your home," says Tom Shafer, founder of TimberChic.com.

The planks, which come in lengths of 1 or 2 feet, can also be used for creating interesting walls, ceilings, doors, beams, and columns. And they are right on trend (just ask Joanna Gaines).

8. Swap out ceiling-fan blades

If your ceiling fans are looking decrepit, there's no need to buy a whole new unit. Not only are new fans costly, but swapping out the whole thing also usually means calling in an electrician.

"Instead, try this cost-effective and easy fix: Buy a package of new ceiling fan blades that fit your existing motor," says Blaker. Your ceiling fans will look as good as new again.

Contact The McLeod Group Network for ALL your Real Estate needs! 971.208.5093 or [email protected] 

By: Realtor.com, Margaret Heidenry

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The McLeod Group Network
Keller Williams Capital City
1900 Hines St SE #220
Salem OR 97302
971-208-5093
Fax: 971-599-5229

**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.