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Foyer Faux Pas: The Do's—and Don'ts—of Decorating an Entryway

by Amy McLeod Group


First impressions matter, especially when it comes to your home. And the best way to make a good impression on all who enter your abode is to have a sharply decorated entryway.

"Entryways and foyers have really become an important part of the house because it's a view into the lives of the folks who live there," says Dee Frazier, owner and lead organizer of Dee Frazier Interiors.

The entryway is your chance to showcase your personality. Plus, if you're selling anytime soon, this is a potential buyer's first look at your house.

But effectively curating an entryway is something of an art form. And not paying attention to the following principles could be the difference between a foyer that's cluttered instead of one that's chic.

To help you make this hot spot a memorable space in your home, we've polled the pros for their tips and advice—and their warnings of what to avoid.

Do: Add a place to sit

Photo by Dalliance Design LLC 

Whether you use a bench or an extra chair from the kitchen, a place to perch is critical. Where are you going to sit to lace up your sneakers or tug off your boots?

"Make it [do] double duty by opting for a bench or ottoman that offers interior storage," says Jamie Novak, an organizing pro and author of "Keep This Toss That."

Don't: Let clutter creep in

Photo by WO Designs 

Newspaper stacks and piles of shoes are your entryway's worst enemy. They look sloppy and could be a tripping hazard.

Drew Henry of Design Dudes suggests keeping your entryway as open as possible by using light, streamlined furniture like a sleek console table or a mirror.

It's also smart to place a wicker basket near the door as a catch-all for shoes and other items that you're likely to set down upon entering your home.

Do: Consider your entryway's size

Photo by Sigmar 

You may love that vintage coat stand that you snagged from a flea market, but if it takes over your entire entryway, you're just going to bump into it every time you take off your rain slicker. Instead, use your limited floor space for another more useful piece like a bench and mount a small set of hooks or a simple Shaker peg rail for jackets and scarves.

Don't: Waste vertical space

Photo by Sims Hilditch 

Entryways tend to be narrow, so it's best to take advantage of vertical space. Novak suggests adding wall storage like a hanging mail caddy or a small shelf to hold your keys. Label the cubbies for each family member, and you'll never lose a utility bill again.

Do: Consider covering the walls

Photo by elisabethphotography.com 

Give your entryway walls a critical eye and decide whether wallpaper or a wall treatment like stone, wood planks, or tile might add some oomph to your decor, says Frazier.

"Any of these options would make an impact, but if you don't want to cover the entire foyer with wallpaper, you could place it on the wall going up a staircase or in alcoves around the room," she says.

Feeling extra bold? Take it one step further and apply wallpaper on the ceiling.

Don't: Hesitate to add color

Photo by RICCO STYLE Interior Design 

Does the color palette in your home skew neutral? The entryway is an ideal spot to take a risk with color, says Frazier.

Ideas to try: bold artwork on a wall, a brightly patterned throw pillow on the bench, or a vase of colorful flowers.

Do: Think about lighting

Photo by Cottage Home Company 

Your entryway should also feature some light fixtures to illuminate the front part of your house and make it look welcoming to all who stop by. Our experts recommend installing both ambient lighting (e.g., a chandelier) and task lighting (e.g., a floor lamp).

A chandelier offers both light and a dramatic statement upon entry, and a floor lamp can light your way when you enter the front door and then switched off in the evening when everyone goes to bed.

Contact The McLeod Group Network for all your real estate needs! 971.208.5093 or [email protected].

By: Realtor.com, Jennifer Kelly Geddes 

6 Ways to Banish Mildew Smells in the Bathroom

by Amy McLeod Group


Have you ever walked into your bathroom and thought: My God! What is that smell?  Mildew could be to blame for transforming your special oasis into stink central. Don't panic, we're here to help.

Mildew, or mold in its early stage, tends to be found in wet, moisture-prone areas. It looks grayish-white but can turn brown over time. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, mildew can grow on wood products, ceiling tiles, insulation, wallpaper, carpet, drywall, fabric, plants, and other organic materials that are commonly found in bathrooms. And once the fungus makes its way onto your precious towels and tiles, you need to get serious about eradicating it.

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You can get rid of that mildew misery and restore your bathroom to its former lavender-scented glory in no time.

“Minor mold issues can usually be addressed by most homeowners with a little cleanup,” says Gregory Frazier, with Art Plumbing, AC & Electric, in Coral Springs, FL.

Ready to scrub away that stale stink? Here's how.

1. Wash it

The first step to battling the mildew stench is to wash everything. This means washing those hand-towels that have been hanging in the bathroom forever, the musty bathroom rugs, and the stale window curtains. When laundering, experts suggest adding one cup of white vinegar to wash the load. Frequently wash your nonslip mats, too. And, toss that vinyl shower curtain and replace it with a washable cotton, hemp, or nylon shower curtain.

“Bleach can be used to clean the mildew source and stop it from growing," says Gina Perry, senior merchant of cleaning at The Home Depot in Atlanta.

For items that can withstand bleach, FEMA recommends using a 10% solution or 1.25 to 1.5 cup of bleach to a gallon of water. The bleach/water solution can also be used to wipe down shower doors, cabinets, and walls, and to mop hard floors around bathtubs and toilets.

2. Address any water issues

Water can be the big culprit behind that nasty smell. “You can get a mildew smell if you have a slow drain leak under a sink or around a drain,” says Frazier. He says the same thing can happen with toilets if a wax ring seal, which seals the toilet to the flange, has a slight leak that is allowing small amounts of water to seep out under the toilet.

“The fix is to repair the leak promptly and wipe the area that got wet down with a strong, bleach-based cleaner,” Frazier says.

Bathtubs can also occasionally get a mildew smell if they're not properly sealed and if small amounts of water get between the wall and the tub. A bleaching solution can scrub away mildew on top of caulk, but if it’s underneath, it will need to be completely removed and properly recaulked.

3. Let the bathroom breathe

Dark, damp, warm rooms make for a happy home for mildew to thrive. To remedy this, open the windows and let fresh air in. If you don't have a window in the bathroom, keep the bathroom door cracked open when showering. If you need more privacy and prefer to shower with the door closed (no judgment!), install a ceiling fan or consider running an electric fan to keep air moving. Open your cabinets so they can get fresh air, too.

“I find one of the biggest things homeowners can do to combat mildew smells in bathrooms is to ensure they have a properly functioning, properly sized exhaust fan,” says Frazier.

4. Use an air purifier

Mildew reeks, but it can also make people with allergies or asthma sick or irritate their eyes, nose, throat, and lungs.

Sara Alsén, chief purpose officer for Sweden-based Blueair, a leader in air-cleaning solutions, says placing a high-performing air purifier in the bathroom will have a twofold effect: It will remove the unhealthy mold and bacteria in the air and make the smell disappear.

“An air purifier with a high airflow will also increase the air circulation in the bathroom and as such, help fight the mold growth,” she says.

5. Apply a fresh coat of paint

There’s nothing a new paint job can’t cure, right? Try using mold- and mildew-resistant paint.

Rick Watson, director of product information at Sherwin-Williams, says paints with odor-eliminating technology can help inhibit the growth of mold and mildew and reduce common indoor odors, so rooms stay fresher longer.

But make sure to treat the mildew before painting. Bathrooms are splash-prone areas, so lower parts of the walls and corners and edges near the ceiling are typical breeding areas for mildew.

After cleaning, brush a coat of mildew-resistant primer on ceiling and walls to prevent peeling in high-moisture areas. Let the coat of primer dry, then apply the first coat of mildew-resistant paint and say goodbye to that mildew smell.

6. Try an odor eliminator

Odor-absorbing items can help. Charcoal briquettes, an open box of baking soda, or a small pouch of kitty litter can make the bathroom smell fresher by absorbing the odor and the moisture in the air. However, make sure to replace them every month or so. Natural air fresheners, like essential oils or citrus peels, can also cut the stench.

Contact The McLeod Group Network for all your real estate needs! 971.208.5093 or [email protected].

By: Realtor.com, Anayat Durrani 


What happens if you sell your house for more than you owe on your loan? If you find yourself asking this question, congratulations are most likely in order. Selling a house for more than the value of your mortgage often means you'll walk away with a nice profit.

But not always. Sometimes, even if a home's sales price is higher than the mortgage amount owed, a seller may not see a dime—or may even owe money at the closing table instead! Here's how to figure out if you're going to make or lose money when you sell your house.

Where your profits go when you close the deal

During your home closing—the final leg of the sales process where you swap your house keys for a check—there's traditionally a go-between who handles transferring funds from buyer to seller. That might be an escrow company, a real estate agent or attorney, or a title company, depending on where you live, but they're the ones who will take the buyer's money (usually a check from the lender) and use it to pay off the seller's mortgage, says Bryan Zuetel, managing broker of Esquire Real Estate and the managing attorney of Zuetel Law Group, in Pasadena, CA.

Yet that check doesn't just go straight into a seller's pocket. Many other parties must be paid off first. Here are a few costs that may eat up your profits.

Real estate agent commissions

First up, the seller's real estate agent has to be paid a commission—as well as the buyer's agent, if the buyer had one, says Robert Berliner Jr., a real estate attorney with the Berliner Group, in Chicago.

Traditionally, the title company, escrow company, or lawyer handling your closing will cut a check directly to your listing agent, Berliner says. This agent will split this with the buyer's agent who helped secure the deal.The typical commission for a seller's agent is around 5% to 6% of the sales price of the house, although just how much your real estate agent gets will be outlined in the listing agreement—the document you signed when you hired the agent to sell your house.

If for some reason there isn't enough money left over from the sale to pay your agent, you'll need to be ready to write a check at closing to make up the difference.

We know: It's a downer to write a check on the day you sell your home, but it happens if housing prices have dipped since you bought the place. Comfort yourself with the thought that you might be getting out before suffering more serious losses.

Closing costs

The buyer typically pays most closing costs, but sellers often face some closing costs, too. These fees can amount to as much as 1% to 3% of the purchase price of the house. Everything from recording fees to title insurance premiums can come out of the sales price of the house—aka the money the buyer pays to the seller—as part of closing.

And you guessed it, these fees will be paid during the process, so they'll come right out of the money left over after you pay off your mortgage.

Property taxes

After the agents get their cut and the closing fees are settled, any taxes you owe on the property will be levied. In many states, taxes are paid a year in arrears, Berliner says. In other words, the real estate taxes paid in 2019 are actually the taxes on the property for the year 2018. Your buyer isn't responsible for taking on the taxes for the time you owned the property—which means you may have to pay up.

Some states also levy a transfer tax when property is sold, which falls on the seller to pay out of the price of the home.

Just how much you're facing can vary greatly depending on where you live, Zuetel says, but you can expect costs roughly from $50 to $225.

Anything left? It's yours!

After your loan is paid, the agents get paid, and any fees or taxes are settled, if there's money left over, you get to keep the balance. Congratulations! The money can be paid by check or wired straight into your account.

To see just how much you're expected to net, you can ask your closing attorney, escrow officer, or even the title company for a draft settlement statement before closing. This document details all of the closing costs, real estate commissions, fees, and taxes that will come out of the sales price of the home.

Thinking about selling your home? Contact The McLeod Group Network for all your real estate needs! 971.208.5093 or [email protected].

By: Realtor.com, Jeanne Sager 

Home Staging in a Hurry: Hacks to Spruce Up a Space in 5 Minutes

by Amy McLeod Group


Selling your home
 these days takes more than just finding an agent and listing it. You’ve got to really sell it. That means impressing buyers the second they walk in the door.

One of the best ways to do this? Home staging, where your home's decor undergoes a makeover in order to entice home buyers to swoon and make an offer.

“The statistics don’t lie,” says Samantha Rose Frith of Warburg Realty in New York City. “A well-staged house will sell more quickly and draw a higher sales price.”

But who has time for that? Hiring a pro is pricey (here's more on how much home staging costs). Plus a pro can't do all of the work; you’ll still need to do some sprucing up if you have an unexpected showing.

So if the clock is ticking, here are home staging tips and tricks that you can pull off fast, depending on how much time you have—from an hour to just 5 minutes.

Home staging in 5 minutes

  • Put down the toilet seats: “Yes, that makes a difference,” says Jennifer Okhovat, a real estate agent in Los Angeles. Tracey Hampson, a real estate agent in Santa Clarita, CA, also recommends hiding the plunger and toilet brush, and any reading material you may have accumulated in your bathroom. “A bathroom is a bathroom, not a library,” says Hampson. Amen.
  • Open the blinds: Let in as much natural light as possible—unless you have a spectacularly bad view, in which case, keep those blinds closed.
  • Take out the trash and recycling: You may get that one potential buyer who will look everywhere.

Home staging in 15 minutes

  • Clear your countertops: “The less clutter on countertops, the better,” says Okhovat. A nice bowl of fruit can spruce things up, but if you have several small appliances and all of your spices out, take a few minutes to stash them in your cupboards or a storage bin.
  • Adjust the temperature: You don’t want buyers to rush through your house because it's too hot or too cold. You also want to show that your heating and cooling are working. The ideal temperature depends on your home and the season, but keeping it at around 70 degrees should ensure everyone who sees your home is comfortable.
  • Hide any piles of toys, clothes, and mail: “Remove the clothes from the stair steps, ensure the four piles of mail get reduced to one or tucked away entirely,” says Katie Coombs of Total Home Experience in Reno, NV. Janet Lorusso of JRL Interiors, in Boston, recommends keeping baskets handy in your living spaces for quick cleanup of toys and other clutter.

Home staging in 30 minutes

  • Remove personal items: Buyers like to view each home as a blank canvas, and that’s hard to do with pictures of someone else’s family dominating the space. “Family and vacation pics are great, but maybe the Disneyland throw blanket and the hanging, glued-together puzzle could go in the closet for a bit,” says Coombs. Keep your privacy in mind as well as you clear items. You may want to stash items with your family member’s full names on display, for example.
  • Clean, clean, clean: Vacuum, sweep, and mop as often as you can stand. “Check mirrors for spatters," says Lorusso. Bonus: "The smell of cleaning products will make your house feel clean, even if it isn’t."
  • Add or adjust your lighting: “Use torch lamps if a room doesn’t get a lot of natural light, says Joel Moss of Warburg Realty in New York City. “We also find that replacing LED bulbs with bulbs that give it a warmer feel has a beneficial effect on buyer interest.”
  • Hang a mirror: “Hang a wall mirror strategically to add visual interest and make the space look larger,” says Amber Harris of Keller Williams Capital Properties in Washington, DC, and interior decorator with At Home DC.

Home staging in an hour

  • Rearrange the living room furniture: Instead of arranging your living room furniture based on the best view of the TV, “arrange furniture to face focal points in the room, like a large window with a view or a fireplace,” says Anne Clancy, a Re/Max real estate agent in Cottage Grove, MN.
  • Make small repairs: “That leaky faucet or moldy caulk might not seem like a big deal if you lived there for the last 10 years, but they will almost always factor into a lower offer,” says Frith. If there’s a small project you’ve been putting off, like fixing a hinge on a cabinet door, now’s the time to take care of it.
  • Spruce up walls, outdated countertops, dressers, and more with contact paper: “It’s not just for lining shelves anymore,” says Michael Nelson, chief operating officer of the Pyramid Project, a property management firm in Kissimmee, FL. “We’ve used it on everything from walls to countertops. It holds up well, looks great, and when you want a change, it removes with ease and no damage to the surface.”

Looking to sell your home? Let the professionals with The McLeod Group Network help! 971.208.5093 or [email protected].

By: Realtor.com, Melinda Sineriz 


Planning to remodel your bathroom into the oasis of your dreams? Then you'd better get a handle on your plumbing. Even if you don't see the pipes connected to your sink or shower, understanding how they work is essential if you want your bathroom renovation to turn out all right (and within budget).

That's why, in the latest installment of our "Dream Bathroom Remodeling Guide," we break down everything you need to know about plumbing into bite-size pieces. Read on for some surprises!

1. Bathroom remodel 101: Types of pipes

In the past, most bathroom plumbing pipes were made of cast iron or galvanized metal. However, these pipes won't work with many of the newfangled, water-saving setups like, say, low-flow toilets. Low-flow toilets will save about 17,000 gallons of water yearly. (Note: Flushing a standard toilet uses about 38% of an average household’s water.) The catch is, they require PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) pipes. But updating to these kinds of pipes is both easy and affordable.

"These new types of pipes are flexible—and thus very simple and inexpensive to install," says Cassidy Melhorn, a pipe design engineer and founder of Knoxville's Volhomes.

You also need to figure out if you prefer hidden or exposed plumbing when you're looking to buy your sink, tub, or toilet.

"Exposed plumbing is the more traditional look, while hidden plumbing is much more minimalist and cleaner-looking," says Ryan Holden, director of Progressive Heating & Air, an HVAC and plumbing company in San Diego.

If you have a lot of visible plumbing, you might want to use copper pipes instead of PVC or PEX, because copper is more appealing aesthetically. Just keep in mind that it's more expensive and difficult to work with, since sawing and fitting these pipes into place will take more work than cutting soft, flexible PEX/PVC.

Regardless of the material, consider insulating these pipes, which can help reduce the amount of heat lost as your water travels from the heater to the faucet.

2. Plumbing can affect a bathroom's layout

The existing water and drain lines in your bathroom usually dictate the location of fixtures in your renovation. You can move pipes and drains—although it'll cost you—but some relocations might be impossible.

For example, you may be dreaming about a large tub right next to the bathroom window.

"But if the piping won't allow for this configuration, then you will need to rethink the entire layout," says Holden. This all comes down to drain line access. While it's usually feasible to relocate a large fixture, the supporting joists beneath the bathroom floor usually can't be cut in order to install new drains.

Bottom line: Before you buy any fixture that connects to a pipe, sit down with your contractor (or a plumber) and have a conversation about what's feasible.

3. Watch out for water pressure

The good news is that there's something called the National Pipe Thread, which is a U.S. standard size for a fitting that connects rigid pipes such as shower heads to the shower arm pipe in your shower. That means if you're replacing a shower head, most fixtures out there will fit the existing pipe.

The bad news? That new shower head may not work with your existing water pressure. New shower heads are now required to restrict water flow and deliver less than 2.5 gallons per minute. So if you have low water pressure and add a new water-saving shower head, you may be soaping up under a trickle. To avoid this travesty, have your home's water pressure checked before you buy your accessories.

"Each home will have a different water pressure, but the average is usually around 45 to 80 pounds per square inch," says Holden. "It's the little things like this that people often overlook, and end up buying all their accessories only to find they won't work with existing plumbing."

Also keep in mind that there are things you can do to adjust your water pressure. If your water pressure is too low, it's often due to clogged pipes you can unclog—or if not, you can also buy a water pressure booster. Or if your pressure is too high, you can install a pressure-reducing valve.

4. Take a look at your water heater

A remodel may also call for a water heater replacement—heaters generally last about 10 years—or even an upgrade to a tankless water heater. Also called “demand-type water heaters,” these devices are about the size of a small suitcase and deliver endless warm water only when you need it. Conventional water heaters always have a tank of hot water whether you need it or not, which drives up energy costs. Just note that on-demand heaters cost up to three times more than conventional heaters to buy and install. That works out to about $800 to $3,000 for the unit, and installation can add an additional $1,000 to $3,000.

5. Plumbing for luxe extras

Renovating is a good time to think about heating, as your walls and floors will often need to be opened anyway.

"Consider installing underfloor heating," says Holden. Known as radiant heat, this method uses hot water to carry heat through a network of tubing beneath the floor.

"You may wish to have a hydronic heated towel rack installed, too," he adds.

6. Make sure to shut off your water first!

One last no-brainer for you rookie DIYers out there: Whether you're swapping out your sink, shower, toilet, or some other water-spouting device, you have to shut off your water first—or else!

You can generally just shut off the water at the fixtures you are swapping out. Sink valves are typically under it, and the toilet valve is generally where the plumbing meets the wall. Some bath and showers have an access panel on the reverse side of the wall, which may house shut-off valves. There's also a main shut-off inside the house, usually in the basement.

Contact The McLeod Group Network for all your real estate needs! 971.208.5093 or [email protected].

By: Realtor.com, Margaret Heidenry 

Should You Do Home Upgrades Now ... or Right Before You Sell?

by Amy McLeod Group


Home sellers are often told to make upgrades to their house before they sell ... but when is the best time to get those home improvements underway, in terms of scoring the best ROI?

It's a tough balance to strike. After all, the sooner you remodel your kitchen or retile the bathroom, the more you'll get to enjoy it all yourself. But if you make those improvements too long before you sell, you risk them looking run-down and outdated by the time you want to market your home. So, when's the right time to give the green light?

If you're agonizing over such questions, we can end your misery now—in a good way! Here’s how far in advance of listing your home you should do certain home improvements, so they'll still look fresh enough to fetch top dollar.

7 to 10 years out

Well, you’re quite a planner, aren’t you? That’s cool … we’ll play the long game with you. Here are upgrades you can safely undertake when you still have significant time until your sale.

1. Redo your landscaping

This is truly one of the few housing projects that gets better with age, since shrubs and trees only improve as they mature. And, bonus: It's likely that it will never look dated, says Lisa Shiroff of Leafy Green Landscaping in Buena, NJ. However, she cautions, think twice about unique or difficult-to-maintain items if you are concerned with resale value—we’re talking elements like a meditation nook, bocce ball court, or koi pond.

“Most people are not willing to invest the time, energy, or finances to maintain those areas, so keep your additions relatively mainstream and user-friendly,” Shiroff says.

2. Update the garage door

Believe it or not, updating your garage door is the top upgrade you can make in terms of return on investment.

“Curb appeal is key when you’re getting ready to sell your home, and garage doors can dramatically improve the look of your home,” says Matt Edstrom of GoodLife Home Loans in Laguna Hills, CA. Since garage doors can last for up to 40 years, this is an update you can enjoy right now, without worrying about taking a depreciation hit.

3. Replace your roof

If your roof is more than 20 years old and you plan on selling, you may want to replace it, suggests Taylor Willson, owner of Willson Home Inspection Inc. in Tampa, FL. For one thing, you may receive immediate savings from your insurance company, he says, and beyond that, “A newer roof is a great selling point.” Choose a hardy material, like concrete tiles or asphalt shingles, that have a long useful life.

4. Keep up on repairs

Repairs should have a permanent spot on your “to do” list. If it’s broke, then, yes, please fix it.

“Don’t put off repairs while you wait for the optimum time,” says Cristina Miguélez, remodeling specialist at Fixr.com. “They help your home retain value and can keep a small problem from becoming exponentially bigger.”

5 years out

This is a good time to start thinking about big-ticket items that will affect your resale and that you won’t want to pay for all at once. Here are some to consider.

1. Replace major systems

We’re talking HVAC systems, plumbing … anything whose average life expectancy is relatively long, and where you want your listing to showcase that these key systems are less than five years old. Replacing them now allows you to enjoy the improved operation and potential energy savings, while avoiding a concession in the sale price when the time comes, Willson says.

2. Check on anything with a warranty

This is also a good time to do a check on any items that have a current warranty—such as windows and appliances—while they are still covered, suggests Frances Dawson, with Re/Max Executive at the Lake in Cornelius, NC.

3. Switch out your front door

Another important element of “curb appeal,” your front door can really make your house pop, says Edstrom, as well as potentially increase your energy efficiency. Front doors can last for decades, but they are also exposed to the elements, so this is a good time frame to allow you to enjoy the aesthetics and energy savings, without running the risk that it will look too weathered come sales time.

2 years out

Two years is nothing in a home’s history, so it’s time to really start getting serious. Here’s what to do to start prepping for a relatively imminent sale.

 1. Reno the kitchen or bathroom

This can be subjective, but you’re probably safe doing an overhaul in this time frame if you are hoping to get some personal enjoyment out of your updates. Miguélez suggests, however, that you pick your decor carefully to avoid being stuck with an upgrade that’s already dated.

"A ‘trend’ is something that’s predicted to last roughly 10 years, so your safest best is to find a look that’s been on the upswing for roughly two to three years," Miguélez explains. "That means it will look relevant for a while, rather than something that is already five years old and potentially nearing its expiration date.”

Dawson recommends seeking the opinion of a local real estate agent, who can steer you to cost-effective updates that will increase the value of your home without over-improving it. And, she says, beware of DIY.

“If you don't have extensive prior experience, hiring a professional is going to be cheaper in the long run, because the DIY look is unappealing to your potential buyer.”

2. Get to organizing

This is also a good time to start cleaning out storage areas, closets, cabinets, the garage, the attic—anyplace you have an accumulation of stuff, Dawson says. Your future self will thank you for getting this time-consuming project out of the way now.

3. Have a home inspection

Very few sellers do this, but it’s smart to have your home professionally inspected right about now, so you won’t run into any nasty surprises when selling time rolls around.

“It is always less expensive to repair items before you get into negotiations with a buyer,” Dawson points out.

1 year or less

It’s crunch time, and now is the time to attend to all the high-traffic areas, as well as make improvements that will freshen up your listing.

1. Redo flooring

Pets and kids can scratch up your floors quickly, so wait as long as you can before refinishing floors. Replace carpet, too, if it’s dingy, and especially if it has pet odors.

2. Roll on a fresh coat of paint

Walls get dinged up constantly, so painting right before putting your house on the market can really make it sparkle. It’s also a quick job that you can get done in a week or two.

3. Replace all your accessory items

These are things like bedding, throw pillows, chair cushions, patio furniture, shower curtains, plumbing fixtures, cabinet pulls—all the embellishments that provide the “lipstick” for the foundational elements.  Shop those sales and switch out everything you can, Dawson recommends.

“You want the house to shine like a new penny, not appear to be well-loved," she says.

Thinking about selling your home? Contact The McLeod Group Network to find out how much your current home is worth! 971.208.5093 or [email protected]

By: Realtor.com, Cathie Ericson


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 [email protected]

By: Realtor.com, Jamie Wiebe

2 Trends Helping Keep Housing Affordable

by Amy McLeod Group


Two positive trends have started to emerge that impact the 2019 Spring Housing Market. Mortgage interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate loan have dropped to new lows, right as reports show that wages have increased at their highest rate in decades!

These two factors have helped keep housing affordable despite low supply of houses for sale driving up prices. First American’s Chief Economist, Mark Fleming, explains the impact,

“Ongoing supply shortages remain the main driver of the performance gap as the housing market continues to face an inventory impasse – you can’t buy what’s not for sale.

 However, an unexpected affordability surge, driven primarily by lower-than-anticipated mortgage rates, rising wages and favorable demographics, has boosted housing demand.”

Mortgage interest rates had been on the rise for most of 2018 before reaching their peak in November at 4.94%. According to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, interest rates last week came in at 4.20%.

Average hourly earnings grew at an annual rate of 3.2% in March, up substantially from the 2.3% average pace seen over the last 10 years.

These two factors contributed nearly $6,000 worth of additional house-buying power for median households from February to March 2019, according to First American’s research. Fleming is positive about the prolonged impact of lower rates and higher wages.

“We expect rising wages and lower mortgage rates to continue through the spring, boosting housing demand and spurring home sales.”

Bottom Line

Low mortgage interest rates have kept housing affordable throughout the country. If you plan on purchasing a home this year, act now while rates are still low!

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

By: KCM Crew


The numbers: 
Existing-home sales ran at a seasonally adjusted annual 5.21 million rate in March, the National Association of Realtors said Monday. That was 4.9% lower than February’s pace and missed the Econoday consensus of a 5.3 million rate.

What happened: Sales of previously-owned homes fell more sharply than expected in March as the usual housing headwinds stalked the market. The surge in February was the strongest in nearly four years, and the Realtor lobby group is attributing the March decline to a return to normalcy after that spike. Still, sales were 5.4% lower than a year ago.

The median price of a home sold in March was $259,400, a 3.8% increase versus a year ago. At the current pace of sales, it would take 3.9 months to exhaust available supply, still well below the long-time average of 6 months. Properties stayed on the market for an average of 36 days in March, down from 44 days in February but a bit longer than the 30 days averaged last year.

According to NAR’s measure of first-time buyers, they accounted for 33% of all transactions in March. But more recent comprehensive research – NAR’s is based on survey data – suggests first-time buyers currently make up about the same share of the market that they have for the past two decades.

Activity was mixed regionally, as always, but all regions saw a decline. In the Northeast, sales were down 2.9%, and in the South they fell 3.4%. In the West, which has suffered for several months, in large part because of the recent tax law changes, sales fell 6%. But the Midwest saw the biggest decline, of 7.9%.

Big picture: The housing market is getting a second wind from the steep decline in mortgage rates over the past few months, although rates may have bottomed out. And there still isn’t enough inventory of the type that’s most needed. “The lower-end market is hot while the upper-end market is not,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

It’s normally the government’s data on newly-constructed homes that are so choppy, not the existing-home market, which accounts for most of the sales activity in housing.

What they’re saying: “March might be the closest approximation we have seen in a while to the true underlying sales pace,” said Amherst Pierpont Securities’ Stephen Stanley after the release. “The 3-month average through February was 5.14 million. The March pace picked up modestly from there but was still short of the 2018 tally of 5.34 million. The National Association of Realtors is optimistic (when are they not?!?) that lower mortgage rates and a better inventory situation will help to propel sales forward during the peak spring season.”

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

By: Realtor.com, Andrea Riquier 

5 Strange Things That Can Stop a Home From Ever Selling

by Amy McLeod Group


Ever wonder what could keep a home from selling? Just ask a listing agent. They've seen some doozies.

Listing agents, as the professionals who help prep a home for sale, are often tasked with telling home sellers why their house might not sell in its current condition. It's a tough job, but it sure beats saying nothing and then watching a home sit indefinitely.

While most corrective tweaks are small—say, a fresh coat of paint or a solid decluttering—sometimes the things that stop a home from selling take everyone by surprise. Here are a few that listing agents have dealt with, and the solutions that saved the day.

1. The 'green monster'

Seth Lejeune, real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway in Collegeville, PA, coined this phrase to describe a "horrendously colored hunter-green carpet” in his home seller's living room. This home had already been listed once with another agent with no offers; Lejeune was quite sure this carpet was the culprit.

“So I told the seller to replace the carpet with something neutral,” Lejeune says. The seller "was surprised, but receptive. I explained the importance of first impressions, and he got it after a few minutes.”

Replacing the carpet cost only $1,500. “We got four showings within two weeks, and it was the fastest townhome sale of the year,” Lejeune says. In fact, the home buyers mentioned at settlement that they especially loved the living room.

Take-home lesson: Even simple cosmetic flaws, like an ugly shade of carpet, can make some home buyers run. Luckily swapping out carpet is an easy fix.

2. Too many pets

Seattle real estate agent Matt Parker recalls meeting with a landlord who was looking to sell his rental property. The problem? The home had been rented to, as Parker puts it, a couple of “pet enthusiasts.”

“They had about 30 injured birds, squirrels, dogs, cats, lizards, snakes, and dozens of fish in a 910-square-foot house,” he says.

The snakes were in cages and the fish were in bowls, of course, but the rest of the animals roamed free.

“You can imagine what the home smelled like, how stained the floors were, and how many ‘hidden treasure’ land mines there were throughout the house,” Parker says.

The carpet, flooring, subflooring, walls, and exposed wood throughout the house had been permeated with a foul odor, Parker says.

Parker told the home seller that his odds of selling were slim, unless it were a teardown. Thankfully, the seller accepted the news without much drama.

Take-home lesson: We love our furry friends, but that doesn't mean potential buyers want to see our pets (or any of their traces) when looking at a home they're thinking of buying. (Here are tips on how to sell a home with pets.)

3. Noisy neighbors

Homeowners value privacy, but, alas, they don’t always get it.

Courtney Poulos, a broker at ACME Real Estate in Los Angeles, experienced this firsthand with a client who was looking to sell a stylishly remodeled three-bedroom home. Unfortunately, the house “was right next to a large apartment complex,” Poulos says.

“When you were in the backyard, you felt that the occupants of the apartment complex were looking right down on you," she adds.

Poulos agreed to list the house, but remembers a couple of troublesome open houses. During one, a couple living in the apartment building out back “were fighting and you could see them and hear them from the backyard,” she says. At another open house, “one of the neighbors had his TV on so loud that we had to blast music of our own in the open house to try to cover it up."

The fix? “Since we were not getting the offers we wanted after the first couple of weeks, we built a 12-foot fence, incorporated canvas sun shades, installed twinkle lights, and made the outdoor space much more private,” Poulos adds.

The costs tallied up to $3,000, but it was a modest expense considering “this backyard solution ultimately helped sell the property.”

Take-home lesson: No one likes noisy neighbors, especially those who can see right in your house without effort. So, if your home is located adjacent to an apartment building or another home, you’ll want to take steps to provide yourself some privacy.

4. An underground oil tank

“I sold a home earlier this year that an investor had purchased through a foreclosure auction,” says Christopher Pagli, associate broker at William Raveis Legends Realty Group in Tarrytown, NY. But a presale inspection turned up some unwelcome news.

“There was a buried oil tank on the property,” Pagli says. “This came as a surprise, because the home was fueled by natural gas.”

Altogether the testing, removal, and backfill for the oil tank cost the seller about $8,000. The good news? Once the oil tank was removed, the home sold in three weeks.

Take-home lesson: Underground oil tanks are rare, but if you suspect your property has one, you’ll want to have the land tested by an inspector who specializes in oil tank location and decommissioning before putting your house on the market.

5. Mold

No word strikes fear into the hearts of home buyers and sellers more than mold.

“It is a four-letter word, and most definitely has been the issue of greatest magnitude for my home sellers," says Michael Edlen, a real estate agent in Pacific Palisades, CA.

One particularly bad experience sticks out: Before listing a house, Edlen spotted mold in a relatively small area of the garage, but that was just the start.

“[Mold] remediators found that the mold had gotten into the wall framing, so they had to open walls up behind and next to primary areas,” Edlen says. “By the time the work was done, it took two full months and nearly $60,000."

Fortunately, the sellers didn't freak out over the bill—or Edlen.

“One way or another, they would have had to deal with it—and better to fix it upfront than leaving it to later,” he explains.

Take-home lesson: Mold can put a homeowner’s health at risk, which explains why it’s one of the most common fears among home buyers. Make sure you check your house for mold and address any issues before listing it.

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

By: Realtor.com, Daniel Bortz

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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.