Interior Design Trends to be on the Lookout for in 2018

No matter if you live in a 10-bedroom manor or a small city apartment, you probably want your home to tell a story about who you are. And, if you are a chic person who loves to be up-to-date with new trends, then you must prepare for 2018. Next year will introduce a lot of new styles and bring back some old ones, so stay ahead of interior design trends and take a look at this list:

It’s All About Texture

image 6

Different fabrics and materials, when mixed, make any space more inviting and interesting, that’s why strong and unusual textures will be on the rise. You can expect to see all sorts of different textures from 3D wallpapers and brushed brass tables to unique lighting fixtures. If you don’t want to change your space too much but still want to give this style a try, take a wool throw and put it over a leather chair. It will instantly make the space more interesting, and you can easily get rid of it if it’s not up to your taste.

Soft and Curvy Furniture

image 5

When it comes to furniture, the shift towards comfort is very visible. You can expect to see many comfy couches with soft, puffy and plump pillows. Also, many designers decide to put fringing on furniture to achieve a look that is both luxurious and edgy.

Back to Nature

image 7

Interior design is slowly turning back to nature with soft, warm and calm tones and shapes. Experts predict that 2018 will be all about natural terracotta, gray, wood tones and muted blues and greens. Also, there’s nothing more natural than baked tiles with geometric patterns, so keep an eye out for them.

Brass and Bronze are Making a Comeback

kaboompics_Lovely roseses, book and coffee

These simple metals are able to instantly brighten your home with their shine and color. Even though brass and bronze were considered outdated in 2017, they will surely make a comeback in 2018. Both brass and bronze are quite classic and warm, and they complement many different decorating styles. They’re best incorporated through lighting fixtures and accessories such as lamps, vases or statues. So, if you already have something made of these metals in your home accentuate it the best way you can.

Make Small Color Accents

image 10

Since Japanese and Scandinavian styles are so popular this year, the need to break the monotony of the neutral palette and introduce a light touch of color is no surprise. Toned-down colors mixed with a few small vivid accents will create a modern interior that’s relaxing and well thought-out. You can add a splash of color by adding some brightly colored pillows or getting a chic statement furniture piece.

Green is In

image 9

Once again, green is growing strong. Even though Greenery was Pantone’s color of the year for 2017, it’s will remain popular throughout 2018 as well. Other green shades, from lime green to emerald, also look great indoors, whether you choose them for your accent wall colour or introduce them through rugs. If an idea of using green in big doses doesn’t seem appealing to you, you can introduce it in your home with some emerald glasses. Set your table by using simple white plates and pair them with fun green glasses – it will refresh the look without going overboard.

Invest in Lighting

image 1

In 2018, lighting will not only be a pure necessity but a bold accessory for your home. A quirky lighting fixture can look amazing in the dining room, or you can add a bit of flair to your bedside tables with some unusual lamps that will make a strong statement.

However, keep in mind that nothing is written in stone when it comes to interior design. Incorporate some of these new trends and styles into your home, but don’t hesitate to do it your way. Are you ready for 2018?

Posted on September 26, 2017 at 2:23 PM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Uncategorized

5 Things that Affect Property Values

Property values are ever-changing, and it’s important to understand how they arrive at that number as a homeowner, so you can ensure you’re doing things to keep your value going up! Some of the features that increase property values are obvious–a remodeled bathroom, a modern kitchen, or a sought-after neighborhood. But here are a few features and circumstances you might not have realized can affect property values:

The Neighbors

20151223-barnimages-001.jpg

Not every neighborhood or community has an HOA that can keep the neighbors from going overboard with decorations or neglecting to care for their home. Homes adjacent to crazy neighbors can potentially be undervalued. This is called external obsolescence, and can affect property values by up to 10%. While you can’t control your neighbors, if your Realtor suggests a lower price than you thought your home was worth, this can be the culprit.

Trendy Groceries and Coffee

o-STARBUCKS-facebook.jpg

Recent statistics suggest that if your home is a short walk from popular grocery stores like Whole Foods or coffee chains like Starbucks, it can actually appreciate faster than the national average. Trendy stores tend to be the marker of a neighborhood on the rise. Even South Park recently had an episode about it! In fact, “Walk Score” is a huge driver for potential buyers. You can check the Walk Score of your home here.

Mature trees

tree-trunk.jpg

A big beautiful tree in the front yard is enviable, and it’s not something that can be easily added to any home. Homes with mature trees tend to get a little boost in value. After all, who doesn’t love hanging out in the shade of a big oak on a hot summer day? If you don’t have any mature trees already, planting some young trees may help a little bit, and will boost your value the bigger and older they get.

Parking

side-mirror-picjumbo-com.jpg

This isn’t too much of an issue if you live in the suburbs or in a rural area, but residents in dense cities can have real problems with parking, and homeowners might need to rent a spot just to guarantee a place to park each night. That’s why having guaranteed parking in urban areas will raise property values. In some areas, a condo with deeded parking could be worth up to $45,000 more than one without. That’s no chump change!

The Front Entrance

22304610C4

First impressions matter to buyers. That’s why curb appeal is such a big part of real estate. Many times, it doesn’t matter if the interior of your home is the most gorgeous on the block. If the front yard looks like it needs a ton of work, people will think the inside matches. Keeping the lawn mowed, trees and shrubs trimmed back, and giving your front door a fresh coat of paint can do wonders for your home’s value.

What are some ways you’ve improved your home’s value? Let us know in the comments!

Posted on July 26, 2017 at 1:02 PM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Uncategorized

How to Sell Your Home With Pets

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a pet lover.  I’m definitely one of “those” owners who is way too affectionate with their dog.  Which means I’ve got pretty much 2 things on my mind at any given moment: real estate, and my pup.  Pets are a part of the family, and when it comes time to sell your home, they can add some extra steps. Owning pets doesn’t have to mean a major obstacle for selling your home, though. Here are a few easy-to-follow tips that will have your place ready for showings in a snap:

13394031_10153397680491525_7968616016004885247_n.jpg

I’m going to use this post to shamelessly show you pictures of Briggs 😉

Find a pet sitter during showings
There’s a good chance your prospective buyers are pet-friendly, but there’s also a chance that they don’t like animals or have allergies.  There is a liability there as well if anything happens to a prospective buyer.  I know my dog is very friendly when I’m around, but super protective of our home, especially if we’re not there.  The safe bet is to keep your pets away from the home during a showing.

13315685_10153386764646525_4575819141593741468_n.jpg

“You can let anyone in my house as long as I’m at the beach!”-Briggs

Give the home a thorough cleaning
Pet owners know that hair finds its way into every nook and cranny of a home.  No matter how hard I try to keep up with dog hair, it always finds its way back.  When you’re getting ready to sell your home, you should give it a top to bottom cleaning anyway, but if you’ve got pets you’ll want to especially do so. This means cleaning behind and underneath furniture and rugs, emptying out and cleaning closets, and cleaning any other hard-to-reach spaces that might be skipped during routine cleaning. Getting rid of pet hair and dust in those spaces will make a noticeable difference.  This also will help combat pet smell: most pet owners become nose blind to the “dog” or “cat” smell in their home after a while, but buyers will definitely notice!

10336612_10152658247711525_8986289220778201845_n.jpg

Get those paw prints and nose smudges off the windows! 

Create a quick pre-showing cleaning routine
The deep clean is a good start, but before a buyer shows up, make sure to sweep the floors, clean smudges from windows, and remove any hair from blankets and furniture.  You don’t need to necessarily hide the fact that a pet lives there, but aside from maybe a toy bin and some food dishes, it shouldn’t be obvious.  I’m also a big fan of the unscented Febreze Allergen Reducer (I have both the air spray and the fabric spray at my house). I think it does a great job of leaving the home smelling and feeling fresh, without being bogged down with scent. It also supposedly removes airborne allergens, which may be helpful for potential buyers with allergies.

1239455_10151513977276525_1743122792_n

Pro Tip: Save wrapping a pup in a blanket till you’re under contract!

 

Organize pet toys and other items
You don’t want toys, leashes, and other pet items strewn about your home.  It should look like a human’s home, not an oversized doghouse. Get rid of the clutter and put all your pet items in one spot. A mud room or laundry room is a great spot for your pet’s belongings.  If you have a cat that uses a litter box, it may be a good idea to put a cover over it at least when showings are being conducted.  That way buyers won’t be staring into your cat’s litter box, and it may help contain any odor. This will improve your home’s appearance and show buyers that you are careful about containing pet-related activities.

9810_10152477398666525_3934031522835298255_n.jpg

Getting toys into bins can be hard if your pet won’t give them up!

What other ways have you prepped to sell your home with pets? Or do you have a horror story of a home with pet clutter and funk? Tell us in the comments!

Posted on April 27, 2017 at 12:41 PM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Real Estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , ,

What You Should Know About Home Energy Audits

I took a fantastic class this morning dealing with a new law that was recently passed: starting January 1, 2018, anyone wishing to sell their home within Portland city limits (with or without an agent) must get a home energy audit prior to listing, and must provide the report with the home energy score (HES) to any prospective buyers.  The HES is on a scale from 1-10, with 1 being least efficient and 10 being most efficient.  Scores are based on BTUs used, and the majority of your score comes from heating, water heating, and cooling.

There is a lot of talk about the impact that these scores are going to have on the real estate market, and a lot of confusion as to what this is going to mean for sellers.  I’ve taken some of the more important information that I learned and put it into an infographic for easy reading and sharing:

Untitled Design

It’s important to realize that the requirement to sell only applies to the City of Portland (so if you’re in the Metro area, but not Portland proper you don’t have to have one).  You’ll also want to note that you don’t need to make any upgrades or repairs based on the report.  All you have to do is get it done and provide copies.

This city ordinance is still in early stages: they haven’t yet worked out everything, and will have a rule-making session in July to nail down some of the finer details.  For instance, we don’t yet know how long an energy audit will be valid (but my guess is probably a year).  Also condos are an area of concern because there are too many variables when you have units on all sides.  Chances are that condos will be an exemption, but we won’t find out until July.

Even if you’re not thinking of selling next year, knowing your HES has great benefits.  For starters, you’ll get a really clear picture of the energy efficiency of your home.  The last page of the report shows upgrades that would increase the efficiency.  It is broken down into 2 categories: update now, and update later.  Alongside these repairs, your report will give you the estimated annual savings by making the change.

I’ll update once we know more about this new ordinance, but as always, feel free to reach out with any questions you have!

Posted on March 28, 2017 at 3:27 PM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Portland, Real Estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

10 Ways to Paint Portland GREEN for St. Paddy’s!

I love an excuse to wear something silly and hit the town, so needless to say, St. Patrick’s Day ranks pretty high on my holiday list.  While I could probably do without queasy green beer, there is something about everyone out celebrating together that just makes me all warm and fuzzy inside (or it could be the Guinness…probably the Guinness).  Most big cities have at least one parade or party going on, and if you happen to be in Boston or New York, it’s pretty much a city-wide party.  Portland, which pretty much has a constant stream of events year round, does not disappoint on March 17.  Here are some activities for you to get your green on this weekend!

For the Drinkers:

green bber.jpg

Regardless of the history of St. Patrick and what the day originally represented, no one can deny that St. Paddy’s Day has through the years become a beer drinker’s holiday.  Almost any bar or restaurant you enter this weekend will be offering green beer, Guinness specials, or Irish Car Bombs.  Luckily, this year the holiday falls on a Friday, so if you want to get really crazy, hopefully you won’t have to work in the morning.  Just be wary of all those uber surcharges when you try to get home! Here are some of the best watering holes to get your green on (click on the event name for a link to the website).

St. Patrick’s Day at McMenaminsVisit any of the over 50 locations in Oregon and Washington for an awesome celebration. Feast on Irish stew, enjoy a stout, and at certain locations, grab a specialty bottle of their Devil’s Bit whiskey! There will be bagpipes, and fun for all!

Various Bar Crawls:  Bar crawls seem to be a Portland holiday staple.  Dress yourself in head-to-toe green, grab a wristband, and enjoy specials at various locations throughout town.  I’ve linked 3 different crawls happening this weekend. Try one, or if your liver can handle it, try them all! (but PLEASE don’t drive!!)

Paddy’s 3 day St. Patrick’s FestivalPaddy’s Bar and Grill is Portland’s oldest Irish pub.  Their festival lasts all weekend and boasts traditional Irish food, drinks, and entertainment. Located in the heart of downtown, you can add this festival on to your other celebrations or camp out in the tent all weekend (but they probably won’t let you sleep there)!  Paddy’s has partnered with the Children’s Cancer Association, so you can be sure that your beer money is being put to good use.

Irish Beer Festival at Kells BrewpubFeaturing a host of locally brewed Irish beers, Kells is the quintessential Irish pub.  The Irish beer festival is located at the brewpub on NW 21st Ave. The full Irish Festival spans both the brewpub and their downtown location and will transport you straight back to the Emerald Isle with a weekend full of music, Irish dancing, and other festivities. A full schedule of events for both spots can be found here.

Irish Craft Ale Festival at Feckin BreweryI don’t think I can say it any better than the website, “As well as great beer, there will be bagpipers, 12 live bands and Irish dancers. Irish food including haddock  fish and chips Irish lamb stew and corned beef sandwiches.” I have a soft spot for Oregon City, Feckin’s, and fish and chips, so you’ll probably find me here for at least part of the weekend!

For the Fitness-Minded:

shamrock run.png

Whether you’re focused on swimsuit season, hate loud, drunk people, or just want to get your steps in before you guzzle down calories all weekend, there are a couple great events this weekend to get you moving!

Shamrock Run and Fitness Fair: The Shamrock Run the largest running and walking event in Oregon and is the third largest running event in the western United States.  Thousands of Oregonians descend on Waterfront Park every year decked in green to tackle one of the many offered courses.  The primary beneficiary of this event is Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, which means you’re sweating for a great cause! The races are all on Sunday, but even if you don’t want to join in, you can visit the Fitness Fair at the Oregon Convention Center Friday and Saturday.  Shop from vendors, get fitness tips, and play games at this free event!

The Dirty Leprechaun 5KWho doesn’t love a good mud run? Located at Lee Farms in Tualatin, the Dirty Leprechaun is a fun event for anyone who would rather dive through the mud and clear obstacles than cruise through the streets of Portland.  If you’ve ever done a Tough Mudder or Warrior Dash (or wanted to), this is the event for you!

For the Family:

StockSnap_8T9Y244TK8.jpg

While there’s no denying that St. Paddy’s Day is dominated by adult only events, there’s still options for all ages fun! Some of the above events are kid-friendly (McMenamins are all ages for at least most of the day, Kells Irish festival has areas where children are welcome, and of course the Leprechaun Lap at the Shamrock Run is for children), but these ones have focused children’s activities.

All Ireland Cultural Society of Oregon’s Annual St. Patrick’s Day Festival Looking for an authentic Irish experience? Look no further than this festival. The yearly fundraiser skips over the typical drunken shenanigans and focuses on the promotion of Irish culture.  Children’s activities, including face painting, a coloring contest and a professional puppet show, ensure that the kids won’t get bored. Round out your day and stay for the traditional Irish supper.

Sellwood-Moreland St. Patrick’s Day Parade & FestivalI probably could have listed this under fitness, but there’s way more to this festival than the 5k fun run.  After the run, enjoy a neighborhood parade led by the Sellwood Middle School Marching Band. After the parade, head to St. Agatha’s for a festival of live music, Irish dancing, a kid’s carnival and hearty Irish fare.  As a Catholic school alum, I have a special place in my heart events like these.

Murphy’s Furniture St. Patrick’s Day Parade 
Just outside Portland proper, you’ll find this super-festive parade. A tradition in Hillsboro for the past 40 years, this hour-long parade through town is open to everyone! Groups need only to fill out a form and pay the $20 fee to be included in the parade. Ooh and ahh at the floats and classic cars as they pass you by. Chow down on the Corned Beef and Cabbage Lunch after the parade at the Hillsboro Civic Center. Proceeds from the day will support the Hillsboro Boys and Girls Club.

 

How are you celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this year? 🍀

 

 

Posted on March 16, 2017 at 3:11 PM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Holidays, Portland, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , ,

10 Tips to Keep Your Home Safe While it’s For Sale

Good News! You’ve finally put your home on the market.  Bad News, you’ll have to spend more time out of the house, leaving it more exposed to the threat of thieves. Even if you’re still living in it until it closes, a for sale sign and an empty driveway might lure criminals, thinking it will be an easy target.  Luckily, there are some precautions you can take to ensure that you and your home stay safe all through the selling process.

uKjp6t8HyY-1-705x471.jpg

  1. Maintain Your Property. Especially in the wintertime, many people stay indoors and neglect issues such as peeling trim or an overgrown yard. But if the home looks unkempt, thieves may think it’s abandoned. This is especially true for homes that are vacant; while you may not be as concerned with thieves in an empty house, squatters can be an issue as well.  Removing holiday decorations in a timely manner, clearing out debris, and keeping your lawn maintained will signal the home is occupied, and keep criminals from stopping in.
  2. Get Your Neighbors Involved. Many people don’t really know their neighbors; it’s more than just saying hi and being friendly. Invite them over to see your home before it goes on the market, and introduce them to the people they may see regularly stopping by during this time (especially your agent). Then they’ll know who is and isn’t supposed to be at your home and can better assess when there may be a threat while you’re gone.  It is important to let them know that there will be other agents showing your property, though.  Your agent should absolutely have a lock box that is provided by their local MLS to ensure that only bona fide agents can get in.  Tell your neighbors that anyone who isn’t using the lock box or seems to be having difficulty with it may be suspicious.
  3. Assess your home’s vulnerability. Walk to the curb and face your house. Ask yourself, “How would I get in if I were locked out?” The first thing you think of, whether it’s the window with a broken lock or the door that won’t shut all the way, is exactly how a thief will get in. Think like a burglar, and then address the issues that come to mind. Also important to remember is that while a hide-a-key can be a great saver when you’re locked out, make sure it’s not in a place burglars would look.  I’ve seen tons of cool diy key storage, but if you’ve got a pill case glued to the bottom of the only pine cone in the yard, there’s a good chance criminals will be able to find it.

    StockSnap_LJ515CPAKI.jpg

  4. Respect the power of lighting. Criminals are cowards, and they don’t want to be seen. The house that is well-lit at night provides a deterrent because thieves don’t want the attention and the potential to be caught by witnesses. It’s wise to invest in tools that make nighttime light automation easy. That includes dusk-to-dawn adapters that go into existing light fixtures and motion detectors. But beware of leaving your exterior lights on at all times, which signifies the occupant is gone for an extended period of time.
  5. Use technology to make your home look occupied. In addition to lighting, smart-home technology has made it easier to make it appear like people are home, even when they’re not. Systems that remotely control lighting, music, and appliances such as a thermostat can help you achieve this. Though not considered smart-home tech, lamp timing devices available at hardware stores, or simply playing the radio while you’re away, are also good for this purpose.
  6. Yes, it has to be said: Lock your doors. It’s amazing how many people think they live in a safe-enough neighborhood not to have to lock their doors when they leave. Some facts sellers should know: In 30 percent of burglaries, the criminals access the home through an unlocked door or window; 34 percent of burglars use the front door to get inside; and 22 percent use the back door, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

    StockSnap_Z1TKDI29FZ.jpg

  7. Reinforce your locks. A good door lock is nothing without a solid frame. Invest in a solid door jam and strike plate first, and then invest in good locks. Know the difference between a single-cylinder and a double-cylinder deadbolt. Double-cylinder deadbolts are recommended because they require a key to get in and out. For safety and emergency escape purposes, you must leave the key in when you are home. But double-cylinder locks are against regulations in some places, so check with your local police department’s crime prevention office. Another great idea is to replace the screws on your lock with thicker, longer screws.  Most locks come with short screws that are easy to kick out of place.  By using bigger screws, your lock is more secure and harder to kick or ram open.
  8. Blare the sirens. Burglars are usually in and out in less than five minutes, and they know police can’t respond to an alarm that quickly. Their bigger concern is witnesses to their crime. For that reason, an external siren is invaluable, whether as part of a monitored security system or a DIY alarm. Even if you don’t have an alarm, it’s not a bad idea to invest in fake security signs and post them near doors.

    Security cameras

  9. Consider surveillance cameras. The Los Angeles Police Department started a program encouraging homeowners to install a device called Ring, a doorbell with video surveillance capability that allows homeowners to view what’s outside their door on their smartphone, in a neighborhood that was a target for burglaries. After Ring was installed in hundreds of homes, the burglary rate dropped by 55 percent, according to reports. Most state and local regulations require posting a warning that people are being recorded. (But again, this can be effective even if you don’t actually have the cameras installed!)
  10. Mark your valuables and record details. Use invisible-ink pens or engravers to mark identifying information (driver’s license or state ID numbers) on items. Log serial numbers and take photos of your belongings. Check to see if your police department participates in the Operation Identification program. They will have stickers for you to place on doors or windows warning would-be thieves that your items are marked. These steps may prevent them from pawning or selling stolen items and can help you reclaim recovered belongings.

Oh, and these tricks can be used even if you’re not planning on selling anytime soon! Keeping your home and belongings safe is always a good idea. How do you keep your home safe from intruders? Let us know in the comments.

stocksnap_5f7649370b

Posted on February 7, 2017 at 10:27 AM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Real Estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , ,

Save Money in Your New Home With These Tips

When you’ve just purchased a new home, there’s a ton on your mind. There’s moving, decorating, getting to know your new neighborhood, and more.  It is an exciting, if a little overwhelming time. In the rush to get settled, though, there are some important money-saving areas that tend to get overlooked.  Here are a few things that should be at the top of your to-do list; they don’t take long, and can save you a ton of money in the long run:

StockSnap_0MJCHNCF3N.jpg

Check on your water heater

Set your water heater for 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This is plenty hot enough for bathing, washing dishes, and any other household use of hot water, so heating water above 120 degrees is a waste of energy and money. And if your water heater is an older model, it’s worthwhile to invest in a water heater blanket to keep it insulated.

SplitShire-8524.jpg

Replace air filters

Sellers often put in a lot of cosmetic work to get the home move-in ready, but they often skip or forget about air filters in the HVAC system. Filters can be found at your local hardware store (just make sure to get the right size) and are easy to replace. Doing so will improve air flow and quality, and save on energy costs.  Air filters need to be changed periodically (depending on the type of filter and frequency of use, anywhere from every 1-6 months), and this will get you in the habit right away.

Get a smart thermostat

nest_learning_thermostat

Seriously, a smart thermostat, is an incredible investment in your home. I know I’ve mentioned them before  because I can’t get over how cool they are! The thermostats themselves are a little expensive, but you’ll make that money back in energy savings.  Plus, in Portland, as well as many other cities, you can send in a mail-in rebate to your power company for switching over. It’s programmable so that your AC and furnace run at lower levels when you’re not home, so you’re not wasting money to cool or heat an empty house.

90PZOijCSquhzM1A3cq8_photo.jpg

Set up a space to air-dry clothes

Whether it’s a rack in your laundry room or a clothesline in the back yard, air-drying clothes is a big money saver over even the most energy-efficient dryers.  Even just getting a clothes drying rack to set up in one room when you need it is helpful. Air-drying your garments will also help them last much longer.  If you’re lucky enough to have space in your yard for a clothesline, nothing beats the fresh scent of clothes dried by Mother Nature!

870_min.jpg

Check for leaks and running toilets

A leaky faucet or a constantly-running toilet will use up water unnecessarily, and that’ll show up on your utility bill. And in the worst case, they’ll cause expensive water damage and mold.  Leaky faucets are usually an easy, inexpensive fix that you can do yourself.  A lot of times, it’s as simple as replacing a cartridge.  Of course, if you’re unsure of your plumbing skills, it’s always best to call a professional.

Do you have any go-to money savers that you implement in your home?  Tell us about them in the comments?

Posted on February 1, 2017 at 1:53 PM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Real Estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , ,

Buying Soon? Make Sure Your Credit is in Order

Here’s one that I know my friends in the mortgage industry can get behind. There’s no more important time to work on your credit score than when you’re about to apply for a mortgage. There was once a time when if you could fog a mirror, you could get a loan (hello 2006!) but those days are long behind us.  Now if you want to apply for a home loan, there are lots of qualifications.  Having good credit is right at the top of that list.  The higher your credit score, the lower the down payment you need to qualify, and likely the lower your interest rate.  Improving your credit can save you a ton of money—we’re talking about thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. Here are the actions you can take that will have a notable impact on your score:

Pay down your credit card balances

negativespace1-21.jpg

Credit utilization is one of the biggest factors in determining your credit score. Your credit utilization should at least be less than 30 percent of your limit, and it’s even better if you can get it below 15 percent. This rule applies to both individual cards and your overall credit limit.

It may even be worthwhile to use some of the cash funds you were planning to use for a down payment to pay off credit card balances.  Speak to your mortgage lender about the best avenues to take to ensure you’re getting the best loan possible!

Do no harm

fico-580

Current credit minimums for FHA loans

Possibly the most important item on this list! While you certainly want to improve your score if possible, at the very least you’ll want to keep it steady. Avoid opening new lines of credit if you’re applying for a mortgage in the very near future. This will cause a hard inquiry to show up on your credit report.  Whatever you do, don’t go car shopping or start furnishing your new home before the closing date! Otherwise your lender and Realtor® will be none too happy with you!

Take care of negative items

StockSnap_71MH9ATF4S.jpg

It’s good practice to check your credit report for negative items a few times a year—you can get one free report from each of the three major bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) per year.  Sites like Creditkarma.com are great for keeping track of your credit scores for free as well.

If you find any negative items (collections, late payments, etc.), write a letter to the original creditor. Explain the circumstances that led to the negative item, and request that it be removed from your report. It can be surprisingly effective, and removing a negative item will improve your credit score in a hurry. You can find some good templates for a request letter online.

Once your credit is in order, your lender will be able to get you pre-approved for a loan amount.  Make sure you get pre-approved before you start house hunting, or else you might fall in love with a home outside your budget!

Got any other credit tips?  Leave them in the comments!

 

Posted on January 18, 2017 at 3:46 PM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Finance, Real Estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Celebrate the Holidays Portland Style!

Around this time last year, I wrote a post with lots of holiday events in the Portland area.  My parents are coming to town for Christmas this year, and so while I plan activities for their trip, I’m compiling a list that I’d like to share again!

Click the picture below to enlarge:

untitled-design-1

And here are those links in clickable form:

Portland Christmas Ships

Festival of Lights at the Grotto

St. John’s Winter Beer Fest

Christmas Fantasy Trail

Lighting of Maddax Woods

ZooLights

Miracle of a Million Lights

Winter Wonderland at PIR

The Holiday Express

Peacock Lane 

Ciderfest

What is your favorite holiday tradition?  Tell us in the comments!

Posted on December 6, 2016 at 2:50 PM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Holidays, Portland, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

5 Big Trends in Home Decor

StockSnap_0P8F5Y8R67.jpg

Thanks to websites like Houzz and Pinterest and TV networks like HGTV and DIY, it’s easier than ever to keep up with home decorating trends and find inspiration for improving your own home.  If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself down a Pinterest hole of all the most amazing interior design ideas maybe a little too often!  Here are five of the top current interior design trends that you can easily recreate in your own home:

Screen-Free Rooms

Adding cool tones to your screen-free room can help promote relaxation and mindfulness.

After a long day of using your smartphone and computer, it can feel amazing to come home and take a technology break. More and more, homeowners are creating specific screen-free rooms—perhaps a library, craft room, or listening room—where you can escape from technology for a while.  We made the switch to a screen-free bedroom a few years ago and my quality of sleep has drastically improved. I like the idea of a room where you can read or meditate without distraction, since I usually end up turning the TV on for some background noise just because it’s there.

Upholstered Headboards

StockSnap_9R85GU3I2P.jpg

Turn your bedroom into a sleeping sanctuary! 

What if you could feel like you were sleeping in a luxury hotel bed every night? The bedding and mattress are an important part of that experience, but so is the aesthetic and comfort of an upholstered headboard.  It can help give your room a luxe feel, and if you’re into DIY, you can make one that looks amazing for pretty cheap!

Earth Tones

StockSnap_CLD6T4J9VZ.jpg

Warm, earthy tones create a seamless transition from outside to inside.

Natural colors have become increasingly popular, especially deep greens. It’s a great way to bring some of nature’s colors indoors, whether as an accent wall, in blankets and pillows, or for furniture.  Earth tones are generally pretty neutral as well, so you can easily add pops of color to complete the look, or switch them out with the changing seasons for a new look.

Black Stainless Steel

Image result for black stainless appliances

If you want a sleek, contemporary kitchen, black stainless steel is even more of a statement than traditional stainless steel, which has become almost commonplace at this point.  Black stainless steel marries the aesthetic that many people love about black appliances with the functionality and modern appeal of stainless steel.  Plus, black goes with everything!

Patterned Fabrics

38a5401dfdf070762f83ca51d65d19dc

Photo by House of Andaloo. Check out the site for more awesome ideas on home decorating fabrics!

While solid upholstery will never go out of style, patterns have become trendy of late. It’s an easy way to make a bold, eye-catching statement in your living space.  If you’re adventurous, try layering complimentary patterns throughout the room to give it a high-end look and feel.  It can be easy to go from trendy to tacky, though, so when in doubt, less is more.

What are some of your favorite home trends?  Have you implemented any of these into your own home decor?  Let us know in the comments!

Posted on December 1, 2016 at 2:28 PM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Uncategorized