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:


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.


“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!


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.


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.


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 , , , , ,

5 Factors that Can Influence Comps

View Of Houses

Ah, the Comp.  It’s a word you’ll hear over and over again in real estate.  Comp is short for comparable property, and it is how a real estate agent will arrive at a market value for your home.  If you are the seller, your agent will use comps to arrive at a recommended list price.  If you’re the buyer, your agent will use comps to help suggest a fair purchase price.  You may think that sale price is the only factor when you’re looking at comps and trying to set a price for your listing. But it’s actually a bit more complicated. Here are five things that affect comps that you might not be aware of:

  1. New construction nearby: Because of low prices for lots and varying prices in home building materials, new homes can actually be cheaper and cost less per square foot than existing homes. If there’s a lot of new construction nearby, that can affect the price for your own listing.  A seasoned agent can account for this by using comps that are closer in age to your property, and assessing the quality of the finishes in a new construction compared to the subject property.
  2. Renovations: Recently renovated homes typically sell for more than homes that haven’t been updated in a while. If you’ve recently upgraded your home–especially sought-after upgrades like the kitchen or master bath, your home should be priced appropriately.
  3. Developable lots: Not all lots are created equal. Even if the square acreage is the same, a lot that’s easily developable will get a better price than a hilly or rocky lot that needs a lot of preparation.  In this same vein is the zoning of the property.  If your lot is zoned for multiple dwellings, it can fetch a higher price than a single family dwelling.
  4. Listing price vs. sale price: Whether sellers actually get their asking price depends greatly on the market. When you’re pricing your home, it’s important to look at sales prices, not just listing prices. The listing price doesn’t always accurately reflect what a home will sell for.  Be sure to take note of average list price vs sold price as well.  If homes are consistently selling for over or under listing price, it can give you a good idea of what a fair market value would be.
  5. Location: Nearby amenities, safety, schools, and noise levels can vary greatly within a neighborhood. Homes in more desirable parts of the neighborhood will sell for a higher price, all else being equal.  Walkability is usually a very desirable trait, and so proximity to amenities can be a boost your home’s value.  Similarly, being on too-busy of a street can lower your home’s value compared to other homes.


At the end of the day, fair market value is the price a buyer is willing to pay and a seller is willing to accept for a property.  The best way to get your home in front of the most qualified and serious buyers is to have a competitively and accurately priced home, something a seasoned real estate broker can help you with!

Posted on April 17, 2017 at 2:57 PM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Finance, Real Estate | 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 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.


  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.


  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.


  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.


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

Affordable Living in North Portland!

Lovely 2 bed/2 bath home in North Portland’s Portsmouth neighborhood.

Posted on September 13, 2016 at 3:18 PM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Portland, Real Estate | Tagged , , , , ,

Locked Out? Read this Before You Call that Locksmith

Recently I had the chance to talk to the awesome Robbie Richards at Mr. Rekey in Austin, TX.  He shared with me this infographic he created to shed some light on a problem that most of us aren’t even aware of: locksmith scams.  Luckily, I’ve never experienced anything like this, but it is so important as consumers for us to know the risks whenever we hire someone.  I found this graphic to be super informative and I hope you will, too.
Here’s what Robbie himself has to say about locksmith scams, and his infographic below:
“Nothing is more frustrating than being locked out of your house or business. Turning to Google for a good locksmith, and choosing the first one on the results page, just might be the riskiest choice you make in your frantic state.
“Each month the Better Business Bureau receives complaints in mass quantities regarding locksmiths, and being scammed or robbed later. Locksmith scammers routinely overcharge, make duplicate keys to rob their clients later. Mr. Rekey luckily understands the risk that comes with looking for a locksmith and has created the Locksmith Scam Survival Guide.
“The Mr. Rekey Locksmith Scam Survival Guide breaks down types of locksmith scams, how they work, how to identify the warning signs.”
So if you’re in the Austin area, be sure to give Robbie a call if you’re ever locked out.  And good news for us in Portland, there’s a Mr. Rekey here, too!
Posted on August 2, 2016 at 7:34 PM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Real Estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , ,

Increase Your Home’s Value Without Breaking the Bank

Not all home improvement projects are created equal. Some renovations may cost a lot but not add significant value to your home.  This tends to be the case for things like room additions, which almost always cost more than the added value onto your home.   This list goes in the opposite direction: Here are some inexpensive home improvement projects that will not only increase your enjoyment of your home, but will also increase the home’s value.

1. High Quality Ceiling Fans


In a recent National Association of Home Builders survey, ceiling fans ranked No. 1 as the most-wanted decorative item. If your ceiling fans are outdated, spending a few hundred dollars to get new ones is well worth the investment. Firstly, a new ceiling fan is practical.  If they haven’t been updated in a long time, chances are a new one will be more energy efficient.  Replacing the standard cream colored fan will make your home feel instantly less dated as well. Aside from that, the new look can give your home a high-end feel that isn’t as costly as other finishes.

2. Trees


Mature trees can be worth as much as $10,000 toward the value of your home. Trees also protect your home from the elements and prevent erosion.  A nice, shady tree in the yard can do wonders for your curb appeal, as well.  It’s a good idea to talk to an arborist about what trees to get and where to plant them.  This way, you can ensure that you don’t plant too close to the house or accidentally bring in an invasive species.  Another positive to talking to a professional: if your trees are still young, buyers may be concerned about how big they’ll grow and any issues with roots spreading.  Having the arborist’s professional opinion will put buyers at ease and they can instead think about that great tire swing they’ll be able to put in.

3. Energy Efficiency


Buyers are increasingly interested in saving energy, so any efficiency update is worthwhile.  Like the ceiling fans, most electrical items will increase the energy efficiency of your home simply by being newer. One of the most popular energy efficient updates we’re seeing is people installing smart thermostats in their home.  Most likely, you’ve heard of Nest, which runs for around $250, and can save you a ton of money in yearly heating costs. Generally easy to install, it’s a quick way to bring your home into the future, and give your home an stand out selling point.

4. Outdoor lighting


Exterior lighting is great for highlighting the accents of your home.  It helps tie the interior and exterior into one living space.  Lighting fixtures on a back patio will give the impression that the space is finished and all the new owners will need to do is set up their furniture to start entertaining!

5. Molding

crown molding

You can finish a room with crown molding or railing for as little as $1.50 per foot if you take a DIY approach, and it’s extremely desirable among prospective buyers.  Just that little addition makes a room seem richer, and coupled with a your new ceiling fan, can turn an average living room into a high-end one for way less than a full remodel!

Hopefully, this has given you some ideas for ways to gain value in your home without having to spend a ton of money.  Even if you’re not ready to sell yet, these updates are a great idea to improve your home’s worth and your quality of living!


Posted on July 11, 2016 at 8:53 PM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Real Estate | Tagged , , , , ,

Stressed about Moving? 3 Ways to Ease Your Fears


With low inventory in many markets throughout the country, many homeowners are afraid to sell their homes because they’re concerned that they may not be able to find a new one.  I’ve seen this happen all over Portland.  Inventory is so low that it’s scaring people on both sides of a transaction. This can be a real problem, but if you are seeking to sell—whether to upgrade or find a new neighborhood—there are a few ways to combat the low inventory.

1. Look to buy first


In most markets, it is a real mistake to put your home up for sale before you start looking for your new property. Identify the geographic area where you are interested in buying. Even if you don’t see anything on Zillow, it doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t find the right home.  If you’re in a place where inventory is really low, you’ll have to act quickly if you find anything you love.  As long as the home you’re selling is in good condition, it’ll probably sell quickly and you’ll be able to close on the new home contingent on your old home’s closing.  It pays to be on the hunt before you’re on the market so you can keep track of market trends and have a good working knowledge of the inventory of that area.  A great tool for this is Neighborhood News, which you can sign up for on my website.  Just follow that link!

2. Think outside the box


Be proactive! Keep in mind that there are probably many people like you who want to make a move but are afraid as well. Have your real estate agent send a letter to the neighborhoods in the geographic areas where you want to live. The letter should be heartfelt and personal while announcing that you are ready to buy a home in that neighborhood. You could find a home to buy that may not even be currently listed or for sale.  Imagine if you got a similar letter.  Wouldn’t it put you at ease to know there’s someone out there looking for a home like yours?  This would also give you a leg up on everyone else furiously refreshing Zillow and for the newest listings.

3.  Protect yourself legally


Each state varies in how the purchase process is conducted. Talk to your real estate professional about adding a clause in the purchase contract for the home you are selling that will enable you to not sell the home if you cannot find a suitable home to buy.  Real estate contracts afford buyers and sellers both opportunities to make sure the transaction is going to suit their needs.  Just like you can make the purchase of a new home contingent on the sale of the old one, in most states, you can make the sale of your old home contingent on an accepted offer for a new one.  This is where the value of a REALTOR® really comes into play.  At Windermere, we have a whole class to take just on writing good contingencies!


If you or anyone you know is on the fence about selling, contact me!  I’ll help you figure out if now is the right time for you and your family.  We sure could use the inventory in the market!

Posted on May 3, 2016 at 9:04 PM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Portland, Real Estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

What Does the Future Hold? 2016 Economic & Housing Forecast

There are so many things I love about working for Windermere, but what I love most is the access we get to information that I can pass along to all of you.  Now that 2016 is officially upon us, and we’ve started to settle back into post-holiday life, I wanted to share with you guys some numbers that we can use to figure out what to look forward to this year.

Windermere is fortunate to have Chief Economist Matthew Gardner on staff to provide valuable analysis of the economy and housing market. Matthew recently completed his national economic forecast which details his predictions for the 2016 economy and housing market.  I’ve added it here below for you.  Take a look, and let us all know what you think in the comments.  I think 2016 is looking to be a great year!

Matthew Gardner 2016 Forecast-page-001

Posted on January 11, 2016 at 11:48 PM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Finance, Real Estate | Tagged , , ,

What Does the Future Hold? 2016 Economic & Housing Forecast

There are so many things I love about working for Windermere, but what I love most is the access we get to information that I can pass along to all of you.  Now that 2016 is officially upon us, and we’ve started to settle back into post-holiday life, I wanted to share with you guys some numbers that we can use to figure out what to look forward to this year.

Windermere is fortunate to have Chief Economist Matthew Gardner on staff to provide valuable analysis of the economy and housing market. Matthew recently completed his national economic forecast which details his predictions for the 2016 economy and housing market.  I’ve added it here below for you.  Take a look, and let us all know what you think in the comments.  I think 2016 is looking to be a great year!

Matthew Gardner 2016 Forecast-page-001

Posted on January 11, 2016 at 11:48 PM
Sianna Johnson | Category: Finance, Real Estate | Tagged , , ,