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Prepare For and Prevent Damage This Wildfire Season Before It Happens

After last year’s wildfires, some of the largest and deadliest in recent memory, spread along the west coast, homeowners are on edge as to what this fire season will bring. The questions of whether their home will be burnt, or if they will be affected by poor air quality, hang in the air much like the smoke of a nearby fire. Accompanied by heatwaves hitting much of the U.S. these fears can turn into realities just as quick as a spark in brush. Luckily there are ways to prevent damage and to prepare for anything coming your way.

 

Be prepared with fire insurance

Are you currently protected in case of a fire? Make sure to talk with your insurance agent and work on a plan to insure your home.

Questions to ask them are:

  • What is covered should our home be destroyed in a fire?
  • What kinds of documentation do we need to do in order to get the full benefit of the insurance?
    • It’s usually a great idea to keep a log of what is in your home and how much it costs. Keep receipts and invoices if possible.
  • Who at the company should we contact in case of emergency? 

 

Be prepared with an emergency kit

Cal Fire has a comprehensive guide to all things wildfire preparedness. Here they suggest putting together an emergency kit that’s always ready in case of sudden evacuations. They recommend including:

  • Map marked with at least two evacuation routes
  • Non-perishable foods to last three days
  • Prescriptions and medications. Also, eyeglasses or contact lenses.
  • Change of clothes
  • Toiletries and sanitation supplies
  • And extra set of car keys, as well as credit cards, cash or traveler’s checks
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Copies of important documents like birth certificates and passports
  • Food and water for your pet
  • Chargers for cell phones and other devices

Some other items you might consider having close by are easily carried valuables, sentimental items like family photos, and computers or hard drives. Keep a sturdy pair of shoes and a flashlight near your bed for any evacuations at night.

 

Prevent damage by fortifying the building

Fire-Safe Landscaping

You don’t have to re-do the entire garden to slow the fire down. Home Advisor recommends you create a balance of aesthetically pleasing flora and slow-burning plants that are less likely to ignite.

Additionally, keep your garden and property free of dry materials that are ideal for kindling either in your bonfire or for a wildfire. Not only does creating this barrier protect your home, it also gives firefighters a safe area to work from as they work to control the fire.

To see what plants to use and other ways to fireproof your property, visit HomeAdvisor.

 

Build or remodel with flame-resistant materials

Materials like brick, stucco, metal, or concrete are great exteriors that can prevent the fire from taking hold of your home, at least initially. If your home is already built with one of these materials, the weak points might lie in your extremities like your deck or porch. Consider re-building these with fire-proof materials or add a coating to protect them.

Additionally, protect the most vulnerable areas of your home, like your windows and any air vents. Add retractable fireproof panels to your windows or replace the glass with wire glass or fire-proof safety glass. Don’t forget your skylights or windows on your doors.

Rent Control

Oregon’s statewide rent control legislation has stirred discussion at the Legislative level up and down the west coast. Windermere’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, says Oregon’s law is really more a rental price stabilization tactic and weighs in on whether other states are likely to adopt similar regulation.

 

Protect Your Home With Homeowners Insurance

In addition to providing shelter and comfort, our home is often our single greatest asset, and it’s important that we protect that precious investment. Most homeowners realize the importance of homeowner’s insurance in safeguarding the value of a home. However, what they may not know is that about two-thirds of all homeowners are under-insured. According to a national survey, the average homeowner has enough insurance to rebuild only about 80% of his or her house.

 

What a standard homeowners policy covers

A standard homeowner’s insurance policy typically covers your home, your belongings, injury or property damage to others, and living expenses if you are unable to live in your home temporarily because of an insured disaster.

The policy likely pays to repair or rebuild your home if it is damaged or destroyed by disasters, such as fire or lightning. Your belongings, such as furniture and clothing, are also insured against these types of disasters, as well as theft. Some risks, such as flooding or acts of war, are routinely excluded from homeowner policies.

Other coverage in a standard homeowner’s policy typically includes the legal costs for injury or property damage that you or family members, including your pets, cause to other people. For example, if someone is injured on your property and decides to sue, the insurance would cover the cost of defending you in court and any damages you may have to pay. Policies also provide medical coverage in the event someone other than your family is injured in your home.

If your home is seriously damaged and needs to be rebuilt, a standard policy will usually cover hotel bills, restaurant meals and other living expenses incurred while you are temporarily relocated.

 

How much insurance do you need?

Homeowners should review their policy each year to make sure they have sufficient coverage for their home. The three questions to ask yourself are:

·      Do I have enough insurance to protect my assets?

·      Do I have enough insurance to rebuild my home?

·      Do I have enough insurance to replace all my possessions?

Here’s some more information that will help you determine how much insurance is enough to meet your needs and ensure that your home will be sufficiently protected.

 

Protect your assets

Make sure you have enough liability insurance to protect your assets in case of a lawsuit due to injury or property damage. Most homeowner’s insurance policies provide a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability coverage. With the increasingly higher costs of litigation and monetary compensation, many homeowners now purchase $300,000 or more in liability protection. If that sounds like a lot, consider that the average dog bite claim is about $20,000. Talk with your insurance agent about the best coverage for your situation.

 

Rebuild your home

You need enough insurance to finance the cost of rebuilding your home at current construction costs, which vary by area. Don’t confuse the amount of coverage you need with the market value of your home. You’re not insuring the land your home is built on, which makes up a significant portion of the overall value of your property. In pricey markets such as San Francisco, land costs account for over 75 percent of a home’s value.

The average policy is designed to cover the cost of rebuilding your home using today’s standard building materials and techniques. If you have an unusual, historical or custom-built home, you may want to contact a specialty insurer to ensure that you have sufficient coverage to replicate any special architectural elements. Those with older homes should consider additions to the policy that pay the cost of rebuilding their home to meet new building codes.

Finally, if you’ve done any recent remodeling, make sure your insurance reflects the increased value of your home.

Remember that a standard policy does not pay for damage caused by a flood or earthquake. Special coverage is needed to protect against these incidents. Your insurance company can let you know if your area is flood or earthquake-prone. The cost of coverage depends on your home’s location and corresponding risk.

 

Replacing your valuables

If something happens to your home, chances are the things inside will be damaged or destroyed as well. Your coverage depends on the type of policy you have. A cost value policy pays the cost to replace your belongings minus depreciation. A replacement cost policy reimburses you for the cost to replace the item.

There are limits on the losses that can be claimed for expensive items, such as artwork, jewelry, and collectibles. You can get additional coverage for these types of items by purchasing supplemental premiums.

To determine if you have enough insurance, you need to have a good handle on the value of your personal items. Create a detailed home inventory file that keeps track of the items in your home and the cost to replace them.

 

Create a home inventory file

It takes time to inventory your possessions, but it’s time well spent. The little bit of extra preparation can also keep your mind at ease.  The best method for creating a home inventory list is to go through each room of your home and individually record the items of significant value. Simple inventory lists are available online. You can also sweep through each room with a video or digital camera and document each of your belongings. Your home inventory file should include the following items:

·      Item description and quantity

·      Manufacturer or brand name

·      Serial number or model number

·      Where the item was purchased

·      Receipt or other proof of purchase / Photocopies of any appraisals, along with the name and address of the appraiser

·      Date of purchase (or age)

·      Current value

·      Replacement cost

Pay special attention to highly valuable items such as electronics, artwork, jewelry, and collectibles.

 

Storing your home inventory list

Make sure your inventory list and images will be safe in case your home is damaged or destroyed. Store them in a safe deposit box, at the home of a friend or relative, or on an online Web storage site. Some insurance companies provide online storage for digital files. (Storing them on your home computer does you no good if your computer is stolen or damaged). Once you have an inventory file set up, be sure to update it as you make new purchases.

We invest a lot in our homes, so it’s important we take the necessary measures to safeguard it against financial and emotional loss in the wake of a disaster. Homeowners insurance is that safeguard, be sure you’re properly covered. 

Extend the Life of your Roof

Your roof is one of the most important and expensive assets of your home, but no other element is quite as valuable. While the average lifespan of a roof is about 15 years, careful homeowners can extend the life of their homes without enduring too many hardships. Take a look at these three quick maintenance tips to help your roof last.

 

Keep Your Gutters Clear

Debris that accumulates and clogs your gutters adds extra weight and pulls at your roof’s fascia, which can be a costly fix. Look down the length of your roof for any signs of sagging or bending – that’s a sure sign your gutters are carrying too much weight and pulling at your roof.

Don’t forget the downspouts either, and don’t be fooled by easy-flowing water. Moss and algae buildup on and around your roof can slowly eat away at your roofing material and severely compromise its integrity.

 

Focus On The Attic

The exterior of your roof isn’t the only area you should focus on as your attic is your roof’s first line of defense against damage with a two-pronged approach: insulation and ventilation.

Insulating your attic has the double benefit of keeping your home’s internal temperature consistent while also preventing vapor and moisture buildup on the underside of your roof. When combined with proper ventilation your attic can stay dry and keep your roof’s rafters safe from moisture damage.

A great way to keep properly ventilate is to add a fan or dehumidifier to the attic.

 

Catch Problems Early

Check on your roof regularly, an easy time to remember to check is with every change of the season, or after a significant storm. Catching small issues early on will save you money in the long run, so utilizing the services of a reliable, professional roofer is an invaluable asset. As with any working professional, it’s a good idea to establish a working relationship with a roofer and even consider scheduling a yearly checkup for your roof just to make sure there aren’t any problems sneaking up on you. After all, spending a little each year to maintain your roof is a lot better than dropping $15,000-$50,000 on a new one, right?

Building Stronger Communities By Helping Those In Need

 

We’re halfway through the Windermere Foundation’s 30-year anniversary and our offices aren’t showing any signs of slowing down their donations. Last quarter, the Windermere Foundation collected $556,937, bringing our year-to-date total to $865,029, and our grand total to $38,871,157 raised since 1989. These donations are used to support non-profit organizations and programs that help low-income and homeless families throughout the Western U.S.

 

Every Windermere office has its own Windermere Foundation fund account from which they make donations to help those in need in their local communities. This quarter, we’re highlighting Windermere offices in Oregon, Utah, and Colorado, which are each doing their part to give back by hosting clothing and donation drives, contributing to educational programs, and funding weekend backpack meals for public elementary schools.

 

Windermere Medford

The Windermere office in Medford, Oregon collected clothing donations for CASA of Jackson County’s summer clothing drive for kids in local foster care homes. The Windermere agents also volunteered their time to help sort and put away the collected items. According to CASA, the donations are enough to help 150 kids going through the court and foster care system. CASA was grateful to have the help and support of the Windermere Medford office.

“Thank you all for everything! Your team goes over the top each year and it is so fun and heartwarming.  If we could only share the stories of these children, but please know what a difference having a new summer outfit, shoes, swimsuits, etc. makes. Many, many happy hearts and smiles to come!” ~Erin Carpenter, Development and Media Manager, CASA of Jackson County

 

Windermere Utah

The Windermere offices in Utah combined their funding to make a donation to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Salt Lake City Walk. Through the Windermere Foundation, they donated $5,000 to raise awareness about mental health issues and teen suicide. The mission of the AFSP is to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. The programs are offered in schools and include speakers which are usually the surviving parents or other siblings telling their stories of loss to prevent others from making the same deadly mistakes.

 

Windermere DTC

The Windermere DTC office in Centennial, CO donated $5,000 to The CE Shop Foundation to support their recent fundraising campaign at the Elephant Rock Cycling Festival. Donations collected will help fund weekend backpacks of food for two Denver public elementary schools for the 2019-2020 school year. The CE Shop Foundation is on a quest to help Eliminate Childhood Hunger.

 

  

 

Thanks to our agents, offices, and everyone who supports the Windermere Foundation, we have been able to make a difference in the lives of many families in our local communities. This year we celebrate the Windermere Foundation’s 30th anniversary with a renewed year-long focus on giving back, doing more, and providing service to the communities that have made us who we are.

 

Our goal for 2019 is to raise over $40 million in total donations. If you’d like to help us reach this goal, or learn more about the Windermere Foundation, please visit WindermereFoundation.com.

 

What to Consider Before You Build

If you’re short on space but don’t want to move, a home addition is an attractive way to solve your woes and turn your current home into your dream home.

Whether you’re adding a whole new room or a more modest addition, it can turn into a major construction project; with architects and contractors to manage, construction workers traipsing through your home, hammers pounding, and sawdust everywhere. Although new additions can be a great investment, the cost per-square-foot is typically more than building a new home, and much more than buying a larger existing home.

Before you make the leap, consider the following:

 

Define your needs

To determine if an addition makes sense for your situation, start by defining exactly what it is you want and need. By focusing on core needs, you won’t get carried away with a wish list that can push the project out of reach financially.

If it’s a matter of needing more space, be specific. For example, instead of just jotting down “more kitchen space,” figure out just how much more space is going to make the difference, e.g., “150 square feet of floor space and six additional feet of counter space.”

If the addition will be for aging parents, consult with their doctors or an age-in-place expert to define exactly what they’ll require for living conditions, both now and over the next five to ten years.

 

Types of Additions

Bump-out Addition

“Bumping out” one or more walls to make a first-floor room slightly larger is something most homeowners think about at one time or another. However, when you consider the work required, and the limited amount of space created, it often ends up to be one of your more expensive approaches.

First Floor Addition

Adding a whole new room (or rooms) to the first floor of your home is one of the most common ways to add space to a home. You can easily create a new family room, apartment or sunroom. But this approach can also take away yard space.

Dormer Addition

For homes with steep rooflines, adding an upper floor dormer may be all that’s needed to transform an awkward space with limited headroom. The cost is affordable and, when done well, a dormer can also improve the curb-appeal of your house.

Second-Story Addition

For homes without an upper floor, adding a second story can double the size of the house without reducing surrounding yard space. But be cautious not to ruin the value of homes next to you when you do this, the second story might not be worth the drama on your block.

Garage Addition

Building above the garage is ideal for a space that requires more privacy, such as a rentable apartment, a teen’s bedroom, guest bedroom, guest quarters, or a family bonus room.

 

 

Permits required

You’ll need a building permit to construct an addition—which will require professional blueprints. Your local building department will not only want to make sure that the addition adheres to the latest building codes, but also ensure it isn’t too tall for the neighborhood or positioned too close to the property line. Some building departments will also want to ask your neighbors for their input before giving you the go-ahead.

 

Requirements for a legal apartment

While the idea of having a renter that provides an additional stream of revenue may be enticing, the realities of building and renting a legal add-on apartment can be sobering. Among the things you’ll need to consider:

  • Special permitting—Some communities don’t like the idea of “mother-in-law” units and therefore have regulations against it, or zone-approval requirements.
  • Separate utilities—In many cities, you can’t charge a tenant for heat, electricity, and water unless utilities are separated from the rest of the house (and separately controlled by the tenant).
  • ADU Requirements—When building an “accessory dwelling unit” (the formal name for a second dwelling located on a property where a primary residence already exists), building codes often contain special requirements regarding emergency exists, windows, ceiling height, off-street parking spaces, the location of main entrances, the number of bedrooms, and more.

In addition, renters have special rights while landlords have added responsibilities. You’ll need to learn those rights and responsibilities and be prepared to adhere to them. Be sure to talk to your Windermere Real Estate Agent or a local Property Manager about municipal, state, and federal laws.

 

Average costs

The cost to construct an addition depends on a wide variety of factors, such as the quality of materials used, the laborers doing the work, the type of addition and its size, the age of your house and its current condition. For ballpark purposes, however, you can figure on spending about $200 per square foot if your home is in a more expensive real estate area, or about $100 per food in a lower-priced market.

You might be wondering how much of that money might the project return if you were to sell the home a couple years later? The answer to that question depends on the above details; but the average “recoup” rate for a family-room addition is typically more than 80 percent.

 

The Bottom Line

While you should certainly research the existing-home marketplace before hiring an architect to map out the plans, building an addition onto your current home can be a great way to expand your living quarters, customize your home, and remain in the same neighborhood.

Mortgage Rate Forecast

Geopolitical uncertainty is causing mortgage rates to drop. Windermere Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, explains why this is and what you can expect to see mortgage rates do in the coming year.

 

 

Over the past few months we’ve seen a fairly significant drop in mortgage rates that has been essentially driven by geopolitical uncertainty – mainly caused by the trade war with China and ongoing discussions over tariffs with Mexico.

 

Now, mortgage rates are based on yields on 10-Year treasuries, and the interest rate on bonds tends to drop during times of economic uncertainty.  When this occurs, mortgage rates also drop.

 

My current forecast model predicts that average 30-year mortgage rates will end 2019 at around 4.4%, and by the end of 2020 I expect to see the average 30-year rate just modestly higher at 4.6%.

Ten Qualities to Look For in Your Real Estate Agent

Buying a home is one of the most significant financial and emotional purchases of a person’s life. That’s why it is so important to find an agent that can not only help you navigate the home search process but one who can also answer your questions and represent your needs from start to finish. Most importantly, your agent should care about your happiness and ensuring that you find the home that best fits your needs.

Here are some qualities to consider when selecting a real estate agent:

  1. Likable. More than likely, you will be spending a lot of time with your agent, so look for someone that you enjoy interacting with.
  2. Trustworthy. One of the best ways to find an agent who you feel you can trust is to ask friends and family for a referral. Another way to do this is to interview different agents and ask for client references.
  3. Effective listener. While your agent can’t read your mind, they should be able to make educated recommendations and offer advice by listening closely to your needs. Make sure you talk to your agent about your priorities, what types of features appeal to you, as well as any factors that could be deal breakers. This will arm your agent with everything they need to help find you the perfect home.
  4. Qualified and experienced. Make sure your agent has the qualifications and experience to meet your specific needs. For example, some agents have more experience with short sales, while others might be experts on certain neighborhoods or types of housing. Find someone who is good at what you’re looking for. Ask specific questions when you interview them so you can get a better idea of what they’re great at, and if they’ll be a good fit for your search. 
  5. Knowledgeable. A great agent is someone who is out in the neighborhoods, exploring communities, visiting listings, up to date with market and industry news, and collecting all the information that you need to make an informed, confident decision about your real estate needs.
  6. Honest. Your agent should be upfront and honest with you about every aspect of your home search process – even if it involves delivering bad news. The best real estate agents are more concerned about finding the right home for their clients, not just the home that brings in the fastest commission check.
  7. Local. Every community is different and all real estate is local, so it’s important to find someone who really knows the local market and can provide you with whatever information you need to familiarize yourself with a particular area.
  8. Connected. A well-connected agent will have relationships with lenders, inspectors, appraisers, contractors, and any other service provider you might need during your home search. 
  9. Straightforward. You want an agent who will work hard to help you find the best home, but you also want someone who will be straightforward with you about the process, the market reality, and what is realistic for you.
  10. Committed. Your agent should be in it for the long haul, meaning that they’re looking out for your best interests every step of the way, no matter how long the process takes. The best way to find an agent with these qualities is by asking around. In all likelihood, someone within your circle of friends or family will have experiences to share and professionals to recommend, if not, reach out and we can connect you with a qualified and reliable Windermere Real Estate Agent. Contact us here. 

Refresh Your Home

 

The craving to move happens to every homeowner as they start to feel bogged down, or like they need a restart. That sense of newness doesn’t have to be dramatic, however. The great part about having a home of your own is you can make improvements and give your home a chance to evolve over time. You just need to help your home live up to its potential!  These are seven of our favorite improvements to help you make the most of your home.

 

1. Find Your Home’s Purpose

Each home is as unique as its owners, so in order to fully utilize your home, consider how you view your home’s purpose. Some people like to entertain, others find it a calm space in the frenzy of daily life; some nurture their families and others nurture their creativity. Your home’s purpose can be any combination of these and more, but it helps to consider the function of your space in order to ultimately find its purpose. Knowing your home’s purpose will help guide you as you move room to room while you refresh the space. 

 

2. Assemble a List

 

Create a list of haves/needs/wants. Answer questions like: what is it about the space that isn’t working; how could it work better to fulfill the purpose; where could I move some of my items to make them feel new again?

 

3. Make an “Inspiration Board”

 

An “inspiration board” is a great way to visualize your home’s decor. You can create a board online with a tool like Pinterest to organize ideas you love, you can also use the ‘Save’ feature on Instagram, or the old-fashioned way with a cork board and magazines. Doing this will allow you to see all the elements you like in one place so that you can then tie it all together into a room you love.

 

Photo Credit: @Krista4Coral on Instagram

4. Choose a New Palate

Renew the lighting and color by shaking up your color palate. It’s easy to fall into the white/beige standby to keep our rooms neutral, but sometimes a color that provides a contrast to your décor will make the room pop. Add a new color to the palate, refresh a wall with an accent color that you already feature in your decor, or overhaul your curtains and throws with a brand new hue. 
 

What about the Pantone color of the year? See our blog on how to incorporate Living Coral into your home. 

 

5. Rearrange

Moving furniture around is another easy way to reinvent your space. Try placing your sofa on an angle to open up your entertaining room or move your lamps to improve lighting. You can also think about moving a piece of furniture into a room to give it new life, like using a unique dresser for a credenza or a chair as a side table.

 

Photo Credit: HouseBeautiful

 

6. Create a Collection

If you have items that you like to collect, think about how to transform that collection into something you can display. If you don’t already have a collection of loved objects think about what this collection would be for you. You can center a room design around your travel souvenirs, old camera collection, figurines, unique plates, or familial objects. Adding to this collection over time can be a great way to keep your spaces new while maintaining a personal feel to your decor.

 

7. Find Design Motivation

Home design evolves over time and can be sustained by finding items that inspire you. Read magazines and books that inspire your interests in architecture, design, art, etc. Or find stores and flea markets that sell pieces that influence your aesthetic. Another way to get in-tune and keep your aesthetic with you is to bring a camera with you when you’re doing your favorite activities and bring back memories or inspirations.

 

Important Note: Have fun with it! Homes and aesthetics evolve over time, add and subtract as you go, and don’t stress if the room doesn’t feel finished. You’ll get there eventually. 

Improve Your Curb Appeal with These Affordable Tips

 

You’ll never have a second chance at a first impression, so let’s make it count! When it comes to upping your home’s curb appeal, there are plenty of small changes you can make that have a big impact. And best of all, you don’t need to call in the pros or spend a fortune to get beautiful results. Below are some helpful and affordable tips.

 

A Well-Maintained Yard

Mowing: The first step to a well-manicured lawn is to mow it regularly. The experts recommending mowing high because mowing it too short can damage the grass and allow weeds to set root.

Weeds: To prevent weeds like crabgrass use a pre-emergent herbicide in early spring. These herbicides manage the weeds by stopping the seeds from sprouting in your lawn. Broadleaf weeds like dandelions can be stopped by applying granular weed control products.

Feeding: Lawns consume mostly nitrogen, so look for mixes of fast and slow release fertilizers; they will feed your lawn over time while keeping it lush and green. 

Watering: Nighttime watering can result in long spans of moisture on the blades, potentially exposing your grass to disease. Consider watering your lawn in the morning – the sun helps dry out the blades throughout the day.

Flowers: You can quickly and affordably dress up your yard with colorful pre-made flower pots and containers. When placing your flower pots and containers remember that asymmetrical arrangements and staggering plants will provided the liveliest setting.

 

Dress up the Front Door and Porch

Paint: A fresh coat of paint in a pop color can give your home a well-deserved facelift. Get some color inspiration from House Beautiful. 

Replace Old Hardware: Clean off any dirty spots around the door knob, and use a metal polish on the fixtures. Change out house numbers for an updated feel, put up a wall-mounted mailbox, or add an overhead light fixture. Keep in mind that well thought through elements, instead of mix-and-match pieces, will add the most curb appeal.

Create Perfect Symmetry: Symmetry is one of the simplest design techniques to master and is the most pleasing to the eye. Maintain symmetry by flanking your front door with two sidelights (just make sure that your hardware matches); find two urn planters or a unique visual detail to put on either side of your door.