Who Doesn’t Love A Picnic….Especially When You Don’t Have to Do Anything?

I have always loved the thought of going on a picnic.  What I haven’t loved is the thought of planning it and packing all the stuff to go and do it.  It’s probably why I’m soooo obsessed with this week’s hot spot of the week’s Instagram Feed – Picnics With Elegance

Picnics With Elegance is the brain child of it’s founder the beautiful Kelly.  She loves making people feel special and has a background in non-profits and event planning.

It doesn’t matter what you are celebrating there is a picnic choice for you.  Here’s a few of the ways you can celebrate with a picnic:

  • Bridal Shower
  • Baby Shower
  • Birthday Parties
  • Engagements
  • Anniversary
  • Weekend Brunch with Your BFFs
  • First Date

Now I know what you’re thinking we live in Oregon so a picnic is going to be seasonal or what if it looks like it might rain?  Never fear Picnics with Elegance has a portable, weather proof pod for those types of days.

I know you’re wondering what exactly is included in a picnic right?  Here’s some of what you can expect:

  • One stop shop for the perfect picnic
  • Event Set Up
  • Table Decor
  • Place Settings
  • Floral Arrangements
  • Food
  • Take Down
  • Personal Hostess
  • Cell Phone Pictures
  • Personalized Touches

So what do you need to do?  Provide a date, time and theme.  They do have add ons available at an additional charge.

Packages start at around $250.00 and a picnic is typically 1.5 to 2 hours in length. Be sure to check out their website for more detailed information.

So my only question is how are you going to use a picnic to celebrate?

 

 

 

You Only Get One Chance To Make A First Impression…..

How many times in life have you heard that statement above?  Probably a million.  It’s something you think about when you go on a blind date, or go for a job interview.  You want to put your best foot forward because you know you won’t get the opportunity to do it again.  It’s the same way with your home when you are selling or are wanting to spruce it up.  You only get one chance to make your home memorable, and your front door can help.

Last month my friend and business partner, Rebecca Nelson, and I were out doing the monthly Ding, Dong, Ditch Pop-bys.  The very first home we stopped at caught our attention because of it’s AMAZING front door.  That’s right, we choose that home to drop off a succulent to because we fell in love with their red front door.

I personally like to look at the front door of your home as the place to put some personality because a fire engine red house would probably be a bit over the top, but a fire engine red front door is WOW!

So how does one go about picking the perfect front door color?  Here are a few things that you will want to keep in mind:

  1. How will it look with the existing color scheme of your home?
  2. How will it look next to brick, stone or wood?
  3. If the front of your home faces the sun you need to think about how much sun hits your front door, and choose a color that will still look fab sun faded.
  4. How will it look when it’s time to put up the holiday decorations?  Will it clash and stick out like a sore thumb?
  5. Will everyone in your family feel joy when they walk up to the front of your home or will they want to gouge their eyeballs out every time the walk up to the front door?  Being honest, you may love pink and think a pink front door would be spectacular.  Your partner or spouse may not feel the same way and a pink front door may make them cringe every time they come home.

Now that you’ve thought about those things, how do you decided what to choose.  Here are a few tips.

  1. Neutrals – a grey front door will pop against neutral paint colors.
  2. Yellow – can provide a cheery welcome and pairs well with grey.
  3. Blue – provides a calming feel when you walk up to it and pairs well with many different colors.
  4. Purple – while a bold choice it can make the entrance to your home feel regal as it’s the color of royalty.
  5. Teal Blue – the color of the ocean this color is bold without being too obnoxious.

There are many more colors that you can choose from so don’t feel as though you can only choose one of the five I’ve listed.  Whatever you choose put a swatch of paint next to your house or paint a board and put it next to your home.  Live with the color for awhile before you take the plunge.  In the end by painting your front door you’re going to make a great first impression, and may find that you love walking through your front door all the time.

I’ve Got a Shoe Problem and Gimres Is My Friend……

Ok, I’m not going to lie, I have a shoe problem.  Like most girls I LOVE shoes.  During the winter months you can find me in my Converse and in the summer I’m in either Olukai flip flops or Birkenstocks and this month’s business of the week helps with my love for these two brands of shoes since they carry both.

When I moved to North Plains 10 years ago, my then boyfriend, now husband introduced me to Gimres.  Finding an amazing shoe store isn’t one of the things that is typically on your radar as far as something new to find when you move, however it is one of the small things that allows you to feel like you’re part of your new community.

So why do I love this shoe store so much?  One reason is that it is the oldest family run shoe store in the Western United States.  They have served the Hillsboro community for 124 years.

Another reason that I love them is that they are knowledgeable and willing to help you find the right shoe for you.  One example is that my husband has a specific style of Ecco brand shoes.  We were having a hard time finding them, and Gimres helped us find them online and ordered them from the company for us.

If you are looking for a great pair of shoes go visit Gimres.  They are located at 256 E. Main Street in Hillsboro.

You’ve Bought Your First Home Now What?

You’ve did it!  You purchased your first home, but now as you sit in your fabulous home you’re feeling a little overwhelmed because of all of the “things” that come with owning a home.  You know what I’m talking about, the maintenance, the yard work, the furnace, etc.

While this can be completely overwhelming having a quarterly schedule of maintenance items to be done can really help.  I’m going to provide. you with a few tips for each quarter of the year to help you get started:

 

SUMMER 

Remove the lint from your dryer, dryer vent and vent hose.  According to the US Fire Administration approximately 2,900 clothes dryer fires are reported each year and it is estimated that they cause five deaths, 100 injuries and $35 million in property losses.  In addition, failure to clean the dryer is the leading cause of home dryer fires in America.

Clean the exhaust fan in your kitchen.  You would be amazed at how greasy and icky they get over a year from all of the cooking that we do.

Check your dishwasher, around kitchen/bathroom cabinets and toilets to see if there are any leaks.

Seal your tile grout.

Prune trees and shrubs.

FALL

It’s time to rake your leaves and aerate your yard.

Have your trusted HVAC company come out and make sure your furnace is in proper order for the colder winter months.

Do touch up painting on the exterior and trim of your home.

Have your fireplace professionally inspected and have a chimney sweep come out.  Unfortunately I don’t think you’ll be on any adventures with Bert from Mary Poppins when they do come out.

Drain and store your hoses, and also drain your sprinkler system.  You don’t want spring to roll around and find out you have broken pipes.

WINTER

Cover your A/C unit.

Inspect your roof, gutters and downspouts after any major storms.  Left over leaves, and pine needles can clog them after major storms and create problems for you the next time it rains.

Clean the drains in your kitchen sink, bathroom sink, bath tubs and showers.  It’s amazing how much hair can wind up going down the drain and start to clog things up.

SPRING

Change your A/C filters in preparation for the warmer days that are ahead.

Clean windows and screens.

Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.

Fertilize your yard

 

Keep in mind that this list doesn’t include all of the items you can do to keep your new home in tip top shape it does hopefully give you good start.

 

It’s Home Inspection Time.

You’ve got an accepted offer and now it’s time for the home inspection.  This can be a stressful time for both buyers and sellers as they wait to see what the inspector has to say, and if he finds something that could kill the deal.

As you prepare for this time it’s good to remember that the home inspector is there to tell you about the general health of the home, like your primary care doctor tells you about your general health.  If there are issues with the home that require an expert such as HVAC, roof, mold remediation the inspector should recommend that a licensed professional come out to asses the issue.

When it comes to the report a good write up will give you four main points:

What are they inspecting.

Where is it at in the home.

Why is the issue a problem.

How the buyer should consider handing the problem.

For example, in my own home purchase the report informed me that there was a duct vent from the laundry room vent that had fallen in the attic and was not property attached to the roof vent which is there to help prevent excess moisture and other problems.  As the buyer they inspector let me know that to handle this problem I needed to have the duct work reattached to the  roof vent.  It was an easy fix that my husband took care of for me after I moved in.

It doesn’t matter what the item is you should always see a what, where, why it is an issue and what you should do about it.  If it is something out of the scope of the home inspector assessing the general health of the home say cracks in the foundation, they should suggest that you get a qualified contractor or engineer to come out and assess the foundation to see if there is an issue or not.

You should also know that there are items that are not in the scope of the home inspectors work.  For example if the home were to have a pool and hot tub that would not be something that the home inspector would be looking at.  As a buyer you would want to have a pool specialist come out and tell you if the pool was in good mechanical working order.

As a seller the home inspector isn’t there to find all sorts of things to make you fix, and potentially kill the deal.  We all love our homes and think that they are in fantastic order, however when we live in them for awhile there are things that we sometimes don’t notice.

Once that home inspection is over it’s time to consider what items you want fixed and what items you can deal with and maybe fix later.  I always tell both my buyers and sellers that we ask/fix items that are of a health and safety concern, such as a leaking roof or T111 siding that is rotting at the bottom.  If the home is older you may see the inspector indicate that the home lacks GFCI outlets and recommend that they be installed.   If they recommend it for the kitchen and bathroom then yes that would fall under the health and safety items as both of those places deal with water.  However if the inspector indicates that it should be done through out the home in order to bring it up to code then I like to have a discussion with my sellers/buyers.  Codes are constantly changing and home was built to code for the time it was constructed.  Health and safety should not constitute bringing the home up to current code.  It would be costly as well as very time/labor intensive.

As you prepare for your home inspection please keep these things in mind, and hopefully it will help make the process a little less stressful.  You also might consider picking up Matt Fellman’s book Home Inspector Confidential. It provides some fabulous information from a well respected Portland area home inspector.

The Days Are Longer Why Not Grab a Brew……

This time of year makes you just want to be outside so you can enjoy the weather, and maybe a cold brew.  This week’s hot spot of the week is a place that you can do just that, Ambacht Brewing

Located in Hillsboro, Oregon Ambacht Brewing is Oregon’s only brewery without an IPA.  Ambacht strives to create American Ales inspired by Belgian brewing.  Their tap room is open from 12-5 PM Thursday through Sunday for you to enjoy a brew.

You are able to bring food in with you and your floof to enjoy their outdoor seating.  You’re also able to grab bottles or have your growler filled.  If you are a cherry fan you’ll want to check out two of their newer brews as they are their cherriest brews to date – Ambacht Pie Cherry Pale and. Ambacht Pie Cherry Dark.

The next time you’re looking for a brew or want to share something local with a friend from out of town hit up Ambacht.  They’re located at 1060 NE 25th, Suite B in Hillsboro.

Growth in Local, Innovative Coffee Subscription Company

Subscription services can bear a resemblance to the story of Goldilocks: Sometimes you end up with way too much of what you ordered, risking spoilage. Other times, you run out faster than planned. The answer, according to one company, is a scale” (Wallace, 1). 

Bottomless, a new Seattle upstart, created a coffee subscription company that makes the reordering process automatic and predicts the days you’ll need a new bag of beans to arrive at your door by using a smart scale to determine when you’re running low. The company knows exactly what you want, when you need it. 

After each use, coffee subscribers place their bag of beans on a wifi-enabled scale, sending data and analyses of consumption activity. The service includes the scale and starts at $5.99 per month with coffees that range from $12 to $20.

The pandemic resulted in a skyrocket of e-commerce purchases, increasing the demand for subscription and delivery-based services, therefore helping boost the coffee subscription company with more people stuck in their homes.

As of the week of Friday, October 23rd, Bottomless counted 6,000 customers. Last year around this time, their customers counted up to only 750. 

With COVID influencing the way people view technology and online services, the trend of buying products online has increased dramatically and will most likely continue for a few years.

“The company has come a long way since its inception in 2016 when Herrera and co-founder Michael Mayer — neither of whom had backgrounds in hardware development — conceptualized and invented the smart scale that would serve as Bottomless’ backbone. In true startup fashion, the duo bootstrapped the firm and spent the early days hand-soldering 3D-printed scales in their tiny apartment. They partnered with some roasters and signed up a couple hundred customers” (Wallace, 8)

At eighteen years old, Herrera emigrated from Peru without any knowledge of english at the time. She held different jobs until she was able to attend university in Portland, Oregon. Herrera grew up believing there was no other route to success other than hard work; She applied those lessons and skills she had learned during her upbringing to her career.

Bottomless received venture capital backing, business connections and mentorship after landing in the Winter 2019 cohort at Y Combinator, the legendary Silicon Valley startup accelerator. The company was able to afford their first manufacturing run earlier this year in which they said goodbye to handmade scales. 

“What has resulted is a “premiumization” of coffee purchases at retail and grocery stores, said Jim Watson, senior analyst for beverages research at Rabobank. People are spending more for whole bean coffee and pricier grounds, he said” (Wallace, 14). While grocery stores do carry a good selection of specialty and premium coffees, most of them are from global and national brands. With COVID-19, the importance of shopping local has been emphasized along with the opportunity to tap into local roasters.

Helping local businesses and being an online subscription service has worked out in the companies favor, but drastic economic shifts from the early part of the pandemic has caused instability in the finely-tuned system. 

In spring, some roasters experienced higher turnover after stark drop-offs in sales, so new employees had to be retrained on the Bottomless process. When the USPS timelines got rocky, Hererra and Mayer rebuilt their machine learning models. In addition to the shaky times COVID brought, existing customers that suffered from job loss were forced into cancelling their Bottomless subscription. 

Now, eight months into the pandemic, these aspects stabilized and the company is seeing steady growth in new customers and sales. “The activity is fueling optimism for a future where Bottomless could expand its technology into other product categories such as pet food and personal care” (Wallace, 19).

To find or subscribe to bottomless, click here.

 

Agent Website Photos-KristaThis blog post was written by Krista Pham, our intern.

The article that inspired this piece can be found, here.

4 Things to Consider Before Refinancing

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This is a good time to catch a low mortgage rate. Advance Local, Shutterstock

Between politics and pandemics, mortgage rates have fallen and refinances have been booming with more room to expand.

Close to 18 million homeowners could potentially cut their mortgage’s interest rate by 0.75% or more, according to mortgage analytics company, Black Knight. That surpasses the 3 million homeowners who refinanced the first half of 2020. 

Mortgage rates decreased to a record low territory this summer and fall. “The average interest rate on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has been under 3% since early September, according to NerdWallet’s daily rate survey” (Nerd Wallet, 3).

If you aren’t sure if now is the right time to refinance, ask yourself the following four questions.

 

1. What’s my goal?

What would you like to accomplish by refinancing? Identifying your goal for refinancing points you toward the right loan.

These are three common refinancing goals:

  • To reduce the monthly payment. For this refinance, it is quite simple Apply to a loan of the same term – another 30-year loan, if that’s what you have.
  • To pay less interest. When you refinance a 30-year mortgage into a loan with a shorter term, your monthly payments are likely to increase, but you’ll pay less interest over the duration of the loan. 
  •  To get cash. A cash-out refinance allows you to borrow more than you currently owe and take the difference in cash. Cash-out refinance is a common way to pay for home renovations.

 

2. Is my goal attainable?

Once you’ve identified your goal, figure out if it is realistic. 

If the goal is a smaller monthly payment, ask yourself how long you will remain in the home. The answer is important because when refinancing, you’ll lose money if you sell the home before reaching the break-even point. The reason for this is because when you refinance, you pay hundreds-thousands of dollars in closing costs. You want to keep the loan long enough for the savings to exceed the cost, which may take a few years. 

 

3. If the goal is to pay less interest, are the long-term savings worth the bigger payment?

If you shorten the loan term, you will most likely end up with an increased monthly payment. In case of a financial emergency, what will happen? Will you still be capable of making the monthly payment? If you have doubts, it may be safer for you to refinance for the same term as the current mortgage rather than a shorter one and pay extra principal each month. You will still have the benefit of paying it off more quickly, but you can stop making the excess payments when money is scarce. 

If the goal is to get cash: Do I have enough equity? In most cases, you’ll be able to borrow up to 80% of your home’s value, meaning that if you currently owe 70%, you will be able to cash 10% out of it. Determine your home’s current value and multiply it by 8% to determine the amount you’ll be able to borrow. Ask your lender how much you owe on the mortgage right now or check a recent statement. You’ll be able to cash out the difference between what you owe and 80% of the home’s value. 

How will the new refinancing fee affect me? Despite an adverse market refinance fee, the door remains open for refinancing. While frustrating, the fee on interest rates is too small to erase the savings that most would attain by refinancing. Fortunately, the adverse market refinance free doesn’t apply to every loan, only conventional mortgages. If you plan to refinance into a jumbo loan or a mortgage supported by the Federal Housing Administration, Department of Veteran Affairs, or the Department of Agriculture, the fee will not be imposed. Those loans accounted for about one-third of the mortgages taken in the second quarter of 2020. The other two-thirds were securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who imposed the raised interest rates on refinances by about one-eighth of a percentage point. Although, there are a few exceptions on the fees: The fee won’t be imposed on refinances of $125,000 or less, construction-to-permanent loans, or HomeReady and Home Possible mortgages, which have income limits.

The fee goes to Fannie and Freddie from the lender, and is unlikely to appear on your Loan Estimate paperwork; It is probably included in your interest rate. 

If you’re planning to refinance in order to reduce your monthly payment, the adverse market fee is important to acknowledge because the higher interest rate will push the break-even point back a few more months. 

When refinancing for a shorter term, the interest savings quickly overshadows the slight increase on rate.

If you’re attempting to go for a cash-out refinance, the goal is to get cash rather than saving money, so the fee does not impact your decision. 

 

4. Are there alternative ways to reach my goal?

While reducing your mortgage interest rate is great, there are other ways to attain your set goals if refinancing isn’t right for you.

  • To decrease your monthly house payment without refinancing, you could look for a less expensive homeowners insurance
  • If you are looking to pay less interest over time, you could pay extra principal monthly. By doing so, you could accelerate the payoff date, reducing the total interest paid on the loan.
  • Instead of a cash-out refinance, you could keep your mortgage and get a home equity line of credit or home equity loan. These loan products will most likely have higher interest rates than you can get with a cash-out refinance, but will still give the option of paying them off sooner than required.

 

After asking yourself these questions, you’ll be able to identify more confidently what decision is best for you. 

 

Agent Website Photos-KristaThis blog post was written by Krista Pham, our intern.

The article that inspired this piece can be found, here.