Going Green 101: Five Steps to a More Eco-Conscious Home

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If you want to go green around the house, you don’t necessarily have to go crazy with solar panels and bamboo floors. Small changes make a big difference!

We’ve rounded up five simple, extremely effective green tips that will lead to a happy, healthy home that benefit both you and the planet:

Detox your Bedroom:
Pillows. Regularly cleaning your pillow is one of the easiest ways to reduce the toxins in the bedroom because it will help keep dust mites and other allergens at bay.
Curtains. Open your shades and let the sunshine in—the heat from the sun’s rays will naturally remove extra moisture from your bedroom and significantly decrease the risk of mold or fungus growth.
Electronics. Exposure to the artificial light from digital screens stimulates brain activity, making it harder for you to fall asleep. Consider keeping the TV out of your bedroom and limiting your computer use as bedtime approaches.

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 2.39.32 PMBuy Low-VOC Paint
Some types of interior paint are made with volatile organic compounds (VOC). According to the EPA, VOCs are a big source of indoor air pollution and have a range of health risks including cancer, liver damage and kidney damage. The next time you decide to paint over the crimson red in your bedroom, choose a low or no-VOC paint.

Make your own Air Fresheners
Store-bought aerosol fresheners often contain two big VOC producers: benzene and formaldehyde. When you use them, you’re spraying those chemicals directly into your home’s air! By making your own air fresheners, you’ll avoid these harmful chemicals and the health problems associated with them. Experiment with simmering cinnamon, apples, ginger, or other herbs on the stove, or make your own room spritzer with all natural essential oils diluted in water.

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 2.39.39 PMDecorate with Houseplants
Having almost any type of plant in your home will help remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air. Spathiphyllum (Peace Lilly), Chrysanthemum and Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) are all especially great at removing indoor air pollution. These plants are best at filtering out contaminants like benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene, which are toxic ingredients found in most store-bought air fresheners and household cleaners.

Gerbera daisies release oxygen at night, so they’re perfect for insomnia! Place them by your bed for optimal oxygen intake while you sleep. Bonus: Gerbera daisies are also great at removing benzene and trichloroethylene from the air.

Use Green Cleaning Products
One of the most common sources of VOCs are store-bought cleaning supplies that contain harsh chemicals. However, it’s easy to keep these out of your home! When you’re shopping for cleaning products, look for brands that don’t include VOCs in their products (Seventh Generation and Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day are two popular green cleaning companies). It’s always a good idea to check labels and avoid products that contain ammonia, chlorine, sodium laurel sulfate, formaldehyde, bleach or lye.

Article courtesy of BrightNest.com


Determining the Best School District to Buy a Home In

 SchoolBusinNiceNeighborhoodsmby Bryn Huntpalmer

Purchasing your dream home in Oregon or Washington involves more than just the open house walk-through. Even if you find the perfect space for you and your family, you may need to do more investigating. School districts and communities are really important things to consider before making an offer on a home. But, how do you go about making wise decisions regarding these things without knowing anyone nearby to ask?

When purchasing a home, it’s a good idea to spend just as much time checking out school districts as it is looking at the ensuite. Even if you don’t have school-age children, the school district your new home is located in can drastically affect your resale value and can influence prospective future buyers. Here are some easy ways to find the very best school system in which to buy a home.

Check Out School Digger & Great Schools

To start, get online and begin researching schools near where you’d like to move. Whether you’re headed to Portland, Oregon or you’d like to look at homes near Vancouver, Washington, you should familiarize yourself with School Digger.com and Great Schools.org. School Digger has been used by over forty million people and gives you access to public school rankings for free. All you have to do is get on the website and select your state. Once you have selected your state, a list of school districts will appear. From there, you can see the average standard test score, the student to teacher ratio, and the percentage of students eligible for free lunches.

Great Schools is really similar and reviews private schools in addition to public ones. On this website, you can see school ratings on an interactive map and can read real reviews. By using these simple tools, you can begin to get a good idea of the best school district to buy a home in.

Ask Your Real Estate Agent

Agent on White PorchReal estate agents are your best friends when looking for a new home. Agents are extremely knowledgeable regarding school districts. While looking at homes, get comfortable with your agent and don’t hesitate to ask questions. “Your first conversation about schools should be with your real estate agent,” moving.com explains, “who can provide information on local neighborhoods and the choice of schools your children might attend, whether public or private.”

Utilize Social Media

These days, everyone is taking to Twitter to live-tweet the Oscars or ask about the best double stroller for their toddler. Why can’t you reach out to total strangers and ask about school systems? It may sound silly, but reaching out to other parents on social media may surprise you. To find out about different school districts, ask questions in a parent group on Facebook or use hashtags to find relevant topics on Twitter.

Although this is a fun way to learn about different areas, make sure to consider all of the opinions you come across and use this information to simply add to your own more in-depth research.

Ask Future Neighbors

It may seem old school (pun intended), but going door to door and asking questions is an efficient and candid way to find out about your prospective neighborhood. When looking for your perfect home, it’s suggested that you visit those living next door and ask questions. So while I don’t recommend canvassing a neighborhood, you can go on a casual walk around the ‘hood and ask anyone you happen to see out while you’re there.

In addition to finding out about the school district, you’ll also learn about local crime and other community events. If you don’t end up learning any information, you’ll at least have met a new friend to wave to when you get home after a long day at work.

Visit Different Schools

BooksAppleOnce you’ve done a lot of research and have dwindled your list down to a few areas, it’s time to hop in the car and visit. Most schools are more than accommodating and welcome visitors. Just look up the phone number for the districts you’re interested in and ask if you can spend an afternoon observing.

Andrew J. Rotherham on behalf of TIME explained that he and his wife visited some different schools while finding the best fit for his kids. What they learned surprised them! “our sit-in approach quickly eliminated the most coveted public school near our house because its administrators forbid classroom visits except during the comically inept tours the schools gives.” While on the tours, take notes and check-in with your partner afterward to talk about your findings.

Try to relax, you will eventually determine the best school district to buy a home in and can move forward with your home purchase. Fingers crossed you’ll become a Portland resident in no time and you’ll relax knowing your kids are receiving the best education possible.

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About Bryn Huntpalmer
Bryn Huntpalmer is a mother of two young children living in Austin, Texas, where she currently works as an Editor for Modernize and nurtures her HGTV obsession. In addition to regularly contributing to Home Decor and Design websites around the web, her writing can be found on Lifehacker, Scary Mommy, About.com and on her personal blog Her Own Wings. For home design information and tips check out Modernize!

Note: This is a guest post and the views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate.


April Gardening Tips for the Pacific Northwest

Spring in the Pacific Northwest is the ideal time to be planning our summer garden bounty and getting container-grown perennials into the ground. Make the most of the warm days ahead by setting out starts and planting cold-hardy vegetables in April.

Pacific Northwest landscape designer and garden writer Genevieve Schmidt shares gardening tips we should tackle in April.


Spring Staging Tips for Home Sellers

Screen shot 2015-03-16 at 8.55.30 AMSpringtime   brings   sunshine,   showers – and   plenty of opportunities for home staging. Make the most of the season with these fresh updates that are sure to attract buyers.
Tip 1

Whip your yard into shape. When you’re selling in the spring, you need to get your yard in shape as quickly as possible. Clear winter yard debris, and get frost-resistant plants that won’t be affected if a late cold spell hits.

Tip 2

Box up your winter wardrobe. Bulky winter clothes take up lots of space, so move them out as you de-clutter your closets. You’ll impress buyers with all that closet space.

Tip 3

Spruce up the entryway. If your welcome mat is covered with winter dirt, pick up a new one. A clean, pretty doorway will help set the tone for the entire showing.

Tip 4

Bring spring aromas indoors. Spring is not only a colorful season, but a fragrant one. Bring the aroma indoors. Scents have a profound effect on mood, so infusing scent into your decor with diffusers, candles, fresh cut flowers, or incense can change the overall feeling of a space.

Tip 5

Bring out the bright colors. Tuck away the heavy, winter flannel comforter and pull out crisp linens with coverlets for color. Bring in the spring with floral-designed spreads or colorful solids. Don’t forget accent pillows for added style and comfort.

Start your Spring Garden Today!
Screen shot 2015-03-16 at 9.03.05 AMVeggie Seeds to Start Now

March is the perfect time to start planning your veggie garden. Cool weather vegetables can be planted now like arugula, broad beans, collards, corn salad, kale, peas, radishes and spinach. For April, in addition to the March list, you can also plant beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots (unless we are having a colder/wetter spring) fennel, green onions, kohlrabi, lettuce, onions, parsnips, swiss chard and turnips.

Borders and Flower Gardens

March is the month to feed your garden. Trees, shrubs, hedges, roses, perennials, vines, and small fruits can all be fertilized now. Plant winter hardy flowers like lilies and hostas after March 1 and non-winter hardy types like dahlias and glads after April 1.

For planting new trees, shrubs, roses, perennials, pansies, small fruits and hardy herbs use peat moss or your own compost when planting and don’t forget to water new transplants frequently.

Persistent Weeds

To successfully control the weeds in your garden, learn to recognize them when they’re young. Cultivate (disturbing the soil through digging) around the weed’s roots using a hoe or garden tiller. If your weeds have already blossomed, it’s best to hand pull. After the weeds are clear, it’s good to lay black plastic over the soil in your vegetable garden prior to planting and apply mulch to reduce new weed growth.

 

Brought to you by HGTV.


Buyers Love Our Interactive Micro-Market Real Estate Reports

Prudential NW Market Watch micro market snapshotHome buyers love our interactive micro-market real estate reports for accessing the latest homes for sale activity and market trend information.

Our Market Watch area snapshot reports give users an interactive look at homes for sale and what’s happening in any of the market areas we serve. See active listings and trends for Beaverton OR here.

Prudential Northwest Properties Market Watch reports merge school and community information, along with stats that include time on market and price changes, and users can easily use the interactive map to adjust their radius of interest.

The Prudential NW Market Watch system uses current MLS market data to give users accurate and timely information on homes for sale throughout the market areas we serve, which include the greater Portland/Vancouver metro area, Central Oregon, SW Washington and Oregon coastal communities.

Visit our website at www.pru-nw.com and try out Market Watch yourself. Once you pinpoint an area of interest, click “Schedule Weekly Updates” and an automated email will deliver the information to you each week. Give it a try and let us know what you think!


Nationwide Open House Weekend Starts Tomorrow — Plan Your Tour Here

Open-Houses-April-20-21

Use the Prudential Northwest Properties interactive search map to plan your Open House tour this weekend.

Attention home buyers: Prudential Northwest Properties and REALTORS across the country are participating in Nationwide Open House Weekend April 20-21. This is a great opportunity to get inside the homes that pique your interest.

Click here to plan your tour.

Our website features Open Houses and homes for sale in the greater Portland / Vancouver metro area and includes Central Oregon, the Oregon Coast and SW Washington.

Which Home Remodeling Projects Deliver the Most Value?

Remodeling DIYAccording to the 2013 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report for the Portland area, the projects with the greatest potential for recouping a portion of the cost of mid-range projects) are:

1. Entry Door Replacement (steel) – 104%

2. Garage Door Replacement – 101.8%

3. Attic Bedroom Remodel – 90.9%

4. Window Replacement – 85%

5. Basement Remodel – 84.8%

See the chart below for other project highlights…

Remodeling_cost_vs_value_Portland

 

 

Need a reliable service provider? Visit HomeServices at www.HomeServicesNW.com for a directory of carefully screened vendors committed to meeting our high standards of customer service.

If you’re thinking about updating your home and would like to read more about the 2013 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, complete data from the report can be downloaded at www.costvsvalue.com.  © 2013 Hanley Wood, LLC.


Tips for protecting your home from frozen pipes this winter

frozen pipesRain, ice and snow can play havoc with water pipes. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help prevent plumbing emergencies.

Outside plumbing tips:

  • Caulk around pipes where they enter the home.
  • Close all foundation vents and fill vent openings with wood or Styrofoam blocks
  • Wrap outside faucets or hose bibs with insulation if you don’t have a separate outside valve to turn them off. Use molded foam-insulation covers which are available at hardware stores. Newspaper or rags (covered with plastic wrap) are another option.
  • Disconnect garden hoses and drain in-ground irrigation systems.

For inside plumbing:

  • Insulate pipes in unheated areas, such as attics, crawl spaces and basements.
  • When below-freezing weather is forecast, open cupboard doors in the kitchen and bathrooms. This allows these pipes to get more heat from inside your home.
  • If you leave home for several days, put your furnace on a low setting. This may not prevent freezing pipes but it can help.
  • Let a slight drip of water run when temperatures dip below freezing. Use cold water to avoid water heating charges.

What if pipes freeze?

  • Thaw plumbing lines safely with a hair dryer or heat lamp. Once the pipe has thawed, make sure to leave a little water running so the pipe doesn’t freeze again.
  • Do not open the water meter box near the curb. It could increase the chance of freezing water at the meter.

What if pipes break?

  • Close your main water shut-off valve to your house. Most shut-off valves are located where the water line enters the house, either at the front of your house where you connect your hose, or basement near the hot water heater, or inside the garage.
  • Turn off the water heater. Locate the dedicated shut-off valve on the cold water inlet.
  • Remember, the repair of broker pipes on the customer’s side of the meter is the customer’s responsibility. Contact a plumber for repair work.

Hopefully these tips will help prevent problems at your house this winter! Click here to learn more about protecting your home from frozen pipes.

Information courtesy of the Portland Water Bureau.

 


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