What’s Your Home Worth? Get an instant estimate!


Are you curious about the value of your home if you listed it for sale today? Want to know the sales price of homes in your neighborhood? At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate, we have a great resource for you.

Our website has a home valuation tool that allows you to instantly see the estimated value of your home from Zillow plus two leading real estate industry data modeling systems. To take into account any unique features or recent updates, you may fine-tune the property features for a more accurate estimate. When you’re ready for a more in-depth estimate, one of our agents would be happy to prepare a comparative market analysis (CMA) to review neighborhood trends, current and past sales and factor in the overall condition of your home.

Please visit www.bhhsnw.com and take advantage of this powerful resource to help you keep tabs on the value of your investment!


10 Tips to Add Yard Privacy



Privacy is at a premium these days, and it is not just about prying eyes invading your space—you may want to shield your own view of your sunbathing neighbors and block out their chatter.

Here are 10 tips to add more privacy to your yard:

Raised Beds

Give your favorite plants better view-blocking power by growing them in raised beds or berms. It puts medium-size plants at eye level.

Create a Secluded Corner Pocket
Take one corner of your yard and transform it into a secluded getaway. A simple way to do this is to carefully place a couple of trees to form a pocket.

Use Lattice
Do you feel a little claustrophobic at the thought of fencing your yard? Try lattice. It’s an ideal way to add privacy and enclosure without closing off your yard too much.

Look for Interesting Materials
Build a fence from out-of-the-ordinary materials or decorate a fence with architectural detailing.

Plant a Tree
A single tree can be an effective and inexpensive way to block a view. It shields the yard and creates a focal point.

Use a Hedge
Enjoy a wall of green by planting a hedge. Look for evergreen varieties to provide year-round screening or try types that lose their leaves in winter but make up for it by putting on a show with attractive flowers or a blaze of fall color.

Reach Up
Vines are like the swiss army knife of the gardening world—there are so many ways you can use them. Plant a climber to cover a fence, dress up a wall, over a pergola, or travel wires to create a screen in any direction.

Use Containers
Big, bold container gardens are ideal for creating privacy, especially if you have a small space such as a deck or patio. You can find containers and plants to fit any landscape style.

Decorate a Fence
Let’s be honest: Fences can look dull and cold. But they’re easy to dress up with a border of easy-care annuals, perennials, or shrubs. And extra-tall perennials that rise above the fence provide additional screening.

Keep It Simple
There’s no rule saying a fence has to run the length or perimeter of your yard. Put a panel or two just where you need it. It’s a great way to save money.



This Week in Real Estate: May 31, 2016

Analysis of April results were reported This Week in Real Estate finding new home sales, pending home sales and prices registered significant increases. Below are a few highlights from the fourth week of May that influence our business:

* Pending Home Sales Surge to 10-Year High. Pending home sales reached their highest level in over a decade in April, according to the National Association of Realtors. All major regions saw gains in contract activity last month except for the Midwest, which saw a meager decline. The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, hiked up 5.1 percent to 116.3 in April from an upwardly revised 110.7 in March and is now 4.6 percent above April 2015 (111.2). After last month’s gain, the index has now increased year-over-year for 20 consecutive months. Following the housing market’s best first quarter of existing-sales since 2007 and a decent increase in April, Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, expects sales this year to climb above earlier estimates and be around 5.41 million, a 3 percent boost from 2015. The PHSI in the West soared 11.4 percent in April to 106.2, and is now 2.8 percent above a year ago.
Full Story…  http://www.realtor.org/news-releases/2016/05/pending-home-sales-lift-off-in-april-to-over-10-year-high

* New Home Sales Roar Back, Crushing Forecasts With a 619,000 Annual Pace in April. Sales of new homes surged in April, a sign that builders are stepping up as demand for housing remains robust. Sales soared 16.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 619,000 the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That was the biggest monthly jump in 24 years and trounced estimates of a 525,000 pace. The median price also jumped, rising 9.7% from 12 months ago to $321,100. Sales so far in 2016 have averaged a 553,500 annual pace, 10% higher than the 503,000 notched in 2015. Regional performance was mixed, from a 52.8% surge in the Northeast to a 4.8% decline in the Midwest. The south saw a 15.8% increase, while in the West sales were up 18.8%.
Full Story…  http://www.marketwatch.com/story/new-home-sales-roar-back-crushing-forecasts-with-a-619000-annual-pace-in-april-2016-05-24

* Home Prices Heat Up In Sun Belt, Pacific Northwest. Home prices rose 5.7% in the first quarter compared to the same period a year ago, driven by growth in areas battered by the housing bust and in the hard-charging economies of the Northwest. It was the 19th quarter of price increases for the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s index, which tracks purchases of homes with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Prices were up in all states and the District of Columbia in the first quarter compared to the same period a year ago, but there was a big gap between the biggest price appreciations and the lowest. Oregon (11.77%) and Washington (10.93%) respectively rank #1 and #3 in the country in year-over-year price appreciation. Seattle (15.39%) and Portland (13.69%) respectively rank #2 and #4 among all metro areas in the country in year-over-year price appreciation.
Full Story…   http://www.marketwatch.com/story/home-prices-heat-up-in-sun-belt-pacific-northwest-2016-05-25

* Foreclosure Starts Hit 10-Year Low. There were fewer foreclosure proceedings initiated during the month of April than in any month in the last 10 years, a new report from Black Knight Financial Services shows. According to Black Knight’s “First Look” at April’s mortgage performance data, there were 58,700 foreclosure starts in April 2016, which is the lowest number of foreclosure starts since April 2006. Black Knight’s report showed that foreclosure starts declined by 19.37% from March to April. Foreclosure starts were also down 16.62% from April 2015.
Full Story…  http://www.housingwire.com/articles/37105-black-knight-foreclosure-starts-hit-10-year-low?eid=322520585&bid=1413888

Have a productive week!


15 Design Features that Sell Homes



Over 2 million listings were screened (sold between 2014–2016), with keywords pulled for the home features that greatly influenced short listing times and above-average sale prices.

Here are the top 15 design features:
Heated floors
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.3%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 28
Craftsman-style home
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 5.4%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 14
Outdoor kitchen
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 3.7%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 19
Tankless water heater
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 43
Kitchen backsplash
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.1%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 46
Granite countertops
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.1%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 38
Stainless steel
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.2%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 42
Frameless shower
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.6%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 38
Pendant lights
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.6%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 48
Exposed brick
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.9%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 36
Quartz countertops
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 6.0%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 50
Subway tiles
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 6.9%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 63
Shaker cabinets
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 9.6%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 45
Farmhouse sink
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 7.9%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 58
Barn-style doors
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 13.4%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 57






Top Interior Design Trends for 2016



The modern home is always evolving. And to get an idea of what it’s evolving to, look no further than what’s happening within its walls today. Here are 10 of the top design trends for 2016.

1) Two-tone kitchen cabinets. Keep upper cabinets white or neutral for a clean, timeless feel, then go crazy with the lower cabinets by playing with various wood tones and deeper colors to take your kitchen in two different style directions.

2) Living rooms that ditch the tech for family. With so much screen time throughout the day and night, homeowners are looking for a calm respite where they can read a book, chat with friends and family or just sit quietly. Thus, the rise of living rooms devoid of digital distraction.

3) Niche appliances. Looking for a little added luxury in the kitchen? Steam ovens (shown here) promise to cook food more thoroughly and healthily than microwaves; warming drawers give cooks a little wiggle room to deliver hot meals to family and guests; induction cooktops save space and are safer for homes with young kids; and kimchi refrigerators offer fans of the popular Korean condiment a chance to make their own at home.

4) Bidets. The separate bidet unit in bathrooms never really took off in America. But since manufacturers began creating combination bidet and toilet units, like the Toto version shown here, they’ve been catching on. According to Houzz data, 5 percent of renovated master bathrooms now include bidets.

5) Heated entryway floors. Sure, heated floors are popular in bathrooms, but if you live in a cold region, consider putting them in your entryway to help melt snow and dry boots.

3d rendering of the modern bathroom6) Statement mirrors in bathrooms. So long, medicine cabinets. Hello, statement mirrors. Think large wood-framed beauties, backlit modern marvels and ornate vintage gems that boost style in a bathroom.

7) Bathrooms that feel more like living spaces. Graphic wallpaper, ornate chandeliers and furniture-like pieces turn sterile spaces into ones that feel a lot more like home.

8) Fireplaces and fire features. New advances mean you can have all the ambiance without the smell, pollution or hassle of traditional wood-burning fireplaces. Plus, fireplaces are making a comeback as living room focal points in lieu of the dark void of a TV screen.

9) Farmhouse entryways. Stripping away the need for fancy flourishes or decor for decor’s sake, farmhouse style gets at the root of function. That’s why the style makes sense for mudrooms, where simplicity in storage and durability in materials are paramount.

StainlessSteel10) Colored stainless steel appliances. Black stainless steel is making a buzz on Houzz. In a poll, nearly two-thirds of Houzzers say they would consider the dark alternative to shiny silver metal. (Shown here is LG’s new Black Stainless collection.) Not into the darkness? Head to the light with Whirlpool’s Sunset Bronze finish.

Article courtesy of Houzz.com.

Appeal to Male Buyers: Enticing Staging Tips

Professional stagers consult with homeowners to sell their homes quickly and for the most money possible. They consider buying psychology, design elements and lighting. Often lost in the process, however, is the fact that those with masculine tastes are also involved in the buying decision.

Learn how to make your home universally appealing to buyers with both feminine and masculine design preferences, and increase the odds of making a sale.

Personal space: Real estate agents report that the average male tends to gravitate towards rooms with gadgets and electronics. They often appreciate open spaces and high ceilings—clean, streamlined rooms that one can easily walk through without obstructions.

Cater to interests: Masculine doesn’t mean fancy or frilly. Think about enhancing niches to watch the big game with buddies or relax after work. Modern Home Theater Room Interior with Flat Screen TV angled perspective view

Simplified color scheme: Don’t overwhelm any potential buyer with wild colors or furniture, even if you feel it makes your home special. Warm interior tones are generally preferred over cool tones.

The yard: A lawn that is well-maintained can really help boost your home’s appeal along with thick, healthy grass, minimal bushes to trim and easy-to-maintain flower beds.

GarageWorkBenchToolsGarage envy: Think about painted walls, clean floors and enough storage for various hobbies. A built-in workbench, organized shelving as well as clean, spacious areas for tools, equipment and maintenance supplies are a great draw.

Staging your home to visually appeal to men as well as women will ensure a better joint response from potential buyers.

The Hidden Costs of Homeownership

If you’ve never owned your own property before, there are some costs you should prepare yourself for ahead of time. Should you take out a mortgage, you’ll have your monthly mortgage payment, but often there are additional costs and fees added that a new homeowner will not expect. Listed below are items you should expect to pay once you become a homeowner.

Property Taxes

When you rent, you are not responsible for the property taxes on the property. But when you become a homeowner, you’re expected to pay yearly property taxes, of which go to public works, wages for government workers or public school boards. Based on the current value of your home, property taxes are assessed every year and will likely change to reflect an increase (or decrease) in your home’s value. Property taxes can be paid at one time, or they can be divided into 12 payments over the course of a year and added to your mortgage payment. When you’re trying to determine what your mortgage payment will be each month, don’t forget to factor in property taxes.

Girl painting homeHome Maintenance

When you live in a rental property, most maintenance is performed by the landlord or a property manager. When you become a homeowner, those maintenance costs fall upon you. When you purchase a home, all maintenance items should be considered when it comes to your overall budget. Will you want to replace all the appliances? Will the property need new windows or a new roof? Does the home need basic upgrades? Most people in the industry suggest you allocate 1% of your home’s worth for maintenance costs every year, but the reality is that 1% is likely the minimum – you should plan on more than 1% maintenance costs each year as a homeowner, and if you plan on any larger renovations, bet on the costs to be even higher.

Mortgage Insurance

Most people, when they buy a home or property, are able to do so by taking out a mortgage loan. If you put less than 20% of the cost of your property down, you’re required to have Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). PMI protects lenders if the borrower defaults on their loan. PMI is charged annually, and it will typically cost 0.5% to 1% of the entire loan amount. The payments are generally paid each month rather than in a large one-time payment. If you plan on taking out a mortgage loan, and you don’t have 20% to put down, expect to add private mortgage insurance payments to your other monthly bills.

Supplemental Insurance

Do you live in an area prone to natural disaster? As a homeowner you’ll need to have regular home insurance to protect your home or property from typical things (plumbing issues, roof leaks, etc.) that homeowners encounter. Should you live in an area that’s prone to weather-related issues (floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes) you will want to purchase supplemental insurance to make sure your home is covered should nature decide to show herself.

landscaping and lawn careLandscaping and Lawn Care

When you rent a condo or an apartment, it’s highly likely you are not spending a lot of time outside in a yard. When you buy your own property (should it have a yard or some kind of outdoor area), expect some hidden costs to come in the form of lawn care. Does the yard need some major landscaping? Are you going to mow it yourself, or will you hire a company to do it? Do you have a lawn mower, rakes, snow or leaf blower, yard tools, shed, and any other items needed to keep your yard looking great year-round? A yard comes with extra costs, so be sure to know how much you want to spend on upkeep per year.

HOA Fees

If you’ve been renting your previous residence, it’s likely you haven’t had to pay Homeowners Association (HOA) fees for your apartment or rental. Should you buy a house, condo or townhouse in a neighborhood with common areas, a clubhouse, pool, or any other kind of community meeting places, it’s likely you’ll move into a neighborhood with an HOA. HOA fees can vary in terms of what the HOA covers within the community, but unless you know through your Realtor or through the homeowner the monthly fee, you can expect to spend anywhere from $10 to hundreds of dollars per month on HOA fees.
Buying your first home or property is a huge step in anyone’s life. Before you start your property search, make sure you consider all of the items above when you’re thinking of buying a home or property and during your property search.

Interested in home ownership, but can’t get financing? Or do you prefer to rent a little longer?

A lease with a right to purchase program may be a good option for you. We’ve teamed up with Home Partners of America (HPA) to help you get into the home of your dreams without having to qualify for more than a rent payment.Turn your rent into mortgage

You choose a home in the Portland metro area, and we work with Home Partners of America to purchase the home.

HPA buys it and leases the home to you on a one year lease with a guaranteed purchase price. You have the option to buy or renew the lease, taking up to five years to get financing and complete the purchase — all while enjoying your new home.

Qualifying single family homes must be in approved school districts, be priced between $100,000 and $550,000 and meet certain eligibility criteria to qualify. Ask a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate professional for details or use the Home Partners Address Checker to see if a home not listed on the website is in an approved area.

Review this list of frequently asked questions and apply online at www.HomePartners.com.

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

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 2.35.32 PM

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.


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.

©2016 BHH Affiliates, LLC. An independently operated subsidiary of HomeServices of America, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate, and a franchisee of BHH Affiliates, LLC. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices symbol are registered service marks of HomeServices of America, Inc. Equal Housing Opportunity.