Protect Yourself and Your Investment

Bad things happen. That’s just the way of the world sometimes. But when bad things happen to your home, will you be protected? If you’re a homeowner, you likely already have a homeowner’s insurance policy in place, especially if you’re paying a mortgage. Homeowners insurance covers damage to your home’s structure from certain events such as fire, wind, and water. It also covers theft of personal property from inside the home, and for additional fees you can add protection for more exotic items like art or jewelry collections. If you’re robbed or your home suffers damage from a fire or a windstorm, your homeowner’s insurance policy provider will help make you whole again.


But what happens when your refrigerator breaks unexpectedly or your heat pump goes on the fritz? Will a homeowner’s policy help you then? Unfortunately, repair to household appliances and systems aren’t covered by most policies, and those costs can easily run into the thousands. If you do face those major repairs, and you’re uncovered, your savings could take a big hit. This is where a Home Warranty comes in handy.

Home Warranties Explained

A Home Warranty is a service contract separate from your homeowners insurance that covers your home’s major appliances and systems. Providers often have a standard list of covered items, and some, like American Home Shield, allow you to personalize your policy by picking your own set of covered appliances and systems. When one of your appliances or systems breaks, your warranty provider will send a qualified repair contractor to fix your problem in exchange for a low, one-time repair fee.

A Home Warranty offers several benefits above and beyond a typical homeowner’s insurance policy:

  • Added Peace-of-Mind: You can never predict when you’ll face unexpected repair bills. A home warranty will protect your budget and your savings from the unexpected costs associated with repairing or replacing expensive household items.
  • Protection for New Buyers: If you’re in the market for a new home, or have recently purchased one, the reliability of its appliances and home systems can be a mystery that’s not always revealed through traditional home inspections. A home warranty offers new buyers a guarantee that unexpected costs from these new-to-you items won’t catch you unprepared.
  • Seller Benefits: When you’re selling your home, you want to differentiate yourself from the competition in every way possible. Telling potential buyers that your home has a current home warranty in place will show your home has been well maintained and instill greater confidence in their buying decision.
  • Greater Flexibility – Unlike a homeowner’s policy, home warranties can be canceled at any time, so you can choose the level of protection that best fits your needs.

For most Americans, a house is the single largest investment they’ll ever make and the source of the majority of their personal wealth. To best protect that investment, it makes sense to have an array of coverage that will keep every corner of your home in its best possible condition. Adding a home warranty to your insurance portfolio is a great way to maximize that protection.

Are you shopping mortgages and struggling to understand what products best fit your needs? To help clear up your confusion, we’ve listed the most common mortgage types along with their advantages and disadvantages. We’ve also provided information on who should consider each type of loan.

ITA18FXIBLOnce you’ve narrowed down the type of financing you’re after, contact a mortgage pro. They will walk you through the entire process and get you the best available deal.

Fixed Rate Conventional

  • Description: A fixed rate loan offers a stable interest rate amortized over the life of loan, which are most often set in 15, 20, or 30 years terms.
  • Advantages: Your monthly payment stays the same over the entire life of your loan.
  • Disadvantages: If interest rates drop after you’ve locked in your loan rate, you may be stuck with a higher monthly payment.
  • Consider If: You plan on staying in your home long-term and desire the security of a predictable monthly payment.

Adjustable Rate (ARM) or Variable Rate

  • Description: A variable rate mortgage or ARM usually offers a low introductory interest rate over a 3, 5, or 7 year term. After the initial-rate period ends, the interest rate fluctuates based on market trends.
  • Advantages: Introductory rates are often lower than rates for conventional mortgages, offering short-term savings. 
  • Disadvantages: If interest rates rise after your initial-rate period your monthly payments could go up.
  • Consider If: You’re confident you’ll be out of your home before the end of the initial-rate period or you plan to refinance.

Interest Only

  • Description: A borrower pays only the mortgage interest, in monthly payments, over a fixed term.
  • Advantages: Without paying principle, monthly payments are often less than fixed rate or adjustable rate loans.
  • Disadvantages: With Interest Only loans, the balance is often due in a lump sum after the initial period ends. This could mean significantly higher monthly payments or facing a large lump sum payment.
  • Consider If: You plan to live in the home for only a short amount of time or have confidence you can handle the larger payment down the road.

FHA Loans

  • Description: Allows buyers who may not qualify for a conventional mortgage to obtain financing with a lower down payment.
  • Advantages: First-time homebuyers or individuals who may not qualify for traditional funding have better access to home financing.
  • Disadvantages: Not everyone will qualify for FHA funding and even if you do, there may be restrictions on how much you can borrow or what types of property you can buy.
  • Consider If: You’re a first-time homebuyer or have low income and/or challenged credit.

VA Loans

  • Description: These loans are offered through the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs to eligible Veterans, active duty personal, or surviving spouses.
  • Advantages: VA Loans offer competitive rates, often with low or no down payments.
  • Disadvantages: As with FHA loans, the size of your loan may be limited.
  • Consider If: You’re a veteran, active duty personal, or surviving spouse.

Jumbo Loans

  • Description: Jumbo loans are for amounts exceeding $417,000 (or $625,000 in Alaska and Hawaii), which is the maximum Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are willing to purchase.
  • Advantages: Jumbo Loans make it possible to purchase large homes and help finance home purchases in states with high home costs.
  • Disadvantages: Jumbo loans often require 20% down payments and interest rates can be .25-.50 higher than comparable conventional loans.
  • Consider If: You want to purchase a large home or live in a high-cost area.

Reverse Mortgage

  • Description: Reverse Mortgages are for seniors aged 62 and older with substantial equity in their property. With this loan, the lender pays the borrower a fixed monthly payment for as long as they live in their home.
  • Advantages: Allows seniors to convert their home equity into cash, which is often used for living expenses. The loans and interest don’t have to be paid back as long as the borrower lives in the home.
  • Disadvantages: Often an area of fraud by unethical lenders who prey on the elderly. If you’re considering a Reverse Mortgage, make sure your lender is reputable and the loan is federally insured.
  • Consider If: You’re retired and need extra monthly income.
  1. Find a listing agent
    1. Check out our Preferred Agents for trusted experts in your area.
    2. Meet a few different agents before deciding on one.
    3. Ask them questions about the services they will be providing and experience.


  1. Assess the market
    1. Check out comparable properties for sale in your area. See how much they are listed for and how long they have been on the market. Create a property alert by signing up with My Househappy to show you when comparable properties are listed in your area. Make sure selling now is financially smart and fits with your timeline.
    2. Evaluate the state of your own neighborhood.
    3. Consider the time of year it is. The hot seasons are spring and summer, but sometimes off seasons can work in your favor.
  2. Cleanup your house
    1. Purge any items you are not going to take with you to your next home.
    2. Freshen up the exterior of your home.
    3. Fix any known major damages.
  3. Price your house
    1. Your agent should provide you with a comparative market analysis.
    2. Try not to let your emotions get involved when you price your home. Be wary of agents who might suggest listing your house at a high price; they could be doing this just to get you to sign with them.
  4. Stage and show your house
    1. Remove all clutter and organize the rest.
    2. Hire a stager to reorganize your furniture or bring in rented items to showcase the room.
    3. Lighten it up. Remove busy wallpaper. Paint the walls with light neutral colors. Make sure all the light fixtures are working properly and provide ample light to every room. Remove heavy or outdated window coverings.
    4. Remove any traces of your pets.
    5. Deep clean the house.
    6. Take professional photos. According to PR Newswire, professional photography sells homes 32% faster.


  1. Prepare for the open house
    1. Lock up or store valuables.
    2. Take down family photos or personal items.
    3. Make plans to be outside of the home while the house is being shown.
  2. Stay informed and close the deal.
    1. Keep regular contact with your agent on the status of the sale of your home.
    2. Go over any offers presented with your agent and work with them to negotiate the terms or counter offer.
    3. Once you have accepted an offer, you will enter into mutual acceptance with the buyer.
    4. Depending on the terms of your deal, you may have to complete repairs on the house. Check out our Marketplace to find services in your area.
    5. Work with the escrow company, the real estate agents and lenders to ensure the transfer of ownership goes well for both you and the buyer.
    6. Celebrate once it is all over and congrats on selling your home!

UnknownMoving into a new home is an exciting experience! Especially if it’s a space that’s been remodeled or designed just for you. But for too many people, moves are a stressful time, from packing to coordinating the logistics of the actual move to finally unpacking and settling into their new space. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Today we’ll look at how you can skip the chaos and stay organized after a move. We’ll break it down into three phases: preparing, unpacking, and living in your new space. Keep reading to learn more.


An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s a cliche for a reason: it’s true! And it’s especially true when it comes to moving into a new home and staying organized and sane. For every extra hour you invest in preparing for your move, you’ll save at least two hours of frustration when it comes to unpacking and moving into your new home.

Leave it to the Pros

When you look at the bottom line cost, hiring a moving company can seem expensive. But if you value your sanity and peace of mind, it can be a investment that more than pays for itself.

Professional moving companies move houses everyday, whereas you’ll probably only do it a handful of times throughout your life. Their experience is incredibly valuable. They can provide the tools, equipment, trucks, and manpower needed to move the the heaviest, most unwieldy items in your home. And they know how to pack your valuables so they stay safe throughout the move!

Most moving companies offer customized moving packages that will allow you to do as much or as little as you like. If you’d prefer to handle packing or unpacking of your belongings (perhaps as a family bonding experience), a moving company can just handle the moving. This can save a bit of money, too. Or you can have a moving company do it all, which really cuts down on the stress and the chaos.

Donate & Discard

After the move, there’s nothing more demoralizing than unpacking boxes and saying, “I don’t even know what this is,” or “Does anyone remember why we own this?” And then imagine finding a place in your new home for possessions you don’t need or even like.

Whether you’re moving yourself or hiring movers, the first thing you should do is ruthlessly discard and donate. If you can’t remember the last time you used a kitchen tool, wore a piece of clothing, or why you bought a gadget the first place, you probably won’t need it in your new home.

Make it a fun game with your family. Go room by room and make piles for donations and discards. Encourage your kids to donate unused toys and help them find an organization that needs them! They’ll learn a lot and you’ll have less to deal with when you’re unpacking.

Develop a System

If you’re packing your own belongings, create a system that’ll make unpacking them easy. A common strategy is to label each box with its contents. I suggest taking this a step further and making sure the room in your new home that the box belongs in is also clearly labeled. That way you or your movers won’t be stuck carrying a heavy box not knowing where to put it.

A great trick if you’re really looking to take your preparation to the next level is to assign one of your family members to write or type up notes as you pack. Consider including information like:

  • A unique number for each box
  • The box’s contents
  • The room that box belongs in
  • A ranking (high/medium/low) for the priority of unpacking the box

 By determining priority for unpacking each box, you won’t waste time on your first night in your new home sleeping without blankets or waking up the next morning having to hunt around for your coffeemaker.


Odds are, your new home will be quite different from your old space. Maybe you’re upgrading from a small apartment to a starter home or to a larger house to accommodate your growing family. Or maybe you’re downsizing to a condo or smaller home to enjoy retirement.

That’s why, no matter where you’re moving, a smart unpacking strategy is key to avoiding post-move chaos.

Start with a Plan

Luckily, you followed my advice for preparing for your move, so you know where everything is and where it should go, right? If so, you’re ahead of the game and will find unpacking to be a fun, low-stress activity.

If not, you’ll need to settle down and make a plan. Start unpacking in your largest room and organize your possessions. Don’t just run around putting things away as fast as you can. Unpack as much as possible and develop a plan to keep from just stuffing your possessions into whatever space is available.

Make the Best Use of Your New Space

Consider the available storage in your new space and make the best of it. Don’t just put everything back the same way it was in your old home. Now’s your chance to use the features of your new home that made it so attractive in the first place.

Do you have more closet space? Consider organizing clothes by season, or create a place for supplies for guests (linens, toiletries, etc.). Is your kitchen bigger? Think about hanging your beautiful copper pots and pans instead of hiding them under the stove.

Be Systematic & Relaxed

Depending on the size of your new home, getting settled in and relaxed probably won’t be a morning project. Start by unpacking the essentials so you can live your life. Then chip away at the rest. Make a schedule and stick to it. Don’t get overwhelmed and don’t rush. Take your time, think through your options and make smart choices. The more relaxed you stay throughout the process, the easier it will be. And if you stick to your schedule, the end of the move will be in sight and you’ll be able to anticipate and look forward to enjoying life in your new home.

Enjoy Life in Your New Space 

Once you’ve moved in and finished unpacking, there’s one key to enjoying your new home.

Don’t fall back into old bad habits. A new home is a new beginning and it’s your chance to get and stay organized and avoid inviting chaos into your life. Just because the move is over, don’t stop planning, organizing, and keeping everything running smoothly.


Moves are stressful, but they don’t have to be– and they shouldn’t be! They should be a time to celebrate an exciting time in your life!

So prepare for your move, don’t move anything you don’t need, have a unpacking plan in mind, get the essentials put away first, take advantage of your new space, and then slowly but steadily get everything else put in its place. And those are my keys to skipping the chaos and staying organized after a move. Are there any other tips that helped with your last move? I’d love to hear about them.

Erin Davis is owner of Mosaik Design & Remodeling in Portland Oregon. For more information and tips visit or contact her at

If you’ve got your house ready to show but you’re still living in it, things will invariably end up out of place. Take 15-20 minutes and follow the checklist below to make sure everything’s in shape before you leave your house for a showing.



  • Keep all keys, mail, and documents with personal information out of sight.
  • Store alcohol and prescription drugs out of view, preferably in a locking cabinet.
  • Password protect desktop computers, lock up laptops or take with you.
  • Lock up small valuables like jewelry, watches, mp3 players, tablets, etc.


  • Remove dishes from the sink.
  • Clear counters and tables, store small kitchen appliances out of sight
  • Rinse sinks, tubs, showers, and toilets clean.
  • Store toiletries in cabinets or drawers, straighten hanging towels.
  • Place laundry in covered hampers or otherwise out of view.


  • Put toys away – have a bin at the ready for quick pick-ups.
  • Secure pets in kennels or preferably out of the house.

Tip – get into the habit of running through this list before you leave the house every morning so you won’t need to worry if someone wants schedule a tour while you’re at work.


The Sellwood neighborhood is located on the southeast side of Portland and is settled on a bluff that looks straight out to the Willamette River. Part of Sellwood was originally nicknamed Antique Row, due to the number of antique shops speckled along SE 13th. The antique shops are still there, but the neighborhood has filled in with every type of business a community like this would want. Walking through Sellwood reminds me of strolling through a European Village.


Due to the strong real estate market, walkability and charm, Sellwood is now filled with cafes, restaurants, and all sorts of businesses. A favorite restaurant of mine is Portofino on SE 13th; Italian cuisine that also has a fantastic weekend brunch. One common thread throughout many of these bustling neighborhood communities is our locally owned New Seasons Grocery Store. The store has placed themselves in urban neighborhoods that have great livability! The new Orange Line of the light rail as well as the new Tilikum Bridge will now tie this neighborhood to the rest of the city.


Sellwood is filled with parks, they  include the Riverfront Park right on the Willamette river, Sellwood Park which is my favorite spot to play  tennis in the city. (You can be hitting balls and watching the boats on the river at the same time) and Oaks Park which many people forget is right in Sellwood. Oaks Park has been around for so long most people don’t even think about it. It was established in 1905, and was known as the Coney Island of the NW back then. Fun fact it is 1 of the 10 oldest amusement parks in the country! Even though it is so old it is still actually a great little amusement park for the family on those days you are trying to find something to do.


The real estate market has gone gang Busters in Sellwood. This area of town has been known for its Victorian and Craftsman homes, you will not find many English styles in Sellwood.  When walking down the streets you can tell that there is a lot of pride in home ownership. Friendly people throughout. It’s a part of town many want to live in and gravitate towards because of that happy welcoming feel.  Who doesn’t enjoy being waved to and smiled at every block?



Susie and Duffy the Real Estate Dog

Susie Hunt Moran is a Real Estate Broker with Windermere Stellar and has called PDX home for over 35 years. She is a Portland home expert and can be found working all over town with her Westie, Duffy the Real Estate Dog, always loyal by her side.

Now is a great time to start getting your home ready to handle the colder temps and rougher weather months ahead. Below we’ve provided a list to make sure you are prepared.



  • Replace batteries in smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors (use the equinox or “fall back” time change date as your annual reminder)
  • Ensure all heating vents are unobstructed.
  • Have furnace or heat pump serviced to ensure it’s working efficiently before the temperatures get too low.
  • Replace (or remove and clean) furnace air filter on the following schedule:
    • High-efficiency and electrostatic filters need to be replaced once per quarter.
    • Simple fiberglass or paper filters should be replaced monthly.
    • Reusable mesh filters should be cleaned monthly (do not reuse filters unless they are specifically intended for it).


  • Check foundation for cracks. If found, document with photos for future comparison – if cracks are over 3/16” wide or have increased in size since your last inspection, consult a professional.
  • Examine areas where different materials meet and where pipes or wires enter the house for any gaps. Seal with caulking.
  • Visually inspect roof for leaks, missing or damaged shingles, or rusting flashing and schedule repairs if you find any damage.
  • Make sure the seal between garage door and the ground is tight to prevent drafts and keep out small animals. Replace weather-stripping if necessary.
  • Inspect driveway for cracks. Clean out and repair any damage with driveway filler, then coat with a commercial sealer.
  • After leaves have fallen, clean out the gutters and downspouts, flush them with water, inspect joints, and tighten brackets if necessary.
  • If you remove your window screens, clean and repair them before putting them away for the winter.
  • Clean windows and reinstall storm windows and doors if stored in the spring.

Cracked Foundation

  • Have chimney cleaned; make sure flue damper closes securely.
  • Remove window air-conditioner units and store in a dry location. Protect permanently placed units by wrapping in a tarp or weatherproof cover.
  • Winterize outdoor faucets: Detach and drain all hoses. Shut off outdoor water supply valve, and then open all outdoor faucets to drain water remaining in the pipes. Cover faucets and exposed piping with insulating foam covers to keep pipes from freezing.
  • Drain and winterize in-ground sprinkler system.
  • Trim all trees and bushes back to a minimum distance of 3”-6” from your house.
  • Drain fuel from mowers and other gas-powered lawn equipment before storing for the winter.
  • Cover and store outdoor furniture and barbecues in a protected area.

Patio Furn