Radon: Take Action

As January comes to a close, I want to take advantage of the fact that January is Radon Awareness Month. This is important as you buy or sell a home, but it’s also important simply as a human who lives in a contained environment. Whether you are buying or sell or not, you should test your house for radon.

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is given off by granite boulders. These boulders are buried deep in the ground. You can’t see them, so you don’t know if they are there or not. This is why everyone should be doing radon tests.

I first became concerned about radon when I read an article in a local newspaper about 20 years ago. A resident of my neighborhood, in the Lake Grove section of Lake Oswego, died of lung cancer. He had been a non-smoker. After his death, his wife checked their home for radon and discovered elevated levels. It was the likely cause of his death.

It’s estimated that 20,000 deaths in the US each year are caused by radon exposure. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer, after cigarette exposure.

While some parts of the metro area are known for elevated radon levels (the Alameda Ridge is Northeast Portland is often referred to as Radon Ridge), radon can be found in Lake Oswego. I sold a house in Village on the Lake a number of years ago and radon was found. It was a lake-front house.

In Oregon, radon is fairly common in the northern Willamette Valley. This is a result of the Great Missoula Flood that occurred thousands of years ago. A huge ice dam formed in the area of what is now Sandpoint, Idaho. It contained a lake that went deep into Montana. When the ice melted it released a huge flow of water and debris that came across Eastern Washington, dug out the Columbia River Gorge, and came to rest in the Willamette Valley. This flow contained granite boulders that, today, are the primary source of radon in homes in this area.

While there is no known safe level of radon, it can be measured. The test is simple. You can buy a test at most home improvement stores. You set two canisters in your house for several days, then mail them off to a lab, and you get emailed results within about 10 days. It’s been awhile since I’ve done it this way, but I believe it costs under $100. Or you can hire a professional. This costs about $150. They set a test box into your house for 2 days and you get same day results.

Correcting radon is usually under $2000. Not super expensive.

My point here is that it’s easy to do. Realtors in Oregon are trained to make radon testing a part of the home inspection process. But do the test for the benefit of yourself even if you aren’t selling.

I hope you find this information helpful. Here’s to going into February living in the safest and healthiest home possible.


Adapt and Learn

When I started in Real Estate 35 years ago, our sale agreement was one page, legal size, and there were few, if any, supplemental forms. If something additional needed to be added, like a home inspection, I took out a blank addendum and wrote it up myself. Over the years many, many forms have been added. The sale agreement is 11 pages long and there are about 100 supplemental forms.

Realtors are not attorneys, so it’s a good thing that we no longer write our own addendums for things like home inspections. However, we do have to know the forms inside and out. We use them and we need to be able to explain what they mean. This requires a lot of continuing education. Now, add to the mix that an entire new set of paperwork is being rolled out.

Signing Official Document

The forms that we have historically used were developed by Oregon Real Estate Forms, OREF. This entity primarily consisted of the two largest Realtor Associations in the state: Portland Metro and Eugene.

Now the Oregon Association of Realtors has developed a new set of forms. The old ones are not being retired, instead we will have 2 complete sets of forms to use and both are acceptable. This means that Realtors need to be training and learning about these new forms. There are pluses and minuses to both. I also think it’s likely that eventually one will dominate and my prediction is that it will be the new forms.

I am very proud to say that Linda and I have both been training for the past 2 months to become knowledgeable about the new forms. I think we are positioning ourselves to give the best service possible to our clients. I also want to give a shout out to Oregon First. Our company started this training, and went in depth with it, from the get go.

So, Linda and I are adapting and learning. It really is exciting and it feels good to know that we are positioning ourselves to give you the best experience possible when you buy or sell a house. We are here to be of help!


Rising Interest Rates, What Does it Mean?

I want to talk about the elephant in the room, rising interest rates. Just yesterday the Federal Reserve raised the Federal rate by .5% to between $4.25 and $4.5%.

The Federal Reserve Rate is the rate set by the Federal Reserve to dictate the cost of money when banks borrow from one another. If the banks are paying more for money, it just makes sense that the increase gets passed along to the consumer. That is how banks make money. It’s why they are in business.

I do think that the increased cost of mortgages is having a impact on the real estate market. Higher interest rates make homes less affordable. Is this going to cause a housing decline? In a word, no.

From what I have been hearing the current situation is likely short term

Several months ago I listened to a Bloomberg podcast that featured 3 economists. The consensus was that the inventory is so low, that the demand for housing will keep the real estate market strong.

At the beginning of the Great Recession, in about 2008, builders pretty much not only stopped building, but they also stopped laying the ground work for new neighborhoods. Coming out of the recession, in about 2014, the home building industry rebounded, but there were about 6 years of missing inventory and they just simply have not caught up, even to this day. To meet our population needs, Nationwide, we should be building 3,000,000 new housing units per year. These are houses, condos, and apartments. We have only been building 1,300,000 per year: not even half of the population need. It is going to take decades to catch up.

Economics is all about supply and demand. With the demand high and supply low, that supports housing values.

Interest rate forecast according to the NAR

The other source of some interesting information was a Brian Buffini class that I took on Monday. It featured Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. Their discussion included several key points:

  • Government regulations put into affect after the Great Recession tightened up the mortgage lending industry so that people actually had to qualify for their loans and prove credit worthiness and employment stability in order to get a mortgage. In other words, people can afford to make their payments.
  • There is usually a 2% margin between the Federal rate and the mortgages rates. There is an anomaly happening where the spread is currently 3%. This means that the Federal rate can increase without there being an increase in the mortgage rates.
  • Mr Yun predicts that 2023 will see interest rates come back down within the year to under 6%
  • Mr Buffini predicts that 2023 will be flat with little or no home appreciation. However, he thinks that in 2024 the housing market will rebound with as much as 10% appreciation.

Here are my thoughts. It remains a great time to buy a house. With houses taking longer to sell, people who are selling are more negotiable. For a buyer, that means addressing repairs within the sale and negotiation on the price when you make an offer. For people wanting to sell, the inventory is still very, very low. Yes, it will take 30-60 days, but your house will sell and you likely continue to have a great deal of equity.

I have to say that no one knows for sure. These are simply thoughts shared by people with some knowledge and whose opinions I respect.

As always, thank you for reading the blotter.


Holiday Decorations and Selling Your House

Do holiday decorations help or hurt the marketing of your house? I have some thoughts on this that I am eager to share.

I do think that holiday decorations enhance the showing of your house to potential buyers. Taking the time to decorate helps the potential buyer feel that you love and appreciate your home. It also creates a cozy environment as we experience shorter daylight hours and colder temperatures.

I don’t think that it helps with your marketing. By marketing I mean the photos that will appear on the Internet, in the Multiple Listing Service, and on fliers and in emails. The photos need to be timeless. You simply don’t know how long it will take to sell your house. Today, if on-line the photos are full of witches and ghosts, it immediately conveys to the public that you’ve had your house on the market since before Halloween. November 25th you don’t want the photos to be full of turkeys and cornucopias. So, have the professional photography done before you put up holiday decorations.

For the same reason, take down the holiday decorations in a timely fashion. Enjoying them for a week or so after the holiday is fine, but beyond that, take them down.

I hope you find this information helpful. As always, thanks for reading the blotter.


The Power of 20

Years ago, I realized that the number 20 is very powerful in real estate. It applies both when buying and when selling.

When Buying

I think most people do the bulk of their house hunting online. The Internet is an amazing tool. However, it is also super important to physically visit houses. I think you need to go into them to get a feeling for value. What does $500,000 look like? By the time that you have gone through 20 houses you will have a strong sense of value. You’ll know what feels like a good deal and what feels like it is overpriced.

This does not mean that you absolutely have to see exactly 20 houses. No. In fact, the first house that my husband and I bought was the first house that we looked at. We walked in, fell in love, and made an offer.

20 is simply a good guide and a way to set some expectations for the experience of house hunting.

When Selling

When selling, you need about 20 showings to get an offer. Again, it can happen faster than that, but 20 is a good barometer.

So, if you put your house on the market and you get 20 showings in the first few days, you are going to get an offer quickly.

If the reverse happens and you get 2 showings the first week, and then 2 the next, this means you’re going to be on the market for about 10 weeks to get an offer. If you need an offer more quickly, then you need to drop the price or fix what people are objecting to.

If you get 20 showings and no offer happens, again, you need to drop the price or fix what people are objecting to.

I hope you find this concept useful. As always, thanks for reading the blotter.


Moving and Packing Tips

As a Realtor, one of the most educational moments I ever experienced was when I sold my own home and moved with my family to Lake Oswego. We’d had our kids and lived in our prior home for 13 years. I was pretty clueless about how much more complicated our household and possessions had become. I put off packing until about a week before our move. It was a disaster! I was so pressed to get it done on time that I was literally just throwing stuff in boxes! Live and learn, right?

Cardboard boxes and potted plants in empty room. Moving objects are on hardwood floor of new apartment.

Here are some moving and packing tips that I hope you’ll find helpful:


  1. Start Early. See my comment above. Weeks, if not months, before your move start planning. It will be so much stressful. It will also help prepare your house for marketing.
  2. Get rid of stuff. As we live in our homes, we accumulate stuff. So much of it is neither wanted nor needed. Do you really want to take it with you? Do you want to spend money moving and packing this “stuff”? Get rid of it.
  3. Create a folder. This folder should contain addresses, moving or rental contracts, insurance information, perhaps an itemized list of what you are moving, anything you anticipate in the way of paperwork. Consider creating a hard-copy file. This will be vital if you loose battery charge on laptops or phones
  4. Book early. This helps in two ways: getting the best rates and being assured of availability. Especially in the spring and summer, the moving companies book at least several weeks in advance.
  5. Plan for utilities. This includes both shut off at your old place and start up in your new place. You do not want to be moving into the new house and not have electricity.
  6. Keep essentials with you. A day or two prior to moving pack your luggage: change of clothes, toiletries, etc. Just like when packing for a vacation. In addition, I recommend packing a box of cooking basics like a few plates, cups, bowls, utensils, These would be for an unexpected delay in the delivery of your household goods. Remember to plan for pets and medications.


  1. Invest in equipment. You’ll need boxes, packing tape, markers, paper towels, garbage bags. If you are moving yourself you’ll need a furniture dolly, furniture pads, tie-down strips and a truck loading ramp
  2. Use the right size boxes. The basic idea is the boxes need to be a weight that can be lifted without straining yourself. Heavy stuff in small boxes (books, etc.), light stuff in big boxes (linens, etc.).
  3. Heavy stuff on the bottom of the box. This will keep the heavy stuff from crushing the light stuff. It will also balance the weight of the box as boxes are stacked.
  4. Don’t leave empty space in the boxes. This will maximize the use of the packing materials, but empty spaces can allow the box to be crushed in transport.
  5. Avoid mixing items from different rooms. When unpacking it will take twice as long if you are running from room to room.
  6. Label each box with what room it is for and a list of the contents
  7. Tape the boxes well. You want a couple of strips across the seams at the bottom and the top, but then do two wraps completely around the box in two places around the top to the bottom and back up to the top again: all the way around.
  8. Take care of your art. You can purchase special boxes and crates for art. Don’t wrap oil paintings in packing paper; it may stick to the paint. Wrap art in bubble wrap. You can also wrap it in bubble wrap, box it, and then place in a second box padded by packing paper.
  9. Kitchen dishes. You can purchase special boxes and packaging for dishes and glasses. They make it all so much easier! If you do end up wrapping with boxes and backing paper try wrapping each piece and then bundling in groups of 4 to 5 pieces and wrapping those together as a bundle with packing paper. Consider packing plates on their sides rather than stacking. Get the boxes with cardboard dividers for glasses. The world of packing materials is pretty broad. Yes, it costs money, but think about the cost of replacing these items. Not to mention, as it is for me, the sadness it would bring to loose special pieces.

I want to give credit to realsimple.com where I got a good bit of guidance for this article.

As always, thank you for reading the blotter,


The Importance of a Great Backyard

Backyards are truly something to be enjoyed. They expand the living area of a house and are the location for making memories in solitude, as well as with friends and family. When I show houses and we walk outside to find a really great backyard, it is the cherry that tops the cake of a great house. Here are 8 ideas for creating that great backyard.

  1. Connect the indoors to the outdoors with big windows and easy access doors. From inside, you’ll enjoy looking out and having the opportunity to enjoy the yard every day of the year.
  2. Create an outdoor workspace. Trees and landscaping make a wonderful backdrop to Zoom meetings. In addition, working outside on a nice day is a bit of a gift that you can give to yourself. To do this, you’ll need strong wifi, an exterior electrical outlet, and a sturdy table.
  3. Let’s talk al fresco. I reguarly do large dinners for my family in my yard. When we gather there usually about 15 people. I put tables end to end to create one large dining table. I then use linens and my good china. It feels so luxurious! A covered area in which to dine, along with an outdoor heater, makes this possible any month of the year.
  4. Add some entertainment potential. Again, a good table for board games, and perhaps a mounted television to watch football and movies.
  5. Establish a wildlife habitat. I no longer feed the birds (there was a certain squirrel incident), but I do put out water. I have 5 birdbaths. If they go empty, the birds will literally sit on the rim and squack at me. Landscaping is also a great idea for attracting birds.
  6. Make your yard pet friendly by fencing it. Today the fencing choices are plentiful, including fences that barely obstruct your viewing of the entire yard.
  7. Just like the rest of the house, clutter is a big no no. Store the clutter elsewhere. Particularly when selling the house, it needs to be tidy.
  8. Privacy is super important. If you have a house that looks into your yard, plant a tree or a hedge. In my case, my husband built a privacy screen that goes about 20 feet. Just enough to block my neighbors windows.

I hope that you have found this helpful. Thanks again for reading the blotter!


8 Ways to Make a House Feel Larger

I think it is pretty well understood that proper staging of a house will help it to sell both more quickly and also at a higher price. One of the key elements in good staging is to make the rooms in the house feel as large as possible. In some houses this is easy because they already have large rooms. In other houses it needs to be enhanced and here are a few tips to help get this accomplished.

1. Think vertical. Decorating elements that draw the eye up to the ceiling will help the room feel taller. This can be done with a book shelf that goes all the way to the ceiling or a pendant light fixture that hangs down from the ceiling.

2. Use furniture that you can see under or through. Sofas and chairs with legs rather than skirts allows the eye to see under and beyond them. A glass coffee table or dining table also accomplishes this.

3. White walls and trim lightens the room and gives a sense of soaring, bright space.

4. Go with a few big accents as opposed to a bunch of little ones. A big piece of art or a single large chair has more impact than a bunch of little stuff that makes a room feel cluttered and cramped.

5. Get away from the wall. Pull furniture way from the wall and into the room to create conversation areas. When a sofa is pushed up against a wall, it drawers your eye to the wall, which brings the walls forward and makes the room feel smaller.

6. Simplify the color scheme. When walls and furniture are complimentary shades of the same color scheme it makes the room feel unified and more spacious. A bunch of different colors draws the eye to each individual object as opposed to a unified and uncomplicated space.

7. Don’t hang curtains. Curtains obstruct views to the outside and block natural light.

8. Bring the outside in. See #7 above, but also consider having a few house plants and decorating with natural objects and fibers. This helps to bring the outdoors inside to combine the space and enlarge the feeling of living area.

One of the services that Linda and I provide is that we go through a house with the homeowner before it is listed for sale. Visiting each room, we advise what to do to get that room ready so that it will show at its very best. Please don’t hesitate to give one of us a call if you are wanting to get your house ready to sell.

I hope you have found this information helpful. As always, thanks for reading the blotter.

The Buzz About Inventory

Real Estate is a complex beast, but some aspects of it are pretty simple- Supply and Demand, for instance.  When there are fewer homes on the market, Sellers are in a better position to bargain as it often means there will be multiple offers coming in. Markets like this wreak havoc with Buyers and Appraisers alike as folks start pushing prices up in order to win a given property in a bidding situation. I tell my clients who are worried about pushing value beyond the status quo with a higher offer that they are actually setting the standard for Appraised Value on homes in their new neighborhood as Appraisers really are just calculating what people are willing to pay/have paid, thus how much homes in any given area are worth. The sale only counts toward that calculation however after it is final. The immediate peril of course is the prospect of a Seller being unwilling to budge if the Appraisal comes in lower than the Sale Price and the Buyer is put in the position of having to decide whether to bring cash to the table.

Pluses & Minuses- As far as impact on the Buyer, the upside is that the above scenario spurred by low inventory positively affects future value/appreciation of their property as well as the aforementioned immediate effect of the Closing Sale Price impacting the neighborhood’s value. These things are almost always assured. On the less positive side, depending on what neighborhood this is occurring in, property values can rise to the degree that a large number of people are just priced out of the picture. This is called gentrification and usually relates to lower-priced areas becoming unrecognizable to those who live there and or would have normally wanted to live there. Obviously this is not the case in Lake Oswego which has historically been a generally higher-priced area on the outskirts of Portland, and/but there are areas of Lake Oswego that are wonderful, AND more affordable for many families that could be impacted as well.

So, that is what low inventory does  to the market. As far as how it is arrived at~ Essentially, the Inventory at any given time is calculated at how many months it will take to sell the existing homes on the market based on the current rate at which homes are selling. I used the formula espoused by Sapling to break out comparative Inventory for Lake Oswego.

If we compare just Lake Oswego and its inventory vs July 2019, it looks like this:

  • July 2019: 451 Active Listings divided by Sold & Pendings at 357 = 1.26 Months of Inventory.
  • July 2020: 311 Active Listings divided by Sold & Pendings at 384 = .809 Months of Inventory.

So, you can see how a large number of Buyers actively looking for houses and a limited number of properties for sale can affect the overall landscape of real estate in a given area. Looks like it might be time to sell if you’ve been on the fence?



Market Activity ~ Aug 10-16, 2020

Spring activity has definitely pushed into summer. Last week in Lake Oswego there were 26 New listings, 26 properties that went into Pending status, and 21 Closed sales.  There are currently 214 Properties for sale in Lake Oswego!

Following is the breakdown for you according to RMLS:

New on the Market (Aug 10-16, 2020)

Address List Price # Beds # Baths Total SF Prop Type
126 OSWEGO SMT $195,000 1 1 764 CONDO
4 TOUCHSTONE #82 $260,000 3 2.1 1351 CONDO
25 AQUINAS ST $479,000 3 2 1477 DETACHD
26 Spinosa $495,500 3 2.1 2065 PLNCOMM
2735 GREENTREE RD $579,900 3 2.1 1616 DETACHD
69 CONDOLEA TER $585,000 2 2.1 2262 CONDO
1529 HEMLOCK ST $664,900 4 3 2348 DETACHD
639 2ND ST $665,000 2 2.1 1457 ATTACHD
5834 SEVILLE AVE $679,900 3 2 2056 DETACHD
300 4TH ST $724,900 2 2.1 1731 ATTACHD
16419 LEXINGTON CT $739,000 3 2.1 2409 DETACHD
875 BOCA RATAN DR $749,900 5 3 2502 DETACHD
39 TOUCHSTONE $749,900 4 3 3400 DETACHD
16570 Inverurie RD $829,000 5 4 3218 DETACHD
12730 ADRIAN CT $895,000 4 2.1 2952 DETACHD
19245 MEGLY CT $899,000 5 3 3490 DETACHD
49 HILLSHIRE DR $939,900 4 3.1 4268 DETACHD
15930 TWIN FIR RD $995,000 3 2.1 2620 DETACHD
17215 LOWENBERG TER $995,950 4 2.1 2819 DETACHD
5303 AMBERWOOD CT $999,000 3 2.1 3490 DETACHD
4146 CHAD DR $1,099,900 4 2.1 3637 DETACHD
3343 FIR RIDGE RD $1,100,000 4 3 3430 DETACHD
17522 BRYANT RD $1,399,000 4 4 3545 DETACHD
17677 WESTVIEW DR $1,699,000 5 4.1 5531 DETACHD
18320 RIVER EDGE LN $1,790,000 4 5 4608 DETACHD
2510 WEMBLEY PARK RD $1,895,000 4 3.1 4868 DETACHD

Pending Sales (Aug 10-16, 2020)

Address List Price # Beds # Baths Total SF Prop Type CDOM
44 EAGLE CREST DR #15 $160,000 1 1 798 CONDO 23
4 TOUCHSTONE #130 $200,000 2 2 984 CONDO 186
48 EAGLE CREST DR #5E $269,000 2 2 1443 CONDO 29
1224 HEMLOCK ST $400,000 2 1 784 DETACHD 3
1120 BOCA RATAN DR $400,000 3 2 1611 ATTACHD 5
1 PHEASANT RUN $475,000 3 2.1 1780 DETACHD 11
112 TOUCHSTONE TER $520,000 3 2.1 2002 ATTACHD 0
63 AQUINAS ST $539,500 6 3 2892 DETACHD 12
15601 TANAGER DR $619,900 3 2.1 2046 DETACHD 6
5095 OAKRIDGE RD $725,000 4 2 1743 DETACHD 2
4108 ORCHARD WAY $769,000 4 2.1 3010 DETACHD 25
1132 TROON RD $800,000 3 2.1 1585 DETACHD 2
550 MIDDLECREST RD $805,000 2 2.1 2226 DETACHD 4
1953 SUMMIT DR $819,000 4 3 3312 DETACHD 47
2340 OAKHURST LN $849,000 4 2.1 2860 DETACHD 18
17358 BROOKHURST DR $895,000 4 3 3592 DETACHD 2
3903 TEMPEST DR $899,000 4 2.1 2557 DETACHD 4
5224 LOWER DR $925,000 4 3 2571 DETACHD 5
17517 OAK MEADOW LN $949,900 4 2.1 2952 DETACHD 3
18400 DELENKA LN $998,800 5 3.1 5245 DETACHD 27
1471 WOODLAND TER $1,050,000 5 4.1 5733 DETACHD 69
18253 SIENA DR $1,225,000 5 4 4375 DETACHD 63
5337 WASHINGTON CT $1,225,000 4 3 3789 DETACHD 5
14530 UPLANDS DR $1,589,000 5 3.1 4080 DETACHD 174
14722 UPLANDS DR $1,599,000 4 4.1 3831 DETACHD 3
1890 TWIN POINTS RD $2,650,000 4 3.1 4274 DETACHD 335

Sold/Closed (Aug 10-16, 2020)

Address Opening Price Closed Price # Beds # Baths Total SF Prop Type CDOM
4061 JEFFERSON PKWY $300,000 $281,000 2 2.1 1462 ATTACHD 105
44 AQUINAS ST $550,000 $562,000 4 2 1914 DETACHD 4
13 GROUSE TER $565,000 $574,000 4 2.1 2108 DETACHD 1
6221 NOKOMIS CT $565,000 $585,000 3 2 1870 DETACHD 1
1100 OAK TER $650,000 $610,000 4 2 1518 DETACHD 40
19101 REDWING CT $629,000 $620,000 3 2 1434 DETACHD 5
21 BECKET ST $629,900 $629,000 4 2.1 3070 DETACHD 93
4910 CENTERWOOD ST $650,000 $650,000 4 2.1 2481 DETACHD 0
28 WESTRIDGE DR $724,900 $712,500 4 2.1 2580 DETACHD 25
4004 MELISSA DR $756,000 $740,000 4 2.1 2865 DETACHD 3
1405 CEDAR ST $749,900 $748,930 3 2 2178 DETACHD 4
828 7TH ST $939,000 $785,000 3 4 2418 DETACHD 84
17610 WESTVIEW DR $839,900 $840,000 5 3 2924 DETACHD 2
5996 SUNCREEK DR $995,000 $1,020,000 4 3 3596 DETACHD 2
17690 BLUE HERON RD $1,199,900 $1,150,000 4 3 3869 DETACHD 21
3938 EDENS EDGE DR $1,215,000 $1,184,900 4 3.1 3882 DETACHD 18
714 EVERGREEN RD $1,349,000 $1,282,500 4 3 3464 DETACHD 135
1301 HORSESHOE CURV $1,299,000 $1,350,000 3 2 2260 DETACHD 3
2130 WEMBLEY PL $1,498,000 $1,395,000 4 3.1 3651 DETACHD 442
18218 MEADOWLARK LN $1,599,000 $1,435,000 5 6.1 8320 DETACHD 397
16206 REESE RD $1,625,000 $1,575,000 4 3.1 3631 DETACHD 69

Criteria: Homes in the 97034 and 97035 zip code, listed, pending or sold between the dates listed above as reported by the Regional Multiple Listing Service (RMLS). DETACHD refers to Single Family Detached Residence, MFG refers to manufactured housing, and ATTACHD refers to single-family residences with some portion of the structure attached to another property, but not constituting CONDO ownership. DOM stands for days on market, or the number of days from when the listing became active and when it received an acceptable offer, with CDOM standing for “cumulative days on market” accounting for “refreshed” listings.