Category: home owners

Flood Insurance information

At the quarterly meeting of the Lincoln County Board of Realtors, we had the chance to listen to a great presentation by Christine Shirley about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP.)

Flooding concerns are a very timely subject, taking into account the hurricanes and general uptick in extreme weather. In fact, “flooding is the most prevalent and costly natural hazard in Oregon, and a component in 90% of the nation’s disasters.”

For someone considering buying a property in a flood zone, it’s incredibly important note that in order to finance the purchase with a loan, flood insurance will be required. There are quite a few factors that can influence the price of that insurance. It’s pretty safe to say that over time the price of flood insurance will continue to rise.

One huge takeaway from the presentation is that flood insurance is always transferable from the current owner to the new one. In cases of grandfathered zones and subsidized policies, this can make a huge difference in price.

Another good point is that you only need flood insurance to cover the value of the buildings being insured (not including the value of the land.) Shirley mentioned that many properties are over-insured because they are based on the price of the mortgage.

If your property is not in an official flood zone, but you have reason to worry about a flood, you can still obtain a “preferred risk” policy, which is often cheaper than the policies for flood zone properties.

Obtaining an elevation certificate is critical for figuring out how much flood insurance will be for a given property. These certificates are not maintained by any outside organizations, so the homeowner needs to make sure to retain them.

For more information about FEMA flood zones, check out

If you are considering purchasing or selling a property in a flood zone, I’d love to talk to you about all the aspects you should consider!

energy efficiency

We all want an efficient home so that our bills will be lower, our homes more valuable, while also doing something good for the planet! But how to do it?

Here are some steps you can take to make your house more energy efficient!

  1. Get an energy audit from a local, professional company. They will do an inspection of your home and give you a game plan for how to up your efficiency. Here are some local companies to try: Green Savers PDX, Revival Energy Group, and Bull Mountain Heating.
  2. Fix leaks! This is a pretty low-cost way to make a big impact. Lots of doors and windows have spaces around them that let cold air in. Also, take extra care when checking out your basement and attic. More air than you think exchanges between these spaces and your main living areas.
  3. Insulate! Do you know what is in your walls? Sheetrock didn’t come into use until the 1950’s, so if your home is older than that you probably have lath and plaster. (This isn’t all bad, it lessens noise and helps suppress the spread of fire.) However, traditionally lath and plaster doesn’t involve insulation, but you can hire a professional to inject insulation into the walls. With drywall, just cut holes, fill up the spaces, and replace and seal.
  4. Upgrade your windows. Many old homes have single pane glass. These are somewhat like holes in your walls! High efficiency windows make a huge difference. If you can afford it, try wood frames instead of the old aluminum. If you can’t afford all new windows, try for storm windows in the winter.
  5. Upgrade doors. Especially if you have an hollow doors, replace them with new energy efficient ones.
  6. Upgrade appliances. Most appliances today come in models that take energy efficiency into account. Tankless waterheaters heat water only when it is requested, saving energy and giving you an endless supply or warm water.
  7. Solar! There are even companies who will lease your panels to you. This is a low cost way to harvest energy directly from the sun.

If you get through this whole list, your house will be very efficient! Let me know how it goes.

1031 exchange resource

Have you ever thought about pursuing a 1031 exchange? In case you aren’t familiar, a 1031 exchange is a process by which you can sell one property in exchange for another similar property and defer your capitol gains taxes.

It can be quite daunting if you haven’t done it before. There are special rules, strict deadlines, and money on the line!

I just recently closed a transaction in which the seller worked with the Beutler Exchange Group, LLC. I wanted to share this resource since I was quite impressed with the professionalism of their founder, Toija Beutler. Every time my client had questions, the answers Toija provided were in-depth and timely, not to mention friendly! I would highly recommend them for anyone contemplating a 1031 exchange.

Mold Eaters

We had a local company called Mold Eaters come in to our office for our weekly meeting today. Brant Rude (certified DMP and CEMR) presented quite a bit of information and allowed us to ask questions. I never would have thought that a conversation about mold could be so interesting.

I was really excited to learn that a great way to fight mold is with 100% organic mold eating enzymes. Apparently, while bleach products will clean mold and kill it to a certain extent, it leaves behind mold that can later grow again.

Brant informed us that although concrete and plastic are not foods for mold, it can still grow there by eating the dust on the surface. Mold is very opportunistic!

People are often concerned that they might have black toxic mold. It turns out that many different types of mold can have a black color to them, not all of which are toxic. Also, other colors of mold can also be toxic or even have specific times that they are toxic. A mask rated n-95 can help protect you from air-borne spores.

Brant said that his company deals with mold in attic spaces quite often. It’s easy to live in a house for years without ever checking on what is going on up there. Sometimes incorectly installed vents from other places in the house bring moist air to the attic. Another issue he sees is with the insallation actually covering the attic vents, therefore trapping moisture inside the house.

Basements often have problems due to old concrete that wicks moisture into the house. In this case, there are products out there that can be painted on to create a seal.

Usually getting rid of mold has elements of removal and setting up the space to address moisture issues. Condensation, leaks, and seepage can all lead to a good mold enviornment. Dehumidifiers are great ways to combat this. French drains and pumps can help as well. Fans with built in humidity sensors can be quite helpful and energy efficient.

In addition to inspections, air quality testing, and mold removal Mold Eaters are also certified general contractors, so they can also insall vapor barriers and repair damage.

Thanks for coming out Brant!

drip irrigation

Gardening opened up for me when I realized how important a steady, reliable supply of water is to plants. Even with the best intentions and lots of time invested standing over my garden with a hose, they didn’t flourish until I finally installed drip irrigation lines. Not only does it make watering relatively hands-off (after initial setup,) but it is also much more environmentally friendly due to increased efficiency.

I purchased my system components from Home Depot. Any gardening store or large hardware store should carry what you need.

Here are a few really great links to get you started.

Thompson and Morgan (the above photo is from this site)

Irrigation Tutorials (I especially like their diagram of the backflow setup)

Earth Easy (I started with soaker hoses in some places and ended up replacing them all with either drips or sprinklers. I think soakers work well if you have a dedicated water source, but not if you are trying to use them in combination with other types of attachments.)

My garden is flourishing this year with the new system! (photo above)





lead paint

Lead paint comes up quite often in real estate transactions. For any home that was built prior to 1978 you can pretty much assume there is lead present. It’s not a huge risk if it is managed properly. However, if you are remodeling or doing a fun project with some old building materials, concerns can rise.

The Environmental Protection Agency offers a great brochure that provides quite a bit of helpful information on the topic. You can download their PDF directly from their website.