Why Embracing the Motto “Don’t Do it Yourself” Can be a Good Thing

Thanks to home improvements shows like This Old House, the HGTV network and YouTube how to videos, an entire generation of homeowners have grown up believing that they might be able to to DIY many home projects. And in fact they may be able to. But even if you have the skill to pull off a home project that may work, is it worth it? Here are some reasons why you may want to embrace DDIY—Don’t Do it Yourself!—if not all the time, at least for some of your projects.

Your Time is Valuable

The number one reason why folks choose to DIY is the cost of labor. And, I get it, hiring licensed professionals can be expensive. But your time is also worth something. If you aren’t loving spending your nights and weekends building that fence that would have taken a contractor a day and a half to knock out, perhaps you should evaluate what your time is worth to you and calculate it at an hourly rate. Also, think about the time you would be enjoying the finished product if a professional had completed it in a timely manner. Particularly, when you take on a large renovation like a kitchen or bath remodel, a crew is often at your house all day during the work hours. Ask yourself, if you really want to perform someone else’s full time job (or several people’s) in your free time before you dive in. Additionally, do you want to live in a construction zone for much longer than you have to? I’ve heard countless stories of DIY-ers who have lived without a kitchen, cooking on a hot plate for two years while they painstakingly learned how to tile a backsplash. If the idea of that sends shivers up your spine, think twice about taking on a major remodel without hiring a pro.

You are Paying for Experience

When you hire a landscape designer or a kitchen contractor or a plumber, you are paying for much more for than their time and labor—you are paying for their experience. Think about it: how good were you the first time you did something challenging at your job? What about the 30th time? or the 300th? Hiring a professional who can anticipate the pitfalls of a project and navigate any potential headaches is worth a lot. When I decided to completely overhaul my backyard with a big landscaping project, I could have probably come up with a lot of the ideas myself and even executed a lot of the planting. I could have hired the concrete sub contractors on my own and cut out the designer. But, I wanted someone to advise me on how to direct drainage water off of the new pergola so that my foundation isn’t impacted by rain, someone who would anticipate where the light was falling on various parts of the yard, someone who would know exactly which plants will thrive in this climate in a particular space in my yard. All of that guidance and know-how is invaluable. But that also means that when you hire a licensed professional to do a home project or repair for you, you need to spend some time vetting them. Ask for professional referrals, speak with past clients, ask how they might anticipate problems and if they see any unknowns right now that could be planned for.

Mistakes are not cheap

While we are on the subject of experience, if you are motivated by the possible savings that a DIY project may offer, consider the cost of mistakes. General contractors and designers are also often serving as project manager on your renovation—they know the order in which to execute each step, when to order certain parts and materials (something that has become even more important during our current reality of material shortages and inflation), and how to pivot when things don’t go well. When I remodeled my kitchen, my general contractor anticipated that after unearthing the original Doug Fir wood floors from the orange marmoleum that lay on top, they may not be salvageable. He had a plan B to keep me within budget, should this be the case. And when, as he suspected, the original floors were ruined by decades old tar, he proposed two options: one that would keep me within budget and one that would accomplish the look I really desired. But, most importantly, he had sub contractors in place to complete that work. And there were countless other steps along the way, that had they been done incorrectly, could have cost me big time: what if the counter top space had been measured incorrectly and then the slab was cut to the wrong measurements? Would I have eventually chosen the intricately patterned and hard to install mosaic tile floor if I had had to learn a highly skilled trade on the fly in order to install it? Experienced contractors and design professionals anticipate the WHAT IFs because they know that there will be many and that they need to have a solution or back up plan in place. Don’t underestimate the financial value in that.

Buyers like to see receipts and permits

I can’t tell you how many times I hear a home inspector say “This looks like a homeowner repair” and they don’t mean it in a good way. Womp womp. If you intend to sell any time in the reasonably near future, think about how beneficial it may be to be able to show buyers, all of the work you have had done professionally by licensed contractors along with the permit records. Buyers are also often impressed by the dollar amount that you may have spent. Save the receipts. Track the permits and city records. Especially for the unsexy things: plumbing, electrical, sewer line, foundation work, roof, siding, windows. A lot of buyers do not appreciate these system upgrades until the inspector comes back saying that they are not in great condition. If you are selling and you can show that the home has a brand new electrical panel that is permitted with the city or all new plumbing lines done by a reputable company, that can show the buyer up front that there is a lot of “hidden” value in your home. It also can communicate that you took great care of the home and did not cut corners. It may also influence a buyer who is choosing between your home and another that weekend: Imagine if you had a receipt for the $45,000 of new windows that you installed a few years ago but the competition still has aluminum single paned. Maybe the buyers would not have even recognized the cost of that potential replacement until seeing your records. Save the receipts. I like to advise clients to do so in a Google Drive folder.


Have I convinced you to join me and become at least a partial DDIYer? If you are swayed a bit but still feel the pangs of guilt created by those Home Depot “Doer” commercials, I’ll leave you with one final point: When you hire local tradespeople, contractors, and designers, you are also creating a job and pumping money directly back into your local economy. Maybe that will help you rest well during all the naps you’ll be taking instead of putting that darn fence up.

Inspired to hire a professional and need a referral? I have a whole list of diverse folks who are good at what they do and am happy to connect you. Please contact me and I’ll put you in touch. Coming soon: a more complete directory of my favorite, vetted contractors, designers, and more!

Portland Housing Market Forecast: What’s ahead for 2022?

After meeting with lenders, title companies, and, just this week, The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, I have a few important takeaways that all buyers, sellers, homeowners, and investors should know about what is likely to come in 2022 in the Portland housing market. So, what should we expect?

Buyer demand will continue as home loan interest rates rise

If you are looking to purchase a home in the Portland Metro area in 2022, expect that you will still be competing against a lot of other qualified buyers in order to get in contract on a home. Now, you may be thinking: “But I heard rates are going up? Won’t that slow down the market?” Yes, rates are already ticking up and are currently averaging about 3.5% this week. However, the housing shortage is what is really leading to the demand. So, while rates are not as favorable as they have been for the last few years, they are right around where they were pre-pandemic (and we thought those were great rates then!). If you can buy your next home before 2023, you may still get a loan with a rate under 4% but if inflation increases and the Federal Reserve does not return to buying mortgage backed securities—something they did during the pandemic for the first time ever—expect interest rates to continue to slowly creep up year after year for a bit of time. Historically speaking, we have all become used to these rockbottom rates but it isn’t the norm and it likely won’t continue indefinitely.

Sale prices will increase but not as fast as in 2021

Do not interpret that to mean sales will be flat or decline. Oregon Economists are predicting an 8-11% annual increase in home prices over the next year and then 3-4% in 2023. However, with the raise in rates, buyers will have less purchasing power which may result in a slowing of price hikes. It’s also really hard—not to mention unsustainable—to see 17% growth year over year. 11% more next year is probably still more than you want to pay but it may make the market a little more tolerable for first time buyers. Sellers: your home will still see a lot of equity gains this year but be reasonable when you list. Listen to a pricing expert and do not overprice your home when you go to market.

Fewer vacation properties will be bought and sold after April

Effective April 1, the interest rates on second homes will be comparable to non-owner occupied (investment) properties, meaning they will be significantly higher. However, down payment requirements will remain the same. We saw a lot of homes being purchased and sold in secondary markets on the coast and at lakes during the height of the pandemic due to the perfect storm of work from home realities, a rise in American wealth, and low interest rates. But as we approach spring, expect that that buying appetite may begin to slow as folks contemplating a beach condo or lake side cottage think twice when considering the increased monthly payment.

Rents will also rise and keep pace or exceed mortgages

When folks ask “are we in a bubble?” there are a lot of factors that I explain which essentially lead tot he answer “Not likely.” But one big one is that rents are outpacing or staying on par with mortgages. At the end of the day a roof over your head is just that, which means potential homebuyers who can qualify for a loan are willing to pay in a mortgage what they will pay in rental income. After all, with few exceptions, owning a home is generally more advantageous than renting.

Condos and townhomes will become more of a seller’s market than in recent years

Many well qualified buyers who are tired of being outbid on a single family home, may begin to consider the townhome or condo market. After all, there is 2.5 months inventory of condos as opposed to less than half of a month in single family homes. And, sellers take note: condo inventory has shrunk in recent months as well which is making it a much better time to sell if you are thinking of moving on. Additionally, buying a single family under $500,000 in many Portland neighborhoods is becoming nearly impossible but is very approachable when considering attached or condo style homes, making them a solid investment and home for someone who values location and condition over lot, size, and independent walls.

Big takeaways

It’s not getting cheaper for buyers here in Portland and our housing stock is limited. We need to build more—likely increasing density and building upward—if we want to decrease the housing shortage. Rock bottom interest rates are probably a thing of the recent past but they are not so high yet that it should prevent buyers from purchasing a home. Sellers: it is still a great time to sell to unlock all the equity in your home by selling but be sure to price aggressively rather than overshoot the market—a hot market does not mean buyers will pay anything if they don’t perceive that your home deserves it. Overall, 2022 looks to be another busy year in real estate!

If you have questions about what is to come, please reach out; I am always happy to help!


Crafting a Strong Offer: Bidding Wars Explained

Most buyers think that the winning offer in a bidding war is simply the highest dollar amount. It’s not uncommon for me to hear first time home buyer clients say that they often feel perplexed with how to choose a price and rise to the top, that it feels like throwing a dart at a dartboard and hoping for the best. However, price is rarely the only factor and a good agent will spend quite a bit of time gathering information from a variety of sources in order to narrow down what it will take to craft a strong offer. I often advise my buyers to think like a seller. Sellers are not just enticed by a high price; they are also always considering the strength of the offer as well. After all, an offer that does not close is not only worthless but it actually hurts the sale overall because it is unlikely you will ever get all those other offers back. So, how does a listing agent advise their clients on the strength of an offer and how can you make your offer communicate to that seller that you are the most committed and strong offer? Examine these factors:


Inspection is the most common point at which a buyer terminates the sale agreement. Sellers are very nervous during this part of the process and when they look over multiple offers, they are looking for points where the buyers have shown a commitment to the property as well as fewer opportunities for the buyer to find problems and back out. Of course, buyers want to protect themselves against expensive unknown repairs and costs. However, you should know that some competing offers may waive certain elements of the inspection or the inspection all together. This is fairly risky for a buyer to do and many aren’t willing to completely waive the inspection contingency but many use other tactics to get close. Have you considered shortening the inspection period contingency to 6 or 7 days? Have you considered which inspections are vital to this home? Perhaps, eliminate those that seem excessive. A savvy buyer’s agent will also–with the client’s permission–write that buyer will not ask for specific kinds of repairs or credits. Any combination of these terms can strengthen your offer and give you a leg up when other parts of your offer are not as strong. I must put a big BUYER BEWARE sticker on this one. Inspections are an important factor in protecting you from purchasing a home with problems you may not want to deal with. However, there are ways to demonstrate your commitment to the home while still protecting yourself from catastrophe. Ask your agent to go into more detail about how to carefully deploy these strategies.


When a listing agent begins to receive multiple offers, it’s pretty typical for the price to start escalating 5%, 10%–sometimes even more–over asking price. But, if you, the buyer, escalate the price, what will you do if the home doesn’t appraise for the agreed upon sale price? If you have an appraisal contingency in place, you probably aren’t terribly concerned as the buyer. But the seller is very worried. Sellers want to know that the buyer can or will cover the value difference if the appraisal comes in lower than the offer price; the last thing a seller wants is a terminated sale agreement due to a low appraisal. If the buyer has a small down payment, the seller knows the buyer likely can’t cover a large gap so they view the escalation as monopoly money when compared to a lower offer with a lot of money down. If a buyer can’t waive an appraisal completely but have a significant down payment, some buyers will write a clause in the sale contract stating that they will contribute a specific amount towards a low appraisal, which can give the sellers a bit of confidence that the deal will close and that they won’t have to pay for the price discrepancy. Buyers who can’t cover the difference between the offer price and the appraised value should know that sellers may have an incentive to consider a lower offer price with some combination of larger down payment and appraisal contributions/waivers. This is also why a cash offer at the same or even a slightly lower price than a financed offer is so valuable to a seller—cash offers do not have to appraise. If you are financing your home purchase, as most folks are, consider how much you might be willing to contribute towards a low appraisal. A term like that can make you more competitive against cash offers while still preventing you from covering an unknown amount.


Another common factor that is overlooked by buyers is the importance of the lender. Once you submit an offer, a strong listing agent will spend time vetting the buyer’s lender to make sure that they are well qualified and that the deal will not fall through. All lenders are not created equal in terms of service or their pre-approval process and listing agents know that. A weak lender or a lender that the buyer’s agent has had no communication with does not give the listing agent or seller confidence. If your buyer’s agent has a good relationship with the lender, the lender is more likely to do things like call a listing agent and vouch for you, write a specific pre-approval letter for that home and price point, and explain how far through the underwriting process you have gone. A strong lender will also reiterate that the close date on the contract can be achieved and that the loan can be processed within that time frame.

If you are financing the transaction, it can sometimes be confusing why the way a buyer pays for the home can matter to the transaction. After all, it all deposits the same in a seller’s account right? Sure. But a financed deal must appraise and takes 30 days to close. That’s 30 days for something to go wrong and for the buyer to back out of the deal. Cash can close much faster—often in under two weeks—and it doesn’t have to appraise or be in any sort of condition, as is the case with some loans. So, what do you do if you are at a disadvantage to cash? You have to increase your terms, communication, and prove to the sellers that you are well qualified to the property. A good lender and agent can help communicate that.


It can often feel like a bidding war goes to whoever guesses the top dollar correctly. It is not. Bidding wars tend to be won by agents who gather a lot of information over the course of 24-48 hours about what other offers are in hand and what it is going to take to overcome those offers. Agents compare recent sales in the neighborhood—not just looking at the sale price but also how much over asking the home sold for—and a great buyer’s agent will also follow up with the listing agent several times before submitting and offer to see if they can get answers to direct questions—Has the top bid already exceeded this price? What percentage over asking is the top offer? Is it cash or financed? Then, they inform their client of what it will likely take to win and the client decides how to move forward. Trust your agent to gather the key information and advise you on how to craft a strong offer. Ultimately, you make the final decision about price and terms.


Above all, the communication between a buyer and their agent is an important key to a successful offer as well as the communication between the buyer’s agent and the listing agent. In order to represent the buyer’s best interests in the transaction, the agent needs to have time to study the property, know what concerns, questions, needs, and buying power the client has for that specific property. In a multiple offer situation, it’s important for the buyer’s agent to prove to the listing agent that the buyer is well qualified financially, committed to the home, educated in the process, and trustworthy. This helps build confidence in the listing agent that both sides are going to uphold their end of the contract and see the deal through to the end. Weak communication is often why transactions fall apart. During those initial conversations, agents build rapport; the listing agent is trying to find out how well the buyer’s agent knows their client and the strength of the team: lender, agent, inspector, etc. In multiple offers situations, buyers often feel like the seller has all the cards, but once they are in contract, only the buyer can back out of the agreement; this makes vetting the offers in the initial stage crucial to the health of the transaction. Make sure your buyer’s agent knows your questions, concerns and interest in the property up front and keep them updated along the way. If they know what you are thinking or feeling about a specific property, they can help navigate the situation for your best interest and secure a much sought after home.

There are many more tips and tricks for overcoming multiple offers. If you are thinking about entering into a competitive seller’s market, let’s schedule a buyer’s consultation to go over the many ways that we can highlight your strengths in an offer and secure the right home for you.