6 Reasons Why Bend, Oregon is a Great Place to Retire

Bend, Oregon has become a popular destination for retirees, here are 6 reasons why.

  1. You get to experience 4 distinct seasons.

Bend is a great place to retire if you love the outdoors with four different seasons – spring, summer, fall…and winter.

Often gets snow in the winter and, as a retiree, you can cuddle up in front of the fire or get out and enjoy it when opportunities for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, downhill skiing, snowmobiling and even dog-sledding are just minutes away.

And in the other three seasons, you’ll have ample opportunity to get out and enjoy the average 300 days of sunshine whether you’re a golfer, a mountain or road biker, hiker or just someone who likes to spend time on the gorgeous Deschutes river or one of the many nearby lakes on your kayak, boat or paddleboard!

  1. No sales taxes

Five states in the US do not have sales or use tax, and Oregon is one of them. There’s no motor vehicle tax, no business and occupations tax, and there are no taxes on stocks, bonds or securities. There is a state income tax, though, and pension payments are taxable.

Talk to your tax and financial advisor if one reason why you’re thinking of retiring in Bend is because of the tax situation. Oregon’s top income tax rate is over 10%.

For more tax information, check out: https://www.retirementliving.com/taxes-new-york-wyoming#OREGON and Oregon’s own official website: http://www.oregon.gov/DOR/pages/index.aspx.

  1. Active lifestyle embracement

As mentioned above, Bend provides opportunities for so many outdoor sports that people are spoiled for choice. Tourists come here from all over the country, throughout the year, to engage in activities that people who live here can take for granted.

Golf

There are plenty of golf courses in Bend and nearby communities, giving the city the nickname of “the Palm Springs of the North.” In 2013-14, Golf Digest listed three of the courses as among “America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses.” If you’re golf enthusiasts you’ll have heard of the names of some of the designers – Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy’s design of Brasada Canyons, the Jack Nicklaus Course at Pronghorn Resort, Tetherow designed by David McLay Kidd (a llnks style course) and Crosswater designed by Bob Cupp.

Canoeing and kayaking

The Deschutes River runs right through Bend. There are plenty of spots to rent a canoe, kayak or standup paddleboard and go down the river. In 2015 the Bend Whitewater Park opened to provide a bit more excitement to the more adventurous.

Biking

There are over 51 miles of bike trails in Bend’s urban trail system. Mountain bikers can head out to several trails in the nearby Cascades.

Skiing, snowboarding, sledding

The closest ski resort to Bend is Mount Bachelor (so named because it stands apart from the Thee Sisters peaks). Mount Bachelor is 18 miles west of Bend, and offers cross country (Nordic) skiing routes, downhill skiing, snowboarding and even offers a sledding experience by Iditerod racer Rachael Scdoris.

  1. Great Shopping

Bend has several shopping malls including Bend Factory Stores, the Old Mill District, the Cascade Village Shopping Mall, and the Bend River Promenade.

The Bend Factory store offers some major brand name stores such as Christopher & Banks, Coach Factory Store/Coach Men’s Factory Store, Eddie Bauer Outlet, Pearl iZUmi and among their necessities-of-life offerings, the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

The Old Mill District is an extremely popular destination, with shops, and access to the Deschutes River for kayakers, paddleboarders and canoeists.

There’s a Barnes & Noble bookstore in the Forum Shopping Center, along with its clothing stores, specialty stores and grocery stores.

  1. Arts and Entertainment

There are different variations of an active lifestyle. Walking along the Deschutes River as it winds through downtown Bend may be active enough for you. To stimulate the mind, you want art and theatre, and Bend delivers. There are several art galleries in Bend, each offering a variety of events throughout the year as well as showcasing local artists.

Concerts and variety and comedy shows are a regular staple at the Tower Theatre, as well as touring shows – typically musicals, such as Annie and comedy acts such as Louie Anderson. It also offers a monthly lecture series, for example “Nature Nights” with a different naturalist talking about wildlife in Oregon. The Tower Theatre is called “Bend’s Living Room” because it is the place for art and entertainment.

Classical music is on offer at the Les Schwab Amphitheater. The Amphitheater is just a few steps away from the Old Mill District, where you can shop and dine to your heart’s content.

  1. Eclectic dining establishments

Foodies will love the restaurants in Bend. Cuisines of all kinds are available, from fast food staples to diners to fine dining establishments such as The Blacksmith Restaurant, Chanterelle at Pronghorn Resort, and Brickhouse Steak & Seafood.

To decide if Bend is the best retirement city for you, why not plan a visit today?

2018 COBA Tour of Homes

The 2018 COBA Tour of Homes event dates are July 13th-15th and July 20th-22nd. We’d love to have you stop by one of our homes and say hello.

Never been to the Tour of Homes? The tour is a must do event for anyone looking for a home in Central Oregon. It’s a great opportunity for you to see available homes and meet with directly the home builder.

The tour highlights the newest trends in home building, architecture, interior design, and landscaping. Each home competes on a variety of ‘Best’ categories such as kitchen, interior design, master suite, landscaping, architecture, etc.

This year you Woodhill Homes will have two homes on the tour:


Tuscany Pines in BendLearn More about Tuscany Pines

Home on Tour: 63159 Northwest Via Palazzo, Bend OR

Brooktree Estates in Redmond – Learn More about Brooktree Estates

Home on Tour: 475 NE Oak Avenue, Redmond OR

 

 

Several homes are nearing completion in both communities and there are still pre-sale opportunities available.

See you there!!

First-time Home Buyer? What You Need to Know About Financing a New Home

How to Finance a New Home as a First Time Home Buyer.

Are you planning on buying a home for the first time in Bend or elsewhere in Central Oregon? If so you’re not alone.

2018 is a great year for buying a home because of still historically low mortgage interest rates which have made it ideal for first-time homebuyers to purchase new homes across the United States.

We recommend sitting down with a qualified lender to discuss your specific situation, but here are some basics that a first-time homebuyer should know about getting ready for financing when buying a home.

Get To Know Your Credit Score

One of the biggest problems that many first-time homebuyers face when buying a new home is that they have absolutely no idea what their credit score is because they haven’t checked their credit score in years, or they’ve never checked it at all.

To verify what your credit score is before buying a home you should purchase a copy of your 3-in-1 credit report. This credit report will give you the opportunity to view what the three major credit bureaus are reporting about you including the Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.

After reviewing your credit reports you will need to start the dispute process immediately if you find one or more inaccurate items on your credit reports. This process is important because removing inaccurate items from your credit report can literally mean the difference between spending thousands of dollars more or class during the lifetime of your mortgage loan.

The recommended credit score for buying a home in 2016 is 660 because, the higher the credit score you have lower the mortgage interest rate can qualify for. If your credit score is lower than the recommended 660 you may still don’t qualified for a mortgage loan because many lenders including HUD do offer mortgage loans to people with credit scores as low as 580.

If you do decide to choose a HUD or FHA loan keep in mind that you will have to pay private mortgage insurance with these loans and this will ultimately increase your monthly mortgage payment by an additional $100 or more per month so it’s always better to work on improving your credit score first because the higher your credit score is means you qualify for a great mortgage loan and pay less money over a 15 or 30 year loan.

Use Credit Correctly

As you are getting ready to apply for a new mortgage loan remember that you absolutely have to use your credit responsibly and this means only spending up to 30% or less of the credit limit that you may have on each credit card.

First time home buyers who have more than one credit card and balances on some your cards are $500 or less you should also focus on paying off some of those balances if possible because, lenders want to see that you have a debt-to-income ratio that’s no more than 36 percent while some lenders will find a debt-to-income ratio as high as 45 percent acceptable.

Organize Your Financial Documents

By far one of the most important things that you can do to get ready for applying for a mortgage loan is to get all your financial documents in order. This step is vital because, lenders want to see that you have verifiable financial documentation which should include:

  • Two paycheck stubs
  • Two W2’s
  • Tax returns from the last two years
  • Bank statements
  • Proof of income from investments
  • Letters documenting financial gifts from relatives or friends

Buyers who are currently self-employed or a commission only sales person you must show at least two years worth of income history.

Decide On the Mortgage Payment You Can Really Afford

Once you get closer with buying a home you should also decide upon the mortgage payment that you can really afford and this means writing down your current monthly budget which includes the rent that you’re paying right now bills and your other financial obligations.

On top of your current bills and other financial obligations you should also add the cost of setting money aside for repairs your home, homeowners insurance and property taxes.

Save Money for Down Payment on a Home

One of the most important things that you should do before buying a home in Bend, Oregon or elsewhere in Central Oregon is to save money for the down payment on a home.

As of 2016 the recommended down payment when buying a home is at least 20% of the home’s value but, thankfully there are many mortgage loans available that enable buyers to pay a down payment that’s as low as 3.5 percent.

Choose the Right Mortgage Loan

Besides saving enough money for a down payment on a home you should also choose a mortgage loan that’s right for you, some of the best mortgage loans to choose from in 2016 include: HUD, FHA, VA (veterans only) and USDA loans and there are a variety of other first time home buyer programs that you may qualify for including programs by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

One of the great things about this Real Estate market is that first time home buyers have many options available to them including grants and other sources of financing so if you have good credit there are many options available to help you get into the home of your dreams.

Benefits of Buying a Pre-Sale Home

What does it mean to buy a pre-sale home?

When you decide to buy a home from Woodhill Homes, there are several benefits to buying the home before it is built. Perhaps the biggest benefit is that you can buy a home with a conventional mortgage (versus a construction loan) and have choices on several colors, finishes and appliances as you would when building a custom home.

A pre-sale buyer may chose interior and exterior colors, style of their tile and flooring, self-service counter in the kitchen, backsplash, etc. We’re happy to customize as much as we are able to. (Note that the buyer may have to pay up front for some upgrades.) Before the foundation is poured, that’s the most advantageous time to purchase to make the changes.

It’s important to note that we are not able to change the structure of the homes, i.e., to move walls. But, prior to sheetrock, you can pick your interior finishes (which are all the hard surfaces, floor and carpet) and make wiring requests like wiring for sound or putting your television in a specific place. You could also choose to add air-conditioning, a hot tub or additional concrete.

Here are some of the selections you may be able to make with a pre-sale purchase (depending on what stage of construction the home is in):

  • Interior / Exterior Paint Colors
  • Front Door
  • Cabinet Color
  • Gas Options
  • Hard Surface Upgrades (floor, carpet, tile, countertops / island slab etc.)
  • Additional Cable Lines
  • Additional Phone Lines
  • Additional or Specifically Placed Outlets
  • Air Conditioner Wiring and/or Air Conditioner Installation
  • Ceiling Fan(s)
  • Fencing
  • Appliance Upgrades / Changes
  • Window Blinds

If you’re interested in buying a pre-sale home from Woodhill Homes, give us a call at (541) 330-5559. We’re happy to answer your questions and help you understand your options.

How to Enhance Your Patio with an Outdoor Kitchen

Is your backyard ready for outdoor entertaining?

How better to entertain outside than by setting up your patio as an outdoor kitchen. Grilling is great, but what’s even greater is not having to run back and forth between the kitchen and patio! By creating an outdoor kitchen, you will make entertaining friends and family easier and more enjoyable.

Here are some things to consider when planning your outdoor kitchen.

What Will Work Best for Your Patio?

Outdoor kitchens vary greatly: they can be large or small, elaborate or simple, or anything in between. To make the most of your kitchen, you’ve got to think of how you will use the space. Will you want your guests to eat outside nearby, or just mingle while you cook? What features are already in your backyard (like landscaping and pool) that you will have to work around?

You will also want to have a professional check your patio or deck to be certain it can support the additional weight.

Can Your Outdoor Kitchen Be Used All Year Round?

How often you will get to use your outdoor kitchen will determine the kind of equipment you will purchase. If you live in a part of the country where your kitchen can only be used in summer months, then a grill with wheels, that can be moved into a garage come fall, makes the most sense. These grills are common and come in a large variety of sizes and prices with numerous features to choose from.

If, however, you will want to use your outdoor kitchen year-round, you may want to consider a built-in grill. Ones that come with side burners in the base unit allow for cooking at different temperatures at the same time. You’ll have an easier time cooking meat and veggies, plus guests will be impressed. The base can also provide extra countertop and storage space.

A final thought on built-in grills, obviously, if you move, you won’t be able to take it with you, so don’t invest unless you know you will be staying put for many years.

Other Equipment and Electrical Outlets

Besides buying grill accessories like griddles, thermometers and tongs, your outdoor kitchen will need other appliances like a refrigerator with ice maker, a microwave, blender, and even a stereo. And all of these appliances will need to be plugged in, so be sure to have GFCI outlets professionally installed by a licensed electrician.

Also consider having a sink available, which will help you prep and clean veggies and rinse plates and utensils. If you’d like to be able to wash dishes, you’ll need a cold and hot water hookup installed.

Plan for Inclement Weather

Even Central Oregon can have inclement weather, so always take wetness into account when choosing your outdoor kitchen materials. You’ll want a cover for your grill and waterproof materials for your cabinets, countertops and other kitchen elements. Materials that work well are slate, tile, stone and stucco.

An outdoor umbrella over the eating area will be appreciated by guests when it starts to drizzle. And, for cooler evenings, consider purchasing patio heaters or an outdoor fireplace.

Will it Need to Be Wheelchair Accessible?

Do you have a friend or loved one who is in a wheelchair? If you plan on aging in your home, you or your spouse may one day be in a wheelchair but will still want to be able to use your outdoor space. So, be sure to include ramps where necessary, make some of your countertops wheel-chair accessible, and select flooring surfaces that will be safe for those using walkers and wheelchairs.

Media

Thanks to modern technology, most high-tech gadgets can be located outdoors just as easily as indoors. There are special sound systems and televisions that have been created to withstand temperature variations and weather conditions for outdoor use.

Of course you’ll want to make sure you have internet access outside as your indoor signal most likely won’t be strong enough. And no, your smart phone’s signal won’t give you the wireless access you need.

Don’t Forget Lighting

If you plan to entertain at night you will definitely have to light your kitchen. Install bright, clear lighting in the cooking area so you can safely chop, slice, and dice. In the seating and dining area you will want softer, more ambient lighting.

Adding an outdoor kitchen is the perfect way to enhance the functionality of your patio, enjoy your backyard with friends and family even more, and raise the value of your home. That’s a win/win/win.

 

Spring Home Maintenance Checklist: 15 Things to Do Now Items

For homeowners, regular home maintenance is a must. If you don’t keep up with the maintenance of your home, you could find yourself with an overgrown yard, increased energy bills, unattractive peeling paint, and various other expensive repairs that could have been easily prevented. As simple and important as home upkeep is, it’s often forgotten. No longer! Here is a detailed spring home maintenance checklist of 15 ways to maintain the longevity of your home this spring.

1. Check and Repair or Replace Weather Stripping

Weather stripping is often associated with keeping the cold out in winter, but it is useful for all types of weather. By applying this specialized material around door and window frames and ensuring that they are fully sealed, you can easily reduce your energy consumption. In the spring, it helps to keep the cool air inside and prevents warm air from coming in. Weather stripping before using the air conditioner will keep energy bills low, as the AC doesn’t have to work as hard.

2. Tune Up Your Air Conditioner

Air conditioners can be convenient for hot summer days, but it needs maintenance. The National Center for Healthy Housing says it is smart to replace air conditioner filters during spring to optimize the efficiency of the HVAC unit. Other ways to keep your AC functioning at a high level are cleaning the unit, adjusting and checking the belt tension, and replacing worn out or cracked belts when required. It’s a good idea to request professional assistance from a qualified HVAC contractor for this.

3. Replace Damaged or Torn Window Screens

Replacing window screens is important for those without air conditioners or for those who like to keep their windows open throughout spring and summer. Keeping the window screens in perfect condition not only increases the amount of fresh air but also prevents harmful and annoying insects, including flies and mosquitoes, from entering the house through broken windows. Wind and winter storms can easily damage installed window screens, so checking the extent of damage and replacing screens when needed is a good idea.

4. Clean and Test Ceiling Fans

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory suggests that an efficient ceiling fan can lower your energy bill. This is because it allows the thermostat to be raised a significant amount – 4 degrees Fahrenheit or more – while maintaining the desirable comfort levels. Keeping ceiling fans clean is important for maintaining the ideal breeze levels.

5. Inspect Your Roof Shingles

As confident as you may be, you should hire an expert or qualified professional for roof work. Working on the roof can be a risky venture, especially without proper training and equipment. It’s important to check the shingles for clawing or curling. Curling shingles are usually susceptible to water leaks and should be replaced.

6. Clean Downspouts and Gutters

April showers mean a lot of rain and a lot of rain means your gutters and downspouts need to be clear. Cleaning out leaves or any other debris that may have accumulated during the winter is important to keep your gutters functioning properly. Tightening gutter straps is another good practice, as is adding essential accessories like screens to the gutters. Again, unless you are skilled at gutter-maintenance, leave this to the professionals.

7. Replace Rotten Trim and/or Siding

Check your house’s siding and trim for damage and contact a professional if you notice something is broken. Trim and siding may be fragile and can be damaged by icy or windy conditions. You can also clean the sidings with a pressure washer to prevent the growth of mold and/or moss.

8. Spruce Up Your Landscape

You should actively cut and trim plants and bushes in your yard. Leaves and limbs, if left untamed, can easily cut into your home’s paint, and repainting is expensive. Taking a little time to maintain your paint and keep plants from touching your house can save a lot of money over time. Make it a point to always use clean cutters and landscaping trimmers to prevent the spread of harmful plant diseases.

9. Check Your Sprinkler System

Check regularly for exposed lines, leaky valves, and malfunctioning sprinkler heads. Keep an eye on areas where grass is dry or water collects in puddles, then run the sprinkler systems in those areas to diagnose problems.

10. Maintain Your Pool

After winter, pool maintenance is a very important. Before the summer heat sets in, you need to clean, remove, and store the swimming pool cover.

11. Donate / Recycle

A great way to welcome spring is to lighten your load! Check around the house for anything extra you don’t need: clothes, electronics, utensils, shoes, and other housewares. Donate them to charity or hold a garage sale, anything to declutter your home. Also be on the lookout for items that can be easily recycled. By clearing out unneeded items, your house will seem larger and lighter.

12. Inspect and Clean Foundation Vents

If your house has a crawl space, it likely has vents along the walls of the foundation. These vents are important in circulating air, which helps prevent mold growth and get rid of excess moisture. Inside the vents are screens that help keep out animals. These screens also attract twigs, leaves, and other assorted debris. Cleaning out the foundation vents increases circulation and gives you an opportunity to check to see if the screens need replacing.

13. Check Your Water heater

Although the average lifespan of a water heater is estimated to be between 8 to 12 years, all heaters older than 5 years should be checked regularly for any rusting or leakage at the base. Water heaters that are either rusty or leaking should be repaired or replaced.

14. Prepare Your Soil

Spring means lots of rain, which plants love. Make sure your garden is prepped for all the showers spring will bring! You should rake up leftover winter debris and leaf beds, as well as use a hoe to churn up the soil. Also make sure to mix in compost to give your soil a nutritional boost. Always follow seed package instructions carefully when planting new seeds in your yard – especially here in Central Oregon!

15. General Cleaning

General cleaning is vague and wide-reaching, and should be done last. The goal is to minimize clutter and get rid of any mess that has been lurking around since winter. This can be done by polishing wood furniture, wiping windows, organizing the entertainment center, taming untidy toiletries, and dusting light fixtures. Enlist your family members to get this done quickly and efficiently, or if it is really a big mess, hire outside help.

15 Ways to Maintain Your Home This Spring

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Buying A New Home in Bend, Oregon

It’s no surprise that buying a new home in Bend, Oregon is highly desirable for many people – both people moving laterally within town and people moving here from out of town. But finding the right home can be tricky as real estate prices rise and desirable home inventory shrinks.

Why is it so desirable to live in Bend, Oregon?

There are ample reasons why Bend has become a place that many seek to make their home. For one thing, Bend is the largest city in Central Oregon meaning great shopping, great restaurants, live theater, art galleries, dozens of festivals and, of course, an outdoor enthusiasts playground that’s tough to match. Once a logging town, Bend is now a gateway for a huge variety of outdoor sports. This hasn’t escaped the attention of publications like Outside Magazine naming it one of the 25 Best Towns of 2017, Sunset Magazine (24 Places to Live and Work), and Men’s Journal magazine, naming it one of “The 10 Best Places to Live Now.” Some Silicone Valley professionals have decided that the Bend lifestyle is worth the commute – a 10 hour drive or 70 minute commuter flight!

The name of the city came from a derivative of “Farewell Bend”. A name coined by early pioneers referencing the area that ran along the Deschutes River. Until 1824, Bend was really only known by Native Americans that lived, hunted, and fished here. But in 1824, a fur trapping party paid a visit and the secret was out. It became a municipality in 1905.

The population continues to rise, which many attribute to it becoming a popular tourist destination – people visit, fall in love and want to call Bend home. Though job opportunities aren’t as ample as Pacific Northwest metropolitans like Seattle and Portland, employment opportunities are growing and Bend has a reputation for being a hub for entrepreneurs. Breweries for example, including the Deschutes Brewery, the 6th largest craft brewery in the nation and one of over a dozen in the city. And several other Bend-based ventures that fit Bend’s entrepreneurial and sporty personality like: Silipint, Hydro Flask and Ruff Wear.

And then there is the growing population of people who don’t care about a great place to work. They’re just here to play, aka, retired! Particularly for the active retiree, why wouldn’t they want to retire here? From golf to fly fishing to hiking and skiing – there are endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. And if medical care is a concern, Bend is renowned for its hospitals and healthcare providers.

So, it’s clear that Bend is a wonderful place to live, but what about buying a home?

There are a lot of things to consider when you are buying a new home in Bend, Oregon. Aside from your budget, one of the biggest considerations is location, the area of town that best fits your needs. If you have a family, you’ll want a location that is safe and has a good school system. You may also choose a specific location based on how far it is from where you work. No matter what your priorities are, buying a home is a something to consider carefully before you take the plunge.

Should you buy a new home or an existing home?

One benefit of existing homes, at least in Bend, is that they may come with a larger lot size than a new home and the upfront cost can be lower (but be sure you factor in upgrades and repairs!).

But there are quite a few benefits to buying a new home in Bend, Oregon.

Customization

If you buy a home before it’s complete, you can have a say in the finishes, from the color palette, to materials and appliances. These are often options when a home is still under construction. Learn more about this in our article on the benefits of buying a pre-sale home.

Possible Financial Benefits

If you buy an existing home, you’re likely to have to paint it or put in flooring to meet your own personal style or because the finishes are dated or damaged. With a brand new home it’s unlikely that you’ll need to make these changes or repairs. And that’s not just for the day you move in, it’s likely that your maintenance costs over the next decade or more will be lower than with an aged home.

Up-To-Date Appliances, Color Palette, Energy Efficiency

New homes are typically equipped with the latest technologies within their price point. From effective insulation and dual paned windows to energy efficient appliances to modern wiring, it’s likely that you’ll start out far ahead of what you would have in a resale home.

But, whatever you choose, it’s easy to predict that with it’s outdoor adventures and friendly people, the city of Bend will feel like home. Welcome!

How to Organize Winter Gear

As soon as the cold weather hits, people start thinking about how to organize their winter gear – skis, snowshoes, fat bikes, and all of the clothing that goes with the sport: gloves, mittens, light coats, heavy coats, boots, etc. It’s not just the problem of keeping everything looking neat and clean, but making sure that those pairs of mittens and gloves stay together.

Here are 7 tips for organizing your winter gear.

1. Designate storage bins for similar items.

“A place for everything, and everything in its place” is an old but good piece of advice. When gloves are taken off and just tossed into a corner, there’s a chance that one of them will disappear. If the gloves are stuffed into the pockets of a light jacket, of which you have many, they’ll have to be searched for if you want to wear a different color light jacket or a heavier jacket.

The solution is to store like equipment in a single storage bins. Store the storage bins (here are dozens of examples) in an area of your home that is easily accessible and won’t add visible clutter.

2. Use a shoe organizer as a hat and gloves organizer.

If you’ve got a lot of family members, or a lot of different hats and pairs of gloves and mittens, an over the door plastic shoe organizer can be turned to good use. Make sure you purchase one made of clear plastic so you’ll be able to see what’s in each slot and choose accordingly.

3. Put boots in a drip tray.

After coming in from the slush or snow, boots or shoes can drip melting snow and ice onto the floor, and if they’re jumbled together they just look messy. The solution is to purchase a long plastic tray and fill it full of flat rocks, or latticed woodwork. The snow drips into the tray, and the boots look neat and organized.

4. Create an upside down boot rack.

Another solution for keeping boots organized, and the floor beneath them dry, is to put together a rack with foot-long, thick poles sticking upward from a bottom mount. Turn your boots over and put them on these poles, which allows any snow or ice on the soles of the boots to dry quickly.

5. Jacket Rack.

Placing a lot of heavy winter jackets and coats on a coat rack makes them unwieldy and difficult to access. Purchase a plank of wood of the desired quality (unfinished wood would work in a back hallway, a gleaming hardwood plank if it’s to be in the front entryway) screw several hooks into the plank at regular intervals, and affix to a wall at an appropriate height.

Beneath the jacket rack, consider placing a long bench which can also double as a boot rack. Purchase the planks of wood of desired quality and screw them together. Boots can go on the bottom plank, while the top plank can serve as a bench.

6. Ski Rack

The same principle applies to storing skis properly. Leaning them into a corner looks messy. If one specific pair is desired, all the other skis can get in the way.

The solution is to hang the skis vertically on the walls as well, using hooks mounted into 2 by 4s affixed to the walls.

7. Snow Board Shelves

Snow boards can be leaned against walls, but they don’t look organized that way and could potentially cause tripping or other problems. They can’t be hung up using hooks, of course. Build a series of shelves using wood, or invest in metal storage shelves.

Summary

The right shelves, hooks and bins keep your garage or interior hallways organized by giving the people in your home “a place for everything, and everything in its place.”

Avoid these 10 Mistakes when Buying a Home in Bend, Oregon

Buying a home in Bend Oregon is exciting regardless if you are a first time home buyer or have purchased a home before, there are mistakes that buyers of all ages and experience levels make along the way. Here are 10 of the most common home buying mistakes that some buyers make so you will know to avoid them.

Mistake #1 – Forgetting Homeownership Costs

One of the most common mistakes that many buyers make when they purchase a home in Bend or elsewhere in Central Oregon is not thinking about the basic costs that come with owning a home such as: insurance fees, escrow fees and moving costs.

When buying a home it’s important to budget for at least an additional $3,000 for closing costs and you also need to budget for paying long term home ownership expenses like homeowners insurance and property taxes because these expenses will increase your monthly budget and you should plan for them now before you make your home purchase.

Mistake #2 – Mistaking Low Price for Value

If you’re buying a new or used home you should always examine a home thoroughly before buying it because of price alone. Low price could also mean that the home has structural problems or issues that need to be repaired and the current owner is selling the home for less than market value because they don’t want to make those repairs themselves.

Mistake #3 – Not Checking Your Credit Score

Your credit score can be your biggest asset when buying a home in Central Oregon or across the United States because it will enable you to qualify for a great mortgage loan with a low mortgage interest rate, or if you have a low credit score you will have to pay a higher mortgage interest rate.

Purchase copies of your credit reports at least 6 months in advance so you can have plenty of time to find out what the credit bureaus are reporting about you and if there is any negative or inaccurate information on one or more of your credit reports you will have plenty of time to start the dispute process to have those items removed from your credit reports.

Remember that as important as checking your credit score is it’s also important how you use your credit as well and in the weeks or months leading up to applying for a mortgage loan you should not apply for any new credit accounts because not only will more credit increase your debt-to-income ratio it will also result in a “hard pull” on your credit score when a company reviews your credit report and this can take one point of your credit score.

Mistake #4 – Failing To Get Pre-Approved For a Mortgage Loan

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage loan is an important part of buying a home because pre-approval means that a lender will thoroughly review your finances and credit score then tell you the mortgage loan that you really qualify for versus pre-qualification which involves a lender doing an “overview” of your finances and telling you a ballpark estimate for the mortgage loan that you may qualify for.

To aid your lender during the pre-approval process you should get all of your financial documents ready now including your paycheck stubs, W2’s, bank statements, income tax returns and all financial documentation which shows your proof of income.

For home buyers that are self-employed or in commission only positions you should make sure that you have at least two years of consistent income that can be backed up by documentation.

Mistake #5 – Choosing a Realtor® or Mortgage Lender Blindly

Two of the most important things you must do when buying a home is to choose a Realtor® and mortgage lender because your agent will be responsible for showing you homes which match your search criteria while a lender will help you to get pre-approved for a mortgage loan so you will know the exact loan amount that you qualify for.

Instead of choosing a mortgage lender or Realtor® blindly you should take the time to thoroughly review their references and qualifications online before you decide to work with them and take the time to schedule appointments to meet with both your agent and mortgage lender individually so you can have confidence that they will be the very best people to work with for your needs.

Mistake #6 – Not Researching Neighborhoods or Location

You may have found a great craftsman home in Bend Oregon but is it in a walkable location and close to the shops, stores or restaurants that you may use on a regular basis? You should always think about location when buying a home because location matters, especially if it’s your “forever home” because you may not want to drive everywhere as you grow older and living in a home that’s also close to everything will be more convenient for you.

Mistake #7 – Not Thinking about the Resale Value of Your Home

Another huge mistake that you can make when buying a home is not thinking about resale value because you’re buying a great home that works for your family now but what will the value of the home be in 10 or 20 years down the road when you decide to sell it?

Take the time to research home values in the neighborhood, get to know your future neighbors and once you buy a home in Bend Oregon use care when planning renovations or improvements because some renovations can positively or negatively affect your home’s value in the future and make it difficult to sell.

Mistake #8 – Buying a Home If You Plan On Moving In the Next Five Years

Remember that buying a home should be a long term investment and you must be willing or committed to living there for more than five years because if you plan on moving in the near future because you may be unable to rent or sell your home like you thought you would.

Mistake #9 – Putting Down A Small Down Payment

Even though most Realtors® will tell you that you can buy a home in Bend Oregon with a down payment as little as 3.5% when you are pre-approved for an FHA loan, you should always strive to put down a larger down payment of at least 20% because this will mean that you will have more equity once you move into your house and you will avoid having to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) that’s required when you put down a smaller down payment.

Mistake #10 – Not Having a Mortgage Repayment Strategy

Remember that having a mortgage is a long term commitment. Be sure to consider how stable you expect your income to be and, if possible, plan to make extra payments during the life of the mortgage to reduce the time it will take to pay it off.

5 Ways to Set New Year’s Resolutions that You’ll Actually Stick To

Every year, people make New Year’s Resolutions, and every year, most people give up on their resolutions and “good intentions” within the first week!

It doesn’t have to be that way!

According to the latest YouGov poll, here are the top New Year’s Resolutions for 2018 were:

  • Eat better — 37 percent
  • Exercise more — 37 percent
  • Spend less money — 37 percent
  • Self-care (e.g. getting more sleep) — 24 percent
  • Read more books —18 percent
  • Learn a new skill — 15 percent
  • Get a new job — 14 percent
  • Make new friends — 13 percent
  • New hobby — 13 percent
  • Focus more on appearance — 12 percent
  • Focus on relationship — 12 percent
  • Cut down on cigarettes/alcohol — 9 percent
  • Go on more dates — 7 percent
  • Focus less on appearance — 3 percent

Are any of your New Year’s Resolutions on the above list? Would you like to know how you can better your chances of actually succeeding in keeping your Resolutions and achieving your goals?

It all comes down to planning and organization (yes, even if your goal is to get more organized).

So, here are 5 tips on how to achieve any New Year’s Resolution that you desire.

  1. Recognize that it will take time

Most people try to accomplish their Resolutions cold turkey, without any prior planning. They expect to be able to control their appetite overnight, or start jogging for 3 miles immediately, and so on. And the very first time they go off their diet, or miss a day of jogging, they shrug and give it up.

So instead of saying, “I will accomplish this in the first week of January,” let your resolution be, “I will start developing the habits I need to accomplish what I want to accomplish, starting the first week of January.”

As far as losing weight is concerned, there’s no need to go on “fad” diets and give up the food you love. It’s all about portion control, and finding a sport you like that you can participate in for the rest of your life – anything from tennis which can be played year-round, weight training (because replacing muscle with fat helps in losing weight and weight maintenance) and even biking.

Then, just take baby steps. As long as you’re taking two steps forward for every one step back, you will succeed in your goal, and as time goes on you’ll be taking three steps forward!

Take the example of losing weight. Too many people will go on a diet for a week, starve themselves, step on the scale every day for seven days, and when they haven’t lost weight at the end of that time, give up. That’s not the way to do it.

Experts say that losing 2 pounds a week is the only healthy way to lose weight, and depending on one’s age or metabolism, it could be only 1 pound a week or a half-a-pound a week. So losing 100 pounds would take an entire year! Once people who want to lose weight realize that it will take six months to a year and that they’ve got to be patient, their chances for success increase.

  1. Keep a journal of your plans, setbacks, and ultimate successes

Writing things down helps you make plans. Create revolving to-do lists for each day. (A revolving to-do list is very important. This means that if you don’t get something done on one day, you simply move it over to the top of your next day’s list, without stressing about it.)

It doesn’t matter if you get a notebook and write in that, or keep your journal on a computer, as long as you can access it easily.

  1. Recognize your Resolutions for what they are

The top 3rd resolution that everyone makes (according to the people polled by Nielsen, anyway) is to live life to the fullest.

What does “living life to the fullest” actually mean?

It probably means a different thing to each person who has that Resolution!

Does it mean that you want to buy whatever you want without worrying about the cost or the debt you’re running up?

Does it mean that you want to travel and see the countryside before you’re too old to enjoy it (but are currently too young to be able to afford to travel without hitchhiking and sleeping in a tent?)

Does it mean that you want to get married before the year is out?

Whatever it means to you personally, the way to live life to the fullest is to accomplish other goals that are holding you back.

Losing weight and getting fit will go a long way toward giving you self-confidence when it comes to meeting people, especially someone you’d like to acquire as a significant other.

Self-confidence will give you the impetus you need to go after that promotion you want, or to change companies and find a job that will pay you what you deserve. With increased pay comes the increased opportunity to travel.

  1. Replace old habits with new ones

Many Resolutions are defeated because we can’t get over our bad habits.

How can we lose weight when we have a habit of having a bowl of ice cream just before we go to bed?

How can we read more when we have to play a relaxing video game for an hour or so after coming home from work, before getting ready for dinner?

The key is to gradually change our habits. “Gradually” is the keyword here. Phase out that bowl of ice cream at the end of the night by making it half a bowl for a month or so, then a quarter of a bowl, then replace it entirely with carrots.

Set an alarm so that you play your video game for only 45 minutes, and use the next 15 minutes to read or spend time with family. Or, introduce your family to the games you’re playing and form a Team-Family to take on all comers!

  1. Combine Resolutions

Just as you can combine getting fit and losing weight, so you can combine “Traveling more” and “reading more.”

Simply start reading about where you want to travel!

Decide to read about the local sites – historical sites within a hundred miles of where you are. Too often when we think of “travel” we think of going halfway across country and ignore the beautiful sights and historical monuments in our own backyards.

And we find when we return from any travel that we didn’t enjoy it as much as we thought because we didn’t know enough of the historical background to appreciate what we were seeing in a museum. By reading up in advance, it will heighten the experience!

Give yourself time to accomplish your goals, and don’t give up at the first setback. Realize that it’s a process and that whatever you set your mind to, you can do!
Click Here for Full YouGov report

9 Ways to Reduce Stress During the Holidays

The holidays should be the most joyous time of the year, because families that are scattered across the country typically use this as a time to come together over a weekend or even a week to connect with each other and give thanks for their blessings. But there is a lot of stress during the holiday season as well. People get together who haven’t seen each other for many months and the reunions can be awkward. Kids and grandkids descend upon a house that at all other times of the year is nice and quiet. Food has to be cooked. Decorations have to be made. Just the right gifts have to be bought and wrapped. People have to be entertained!

Here are a few tips to help you reduce stress during the holidays

  1. Set a budget for gift giving

You do not want to go into debt over the holiday season by purchasing extravagant gifts for family and friends. It’s easy to put such gifts on a credit card and pay for them over time, but if you are unable to pay off your balance at the end of a month you face interest charges that could potentially double the cost of the gifts you give.

Hand-made gifts can be inexpensive and are more personal than store-bought gifts. The same thing goes for hand-made cards.

“Cutting back” on gift giving can be difficult if you have already “set the standard” over a few years of what you give to people, trying to top yourself (or your siblings) each year. Gift giving should not be a competition.

  1. Plan your gift giving throughout the year

Gifts that have an extra meaning for the receiver can be special. They let people know that you are thinking of them not just at holiday time but throughout the year. If you’ve gone somewhere on vacation, pick up T-shirts from that location.  (“My sister went to London and all I got was this lousy T-shirt”) If you’re visiting a beach, pick up shells and pack them away carefully so that you can give them as a gift later.

  1. Finish gift purchases as early as possible

While it can be a lot of fun to go to packed stores on Christmas Eve, just to see the bustle of people, it’s not quite as fun if you’re looking for last minute gifts. You may not think it but trying to find gifts with only 24 hours to go can really increase your stress level.

So try to purchase – or make – all your gifts before December even arrives. Wrap them up and store them in a closet until the big day. If you are mailing gifts to others, it’s a very good idea to send them before the arrival of December as well. All mail and package delivery services are swamped over the holidays.

  1. Consider gift cards

If you don’t know the interests of the people you’re purchasing gifts for – relatives you only see once a year, for example – gift cards are the easiest and quickest gift to give. They allow people to purchase what they want, so they, in essence, do get “just the right gift.”

If you do purchase gift cards, make sure that they do not expire and that the user is not charged a fee if the card is not used over the course of time.

  1. Use bags and newspaper for wrapping

It takes time to wrap packages. Consider having your packages gift-wrapped at the store where you purchase them. At many locations, such as Barnes & Noble, the gift-wrappers are volunteers for a particular charity. You pay nothing for the gift-wrapping but your donations go to help a cause.

Gift bags are very easy – simply pop the gift into a bag and fold over the top and you’re done. That gives you more time to get on with your day.

If you prefer to wrap your own gifts, and you have a newspaper subscription, consider using “the funny pages” to wrap your gifts.  Recycling used newspapers helps the environment!

  1. Plan your entertaining

Do members of your family alternate the hosting of holiday get-togethers?

Advance planning of these events is all-important to reduce your stress level so you can actually enjoy the events themselves.

Part of planning is good communication.

  1. Delegate who does what for each event

Depending on the meal you’ll be serving, ask other family members to bring the side dishes and desserts, so that you need only cook the main meal, whether turkey, pork roast, ham, or whatever you choose to serve.

Have plenty of sturdy containers for all the left-over food, and label them carefully. Left-overs always taste better the next day because the flavors have had time to “steep”, so don’t be afraid to serve the same meal for lunch and dinner again!

Ask someone in advance to take photos of the gathering, so that you will always have memories of it. Check in advance with each person, however. Some people simply don’t like their photo taken – and you don’t want to make them uncomfortable or stressed out.  But point out the desire to have memories of the event that kids and grandkids can look at over the course of time and enjoy, and ask that they overcome their dislike for at least one photo!

  1. Clean up as you go

There’s nothing more daunting that coming into the kitchen after a good meal to find a stack of dishes waiting for you in the sink. If you rinse dishes and wash them as soon as you are done with them, instead of letting them pile up, you’ll have more time at the end of the evening to spend with family and friends, and there will be no urgency lurking in the back of your mind that eventually you’ll have to go into the kitchen and face all those dishes! You may not realize it but that is stress as well, which can hamper your enjoyment of the day.

  1. Remember the reason for the gathering

The holidays are a time for families to get together and enjoy themselves, and develop good memories that will last forever. Keep a sense of humor and remember to enjoy yourself!

 

 

 

How to Save on Your Winter Energy Bills

Especially in climates that have weeks of chilly temperatures, like the one we have here in Bend, Oregon, it can be a challenge to keep homes cozy without breaking the bank. But the good news is that it’s not impossible! Here are several tips to help.

HVAC ACTION!

  1. Set your thermostat set to 68°

According to the California Energy Commission’s Consumer Energy Center, “for every degree you lower your heat in the 60° to 70° range, you’ll save up to 5 percent on heating costs.”

Put on a sweater or sweatshirt to keep yourself at a comfortable temperature if 68° is too cool for you.

  1. Lower thermostat during workdays/at night

If you leave your home for eight hours during the day, consider lowering the thermostat two more degrees. Also lower it in the evening just before you go to bed. You don’t want to lower it too far, as it will take more energy to bring your home back up to 68° from 55° than from 64°.

  1. Lower thermostat to 55° if you go on vacation

If you leave home for any extended length of time – for anything from three days or longer – consider lowering the heat to 55°.

  1. Maintain your HVAC system during the winter

Check your owner’s manual to ascertain when you need to change the furnace filter. Usually this should be done once a month.

WATER HEATER HELP

Your hot water does not need to be scalding hot. By setting your water heater to 120° at most (typically the “normal” setting on your water heater) you’ll be able to save from 7 to 11% if water heating costs. (Do check the manual for your dishwasher to see if the hot water needs to be set at higher than 120°.)

NATURAL HEAT

During the day, take advantage of the heat of the sun by keeping your drapes open – on those windows that face the south. Once the sun starts to set, simply close the drapes to help keep the heat inside.

FIREPLACE FREEDOM

  1. Keep dampers closed when not in use

If you have a gas-powered fireplace, you need do nothing but regular maintenance. However, if you have a traditional fireplace, in which you burn wood – burn only the highest quality wood, and once the fire is completely out, make sure the damper is completely closed. If you leave the damper open, you could lose up to 8% of your heat through the fireplace!

  1. Install a heat-air exchange system

Over 90% of the heat generated by a traditional fireplace vanishes up the chimney. By installing a heat-air exchange system (tempered glass doors in front of the fireplace, and specially designed grating), most of the warm air will be directed into your living room – or wherever your fireplace is located.

WEATHER STRIPPING

Your home may be new, but opening and closing windows and doors can cause wear and tear on tbe tiniest parts – the weather stripping and the seals. So don’t forget to check the weather stripping around your doors and the seals of your windows to ensure that there are no gaps where cool air can find entry and create unpleasant drafts.

HOLIDAY LIGHTING

What is winter without the anticipation of the holiday season, starting as early as Thanksgiving and going straight into the New Year.

Technology has improved with regard to the light strings with which you decorate a Christmas tree or the exterior edges of your home. LED lights take much less energy than traditional lights.

GENERAL ENERGY SAVING TIPS

These are tips that should be followed year round, and not just during the winter time.

  1. Use natural light when possible

If it’s the middle of the day, open up your drapes and let the sun into the room, rather than having lights turned on.

  1. Turn off lights when you leave a room

This is not just a tip for winter, but for all year round. When you leave a room – make a habit of turning off the lights!

  1. Wash only full loads

Whether we’re talking about dish washing or clothes washing, it only makes sense to wash only full loads. If you need just a small load of clothing washed, remember to adjust the water setting on the washer!

  1. Clean lint traps

Refrigerator filters and HVAC filters need to be changed regularly. Make sure you also clean the lint trap of your drier on a regular basis! Use a slightly damp paper towel to do this if necessary, to prevent lint particles from escaping into the air.

References

Consumer Energy Center, California Energy Commission

http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/tips/winter.html

Energy Saver, Energy.gov

http://www.energy.gov/energysaver/fall-and-winter-energy-saving-tips

12 Step Fall Home Maintenance Checklist for Bend, Oregon

Your fall maintenance checklist consists of steps you should take every year around this time to prepare your home for winter, especially when you live in a place like Bend, Oregon where we often get snow and cold temperatures throughout the winter season. (Don’t miss the handy Infographic to Print or Share at the bottom of this post!)

Preventative maintenance on a yearly basis will, as the name implies, help prevent larger repair bills – which seem to come along at the most inopportune time!

Typically, you should begin your maintenance checklist by taking care of any exterior issues. Get these important tasks out of the way just in case an early frost sets in and derails your plans for the rest of the season!

Exterior Maintenance Checklist

  1. Inspect the home’s foundation

Look for any and all cracks in the concrete foundation. There are two reasons why any cracks in the foundation need to be caulked as soon as they appear.

Throughout the winter, water will get into any cracks and freeze. Ice expands and will cause more damage to the foundation. Small cracks will become larger, and eventually an entire portion of the foundation will crumble.

Allowing water into the foundation can also cause the development of mold. Mold spores can seep into the interior of the home and cause illness.

  1. Inspect the driveway

Cracks in your driveway will only get larger if left untreated. Purchase driveway filler to fill the cracks, and then seal the entire driveway. This task can be done by the homeowner if desired, or a professional can be hired.

  1. Inspect small openings into the home

Caulk around any openings where pipes or wires run into the home (such as cable TV wires). Caulk around the exterior of the window and door frames as well to prevent the loss of heat.

  1. Inspect and replace paint on windows and doors

Paint does more than just improve the appearance of a door or window frame, it also protects the wood beneath. If you have peeling paint on any of these surfaces, moisture can get into the wood and gradually destroy it. Scrape off what paint remains and reapply a new, all-weather paint.

Remove screens, if any, and install storm windows in preparation for winter.

  1. Inspect paint and/or siding

Just as its important for window and door frames to have pristine paint to protect against moisture, so it is important for the sides of the home. Peeling paint allows moisture to get into the surface it’s supposed to protect, and this will result in damage that will be quite expensive to repair if it is not caught in time.

  1. Inspect gutters

During fall, leaves have a tendency to fall and pack into rain gutters. Even if you have no trees tall enough to drop leaves onto your roof, the wind can blow them up there, along with other debris. Always check your gutters (ascending to the roof safely to do so) and clean out any and all debris.

Inspect the joins of the gutters to the roof and make sure they’re secure – and tighten any loose brackets.

  1. Inspect any external air conditioners

If you have air conditioners set into windows, either remove them, or securely cover the external portions to make sure moisture – and cold air – can’t get in.

  1. Inspect your roof

Hire a professional to inspect your roof. You may be able to easily spot missing shingles, but loose shingles or other damage caused by a rain or windstorm can be difficult to see by non-professionals.

  1. Winterize your exterior faucets and irrigation system

Drain water from exterior faucets and turn off the water. Drain fuel from any gas-operated lawn mowers or other tools. Blow out irrigation system and turn it off for the season.

  1. Inspect your deck

Cover your outdoor furniture and barbecue to ensure that they will be safe from winter weather.

Interior Maintenance Checklist

  1. Inspect your HVAC system

Have a licensed HVAC contractor inspect your heating and air conditioning (HVAC) system. If you have a wood stove or fireplace this is essential. Make sure chimneys are clean.

  1. Inspect your ceiling fan

Clean dust and grime from the ceiling fan blades.

A ceiling fan provides an important function year-round. There will be a toggle switch on the exterior of the motor, which will enable you to reverse the direction in which the blades spin. Normally a fan rotates in a counterclockwise direction. During winter, reverse the fan so it rotates in a clockwise direction. The blades will cause the warm air that rises to be redirected down into the room.

By following this 12-step checklist each fall, you will extend the life – and comfortableness – of your home.

This 12 Step Fall Home Maintenance Checklist Infographic is a handy graphic guide. Feel free to share it with friends and family too!

Share this Image On Your Site

12_step_fall_home_maintenance_checklist_woodhill_homes

6 Reasons Why Bend, Oregon is a Great Place to Raise a Family

Parents have always had a challenging job raising their families. The pace of life in the “big cities” is hectic, and there’s little time to stop and smell the roses. On the other hand, the pace of life in “small towns” can be stultifying. Not enough things to do for the kids or the parents to do after school or after work.

The perfect solution is Bend, Oregon. It’s a city that’s just large enough to have an eclectic cultural life, plenty of family activities available, and yet it’s just small enough so that no one feels like they’re faceless individuals lost in a mass of people.

Here are 5 reasons why Bend is a great place for you to raise your family.

  1. Good School System

Bend’s La Pine School District is comprised of 12 elementary schools, five middle schools, and five high schools (one of these an alternative high school). There are also four magnet schools and several private schools.

Since the early 2000s, the Oregon Department of Education has re-dedicated itself to helping its schools provide the best education possible to students state-wide. Bend schools in particular have benefitted from this and have excellent graduation rates.

After high school, students can attend Central Oregon Community College or go to Oregon State University-Cascades, a campus of Oregon State University which offers two and four year degrees.

You can find the best schools in Bend (as reviewed by parents) by checking out this website: http://www.greatschools.org/oregon/bend/

  1. Booming Housing Sector

Bend is popular with retirees, and parents who want a great place to raise their kids. Often on lists of the best places to live in publications like Outdoor Magazine and Men’s Journal, Bend is a much desired place to live and a great place to own a home.

  1. Cultural Activities

Minds both young and old enjoy being stimulated and introduced to new things on a regular basis. Bend’s cultural atmosphere is vibrant.

There are two museums – the Deschutes Historical Museum which shares the history of Bend (founded in 1824 as a logging town) and the surrounding region, and the High Desert Museum which allows visitors to explore the local culture, art, and wildlife. Both these museums inspire the joy of learning.

Art lovers will enjoy over a dozen galleries which showcase both local and country-wide artists. Many of these galleries hold special events. In August, Art in the High Desert is held in the Old Mill District. It’s the region’s most notable art and fine craft festival.

There’s nothing quite like live theatre to engage the mind as well as provide wonderful entertainment. Bend’s live theatre is showcased at the Tower Theatre, which features touring productions. The Cascades Theatre and the 2nd Street Theatre are volunteer repertory companies which stage new, experimental works as well as old favorites.

Music concerts are a staple at the Les Schwab Amphitheater. Even kids can learn to like opera or chamber music if they’re exposed to quality productions – which is what Opera Bend and High Desert Chamber Music deliver.

  1. Parks

Bend is the “gateway” to outdoor sports on the Deschutes River and in the Cascade mountain range, but within the city itself there’s plenty of green spaces for kids and adults to enjoy.

Tubing, canoeing and kayaking down the Deschutes River, which runs right through Bend, is a popular activity. Biking and walking on the riverfront trail also draws thousands of participants every month.

The famous Mirror Pond is surrounded by a half-dozen parks, including Drake Park and the Farewell Bend Park.

Bend also has an urban trail system that runs for 51 miles through parkland, past schools and through neighborhoods, so kids and their parents can jog, run, and bike together.

  1. Beauty

Bend is a beautiful city. It has become a prime destination for retirees as well as parents who wish to raise their children in this environment, and the city planners have taken steps to ensure that the “small town flavor” of the city is not disrupted as it continues to grow – and provide social services and amenities for its citizens.

Bend is one of three cities in the continental United States to have a volcano within its city limits – the other two being Portland, Oregon and Jackson, Mississippi. Unlike the active volcanoes in Hawaii, all three of these are extinct!

Bend’s volcano is a cinder cone called Pilot Butte. It is a popular hiking, biking and even driving destination, as from its summit spectacular views of the surrounding area can be seen.

As a corollary, Bend is relatively free from air pollution, which makes it a healthy place for kids and parents to live! According to EcoWatch, it’s one of the top 25 cleanest cities free of ozone air pollution. Kids with asthma will appreciate Bend’s fresh air.

  1. Outdoor Sports

Now we come to the elephant in the room (or perhaps we should say, the elephant on a snowboard or a mountain bike). Thousands of tourists come to the city yearly and year-round to take part in the activities that residents of Bend can enjoy right in their own back yards.

In Summary

Bend is a great place to visit. And once you do, you won’t want to leave. You’ll find out first hand why Bend is a great place to raise your family.

10 Tips for Maintaining Your New Home

There’s something special about moving into your new home. It’s brand new – all the appliances are gleaming, the walls are clean and bright, the carpets spotless, the wooden floors gleaming. It all looks wonderful. The interior and exterior of the home are just as you want them.

How can you keep it that way?

  1. Don’t get carried away!

If you’ve ever seen certain sitcoms, you’ve seen the living rooms where couches and chairs are draped in uncomfortable plastic, to preserve the look of the furniture beneath. Hardly an inviting place to sit.

But there are certain common sense steps you can take to help ensure that your home’s exterior roof, walls, lawn and sidewalk continue to look – if not brand new, at least well-cared for. The same goes for the interior. There’s nothing wrong with a “lived-in” look – in fact of course that’s what makes a house a home.

  1. Create a maintenance checklist and stick to it

Creating checklists for necessary maintenance and chores to be done inside and outside on a regular basis will go a long way toward helping you and your family maintaining the great look of your new home.

Invest in supplies that you need and keep them in a storage area so that when the time comes to actually do your maintenance, you don’t have an excuse to put if off because you don’t have what you need to do your chores.

Maintenance is more than changing filters. If you have carpeting you should vacuum a couple of times a week to keep dust from collecting. If you have wooden floors, clean them on a regular basis with a cleaner to which dust will not stick.

  1. Organize your supplies

If you hire a lawn service to take care of your lawn and gardens, and a cleaning service to take care of vacuuming and cleaning bathrooms and so on, then you will only need the barest supplies to do spot maintenance yourself.

If you’re going to look after your lawn, garden and the interior of your home yourself, invest in basic supplies and store them on closet or garage shelves dedicated for that purpose.  The old adage of “a place for everything and everything in its place” is very true. Put your tools and cleaning supplies back in the same place after every use and you’ll save time, energy and money next time you need to use them.

  1. Employ appropriate maintenance professionals

When winter looms, it’s time to ensure that your gutters are always free of leaves and detritus. You don’t want to be caught unprepared when the first snowfall hits Employ professionals to clean your gutters and get up on the roof of your home to check for loose tiles or shingles, before winter hits.

  1. Protect your lawn and garden

Drain the water from any exterior faucets and from any garden hoses. Store your hoses inside during winter, properly coiled up and out of the way.  Put mulch or burlap bags around your flower beds to keep them relatively warm during the winter months.

Cut your grass quite short before the onset of winter, to ensure a healthy return to greenery when spring comes. Fertilize the lawn also – so that when spring comes the nutrients will be there ready to feed the soil and the grass.

  1. Protect entryways

To prevent dirt and mud from being tracked into the house, have welcome mats in front of each door, and mats for shoes inside. Supply carpet slippers for visitors.

  1. Perform an exterior inspection before winter comes

Your brand-new home is…well…brand new, but that doesn’t mean that things can’t go wrong. Catch small problems before they turn into bigger problems. Take a look at the exterior of your windows, and clean off dirt and grit. Make sure exterior seals are still intact.

  1. Change filters

Your HVAC system and your refrigerator have filters that must be changed on a regular basis. Changing these filters should be part of your maintenance checklist. If you have a smart phone, spend some time inputting the dates when filters need to be changed into your calendar. Then you can simply forget about it until the alert comes from your calendar app. Then – don’t put it off – do the maintenance right away!

  1. Keep track of pet behavior

Don’t let your pets destroy your furniture. If you have cats, invest in a clawing pole. If you have dogs, make sure they are house-trained before you let them into carpeted areas. If there are any “accidents” clean them up immediately.

  1. Keep track of kid behavior

It’s hard to keep a home pristine if you have young children, but you can make it easier on your walls if you keep crayons and markers in a controlled environment so your kids only have access to them when you’re home to supervise. Kids love to draw on anything – protect your walls by providing them with large tablets on which to draw or color.

Set some ground rules if possible – no eating except at table or on a TV tray. No colored liquids such as grape juice to come anywhere near light-colored carpeting!

By following these simple steps, your home will stay clean, and your appliances will stay in working condition, for a long time to come.

5 Reasons Why People Buy Brand New Homes

Many people buy new homes for just one reason…they want to own something brand new, something that has never belonged to anyone else. This is a desire on an emotional level. And while it’s perfectly valid reason, there are plenty of tangible reasons why buying a new home makes perfect sense.

  1. Everything’s done for you!

There are a few drawbacks in purchasing older homes. There’s a lot of work involved in getting an older home ready for a single individual, couple or family to movie into.  Peeling wallpaper will need to be stripped, there are invariably cracks in walls that will need to be spackled before repainting can be done. Old, well tracked-in carpet may need to be replaced – or stripped off completely if wooden floors are desired. (And then the wooden floors must be laid.)

Some people like to do all that work, others just want everything done, which is why they purchase a brand-new house to begin with!

  1. State-of-the-Art Technology

With a new home, buyers know that they are getting the latest technology when it comes to their heating and air conditioning (HVAC) unit and their water heater, not to mention refrigerator, dishwasher, and clothes washer and dryer.

The latest HVAC systems can be controlled electronically through one’s cell phone, if one has the appropriate app. The ductwork will have balance dampers, which will make the operation of the unit virtually noiseless. Ductwork in new homes is also sized properly for the home it’s installed in, and is insulated to help with energy efficiency. The refrigerant used in the latest HVAC systems (R410A) is much more environmentally friendly than the old (R-22).

Buyers may not know the reason behind all the technical upgrades, but they will certainly appreciate them!

They can also be confident that the plumbing and electricity fixtures will meet and probably exceed the building code.

And, of course, their roof will be brand new – whatever design it may be (flat, or with dormer and gables). Roofing technology continues to improve as well and roof membranes, the material used to coat shingles, and insulation material have all improved in the last decade.

This implementation of new technology gives the new home owner a feeling of security that nothing major will go wrong with their home for a long time! (And this will probably be the case, as long as basic maintenance is carried out seasonally! Regular maintenance such as replacing air filters will always be required, of course, and the lack of maintenance can negatively impact the life of any system.)

If something does go wrong with one of these systems due to manufacturing defect, they will be under warranty and so the cost to repair or replace them will be covered.

  1. Energy efficient and therefore Cost Efficient

A corollary to the state-of-the-art technology available in a brand-new home is that this new technology will be energy efficient, much more so than older designs that come with older houses.

HVAC units can be simultaneously smaller than older units, but also more efficient. EnergyStar windows will keep out drafts, so that temperatures can be set lower and still keep the house warm (or cool, depending on the season). In addition, these windows can block the harmful rays of the sun, while still letting in sunlight.Thermostats can be controlled electronically and therefore offer more precise temperatures.

Contemporary homes feature an open floor plan and high ceilings, but due to the efficiency of the systems, the cost to heat and cool such a home is relatively the same.

Energy efficient homes are of course great for the environment. Cost efficient homes are great for the pocket book of the home owner.

  1. Comfort

Another corollary to the savings in paying for utilities is that the home will be more comfortable.

This comfort manifests itself in a variety of ways. Fewer drafts, so no need to wear sweaters. Less noise pollution from the outside.

The new home buyer will be able to choose the brand and style furniture for the living room and bedrooms and thus choose the most comfortable designs of couches, chairs and beds to suit their needs.

  1. Safety and Security

Older homes may not meet present-day building codes as far as wiring – and they don’t need to unless the owner wants to do some remodeling. Newer homes will meet the latest safety codes.

 

7 Tips for Choosing Colors for your New Home

Don’t miss the infographic below that makes it easy to choose new colors for your home!

Once you’ve purchased your house, it is time to make it your home. This includes choosing furniture, blinds and draperies or curtains, and colors for the walls and ceilings. You will also need to decide if you’ll have hardwood floors or install wall to wall carpeting.

Before you do any of these things, you’ll need to selecting a color scheme, or palette, for it all.

If you have purchased a pre-existing home, the walls and ceilings will already have some kind of a color scheme. There might even be wallpaper instead of paint in some of the rooms, or wooden paneling.  The kitchen will probably already be equipped with large appliances such as refrigerator and dish washer, as well as storage cabinets.

If you have had a new home built, then of course you will need to choose the color scheme of appliances in the kitchen as well as throughout the rest of the house before the interior of the home is completed.

Of course, even if you’ve purchased a pre-existing home, there’s no reason why you can’t repaint or otherwise redecorate walls and ceilings, and change the color scheme in your kitchen and even your bathrooms.

You can do anything you want because it is your home!

Here are seven tips for choosing the best color scheme for your new home – to suit your own tastes.

  1. Consider each person who lives in the home

The typical child likes to think of his or her bedroom as their own private domains, and will decorate it accordingly. He or she may choose a color scheme that doesn’t match the rest of the home’s interior, but that’s okay!

It’s best to allow your child to use his or her own imagination and suit his or her own tastes in decorating the bedroom, and that includes choosing the color of the walls, what type of artwork will go on the walls, and so on.

Young children will also track mud or dirt into the house, put fingerprints on walls or even exercise their artistic talents with crayons. White carpeting is therefore usually not a good idea when a home is going to be inhabited by children.

Having said that, there’s no reason why all common areas cannot be attractively decorated with light-colored paint or wallpaper if proper precautions are taken (such as ensuring that all paint is washable and the carpets and furniture upholstery are stain-resistant!

  1. Treat open/adjoining rooms as essentially the same room

Typically, the bedrooms and their adjacent bathrooms of a are their own little compartments. Colors for these rooms don’t necessarily need to match the colors on the walls of the rest of the home.

However, if the living room leads into an open dining room, the colors of those two rooms should match or be complementary. The color of paint used in the hallways should also match or be complementary with the colors of the rooms into which the hallways lead.

  1. Decide on a bold or subdued color for your main room

Subdued colors – white, light yellow, light blue, light green and so on – will typically work with every room in the house. But it is not necessary to have only subdued colors in your home. You can choose one room to be “bold,” using a darker shade of blue or green, for example, and then complement this bold room by using different, lighter shades of the same color in the hallways and adjoining rooms.

You may want your living room to be bold, for example, with the hallway to the bedrooms and in a lighter hue, and your dining room or kitchen in a yet-lighter hue.

  1. Take sample paint chips home

Every store that sells paint will provide you with paint “chips” – pieces of card stock on which are placed different hues of the same color.

Don’t decide on a color when you are at the store – take a selection of paint chips home with you so you can see their color under the lights you have in each room.

  1. Prime and then test each color

Before you commit to purchasing several gallons of paints, test the color(s) you’ve chosen by purchasing an 8-ounce sample of the color – and a primer. Prime a five-foot area of a wall with white primer, and then paint over it with the color you’ve chosen. It really requires a large area of wall to be painted before you can properly decide if the color “works” with the room.

  1. Always prime walls

If you are changing wall colors, first use primer on each wall before painting them with your chosen color. Otherwise, the original wall color will affect the way the new color on the walls is seen.

  1. Change your mind if necessary

If the color of the test section of the wall is too dark, choose a hue that is two times lighter, from the same paint chip. If you feel that it is too light, choose a hue that is two times darker. Prime the wall again and then test this new color.

7 Tips for Choosing the Right Colors for Your New Home Woodhill Homes

How to Decorate Your Home on a Budget

Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make. Biggest in importance and biggest in price. Many new homeowners forget to set aside money for all of those decorating projects they inevitably want to do once they’ve moved in. Should this have recently happened to you – fear not! Here are some ways you can decorate your new home on a budget.

Mix and Match

When it comes to buying furniture, buying an entire set, say a living room set, can get very pricey. It’s more affordable to buy solo pieces and mix and match. Not only will you save money, but each of your furniture pieces will also seem special and unique.

Split the Bill

You may find a furniture dealer is willing to give you a discount on an entire set but not on an individual piece. When this happens, see if you can find a friend, family member or even a neighbor who will go in on the set with you. You end up only paying for the sofa you really want (and at a discount to boot!) and your friend can go home with the two side chairs.

Don’t Follow the Rules

Many decorative items that are meant for outdoors are priced lower than the decorative items meant for indoors. Who says you have to follow indoor/outdoor rules? If you see a cute little table in the lawn and garden section of Home Depot and you think it would look fantastic by your bed, go for it!

Consider Reupholstering

Sometimes bringing old furniture into a new house just feels… wrong. But you don’t always have to go out and buy all new furniture. Consider reupholstering that sofa or those dining room chairs. You’ll most likely end up spending half, if not less, than you would have had you bought a brand new piece.

Think Outside the Carpeting Box

Installing new carpet can be an incredibly expensive project. One way to cut the cost is to install carpet tiles. The problem with many carpet tiles is, once installed, they can give your home a corporate look. But, by installing your carpeting on the diagonal, those same tiles will look much more homey and inviting.

Forget Expensive Wall Art

Framed pictures of your loved ones adorning your wall is a much more personal and affordable way to decorate your new home. A great place to find inexpensive yet beautiful frames is at craft stores like Michael’s and Hobby Lobby.

For maximum impact, hang your photos in groups rather than scatter them around the room. And consider outlining a small image with an 8-inch matte before framing. This gives images that upscale gallery look.

Invest in Local Artists

A great way to get art that is one-of-a-kind, beautiful and affordable is to support the local artists in your area. Bend has a wonderful art scene and you’re sure to find something you love by spending a weekend or two going to galleries and private art tours.

Mosaic at a Fraction of the Price

Here’s a cost-saving idea for all you DIYers. Buying standard tiles – let’s say 12-inch-square stone tiles, will cost you less than buying pre-cut tiles for mosaic projects. Why not cut those tiles yourself to create a unique mosaic pattern for a fraction of the price?

You could border a room, such as a foyer, with 6- by 12-inch tiles, then add a few rows of two-inch square tiles, finally filling the center with 12-inch square tiles.

The same can be done for a kitchen backsplash. Buy standard subway tiles but use them to form a stunning herringbone pattern.

A Couture Bathroom for Pennies

Unless you have a glass door on your shower, shower curtains tend to be one of the main focal points in the room. But most curtains, even the “nice” ones, leave something to be desired. One reason for this is that these store-bought curtains are usually too short and leave part of the tub awkwardly revealed. Simply sew a deep fabric hem at the bottom to create a sophisticated couture look in minutes and for pennies.

Re-Envision Your Space

Big designers often tell their clients that shopping in your own home can be the most cost effective way to decorate it. Take a look at what you already have available to you. By simply rearranging your furniture, or swapping one piece out with another from a different room, you can create a whole new look absolutely free!

Thrift

Certain thrift stores can be gold mines for wonderful pieces that cost almost nothing. Spend a little time driving around your local area looking for different stores that offer high-quality secondhand pieces. Also, stop in at estate auctions and even garage sales to find one-of-a-kind pieces for a steal.

Think About the Long Term Investment

Finally, it’s easy to become obsessed with price when decorating on a budget. Many people will buy a couch for $500 because it is cheap, not taking into consideration it may fall apart in two years, especially from wear and tear of children and pets.

Don’t just think “cheap,” think long-term investing for certain pieces. If you don’t currently have the budget to buy a $2,000 sofa, get one for $50 on Craigslist until you can save up to buy quality items.

6 Tips on Choosing the Right Floor Plan for You

So you’re your thinking about buying a new home.  Although exterior look and style is important when buying a home, choosing the right floor plan is even more important because, if the home doesn’t offer the right amount of square footage and finished living areas, you may live there always feeling like something is “missing.”

Here are 6 tips on choosing the right floor plan when buying a home.

Tip #1 – Think About Your Family and Lifestyle

Before choosing a floor plan for your new home it’s important for you to sit down with all of the individuals who will be living there and discuss each persons needs and wants and what lifestyle you plan to enjoy while living there. For example: If your children are still young enough that they will be living with you for the next 10 to 15 years, you will want plenty of space including bigger bedrooms for your children to grow into as they grow older.

Let’s say that you and your spouse, or significant other, are older, and your children already grown, in this case you may want to choose a floor plan which has average size bedrooms, or an additional master suite for one set of parents to live with you as they grow older.

When choosing a floor plan you should also think about the impact that it will have on your body right now, and as you grow older. For example, two story floor plans, or floor plans with steps, can have a big impact on individuals who have issues with joint pain, or knee pain where a one story plan or a plan with a main floor master bedroom could be a better option.

Tip #2 – Think About Privacy

When choosing a home, it’s important to think about the issue of your privacy needs and to focus on exactly where you’re going to want that privacy.

Privacy is especially important when it comes to bathroom areas. For example in the master suite, some people don’t like to have a door between the master suite and the master bathroom, while some do.

There are also some homebuyers who may want to have their toilet in an enclosed space similar to a closet, while others won’t mind if their toilet is in the bathroom next sink. These are all issues that should be thought about and discussed with occupants of the home before the final home is chosen.

Tip #3 – Will Your Home Need A Work From Home Space?

These days it’s not unusual for families to have one or more individuals who work from home. The Internet has created more work from home opportunities than ever before because it can connect people virtually to their office for meetings, conferences, or to do the same tasks that they might normally do at away from home.

If you work from home, consider how much work space you’ll need especially to keep the working area separated from high-traffic areas in the home like the kitchen or entertainment room to work without distraction.

Tip #4 – Furnishings

Once you’ve agreed on the basics of the floor plan, consider the decor and furnishings of the home.

Before choosing furnishings and decor, you should think about where the furniture and decor will be placed in each room so that the furniture and/or seating will complement the overall feel of the room. This also helps you budget if you’ll need to add to the furniture and decor that you already own.

Tip #5 – Make Sure Your Floor Plan Has Enough Storage Space for Your Needs

When you’re deciding on the right floor plan for you, consider the storage space and closet space that you’ll need. Remember holiday decorations, outdoor equipment, woodworking tools, craft supplies. The amount of storage space needed varies greatly by individual and family, so just make sure there is enough for your needs.

Tip #6 – Think About Outdoor Living

Think about outdoor living. If you and your family like to spend time outside, be sure that you have enough space to do so.