Selling Your Home in Oregon? 5 House Features Buyers Want – Redfin

Homebuyers often find themselves on the hunt for certain trends in their future dream home even before touring a house. Whether that’s a covered deck in Dallas, Texas or french doors in Los Angeles, California, you may be wondering what the most popular home features are in your state.

For current and future home sellers in Oregon, popular house features are likely to draw in more potential buyers and increase resale value. So, if home improvement is on your list this year, check out 5 of the most popular home trends in Oregon you should consider adding to your list. 



1) Walk-in closet

With lots of spacious room to hang and store your clothes, it’s no wonder Oregon’s most popular home trend is a walk-in closet. Homes with walk-in closets have an average list price of $519,000. Maybe you’ve always dreamt of turning one of your spare rooms into a walk-in closet or converting part of your main bedroom into a space to store your belongings. Call your local remodeling company to see about upgrading one of your spaces to stand out with potential homebuyers. 



2) Double pane windows

With a varied climate, it’s only fitting that double pane windows are popular with Oregon homebuyers. Compared to their single pane counterparts, double pane windows will keep you and your home more insulated from the weather outside. These windows provide insulation, while also making your home more energy efficient. Only 14.8% of current homes for sale have this feature, so your home will definitely stand out from the competition with double pane windows.



3) Central air conditioning or air conditioning unit

Unless you’re living in a region of Oregon that’s cold year-round, chances are you’ve wished for air conditioning during the summers, especially if your home doesn’t have an AC unit. Having central air conditioning in your Oregon home yields an average list price of $510,000, making it one of the most popular house features that appeal to buyers. So consider making this summer the year you call your local HVAC team to decide on the right AC unit for your home.



4) Hardwood, ceramic, or laminate floors

With all the types of flooring out there it may seem as though the options are endless. Whether you’re selling a house in Bend or Portland, OR, hardwood, ceramic, and laminate floors are some of the most popular house features. Not only will these flooring types bring style to your home, they’ll also appeal to future buyers, as only 13.3% of homes currently for sale have these features. So, if you’re thinking about upgrading your floors, now might be the time to check out your local flooring companies.



5) Two stories and high ceilings

Whether that’s having a 2-story home or high ceilings to make any room feel expansive, Oregonians are all about space. Only roughly 11% of homes currently for sale have these house features, so this may be the right home improvement project to add to your list this year. If you’re thinking about adding more space to your home, contact your local remodeling company or a general contractor. They’ll know if creating high ceilings or an addition to your home is possible. 

*Per home listing data on, as of January 2021. 

Individual results may vary. This is not intended as a substitute for the services of a licensed real estate agent, or licensed and bonded home services professional or appraiser.


545: From Single Mom at 16 to Investor with $47 Million in Property: Edna Keep’s Story

As a single mom at age 16, Edna had the cards stacked against her. However, she didn’t let that stop her from becoming a successful financial advisor before moving into the world of real estate. Now, with a real estate portfolio of 437 doors valued at over $47 million, it’s safe to say she’s become a highly successful real estate investor as well. Today, Edna joins us on Real Estate Rockstars to share how she went from investing in a two-bedroom condo to buying multiple apartment buildings with successful syndication deals. If you want to become a big-time real estate investor, don’t miss this episode with Edna Keep!

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My Mother Wants Me to File for Bankruptcy! (Hour 3)

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7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking

Woman reviewing her Social Security benefits
VH-studio /

It’s common to think of Social Security as money you receive in retirement, but the program is actually much broader. Through the Social Security Administration, the government provides payments to spouses, children and those with disabilities, among others.

Here’s a closer look at some benefits of Social Security that you may have missed.

1. Spousal benefits via a husband or wife

Senior couple riding bikes
Monkey Business Images /

Of all the additional benefits offered by Social Security, spousal benefits may be the best known. Spouses can receive as much as half of their husband’s or wife’s monthly benefit. Even stay-at-home spouses without their own work history can claim benefits in this way.

You can begin claiming spousal benefits as early as age 62, although benefits are reduced if payments begin before your full retirement age.

People can also receive spousal benefits at any age if they are caring for a child who is disabled or younger than age 16 and who is receiving benefits from the spouse’s record.

If you are entitled to your own benefits as well as spousal benefits, you will receive an amount equal to whichever benefit level is greater.

2. Spousal benefits via an ex-spouse

Couple getting a divorce
4 PM production /

Even if you are divorced, you may be entitled to spousal benefits. To receive these benefits, all the following must apply to your situation:

  • Your ex-spouse is entitled to receive Social Security benefits.
  • You were married at least 10 years to your ex-spouse.
  • You are unmarried now.
  • You are at least 62 years old.
  • The benefit that you are entitled to receive based on your own work is less than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work.

Claiming spousal benefits as a divorcee does not affect your ex-husband or ex-wife’s benefit amount. It also doesn’t affect any benefits their current spouse can receive should they have remarried.

3. Survivor’s benefits for widows and widowers

Serious senior woman looking out the window
Solarisys /

If your husband or wife dies, you may still be able to receive up to 100% of their Social Security retirement benefits. Divorced spouses may also be able to receive survivor’s benefits if they were married for at least 10 years and are now unmarried.

Most widows and widowers can begin claiming survivor’s benefits as early as age 60. Those who have a disability and became disabled prior to or within seven years of their spouse’s death can start benefits as early as age 50. What’s more, widows and widowers or any age can receive survivor’s benefits if they are caring for a deceased worker’s child who younger than age 16 or disabled.

Be aware that if you remarry before age 60 — or age 50 if you’re disabled — you cannot receive these survivor’s benefits. As with spousal benefits, if you are receiving survivor’s benefits and begin your own retirement benefits, you’ll receive whichever amount is higher.

4. Survivor’s benefits for children

Child on green lawn
Anna Nahabed /

Spouses aren’t the only ones entitled to survivor’s benefits. Children can receive payments from a deceased parent’s record as well.

Survivor’s benefits are available to children up to age 18, or age 19 for those still attending elementary or secondary school full-time. Benefits may extend beyond that if a child becomes disabled and remains disabled before age 22.

Depending on the circumstances, grandchildren and stepchildren may also be eligible for these benefits.

5. Parent’s benefits

Worried older woman looking at a window as it rains
SpeedKingz /

Parents who depended on their children for financial support may be eligible to receive benefits from Social Security should that child die.

To be eligible for Social Security Parent’s Benefits, you must meet several criteria, including the following:

  • The deceased worker must have enough work credits to qualify for Social Security benefits.
  • You must be at least 62 years old and, in most cases, cannot have married after the worker’s death.
  • You must have received at least one-half of your support from the deceased worker at certain points in time.
  • You are the natural parent or become the legal adoptive parent or stepparent prior to the worker turning 16 years old.
  • You are not eligible for a retirement benefit from Social Security that exceeds the parent’s benefit.

6. Disability benefits

A woman uses a wheelchair
wernimages /

More than 9 million people receive monthly benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance program. To receive benefits, people must have a work history that makes them eligible for Social Security and be unable to work now because of a medical condition that is expected to last at least a year or end in death.

The process for applying for Social Security Disability benefits may require applicants to submit a significant amount of documentation. For those who are denied benefits initially, there is an appeals process.

7. Supplemental Security Income

Senior woman paying Medicare bills
De Visu /

While the Social Security Administration oversees the Supplemental Security Income program, these benefits don’t come from Social Security taxes. Instead, the program uses general tax dollars to provide benefits to adults and children with disabilities, blindness or limited income and resources.

Commonly called SSI, this program is intended to provide cash assistance for basic needs such as food, clothing and housing. Since the program is funded by general tax revenue, there is no work history requirement to receive these benefits.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.


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17 Uses for Baby Oil That Will Save You Money

Woman stepping into a bathtub
Photo by Maridav /

The next time you need to unstick, soften, shine, depilate or de-squeak something, try baby oil.

The lightly scented mineral oil is good for numerous applications that have nothing to do with babies. In fact, having baby oil on hand can spare you from needing to buy an array of single-purpose products that are generally more expensive.

Following are more than a dozen uses for baby oil that could save you money.

1. Bath oil

I’ve poured baby oil into the tub to soften my winter-weary skin.

Note: You must use some cleanser on the tub afterward, or the oily residue could cause the next bather to slip and fall.

2. Moisturizer

Don’t feel like scrubbing an oily tub after every time you bathe to get the baby oil benefits? Towel-dry yourself a little after your bath, and then smooth a little baby oil on your still-damp skin to help lock in moisture.

3. Shave-gel substitute

Use a thin layer of baby oil on your legs instead of shave cream or gel (or soap) before shaving.

4. Waxing aid

If you’re waxing brows, legs or, uh, other parts of your body, use a little baby oil afterward to remove any lingering wax.

5. Eye makeup remover

A cotton ball dampened with baby oil helps take care of eye shadow and eyeliner without irritating delicate skin.

6. Temporary-tattoo remover

Did Junior come home from a birthday party festooned with garish superhero tats? Rub them off with a little baby oil.

7. Cuticle oil

Sushmita Munda writes at that she uses baby oil on her hands when she gives herself a manicure. Sure, there’s a product called “cuticle oil,” but she never buys it.

8. Lip scrub

Munda also makes a lip scrub by mixing 1 teaspoon of baby oil, ½ teaspoon of sugar and a few drops of lemon juice. Every night before bed she rubs it lightly on her lips to remove dead skin.

9. Massage unguent

Baby oil is an inexpensive alternative to massage oil or cream.

10. Scaly-feet softener

Do your feet look positively lizardlike in the winter? Rub some baby oil on at bedtime, and then don plain white socks. While you sleep, the skin on your feet will soften right up.

11. Ring loosener

Did your hands swell because of pregnancy or air travel? Trickle a little baby oil on the puffy digit and gradually ease off the ring.

12. Paint remover

Got latex paint on your hands or arms after painting a room? It might rub right off, or it might embed itself in your knuckles and other skin folds. A post on recommends massaging paint spatters with baby oil in circular motions.

13. Squeaky-hinge lubricant

A drop or two should do it — and baby oil smells a lot better than WD-40.

14. Adhesive bandage remover

Time to change the Band-Aid on your kid’s knee? Saturate it with oil and wait awhile; the adhesive should lift right off with no pain.

15. Price sticker remover

If a sticker resists removal from an item made of glass, china or plastic, rub in some baby oil and wait a bit. The sticker should peel off much more easily.

Note: Don’t do this on cloth or paper items, as the oil will stain.

16. Golf club polish

Depending on which golf aficionado you talk to, you can protect and shine your clubs with gun oil, WD-40, special golf-club polishes, petroleum jelly, a silicone gun cloth or, yes, baby oil.

17. Paper shredder oil

If you have a document shredder — and you should — keep things running smoothly with an occasional oiling. Put a couple of pieces of paper on a baking sheet and squirt on some baby oil. Once the paper has absorbed the oil, run it through the shredder.

For more household hacks for everyday items, check out:

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.


4 Ways to Save More Money at Ikea

Woman shopping at Ikea
Prachana Thong-on /

Ikea might just be the top home furnishing store for frugal folks across the nation.

The products are stylish but inexpensive — as long as you don’t mind using a little elbow grease to assemble them.

People trying to save a buck love Ikea’s low prices. But learn a few tricks and you can hang on to even more cash at the popular retailer. Following are a few ways to save more at Ikea.

1. Join the Ikea Family rewards program

Ikea Family
AlesiaKan /

Enroll in Ikea Family, and you will be eligible for perks that include:

  • Discounts on products “from food to furniture”
  • Free coffee or tea in the in-store Ikea Restaurant
  • A birthday treat

2. Sign up for Ikea’s moving program

Syda Productions /

Planning a big move? Ikea can help if you sign up for its New Mover program.

Once you register, you will receive $25 off your next purchase of $250 or more.

3. Shop the ‘as-is’ section

Vadim Georgiev /

Bargain hunters should be sure to stop by the “as-is” section at Ikea stores. Here, you can find deals on all kinds of items.

According to Apartment Therapy:

“… once a week, most IKEA stores offer a 10%-off as-is section discount. However, that day varies from store-to-store, so your best bet is to call your nearest IKEA to find out what day of the week you can score an even bigger markdown.”

Also, many Ikea fanatics say Monday is a great day to shop the section, after people have used the weekend to return items.

4. Get discounted gift cards

Andrey_Popov /

When you shop Ikea — or many other major retailers — you can cut costs even further by using gift cards purchased at websites that sell them at a discount.

We’ve seen Raise sell Ikea gift cards at a discount of 5% or more. However, these bargain gift cards are just as popular as Ikea itself, so sometimes Raise is sold out of Ikea cards.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.


How the FSOC might single-out nonbanks for scrutiny

With the Financial Stability Oversight Council likely to resume singling out systemically-important nondepositories for scrutiny, even mid tier companies should brace themselves for the possibility, according to one Washington attorney.

The FSOC, which was established in 2010 to monitor systemic risk after the housing crash, could determine that a broad range of mortgage companies should be subject to “heightened prudential standards,” said Andrew Olmem, a partner at Mayer Brown and a former senior economic adviser to the White House.

“One cannot assume that, going forward, the FSOC will only be considering designations of the largest firms,” Olmem said during a recent teleconference. Experts “contend that the FSOC should consider designating even midtier-sized firms on the grounds that collectively they can present the same systemic risks,” he noted.

The concern reflects a broader fear among less-regulated nonbanks that they could be subject to more restrictions because a Democratic administration with a regulatory bent is in the White House, and the pandemic has highlighted relative liquidity challenges they face.

Nonbanks dominate government-related secondary mortgage markets. In November 2020, they represented 92% of securitized originations guaranteed by Ginnie Mae, 69% of loans purchased by Fannie Mae and 68% of those bought by Freddie Mac, according to data from eMBS and the Urban Institute.

Fannie and Freddie’s ability to identify systemic risks through the FSOC was among the topics Treasury Secretary Nominee Janet Yellen confirmed an interest in focusing on in a congressional hearing late last week.

However, while nonbanks’ growing role in the financial system is clearly on Washington’s radar screen, the issue may not be FSOC’s first priority, said Olmem, who worked with the Trump administration on the CARES Act in 2020 prior to joining Mayer Brown in July of last year.

“It’s … unclear whether mortgage companies will be the initial focus,” he said, noting that among the other types of nonbanks singled out in recent regulatory reports are broker-dealers, certain investment companies and money market funds.

That said, it’s clear that the ground has been laid for the FSOC to undertake the examination of the regulation of nonbank mortgage companies and servicers, and regulators could soon begin the process by making informational requests, Olmem said.

“For companies that believe they could find themselves considered for designation, it is appropriate to begin an internal assessment of their operations to understand if they satisfy FSOC’s standards,” he said.

Companies will have due process rights, said Olmem. They can present a case for why designation may be inappropriate in a hearing, and may have the opportunity to introduce reforms to reduce their systemic risk.

Under the Trump administration, three companies had their Obama-era designations as “systemically important” institutions dismissed, but such dismissals may be less likely under the Biden administration, depending on how much influence it can exert on the reconstituted leadership of the court system.


Will Biden take the nuclear option on the GSEs?

In the waning days of the Trump Administration, Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin and Federal Housing Finance Director Mark Calabria put in place a new preferred stock purchase agreement that allows Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to accumulate $275 billion in capital.

The change put in place by Mnuchin and Calabria is intended to create momentum for the GSEs’ eventual release from conservatorship and constrain their activities, both objectives supported by conservatives. The only problem, to quote Jim Parrott of Urban Institute, is that the PSPA is a really bad deal for taxpayers.

“By increasing the capital levels again and allowing the GSEs to pay yet more of their dividend in senior preferred shares, the taxpayer appears to come out on the short end of the stick. FHFA and Treasury will have to write down the taxpayer position well below where it is today for the GSEs to attract new private capital,” Parrott writes in a recent Urban Institute paper.

The fact that the PSPA may cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars may be more than merely a fiscal point. In fact, the new agreement could lead to some very serious consequences for the housing market and the U.S. economy. Conservative zealots such as Director Calabria, who oppose a government role in housing, may have given President Biden an opening to restore full control to the Treasury over the GSEs.

The Biden administration has an aggressive agenda for subsidizing housing, particularly in the context of providing affordable housing and using home ownership to combat structural economic inequality. Vice President Kamala Harris talks of giving low-income families down payments towards a home purchase as a gift from the taxpayer.

Behind the entire discussion about housing affordability, equality of economic outcomes and “fairness,” loom the policies of the Federal Open Market Committee. The FOMC’s purchase of trillions in mortgage-backed securities since March of last year forced interest rates to record lows, pushed lending volumes to levels not seen since the mid-2000s, and sent home prices soaring due to a supply squeeze in affordable homes.

Fed policy inflates home prices and diminishes affordability for all Americans. Sadly, the dysfunctional politics of Washington dictate even more housing subsidies and ever higher home price inflation, something that ought to concern members of both political parties. President Biden thinks that Americans should not spend more than 30% of their income on housing, but he needs to talk to Fed Chairman Powell and the other members of the FOMC.

Of note, a number of observers are predicting a mortgage insurance premium cut at the Federal Housing Administration given the Biden administration’s focus on affordability. This is a profoundly bad idea. The secondary market execution for FHA, VA and USDA loans is already very competitive with the conventional loans.

A MIPS decrease will force up FHA loan volumes further and squeeze prices for more affordable homes along with it. Instead, President Biden should seek to accelerate home building outside of the larger cities, where physical conditions and aging housing stock makes social distancing impossible.

President Biden reportedly plans to ask Congress for $40 billion in housing spending this year and $640 billion over the course of a decade. To help families buy their first homes and build wealth, the Biden Administration seeks a refundable, advanceable tax credit of up to $15,000, in effect a repackaged version of the Harris proposal to give poor families a down payment to buy a home.

But here is the punch line: If these new policy initiatives are not adopted by Congress, say Washington insiders, the Biden Administration may seek to push the GSEs into receivership. The radical step of receivership allows the Biden Administration to use the GSEs for policy purposes, end private ownership and the litigation now before the courts. Because of the new PSPA, restoring 100% government control makes sense financially because it eliminates the need for building capital in the GSEs.

“There’s a better than 50% chance that the GSEs end up in receivership and never come out of conservatorship,” one Washington insider tells NMN. “The government will prepare a pre-pack receivership, create new companies with fresh capital and an explicit guaranty from Treasury, and liquidate Fannie and Freddie. The litigation and other claims, and the insurance responsibility for the existing conventional MBS, reportedly are left behind in the receivership.”

The assumption of course is that there will not be more than a momentary market impact of putting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into receivership, but that is a considerable assumption. A more realistic scenario is that the conventional loan market would be disrupted for several weeks or even months as global investors back away from MBS issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in favor of 100% guaranteed Ginnie Mae securities.

If the Biden White House chooses the nuclear option and puts Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into receivership, be ready for an extended period of disruption in the credit markets, including the to-be-announced market for MBS. Conventional MBS is already viewed as inferior to Ginnie Mae MBS in the world of secured finance, thus this change will further impact investor confidence.

The irony of this incredible situation is that conservatives wanted to rein in the role of the U.S. government in housing, but the flawed Mnuchin/Calabria PSPA creates an incentive for the Biden Administration to do the opposite. The onerous terms of the new PSPA for taxpayers gives progressives the opportunity to reclaim full control of the GSEs, all the while claiming to protect the taxpayer from greedy Wall Street hedge funds!

Choosing the nuclear option of putting Fannie and Freddie into receivership, no matter how well orchestrated, will damage the conventional market. More, if a GSE receivership is combined with a cut in the MIPs over at the FHA, then look for the Ginnie Mae market to grow to $3 trillion or more over the next several years.

To shift new production volumes to the FHA, even as delinquency rates are in the mid-teens due to COVID, is another profoundly bad idea whose time has apparently come. In the event that President Biden takes the nuclear option with the GSEs, look for the Ginnie Mae market to grow to one third of all mortgage loans vs less than 20% today. Only in Washington.


Mortgage Rates Down Only Slightly Despite Bond Market Rally

What’s a bond market rally and why should mortgage rates care?  There are all kinds of bonds.  US Treasuries would be the quintessential example, but there are also bonds specific to the mortgage market.  These are what groups of loans ultimately become in order to be traded on the open market (thus allowing lenders to make more loans with less risk and lower rates).  As investors buy and sell bonds throughout the day, bond prices change.  The higher the price, the lower the implied interest rate.  Simply put, if bonds are rallying, rates should be falling shortly thereafter.

The 10yr Treasury yield is typically an excellent barometer for mortgage rate movement.  10yr Treasuries and mortgage-backed bonds tend to correlate extremely well.  As such, we might expect a more significant improvement in mortgage rates on a day where 10yr Treasury yields fell by more than 0.05%.  As it stands, the average mortgage rate is, at best, 0.02% lower (and in many cases, unchanged).

This has to do with periodic variations in behavior between these two otherwise highly correlated markets.  Those variations can crop up for a variety of reasons, but today’s was as simple as supply/demand imbalances in mortgage bonds during the Federal Reserve’s scheduled buying operation.  Long story short, there was a long line of mortgage bond sellers waiting to offload to the Fed.  Many of them were left holding the bag and were thus forced to accept lower prices later in the day (lower prices = higher rates, all other things being equal).  Fortunately, that drop wasn’t big enough to push prices any lower than they were on Friday afternoon.  Otherwise, mortgage rates could have moved higher today as opposed to merely holding mostly steady.