Q & A: A Little Bit About Me!

The end of the year is almost here and to round out the close of a successful year, I thought it would be great to do a fun little Q & A style blog so you could get to know me a little better. It has been my privilege to help people find new homes and sell their existing ones this year and I look forward to serving you in 2016!

1. Where did you grow up, what brought you to the Vancouver area? 
I grew up in Oakland CA just across the bay from San Francisco.  Actually my family has been in the Bay Area since before the 1849 Gold Rush.  I came to the Northwest in 1979 with my husband and one kiddo in tow to work for Tektronix; we moved to Vancouver in 1985 when my job moved to the plant on 164th.

2. How long have you been working as a Realtor?
I've been a Realtor since 1994 and only with two companies–Lutz Snyder a very large independent and now Windermere where I've recently celebrated my 20th anniversary.

3. Share a fond or funny memory during your time as a Realtor. 
I've had lots of great experiences and met wonderful folks. . I've sold house boats, a house on the Washougal River that actually had doors on both ends to let the River through in case of a flood, and lots of homes, new and old all over Clark County/Vancouver.

4. What is the best part about being a Realtor in Vancouver? 
I love our community and the feel of a small town.  I get to meet folks who have interesting stories and wonderful families.  I love solving puzzles, and finding the right property for folks or helping folks move somewhere else keeps things very interesting.

5. Tell us about your family.
My husband was a homebuilder who passed away 10 years ago.  I have three adult children–Ken in New Jersey just across from lower Manhattan; Kathy in graduate school in Seattle, Kim a middle school teacher in Portland. 

6. Do you have any Christmas/New Year traditions? 
Our family Christmas traditions are probably just like lots of other families.  Whoever is in town, and often that is my 91-year-old Mom from the Bay Area, celebrates Christmas Eve with a nice dinner and church, then Christmas morning we do packages, and of course later in the day dinner.

7. It’s midnight and you’re hungry. What is your go-to snack?  
Oh my . . . what should I say? veggie sticks? something utterly healthy?  not really, it would usually be cheese and crackers or a cookie

8. Name one thing on your bucket list:
I would love to take my children to see at least one of the places I've been able to travel internationally especially Mongolia or Senegal.

9. What's your favorite drink at Starbucks?
My go-to is a decaf, skinny cinnamon dolce latte.

10. It's your day off. What can we find you doing?
Walking, meeting friends, catching up on my interests which include community involvement with junior high learners, or advocating for responsible spending of our USAID funds.

Posted on December 22, 2015 at 9:27 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

3 Things to Know Before You Start a DIY Deck Building Project

Planning on building a new deck? There are a few must-knows before you dive in and tackle a deck building project on your home. Here are some tips that will help you plan and prepare for a successful DIY project.

Tip #1: Research what design will work best for your space.
First, you’ll need to decide exactly where your deck should be placed. Do you want it freestanding, attached to a back door, or on the second level of your home? Research what design and style will work best. A well-designed deck will help you create a list of materials based on that design. It will also ensure that the outside area of your home is put to use the best way possible without any empty or wasted space. 

Tip #2: Research the permit process.
Check out the local city building codes to see if you need a permit. Oftentimes a permit is needed if the deck is over a certain height. Be sure that you check what the total size requirements are for the city as well to make sure that it isn’t too large. When you go to sell the house and need to go through the inspection process, you don’t want to run into a problem because the permit process was not followed.  In addition, you should always check to see what your Home Owner Association (HOA) rules are. Most HOA’s require approval of any outdoor project.

Tip #3: Research your material options.
When it comes to deck materials, there are a few different options. While wood is traditionally the type of material that is most used for decks, there is also composite decking that can be used. The cost is usually more than traditional wood, but if you plan on using the deck for a long time, it can actually save you money in the long run when compared to cleaning, refinishing, and replacing wood boards. Composite decking usually comes with a warranty as well, so you are covered in the event of something going wrong.

Once you have completed your research and have all of the proper tools necessary for launching into building the deck, you’re ready to get started. It’s a big project, but one that will pay off well! Having a beautiful deck is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors and it will also add value to your home.

Posted on July 7, 2015 at 3:27 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

DIY Patio Decorating

Next up in our series of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects: patio decorating. The weather is gorgeous right now and it’s the perfect time to sit outside after a long day and enjoy your patio space. Looking for some great ways to decorate your patio without spending a lot? Here are three simple ideas for creating a tranquil patio environment on a budget.

Idea #1:
Shop around for used pieces:

There are a variety of unique used pieces out there if you look hard enough. Check around estate sales, flea markets, or other sales that are known to have one of a kind furniture and décor. For example, there are often oak barrels used for wine that have been repurposed into fantastic chairs or tables. This is the perfect touch for a vineyard-style garden or patio area. Or, look for beautiful restored or handmade picnic tables – they are gorgeous additions to any outdoor space and can be surprisingly affordable.

Idea #2:
Add lighting:

Summer evenings mean spending more time outside. As the night gets dark, it’s appealing to sit outside and enjoy the warm summer air. The setting sun won’t put a damper on any of your patio activities if you add the right lights. Add ground lighting around the patio area or use some creativity and hang string light bulbs around the area.

Idea #3:
Focus on creating a gathering space:

One of the best parts about having a patio space is the ability it has to draw people together. Making your patio space a place of comfort means that people will naturally feel drawn to it and will want to hang out there. For example, wicker chairs can be found for very affordable prices at stores around town and they’re comfortable enough to invite guests to sit in for hours at a time for a fun dinner party. Add soft pillows and throw blankets (perfect for when the night air gets a bit brisk) to the chairs, then find some unique vases that you can use to put flowers in for table decoration. Add a rustic serving tray to serve desserts or drinks on and before you know it, you have a table set for a wonderful and comfortable evening of entertainment outside.

No matter how big or small your patio space is, if you try hard enough, it can live up to its lovely potential, making it a great memory making spot for years to come.

Posted on June 24, 2015 at 4:40 am
Nancy Johns | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Happy New Year!

Well, the holidays are over, the dinner parties are done, and your company has left for a time. And have you noticed that the stores around town have moved all of the storage boxes, Rubbermaid containers, and organizational planners up to the front of the store so they are in your line of vision as soon as you enter the doors? The beginning of a new year is a great time to do some reorganization and rethinking of goals and priorities in your life. Have you thought about rethinking how you can get the most out of your living area, while making the most out of your finances? Are you tired of spending your money every month on rent, or are you done with living in a space that is clearly too small for you or your family? Or maybe your kids have moved out and it’s time to downsize?  There are a variety of reasons why 2015 is a good year to make a move. 

Listen up, buyers! Lending is loosening up and rates are low but may be on the rise in the near future, so getting the ball rolling on a new home purchase is important to do quickly. In addition, prices are still low but are steadily on the rise. So, getting into a home that works for your budget before prices go up too much is important. 

Sellers, inventory is low! That means that if you choose to list your home, you will be able to get top dollar and have less competition. Selling prices have risen nicely, so that means that crunching the numbers on what you can get for your home is certainly worth looking at. 

A new year means lots of open doors and opportunities. So, whether it’s buying or selling, if you’ve been debating on how you can make a move in the real estate market this year, it’s time to get a real estate review going. Perhaps 2015 will be a great real estate year for you! 



Posted on January 7, 2015 at 5:20 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Merry Christmas!

The holidays are in full swing and the countdown to Christmas has officially begun! For many of you, this time of year means decorating your house, shopping for gifts, and doing lots of baking. Christmas is such a wonderful time of year and is full of joy and making memories. Of course, there are usually a lot of holiday parties to attend as well as other concerts or other events that are part of the season’s tradition, which means that you’re probably busy. Even if you’re feeling a little bit over-stretched, it’s important to remember that the holiday season should be a time of giving, whether it’s to friends, family, or people that you don’t know in your community.

This holiday season consider how you can give back to your community. Next time you’re at the grocery store stocking up your pantry, grab extra cans of food and consider how you can help stock someone else’s pantry, too. Local food banks are always in great need during the holiday season, as many families simply can’t afford to put a full meal on the table. Or, if you’d rather do something more hands-on, look into local organizations that serve meals to the homeless in the city, or make and hand out care packages to people that you see on the street. There are also several local organizations that help serve pregnant teenagers or young mothers that are struggling. Donating clothing, formula, baby food, or diapers is a great way to help families with young children that are having a hard time for paying those things.  Or, maybe you see a need right within your family. Do you have an estranged family member or a friend that is alone this holiday season? Reach out to them and share the love and hope that is part of Christmas!

From my family to yours, I wish you a very merry Christmas! May you be reminded of the hope of the season!

Posted on December 15, 2014 at 6:19 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Windermere Room at the Children’s Justice Center

On any given day, you can walk into the Windermere Room at the Children’s Justice Center in Vancouver and see boys and girls playing and enjoying life, just like any other child. What you might not know is that this center and the play room especially, is a safe haven for children that have been victims of criminal-level abuse. Non-offending family members can bring their children here and get valuable and necessary assistance to address incidents of child abuse. The Children’s Justice Center (CJC) is nationally accredited as a Children’s Advocacy Center and employs a team of well-trained and experienced responders to come together and help the children that have been victims of crime. Staff helps provide health services for child victims of abuse, while also working with agencies and jurisdictions to hold felony criminals and perpetrators accountable by prosecuting through the law and judicial system. CJC staff works with the following agencies in Vancouver on a regular basis:

-Clark County
-YWCA Sexual Assault Program
-City of Vancouver
-Washington State Department of Children and Family Services and the Children’s Center

These agencies, along with the CJC, seek the truth and continually work to protect the rights of victims during investigations. For the last several years, Windermere has been proud to host fundraising events and match funds from the Windermere Foundation to help the Children’s Justice Center.  To see the room and how it’s helping kids learn and become happy, well-adjusted children, watch this short video.

Posted on November 3, 2014 at 5:45 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

History of Officer’s Row

If you have driven through this portion of Evergreen Boulevard, you have seen some beautiful historic homes with nicely manicured lawns. The area is lined with mature, stately trees, there are often events happening in some of the buildings, and you’ll oftentimes see tourists and even Vancouver residents walking through the area to immerse themselves in history. Officer’s Row is one of Vancouver’s greatest assets.

What’s the history behind Officer’s Row?

For over 100 years, the homes along this row were used as residential housing for soldiers, officers, and families that were stationed in Vancouver at the Barracks.  The oldest homes date back to the mid-1800s! In the 1970s, there was an effort started to save the site and restore the properties. In 1987, there was a $10.9 million rehabilitation effort approved and the following year, tenants began moving in. Today, there are 34 residential units, office space, as well as business space in the various buildings.  Windermere Real Estate is a proud tenant of the building on the entrance to the Row at the traffic circle and the company also occupies another building to the west. In addition, many of the homes were originally duplexes that housed two military families, and today you can still see that mirror image as you visit the office space.

What are the specific houses used for?

There are three houses that have been designated for specific use.  The first is the George C. Marshall House. This home was built in 1886 for the commanding officer of the Department of the Columbia. In the 1880s and 1890s, it was a popular social destination for military and civic people. George C. Marshall (commanding officer at the Vancouver Barracks from 1936 to 1938) lived in the home. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953 for his efforts in helping rebuild economies in Europe and the Pacific Nations after World War 2. Today, the Marshall House is open to the public and is often rented out for weddings, ceremonies, conferences, and other social gatherings.

The second home is the Ulysses S. Grant House. This was the first home that was built on Officer’s Row and it was frequented many times by Grant when he was visiting the Vancouver Barracks. It served as an officer’s club for more than 25 years. After his incredible military successes, the home was named after him and today it is available to the public. The building also houses The Grant House Restaurant, which is open to the public.

The last home is the Howard House, which is named after the first General that lived there, General Oliver Otis Howard. He received a Congressional Medal of Honor in the Civil War and he worked to help aid former slaves. He also served as the U.S. Army’s Department of the Columbia Commander. The home boasts beautiful Italianate-style architecture.

If you haven’t experienced the beauty and rich history of Officer’s Row, head down there for a walk and visit some of the buildings.  

Posted on October 5, 2014 at 10:17 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Uncategorized

Fabulous Kitchen Design Trends

Do you spend a lot of time in your kitchen? It’s likely that your kitchen is one of the rooms in your home that you spend the most time in – especially if you love baking or cooking!  The kitchen is a central gathering point in the home, whether it’s with family or special guests.  It should feel as spacious, comfortable, and cozy as possible. Making your kitchen warm and inviting is a must-have!  If you’re considering a kitchen remodel or if you’re house shopping and curious about what the kitchen trends are in new homes, we’ve outlined what some of the fantastic trends are here.

Color and style that matches: Using colors and styles that coordinate with the rest of the kitchen space, and even tie into the rest of the home is important. For example, if you like darker cabinet colors, brighten it up a bit with some lighter coordinating countertops. Or, if you’re considering a remodel and you have a lot of vintage or antique décor in the rest of your home, you shouldn’t remodel your kitchen to be super modern and contemporary. Instead, look at design styles that are more classic that flow with the rest of your home. Consider what colors or décor will help you easily blend your kitchen style into the other parts of the house.

Bright, bright, bright: One trend that will likely continue is light and bright kitchen spaces. Light cabinets with a lot of surrounding bright lighting are definitely must-haves for many home buyers today, as well as those that are looking to redesign the kitchen area. Using light colors make the space feel more spacious, and it also gives it that crisp, clean look that many people desire.   

Light paint: Light cabinetry with bright, bold colors is another trend that is common in kitchens these days. If you enjoy the look of white cabinetry, consider adding a bold or bright color to the surrounding walls like red or orange. This is a fantastic way to accept the space and make it notable.  

Open space: Open concept kitchens are very desirable for homebuyers today. When shopping for a home, consider how long you plan on living there. If you plan on living there for years to come, even into the retirement years look at homes that you can grow into and space that is easily accessible when you’re older.

These trends go for big and small kitchens alike. No matter what your style preferences, homes that offer open spaces are usually most desirable, especially for those that entertain a lot and enjoy roomy cooking and dining areas.  Kitchens are one of the most important parts of the home and are one of the biggest returns on investment if you choose to remodel, so be sure that you love the space and can envision yourself in it.

Posted on September 22, 2014 at 4:12 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Benefits of a home inspection

Well, after hours of searching and a lot of different house showings, you’ve finally found the home you want.  With a home sale, there are a lot of different things that need to happen. Paperwork needs to be signed, loans need to be cleared, and a home inspection needs to be done. You might have wondered why you need a home inspection. Even though the house might appear to be perfect, there are often hidden problems that can be diagnosed when a reputable home inspector comes to take a thorough look at the property.

Benefit #1: Peace of mind.
Buying a home is arguably one of the largest and most important purchases that you will ever make in your lifetime. Because of this, you should make sure that there aren’t any hidden issues that could have been spotted with a home inspection.  When it comes to buying a home, you need peace of mind, knowing that you’re getting a fair price for the home. 

Benefit #2: Hidden problems can be discovered.
A home inspection will include a full report of the condition of the home, both interior and exterior, as well as those harder to see areas such as the crawlspace, chimney, or attic. The report is designed to point out any major problems as well as some minor ones that can be fixed with simple improvements. No one likes surprises when it comes to home repairs, so knowing what you are getting into before you move in is important.

Benefit #3: Saves you money in the long run.
If you don’t have a home inspection and you decide to go ahead with the purchase of the home, there may be costly issues that pop up after you move in. This could be avoided by simply having a home inspection done during the purchasing process. It’s very common that the seller will fix issues before the sale goes through. This means the seller is responsible and you’re off the hook for those repairs – that can save you big bucks down the road!

Your home is a big investment and in order to be protected and know the exact condition of the home, a home inspection is a definite must-have.

Posted on September 9, 2014 at 2:45 am
Nancy Johns | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

City Feature: The History of Esther Short Park

If you’ve been in Vancouver for any amount of time, you’ve likely heard about or seen events happening at Esther Short Park. Conveniently located in the heart of the city, Esther Short Park is the “go-to” place for concerts, The Farmer’s Market, and festivals. It’s the oldest public square in the state of Washington and it’s a true gem!  It was established in 1853 and its five acres includes a lovely rose garden, a large children’s playground, a 69-foot bell/clock tower, the historic Slocum House, a large green space and stage, and a large fountain system that is popular with kids in the warm summer months.

Who was Esther Short?
Esther Short lived in Vancouver with her husband Amos & their 10 kids. They “jumped a claim” near the present-day downtown area of Vancouver – the land was part of a larger area of land that was owned by American Henry Williamson. When he left for California, he left his caretaker David Gardner in charge of the land. Gardner and Amos Short began arguing over the land and Short killed Gardner, but was later acquitted of any crime. Short became a judge and claimed the disputed land for himself, but shortly after that died in a shipwreck on his way back from San Francisco. Esther Short filed paperwork to claim the land and eventually got part of the land (present-day Esther Short Park). She also owned land that is now part of the Port of Vancouver.

In the 1990s, the downtown area in general was on the decline and Esther Short Park was known for being a home to transients. It was messy and not maintained, and there was a lot of drug activity that was going on in the park. The crime rate was high there and there were a lot of 911 calls that originated from the park. However, George Propstra saw potential for the park. He donated $2 million to help improve it, then donated $1.3 million to build the bell tower. In addition, when Royce Pollard began work as the mayor of Vancouver in 1996, part of his city revitalization project included a revamp of Esther Short. The park received $5.67 million in direct aid and $220 million of capital funding. This money allowed for redevelopment of the park and the surrounding area and Pollard began hosting a series of events that showed that the park was now a great area to bring families. It took a while to rebrand the park’s image, but in time, it has been transformed into a great public area. In 2013, it was even named as one of the nation’s “10 great public spaces” by the American Planning Association.

Have you been to Esther Short lately? If not, check it out! The park is a busy place! Families and individuals from all parts of Vancouver frequent the space – whether it’s just for a simple picnic on the green space or for gathering locally grown fruits and veggies at the weekly Farmer’s Market.

Posted on August 25, 2014 at 11:05 pm
Nancy Johns | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,