Posts by Robyne Curry

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stimulus calculations


By now you know that Congress last week passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, a $2 trillion economic package designed to help people and businesses affected by this global pandemic and keep the country moving in the face of it.

There are several key provisions of the bill. Among them:

  • $290 billion in direct payments (i.e., stimulus checks) to eligible taxpayers
  • $260 billion to extend unemployment insurance benefits
  • $377 billion for small businesses to help prevent layoffs or closures while workers stay home
  • Extends the deadline to file 2019 tax returns to July 15

The bill also allows homeowners hurt by COVID-19 to postpone their mortgage payments for up to 12 months. This applies to homeowners with government-backed loans (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, USDA, FHA) as well as those with mortgages through private lenders. Plus, a moratorium on evictions means tenants who are unable to pay their rent during this trying time won't be tossed out of their homes.

In short, the primary aim of the stimulus package is dedicated to helping individuals economically hurt by the pandemic (lost jobs, lost wages, etc.) and to shore up businesses and industries hard-hit by this health crisis so that they can remain solvent and cover their operational expenses.

So, how exactly will the CARES Act likely affect the real estate market? So far, it looks like the answer is tangentially. That is, with mortgage relief, stimulus checks and unemployment benefits for laid-off employees as well as freelance and gig economy workers, the financial stress from the uncertainties of this global health crisis may be eased for a substantial number of Americans – at least in the short term


spring cleaningBehold, the sure signs of spring: forsythia in bloom, robins on the wing, a mop, a bucket and piles of microfiber cloths. Yep, it's spring-cleaning time. Seems like only yesterday we were decorating Christmas trees. But with the start of National Cleaning Week the fourth Sunday in March, now's the time to get ready for a full-on cleaning blitz.

According to the American Cleaning Institute, on average, we Americans spend roughly six hours each week cleaning our homes. Of those chores, our least favorites are cleaning the bathroom, cleaning the kitchen, dusting, mopping and doing laundry. I hear ya!

But come springtime, it's a deeper dive we're after. It's time to do what the Germans call luften, meaning to open the windows and let stale winter air out, so clean, fresh air can infuse our spaces. So, how do you get started?

You probably know your regular house-cleaning routine well enough to know which areas could use a little more attention. But if you don't, consider drawing up a checklist of the spaces you'd like to see cleaner or clutter-free. For example, when was the last time you gave your baseboards a good wipe-down? What about the slipcovers in the living room, is it time they were washed? And those tubes of mascara … how long have they been lingering in your cosmetics drawer? Definitely time to purge.

Once your checklist is set, you can shop for the supplies you'll need. In addition to the requisite cleaning tools – mop, broom, dust cloths, scrubbing brushes, cleaning products, etc. – you may also want to pick up storage accessories, like boxes and bins, to help as you "keep, toss and repair" your way through the clutter zones to a newly organized and orderly home.

Everybody's spring-cleaning list will look a little different, but here, in no particular order, are a few of the items on my to-do list: dust my ceiling fan; disinfect my knife block (yeah, who'd have thought?); vacuum my mattress and launder the mattress cover; disinfect the garbage can; run a vinegar cycle to refresh my dishwasher; launder my shower curtain and buy a brand-new liner; dust all lamp shades.

Frankly, I'm exhausted just thinking about this list. But here's a secret: Spring-cleaning, like the building of Rome, doesn't have to be done in a day. In fact, it would be hard to do so. The cleaning chores alone will easily take from three to eight hours. Tack on cleaning out and reorganizing drawers, cabinets and closets and, well, let's just say you'll need to order a lot more pizza. If you like music, consider creating a spring-cleaning soundtrack to keep you company and make the time fly by more enjoyably.

Of course, if none of this is your cup of tea you have an alternative: Outsource it! Many house-cleaning companies offer one-time services for events like spring-cleaning or move-in/move-out assistance, so take advantage. Hey, I won't tell if you won't!


black cabinetsNow that both the festive holiday season and dreary January are in the rearview mirror, it's a great time to give our homes a serious once-over and consider if an update is in order. With 2020 not just a new year but the start of a new decade too, there's no time like the present to open the book on a new look.

As you know, design trends come and go, like swallows to Capistrano. And sometimes just as quickly. Still, it's instructive to know what's in, what's out and what's likely to stand the test of time. With that in mind, here are some of the design trends for 2020 that we can't get enough of.

Green is the new black. Whether you splash it on the wall or incorporate it in your choice of accents – think houseplants – green is popping up all over. Dusty greens seem to be the current favorites; from olive to pistachio these muted tones provide just the right pop of color in more neutral interiors. Houseplants, once the darlings of the '70s, are still having a moment, though this time the fiddle-leaf fig that was everywhere in 2019 is being upstaged by rubber plants, money plants or snake plants.

Black is back. And it's bigger than ever. black cabinets (uppers, lowers or both), countertops, sinks, tile and appliances suggest the near-decadelong reign of the all-white kitchen is coming to an end. When paired with white, you've got the alpha and omega of the color spectrum, and the effect couldn't be more striking. Black chairs with white throw pillows, black and white marble, black floors nestled against white walls. Wow.

Back to the future. With traditional and vintage styling now in vogue, along with a newfound appreciation for patina, it seems that age is all the rage these days. From spooled legs and spindles on chairs, to wood paneling (rendered in a slimmer profile and installed at interesting angles), to floral wallpaper (it's big, it's bold), to canopy beds and more, it's Throwback Thursday every day. Plus, this uptick in the use of antiques and secondhand furnishings straddles the line between vintage and eco-friendly. Keeping stuff out of landfills is as chic as it is enviro-conscious. It's a win-win.

Cozy is the new neutral. Put another way, hygge is breaking out all over. Hygge, the Danish word that describes the Scandinavian concept of coziness and warm conviviality that create a sense of peace and contentment, took the U.S. by storm in 2016. For a while, it seemed everybody was getting hygge with it. This year we're seeing it show up in fabrics, such as shearling, soft mohair, some leathers and, most particularly, velvet – the perfect blend of luxury and comfort. Plus, you'll soon be seeing fatter, curvier shapes in upholstered pieces like sofas and occasional chairs. What better place to curl up with a cup of [tea/coffee/hot chocolate] and a good book?

Go big or go home. Geometric patterns, oversize florals, statement tiles – they're bold and beautiful and infusing our homes with a liveliness not seen since the Memphis movement in the '80s. Understatement has its place, to be sure. But an eye-catching backsplash or a gloriously wallpapered ceiling are right on trend now. If you've been itching to take a step on the wild side, go for it.


holiday sparkles

With Thanksgiving and its turkey now just a memory, we're firmly in the thick of the holiday season. December's ticking away at a rapid clip, but before you get mired in a tangle of tinsel, gift wrapping or kransekake baking, have some fun first! There's so much going on this time of year it's hard to choose. Here are a few ideas we just couldn't resist.

Portlanders really know how to get into the spirit, or should we say spirits, this time of year? At the  Holiday Ale Festival in downtown Portland, nearly 50 craft brews and ciders will be on tap, along with food, merchandise and more (Dec. 4-8). On the other hand, what could be more fun than 300 tubas gathered together in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square to play Christmas carols and other seasonal songs at Tuba Christmas (Dec. 14)? You'll see more than three ships go sailing by at this year's Christmas Ships Parade, where for two weeks fleets of festively decorated vessels will cruise the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, much to the delight of the onshore crowds (Dec. 5-22). A trip to the zoo is family fun any time of year, but ZooLights at the Oregon Zoo ups the ante with a display of more than 1.5 million bulbs that turn the animal kingdom into a magical wonderland (through Jan. 5). Seattle has its Candy Cane Lane, but Portlanders head to Peacock Lane, where residents there have been festooning their Tudor-style homes in holiday garb since the 1930s. Drive through or park nearby and stroll at your leisure. Free hot chocolate and cider will be on hand, though a donation is appreciated (Dec. 15-31).

In Bend, there's an interesting onstage sequel to Pride and Prejudice, the Jane Austen classic, in Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, presented by the Cascades Theatrical Company. Set two years after the original novel and focusing on middle sister Mary, the play has been called "an unstuffy, highly entertaining and warm-spirited work," by the Chicago Tribune (through Dec. 15). In the Old Mill District, local choirs sing their hearts out and fill the air – and shops and restaurants in the outdoor mall – with holiday spirit (through Dec. 21). The Old Mill District is also the site of the annual menorah lighting in celebration of Hanukkah, with music, food, Hanukkah gelt (chocolate coins) and more (Dec. 22). Pack up the kids and head to Gingerbread Junction at Sunriver Resort, where amazing candy and cookie creations have been dazzling holiday visitors for nearly a quarter century (Dec. 6-Jan. 4).

The Teddy Bear Suite at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle is an annual holiday pleasure for kids and parents alike. But heads up: If you plan to visit the teddy bear wonderland on the weekend, be prepared for a lengthy wait in line (through Dec. 26). In Bellevue, it's a party every day on Snowflake Lane, where a nightly parade of holiday characters, dancers, lighted floats, falling snow – even Santa as the 12th Man – enliven the sidewalks between Bellevue Square and Lincoln Square (through Dec. 24). After the parade, sashay over to the ice rink, strap on your skates and enjoy more than 9,000 square feet of real ice. Can't skate? Don't worry; free skating lessons are available or you can take a two-week class for $40 (through Jan. 20). Area green-thumbers are in for a seasonal treat at the Garden d'Lights, the annual holiday extravaganza of more than half a million twinkling lights shaped like plants, flowers, birds and more on view at the Bellevue Botanical Center (through Dec. 31). See you there!


how to buy a home team diva

For you, buying a house is not just ticking off another box on the list – it's personal. Because owning your own home means you get to decide which colors to paint the wall, how many dogs you get to have (backyard permitting), and which tree you'll build your kid's tree fort in. Having a place of your own isn't just the quintessential American Dream, it's the dream you've kindled For. Ever. But you live in Seattle and have heard the horror stories about too few houses for sale and sky-high prices. Now, you're afraid your dream may never come true.

Well, don't give up. Buying a home in Seattle is a lot like buying a home anywhere else, only different. Yes, the market here is a tight and prices are above the national average but that doesn't mean you're destined to a lifetime of renting. Coldwell Banker Bain's Team Diva know the ins and outs of the local market and what it takes to be successful in landing the home of your dreams. It starts with education, yours, so they've put together a complete guide, A to Z called, appropriately, How to Buy a Home in Seattle. In it you'll discover:

  • How to determine your home-buyer personality
  • How to find the right real estate agent for you
  • Steps to get your financing in order
  • How to make a winning offer
  • What to do when you're under contract (and why it's not the time to buy a car)
  • And more …

Whether you're ready to buy a house or just curious about the process, this comprehensive guide is for you. Never have the steps to buying a home in Seattle been laid out so clearly. See for yourself.

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