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Tony Marnella's Blog

By Tony Marnella | Builder/Developer in Milwaukie, OR
  • Are you feel’n it too?!

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Happy Valley  |  April 22, 2012 2:24 PM  |  1,103 views  |  No comments

    CNBC, Fox News & Chicago Tribune all had great stories recently about optimism in the Housing market.  This is truly great to hear.  It’s not that there hasn’t been good housing stories to report, but that several sources are reporting how things are turning around and not beating negative stories into the ground. 

    The Chicago Tribunestory reads, “Reports from two major banks suggest housing market is on the mend.” It went on to read, “Wells Fargo issued 54% more mortgages than a year ago and took 84% more applications.”  The Fox News’ story reads, “US home-buying season finally signaling a recovery.”  and, “many people seem to have concluded that prices won't drop much further. In some areas, prices have begun to tick up.”  

    Our local RMLS MarketAction report shows that we are down to 5 months of inventory in the Portland Metroplex.  We haven’t seen inventory this low since June of 2007!  Some areas closer into the core of the city are experiencing inventories much lower.

    This has been a long schlogg and it is exciting to see things turning up. 

  • The Few, The Performing

    Posted Under: General Area in Happy Valley, Home Buying in Happy Valley, Going Green in Happy Valley  |  January 3, 2012 2:14 PM  |  1,443 views  |  No comments

    I received a comment from a builder, on a post I wrote about home performance, that all new homes were ENERGY STAR certified.  It occurred to me that if someone in my industry didn’t understand the facts about the ENERGY STAR new home certification then I needed to clarify this further.  I agree that the energy codes for new construction have been elevated significantly in recent years.  However, so have the requirements for the new homes programs of ENERGY STAR, Energy Trust of Oregon, Earth Advantage and the like.  


    ENERGY STAR rated homes perform to a minimum of 15% up to 30% more efficient than code built homes.   These are homes that have real performance and energy efficient features built in.  These homes are built using higher standards for the building envelope and HVAC system.  These higher standards and additional measures are verified through third party inspections utilizing duct blast and blower door testing.   In addition, if the builder is serious about performance, he will have had his homes rated with one of the performance measuring systems like EPS (Energy Performance Score) or HERS (Home Energy Rating System).  Here in Oregon we are utilizing the EPS.


    The actual number of new homes certified in the United States each year is less than 20%.  Here in the northwest, the 2011 year to date percentage of new homes certified in Washington State is 12.7% and in Oregon it is 14.2%.


    The bottom line is, don’t be fooled by “Green” marketing and assume that a new home is certified by one of the new homes programs.  Ask questions, have the builder or sales broker show you their certification.  The builder might have simply installed an Energy Star rated dishwasher and recycled the cardboard from the box.

  • Happy Valley Townhome for sale - The "Firenze"

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Happy Valley  |  June 14, 2010 10:46 AM  |  1,731 views  |  No comments

    Firenze modelAt Volare, in Happy Valley, we are offering our “Firenze” model home for sale.  This home has a very comfortable feel with our upgraded knotty alder cabinetry and granite counters with a full subway tiled backsplash, pantry, eating bar and large dining area.  The main floor has wide plank laminate floors with a hand scraped appearance, a corner gas fireplace and the powder room is finished in painted wainscoting.  Going upstairs, the banister includes a stained maple cap & post with painted balusters, utility room is here for convenience with washer & dryer and the 2nd bedroom has a built-in desk for the boy’s room.  The master bedroom features plantation shutters, a ceiling fan, full height vanity with double sinks and a large walk-in closet.  The Firenze plan features 1430 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2 full baths and a powder room with 9ft. ceilings on both floors.  This model includes Air conditioning, refrigerator, security system and sound in the family room and master bedroom for $214,950.  All of the Volare residents enjoy weekly rounds of golf at the Eagle Landing Golf course and unlimited use of the clubhouse and fitness center.  They also enjoy walking and biking distance to light rail, shopping, restaurants and entertainment.


    You can view the virtual tour at the following link:



    You owe it to yourself to come see the presale opportunities for the Firenze that start at $199,950.  Our Firenze model, and our other models, are open at Volare here in Happy Valley every day from 12 -5.  I hope to see you soon.

  • Happy Valley Town Home for sale - The "Milano"

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Happy Valley  |  June 2, 2010 9:26 PM  |  1,659 views  |  No comments

    Milano townhome in happy valleyAt Volare, in Happy Valley, our “Milano” model home is for sale.  This home has a contemporary flair including Brazilian Cherry hardwood floors on the main floor, Black granite counters with a full back splash of stainless steel & Carrera Marble, Stainless Steel gas cooking, Bronze lighting & plumbing fixtures.  It also has an alarm system and sound in the Master bedroom and Family room with iPod docking station.  Price includes Stainless steel refrigerator, Washer & Dryer, Air conditioner and central vacuum system. The Milano plan features our largest master suite with sitting area and walk-in closet and double car garage.  The 2nd bedroom is designed to be used as a flex space with built-in desk, the utility room is upstairs for convenience and both upstairs baths are detailed in tile floors and counter tops.  Lastly, not to be overlooked, is the back yard offering the Oasis landscape package which has flagstone surrounded by Irish moss to extend the use of the patio area all of which is completely landscaped and fenced.  This 3Br, 2 ½ bath, 1600 sqft home is available now for $249,950.  All of the Volare residents enjoy weekly rounds of golf at the Eagle Landing Golf course and unlimited use of the clubhouse and fitness center.  They also enjoy walking and biking distance to light rail, shopping, restaurants and entertainment.


    You can view the virtual tour at the following link:



    You owe it to yourself to come see the presale opportunities for the Milano that start at $234,950.  The Milano, and our other models, are open at Volare here in Happy Valley

    every day from 12 -5.  I hope to see you soon.
  • Is your car exhaling into your home?

    Posted Under: Home Buying  |  April 30, 2010 1:51 PM  |  1,450 views  |  No comments

    If your home has a furnace installed in the garage, it most likely is.  At one of our construction 101 classes at our Volare Town Home community in Happy Valley, this came up.  We have been installing our entire HVAC systems inside the conditioned space of our homes (meaning the interior living area of the home).  We realized the obvious benefits of: improved performance by reducing the length of duct work for the air to travel, by not installing ducting in the attic or crawlspace spaces as they are much hotter or colder than the air we are providing to the rooms that need it.  Another benefit is, if the duct system leaks air it is only leaking into your home not the outdoors.  However, it never occurred to us the air quality benefit of a furnace in the home versus the garage.


    The furnace unit that is installed inside the conditioned space is a “Sealed unit” this means that the cabinet of the furnace is entirely sealed up.  Unlike, most furnace units that are installed in a garage.  Most people can recall being near a furnace in a garage when it started up and seeing the flame burning through the venting of the front of the furnace cabinet.  What probably didn’t come to mind was that when the fan motor started up it was pulling air from within the garage.  This could be including the exhaust from the car, gas fumes from the gas can, bag of yard fertilizer, etc.  Anything off gassing in your garage could have its fumes spread throughout your home.


    The great benefit of a Marnella Homes system being entirely with the home is that it is only pulling fresh air from the exterior of the home with the assistance of the HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator).  The HRV periodically exchanges stale interior air with fresh outside air.  This provides interior air quality that is superior to any traditionally installed HVAC system.  This should be especially important to anyone with children that have asthma or any other respiratory health issues.


    So, should you be stuck with a traditionally installed system in your home, consider this when you are letting your car warm up in the morning and you might want to find a better place to store the gas can, fertilizer bag or anything that you smell when in the garage.  However, if you are looking at buying a new home, you owe it to you and your family’s health to consider how your next HVAC system is installed.

  • The Perfect Storm – Happy Valley

    Posted Under: Home Buying  |  April 10, 2010 7:56 AM  |  1,471 views  |  No comments

    The next 20 days will provide what I feel is truly the “Perfect Storm” for anyone looking to buy a home. 
    The Perfect StormWe currently have: 1) Our Lender offering 3% of the purchase price to our Buyers for closing costs, 2) Northwest Natural Gas is offering a years worth of Natural Gas on any of the homes in the Ultimate Open House, 3) The Federal Home Buyer tax credit is still available, 4) Exceptionally low mortgage interest rates and 5) Great home values that have reset to 2002 in many areas. 

    For instance:


    1)   On any Marnella Homes town homes in Volare, Golf Savings Bank is providing a Lender Credit of 3% of the Sale Price up to $20,000.  This program has just been extended for sales agreements dated on or before the 1st of June, 2010 with closing dates on or before the 30th of July, 2010.

    2)   Northwest Natural Gas is offering a year of Natural Gas, up to $800, on our homes that we have presented in this years Ultimate Open House.

    3)   The Federal Home Buyer tax credit is available for qualified home buyers on transactions executed by the 30th of April, 2010 and closed by the 30th of June, 2010

    4)   We are seeing mortgage rates that are as low as our Grandparents took advantage of after World War II.  These are rates that cannot be sustained at these low levels and will have to begin to rise.

    5)   Home values in some areas, like here in Happy Valley, have reset to 2002/2003 prices.  If you are looking at homes under $300,000, these values have bottomed out and have shown signs of strengthening in many areas.


    So, for anyone thinking about or actively looking to buy a home, the current conditions for home buying are such that we may never see again in our lifetime.

  • Offgassing: No that wasn’t my home, it was you!

    Posted Under: Home Buying  |  January 15, 2010 2:49 PM  |  1,527 views  |  No comments

    No it isn’t what my sons do and giggle or what happened in that embarrassing situation in the elevator.  Offgassing or outgassing is what we tend to call the “New Home Smell” or “New Car Smell”.  We think we want it, but do we?  This smell is actually gases emitting from the materials in our new homes and cars. Like, carpet, vinyl, paint, etc. and even furniture. 


    The Energy Star New Homes program requires that builders within their program must build at a minimum of 15% above the code requirements.  However, Marnella Homes is building to exceed 30% of code requirements with 100% of the homes we build.  Improved indoor air quality is one of the criteria that we must address. This begins by using materials that have low volatile organic compound (VOC) content.  VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short and long-term adverse health effects.


    To meet the requirements of the New Home program’s indoor air quality criteria it begins with using Green Sealed Certified carpet and low VOC content paint and caulking.  Since these products contain much less VOC they don’t emit as much VOC as similar uncertified products.  This is amazingly noticeable when walking into a home built with standard products without the indoor air quality consciousness compared to a home that is built to the Energy Star indoor air quality standards.

    Whether you already have health concerns that require this attention to indoor air quality or not, you owe it to you and your family’s health to educate yourself on the importance of it. So, when looking for a new home, look for the Energy Star label to see if the builder is offering any indoor air quality features.  These features will not only benefit you as an occupant of your new home, but will provide lasting value to you when you resell in the future.


    Your comments are welcome.

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