Home Fridays House Talk Radio episode

KAREN: Hi, this is Karen. Welcome to House Talk. Today I have Dana Carmichael on. Dana and I go way back. She has a company called Home Fridays. Dana, I recommend you all the time. We have a lot of clients that will buy their second home and they’re not going to be here all the time, and Dana has an incredible amount of services.

Basically, what Home Fridays does – don’t you just provide professional home management for people that have a second home here, or maybe people that leave for the winter?

DANA: Yeah, that’s exactly what our business does. Our basic service is providing weekly home wellness checks, I would call them, where we make sure the home is in functional working order and no unexpected guests, like mice, have moved in. We make sure the house is safe and secure.

Then we offer a variety of concierge services that are basically vetted from our staff that live in the community so that your house is taken care of like you would take care of your own home. So when you come back to your home, you can enjoy Central Oregon at its finest, the activities, without having to do a bunch of fix-it items.

It provides our clients peace of mind knowing that someone’s watching over their home and checking their mail or whatever they need while they’re gone.

KAREN: Whatever their needs are.

DANA: Yeah, it’s individualized to each particular client. We are different from the typical property management companies that service long-term renters or vacation rentals. These homes that we watch out after are really people’s homes that they use for their own family or friends. They have their items in it that are special to them.

KAREN: They’re theirs.

DANA: Yeah.

KAREN: I’ve had two instances. I had one client, and she and her husband took off on a 6-month trip across the country and came back. I think maybe one mouse moved in the day they left, and by the time they got back – I mean, their home – this is kind of gross, but it was filled with mice. They couldn’t even stay in the home. The walls in the garage actually had to come out, where all the mice nests were, and the bedding and the mattresses.

They lived a little bit east of town, so in a little bit more rural area. Nobody checked on the house while they were gone.

DANA: Mice are everywhere. This is our rodent season, so that’s one thing we look for in the summer. Making sure no birds are overly nesting. You can’t do anything about it while they have babies in a nest, but birds, bats. In Central Oregon we had a client that had a skunk under their house. Fortunately it just moved on. But you can imagine – the rodents, the mice are the biggest issue in Central Oregon. Even if you’re in the city.

KAREN: Of course. With new construction too, stirring up the dirt.

DANA: Yeah, stirring up their homes.

In the winter I feel like our biggest concern is making sure the furnaces are working so you don’t have frozen pipe issues. We check all the faucets. If those things are left, they can get crusty and old with time and they can have problems. The house needs to keep working on a functional level to make it efficient and work properly. So we check all those systems every visit that we’re there.

KAREN: Do you find yourself visiting homes mostly on a weekly basis, then?

DANA: That’s what we recommend, a weekly visit, because a lot can happen. We do have some clients that do a bimonthly visit, and we have had in the past maybe somebody do a once-a-month visit. But you can imagine with our temperature swings in Central Oregon what could happen in between a month’s time – or even 2 weeks, if your furnace went out. Which happens.

KAREN: Stuff happens.

DANA: Stuff happens, yeah. Life happens. That’s why we recommend [weekly]. But we take clients based on what they want. We have our suggestions, but we always do what our clients want us to do. Or not to do. [laughs]

KAREN: I just had a client get back – they were gone for 4 weeks, and they have three levels in their home. On the top level is their daughter’s bathroom, and the toilet had a small leak.

Every floor is ruined in the house. It went from the top level – first it started all the carpet on that level, the subfloor, then it went down through there to the middle level. That’s where the hardwood floors are in the kitchen. And then it went down where the gym and everything else was.

DANA: That’s an insurance claim.

KAREN: Oh yeah, and they’re living at the SpringHill Suites.

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DANA: And then they don’t get to be home. Yeah, if that was picked up within a couple days’ time or a week, think about the prevention.

KAREN: How much less damage there would be. That’s for sure.

DANA: It just takes a little bit of water to do a lot of damage.

KAREN: Oh yeah. We’ve got to take a quick break, Dana, and then we’ll be back.

DANA: Okay.

KAREN: Hi, this is Karen Malanga, Principal Broker at RE/MAX Key Properties, and we’re back on House Talk with Dana Carmichael, the owner of Home Fridays.

In the beginning of the show we went over some descriptions of what she provides, and now we’re going to get a little bit more detail, right Dana?

DANA: Yes.

KAREN: We’re changing seasons, and I cannot believe that it got a little dark last night earlier. We’re heading into fall. Haven’t had enough summer, but it’s our reality. What do you do seasonally when you’re taking care of homes?

DANA: We always try to think almost a season ahead for preparation for fall. In fall we will help coordinate with our landscapers with various lists, and winterizing irrigation lines. We also put foam vents in the vent covers and foam bib covers on the water spouts exteriorly.

We ensure that our landscapers are still doing snow removal and make sure that we are ready for snow. That’s thinking ahead. If there’s any fall cleanups that need to be had –

KAREN: So you get a schedule going?

DANA: We have a lot of spreadsheets. [laughs] Yeah, we have a schedule going. Gutter cleaning is also important because if your gutters are full, they don’t drain well and can lead to wintertime problems like ice dams on the roof. And then people after summer might like some deep cleaning, like their carpets cleaned.

KAREN: You really have a list of almost subcontractors that you know, like, and trust and that work with you as a team.

DANA: Yeah. That’s where we find we’re particularly beneficial, because we use people that are vetted in the community that we would trust with our own homes. Our subcontracted carpet cleaners or gutter cleaners all carry insurance and the proper licensing.

Then we oversee the work and we hold them accountable. We make sure they’re there when they’re supposed to, we make sure the work was done, there wasn’t any shortcuts. And if we’re not happy with a particular vendor, we make a change.

KAREN: That takes a lot of experience, too.

DANA: Yeah, it takes really living in the community. Some of our clients do consider this their full-time community and might be gone just for the winter months to somewhere warmer. But probably a lot of our clients live somewhere else and use the Central Oregon area as their vacation home. They might not ski in the winter; they might just like the summer months. Or vice versa. We have people that go both ways.

KAREN: Yeah, you just don’t know. I do think, too, that having a service like yours – especially for people that come from a mild climate and they don’t understand the harshness and the changes that occur in our environment here – when they buy a home, they have to take care of the home in a whole different way than you would if you were from Los Angeles or Phoenix or somewhere. You’d have different issues. But here, you really have to stay on top of things. I think that’s very cool that you provide that.

DANA: Thanks. Yeah, I think it’s important. I know it’s important from experience. We have lots of stories.

We had a client buying a house here from the Midwest, where they get these rainstorms every day. They weren’t familiar with the irrigation driplines that we have. It’s so hot in the summer, to us it’s like, yeah, the plants have to be watered every day because we won’t see rains for a couple months.

KAREN: And they just didn’t have a handle on that.

DANA: Yeah. Just little things.

KAREN: Or they come from a warmer climate and they’re like, “What do you mean I’m covering up my hose bibs? Why?” [laughs]

DANA: Yeah, “What is that? Foundation vents, what are those? What’s the importance?” Homes are built differently in different climates. Here in Central Oregon, the roofing has to be done per code, whether it’s snow weight, and also the water shield that’s underneath the roof layer.

KAREN: I know that you were super busy two winters ago, because I called you for help.

DANA: Yes, oh my gosh.

KAREN: I was frantic. But I think through that heavy winter, it probably helped you prepare even more contractors for the winter months if that occurs again.

DANA: Yeah. Some of the referrers in town have more of a preventative list, just like you would service your HVAC system. (That’s your furnace and A/C.) You’d be put on a priority list in the event we got 5 feet of snow again. The preventative list might be the gutter cleaning, ensuring the roof looks like it’s in good order. That’s another topic that we’ll address here as we move closer to winter.

KAREN: Keeping tabs on everybody’s roof.

DANA: Keeping tabs on everybody’s roof, yeah. Again, that comes down to what I mentioned before – ice dams in the winter that occur here probably every winter. Not with the severity of the winter about 2 years ago, but just with our temperature fluctuations. It creates this freezing and thawing and can create dams on the roof that can create water above that water non-permeable membrane, and then that can leak into the house, causing water damage.

KAREN: When you take on a new client, Dana, do you then meet with them at their home? I mean, if they’re here. Or do you go to an onsite visit and make a list of what your recommendation would be on the type of care? Because everyone’s home is different; a home built in 1980 is probably going to need maybe a few other checks than a home that was just finished.

DANA: Yeah. We have set clients up remotely if need be, but usually I try to meet the homeowner at their house and we walk through it together. If they’ve recently purchased it or if they’ve owned it for 20 years, I ask if they have any problematic areas, if they’ve had any leaking before, anything that we need to keep in their home notes that we need to pay extra attention to.

We walk through the house, either with the homeowner or without, and make note of the systems and any particulars that we need to check. And then we have a checklist that we go through every week. We don’t miss anything.

KAREN: That’s a lot of responsibility. We’re going to take a quick break, and we’ll be right back with House Talk.

Hi, welcome back to House Talk. Karen Malanga, Principal Broker at RE/MAX Key Properties and Dana Carmichael, the owner of Home Fridays.

We were just discussing what Home Fridays provides to their clients and how they start. Correct me if I’m wrong, but your best scenario would be to meet with a potential client at their home and do the walkthrough, and then you have a checklist.

When the person travels, can they check in on their home and see what you’ve been doing? How does that work?

DANA: Yeah, they can check in at any time. We send them the home reports, not weekly but monthly – because some clients don’t want to be bothered at all. Other clients do want a more frequent check-in, which is fine.

It’s all electronic these days, but each client has home notes for their preferences for their home that we refer to before we go in their house. Then we have our own checklist, again electronically, that we fill out. Like hot tub temperature, house temperature.

KAREN: Wow. You’re really just taking care of everything.

DANA: Making sure the icemaker is off, because those are notorious for leaking. And then we can make note of any problems that they have, and if the problem is urgent, the client’s getting a call while we’re at the house. If it’s something like the toilet’s running but we turned the water off, we will email them within a day and ask permission if they want us to schedule a plumber or if they want to deal with the problem when they’re home.

Anything, with exception of if it was an urgent issue, we communicate with the homeowner and see how they want to handle it – if they want us to handle it or for them. If it’s urgent, we treat these homes like they’re our own homes. What would I do on my house if I had this situation come up? How would I like this handled?

We have many clients that actually live abroad in various parts of the world, and we might not be in the same time zone at all. But they trust us with our decision-making and our experience to handle some of these problems until we can get a hold of them.

KAREN: That’s terrific. It gives them huge peace of mind, I would think.

DANA: Yeah.

KAREN: Do you do anything special? Like what if I live in France and I’m flying into Bend and it’s my husband’s birthday, and I want to be able to get off the plane and walk into the home and have it ready for a party? Can you do that?

DANA: Yeah. We have on occasion – it’s just client request. We’ll really do any concierge service needed. We’ve set up Christmas trees and gotten lights out. We actually do have a professional Christmas lighting guy in town. It’s phenomenal.

KAREN: I would like that recommendation. [laughs]

DANA: Yeah, I can share that with you, Karen. We do grocery shopping. That’s a big one.

KAREN: So they arrive and their fridge is – with what they want.

DANA: With what they want, yeah. I mentioned we check people’s mail that want their mail checked. Sometimes we’re scanning their mail back to them, or sending important documents. Some clients want us to mail their mail to them.

We also meet for deliveries, which is great for the new homeowner that might be furnishing their home. Anything from mattresses to furniture to – you name it, we’ve probably met delivery people for so they could have access to the house.

KAREN: What if they have a car and they’ve been here in the summer, and now they’re arriving in December? What about changing out those tires?

DANA: We also do that.

KAREN: Wow.

DANA: Yeah. Again, when they come to Central Oregon, Bend, Sunriver, Sisters, Redmond, they can just enjoy their time here with their family or their friends and their hobbies.

KAREN: They know they’re not walking into a house filled with mice, and if they wanted to, their refrigerator is stocked. They can just arrive and have –

DANA: Yeah, it’s nice. It’s a great service.

KAREN: I would like that, even though I live here. [laughs] Can you just come over every day and take care of my house, stock my fridge? “I’m having a party Friday. Okay, Dana will just take care of it.” [laughs] I think that’s awesome.

What other things do you provide? That’s pretty all-inclusive. I can’t imagine…

DANA: Sometimes we’re connecting clients with contractors that want to do a remodel or addition. I work with HOAs too. Right now, I’m working this week on getting new house colors approved with the Sunriver HOA.

KAREN: So you really take on a lot.

DANA: Yeah, we just do what needs to be done to take care of the home for the homeowner.

KAREN: Wow, Dana. I’m sure you have a different fee schedule for everything, and people can find that on your website.

DANA: Yeah.

KAREN: Dana, what’s the best way to find Home Fridays?

DANA: We’re on the internet, homefridays.com. I can also be emailed, which is my name, dana@homefridays.com.

KAREN: Thank you so much for being on the program.

DANA: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.

KAREN: I have to say, every time I’ve referred Dana I’ve had nothing but rave reviews. So thank you. I know you’re super busy.

DANA: Thanks, Karen.

KAREN: Bye bye.

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