I've moved for MORE!

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I recently chose to move my real estate licensed to MORE Realty. I’m licensed in both Oregon and Washington, and this brokerage provides me with amazing support and tools in both states. I’ve been licensed in Washington for just over 2 years, and still am learning a lot! I’m excited for our cute office in downtown Camas, since I spend so much time in Camas!

Thank you all for your continuing support! My clients are friends, family, and referrals, and I could not do it without you!

Hot Neighborhoods Portland Metro 2018

Portland Business Journal pulled all the market data for the Portland Metro Area for 2018, and compiled a list of the 50 hottest neighborhoods. The headline of "Portland’s Hottest Neighborhoods” is a bit misleading, we are a big Metro spanning 5 counties in 2 states, it’s not just Portland. The top neighborhood is Forest Heights/Cedar Hills/Bethany, which is Portland, but #2-4 are parts of Beaverton, Tigard, and Hillsboro. We are a Metro, get used to it! The areas that I was most interested in (living in NE Portland) are the close in Portland neighborhoods, which continue to dominate. I’ve been selling houses in FoPo for years, and it’s top of the list for the Eastside. I was also happy to see Arbor Lodge/Kenton so highly ranked! It’s such a great areas, but many buyers skip it due to Lombard and I-5. Don’t skip it!

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Don’t hesitate to reach out to me for information on your specific neighborhood, and areas you are interested in living in. I’m licensed in both Oregon and Washington, and my business is rooted in working with friends, family, and referrals!

Oregon First Time Buyer Savings Program

Oregon has a brand new savings account for home buyers! You can save $5,000-$10,000 annually, tax free. 5-10% down payments are really common, so you can get enough for a down payment and closing costs really fast! I do feel that the list fees that can be paid with these funds are misleading, buyer’s don’t pay Realtor fees. The seller pays both agents. Buyer costs are down payment, closing costs (loan, title, county fees, taxes), appraisal and home inspections. I wish they would let buyers use these funds towards inspections, they run $500-1500! Contact a tax professional for more info, but call me when you want start the process of buying a house!

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Hawthorne Carriage House ADU

This adorable little ADU is perched atop a 2 car garage in the Hawthorne neighborhood. In only 384 sqft , it has a full kitchen with dishwasher, a full bath with custom tile and full sized tub, an open plan with queen sized bed and sleeper sofa. This is a great example of how so much can be thoughtfully fit into such a small space. It could be used for a long term rental, a short term rental (think of the Airbnb rates you could get in Hawthorne!), or a fantastic guest house for family and friends. ADU by SQFT Studios, photos by me, and yet another example of why I always hire a professional photographer for listings!

2019 Real Estate Forecast

A pretty and fun house in my neighborhood! It’s not for sale, it just makes me happy. I’m sick of dark blue, gray, and black houses!

A pretty and fun house in my neighborhood! It’s not for sale, it just makes me happy. I’m sick of dark blue, gray, and black houses!

Everyone wants a crystal ball for the real estate market in the coming year. No one has one. We do have evidence that leads economists and experts to predict a slowing market, rising interest rates, and more inventory in the mid to upper price range of houses for sale. If you’ve asked me, then you’ve heard me say for years that prices have been rising too quickly, and that a slow down is needed. The thing that is tough to swallow is that there won’t be a real change in affordability or inventory for those of us buying in the Portland Metro area for under $400,000.

Here’s how it will probably shake out, based on Realtor.com’s 2019 forecast. Nationally, house prices are expected to still go up 2.2%, much slower than previous years, but still going up. Rising mortgages rates will combine with rising house prices to reduce affordability.

Realtor.com economists expects mortgage rates to hit 5.5% by the end of 2019. In real money, this means that the average home will cost 8% more per month than in 2018. Home sales could decline by 2% next year. These numbers aren’t startling by themselves. It is really tough to face this reality after coming of age and coming into the real estate market during record low mortgage rates (that lasted for years and years) and housing prices going down. When we first looked at buying a house in 2008, rates where at 6.5%, which was considered really low! 18 months later we actually closed on a house, rates where under 6%, then we refinanced a few years later in the low 4% range. It’s hard to give that up and change my expectations, even working in the industry for more than 10 years! I can’t imagine how frustrating it would be to make a plan to buy, save and save, only to have affordability keep moving up and out of range. That’s a reality today though, so watch out for old strategies to re-emerge, like assuming low interest rate loans and seller carried financing.

No forecast is complete without a look at generational buying habits! As a very old Millennial myself, I’m very excited for my generation finally being able to move into ownership, and the new ways that we are doing it! They are actually old ways, but not idealized during the Nuclear Family/American Dream/Perfect Home period of 1945-2008. Millennials are making up the key share of buyers as their income increases and as they start and grow their families. Realtor.com expects, Millennials will account for 45% of 2019 mortgages, with 37% going to Gen Xers and 17% to baby boomers. Boomers are buying a lot still, but using cash. I’m continuing to see the trend of multi-generational housing, co-housing, house sharing, building ADUs, etc, to add rental income and built-in child/pet care. This is a return to pre WWII patterns, and I think a much healthier community. Less financial strain on new homeowners is also a great benefit!

The takeaway is that house prices are still going up, we are not heading into a housing downturn. Everyone, especially younger buyers, are getting creative to make home buying possible. It’s not too late to buy a great house, and rates will not be up in the really crazy range for years. We aren’t getting even close to 17%, which was the mortgage rate in October 1981.

Source: Forbes.com, Yahoo Finance, Wikipedia

Contingent Sales

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A contingent sale is when something must happen before a house can be sold. There are many contingencies within a normal transaction- inspection, appraisal, financing. The contingencies that are more of a challenge are when 1 house has to be sold before a new one can be purchased. Here are my tips for making multiple transactions flow smoothly and everyone has an easy move!

  1. Start shopping before you sell your house: Are there houses you like, in your price range, and enough of them coming on the market that you can reasonably assume there will be a house you can buy once your current house is pending?

  2. Prep Prep Prep your house for sale: This will need to be a quick sale, with highly motivated buyers that are willing to sign off on waiting for you to find your dream home, before they can buy theirs. Clean, do repairs, move out as much as you can, get a dumpster and throw everything away, have a garage sale. Paint, stage the house, clean up the landscaping.

  3. If you find your dream house first: Make an offer contingent on the sale of your current home, and it has to go on the market in x number of days, usually 10 or less. Did you Prep Prep Prep? If not, then get to work, or price your house accordingly.

  4. See the Big Picture: If you want to sell your house for the maximum amount, then work with me to see when that is in your neighborhood, how to make your house pop, and make the improvements buyers value. If you already found the dream house, then the price on your current house may be lower, but you’ll get the dream house. Also, pricing lower may lead to multiple offers, buyers that are willing to wait for this house because of the deal they are getting on it, and backup offers so you don’t have to go back on the market if the 1st buyers walk away.

  5. Rent Backs and Closing Dates: Be open from the beginning with all sides. How long will it really take you to move? Do you need to hire a moving company to make it happen in one day? What kind of cleaning does each house need? The best thing is to ask for extra, and then be able to let the new owners of your house have it early. The closing dates are usually 2 days apart, shoot for a early in the week, and early in the month, title and mortgage companies will be less busy and able to focus on your closings happening on time.

  6. You are Unique: Every house, buyer, seller, family, is unique, on all sides in contingent sales. What is important to you? What is important to the sellers/buyers? Be generous where you can, real estate karma is real, and giving up things that don’t matter in the long run will get you into that dream house in a positive and happy way.

Mayor Wheeler on How Portland is Addressing Housing Issues

Today I received an email from the office of the Mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler. I haven’t been as attached to Mayor Wheeler as I have previous mayors (I miss always seeing Sam Adams around town) but I was excited to see what the 10 things the City is doing to address housing issues. I think we will need a lot more than 10. But it’s a start! Here’s what Mayor Wheeler sent out:

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“Like many cities, Portland, Oregon has had a massive influx of new residents in the last decade. More than 100 people move to Portland every day-and more than 100,000 more are projected to move here over the next 20 years.

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This growth is undoubtedly exciting: Portland is often listed as one of the most desirable places in America to live. Situated in a park-like setting, thanks to the green trees, parks, and the various rose gardens Portland is known for, visitors and new residents alike enjoy our creativity evidenced through our celebrations, our maker culture, and our pioneering spirit. This has created an economic draw for many of our visitors and new residents. The Seattle Times recently called Portland's economy "transformational." Forbes called Portland the best place in America for careers and business.

I'm taking on these challenges. So are mayors across the country. It is our responsibility to grow smart, which we are doing by protecting renters, preserving existing units, and producing new units.

Here are 10 ways Portland is tackling housing-along a spectrum from homelessness to homeownership, and creating affordable solutions along that spectrum. We have focused our efforts on leveraging funding sources, and maximizing strategic investment opportunities:

  1. We are implementing a fee on short-term rental units, including Airbnb, to create additional homeownership opportunities. Because short-term rental companies have a significant impact on the availability of rental units, we are modestly increasing the fee to create a dedicated fund for homeownership opportunities in our gentrifying neighborhoods in our community.

  2. We are leveraging Portland dollars to create 1300 units in five to seven years with a Housing Bond. We are delivering well ahead of schedule on this promise-announcing four projects totaling more than 560 units of permanently affordable housing planned or purchased to date under the Bond only 18 months in. We are also pushing for a constitutional amendment statewide to allow us to leverage our dollars by combining them with private resources to create more housing units.

  3. We are implementing Tax Increment Funding in urban renewal areas- We have over 600 units (and hundreds more on the way) in the construction or permitting process in our urban renewal districts.

  4. We utilize public and private sector partnerships to increase housing opportunities. Portland continues to work with longtime partner Kaiser Permanente, who recently joined Mayors and CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment. Kaiser committed a record $200M into a new community investment fund to preserve and expand affordable housing.

  5. We utilize methods of creating permanent affordability. We continue to partner with our local land trust housing provider, Proud Ground, and our local Habitat for Humanity affiliate to create permanently affordable homeownership opportunities for Portland area residents.

  6. We work with local and state agencies to create funding availability for permanent supportive housing units. This funding opportunity marks the first-time funding to build affordable housing has been bundled with funding for the services residents will need to thrive in that housing. By packaging construction capital and support services funding together for the first time, the City and its partners hope to achieve a minimum of 50 permanent supportive housing units.

  7. We are using a Smart Cities PDX Priorities Framework to ensure our growth is equitable. As the City evaluates new technologies, uses of information, and related partnerships, we must ensure they promote equity, address inequities and disparities in our city, and provide tangible benefits to the people of Portland. We intend to expand this framework into how we approach housing-promoting equity and addressing inequities and disparities in our city.

  8. We are increasing renter protections with an expungement program. The pilot program reduces barriers for those with a criminal record trying to rent homes and increases access to housing opportunities. Those with violations, misdemeanors or low-level felonies are eligible for expungement.

  9. We leverage market rate developments to include affordable housing. The Multiple-Unit Limited Tax Exemption program incentivizes those with market rate developments in the pipeline to include affordable housing units in their projects, so we can more quickly put more affordable housing units on the ground.

  10. We utilize Inclusionary Zoning.  We require any new development of 20 units or more to have affordable housing units included in the development.

We have focused our efforts on leveraging funding sources, and maximizing strategic investment opportunities because I want to ensure that Portland remains a city that is accessible and affordable for everyone. I don't want millionaires to be the only people who can afford to live downtown. I don't want service industry workers to have a two-hour commute. I want a city where we actively create housing options at every income level and for people of all ages.

Portland City Council has consistently voted in favor of more housing despite otherwise important and competing values-and I want to be clear that our efforts have paid off.

Annual production and permitting levels are higher than at any point in the last 15 years. In 2017, there were 14,000 units in the production pipeline, including permits. More than 600 affordable housing units came online in 2017-more than double the number of units in the prior year.

And this year will be another record year. There are currently more than 700 newly affordable units under construction and slated to open in 2018. This will be the largest number of affordable units ever produced by the City of Portland in a single year in modern history.

As Mayor, I will continue to prioritize policies to protect renters, preserve existing units, and produce new units.  

-Ted Wheeler”

So, there are a lot of things in the works, including a lot more affordable units, but what else can we do? I think putting social workers in our public libraries would be helpful! And paying more taxes to have more money to put towards all of these projects, but I’m a Democratic Socialist, so I always think that the state supporting people is a good idea.

New Listing Alert!

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Golf course view in a private townhouse with room to garden, brand new kitchen: floor, cabinets, countertops, copper sink, all new appliances come with the home!

This jewel townhome has so much storage and more space than you expect. Rare 3 bedroom floor plan, large living room, balcony off master bedroom, new real bamboo floor, new carpet upstairs. Look out at the 5th tee on the Gresham Golf Course from the very private patio and balcony. Fantastic HOA, heated pool, grass lawns, and you can fence in an area for dogs or make your own garden!

See more photos and the 3 D Tour here

2074 NE Hogan DR, Gresham OR 97030 | $209,900 |  ML# 18073011

3 Bedrooms  |  1.5 Bathrooms  |  1296 SQFT  |  Attached Townhouse

Hall Elementary School  |  Gordon Russell Middle School  |  Sam Barlow High School

Country Club Estate Townhomes  |  $400 per month  |  Covers water, sewer, garbage, commons, insurance, landscaping, management, heated swimming pool

 

Neighborhoods to Buy Where Prices are Dropping

 1.  St. Johns/Portsmouth, Portland  In the 97203 ZIP code, there were 150 sales. Homes spent an average of 22 days on the market, and the median sale price was $378,125, down 0.5 percent from $380,000 a year earlier.

 1.  St. Johns/Portsmouth, Portland

In the 97203 ZIP code, there were 150 sales. Homes spent an average of 22 days on the market, and the median sale price was $378,125, down 0.5 percent from $380,000 a year earlier.

Foster-Powell/Woodstock, Portland  In the 97206 ZIP code, there were 254 sales. Homes spent an average of 23 days on the market, and the median sale price was $399,000, down 0.7 percent from $402,000 a year earlier.

Foster-Powell/Woodstock, Portland

In the 97206 ZIP code, there were 254 sales. Homes spent an average of 23 days on the market, and the median sale price was $399,000, down 0.7 percent from $402,000 a year earlier.

Central Beaverton  In the 97005 ZIP code, there were 83 sales. Homes spent an average of 18 days on the market, and the median sales price was $345,000, down 1.4 percent from $350,000 a year earlier.

Central Beaverton

In the 97005 ZIP code, there were 83 sales. Homes spent an average of 18 days on the market, and the median sales price was $345,000, down 1.4 percent from $350,000 a year earlier.

Sellwood-Moreland/Richmond, Portland    In the 97202 ZIP code, there were 170 sales. Homes spent an average of 27 days on the market, and the median sale price was $525,500, down 10.2 percent from $585,000 a year earlier.

Sellwood-Moreland/Richmond, Portland

In the 97202 ZIP code, there were 170 sales. Homes spent an average of 27 days on the market, and the median sale price was $525,500, down 10.2 percent from $585,000 a year earlier.

A few neighborhoods around Portland are cooling off, and now through the winter is a great time to get a deal! Values aren't dropping drastically, but the market has cooled off after a hot spring. What do you think of these neighborhoods? 

Fairway Mortgage and Dwell Realty Announces Partnership

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Hi guys! My name is Chelsea Collier and I’m a Mortgage Advisor with Fairway Mortgage. As a benefit to Dwell Realty clients, Fairway Mortgage is now offering a $1,000 credit toward your closing costs when you close your purchase loan thru us. In addition to this, Fairway offers competitive rates, excellent customer service, and some of the fastest turn times in the industry, closing in as little as 10 business days!  
A little about me: I am a native Oregonian with over 12 years of experience as a Mortgage Lender. During this time I’ve seen it all; bruised credit, awesome credit, and everything in between. My goal is to make every client feel comfortable and excited about the home buying process, regardless of your past or the complexity of your finances. I also have an excellent track record for helping my buyers get their offers accepted in 1-2 tries despite a competitive marketplace (ask about my VIP pre-approvals). 
I’ve been featured in Portland Monthly Magazine 4 times for the Five Star Mortgage Professional Award for the years 2014-2017. I have a 5 star rating on Google, Yelp, and Zillow from past clients who’ve been ecstatic regarding my assistance. I would be happy to help with your financing too! Give me a shout and I’ll see how we can meet your goals.        


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     Chelsea Collier
Loan Advisor | NMLS ID 258317  Fairway Mortgage
12817 SE 93rd Ave Clackamas, OR 97015
 
│ Cell: 503-997-5373
│ Email: chelsea.collier@fairwaymc.com
│ Web: www.pdxmortgage.com

New Cully Park Anchors NE Neighborhood

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There's a brand new park in NE, and it's making Cully even more desirable and liveable! I've lived in Cully for 9 years, and boy has it changed. There are still a lot of unpaved roads, and hardly a sidewalk to be found, but this jewel of a park is adding to the already thriving coffee shops, remodeled grocery store, and spruced up houses.  Cully Park includes a Community Garden, NE 72nd Greenstreet, off-­leash dog area, parking lot, play area, trails, fitness course, overlooks, north slope habitat restoration, picnic areas, and youth soccer field, and the Native Gathering Gardens.

I took my girls last weekend, and we had a blast! The water pump at the sand pit is ON, so Ramona was wearing my sweatshirt as a dress after she got soaked. There is an awesome big hill with multiple ways to climb up, big and little kid swings, lots of shaded seating, big and little slide, and 2 Portland Loos. 

One of the most unique aspects of the park (and neighborhood) is the proximity to the airport. From the bridge and hill you can watch planes take off and land, and go most of the way down the runway! There is an active railroad right next to the park, and Columbia BLVD has all sorts of truck traffic, so your transportation obsessed child will be satiated. The paved walking/running path has a few loops, and is great for young bikers. 

I'm so thrilled to have another great park in Portland, one that mixes all access aspects with challenges and imagination boosters. Our Parks Department is one of the best! 

Home Loan Down Payments

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Down payments are the main place to start when you are planning to buy a home. How much do you need and where does the money come from? My number one piece of advice and information: Most of my clients and friends get down payment assistance of some sort, whether its from family, and IDA, or 401k. Conventional loans start with down payments at 3%. This means that with the median Portland house price at just over $400,000, will need a minimum of $12,000. This doesn't include the closing costs- depending on taxes and loan costs, could be another $10,000-15,000. Here is a brief look at the down payment options:

1. Family: Buyers that are not Baby Boomers (I'm not going to write a Millenials post) often get a cash gift from parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, older siblings, or family friends. This is so very very common, don't be shy to ask! Rents and student loans make it really tough to save large sums of money these days. Family can also co-sign a loan if they would like to have a more vested interest in the house. I've had several clients who were families, the older generation was buying the house cash and then doing a payment plan for the younger ones to buy the house from them. You can also do a mortgage after buying cash, but use the ease of using cash to beat out other buyers in a competitive market. 

2. 401k- It's not my favorite option, but you can pull funds from a 401k or other retirement savings plan. I like this if the mortgage is going to be less than the rent was, or you have another plan for saving more money and reimbursing the retirement savings quickly.

3. IDA- Individual Development Accounts are matching savings accounts you can utilize through the Portland Housing Center. They are meant to be used for at least 6 months, and are a 3:1 match! I recommend using other mortgage brokers than PHC, but I have some great referrals for you! This program is fantastic if you are 6-12 months away from buying, you can add a lump sum at any time and then more money monthly or with paychecks. 

 

Adorable Sellwood Cottage

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 This adorable Sellwood cottage has so much to offer. Not only is it cute and in a fantastic, hot, close-in neighborhood, it also has a brand new kitchen! The sellers were planning on staying for a long time, but had to move out of state for work. So, the new owner will benefit from this well thought out kitchen remodel. There are brand new cabinets, quart counters, raw edge wood slab shelves, butcher block counters, large tile flooring, and brand new stainless steel appliances. 

The large great room addition is a surprise for every one who comes to this home. Vaulted ceilings, oversized windows, and sliding doors bring the backyard oasis inside, and heated, stained concrete floors are durable and visually compelling.  

The basement is ready for a master suite! 

The City of Portland Home Energy Score is an 8, out of 10. A certified energy auditor assessed the home and it's systems, and gave it an 8 out of 10. The R-44 insulation in the attic, 96% AFUE gas furnace, and double paned low-E glass windows helped the home earn such a high score. Read the details here: https://api.greenbuildingregistry.com/report/pdf/R328404-20180129.pdf

Come visit me Saturday and Sunday, March 17th and 18th, from noon to 3pm for the Open House. 

 

 

Portland Market is Still Hot, but Nothing Compared to Seattle!

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Do you ever feel like Portland is always looped in with Seattle, but as a slightly behind, quaint, lesser, suburb, wannabe? When it comes to the rising house prices, that's turning out to not be a bad thing! Let's take a little walk through some of the statistics! Seattle home prices have increased nearly 9% since January 1st, 2017, leading all cities. Portland is at a not shabby at all 7%. To put this in context, 3% per year is the average rise in home prices year to year since the 1970s. 

Our population is growing, but the growth in GDP is not as great as the other hot market cities. This is a little worrisome, but unemployment is so so low, 3.7% in Portland, 4.2% in Oregon, that salaries will hopefully start going up soon. 

The median home price in Portland is $404,500, and in Seattle it's $708,600. 

You guys. 57%. The median house in Portland is 43% lower! So we don't have professional baseball or football. We have a smaller opera, ballet, etc. Less big boats. I'm ok with this! 

Let me know if you want to get a foothold in our amazing little city! 

 

Home Energy Scores Are Coming

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A new and interesting step in selling your Portland home is coming next month. The Home Energy Audit is intended to let buyers compare homes more accurately. 

As of January 1, 2018, the City of Portland will require that all homes within the city limits attain a home energy score from a qualified home energy assessor prior to going on the market. Similar to how miles per gallon can quickly convey how efficient a car is, a home energy score is intended to let potential buyers know how efficient a home is.

The Home Energy Score is a measurement of the energy efficiency of a home based on an onsite evaluation of the physical characteristics of the house. A Home Energy Score is not a measurement of the household's actual energy usage, which is influenced by occupant behavior. 

If your home scores a 5, it is expected to perform comparably to an average home in Portland in terms of energy use. If your home scores a 10, it ranks among the 10 percent of homes expected to use the least amount of energy. A home scoring a 1 is estimated to consume more energy each year than 85 percent of homes.

Scoring a 1 does not mean your home is poorly built. A beautiful home with up-to-date equipment can still get a low score if the square footage is high or if there is insufficient insulation. A low score just means there is significant room for improvement to reduce a home’s energy use. Scoring a 10 does not mean your home cannot improve. Even a home that uses less energy than most of its peers may benefit from additional energy efficiency or renewable energy investments. 

During a home energy assessment, the home's heating and cooling equipment, ductwork, water heater, insulation, windows and roofing are examined and collected data is entered into a program. A score of 1-10 is generated for the home in question, as well as recommended improvements that can raise the home's score and increase efficiency. The assessment is not destructive or invasive. 

There are several inspectors who have been certified, and I've seen costs ranging from $150-200. That's not bad compared to a pre-listing home inspection ($400-600). If you have any questions about selling your home, or obtaining an audit, please don't hesitate to reach out to me! 

I've Found a New Home

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I have found a new home! It's been 6.5 years since I moved brokerages, and I have never really shopped around seriously. I just took the next step right in front of me. This week, starting Monday morning at 9am, I started to really explore where I could fit in and be encouraged to grow to be the best Realtor in Portland and SW Washington. I found that place at Dwell Realty. The culture of a brokerage I'd really important, and I know it is tomy clients as well.

Portland Is for Pets

Portland: It's raining. Also, we have cats and dogs.

In fact, Oregon is one of the few states in the nation with more cat owners than dog owners, but Portland proper belongs to the hounds.

We're tied for first in the country with the most dog parks per capita (slipping a bit from 2012, when Portland led that category "fur and away") and our dog ownership rate is 38.8%.

But dog parks and catios are only part of what makes a city statistically welcoming to our canine and feline family members. WalletHub recently performed this ridiculously in-depth study on the nation's most pet friendly cities... and Portland is ranked all the way down in 26th place! This, despite receiving very high marks in both the "Pet Health & Wellness" and "Outdoor Pet-Friendliness" categories. That part at least makes sense, as we've got posh day spas for both pups and kitties.

Turns out, regardless of its many pet amenities (or perhaps because of them), Portland is one of the most expensive places to own a domestic creature. Portlanders typically love to spoil their fur babies with premium, natural foods and accessories. Additionally, our veterinary care costs are among the highest in the country. So it's a great place to be a pet and a vet!

As any pet owner will affirm, looking for a new home involves consideration for the happiness of any animal family members. The next time you're thinking of entering the housing market, I'd be thrilled to incorporate your pet plans into your overall strategy!

Fall 2017 Market Update

Autumn has arrived in Portland and the cooler temperatures are also extending to our local real estate market. Not to worry, I'm here to help you navigate it successfully. If you're looking to buy or sell in 2018, now is a great time to start forming our strategy!

Overall, the local market has cooled off over the summer and into fall. We currently have the largest number of homes on the market since January of 2015. This is rather unusual, as we typically see a decrease in inventory going into fall and extending into winter. The present increase in available homes is largely due to houses either being overpriced or having unaddressed issues that buyers won't accept.

Homes are selling at the slowest rate since January of 2015 and more than half the properties on the market are dropping their prices after going live. The average amount of time a home spends on the market is up to 37 days now.

But this isn't a doom and gloom post. Well presented homes at an attractive price point are still capturing the interest of multiple buyers, bolstering the final selling price. It's all about finding the perfect strategy for your home, your neighborhood, and staying ahead of the market.

If you're considering buying (and maybe took the summer off due to competition), now is a great time to start looking again. We have more inventory than we've had in years, there are fewer competing buyers, and inflated prices are coming down. Let's find the perfect home for you before the end of the year!

I'm always available to pull the most recent market data and chat with you about your real estate goals. It's truly no trouble at all. I love learning about your specific objectives and helping you achieve them. Please consider me at your service for anything related to your home!

Spade & Archer Sets the Stage for Your Next Adventure

Like many of the small design-focused companies that have flourished in Portland in recent years, Spade & Archer is a product of the recession. In 2008 when Justin Riordan, an architect, saw signs of a layoff coming at the company where he worked, he realized that there were no other architecture jobs to be had in Portland. He decided he might as well create his own dream job. He asked himself, "If you could do anything in the world and didn't have to worry about money, what would you do?" The answer: "I would rearrange people's furniture." But he realized that the only time people actually spend money on that type of thing is when they're getting ready to sell their houses. Home staging was the answer. He called his husband and told him they were starting a company - he even had a name for it. A month later Spade & Archer was in business. He's been busy ever since. The company has recently grown to Seattle and Palm Springs, with 22 employees in all. It's not surprising that the business is a success. Justin is the type of person that you warm to quickly, and trust easily. He is poised but genuine, practical and extremely well-organized. He expanded the business slowly, with the directive from his executive coach to replace himself in every aspect of his job - with the ultimate goal being that the business would run even better if he took off for six months. He quickly learned that the secret to a successful business is hiring the right people. Justin admits that it was trial and error at first, "I am a terrible flirt, I fall in love with everyone I meet. Great for marketing, but bad for business. The people we hire have hard skills but they're also really good at handling pressure."

First located in the 4,000 square foot house Justin shares with his husband and two children, the company finally outgrew its premises one Christmas when Justin's husband balked at the mattresses stacked in the middle of the living room. The furniture inventory is now housed in a 4,000 square foot warehouse just a few blocks from their home in Portland, with a 6,000 square foot warehouse in Seattle. Spade & Archer doesn't yet need a physical location in Palm Springs, where they focus mainly on vacation rentals. Justin's team fully furnishes an entire vacation home in two days and has it ready to go on day three.

I asked Justin how he convinces people that their house will show better and they'll get higher offers if they hire a home stager? Wrong question. Justin's principle is "we don't sell, we educate." The analogy he uses is that if you walk into a Gap store, you're willing to pay more for the crisply ironed and folded shirt than you are the one crumpled up in the corner. There's a buyer for both shirts, but the buyer of the crumpled shirt wants a bargain, while the person buying the nicely ironed shirt is willing to pay full price. Spade & Archer is not selling the crumpled shirt. One of their recent properties went for $340,000 over asking, the highest amount ever in Seattle's history. So the ultimate problem is not convincing people that staging works, because it's pretty apparent that it does, but convincing people that they are not the client. Homeowners like to give their opinion of what they like and don't like but Justin (nicely) tells them that, ultimately, of all the people in the world who are going to buy the house, they are not one of them. Instead, Spade & Archer is really really good at designing for their clients' clients. In other words - the buyer.

Spade & Archer's business model is a reflection of Justin, being somehow both methodical and quick at the same time. Each office has a creative director who is in charge of the day to day operations and overall setup of each project; and two design managers who are the profit centers for the office. They're in charge of sales (ahem; education), design and installation. They meet with clients, pick out everything that goes into the house, and implement the actual staging - they are the 007s of Spade & Archer. Everybody in the entire company works to support them. For each design manager there are 2-3 warehouse people who move and arrange the furniture. The company runs like a well-oiled machine.  

Consultations are always free. Spade & Archer understands that they are first and foremost a service provider, and secondly a design provider. They operate on the premise that it doesn't matter whether the space looks great if the client hates them in the end. If the client enjoys the process they're going to come back time and time again, so they make the entire process as seamless as possible. Clients book a consult through the website, by clicking a button that says, appropriately, "book a consult." It takes them straight to the Spade & Archer calendar where they pick a time and date that works for them and 90 seconds later have a confirmation. Consults take an hour and the client is given a price based on the size of the project. An average house, which includes 3bd/2ba, living and dining room, kitchen and family room, is about $3400 for the first month and $1,000 for each additional month. Once they give clients the pricing they never contact them again, especially since 80% of their clients are realtors. "We understand that real estate agents' most valued asset is their time, and phone calls from us will just drive them away," Justin explains. As soon as a client calls the date goes on the calendar. The last thing they do is send the client a check reimbursing them for anything they didn't use. So if you paid for 30 days and you only used 15 you get payment for the other 15 days back.

They average about 80-90 houses at any given time in the summer, and 40 in the winter. There are six houses staged each week in each office, and six houses that are de-staged every week. They work four 10-hour days per week, starting at 7:15am. Trucks are loaded and ready to go by 8:30-9am. They go out and stage, come back, put everything away and might pull some things for the next project day and they're done by 6pm. The crews have it down to a science at this point.

Spade & Archer clients see, conservatively, a threefold return in 30 days. If a client invests $10,000 in home staging they get a $30,000 return on investment in a month. A client in Seattle who used their services for a year reported a seven-fold return in 30 days. You might think that with that kind of a return, the furniture must be exotic and crazy expensive, but Spade & Archer isn't selling furniture, they're selling houses - they are also committed to buying local. Justin started the company with the concept of purchasing furniture with the lowest number of product miles. Product miles are determined by where materials are extracted, where the piece is built and where it's sold. A piece of furniture made from materials sourced in Russia, which are shipped to China for manufacturing and then to the U.S. for sale have an astronomical number of product miles, whereas a piece of vintage furniture sold at a local Portland shop is at zero product miles. Ninety percent of the Spade & Archer inventory has less than 10 product miles. Each office also produces under four square yards of trash per year - in fact all of the offices together used one box of copy paper last year. Being designers, they're also creative in their how they reuse materials. If a piece of outdoor furniture becomes too worn to be usable, they cut it up and make it into picture frames. They use things over and over and over, with virtually nothing going to waste.

Spade & Archer designs for the client's client. They show how the house is used, so buyers understand the purpose and scale of every room. They enhance strengths and detract from weaknesses and make the home memorable in the minds of potentially overwhelmed buyers. They determine the demographic for each house partly on what the schools are like. If the elementary schools are great but the middle and high schools are terrible, they know the potential buyers will be 25-35 years old with either a very young child or no children. If the elementary school isn't great but the high school is excellent - the buyers will be 35-45 with older children. If a college is nearby grad students or professors might be in the demographic. Once they determine the potential buyer, they design for that buyer. If they're in the baby boomer generation Justin's team knows they can't use vintage radios and typewriters because that's their parents' old junk. But for millennials it's their grandparents' super cool stuff. So they're always concerned with what the buyers' parents' aesthetic was so they can stay away from it, because, Justin says, "You hate your parents' design aesthetic, but you love your grandparents' style. If I can get an age for a potential buyer I know how I'm designing."

Cultural differences matter too. A house in Hillsboro that might appeal to Intel employees will include a large Indian population. Justin's team is aware of how they need to design to that market, and know what colors or other design elements to avoid, such as hanging a mirror in a bedroom, which is bad luck. Feng shui is very important too; an open toilet seat literally means money going down the toilet. With the huge influx of Chinese buyers heading into the Portland market from Vancouver, it's more important than ever to understand these cultural differences. In fact Justin thinks that every realtor interested in capturing this market should be brushing up on WeChat, China's version of Facebook.

The Next Adventure apartment looks like it's been gleaned from a Wes Anderson movie set. This look is not "standard" Spade & Archer, which according to Justin, "acts mostly as a backup dancer as opposed to the headliner." In the case of the Next Adventure apartment the client needed more because the apartment was both dark, small and outdated, with metallic wallpaper and grasscloth everywhere. Justin's team treated the project like a concept car, not something that people are going to drive around but that everyone wants a chance to sit in. Everything that Spade & Archer put into the apartment was purchased specifically for the project, which gave them a chance to try new ideas and break their rules a little bit. The recent tenants were a young hipster couple with a little kid so they decided to design for them. Their concept was that the apartment was like a cabin on a cruise ship, a place where you store things and sleep. During the day you go on fabulous adventures and come back at night to recuperate before your next day of exploring. The family would use the apartment as a landing base before embarking on their next adventure. There's a map with pins in all the places they've traveled, photos of the family surfing, the couple's bedroom is an apres-ski love den, and the kids' backpacks are at the ready above their beds. They're doing what everyone else wants to be doing. "We make people feel like they can be that family, even if it's just for 7 minutes, just long enough to make an offer," says Justin.


Five More Questions for Justin Riordan

 

What are your favorite sources for design inspiration?

Everyone in the office reads Martha Stewart Living, not because of her great design concepts, but because of her advice on homekeeping. Clients will call and ask questions such as how to get rid of dents in a carpet. You put ice cubes on them and let them melt over the course of a day so water is slowly leaked into the fibers. Come back the next day and run a vacuum over the area and they're gone.

Design-wise, there's a magazine called World of Interiors that is way out there in terms of what's going to happen in design 10 years from now. Elle Decor and House Beautiful are good for what's happening right now or six months from now. We stay away from magazines like Dwell, Real Simple, and Sunset because they talk about what's popular at this moment right now and that moment is over in terms of design. So we're constantly trying to stay ahead of what's happening in the industry. There's a pin board above every design managers desk. They're encouraged to tear out pages and put them on their pinboards and use those ideas in their designs.

 

Any other influences?

The series "Transparent" has a great design aesthetic. "Dear White People" has fantastic costuming and set design. I get a lot from movies, television, and plays. I love looking at what 19-25 year olds are doing in terms of fashion. It tends to be that interior design follows fashion by about 5 years, and 19-25 year olds tend to be 2-3 years ahead of fashion. Right now this demographic tends to wear clothes that don't match, it's all ironic, nothing is tailored, what's ugly is beautiful. If you look at the Next Adventure space, that's ugly is beautiful. So, being a 42 year old gay man wearing a pastel plaid tie, you have to forget about what you like and look at what someone else is going to like, so that's a huge source of inspiration.

 

Worst design crimes?

The worst design crime in home staging is thinking that you're the client. I had a homeowner whose bathroom was sponge painted pink and gold - a DIY project. All her friends told her they loved it, but I had to tell her that it looked like feces had been smeared on her walls and needed to be painted over. The worst design crime is believing your friends. They have absolutely no reason to be honest with you because they'd rather spare your feelings.

We also don't want to alienate buyers by creating a feeling of us vs. them, so anything political, college or sport team-related is not allowed. An example was a house that had a huge Oregon State Beavers flag in the living room. When I told the owner that they'd need to take down the flag he refused. Why, the owner asked, was Justin a Duck? No, I'm a Rainbow, I went to the University of Hawaii. No, we have different priorities - I want to sell your house and you want to root for a football team. People can have a hard time letting go of control when they see three humongous guys in grey shirts come in to stage their house. People are incredulous that these guys can do a better job than they have.

 

What is the range of house prices you've worked on?

High: 22M

Low: 186k studio

 

Best tip for staging?

Practice empathy. Put your feet into your buyers' shoes, and think like they think. Try to make it as easy as possible for as many people as possible to make a full price offer on the house. Because when you're a seller with only one product and it happens to be the biggest investment you've made in your entire life, you may want to think about who your client is.

 

Next adventure?

I'd like to have offices up and down the west coast.


Written by Melissa Moran

Celebrate NW Architect William Fletcher

Post and beam construction, floor to ceiling fireplaces and windows, pitched roofs; these are just a few notes you might have found in a mid-century architect's house plans in 1960. They're also the distinct features of modern homes built during the era and are part of what shaped the style known as Mid-century Modernism. Its innovators broke from architectural styles of the earlier century in that mid-century architects looked to bridge indoor and outdoor landscapes in ways not seen to that point.

In the Pacific Northwest, architects like William Fletcher lead the charge in designing these homes and were met with unique regional challenges in light and rugged landscapes. Fletcher and other Oregon contemporaries John Yeon, Pietro Belluschi, John Storrs and Van Evera Bailey helped shape the NW Regional Style of architecture, sometimes referred to as Northwest Modernism.

Next month Restore Oregon hosts their annual Mid-century Modern Home Tour which celebrates mid-century modern homes and this year's tour shouldn't disappoint as it marks the first time William Fletcher's residential works have ever been open to the public. The tour will feature several homes where tour goers can see period details, construction and Fletcher's style.

Of the tour and why Restore Oregon chose to spotlight William Fletcher this year, Director Peggy Moretti explains, "We wanted to recognize the many ways Fletcher shaped the Pacific Northwest Modernist movement, and to celebrate his work in a meaningful way."

Fletcher began his career in 1955. His influences stemmed from the works of Mies van der Rohe and the International Style movement. He went on to open a practice in downtown Portland on 14th street, Fletcher, Farr, Ayotte, now known as FFA Architecture and Interiors. There Fletcher worked alongside other noted architects, Saul Zaik, Donald Blair, John Reese, Frank Blachly, Alex Pierce and designer George Schwarz. They loosely became known as "the 14th Street Gang" and together worked on residential and commercial projects spanning the decade.

Fletcher's style reflects modernist principles of the time. His homes were constructed of native wood found in the Pacific NW and incorporated geometry and proportion into the environment of each site. His designs worked with the landscape and made use of placement to create light-filled buildings, Fletcher later designed The Rex Hill Winery and Black Butte Ranch where he incorporated many of the same features.

Restore Oregon's Mid-century Modern Home tour is in its seventh year and has grown. "In our first year, we had several hundred attendees and attendance has more than doubled since then. We feel this presents Oregon's interest and appreciation of these vintage places. Our mission is to preserve, reuse, and pass forward the historic places that make our communities livable and sustainable."

"We are proud to add pacific northwest modernism to our list of places that are meaningful for Oregonians," says Moretti.

This year's self-guided tour takes place on Saturday, September 23rd. Ticket holders will have complimentary access to two companion events: a lecture on "The Life, Works, and Legacy of William Fletcher, Master Architect Who Shaped Pacific Northwest Modernism" and an exclusive after-tour party hosted by Rejuvenation. The lecture is open to the public without a tour ticket for a suggested donation of $10.


 

Event Details:

Mid-Century Modern Tour of Works by William Fletcher

Saturday, September 23, 2017 from 10am to 4pm

$45 General Admission / $35 Restore Oregon Members

Ticket purchase required; includes complimentary lecture and after-tour party

 

Lecture: "The Life, Works, and Legacy of William Fletcher, Master Architect Who Shaped Pacific Northwest Modernism"

By Troy Ainsworth, Principal of FFA Architecture and Interiors, Inc.

Friday, September 22, 2017 from 6pm to 8pm

Held at Design Within Reach

825 NW 13th Ave, Portland, OR 97209

Open to public; $10 Donation (Complimentary with purchase of Mid-Century Modern Tour ticket)

 

After-tour Party: Celebrate Fletcher at Rejuvenation

Saturday, September 23, 2017 from 6pm to 7pm

Exclusive after-tour party open only to Mid-Century Modern ticket holders

Held at Rejuvenation's Flagship Store in SE Portland

1100 SE Grand Avenue

Portland, OR 97214