Buy or sell your home with Kathryn Madison

February Market Action

March 19th, 2015

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This market’s February beat last February 2014 pending sales by 37% and closings by 12%, in a demonstration of the strength of this year’s market.

A look at Portland’s areas show the lowest days on market in NE Portland at 60, as compared to the market’s average of 81 days. These DOM reflect both the home that sold in four days with multiple offers and the home on the busy street with orange shag carpeting that was a bit too ambitious in it’s pricing.

Sellers, yes-  it is much easier to get your home sold in the current market. However, the time spent in preparing it properly can mean the difference of tens of thousands of dollars in your net proceeds, so this is no time to be complacent if you truly wish to capitalize on your investment.

Buyers, don’t be disheartened. The time spent in discussing a good strategy ahead of looking at any homes, and recalibrating often, can mean all the difference in your success.


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The Inside Scoop: Real Cash Sales & Imaginary Offers

March 18th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 12.36.10 PMCash sales have added to the heat in Portland’s real estate market in all price ranges, including the very top.  As I’ve perceived this even more over the last year both while reviewing offers as the listing agent, and competing against cash with purchasing clients, I decided to do a more definitive search and look at harder numbers.

I looked at two search areas, greater SE Portland and SW Portland with the same parameters; $300-900,000 in the last three months. Of the 212 sales in SE during this period, 23% were cash. In SW there were 259 sales and 18% of those in cash.

Why is this important? What does it mean?

With appraisals not able to keep up with rising values in some of our hottest neighborhoods, such as the Hawthorne area, it’s safer for a seller to accept a cash offer as no bank appraisal is involved. As a buyers agent, cash will often dominate over a higher offer with conventional funding because of this reason.

That is why I have instituted making a practice offer on an imaginary house ahead of waiting to write once we have found “the one” when time is short and tensions are high. I can go over all the possible terms that can be changed on the offer, giving us the luxury of deciding ahead what the buyer is both willing and able to do.

Many colleagues are reporting their clients will lose the first house because of this unfamiliarity.  While I wish I could wave a magic wand over a client’s bank account, this is the next best thing.

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Home Sweet Home vs Lumber Liquidators

March 16th, 2015

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I toured a home in the Rose City area with clients last year that had something akin to that “new car smell,”  instead with fresh paint.  After a few minutes in the house my eyes began to water.

The house was new construction, Craftsman style. The gleaming surfaces and open floor plan was appealing. But on closer inspection one could see the cabinets, built-in’s  and box beamed ceilings were painted MDF.  New carpet covered the second floor rooms.   Even though the house was fully staged, the windows both up and downstairs had been left slightly ajar.  The only natural wood product in the home was on the floor, finished a dark contrasting tone.  In short, it was clear the house was filled with the off-gassing of the compounds used in all the finishes, more so than I had ever experienced in ten years of real estate work.  I had serious concerns about my clients considering moving into this house, as it was impossible to say how long the house would be so toxic, so I advised against this one.  The listing agent asked me to leave the doors and windows open.

Recent headlines have reported Lumber Liquidators as selling laminate flooring product with high levels of formaldehyde, bringing this topic to the fore again. While we now know that “new car smell” are VOC’s from new materials used in their manufacture, what we did not know was that we were inhaling chemical compounds. These compounds are in everything from non-flammable pajamas and new mattresses to simple paint and are not heavily regulated in our country.

In today’s marketplace, there are often alternatives choices that one can make when choosing finishes and .  Green homes not only have higher standards for energy savings, but also address cleaner air. It gives the saying “home sweet home” a whole new meaning.


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Mangia! Portland Dining Month

March 6th, 2015
Bar Avignon special.

Bar Avignon special

Three courses at some of Portland’s finest restaurants for $29, including one of my personal favorites, Bar Avignon.  I would say more, but I don’t like to talk with my mouth full.

See menus here.

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PNCA’s New Building: Artfully Brought Back to Life

March 6th, 2015

PNCAPNCA, Pacific Northwest College of Art, had it’s beginnings in the Portland Art Museum and has been at 12th and Johnson since the late 90’s. The Johnson property has since been sold and PNCA has officially moved into it’s stunning new digs at 511 NW Broadway, near the North Park Blocks.

This 34 million renovation, includes new architectural elements by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works, as well as uncovering gorgeous period details from the original 1919 building, formerly a US Post Office.  Newly named the Arlene and Howard Schnitzer Center for Art and Design, this location doubles the Johnson square footage and features public spaces on the first two floors including a cafe.

The area is shaping up to be an art hub with their nearby partner the Museum of Contemporary Craft and the student housing on the Park Blocks, aptly called Arthouse.

Our North Park blocks are polishing up beautifully.

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ADU’s Are Trending Hot

March 3rd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 12.43.50 PMADU’s are accessory dwelling units. Not such a sexy word, but the concept is exciting.

The data from  2013 shows that the average cost of a detached ADU costs $90,000 and $45,000 for attached (basement) units.  Rental income looks to offset the payback period at under ten years with a good income flow to follow.  The only only city with more ADU’s than Portland is Vancouver, BC.

Aside from potential housing to keep aging parents nearby, another concept of the ADU is to live in the primary house  while renting the ADU and when one wishes to downsize,  move into the ADU and begin renting the primary house.

Because Multnomah county is promoting denser housing, the normal $8,000-$13,000 fee of System Development Charges have been waived through July 2016.

With the trend of ADU’s picking up speed, there is a local blog devoted to the many details of the process and what looks to be a really interesting ADU tour in NE and SE Portland coming up at the end of May which includes a workshop.

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National Radon Action Month

January 23rd, 2015

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There are so many misconceptions about radon, especially where it’s likely to be in a home. Many buyers ask if a radon test is necessary if there is no basement in a home. Yes, it is.  Some clients may have seen this Portland map which may lead them to think they are not in a hot area and therefore that a test may not be necessary. Yes, it is.

Fact: radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. Fact: radon can be in any neighborhood, one home can have it while their neighbor may not. Fact: tests have become easier, more reliable and mitigating radon is relatively simple.

Here’s a link to the EPA’s site on radon. If you would like to test your home, contact me and I will be happy to share some vendors that can test for you.

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December Market Action: What the Future Holds

January 22nd, 2015

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The tea leaves of the coming year must be read by looking over the past 12 months, and even the years before. A striking note is the decrease in inventory over the last 3 years. Inventory simply means that if no other homes were allowed to enter the market place, how long would it take the existing homes, or inventory, to sell? A past truism is that the market is evenly divided between buyers and sellers at 6 months of inventory. A simple comparison showed 2012 with the lowest level at 3.6 months up to 7. 2013 gave us 3 months of inventory below three months with a high of 4.7. 2014 gave us 6 months of inventory below 3 months. Clearly the tide has turned and as Warren Buffet so graphically put it, the time to buy real estate is when the “blood is running in the street”, as the lower inventory and improving market have increased our prices.

For the mortal souls among us whose real estate holdings are our primary residences, one does not go flying about buying and selling, trying to time the market. One buys and sells as our lives evolve. For buyers in this market, it requires a great partnership with a realtor who can get you in a property the first day it’s on the market, guide you in writing a skilled and compelling offer, and helping to get on the other side of the inspection period without medication.

On the listing side, one must maximize a homes strengths while trying to diminish possible objections ahead of going on the market. While the inventory is very low, buyers are more discriminating than in 2006 when anything went because values were going no where but up. Today’s buyer knows that is not so, and poor locations or conditions that are not addressed will end up creating a property to push DOM (days on market) beyond the norm.

We expect steady appreciation, and hopefully on a more sustainable level over the next several years. Portland is proving to be an attractive place to live, as our burgeoning traffic suggests. It does cause one ponder strategically the next big move. Urban and walkable? Or bucolic suburb and a longer commute?

Read the whole Market Action Report by clicking on the icon above.

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Fireside Chat

April 25th, 2013

You know those gorgeous Portland spring days when you forgive every drop of rain you’ve ever experienced? Yesterday was one of those, and luckily I had a lunch date with two wonderful former clients at The Fireside on NW 23rd. It seems a far cry from the sad days when businesses here were closing left and right. Across the street is the mega popular Salt and Straw and the newest Bamboo Sushi and now the former Music Millenium (where I pored over many a CD back in the day) has risen from the ashes to return as The Fireside.

It did not disappoint. The decor is modern but very northwest at the same time. Sadly, I could not partake of the cocktails, which I understand are fabulous, during my lunch, but the food was well priced, and up to the standards that Portland restaurants must meet now- super fresh and top quality ingredients, well prepared. Both veggie and meat options are well represented. Next time, where’s my cocktail?

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How I Spent the Last Eight Years in Real Estate

April 22nd, 2013

My last few years in the Portland real estate market have been my busiest, so as I re-commit to my updating my website, I can’t help but ponder on the past a bit before I move forward.  I came into residential real estate as the market began to heat up in 2005. Over the next year the market shifted and very soon offer writing became very competitive, and strategies such as presenting them in person to the sellers when allowed, shortening inspection periods or waiving contingencies, and figuring out what the seller needed so as to get ahead of the competition were necessary for success.  Conversely, when the market grew tougher I was able to win a lot of concessions from sellers on behalf of my clients that were buying. Concessions in price of course, and something the market press seemed to ignore, large repair concessions such as completely replacing siding and comprehensive general repairs.

In the slower market days there was a huge gap between sellers and buyers. Sellers all too clearly remembered what their neighbors house had sold for, compared to what it what it would sell for in later days and perceived a huge loss before even putting a home on the market. Buyers  were few and very wary of purchasing a home that was priced too high. What if they lost their job and needed to re-sell? Suddenly that home on a busy street that would have sold in a day, was all but unsaleable except at a huge discount. Buyers did not want to be in a precarious position and were adamant that the risk of buying a home would be minimized by their insistence on value, location and condition. Negotiating between these polarized points became a skill that I had to hone again and again. I’ve wonder if during this period that perhaps I should have introduced myself as a professional negotiator rather than a Realtor. I’ve found it so valuable to the outcome of my real estate transactions that several years ago I earned a designation in negotiation techniques. It’s made performing my job much more effective.

As a listing broker, I’ve always enjoying preparing homes for the market and photographing them to entice the most visits and attract offers. The slow market for sellers convinced them that this was both necessary and effective. Pre-inspections gave the home-owner a little more control over the buyers inspection and repair process and a better chance of success with nervous purchasers. Through it all, buyers were still buying and one needed simultaneously to earn their trust and desire for the home.

Now that our market has improved, I see a mix of the heydey skills and the tough market skills are needed. Counseling clients, both buyers and sellers, on what to expect and to prepare for before we even begin is very important to their success. While good properties are selling fast, staging can still effect the quality of an offer or whether one can get multiple, over-asking price offers. Condition is still important. Qualifying the right buyer in a multiple offer scenario is also important. Do you want to take your home off the market only to have the transaction fall apart weeks later, losing market momentum and affecting the price? For buyers, while many homes receive multiple offers, one offer is still being accepted- how can it be our offer? How can we be the best qualified buyer? There are strategies that can and must be discussed before one is in the throes of the market.

What did I learn about real estate during the last several years in both “good” and “bad” markets? Residential real estate is about where we live, and where we live changes no matter the marketplace. Every transaction has been an opportunity to improve my skills for my own sense of satisfaction and influence a good result for my clients. In one of our slowest real estate years, 2011, I reached number one in sales in my office of fifty and the top ten percent of my company, a company that is at the top of sales in the Portland market. I’m not able to choose the real estate market conditions that I guide my clients through, but it feels very good to know they can be navigated no matter what the conditions are. Noticing and responding to those market conditions requires both command and subtlety. Based on the last eight years I know that change is coming and constant and manageable and no matter what they call it, it will never be boring.

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East Bank Delights

March 10th, 2012

If you haven’t made it over here aside from an OMSI visit, you really must check out the great finds of the Eastbank area, just off the Water Street Exit of I-5. My favorite yoga place, Yoga Bhoga moved here some time ago, now it’s been joined by Water Avenue Coffee, Bunk Sandwich Bar, and now Clive Coffee and the brick and mortar address of Boke Bowl.

Boke Bowl ramen with fried chicken

Most people have heard of Bunk Sandwich Bar, whose first place on SE Morrison was a breakout success with lines out the door for their sandwiches featuring everything from pork belly to meatballs. Water Avenue is absolutely one of my favorite coffee shops, with it’s dense yet smooth coffee which is house roasted and it’s quietly hip environment.  Clive Coffee opened next door, a beautifully appointed shop selling everything necessary for making good coffee at home as well giving “home barista” classes. You can take home a coffee maker ranging in price from $18 to $6,500 along with well designed cups to hold your coffee in.Clive Coffee

Boke Bowl opened it’s much anticipated ramen shop, after “popping up” in several established restaurants and taking over their kitchens for the day. It does not disappoint. Pretty simple, choose your broth bowl, add extra fixings if you like, and slurping happiness is a sure thing. We chose the fried chicken and cornmeal fried oysters for sides and were very happy. The design of the restaurant is fun as well with it’s bright pops of orange, a mix of communal and small tables and even their own hot sauces to spice up your bowlBoke Bowl sauces

The Eastbank Commerce Center across the street also holds Fleur Dy Lys nail studio, a super hip nail place that is the antithesis to the local mall nail factory and Clark Lewis restaurant- the first sign of civilization that appeared years ago in this very cool industrial setting.

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Midcentury Cool or Money Pit?

February 28th, 2012

You have to forgive me. I’ve walked through hundreds of homes and viewed many many thousands.  Because of this home saturation, I appreciate the qualities in a home that make it unique, and given my penchant for vintage and mid-century homes, I had to visit this new listing and wonder who its new owners will be.

Living room fireplace and beamed ceiling.

The home was built in 1947, and obviously an architect designed place in the Vermont Hills area of SW Portland, situated beautifully on a half acre+ lot, a cross between NW regional and Eichler. The home is divided into two wings, which is interesting because the main wing holding the master and living room has a roof that breaks in the center and wings out to either direction. When you first enter the home through the other wing by the carport, where the kitchen, dining room and extra bedrooms lay immediately to the right. This architectural detail was often used in this era providing separation between the adults and children- unseen in todays layouts. To get to the living room and master, you pass through a long, dark entry hallway with clerestory windows that gently inclines for about 60 feet. Suddenly the huge living room opens up before you,  church-like with a massive vaulted ceiling with a floor to ceiling fireplace facing a floor to ceiling window. On either side of the fireplace double entries lead up to the master and office, with a wet bar on the back side of the fireplace. Of course, this makes sense- who wants to carry a martini up that hallway?

Living room window opposite fireplace.

The living room is a fabulous entertaining area that is begging for some great multiple lighting fixtures- various Nelson lamps? The tiny slider’s scale seems off, but it opens to a great patio. Some of the materials used were not the best quality (the sheathing under the eaves is falling apart), but others, like the organic tile in a shower and by the copper fireplace are first rate.

Nautilus tile pattern in shower.

The kitchen and dining area need a re-design- I’m positive this architect was not a cook, but the shared space could translate to intimate dinners for 12 as the dining area is generous but cozy.

Formica with "atomic" motif.

Detail, copper fireplace.

The home is sold as-is with 3,300 square feet which may not include additional square footage below grade. Could still be priced high for the condition at $339,000.  You tell me, masterpiece or money pit? I’ll tell you, I wish I could remodel it myself. More photos.

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Cookie Party 2011

February 27th, 2012

Cookies decorated at the Parry Center

While a little late, I really feel I need to share the outcome of the “cookie party” I have hosted at the Parry Center, now for the fifth year. Many of you donated to the sock, underwear and pajama drive that accompanied my visit. This year, was a banner year of donations- over $700 of soft, fuzzy flannels and Hello Kitty cuteness collected from clients, friends, family and my Windermere office. The Parry Center was overjoyed to have them for the kids.

Daughters Erin and Lauren

My two daughters, Lauren and Erin, with room mate Sheila, hosted close to 50 children in two groups divided by age that went  from about 5 to 16. Each child had seven cookies to decorate and took close to an hour festooning them with multiple layers of frosting and sprinkles. The Parry staff seemed to agree that the older children enjoyed the activity even more than the little ones! My Fir Grove Garden Club spent several hours baking to provide these budding artists their cookie palettes. Cookies that survive the decorating session are often given as gifts from the children to their family.

Thank you everyone so much for making this possible for the Parry children- it is much anticipated by children and staff. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support.

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Seattle Long Weekend

February 27th, 2012

The Gaugain exhibit at SAM was a great excuse to duck out of Portland for a few days to explore our northern city-cousin, Seattle.  The first order, of course, is where to eat. Our mission was further complicated by family visiting from San Francisco, both discerning diners and travelers. Luckily our family likes to eat both low and high “on the hog,” so we had lots of latitude for both sightseeing and dining.

Of course, we went to Pike’s Market to see fish getting tossed about, the the very cool retro neon festooning the market ceilings, but a fun distraction was a couple having their wedding pictures taken in the middle of the fish market- proving that Portland is not the only entertaining NW city. Beecher’s cheese is across the street and a fortifying cup of liquidy cheese sauce with penne is a great belly warming stop.

This is my third trip to the central Seattle Library, which is truly jaw dropping. The architecture from the exterior cantilevers the building like a glass accordion. From the interior this creates gorgeous light spilling in through the structure. Neon lime escalators move you upstairs. A bank of displays, show in real time, book titles being checked out of the library.

The Gaugain exhibit at SAM is the only American stop of the show, a mix of 60 Polynesian sculptures and art displayed alongside 60 of the  painter’s works and is showing until late April- very enjoyable and really puts the artists work into context.

Dinner at Spinasse is a must for northern Italian, and probably the best food I have had in Seattle. A new discovery for us was Sitka and Spruce, in lovely spot in the Melrose Market on Capitol Hill that we went to for lunch. Sitka has a middle eastern influence on the best seasonal NW ingredients served in a French bistro atmosphere. Also not to miss in the same Melrose Market are the young bearded butchers sawing hanging sides of beef a few steps away, and within sight, of a very tasty wine bar and coffee shop, Ferd’nands. Other stops included Ballard Street to see Curtis Steiners jewelry store and a few oysters at the Walrus and the Carpenter- which alas had a two hour wait list! Waiting list first, and then shopping is advisable, dear visitor.  For atmosphere, stop by the Zig Zag Cafe for a late-night cocktail. The setting feels like a 1940’s intimate club, complete with a vintage-clad bartender and women that actually wear filmy dresses in the NW winter.

Beet and feta salad, Sitka and Spruce

Coming back home after a three night stay at the Hotel Andra (sister hotel to our Modera) made me appreciate both of our cities all the more.  More photos…

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Warren Buffet’s “Millions of Homes”

February 27th, 2012

In a live appearance on CNBC’s Squawk Box this morning the “Oracle of Omaha,”  Warren Buffet, shared that he would buy millions of single family homes at this time were it practical for him to do so, as he believes they are an even better long-term investment than stocks.

The colorful Buffet is not afraid to blaze his own financial path, saying “You pay a very high price in the stock market for a cheery consensus.” The same remains true in real estate, where in the height  of the market, many felt comfortable purchasing because so many others were- and when prices were at their highest. While prices are currently at lows not seen since 2003, many buyers are waiting on the sidelines waiting for the reassurance of a “cheery consensus.”

The Case Shiller chart shows an “apples to apples” view of the exact same homes as they were purchased and sold since 1987. Portland, Or is one of the twenty housing markets that Case Schiller follows.

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Seismic Upgrading

February 24th, 2012

Most Portlanders are aware that we live in a seismically active region. But many people are not aware that older homes built prior to 1960 are not bolted down to their foundations. Such a house would be much more dangerous to both inhabitants and property than one that was secured. There are several companies in town that specialize in seismic strengthening- and you can do so without breaking the bank. While you are at it, perhaps you should add earthquake insurance to your policy- at very little cost it could provide a lot of piece of mind.

You can seismically upgrade yourself, and whether you choose that route or opt to oversee your contractor from an informed position, here’s a link to what is involved from Portland Bureau of Development Services.

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January Market Action

February 24th, 2012

Admittedly, some realtors seem to be in a constant glass half-full outlook, while others sound like Eeyore on a bad day when asked about the market, I have strived to maintain some balance when looking at the numbers. It’s hard to be pessimistic when looking at the metro area in January. There is an extremely low inventory compared to years past, 7 months compared to 11+. While this is not so great when working with a buyer, it does tend to level the playing field between buyers and sellers.

Starting with the bad news, we did see an overall price drop of 6.1% over the last 12 months, while the average home price remained virtually the same at $249,000 from year to year. It looks as if the market under $400,000 will continue  to be very competitive in Portland.

Compared to last January, closed sales are up 18% and pending sales by 22%- a significant jump. The days on market for the start of the year are down to 136 from 160. It will be interesting to see if the trend continues through February.

Looking at a few different Portland areas, N Portland has the lowest DOM (days on market) at 67, while Lake Oswego and West Portland tie at 176. There are a few factors that account for this, price and competition. West Portland had 913 listings on the market at an average price of $366,000 while N Portland had 296 listings and an average sales price of $196,000.

Strangely, it is both a good time to sell and buy. For buyers, it looks as if home prices are dragging along the bottom, and with interest rates at unheard of lows, purchasing hasn’t been this affordable in many years. For sellers, the low inventory means lower market times and higher demand for homes that are marketed and priced well.

Read the entire January 2012 Market Action report.

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Beauty and Brains

February 24th, 2012

Yes, most of us well intended folks want to save energy and help out the planet, but do we have to do it with those hideously ugly CFL’s? Here’s a beautiful solution, a graceful compact fluorescent that can actually add to the design factor of your home lighting. Here’s the link so you know the difference between your lumens and your watts- and a tradition bending light to show off your bright ideas. put.

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Affordable Bridlemile

May 11th, 2011

From the cheery front door, to the lovely, private lawn expanse, this new listing has so much to offer. This little-known area of Bridlemile has no through streets and acts as a large cul-de-sac. Ideal floor plan for families that want to keep little ones close by, with three bedrooms together on the main floor, one with a master bath. The kitchen has a lovely built in buffet and a spacious dining area that opens to a deck with barbeque and summer dining area. The downstairs family room, surprises with it’s size and nod to the Craftsman look with the open beamed ceiling. The back yard couldn’t be more private in the suburbs, and a  level lawn provides area for garden and play. Bridlemile-Lincoln cluster schools. $345,500

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Raleigh Park Garden Tour

April 25th, 2011

Portland gardeners are as rabid as any other Portland group, cyclists, coffee drinkers, book lovers, or vegans for that matter. Now with Spring trying to make it’s way into our town, Portland Nursery is bustling with the promise of finding that perfect plant, adding new ones to our gardens or filling in the losses from the wintertime.

My son smirks everytime I mention my garden club. He says it conjures up versions of ladies in big hats wearing gloves and tittering over rose specimens. None of us wear big hats, and our gloves tend to the gardening variety. The Fir Grove Garden Club has been a part of my Raleigh Hills neighborhood since the 1940’s victory gardens and we have a mission. We currently maintain the West Slope Community Library garden and we are in the midst of a huge re-design away from a perennial garden to a more structured garden with conifers, red twig dogwoods and year round interest. The library has thousands of visitors every year and is an important community hub.

Toward that end we are hosting our third biennial garden tour. With the large lots available in our neighborhood, we have attracted some great gardeners who will be opening up their gardens June 4th. Barbara Ashmun, a well known Portland gardener and writer is taking part, as is the Sherman-Nelson garden. Vern Nelson writes the Hungry Garden column for the Oregonian and their garden is about all things edible including duck and chicken (eggs). You will probably find Vern entertaining visitors in the garden the day of the tour. With a total of seven gardens, many ideas can be garnered from a found DIY garden to structured plantings with a tea house. The gardens are set in Montclair and Raleigh Park- a step back in time to primarily 50’s style homes.

Buy your tickets here- we now have a web site with garden pictures. A great mothers/fathers day gift perhaps? Our garden scouting trip to Portland Nursery.

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Portland Market Action: March 2011

April 25th, 2011

Sales are picking up from February with closed sales up 50% in March of this year from the previous month. Inventory has dropped to 7.1, which means if no other homes were put on the market, at the current rate of sales it would take 7 months to sell all the inventory that exists today. The norm for the last several years shows inventory reaching as high as 12 months in December, descending through the summer and picking up again in the fall. In a normal market, 6 months inventory is seen as an even market between the supply and demand of sellers and buyers. A continued low inventory would signal a positive change in our market.

Looking east, Mt. Hood sales have dropped 45% from 2010 numbers- in my mind an indication of second home sales falling. Beaverton’s numbers have only shown a 1.5% drop from 2010 numbers. Read the entire RMLS report.

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Springwater Corridor

April 25th, 2011


When the sun finally arrived recently, we Portlanders poured out of our homes in celebration. It was time for J and I to throw the bikes in the back of the truck for a nice long ride on the Springwater Corridor. The ride starts for us at OMSI on the east bank, offering really gorgeous city views. The Willamette looked like a crowded toddlers tub, choc a bloc with boats of all sizes, including the Dragon Boats out for their practice runs.  As we rode south towards Oaks Park, the real views turned out to be the people, the trueist cross section of Portlanders you can imagine. Punk girls with multi-colored hair and all black clothing, serious cyclists with skin tight riding jerseys, families yelling at their kids to stay on the right side of the pathway, mom and pop types in tie-die ambling along, well behaved dogs taking their owners for a walk, even a few homeless with their belongings in milk crates on the back of their bikes shared the trail.

While the trail can be a bit congested between OMSI and Oak Park, it opens up considerably on the small stretch through the Sellwood neighborhood before the trail begins again, crossing McLoughlin and heading out through Gresham and over 20 miles total into Boring.

Water Avenue Coffee

We were content with a 14 mile round trip, enjoying the greenery of Johnson Creek and the light industrial beyond. A great coffee stop reward near OMSI, if you haven’t tried it yet, is Water Avenue Coffee. They roast their own award winning beans, offer lovely pastries and sandwiches, as well as a “side car” of espresso next to your espresso drink. What a great city we live in.

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Portland Pop Up:Boke Bowl

April 25th, 2011
portland restaurants

Boke Bowl w Fried Oysters

Everyone has heard of, and many of us have our favorite food carts. But have you enjoyed the latest “pop up” restaurant in Portland, Boke Bowl?

Not owning your own restaurant doesn’t proclude you from popping into an existing one, substituting your menu and serving your fare. After making reservations on their website, I had lunch recently at Decarli’s in Beaverton for Boke Bowls 7th pop up experience.

In our house, we occasionally “doctor” ramen with assorted veggies, poached eggs or other leftovers for an ad hoc meal. Boke Bowl completely takes off on this experience with home made ramen noodles and your choice of broth and add-ons, such as pork belly, fried chicken, or fried oysters. I tried the miso broth that came with little islands of mushrooms, kale, and fresh water chestnuts as well as tender olive oil poached shrimp. The oysters were wonderful, just fried with a light batter and served with a tangy remoulade.

Boke Bowl DJ

On top of taking over the restaurant, they brought in their own DJ spinning during our meal. I wouldn’t mind at all a takeover of my place.  In the meantime, make a reservation for lunch here. For a more in depth Boke Bowl experience, visit my friend Kathleen’s blog.

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Rummer Tour: Oak Hills

April 12th, 2011
Rummer Mid Century


If you’ve ever been curious about what these homes are or if you have flirted with the idea of owning one, now is your chance to visit eight Rummer homes in one day. The Historic Preservation League of Oregon is hosting this tour in Oak Hills where Robert Rummer himself will be on hand during a presentation to answer questions.

“Rummers” are known for their vaulted ceilings, and inner atriums that some owners leave open to the elements or enclose into the house. They are built on slab and tend to be on a smaller scale with a high use of glazing to let in light and give the feeling of living outdoors. There has always been a lot of speculation on how much borrowing Rummer did from the nearly identical Eichlers of California- but perhaps that just adds to their intrigue in Oregon.

The tour is May 21st. Buy tickets here.

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Arts and Eating Weekend

April 12th, 2011


In this story, yours truly is forced to visit the Bay Area and celebrate a family birthday for days on end. We started out a Boulevard, a beautiful Belle Epoque era restaurant where the food and service are equally stellar, then a bit tipsily onto the Balenciaga exhibit at the de Young Museum. As much as I love beautiful clothing, I still did not expect my strong response to this show. The designer had such an understanding of his craft,  he was able to create nothing short of wearable sculptures with fabric. The exhibit was sinfifcant as it demonstrates the influence of Balenciagas Spanish heritage- the Catholic church, bullfighting and traditional Spanish clothing, directly to his designs. The exhibit continues through July 4th. You must go up to the observation floor of the de Young and see the dizzying views of the city and Bay.

de Young Observation Floor

The following day took us to the area known as the “gourmet ghetto” in Berkeley, an area of top notch food shopping and restaurants that brings back the European experience. Need cheese? Of course, the Cheese Board, for meat on to Magnanis. Our carb needs took us to Acme breads. A small line forms outside of the unassuming doorway. While two ladies efficiently fill orders a step away from the bakers , a larger doorway opens up to whisk away deliveries all over the city by truck. Must have- the cinnamon bread and ham and cheese turnovers. On an earlier visit one of these turnovers did not survive the short walk across the parking lot to the car.

Acme Bread

Our produce shopping took us to Montery Market where the selection was unbeatable. I think you could make practically any dish you wanted shopping here. There must have been twenty types of fresh mushrooms. Fresh tamarind was at home here as the Napa cabbage, and buying several varieties of mangos for a tasting seemed as natural as buying apples.

King Oysters Monterey Market

We loaded up our groceries into the car into waiting coolers and went on to our next meal at Chez Panisse, where 40 years ago Alice Waters launched the birthplace of local sustainable eating in America.

Both Boulevard and Chez Panisse are included in the SF Chronicles 100 Best Restaurant list- a great guide to eating in the Bay Area. All the photos including lunch at Chez P.

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Portland Mid Century Makes Inman News

April 12th, 2011

Mid Century Portland

I was contacted recently by Inman News, a national website used by many professionals to stay current with all things real estate. A former writer for the Chicago Tribune explained to me that Inman was beginning a new weekly feature regarding the marketing of an unusual or difficult property- and that they had chosen a mid-century property I had just marketed and sold to use as their first story.

I probably took 150 photographs to capture this mid-century home which, Pam Kueber of Retro Renovation shared with me, also falls into the category of Streamline Moderne. Streamline is a stripped down Art Deco with curves suggesting motion, speed and modernity. Here is just one of the four fireplaces.

The piece got a great response and was called Art of Selling a Vintage Home.

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Measuring Disputes Update

April 6th, 2011

Portland Real Estate

On an earlier post I shared a story from the NY Times about a measuring dispute in a new condominium building. The buyer was suing the developer over a difference between the actual and advertised square footage. The buyer measured the condo after occupying it and found the unit to be 743 rather than 634 square feet. That 109 square feet just cost the developer $150,000 in a recent settlement.

I think it best to rely on the county measurements or have a relatively inexpensive appraiser draw up a floor plan and determine the square footage. The floor plan usually costs between $150-$250 and makes a great addition to your flyer and online documents. While we Oregonians may not be as litigious as those fiesty New Yorkers, measuring disputes are serious business and can cause a transaction to fail. The NY Times story.

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Real Estate Insider: Making an Offer

April 6th, 2011

History Report

Finally! My clients and I have found the perfect home. Now, how do we determine how to make the best offer? There are many factors depending on my clients situation and the home in question, but the “history report” is a crucial piece of information.

This report allows me to see behind the scenes, and kind of like reading tea leaves,  gives me guidance on how to approach an offer. Take this active listing, for example. The same realtor has listed it beginning in April of last year. I can see the list price has gone from $374,900 down to the current price of $299,000. If I dig further, I can see whether the house is a bank owned or short sale. That will help determine if there is any more room to negotiate. On the other hand, because the listing has become a bit shopworn, it’s very possible the current list price is- at last- reflecting the true market value. A quick search of the latest neighborhood sales will determine that.

Are the sellers still in the home, or have they moved on leaving the house vacant? A conversation with the listing agent may give me further information upon which to reach a decision. Has the home gone pending and then BOM (back on market)? If so, why- were there issues with an earlier inspection? Have those issues been resolved?

So you see, when a buyer asks- “What do I offer?” many factors are taken into consideration to writing up not just an offer, but an offer that will be accepted. That’s the most successful offer of all when it comes to finally finding the perfect home.

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John Yeon: Watzek House Tour

April 5th, 2011

John Yeon is one of the most recognized architects in Portland, primarily known for creating the style known as Northwest Regional, and designing 14 homes in the Portland area. The most famous, the Watzek House, was so celebrated the plans were exhibited at Moma and is now on the National Historic Register. Yeon, who was not formally trained as an architect, designed this home at the age of 26.

The family name is sprinkled throughout Portland. Yeons father oversaw the Columbia River Highway and influenced John’s interest in public projects, and Yeon Avenue bears his name . His mother, was Elizabeth Mock Yeon and a two of Johns well known speculative houses are in the Mocks Crest neighborhood in north Portland.

The Watzek house is currently featured as one of  “Portlands 10 Greatest Homes” in Portland Monthly magazine. A chance in a lifetime tour has come up on the weekend of April 30th. The premiere tour is being led by Yeon’s longtime associate Richard Brown. Purchase tickets here.

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Portland Real Estate Recovery

March 7th, 2011

Case Shiller Map

Case-Shiller, the well respected tracker of home sales in the US has published a map that shows what they predict is the recovery time of the real estate market.

“Recovery” is defined by the market returning to it’s height, which most people believe was 2006-07.

The Portland market recovery, by their reckoning would rebound between 2015-2025.

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Red Bus Tour

March 7th, 2011

Kathryn and Colleagues

A few weeks ago my friend Kathleen called from her home in NE Portland and asked me if I was on the double decker red bus touring in her neighborhood with the big Windermere banner.

This bus gets notice, which is why I felt a bit of a spectacle in it on our Tuesday brokers open tour. For those of you that don’t Live Drink and Eat real estate, Tuesday is the day every week that brokers showcase their new listings and hope to generate interest- and a subsequent sale through exposing them to as many brokers as possible, within a few hours.

I got over my misgivings as it was a lot of fun to tour with colleagues and support our new Windermere listings. There were also mimosas available.

Though only in use a few months, the red bus tour has definitely been the source of several sales- we take about 30 realtors through our listings at a time. The next tour will be in SE Portland next week.

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March 7th, 2011

Ben Dyer has added so much to the Portland dining scene. One of the partners in Laurelhurst Market, and Simpatica Dining Hall has now added the plate lunch to his repertoire.

Ate-Oh-Ate is a reference to the area code of Hawaii, where Mr. Dyer hails from. The space off of E. Burnside is casual, friendly and reasonably priced. This is soul food eating, with traditional dishes like Loco Moco- a hamburger patty with two over-easy eggs on rice and smothered with gravy. Like the logo indicates, the pig is featured pretty heavily on the menu, one choice being the Kahlua pig featured with double starches- both rice and macaroni salad. OK, they offered a salad instead, but why bother at a certain point, right?

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Odds of Selling in Portland

March 7th, 2011

While in the heyday of the real estate in the Portland market one could easily price above the latest home sales as the frenzy of buying combined with very few homes available drove prices upward on a monthly basis.

A review of the 19,085 active listings last year, 2010, in Mulnomah County shows a clear guide towards pricing strategy in todays real estate market. The majority of the sales last year occured in the first 0-30 days of the listing and sold for an amount closest to the list price. Fewer sales occurred as the listings stayed on the market with the greatest loss of the sales price to the seller as time wore on.

Only 42% of the homes listed last year actually sold.

There are many tools that I share with clients to help guide them towards the most effective pricing strategy, and avoid any further loss of value.

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Paulson Advises Buy Real Estate Now

March 7th, 2011

John Paulson, the hedge fund operator who made billions betting against subprime mortgages- before any of us knew what they were, is now saying  that this is the best time in 50 years to buy a home noting that “your debt and interest payments get locked in at record lows, while the price of your home will rise.”

In an article on, Paulson states, “If you don’t own a home buy one,” Paulson recommended; ” if you  own one home, buy another one, and if you own two homes buy a third and lend your relatives the money to buy a home.”

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Rebuilding Your Credit Score

February 22nd, 2011

When ever a hear someone say that print is dead, I immediately pre-lament the loss of the NY Times. They make the most mundane subjects interesting and readable. This article speaks lucidly about how the FICO score (the score that dictates what kind of credit you qualify for and how much it will cost you) works, and good strategies to rebuild a not so stellar score. Read the article.

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Portland Nightlife

February 22nd, 2011

Bunk Bar Mural

Don’t even think about visiting this place if you are on a diet. However, if you are looking for top notch sandwiches, tasty cocktails and the best potato salad I’ve had in Portland, this is your place! Bunk Bar lies across from Clark Lewis in the east bank area of Portland and the two restaurants could not be more different. Well priced with a super hip, very Portland vibe, Bunk Bar was a great place for a casual meal before a planned night of bowling at Grand Central. While we scored a table at Bunk right away, we weren’t so lucky at grabbing a lane. The good news is, they do take reservations for weekend evenings now. Even if you can’t bowl, it’s a great way to hang out with friends and mix with lots of different kinds of people from super hip to super geek.

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Measuring Disputes

February 16th, 2011

Professionally measured floor plan.

Every transaction I am in is completely different and also the same. The same because the process takes us down the same path. Navigating the path can be different because the homes and the people change every time.

This article in the NY Times caught my eye because it reminded me of a home that I listed where the measurements became an issue for the buyers after an offer had been made and accepted. Because of that transaction, I will now only use either the county information or a licensed appraiser to draw up a floor plan for the purpose of listing the square footage. Even just a few feet of floor space can sabotage a sale. Read of the NY lawsuit.

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Portland Market Action

February 16th, 2011

January allows a review of last years market in the proverbial rear view window, and the latest Market action has no real surprises- which is good news. National reports, such as the Case Shiller, showed Portland with a loss of 7% last year while our local statistics show an average decline of 11.9%. Obviously, the average means that some areas have lost more value than others while no homes have been exempt from some kind of loss.

For the past three years new listings have risen dramatically in January, and we are now at 11.3 months inventory compared to Decembers 7.9- but again no surprise as many sellers will wait until after the holidays to put their homes on the market, or re-list them after a break. Last year we were at 12 months in January and down to 7.8 by March. NE Portland has moved into the hottest position in faster sales with the lowest DOM (days on market) at 119, while the average in Portland for last year was 145. Lake Oswego leads in DOM at 258, again with the highest average sales price as well.

We are still seeing sales of some homes go pending within a day or two of listing, sometimes with competitive offers. The Multnomah Village home just posted in my featured listings is a prime example.  These homes are priced very well and in good condition for their market. There are buyers out in the market, if extremely discerning.

Interest rates have edged up, but are still historically extremely low. If you are considering selling and buying up, with the proper strategy you should come out ahead in this market. Much has been said about the large shadow inventory looming, so listing now may be a good strategy to avoid a potential crush. Read the Market Action.

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Seattle Overnight

February 5th, 2011

I love going up to Seattle, but I have made myself believe the trip was only worthwhile if we stayed for a minimum of two nights. I was proven wrong on a recent trip where the pace seemed easy as we still packed so much (food) into our stay.

Spring Hill Bloody Mary

Avoiding the Friday night commute, we headed up Saturday morning just in time for brunch at Spring Hill in West Seattle. I’ve never had better corn beef hash- theirs is made from scratch, laden with sumptuous rich pieces of corned beef. Naturally, we felt a bloody mary was in order to kick off our vacation, and we joked that their spicy version with hunks of preserved meat and pickled vegetable could have sufficed for a meal in itself.

Corned beef.

I do enjoy the shopping in Seattle, and this trip found a new to me and dangerous shoe store, A Mano, selling handmade Italian shoes. During my checkout, the proprietess confessed she had to visit a similar high-end store whenever she came into Portland, Halo Shoes, which has recently moved into the Pearl.

A Mano

Remembering that the shopping was supposed to be for my husband J, we headed to several stores including All Saints, an uber hip British chain and Ian, where J found several great pieces at reasonable prices.

We refreshed ourselves at the Hotel Andra, and headed out for the evening- one of us in their new Italian boots. Stopping for a glass of champagne and a nibble of oysters at the reliable Campagne Cafe, we now felt fortified enough to head into Capitol Hill to our dinner reservation. A good thing we were fortified, too. Underestimating the distance to the restaurant, we headed off on foot. What started out as a jaunt started feeling like a death march as the blocks wore on and the rain began to fall. Luckily for our marriage and reservation, a cab was flagged for the last few blocks to Spinasse.

Leek Flan with roe

We’ve had many a meal in Seattle, and this was our best by far. The wait staff seemed to anticipate our every need, moving us to another table when the bar area became crowded, and helping us plan our way through their courses so we could try as much as possible. The first course was sublime, a roasted leek flan with a cream and steel head roe studded sauce.
The house made tajarin with sage and butter was recommended and did not disappoint. Another unusual delight were the rabbit meatballs wrapped in caul fat and served with a caramelized turnip puree and horseradish.
When we were sure we were too sated to even think about desert, our waitperson brought us out a complementary plate with two spoons to enjoy along with our coffee.

After a such a satisfying meal, one finds it hard to believe one can ever be hungry again. And yet, we found ourselves in the Capitol Hill neighborhood ready for breakfast. The neighborhood, so quiet and foggy on a Sunday morning and marked by a vintage sign made me feel like a Seattle insider. Oddfellows casual atmosphere was perfect after our elegant dinner and the rustic egg and smoked bacon sandwich was the un-fussy antidote to enjoy with our NY Times and strong coffee.


We always seem to combine out trips to Seattle with a visit to SAM, this trip being no acception with the last few days of the Picasso exhibit to enjoy for a several hours.

Nearby, a late afternoon repast at the venerable bistro, Le Pichet where we tried their french onion soup. Every last buttery, oniony, cheesy bite was enjoyed thoroughly. As we left, a musician was setting up for their usual live Sunday music.

Onion Soup

Driving back to Portland, we were rather surprised that we had only been in Seattle for 26 hours.

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Cookie Party at the Parry

February 5th, 2011

As a mother of a child with Aspergers Sydrome, supporting children with emotional and behavioral needs seems a natural fit. For the fourth year, I’ve taken a “mobile cookie party” to the Parry Center, a residential treatment center where kids from 5-17 years of age can have some holiday fun expressing themselves with pounds of frosting and sprinkles.

Aided by my college age daughters and several of their friends, we set up tables laden with jars of sprinkles and bags of colorful frostings and distributed hundreds of cookies to small groups of children over the course of two hours, about 40 kids in all. The children especially enjoy the attentions of my volunteer helpers as they decorate their snowmen, and gingerbread men and ladies sitting side by side. For the second year, my garden group, the Fir Grove Garden Club helped me bake the hundreds of cookies we brought to the Parry.


Thanks to the generous contributions from my office, clients, friends and neighbors, we were also able to deliver huge bags of socks and underwear and dozens of personal journals for the children. Thank you so much everyone for your help in making this party for the kids possible. I’m looking forward to year number five being the “Cookie Lady” for the Parry Center.

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February 5th, 2011

Another beauty in the shop.

While visiting the new Vino location at SE 28th and Ash, our friend and proprietor  Bruce Bauer mentioned a new bike shop had opened around the corner. Bruce’s generous nature has always supported the businesses around him and we’ve always benefitted from his discoveries, so we loaded up our wine cases into the car and walked into Crank bike shop.

Striking up a conversation with of the owners, Chris Harbert, and feeling absolutely no pressure to buy, I found myself looking for a bike. In short order, I was standing next to a one that would suit my needs at a reasonable price, the Fuji 2.0 Absolute. This hybrid between a road and trail bike would be ideal to ride around the hills in my neighborhood through rain or shine. We made an appointment for me to come back into the shop for my “fitting”.

My most recent experience on on bike was to commandeer my sons vintage trail bike for the summer to see if I was truly serious about taking up biking and committing to buying my first real grown-up bike, one that wasn’t found sitting under a Christmas tree.

Chris explained to me that most of the discomfort one can experience on a ride, such as sore shoulders, or in my case, fingertips going numb were caused by a poor fit on the bike. When I returned to the shop, I came with my bike clothing on and Chris had my bike mounted so he could watch me “ride” it in the shop. He carefully adjusted the alinement of my knee over the pedal, and my leg extension. He cut the handlebar length so that my arms would be at the correct angle and not put stress on my neck. I got off and on the bike for just under an hour while Chris adjusted the bike to order.

I couldn’t believe how much power I felt on the bike when I took it out on its maiden voyage through my neighborhood. It was much lighter than the previous one I had ridden, but even so it seemed much easier taking it up the hills than pulling a few less pounds could account for. My hands did not and have not gone numb, which was a regular occurrance in the past and riding is more enjoyable overall. The fit between my sons bike and my own is night and day.

The Showers Pass cycling jacket I bought at the store- to ensure I wouldn’t wimp out of my rides when it is raining has kept me warm and dry without overheating. Bonus, that the company is local. Can I rave a bit about local businesses without sounding too Portlandia?

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Sold Twice Midcentury

February 3rd, 2011

Some of you may remember my earlier post regarding the virtual staging of my Atomic ranch listing in the Raleigh Park neighborhood. This home was quite unique which gave my marketing approach an extra challenge: much of the home’s main level had been maintained perfectly as it was built in 1948. The seller very much wanted to pass the home on to buyers that would appreciate the vintage features that had survived for over 60 years.

These same features would also prove to be ones that were not so appealing to the mainstream of buyers at a time when we have few to begin with. How much should I show of the vintage features? Play them up or down? I decided it best, for many reasons, to sell the house I had. I took extensive pictures of the mid-century details that I linked to on the listing.  In an effort to appeal to the larger market, I showed the home with some minimal virtual changes. Thankfully, both I and the home connected with a buyer during an open house and the sale closed late December.

That same buyer in late December, for personal reasons, had a need to re-sell the house within a week of their closing and asked me to re-list the house. This was New Years Eve.

Within hours, I was showing the house to a backup buyer while my husband prepared dinner for our eight dinner guests that were due to arrive. The new buyers wrote an offer the next day.

The marketing for the home has gone somewhat viral, having been picked up on a very interesting mid-century blog called Retro Renovation, receiving a lot of notice from around the country with almost 700 “likes” counted on the article. The Architectural Heritage Center will be featuring the home on their upcoming kitchen tour. The Oregonian has also expressed an interest in an upcoming article.

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Wallpaper Makes a Comeback

January 27th, 2011

Anyone who has ever taken off a room of wallpaper has probably let fly a few choice words and wondered why anyone in their right mind would ever put it up in the first place. Of course this musing is autobiographical. So WHY would I ever consider doing such a thing again?

Wallpaper has changed. It’s not just some monotonous pattern. It’s not meant to evoke some country cabin. It doesn’t have to have a border of flowers running along the top.

The gateway drug for this were the Vynil decals I’ve used in a bathroom to add a big dose of whimsy. Now I’m considering a just roll or less of wallpaper for a small accent wall in my living room and I’m looking at a geometric or mid century pattern that will be the perfect backdrop for our Eames lounge chair.

It looks like the pain of taking off wallpaper is kind of like that of childbirth,  fading with time.

This wallpaper website rocks-  you can search for wallpaper either by color, style, motiff or era. And for further exploration an interesting NY Times article, extolling the virtues of super cool “wallcoverings”.

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Virtual Staging in Raleigh Park

November 5th, 2010

Current Vintage Kitchen

I recently listed a home that sits on a perfect lot, in a sought after neighborhood, that has great street appeal and wonderful features. What’s the catch? Rarely without exception, every home on the market has one or two features that need special handling and marketing to find the right buyer.

Virtual Kitchen

This home has a completely intact mid century kitchen. It has only had two owners in its 60 years, and both of them kept the kitchen as it was and in mint condition. I imagine the new owners may want to update it, but how to show it can be done without a complete and costly remodeling?

I decided to try virtual staging. I imagined the new homeowners as mid century enthusiasts, but perhaps more on the Dwell, spartan side of mid century. Conferencing by phone, I asked the staging company to add Nelson lamps to the kitchen, update the vintage upholstery in the kitchen booth, and replace the vintage fridge and range with stainless appliances. I asked them to continue the look into the living room (which is currently staged with the seller’s asian style furniture) to bring the two rooms in harmony.

Current Living Room

Virtually staged rooms need to be empty, so my seller and I (with the help of our husbands/partners) decided to pull out the furniture out so I could take new photographs and then moved the furniture back in its place.

While virtual staging is in its infancy, I see great future here in showing future buyers another way to view a home past what they see in front of their eyes.

Virtual Living Room

I’d love to know what you think. See more of this home.

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Jeff Kovel of Skylab Architecture

November 5th, 2010

Jeff Kovel, Principal, Skylab Architecture

The Departure Lounge, Doug Fir Restaurant and Lounge, and the Hoke (Twilight) House have enriched the landscape and experiences of us Portlanders, and all brought to us by Jeff Kovel of Skylab Architecture. On a recent speaking engagement, Mr. Kovel shared a bit about his background and his particular approach to architecture.

Hoke House, Skylab Architecture

Inspired by a modern home his parents buitlt in the 80’s, Jeff knew architecture would be his career. A visit to any of his designs will demonstrate to you what Jeff means when he says his work is “serious play.” With the Doug Fir, there is a blend of styles informed by the northwest frontier and the modern aesthetic.  The Departure Lounge is more Miami than Portland. The entryway is a long dark corridor, and gives a start contrast when it opens to an airy, bright interior and chic rooftop bar. The Hoke House was a spec home, purchased immediately by a Nike executive. The home is a lovely juxtaposition between nature and strong modern lines. Featured in the Twilight movie, the home will probably influence the taste towards modern for millions of people. And perhaps a few of them will become architects as well.

Departure Lounge, Skylab Architecture

Among other current projects, Skylab is working with prefabricated housing, creating designs that can be customized depending on owner’s budget. The homes are made of building blocks, known as modules that can be “played with” in various configurations. Another example of what Jeff calls “building stories with materials,” it looks like Skylab will keep us challenged and amused for years to come.

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Selling a Home is “Not for Sissies”

October 12th, 2010

Someone just shared with me a very common sense article in Money magazine about bridging the gap between buyers and sellers in the market today. They echoed something I have observed intensify over the last six months, the standoff that sometimes exists between buyers and sellers. Many sellers understandably recall what they could have sold their house for just two or three years ago, making it difficult to accurately price their home today. However, I do see that changing. Sellers know, as one colleague told me recently, that  “Selling a home is not for sissies,” and are pricing much more in alignment with the market. Our multiple listing service shows homes selling within 3% of the listed price (the last listed price- comparable solds, listing history, condition and many factors effect the final sales price).

I have also observed, as this article does, that buyers, wary of the market continuing to descend are looking for the best value. Some buyers will end up losing out on a good home for drawing the line too hard in the sand while negotiating. Negotiating works well as a conversation that continues between the buyer and seller to produce the best outcome. Negotiating skills in a realtor are more important than ever, given the current scenario.

So while I read many articles on real estate, I pass few along, and this one has some salient points. Read the Money Magazine article.

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Atomic Ranch Midcentury

October 8th, 2010

This home I recently listed created such a buzz in the realtor community it drew 70 brokers to the professional open house. What’s so special? Rarely do we see a midcentury in such pristine condition. And not pristine condition of a home that wasn’t so hot to begin with- we’ve all seen those. This home was obviously custom built with high end materials, sited beautifully on a .38 acre lot in a great neighborhood.

Pristine mid century kitchen

So many features were marveled over on the tour- the honeycombed glass on either side of the main doorway is not only beautiful, but functional. The glass panels swing out to allow fresh air in- and then hidden screens pull down over the space. The living room fireplace is a graceful curve of wood. Beyond the fireplace is a floor to ceiling window that takes in the sunny level backyard. The kitchen is completely original with it’s white masonite walls trimmed in metal. Most cabinet doors are rounded. A rounded built in cabinet repeats the shape above in glass display shelves. Beyond that is a restaurant style booth with an industrial glass table top and a stainless riveted base right of of a rocket ship. The booth is surrounded by a wraparound window.

Curved fireplace in living room.

Two of the four baths are pristine masonite with glass block windows- the colors are neutral- not the burgundys and aqua blues one might expect in a vintage bath.

The house is currently decorated with a vintage eye, but the home could go Dwell very easily for a super sleek mid century modern look.

Check out the photos and pass on to your mid century loving friends. Contact me for a private tour. More pictures.

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Portland’s Pastrami Masters

October 7th, 2010

Ken Gordon

On Friday nights Ken’s Home Plate on Hawthorne was the go to place for J and I. It was exalted home cooking, rooted in French technique that would travel intrepidly around the world at times, but Ken always managed to pull it off. I still long for his smashed potatoes and fried chicken, his warm salad with octopus- sigh.

What a trade off though! Ken’s partnership with food writer Nick Zukin filled a Crater Lake sized hole in Portland cuisine producing the best pastrami I’ve ever enjoyed, served daily at Kenny and Zukes. It’s moist and flavorful- swoonably delicious. And go ahead and have the fries with it, you’re not here to diet. They’ve got a well edited and reasonable wine list if you like a little Cotes du Rhone with your pastrami. On the other hand, they probably have the best soda pop selection of any place in town. Speaking of towns, even the noted deli town of NY has noticed our deli in the NY Times article earlier this year.

Reuben at Kenny and Zukes

If you haven’t been, go. If you have been- I bet you can taste that reuben now.

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Portland’s Reed College

October 7th, 2010

What and education when my dear friend S took me on a tour of the Reed College Campus recently. In 1908 forward thinking Portlanders fostered this liberal arts school that has produced the second highest number of Rhode scholars for any liberal arts college- 31, over 50 Fullbright Scholars and two MacArthur (Genuis) Award winners. With all the controversy swirling around the Reed campus for drug use, perhaps we have forgotten that the campus students are serious scholars, often filling the library evening after evening and into the weekends.

The campus includes a natural area and wildlife preserve known as Reed Canyon, filled by Crystal Springs. The most recognizable building, the Old Dorm Block, was designed by A.E. Doyle and it’s Gothic-Tudor style looks the ideal prototype of the college campus. The psychology building was designed by noted architect Pietro Belluschi. Another interesting and somewhat surprising feature is it’s very own nuclear reactor used for for instruction and research.

The campus housing is enviably private and attractive, including four newer LEED certified residence halls and easy walk to the newer wellness center nearby offering alternative medicine including accupuncture and biofeedback. The dining hall with it’s floor to ceiling windows is operated by Bon Apetit and offers sustainable cuisine with many vegan options- after all the 2009 Princeton Review said Reeds students ranked number 3 in students that study most and number 5 in “clove smoking vegetarians”.

Thanks to my dear friend S who recently started working with Reed as a development officer- (about half of the students there receive assistance with their tuitions), Reed is much more to me than a beautiful campus on the way to the neighborhood of Eastmoreland, and another great reason to be proud to call Portland my home.

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Zestimates in Portland

October 7th, 2010

I recently attended a social networking day sponsored by Inman News, a major compiler of news for the real estate industry. One of the presenters was from Zillow. He asked that real estate agents “not throw Zillow under the bus” when speaking to their clients.

Why would he say that? Perhaps more than a few of the several hundred realtors attending had a past experience with a seller who wished to base the market price of their home on a “Zestimate” from Zillow. I myself had that experience back in the prime of the market. I knew that Zillow could report accurately the price of homes that were sold. But I also knew that Zillow could not tell which street a buyer found more or less desirable- and as we all know there are better or worse streets in the best of neighborhoods. Nor could Zillow tell which home had been completely remodeled for a higher value or had a bedroom off of the kitchen that would cause a buyer to run for the hills when they saw it.

So the Zillow presenter shared a tool that I was not aware of- perhaps to mollify any smoldering past resentments in the room. At the bottom of Zillow’s main page is a very small link to their accuracy ratings for major cities, Portland included, which I recently visited. For Portland they give themselves a median accuracy of 9.4%. On a house marketed for $400,000 that is close to $40,000 off from the Zestimate. Further, 78% of the homes valued by a zestimate were off by up to 20%, translating into a $80,000 difference on a $400,000 home.

Again, Zillow is a great place to see the “solds” and actively marketed homes in your neighborhood. However, for a real market value of your home, the thoughtful analysis of a trusted real estate professional can’t be beat.  Visit  the zestimate accuracy chart.

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