Airbnb Vacation Rentals Spawn Vibrant Sub-Economy

SE Portland Airbnb It has been eight years since the concept of Airbnb was launched in the Bay Area, and it continues to grow each year. In Portland alone, visitors can choose from over 300 lodging options from beds in shared rooms to private suites and full residences ranging in price $35 to $750 per night. But homeowners are not the only ones benefitting from the concept. Airbnb has created its own sub-economy filled with young start ups hoping to grab a piece of this fast growing market. It is not uncommon for homebuyers in today’s market to look specifically for properties that offer good layouts for vacation rentals that can augment their mortgage payments. Note,  banks do require the purchasers to qualify for the mortgage without the income.

Many owners of Airbnb’s have found it difficult to manage all of the aspects of the rental process, so many are trying to fill the void.  Companies like Guesty, Airspruce, and Portland-based White Spider Rental Concierge are all in the mix.

These lesser known (but probably not for long) companies are helping owners with everything from guest screening and check-in and marketing. “A lot of our clients are people who do not have time to do this 24/7, 365 day a year job,” says Mel Hignell of White Spider Rental Concierge. “We also work with people who travel abroad a lot. A large majority of our clients have homes around the world, so they are traveling quite often.” Like in Real Estate, Hignell and others recognized the importance of capturing the prospective guest’s attention through professionally written descriptions and photography.  Airspruce features a pool of professional travel writers to help entice visitors and White Spider was the first company in the world to pair design services (staging) with specifically Airbnb rental. “Our rental in Portland was chosen to be converted into one of Airbnb’s conference rooms in San Francisco [each Airbnb conference room reflects an actual Airbnb room from around the world],” says Hignell. “Once that happened, we thought that maybe other people needed help with that aspect, and we just branched out from there.”

Visit this SE Portland Airbnb here.

To read more about Airbnb’s impact on support start-ups, please visit:


Holiday Wish Come True: The Parry Center

IMG_5992 While eating lunch at our Windermere office eight years ago, I remarked to one of my co-workers that I wished I could share my love of cookie baking by hosting a cookie decorating party for children that were in need. Wouldn't you know that person was on the board of the Parry Center, a residential treatment center for severely troubled children, and my wish was granted.

The first few years, I baked hundreds of cookies on my own, mixed up tens of pounds of confectioners sugar to make colored icing with my daughter Erin, then loading up a carful of sprinkles, tablecloths and other goods with my other kids Spencer and Lauren,  taking the show on the road to host a party on-site for up to 40 kids and staff.

Now I am pleased in my eighth year to have a great number of other helpers to bake at a neighborhood church who kindly donates their kitchen. Friends and co-workers help make icing and dough.  It really is gratifying to all involved. I like to imagine that I am encouraging the inner artiste of the kids who pile on dangerous amounts of icing or arrange sprinkles "just so" to their cookies.  Some gingerbread or sugar cookies become so laden they need to be picked up with a spatula in order transfer it to a paper plate. Many of the kids immediately start decorating their cookies as gifts for their mom or siblings. The Parry staff seems to enjoy the decorating party as much as their charges, and often the older kids seem to show the delight of younger children in the simple joy of decorating cookies.

This year I've been told, I'll be hosting as many as 45 children and up to 20 staff. It's time to start taking stock of the sprinkles.

Windermere Foundation and $100 Pies

foundation1 I’m proud to share that the Windermere Foundation has been recognized by the Portland Business Journal as one of the top three medium-sized companies in corporate philanthropy in all of Oregon and SW Washington. Last year alone, the Windermere Foundation donated over $350,000 and over 6,000 volunteer hours to local charities that support the homeless and low-income programs for children and families.

As part of every real estate transaction, I make an extra donation in my client’s name to the Foundation. Not surprisingly, our Stellar Windermere offices compete with one another to raise the most money, and we brainstorm imaginative ways to do so. Our latest sales meeting found us taking part in a rousing auction for a “Sinful Southern Pecan Pie”  (baked by one of our brokers) that I scored for $100, while another was sold for $10 a slice. That should certainly slow down the pie eating!

All calories aside, it’s very important to me to be part of a company that gives back to our community and makes a positive impact on those in need. If you’d like to learn more about the Windermere Foundation, please visit:

Portland Permits: No Aversion to Conversions

stairs copy 2 The desire to create more living space in vintage homes has become more prevalent in recent years due to both the need for more room and the popularity of ADU’s (accessory dwelling units). For the most part, the city encourages the use of all spaces in our homes. At a recent class by the City of Portland Bureau of Development Services, I learned a great deal about the permit process pertaining to the remodeling of rooms and utilization of spaces such as attics and basements. The three main factors in the renovation of your space are typically the ceiling height, windows, and stairs. In many cases, if a component of the space was installed legally at the time of its installation, for example, the stairs or a window, it can be “grandfathered in,” and only required to meet the requirements of what was legal at that time. On the other hand, if you change out that window for better weather efficiency, you are then required to bring it up to code, which may mean you’re going to need a bigger window. Or how about converting a basement space into a legal bedroom? A good start is to find out the requirements for an egress window. To learn more about the conversion of spaces, visit