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:


Featured Listing: Kenton Charmer

IMG_9893 Yes, it is a strong seller’s market, but how does one take a home and make it even more marketable to get to that multiple offer scenario for your listing client?  You’ve professionally staged, videoed, photographed and power washed. You asked the stager come back out and rearrange the seating in the living room because you were worried it looked too small. You’re holding it open both Saturday and Sunday to give ample time for buyer visits and letting everyone know you are looking at offers on Monday. And now you wait for the response.

And once everything possible has been done to enhance the property, I must put on my navigator hat to get the seller through it all.  By Sunday there were three offers. All Monday was spent answering queries from buyer’s agents such as what terms the seller is looking for, acknowledging received offers, and calling lenders to verify solid financing. There are spreadsheets, strength and risk calculations, there are calls from brokers wanting to submit after the deadline, there are calls from brokers wanting to amend their clients offers, there are texts asking about the current number of offers.  Your mom calls to chat. Throughout the day, new offers are coming in, right up until 2:51pm. The offer deadline was 3:00.

There is much hope and fear, and the clock is ticking as 18 brokers and their clients anxiously await the seller’s decision. Each one of these buyers has a story, and each one of their realtors has shown countless properties and given of their personal time to get their client’s offer in before the deadline. Assessing the top offers, I make calls to several of the buyer’s brokers in order that I understand the motivation of the prospective purchaser and whether there are areas the buyer is open to a potential counter from the seller. It’s 7:00pm and I am only now able to present the offers to the seller in a manner that is clear and understandable, so they can make the best decision possible. In the end, it will be up to the seller to choose their direction.

Surprisingly, it is not always the highest offer that is the best for the seller’s needs.

We are currently pending with an accepted offer and two back up offers.

Now here’s the home-

Built in 2012, this home meets Earth Advantage Gold Construction standards, which equates to incredibly low utility costs, last years costs averaged under a hundred dollars a month. And with the Solar World System, it’s even more economical, with the panels producing a monthly credit for the owner.

The open floor plan concept has been a favorite amongst many of my recent purchasing clients, and this one doesn’t disappoint.  All the finishes and appliances have been upgraded, and the home’s systems include on-demand hot water, built-in vacuum, and a high-efficiency furnace.

To view the photo gallery link here: Kenton Charmer

To view the video tour link here: Kenton Video Walk-Through

The Changing Landscape of Portland’s Hottest Neighborhoods

Oregon City Barbers The Portland Business Journal recently named the hottest neighborhoods in the Portland metropolitan area based on recent numbers of home sales. You may be thinking that the top contenders include Hawthorne-Division or The Pearl District, but did Oregon City or Foster/Powell come to mind?  They are in the top three.

It’s been fascinating to watch the areas surrounding our city develop and become more desirable as rising prices and other factors push buyers out of the close-in neighborhoods.  And businesses are taking note as well, moving into up and coming areas and creating thriving pockets of shopping and dining. Note the transformation of North Williams and the Lloyd Center in the last few years.

Who would have foreseen that a cutting edge video production company like Funnelbox would share a location on historic Main Street in Oregon City with the state’s oldest running barbershop? (pictured here) To see the list of the top 25 neighborhoods, visit:

Portland Business Journals/Portland's Hottest Neighborhoods

Win Free Movie Nights!

CinetopiaHere’s your chance to win a basket of goodies filled with treats for both a cozy movie night at home, and one at Cinetopia, compliments of Contract Furnishings Mart. If you’re not familiar with CFM, it’s certainly worth a visit. They stock a large, high quality selection of hardwoods, cabinets, carpeting, vinyl and much more. CFM is not open to the public, but as a valued client, I am happy to share the use of my account with you. Not only will you have access to any location, but you’ll also save 20-40%. Visit anytime, and just mention that you’re my client at the door of one of the several Portland-area locations. To learn more, please visit: The first person to respond correctly to this Oregon-related movie trivia question wins the basket and Cinteopia gift card:

Which was the final bridge that Reese Witherspoon crossed in the 2014 film, “Wild?”

February Market Action

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 4.52.36 PM 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.


How I Spent the Last Eight Years in Real Estate

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.

Irvington Lovely

You know how neighborhoods work. Even the most premium neighborhoods have their good and "bad" streets once you get to know them. Irvington is no different. This home is sited on a premium street just north of Thompson. Not as large as some of it's neighbors, the home has more to offer than those with less wisely used space. Three bedrooms upstairs with a master bath is what most families are looking for and all generously sized. Thanks to two master closets, the master bath was easily added fairly recently enabling two baths on the upstairs level. Need a guest room/den? A full, legal egress bedroom is downstairs. Family/media room? Check. Yard? Yes, and not the postage stamped size one often finds. To my vintage-loving eye, the best parts of the home were the original box beamed ceilings and wainscoting in the dining room and living room, the gorgeous staircase and Craftsman tiled fireplace. Sadly, so many of these homes have ripped them out over time, and many in the 1970's (of all eras to decide to remodel). Multiple offers within a few days. Listed at $725,000. More photos here.

Alberta Arts Mid-Century

The quality of craftsmanship and details in some vintage homes never ceases to amaze me. This home has the original marmoleum. Sixty years old and in perfect condition. It was coved up the walls and cut to lay perfectly around the kitchen cabinets. A large swath of glass block by the entry way allows both light and privacy. A simple yet cunning closet opens both on the main hallway and inside the main hall bathroom. Besides being built like a ship, with nary a sway in the main floor hardwoods, the layout both up and down are extremely liveable. And, lucky for this house, a New Seasons decided to build less than two blocks away.  No wonder this home had multiple over-asking offers within days.

Raleigh Park

Buy this mid century home and almost assure yourself a spot in Atomic Ranch magazine. Architect designed, it is sited perfectly on almost an acre lot of beautiful grounds, very naturally landscaped with a lovely creek bubbling through the lower part of the property. The home itself is almost 100% intact from it's 1957 birthday, and has a northwest regional, and seems to be an homage to architect John Yeon. The home oozes with potential, and one would hope the new owner will be respectful to the homes heritage while making it more livable. I envision vaulting the ceiling and allowing much more light in, and updating the radiant oil heating system for a start. A very special home that I would love to show to you. $675,000

Super Contemporary

This home is one of the most unusual homes I have ever seenin Portland. Built by local architect Richard Appleman in 1972, this Arlington Heights home has a decidedly Asian influence. While over 4,600 square feet, all the living spaces are highly compartmentalized. The entry area which is typically a small foyer, in this case runs along the length of the front of the home with a wide marble floor. It seems well suited for hanging large art pieces. The kitchen is one of the more open spaces and employs high contrast between white and black surfaces, opening out to an entertaining deck with built in barbeque area. The home divides itself between three levels, with the downstairs holding a large room that would work well as a media area. All walls are painted in high gloss enamel. I imagine the new owners to be entertainers with guests dressed in slinky outfits holding martinis. $950,000

Market Action April 2010

March, and now April have been extremely hot in our local real estate market. Starting in January we had 12.6 months of inventory, and by April that had been whittled down to 7.3%. Compared with April 2009, closed sales jumped up by 49% and pending sales jumped by 60%. We are still taking into account the first time home buyer's credit which required buyers to have a contract by April 30th and to close on that home by June 30th, 2010. Looking at the May sales will be imperative in judging whether prices have dropped enough to have a substantial pool of buyers long term.

Case in point, one of the slowest markets in the last year has been Lake Oswego and West Lynn, with DOM (days on market) at well over 200. The year to date average sales price has been $461,000. Sales are up in that area over 84% from last year with DOM down to 147. Are these first time home buyers or have we reached a good intersection of more affordable prices combined with low interest rates? At this sales price, it certainly points to a more affordable market.

North Portland has the lowest prices in the close-in Portland area averaging $232,000 for this year with a very respectable 77 days of average market time. North Portland also has much fewer active listings, at 498 compared to over 1,000 in most areas which probably effects the demand.

Although we are connected as a whole, every area of town has it's own eco-system of sorts- an important factor when pricing a home.

Presenting an Offer

Many buyers and sellers are unaware of a quaint custom in real estate known as "presenting an offer."

More often than not, in today's world when a buyer's agent writes an offer with their client to purchase a property, the offer is then faxed or emailed rather than presenting the offer in person to the listing agent. Our industry has changed with the prevalence electronic communications just like so many other professions have. And why would one present an offer in person- doesn't the offer speak for itself?

I would say- absolutely not. Many opportunities are lost when not presenting in person. Ideally the buyer's agent should present to both the seller and their agent. If this isn't possible, than many times the listing agent is willing to meet with the buyer's agent. In either case, this a great time to build a relationship, and allow both parties to ask pertinent questions as they come up in real time.

Case in point- I recently took some clients to see a house that I found out was going to be listed and put on the MLS that very day. The listing agent agreed that I could show my clients through the home before that, in fact- right when he was meeting with the seller getting final signatures. My clients loved the mid-century home and shared with me immediately that they wanted to write an offer.

What could be better news to a buyers agent? Except that my buyers were selling their home to get into this home- and they had just experienced a fail sale two days before.  This meant that now their offer would be completely contingent on the sale of their home- a home that wasn't even pending and in need of a buyer in a tough market. My buyers needed to know that to have an offer accepted with this contingency was a long shot- a very long shot.

The seller agreed to let me present the offer with her broker present, and I went through the terms with her page by page. My clients had decided to write an contract with very generous terms and the seller expressed a lot of enthusiasm for the offer. The seller and I struck up a friendly repoire. When I shared the contingency, she asked me how saleable my buyer's home was. I had the photos at the ready, and luckily the home was picture perfect. The listing agent was impressed that the home had been pre-inspected. The seller verbally accepted my client's offer that evening and we got the formal acceptance the following day.

I am positive this would not have been the outcome had I faxed the offer over. The listing agent would have been prudent to advise his client against a contingent offer and would probably have advised his client to put the house on the open market. As my principal broker shared with me once- "Why hitch your wagon to a slower moving wagon?"

With a good presentation, and a relationship built between all the parties, the personal touch can make all the difference. It allowed all concerned to ask questions and share information- a benefit to the seller as well.

The truly happy ending? My buyers got another offer on their home within two weeks and now they are living in their long shot.