Portland Real Estate

Five on Friday: Portland's 2035 Comprehensive Plan

The Comprehensive Plan is a long-range land use and public facility investment plan to guide future growth and the physical development of the city. The original plan was adopted in 1980. The new plan aims to address the needs of a growing city and takes effect in January 1, 2018. 

1) What is Zoning?

  • Zoning is a way for the city to regulate development and enact its goals for the community and the environment.

2) What does that mean for homeowners?

  • Zoning will dictate what you can and can’t build on your property. For example: if your home is in an R5 Zone, it means you are allowed one dwelling for every 5000 square feet of land. Zoning will also affect the landscape around you. If your home is in an R1 zone, you might see multifamily developments being built next door.

3) How will the Comprehensive Plan affect homeowners?

  • It depends on the zone. Some areas, especially along transit corridors will see increased density, more mixed-use construction, and taller buildings. Other neighborhoods won’t be affected at all.

4) Where can I find out if my zoning is changing?

  • Here's a link the plan's map: https://www.portlandmaps.com/bps/mapapp. Per the site's FAQ page: "The Comprehensive Plan Map shows a long-term vision of how and where the city will grow and change over the next 20 years to accommodate expected population and job growth." In other words, it shows the future, while the site's Zoning Map shows what is allowed today.

5) Can PGR help me better understand this?

  • Of course! Give us a call.

FYI: we have an open house this Sunday, 9/17, from 1-3p for a brand new listing. Visit us at this amazing, mid-century 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home in SE Portland; listed for $450k. Trust us. This one won't last long. You'll want to see it ASAP!


Have a fantastic day and a wonderful weekend, friends!
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Five on Friday: This Beautiful Day

Investment properties are purchased for numerous reasons. A vacation home. For an elderly parent or college-age child. An income property. Today we’re incredibly excited to share Lisa Ng’s story about her and her husband’s beach rental purchase in Lincoln City, Oregon. Lisa, Portland dweller and the creative force behind the lifestyle blog This Beautiful Day, wrote about their experiences and decision making process in a series of informative blog posts about purchasing, building, and furnishing their property. 

1. When you first moved to Portland, what surprised you the most about the local real estate market?

I was surprised at how hot the real estate market was. We put an offer in on a condo and two other offers came in at the same time. The winning bid had put in an all-cash offer with no conditions - including waiving a bank appraisal. A few of the units we saw would likely require a bit of updating to make it look more modern and to our tastes - so factoring that into the budget, coupled with the bidding wars and rising prices - we decided to look for a different solution.

2. What led you to look at investment properties instead of buying a traditional first home?

We are ok with renting for now, so we decided to look at a vacation rental that we could lease out on airbnb instead. We wanted to make our money work for us. Many of our friends are airbnb hosts and we’ve used airbnb many times when we travel. It was a tried and true model for us, especially on the coast where demand is high during the warm summer months. We were lucky to have found the Olivia Beach development in Lincoln City. Our brand new 3 bedroom home on the coast was still cheaper than the 700 square foot condo we bid on in the Pearl District.

3. When you bought the property, it was still under construction. What was biggest lesson in working with a construction team long-distance? 

We were so lucky to be working with such an amazing builder, contractor, project manager and crew. Before we bought our beach house in Lincoln City, we met with another developer and they were SO rude to us and our real estate agent. I’ve never had such an icy interaction with someone whose job it was to sell something. Obviously, they were turned off by us and we were not the type of buyers they were looking for. 

If you experience anything like this - RUN!

My advice is to go with your gut and work with the BEST team possible. When I met the folks over at Olivia Beach, they were SO accommodating and just really nice people that we could see ourselves collaborating with. I look back and think, we were meant to have that first negative interaction - because it led us to the right team and the right people.

My other advice is to get on the phone and talk things out. Don’t rely on solely email to convey design ideas. Save Pinterest pictures, send them to your construction team so they know exactly what you’re asking for. You’re also going to want to go out to the site at least every other weekend because projects move fast and you want to keep an eye on things. Do build that into your schedule and don’t plan any crazy travel.

4. How did you set a budget and priorities for furnishing and decorating your property? What was important to you and Paul during this process? And how have you budgeted to replace items if they're damaged by a renter or from general wear and tear?

We set a budget and we did go over as we decided to spring for a few upgrades. Everything just adds up, so get ready for it mentally. It was important to us have fresh, new furniture and decor. I’ve seen rentals online where it looks like furniture just goes there to die. You won’t get a great rental return with mismatched cast-offs and we were aiming to be a more upscale property to differentiate ourselves from what is already out there. So we shopped at a lot of budget-friendly places with lots of style like Target, World Market, Ikea, Wayfair and West Elm. Our pieces turned out great, but didn’t cost so much that we would be disappointed if we had to replace them after a few years of wear and tear.

I really wanted to create a space that was a dream home that we would want to rent and we’ve had tons of guests compliment our furniture and decor. It’s 10x nicer than our rental apartment!

5. Aside from a fully booked calendar and word-of-mouth, part of owning a successful vacation rental are renters who return on a regular basis. What’s your advice about creating a space people will want to return to year after year? 

People want to book a relaxing place that’s just as nice as their own home or even nicer! Make sure your property feels like home and don’t forget all the little details like spices in the cupboard, tea, kitchen gadgets etc. Resist the urge to add clutter - guests want blank space to place their own things down.


Bonus Q #1: Why did you pick Airbnb as your rental portal? What made you decide to manage the property personally instead of hiring a 3rd-party management firm?

Management firms can take 30% or more plus a restocking fee for supplies. That really cuts into your profit. Definitely consider whether you have the time and energy to manage your own property during the busy summer months. I like airbnb because I can screen my guests and make sure they are well-reviewed before I decide to share my home with them.

Bonus Q #2: What would be your top three recommendations for someone looking to buy an investment property and turn it into a vacation rental? 

Make sure you have a decent size budget to work with for furniture and decor. Find an amazing housekeeper that is reliable and that you like working with.  Be prepared to spend a few months getting this project off the ground.

Thank you so much Lisa for sharing your story with us (and the amazing images above)!

Interested in seeing Lisa and Paul’s beach home? Please visit their page

If you're considering buying an investment property and have questions about the process, the type of loans available or financing, give us a call! We'd be happy to help you explore your options.

Five on Friday: How To Have a Private Mortgage Insurance Removed

We realize talking about home financing isn’t a super sexy conversation, nor is it nearly as exciting as awesome landscaping ideas or great neighborhood bars. But before you click that little “x” to close this window, hear us out. This topic is worth exploring because it may save you some cash on your monthly mortgage payment.














Yeah. We thought that might get your attention.  

First, here are two important terms to help with this slightly-more-interesting-then-a- snail-race financial conversation.

  • LTV: Loan-To-Value is a percentage calculated from the loan amount divided by the purchase price. So, if you put down 15% when buying a home, in simplest terms for this discussion, your LTV would be 85%. And - here’s the important part! - this number decreases over time as you pay off your mortgage loan. This value decrease is a very, very good thing.
  • PMI: Private Mortgage Insurance is what a lender will require you to have for your loan if you put less than 20% down on a home.

Here are five ways you may qualify for a lower Loan-to-Value (LTV) thus having your Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) removed from your monthly mortgage balance - and giving you a reason to pop the champagne. 

1. If you are getting ready to buy a home, if you place a down-payment of 20% or more, you may not be required to have PMI written into your loan terms. Each lender has different guidelines, so it’s worth asking about their PMI requirements.

2. Prepay your mortgage loan, aka make extra payments on your mortgage, to build equity in your home.

3. If you remodeled your home or completed a major home restoration project, it’s worth have your home appraised. You may discover the remodel/restoration decreased your LTV.

4. If your neighborhood – or area – has seen an increased value, request a home appraisal.

5. Once your home’s equity reaches 20%, you can request to have your PMI removed (YAY!) – and once it’s below 78%, your lender should remove it if you’ve met all their requirements per the loan and the Homeowners Protection Act.

Have questions? Give us a call!

And a quick heads up: we're hosting two open houses this Sunday, 6/11/17: a beautiful 1930s one-bedroom condo in the NW District (open house: noon to 1:30p at 2743 NW Thurman #4, Portland 97210) and the other, a 3-bedroom in the hopping Woodstock neighborhood (open house: 1:30-3p at 6523 SE 84th Ave, Portland 97266). Visit our homepage for links and details. You won't want to miss these! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for updates.

Five on Friday: Claire's Podcast Debut!

Our very own Principal Broker, Claire Paris, was recently a guest on Christopher Cumby and Allan Wich's podcast Think Bold, Be Bold. Read on below for a preview of their chat and be sure to clink the link to the podcast to hear the whole thing!

1. It seems like recently sellers get to call the shots and buyers are in competition to impress them for homes. What is your take on that?

"...The first thing obviously starts with a conversation with whomever the other agent is to find out what is motivating the seller because that's always the question. Obviously, price motivates the seller but sometimes there are other things. Especially in Portland where the seller is worried their house they've owned for 25 years is going to be bought by a developer and raised to the ground and replaced by a high-rise. You know there's a lot of people that don't want that..."

2. I think you have a particularly cute example of some of those tactics you mentioned that my daughter utilized when she was buying her house. Can you share that story?

"Oh my God, it was the cutest thing ever. Seriously the cutest thing ever. So, my nephew was in Allan's daughter's kindergarten class and when she was writing her offer for her property she had her students write letters to the seller. So, I had like 30 letters delivered to the seller in little kid’s handwriting - with pictures of chickens and goats - about why Ms. Wich should get the house. It was pretty cool. I think it really did help. I really do; it worked!"  

3. What one thing do you see coming down the pike that you think is going to change the industry?

"That’s a good question, I think ironically, I think it's actually interest-rates right now. That's going to get people to go back to the basics and work. In 2007, I don't think Realtors had that much value. I really felt like anybody could do the job. I mean there was nothing to do, loans were free and easy. You just had to sign your name. Now loans are actually more difficult, and more increases in the interest rate is going to further complicate that."

4. What about the over-valuation of property?

"...Everybody you talk to has a different story but right now the projection is 115 people a day moving to Portland, Oregon. So, crazy! With our urban growth boundary, which is artificially keeping the prices high - but I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Then obviously with interest rates still low, I think a lot of the things are still putting pressure on prices to stay where they are."

5. What’s your favorite book?

"That’s a good one, I would say Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink."

Bonus question: 1. If you were going to a brand-new country, never been there, didn't research it, and we're pretty much going in the blind what is the one absolute thing that you would have with you, for sure?

"A toothbrush."

Bonus question: 2. What is your favorite quote?

"The one I have on my wall is the Goethe, the one that says, 'Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Boldness has genius power and magic in it. Begin it now.'"

Bonus question: 3. What piece of technology has helped your business the most?

"DocuSign; it's an electronic signature program. It is terrible to say, but it has made my life so much easier."

Bonus question: 4. What is one thing would you like to leave the audience with today, something that they can go out and do today that will make their life better, more efficient, more effective, maybe more economic, from an entrepreneurial standpoint?

"For me, personally, I will say that it is not going to be anything mind-blowing but I think it’s just another back to basics. I find that for me and for most people, there is something on your list that you are avoiding and you are doing a bunch of other stuff instead of it. I would start the day with whatever is on your list that you’ve been dreading, that you don’t want to do. Just start it, do five minutes of it and then if you don’t finish it that’s fine but just do five minutes of it and keep going back to it and see where you get."

Click here to hear Claire's full interview on Think Bold, Be Bold!

BTW: You can vote for Claire under the "Best Realtor" category in Willamette Week's Best of Portland 2017 awards!