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!
Project #1: it's that time to take advantage of the cooler, sunny days and check your home and make necessary repairs. From replacing old weather-stripping to removing dead branches to cleaning and repairing gutters, it's best to tackle your home's fall maintenance list before the rains arrive.
Project #2: if you haven't heard yet, Equifax, a major consumer credit score provider, was cyberattacked. If you haven't checked yet to see if your information was impacted by this security breech, please take a moment to do so. Also, this has served as a good reminder to protect your information online. It's not as much fun as picking apples with family and friends, but, these it's an important task to take care of ASAP.
Have a fantastic day, friends, and we hope you enjoy the weekend!
We're getting proactive with this heat wave and sharing a few favorite ways we're keeping cool this August.
1. Create Cool: If you don't have an air conditioner, but heavily considering it, here's a reference guide for picking out the right size. While in-window units are popular, portable units allow you to move it where you need it the most. And don't forget to lower blinds and keep the curtains closed during the day to help keep the heat out.
2. Cool Cooking: Gazpacho could your saving grace. It's easy to prep in the morning and is all the better after sitting in the fridge for a few hours, when the flavors have a chance to meld. Tomatoes are in season. Sprinkle a little feta on it. This chilled soup offers a bit of a relief while your home is cooling off in the evening.
3. Cool Retreat: Instead of getting caught up in Saturday morning's mass exodus to the coast's beaches, head out once it starts heating up. This way you'll enjoy that cool morning air before closing up your home for the day - and miss a bit of the traffic. When you head back, say after dinner, you'll miss the heat peaking in the city - and can open up your home in (slightly) cooler temperatures.
Looking for a new home? We're hosting two open houses this weekend! Visit us in Alameda on Saturday, 11a-1p at a charming 2-bedroom with 2.5 bathrooms home, and in Woodstock on Sunday, 1-3p at 3-bedroom & 2.5-bathroom home full of great potential. Click the links for details and addresses. Have questions? Give a call!
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 QUESTION ROUND BELOW!
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)!
There's something about summertime in the Pacific Northwest: it's absolutely the best time to be here. It's unbelievably beautiful in wine country, on the passes, and up at Mt. Hood. The coast is the perfect getaway to cool off from the city heat. And there are so many activities happening here in town and throughout the surrounding areas. We rounded up five (or so) favorites to share with you.
1. Fourth of July: Looking for a way to celebrate the 4th while watching the fireworks? Here's a list of the area's shows, including Fort Vancouver's show and the Molalla Buckeroo Rodeo.
3. The Big Float: Grab a life-jacket, bring a floatie, and jump in the river for The Big Float on July 15. After a beach cleaning party, join 3,000 other people for a fun-filled float along the Williamette River. (Yes; the water is fine.)
4. Noon Tunes: take your lunch to Pioneer Courthouse Square and enjoy a free concert (and some great people watching)! Concerts start on Tuesday, July 11.
5. Oregon Brewers Festival: Did you know July is Oregon's Brewers Month? It's a full month of craft beer lover events and capped with the Brewers Festival, one of the nation's longest running beer festivals. If you enjoy craft beer, you won't be disappointed thanks to the 88 beers assembled from near-and-far to Tom McCall Waterfront Park, July 26 - 30. Insider's tip: hit up the festival on the early side to avoid the weekend crowds.
What's your favorite in-town activity during July? Or what's your favorite PNW summer getaway?
Visit us on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter for updates about open houses! And follow us on Pinterest to gather ideas for your home. We're currently pinning 15 impossible-to-kill outdoor plants to our curb appeal board; all are ideal for outdoor planters or to pop in the ground. Perfect low-maintenance options if you're getting ready to put your house on the market!
If getting out of Dodge for the entire weekend isn't an option as the temperatures rise, here are five ideas to keep cool during this weekend's heat wave in Portland.
1. Summer Breeze: We already know being strategic with opening and closing windows and window coverings on hot days can help keep your home cooler, but did you know your ceiling fan also help cool your home? Set it to rotate counter-clockwise to push cooler air down. Another option: create a draft in your home by using an attic fan or window fan to help force the hot air out by drawing in the cool air overnight and early in the morning.
2. Jump & Slide: Let the kids - big and small - have fun by making your own slip'n'slide. Place a kiddie pool in the shade for a little protection from the sun between runs.
5. Escape: Take a mid-day trip to the movies (pro-tip: buy your tickets online to avoid the lines or sold out shows!), visit a local library or book store. Adults only? Grab a deck of cards and visit a local hotel bar. They always have the AC on.
Bonus: Here are 20+ no-cook meal ideas so you can leave your oven off and step away from the grill this weekend. Enjoy!
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.
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.
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.
We sat down with Portland native and beverage writer extraordinaire, Alexander Frane, to get his take on all the essential information home-seekers need about Portland libations.
1. In your time covering local restaurants have you seen any places that have had a big enough impact to change the dynamic of a neighborhood?
When I think about that, what I really think about most is Mississippi. That change was around ten years ago. Restaurants and bars opening in that area happened along with a major shift of the demographics of homeowners in the neighborhood. It has been a big topic of conversation in Portland; I don’t want to comment too much on that shift other than to say that it occurred in tandem with these new food and beverage businesses taking up residence. I love that neighborhood and I love those bars and restaurants - I think they are amazing - but it is indicative of how the city has changed.
Woodstock seems to be going through some of those changes Mississippi went through with a new Double Mountain Brewery and other attractive businesses moving in. I wonder if it is kind of a chicken and the egg thing. I’m curious whether these new restaurants change the neighborhood or if the neighborhood starts changing and new restaurants come in as a result. Woodstock still has many long-term residents but I also feel like it is attracting new people and the street itself is starting to look different.
I think Pok Pok on Division was successful and lead to that area being more developed as other restaurants followed suit. I imagine that had an impact on the housing and rental market in the area.
Also, Coquine. It’s such a nice area but there is less directly around it so it might be bringing people into that area that haven’t been there before.
2. On the other side of things, any restaurants you are familiar with that have struggled because the neighborhood wasn’t a good fit?
There are some restaurants in town that are great, but in areas that have continued to feel quiet and residential. The main street of restaurants in Beaumont continues to have steady but a quieter turn out which is unfortunate since some highly-underrated restaurants can be found there. Like Bang Bang, which has a great, creative menu but doesn’t seem to get lines out the door like some very comparable restaurants in other neighborhoods. Smallwares was well liked and had an amazing reputation but closed after inconsistent levels of business. There is a complex relationship between food and beverage venues and the neighborhoods they live in and influence.
3. When people are looking for a home, they might find there are certain local amenities they can’t live without. When it comes to having a neighborhood bar, what requirements should a prospective neighborhood fulfill?
I think you should have one of every variety of bar: a dive bar, a neighborhood bar, and a cocktail bar. Some people group neighborhood bars and dive bars together but I think there is a distinction there. If you have one of each of those within walking distance of your new home, you will be all set.
4. One of my favorite things you have shared are the best places for dog owners to drink in Portland with their four-legged companion in tow. Since you have perspective on this topic, which neighborhood in Portland do you think is best for drinking with dogs?
That would be Mississippi. Everyone loves dogs on Mississippi and there are a lot of dog-friendly places. Prost, Interurban, and Bar Bar are all dog-friendly. Further up when Mississippi St. turns into Albina there is Victoria which is one of the best dog-friendly bars in the city. The owner loves dogs and the patio is set up well to host them. Alberta is good too for dogs, but really Mississippi hands down though, it’s not even a question, if you want to take your dog out drinking with you.
5. If you were to buy a home based on its proximity to your favorite bars in the city what neighborhood would you choose?
Buckman. It has the highest concentration of the best bars at every level. It is the best eating and drinking spot in town. With all the stuff on Sandy and Burnside and all the stuff in lower Buckman into the lower industrial area. Even if you are just in the inner-industrial area just by the Morrison bridge you could probably go to a different wonderful place each night. It may be difficult to find a home right there since it is less residential, but if you head east a few blocks there are more homes. My dream house would be off Stark anywhere between 15th and 20th right over near Buckman grade school, where I went. That is my favorite part of town. You can walk anywhere from there to all the best bars and half the best restaurants and it’s beautiful. I think the Division/Clinton neighborhood would be my second choice.
If you’re busy preparing your backyard for Memorial Day weekend guests – or prepping your home to sell this summer – here are five ways to make sure your home's outdoor space is ready. And thanks to the amazing weather this weekend and upcoming week, you won’t have to worry about rain interrupting your hard work.
All Hands on Deck: If you have a deck, it’s best to take a good look and see if it’s in need of repairs or time to re-stain it. This Old House explains the process and why each step is important. Have a brick patio? This handy video and article can help you make the necessary repairs. Pro Tip: If you’re repairing, cleaning *and* staining a deck, give yourself enough time to make sure it’s completely clean and dry between each step.
Check Those Containers: Thanks to a harsh winter, you may have noticed some of your outdoor container plants haven’t bounced back yet. Before you replace them, take a moment to check if they’re still dormant.
Have a patio or yard care tip that could benefit others? Maybe you have a secret way to get your yard to bounce back after winter? Or you created gorgeous curb appeal on the cheap? We'd love to hear it and share the tips with others!
This week we are excited to share out conversation with local landscape designer, Ben Bowen of Ross NW Watergardens. Ben is a third generation landscaper and part of a family-owned business.
1. How do you consider the architecture of a home when you are designing a landscape?
It really depends on the client. Some people want a landscape very true to the style of their home; if they have a craftsman, then they want something classic. While other people may not care at all. They may have a very traditional home but they want a modern design for their yard that may not necessarily fit the style of the house. Sometimes the fit between the landscaping design and the house is seamless; other times you get a little more creative to make the styles work together in a way to make visual sense. If you do that well, it seems like you can make almost any style you want work. Whether the styles merge easily or not, there's usually things about the house that you're trying to accentuate or hide.
2. Can you give an example of what techniques you use to accentuate or hide parts of a house?
Sure; ranch style homes can have nice windows but will also have some long expanses of just bare wall. It's a great backdrop for some plantings, so picking where you put those involves some strategy. A lot of the newer homes that infill homes are too tall for some of the lots they are on. It can feel like they are looming over you as you approach the house when you have a two-story house eight feet from the sidewalk on a 4000 square-foot lot, the proportions can seem off. You can help soften that transition by utilizing tall, narrow plants. It goes the other direction too. Plants can also be a wonderful way to edit what you can see looking out from your house. Tall plants can be great for neighbors because they give a lot of privacy. Bamboo is usually the answer.
3. How do you balance a client’s lifestyle with their landscape ambitions?
As far as maintenance goes I try to get a good sense of how much time they spend in their yard, including how much they want to be leisure versus working in the yard. Knowing their lifestyle helps to figure out what is the most sustainable design for the customer. When clients are planning to pay for someone else to maintain the yard, I design whatever they want and don’t weigh the two factors [leisure vs maintenance]. If they are going to do the maintenance themselves, then there are a lot of compromises that need to be made between beauty and labor. I find most people want to spend their Saturdays enjoying their landscape, not working in it. It helps that most people are realistic about how much work they will put into their garden, which really guides all those complex decisions.
4. Do you use edible plants in landscapes?
There is a lot of interest in edible plants in landscaping. I get asked this question often. There are lots of ways to work edibles into the landscape and I always try to do it in a way that works with everything else that we have chosen. I love to use blueberries because the shrub itself, even without the fruit, is very attractive. We plant quite a bit of persimmon; it's a beautiful tree and even if you don’t use the persimmons, they look so cool in the fall. In the fall, the fruit stays after you lose the leaves so it looks like a bunch of miniature pumpkins. If you were so inclined you could plant it just for that reason.
5. How do you balance budgets and requests?
I try to balance the budget, climate, and style. For a lot of people, the budget is the most important. Depending on exactly how important budget is, I can make decisions about how to balance everything else. I feel like over time I have become good at reading people’s priorities. As we adjust the plan, I work with them to find their priorities and educate them about the costs and benefits of the different directions we could go with the design. It’s a very collaborative process and it is really rewarding to see the final product and hear client feedback about how they enjoy their outdoor space.
Bonus Question 1: The climate in Portland has been more extreme lately. How has that influenced your designs?
There have always been some plants that have been borderline evergreen for Portland but if we have more winters like this last one, they'll no longer be evergreen options. Hebe is an example of that; it’s a very popular plant that used to be considered an evergreen in Portland. I now must be more careful with what goes dormant during really cold winters. Hot summers just mean more water and more work, which is ok. It’s much more disappointing to have spring come around and think that your plants are dead - but they aren't.
Bonus Question 2: Are you seeing any changes in your client's requests recently?
Portland is experiencing a lot of growth which is leading to some shifts in the demographics. People are moving from Seattle and San Francisco and bringing requests for modern homes and modern landscapes to go with them. These designs are really low-maintenance and attractive with clean lines, plantings that are function first, and a lot of hardscapes. As they get more popular I expect to see the effect snowball and we will get even more requests for these types of projects.
Bonus Question 3: What are your favorite Portland neighborhoods to look at landscaping?
Portland is a city where people really enjoy the outdoors and use their yards. All over Portland, there are more specific homes, not areas, I’ve noticed and really like. I enjoy the mid-century modern style and the landscaping that goes along with it. I think it can be distinctive and interesting. There are some great neighborhoods in Southwest Portland for those styles. It’s amazing how one person’s landscaping can influence and inspire the landscaping for the homes around it. There’s a six-block stretch of homes on North Flavel Drive where people have taken their landscapes and done interesting things with them, and they coordinate as a neighborhood. I don’t know how these things catch on but it is cool to see and I could imagine it spreading.