The Real Estate Experience is about you–your goals, dreams, aspirations and desires. First time home buyer, upsizing, downsizing, building your own home on a pristine piece of property, stretching for a recreational home, buying an investment property, growing a business that needs a building. Happy reasons, sad situations, practical considerations–real estate transactions touch all the realities of one’s life.
Today, with instantaneous information at your fingertips or a summons to Siri or Alexa, why would you need a real estate broker? Quick response–knowledge, experience, art of the deal. Real estate is about price, location, condition. An experienced realtor adage is, “You name two of these criteria and I name the third criteria!” Shocking at first, much truth is in this saying.
Inevitably, every real estate transaction has its bumps, unexpected challenges and changes in circumstances. Particularly in Oregon and Washington, real estate prices have escalated to atmospheric levels, making it ever more important to have a professional shepherding the process on your behalf.
First Hand Experiences – True Stories
First House(s)and Beach Lot
I remember buying my first house–it was a small chalet home across from a well-known body of water. I remember selling a piece of raw land (sand) we owned on a beach front in a different state with the proceeds used for the down payment on the chalet. Then we sold the chalet to buy our first “big” house, our forever home on Mt. Tabor in Portland, Oregon.
What I don’t remember is having a real estate broker advising and guiding my new husband and I through the process, either of selling our chalet or buying our “big” house. A Buyer Beware process that we didn’t understand at the time led to unforeseen consequences. We fell in love with a property, we knew it was As Is and how could there be any problems with this high-priced home with an astounding view of Portland!
My naivete was the beginning of a life-long real estate learning curve where I will always sheepishly admit that I made all the mistakes that I now advise my clients to avoid. Guess you would call that “On the Job Training!” Four lessons on the first Mt. Tabor home, built in 1907:
1) the living room had been extended but the extension gently sloped down. Later, I concluded the sloping was because that extension had been on top of a porch that sloped to drain off water. Unfortunately, the roof of this section of the living room wasn’t sloped and the rain water drained into the improperly attached roof/ceiling, meaning that the ceiling fell in about every four years. Sad, but true story.
2) A wonderful family room had been added to the west side of the home, but it was improperly attached to the old garage, meaning the “gully” between the newer structure and the old, falling down, totally dry-rotted garage, collected water, leaking into the family room and causing a portion of that ceiling to fall in--on the piano, no less. Have you left my page yet?!
3) The massive single pane windows throughout the main level of the home, offering panoramic City views, meant that the oil heat seeped through the windows like they were window screens. Complicated when the Country, coping with oil embargos and snaking lines of cars at the gas stations, experienced soaring heating oil prices.
4) The top floor, with three bedrooms, was 4 levels above the back yard; sliding doors from the two bedrooms that opened onto to a deck with no railing were problematic. My two toddlers wanted to go out on that deck. Attaching a railing to a deck with a torch-down roof and no cross-beams to attach a railing to is challenging. Lesson learned.
Second Big House-Dream House
We loved the first big home. It was our forever home. Until the most amazing home four houses up the street suddenly popped up. It was and still is one of Portland’s phenomenal iconic homes tucked away on Mt. Tabor. When I marched right into the broker’s Open House and told the Listing Agent I wanted to buy the house, she said, “Ok, I will write up the offer for the asking price. Do you want to include some money for repairs?” I replied, “No, I know it’s an older home and is As Is.” Being an honest woman, she said, “Let’s at least add in $500 for repairs.”
I was deeply honored that the family, receiving multiple offers, accepted my bid, because they knew that I was committed to the neighborhood and would not “flip” the home. A yearlong restoration project commenced on this 7200 square foot home, designed and built in the Frank Lloyd Wright style of bringing the outside in. Because construction of the home started in 1958 and was completed in 1961, the material used and quality of workmanship was extraordinary. Nonetheless, the restoration cost $300,000.
In the meantime, my original home four houses down, which after twenty-two years of ownership, had been extensively remodeled with most of the kinks worked out, other than the windows had not been replaced, was on the market. It sat there for 9 months because it was ridiculously overpriced from Day One, but no one advised us on where to price the home based on its condition, location and current market conditions; eventually, it sold for nearly $100,000 less than if it had been priced correctly from the onset. Lesson learned.
Back to the Dream House. Converting the two oil furnaces to gas was a no-brainer, but no one told us to “decommission” the oil tanks immediately; they were leaking, but we didn’t know it until the home had to be sold. Another lesson. Having to sell the Dream House was so painful that it still has a tiny hurt, but it made me very sensitive to sometimes we must sell a property not because we want to but because we must–change of circumstances, downsizing, loss of a loved one. Lesson learned.
Third (Interim) House
Moving from Dream House to another Mt. Tabor/Laurelhurst home in a time of absolutely “no inventory” was wrenching. I remember that there were four suitable houses available in Mt. Tabor/Laurelhurst in my price range. One of the houses had been on the market for a year; it was on a busy street. Who would EVER buy that house, I thought? Wrong question, as I did buy it. A nightmare experience, it had been “renovated” so it was pretty, but shoddily updated. Horror stories that I’ve put in the back of my mind. $125,000 of repairs later, it was back to be a solid home, but still on a busy street. Fortunately, speed bumps have been installed on that street. Lesson learned.
My children and I lived in the above-mentioned home for 8 years, making it a lovely home where we accentuated it’s many wonderful features of a 1924 French Tudor style home with a quarter-acre of land, lavishly landscaped. We have many happy memories of our time in the home that was our “interim” home. Yes, I did move two blocks up the hill in my now “forever” home! A promise I intend to keep.
Lessons Learned the Hard Way
If you have stayed with me, you likely know where I’m headed. The missing key to the above real estate experiences is having a real estate broker that
1) cares about you and your experience;
2) listens to what you want;
3) has sufficient experience in looking at the structure of a home to anticipate potential problems;
4) knows how to determine a correct price to purchase or sell for the condition, location and current market condition;
5) knows how to negotiate on price and terms, based on condition, needed repairs, where the market is at and where it is going with this particular piece of property. Real estate brokers cannot guarantee whether your real estate investment will go up or down, but your broker can guide you to valued information, so you can make a reasonable determination of the risk and potential value of your investment.
I am good at what I do. Combining my professional experiences of knowing the neighborhoods, knowing how to ascertain condition and value based on market conditions, and first-hand hard-knock learning experiences, I bring an experience-based perspective to your real estate transaction.
One of the more unusual aspects in my background is my work in land use planning and Oregon’s statewide goals and guidelines. When I work with buyers/sellers for coastal property, I know the questions to ask–what are the restrictions and guidelines for this property? Where is the tsunami zone? When I work with buyers who fall in love with a beautiful piece of property that has vacant land around it, I ask what will become of the adjacent lots. When you choose a property with a gorgeous view, I say let’s look at the tree line in front of you--will the owners of the property below you allow you to trim the trees to preserve your view. If there is a tree that is impacting your view, is that tree on your property, a neighbor’s property or in the right of way. Are there easements on your property? A myriad of questions to ask when you have settled on a piece of property.
The same goes for Sellers–I will always advise that you find out as much as possible about your property before it goes on the market so that there are no surprises. There is nothing worse than having a rough, tumble negotiating session over price, reaching agreement, then finding out that there are material defects in the property that impact its value or the ability to secure financing on the property.
I Am Here For You
I like what I do. The walls of houses, apartments, buildings have stories; they’ve seen it all. If only they could talk–or maybe not! Recreational property reflects hope and happiness of their owners. Undeveloped land holds promise of what was and what could be.
The clients I work with become dear friends. For the time we work together I am your support system. Your hopes, your desires, your realities, it all gets rolled up together when buying a house. Finding the perfect home or building to buy or positioning your home or business to sell is an intense process that merely begins when you identify a property to purchase or decide to sell a property. After acceptance of an offer, we go through the inspection process, the financing process, the closing process. I will be there each step of the way, whether on the Buying or Selling Side. I will bring to our transaction every experience, contact and problem-solving technique I have in my bag of real estate know-how.
As we proceed through each phase, I anticipate the worst-case scenario so that we are prepared for the unexpected. All my transactions get completed because I won’t give up until you have the keys to your new property or the proceeds from the sale of your prized home or building. I will be there each step of the way.
I welcome the opportunity to help you sell or purchase your next piece of real estate. Thanks for joining me on this ride meandering through real estate memories and dos and don’ts in today’s market. I welcome the opportunity to work with you on your next real estate adventure.