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Portland, Oregon, United States
born & raised in oregon & working in real estate for over a decade

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

About 5 years ago I started giving all my clients the same gift.

A 10lb metal gnome: holding a duck, holding bread, holding wine, holding flowers, holding an empty pot and finally one holding a shovel. This tradition of sorts started with a good old gnome napping, late at night and many moons ago and grew into something pretty fun. Rather than taking gnomes from their home I know give gnomes a safe place to live.
Within one year of a buyer’s purchase I will go to the buyer’s new home and hide a gnome somewhere on their property. In return I ask for a photo or a phone call to find out where the little guy ended up. A few have made it to the trash and a few have moved across country, I never really know what will happen to the little guy once I hand him over. The sad truth is some or hidden and have still not been found. I try and make the hiding spots very hard to find. All of this leads to Friday, May 22, when the last gnome with shovel made it to the summit of Mt. Hood. For years I have been asking my “Lovey” to climb just for the gnome, to him this was not a crazy request.
Friday Lovey (Asit ) left for the adventure around 8:00 pm stopping at Montage first for the two men to carbo load and have a Mojito (the Montage makes one of the best in town). After a nice meal the boys head up the mountain in order to catch the 1:00am snow cat. Along the way they stopped at the famous or infamous Charlie’s for a sip of beer and Joe’s Donuts to truly get the first donut of the morning.
Now it is on to Timberline to catch their ride; it is 1:00 and they are both on their way to start the climb to the summit of Mt. Hood. The climb starts around 1:30 and they make it to the summit before sunrise. As the odd couple a 6 foot 2 inch, 225lb East Indian Climber and a 1 foot, 10lb Metal Gnome make it to the summit there was some attention to the climbing crew, as they do not blend with the REI masses.
Lovey and the Gnome slept and enjoyed the sun until the skiing conditions were safe near noon and they parted ways. The Gnome has found a new home at the top of the mountain and continues to carry our email address; our hope is to see what other adventures he may find. Cheers to Lovey, my past client and best friend and courier of gnomes.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Eco-aware remodel, 1910 Craftsman tastefully updated, Green features & charm of its vintage. Nestled in the desirable Alberta Arts; as many decrative details: box beam ceilings/formal dining, built-ins, fireplace, ecordian french doors/den,claw foot tub, mud-porch, crown molding and the always requested big front porch accented by ideal native plantings.

OPEN SAT 11-1 - OR call Alia Marie Hazen at 503.705.8414 for a showing today. This home will go fast as it has been updated and still has orginal charm -- not to mention to full Baths in Alberta -- very hard to find!~

Thursday, April 2, 2009


1. GO GREEN: if you have done-eco friendly updates or remodels on your home advertise those facts. It adds value.
2. EXPAND THE CLOSET: pack it up, if you do not need it pack it. De-clutter and remove close. Better to store neatly stacked boxes in the garage or basment.
3. PUT A LID ON IT: close all closet doors, toilet seats.
4. PICK A FOCAL POINT: de-clutter and put one bright, unique object in the focal point. It brings your eye to that are of the room. Too much stuff and a buyer can not picture their personal in the home. More is NOT better when selling. A good thing to do is take a picture of the room. Does it looks like the ones you see in the magazines? Take a look at a home book -- most of them are very empty rooms. NO CLUTTER!
5. ADD BATHROOM CHARM: buy new never been used white towel. Again pick a focal point, bring in a single object of color to pull your eye to that.
6. NIX PERSONAL PHOTOS: take them all down and out of the house. You are not selling your personal life, you want the house to sell itself.
PETS STINK - IT IS A FACT: Keep the smell out of the house. Get new dog beds, New litter box and keep it clean. You may not know your house has a smell. Ask your agent and be ready to do something about it. A buyer who does not have pets will walk away from a home if it has a bad pet smell.
7. BRIGHTEN IT UP: Change out all light bulbs in order to get the most light possible. Put in those 100 watt bulbs. You do not want the home to feel dark and we have a lot of dark days in Oregon. Lighten up paint, if you have a dark brown or red it makes too much of a statment. Go with cream, the room will look bigger and brighter.
9. FRONT DOOR & PORCH: This is the most important part of the home. Clean Clean Clean. Repaint porch (9 times out of 10 it needs it), get a new door rug (do not get cute kitties) keep it clean and simple, new light bulb and no bugs in the light, repaint the door a bright color and put a potted plant near the door. This is wear the client spends the most time!
10. YARD: mow, edg and add new dark bark -- again make it clean!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

No Special Treatment for First Offer

Recently in the middle of negotiating an offer on behalf of a seller, I was representing; we had one offer submitted to us and we were discussing a counter offer back to the buyer.
Suddenly, another agent contacted me and was planning on writing an offer on the same property for her buyer. Now there are multiple offers on the table. I put a call into the first buyer's agent letting them know the seller would not be responding to their offer until late that day and the seller had reviewed both offers. I advised that the agent ask their buyer to put in their best and final offer.
"This does not seem fair and the seller should should complete negotions on the first offer" was the response to the current situaion.
What happened is the seller technically rejected the first offer and requested that the buyer one submit a new offer that reflected the buyers "best" terms. It is then up to the buyer if they wants to submit a better offer, keep the offer as it stands or revoke their offer. This is not a personal attack on buyer one, it is negotiating the best terms for the seller and reviewing all active offers.
Fair or not purchasing a home does not come down to who came to the house first. It is who came to the table with the best offer: Best in price, closing date, loan terms, earnest money etc. and who was able to get mutual acceptance in writing.
In our current market, we are heavy in listings (16 months of active listings) we are seeing a new trend of properties that are very attractively priced and are not bank owned homes -- and this creates a great value opportunity for a buyer and many times multiple offers on the home.
In this situation buyer one had lost 3 other homes prior to this offer. Buyer one has shown they know how to find a great value in a home but they are negotiationg themselves out of a purchase.
A great value is not determined by how much you negotiated off the sale price, or how much you could get from the seller. A great deal is determined by how much lower you got it than market value. If a home is priced to sell often times the deal is had by moving quickly on an offer.
Often times the great deal is getting the home and finding a house priced to sell -- negotiating too hard with a seller often times does not get you the best deal. Offer price is just step one -- as a buyer you still need to negotiate repairs.
If offer one had been signed and mutually accepted, the seller would not have been able to break the current negotiated terms. The second offer cannot bump an accepted offer, even if the price and terms are better than offer one. An offer is active until all parties sign and have mutual acceptance of terms on a purchase and sale agreament or counter offer. Verbal is NOT binding.
All agents including myself have been bumped out of negotiations becuase a counter was not accepted quick enough and back to the seller before a better offer came in. The seller can and will negotiate the best terms for themselves until papers are signed and they are in a binding legal contract. Verbal again is not binding -- even if Susie Seller says the house is yours do not worry about that pesky paperwork. Do you think Susie Seller is going to feel the same way when Pesty Paul offers $10,000 higher in sale price than your offer? Close negotiations, dot the i and cross the t -- buying a home is very personal but it is also one of the biggest financial contracts you will negotiate.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Yes, this is me with the paragliding gear at the Oregon Coast, specifically Gearhart Oregon. Enclosed is the featured article in Travel Oregon.
Truly one of the most amazing, fun, easy things one can do. The instructors let us know they have clients up in their 80's gliding with them. It is just like Winnie the Pooh with the chair and the balloons.

Monday, February 23, 2009


If you are reading this for the first time you may be spending too much time at the movies -- Big News for some -- there is a $8,000 credit to some buyer's in 2009.
I say some people because it is for people who have not owned a home with in the last three years. There are a bunch of other rules on it too which is fine we have to have rules. ($75,000 income limit per head, owner occupied 3 years).

A tax credit is more valuable than a tax deduction because A credit reduces dollar for dollar the amount of tax you owe, where as a deduction allows the tax payer to exclude some taxable dollars.

The tax credit is better than last years because it doesn't have to be paid back. It is a true tax credit, but here is the deal.

To buy a home buyers still need to have a job, a good credit rating, and some money for a down payment. If you have all of those things then you will be rewarded by being able to purchase a home and will get the tax credit on top of that" party dance time".

My take on it is that if you are in a position to buy a home and were planning on doing so the tax credit is a good thing. If you cannot afford to buy a home because your income is not high enough, your credit rating is not good enough or you don't have any money then the tax credit isn't going to have any impact on your situation what so ever.

There are some other programs for first time home buyers that may help: Oregon Bond, FHA.

I am offering a first time buyer class on March 25Th from 6-8pm. I offer one every other month and it is free. There will be a lender, escrow agent and myself at the class to answer your questions. 8 people per class -- contact me today to reserve a spot.

Friday, February 20, 2009


There are some things that affect the value of a home and some things that do not. Here is a list of some of the things that do have an impact on value:
1. Location - The very same home in one neighborhood will have a different value in another neighborhood. Even which block a home is on has an impact on the value.
2. Condition - The condition a home is in has a huge impact on the value. Buyers will sometimes off thousands less for a few hundred dollars in needed repairs. They don't always understand that cost of repairs so it isn't unusual for them to offer $5000 less when the home needs a repair or udate that costs $1000.
3. Size - When appraisers or Realtors put a value on a home we use the square feet of finished living space. Not all space is equal. Finished square footage in a basement with no egress windows does not have the same value as finished square footage on the main floor.
4. Amenities - the number of bedrooms, baths and garage stalls.
The four I listed are the basics. Here are some things that do not impact the value of a home:
1. How much the last owner paid for it.
2. The value as listed in Zillow or in the tax records. Although I do have a theory about Zillow. As the site got started and gained traffic home values went down nation wide. It is just a consicidence but it would be nice to have just one person or company to blame for declining home values.
3. How much the current owner owes on it.
4. The cost of repairs made to the home. When it comes to big ticked items like roofs, the sad truth is every home needs a roof and buyers expect one. Putting on a new roof if one is needed will help sellers get the most for their home.
5. The value of the home in 2005, or even last year.
It gets a little tricks with improvements. Lets say there is a $100,000 dollar home in a neighborhood where the average price is 100K and the owner puts in a 50K kitchen. In most cases that does not make the home worth $150K. It will increase the value/desirability of the home but there isn't always a direct dollar for dollar relationship.

Sellers can price a home at any level they want to but if it is priced too high often buyers will ignore it. Buyers in our current Oregon market want the perfect home at the perfect price -- and they can ask for it. As of January Portland has 19.2 months of inventory to sell (last month we were at 15 months and the month before at 10 months). This is a lot of homes to sell and anything over six months of inventory directs the market to a "Buyers Market".

Appraisers are being very conservative these days which means that the home may not appraise for the agreeded sales price between thebuyer and seller. When that happens some times the buyer can not borrow enough money to buy the home.

Pricing a home is more of an art than a science. In general we look for three comparable homes that have been sold in the area in the last six months.

The amount of money that a seller can get for a home or the amount that a buyer will pay is also affected by a basic economic principal. Supply and demand. Currently there is a demand in for forclosure and short sale homes - a great price is leading the marekt. Last year at this time we saw buyer purchasing in the mid-$300k price point and had 32.5% more sales closing.

When all is said and done a home is worth exactly how much someone will pay for it. Buyers drive prices, not sellers or their Realtors.


Does money grow on trees? Well still the answer is NO - but the government is giving it away this year and next if you are a first time buyer or have not purchased in the last three years and do not own a home.

Here's some great information regarding the $8,000 Federal tax credit.

This website is very informative. The main question I'm fielding is if people need to wait to get the credit until after they have bought a home.

No, clients do NOT need to wait to buy a home. They can file their tax return now and get the $8K tax credit on their 2008 tax returns BEFORE buying a home. They can then use the funds for down payment (there are no restrictions on what the tax credit is used for). Some folks may just hold on the credit for rainy day funds.

Question: If I’m qualified for the tax credit and buy a home in 2009, can I apply the tax credit against my 2008 tax return?
Yes. The law allows taxpayers to choose ("elect") to treat qualified home purchases in 2009 as if the purchase occurred on December 31, 2008. This means that the 2008 income limit (MAGI) applies and the election accelerates when the credit can be claimed (tax filing for 2008 returns instead of for 2009 returns). A benefit of this election is that a home buyer in 2009 will know their 2008 MAGI with certainty, thereby helping the buyer know whether the income limit will reduce their credit amount.Taxpayers buying a home who wish to claim it on their 2008 tax return, but who have already submitted their 2008 return to the IRS, may file an amended 2008 return claiming the tax credit. You should consult with a tax professional to determine how to arrange this.
(information provided by Jeff LaViolette [] - preferred lender with Equity Home Mortgage).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Oregon Turns 150

Happy Birthday Dear Oregon

On February 14th, 2009, the state of Oregon is turning 150, and that calls for a party, don't you agree? Click on the link above and join in celebrating Oregon's past and consider where we're headed.


No this is not me but it is my honey and past client. Enclosed is his recent article on "TRAVEL OREGON" about our dear Mt. Hood.