Category Archives: Portland real estate

New Listing!

***PENDING**** 4125 SE Washington, Portland | 2 BR, 1 1/2 Baths | 2 car garage | $529,900 | MLS 17531944

Ready, set, go. Inside and out, this corner lot 1950s beauty is a delight. With its gleaming woods, strategic mix of old and new (check out the main bath!), and smart floorplan, what’s not to love? The exterior is a win too – welcoming entrance with brick pavers, lush landscaping, and private patio overlooking backyard retreat. And yes, even a two car garage for car buffs or all your PNW outdoorsy gear. Rock solid SE location to boot!

Under All is the Land

The Preamble to the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the National Association of REALTORS® begins with these words:
“Under all is the land. Upon its wise utilization and widely allocated ownership depends the survival and growth of free institutions and of our civilization.”

I’ve thought a lot about these words lately, as local and state governments take steps to mitigate the effects of climate change. My community, as do many, has a Climate Action Plan. At the national level, politicians on the right try to score political points by claiming the verdict is still out. At the local level, however, elected officials from both the right and left are ignoring the far-right bloviation and planning for the future. It’s almost comical to watch – that in places like Florida, state officials are trying to quench debate – while officials in Miami-Dade County are taking action to fight tidal flooding, saltwater intrusion, and substation power outages.

The right hand DOES know what the left hand is doing, but pretends not to see it.

That said, we have to find a positive way forward that hopefully is a two-pronged approach – take steps to protect our planet, but also safeguard communities against changes that WILL happen.

Land has always been a precious commodity. As populations shift and we have to prioritize land use for residential, industrial and farming, these conversations will get tougher. To be engaged and best help my clients and the brokers I manage, I have joined the REALTORS® Land Institute (RLI) – created for land experts and by land experts to build knowledge, relationships, and “manage our most precious resource: the land.”

Please contact me if I may be of further help. Comprised of just over 1,200 members (whereas the National Association of Realtors has over 1,000,000) RLI is a committed organization of specialists providing brokerage services for all types of land: farms, ranches, timberland, vineyards, subdivision and lot wholesaling, site selection – and more!

The Portland of Mexico

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As a former Midwesterner whose winter weather escapes tended to be places like Fort Lauderdale or Orlando, for a long time I resisted going to Mexico. I held many of the wrong myths in my head, simply because nobody in my circle of family and friends would vacation there.

That changed shortly after moving to Portland. Here, it seems like everyone goes to Mexico (or Hawaii) to escape the winter rain. Our friends James and Kevin first introduced us to Puerto Vallarta a number of years ago. And I’m happy to say that our minds have totally changed, and Mexico has earned a warm spot in our hearts.

Stereotypes about Mexico almost always center on crime. Yes, parts of Mexico struggle. And so it is in the United States. But I don’t fear exploring the Pacific Northwest simply because Camden, New Jersey has a crime epidemic. It’s just as senseless to worry about places like Puerto Vallarta because other parts of Mexico face challenges. Let facts trump fear, and not the other way around.

So what’s the appeal for me and so many people from the West Coast? I think because it’s a nice blend of foreign and familiar. While yes, there are many areas that are 100% gringo, it’s easy to immerse oneself entirely in Mexican culture within few steps off the beaten path. There is no question you are in another country when you step outside the tourist zones – often, you just have to walk a few blocks. And that’s the key – WALKING. Just like we like to do in Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver; PV is meant to be walked. I think that’s another reason for the appeal; it appeals to our sense of how a city should function and how we live back home. We can walk to all of our favorite restaurants, shops, galleries and bars. Admittedly, there is a whole other Puerto Vallarta, replete with all-inclusive resorts tucked behind gates where tourists barely venture out; but just as I won’t live in a gated community in the States, these areas don’t even register on my radar. It baffles me that people travel to another country only to never engage in it.

We now have countless friends who own property in PV. Do they have regrets? Absolutely not. Have they each learned about market idiosyncrasies and had hiccups along the way? Absolutely! They all agree – don’t take your knowledge of your home market and apply it to Mexico. Be flexible. Get trusted experts. And in that way I end with a shameless plug. As part of the RE/MAX family, you can start your search with me. We can lay the groundwork here before even getting on the plane. I belong to MLS Vallarta/Nayarit, and have trusted colleagues at the RE/MAX office locally. Interested? Let’s chat!

Success Stories

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Published 2/18/15. By Steve Strode, PQ Monthly

“Closets are For Clothes.” I remember buying a t-shirt printed thusly when I was about twenty years old. At the time I felt like it was a huge deal to wear it—even in progressive Wisconsin. Yes, left-coasters, Wisconsin has a progressive heritage (disregard current news cycles). Wherever there is a person in the closet, there is a person whose full, true self is diminished in some way. And there is a reason that the closet metaphor has worked so well. Home symbolizes our safe place, our refuge.  I write this on the day that gay marriage becomes legal in Alabama, and it hits home how different life can be in the LGBT community depending upon which side of a state line we live.

On this third anniversary of PQ, I’m reflecting on its purpose—to write about what is, what should be, what we’ve done wrong and what we’ve done right. In these pages we’ve read regularly about the trials and tribulations of dudes dating in an app-based world. We report on various phobias, and create new terminology to help understand why many in a “Q-diaspora” are still marginalized or at-risk.  This is really important stuff and the only way to effect positive change. But it’s nice to reflect on the good stuff too.

This month I’m not writing about the brick and mortar, or transactional side of real estate.  But rather, I’m focusing on my subsection of the LGBT community—chiefly, gay men who have managed to stick together for decades or more. Not because we’re special in any way; rather, because there are both universal themes in maintaining committed relationships, combined with the ability to write ones own rules.
Through the power of Facebook, I reconnected with a colleague from many years ago named Tim Clausen. In addition to being a talented jazz pianist, he is a great interviewer—the kind of guy with a soft and soothing voice that would make anyone want to open up and share. For example, post-9/11, he conducted interviews with widows, then sent them the recordings to share with their young children once they were old enough to learn about their lost parent. It takes a special guy to come up with that idea. I was happy to learn that Tim just released a book entitled Love Together: Long Term Male Couples on Healthy Intimacy and Communication.

For the book he interviewed about a hundred couples from throughout the United States, and chose a couple dozen for print. Just entering the 19th year with my partner, I really wish I would have had something like this to read early on. Most of us didn’t have the benefit of same-gender parents to learn from, or a how-to manual on how gay coupledom works. From my perspective of how the world worked, you find someone—the one—and once you’ve decided you loved that someone, you settle down.  While gay marriage was still illegal everywhere, the relationship was to resemble mom and pop’s.

One of the couples that Tim interviewed for the book were from Portland—Eric Marcoux and Eugene Woodworth, partnered for sixty years. Eugene has since passed, but I really enjoyed reading about their relationship and hearing Tim speak so fondly of them on a recent public radio show. They shared their stories of how they met, and techniques they used to stay together for so many years.  Like any long-term relationship, there was the spark that brought them together. But it was a combination of ongoing communication, intentional routines, and impulsive bits of generosity that helped maintain the bonds for a lifetime. “Consistency and continuity keep our relationship growing. By consistency I mean we are constantly telling each other ‘I love you’ and constantly touching each other. For a relationship to last, make sure it’s based on love rather than lust. There’s nothing wrong with lust, but it may not last that long.” That’s a tough one to reconcile, since men are so visually oriented (want confirmation? Scroll through almost any gay guy’s web browser history).

Couples in the book also engage in frank discussions about monogamy versus open relationships. Years ago, I was told that couples who were open were looking to fill a void, to make up for a deficiency. It was just a last-gasp attempt before breaking up, rather than enhancing an already full life.  Again, communication enables couples to write their own rules and decide what works. In the decade since moving to Portland, I’ve seen every type of gay relationship arrangement; some work, some fail.  But we’re allowed to figure it out, perhaps with more freedom than our straight counterparts. And I know Tim’s words will provide insight and inspiration to many.

In the book, I read a quote from Eric Marcoux that I think could’ve been written by Jose, my partner. And if you know him, I know you agree he’d say that about me! “We’re quite different, and he really does irritate me a lot, but I’ve never loved anybody the way I love him.”

Steve Strode is a broker with Meadows Group Inc., Realtors in Portland. When he is not selling the American dream, he is probably wallowing on a muddy trail run somewhere in the PNW. He may be reached at  steve@sagepacificliving.com. For more info on the book visit: www.lovetogetherbook.com.

SOLD!

5141 SW Shattuck | 2 BR | 2 1/2 Baths | Well priced at $285,000

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This spacious townhome lives like new. Neat as a pin, including new carpet and fresh paint, this affordable condo offers great value in a convenient location. Beautiful wood, open kitchen, smart floorplan, two balconies and great light round out the interior. Outside, you’ll enjoy the great proximity to coffee shop, grocery store and all area amenities. Less than 5 minutes to Hillsdale, and super-easy commute either east or west.

 

Follow Your Bliss

 

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Publish date: 12/17/14 By Steve Strode, PQ Monthly

When asked what I love most about my job, the answer is quick and always the same, “the great variety of people I meet!” Sure, the 10PM call when there is midnight contingency deadline is both annoying and usually 100% avoidable if someone hadn’t dropped the ball. But when the deal closes, and anyone needing to be talked off a proverbial ledge is now calm, I can’t envision doing anything else for a career.

We tend to typecast white collar professional gay guys—urban, stylish house, some type of fun car—probably foreign, and the relaxing trips to Palm Springs or Hawaii each winter. I love meeting people who defy these stereotypes and happily chart their own course. Which leads me to this story.

Mark Schmidt and Dan Sapp work at Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, and Brian Winner works at Wells Fargo as a Financial Crimes Manager. Mark and Dan met in Michigan about 14 years ago, then moved to Oregon in the past decade. About five years ago they met Brian, and in getting to know each other found their lifestyle values were very much aligned.

Owning a home in North Portland, they developed an interest in farming, and over a period of time an original small garden grew to cover most of the property. Fruit trees were added. And of course, there had to be chickens (sorry, I didn’t ask their names or provenance). The guys began canning vegetables too. The goal really became about growing as much food for themselves as they could in this urban homestead.  Neither Mark nor Dan grew up on a farm, but rather the suburbs of Detroit; Brian’s grandma had a 10-acre farm near Cottage Grove on which he used to help occasionally. So it was an evolutionary process for all of them.

About four years ago, by then running out of urban farm space, they decided to pursue this passion further, and began looking for a farm within a 90-minute radius of Portland.  After exploring lots of areas, scouring the consumer and foreclosure websites, they honed in on Puget Island and the town of Cathlamet.  If you’re like me, I needed a little geography lesson when we all first met; picture the drive from Portland to Astoria and it’s a little more than half-way between the two cities.

I asked why they chose Cathlamet and it was for totally objective reasons—water rights, close to Portland, but far enough out to be affordable. Imagine Sauvie Island West without the beach.  The big unknown was the subjective part. How would a rural community react to three gay dudes buying a farm together? And here was the pleasant surprise—they felt the community itself was very progressive and they met other transplants from Portland, Seattle and the Bay Area.  Moreover, Mark, Dan, and Brian were excited by the community of talented artists and professional types, dedicated to agricultural and environmental stewardship, who have all created their own paths to coalesce here. As far as any other LGBT population, they’re still getting settled and getting to know people—having just sold their home in Portland and closed on the farm (called Blue Skies Farm of Puget Island) in the past year. But they were already impressed and have heard great things about the local PFLAG chapter.

When talking about the logistics of the move, we chatted about what else they’d have to consider because of taking this plunge. And here it boiled down to the old adage “don’t quit your day job.” This is a labor of love and a long-term commitment, not a get-rich scheme. Working an established farm is hard; creating a farm is even harder. There are significant barriers for entry into farming—land  acquisition, and money for capital expenses such as equipment and greenhouses (hence the desire to sell the Portland home). They’ll keep a small condo in Portland and maintain their careers.  But it boils down to envisioning the type of world they want to live in, then doing their part in a little corner of the world to make it so.

Final thoughts from the guys? First, was recalling a unique contingency from the purchase of the farm—requesting that the seller remove four inches of goat poop covering the front porch, which had accumulated while the property sat vacant.

But in a more pleasant memory, Mark recalled when they got their first batch of honey and realized “Wow, we can do this!”

Steve Strode is a broker with Meadows Group in Portland. He serves on the Global Leadership team of the National Association of Realtors, and also learned about sustainable and organic farming practices in Cuba this past Spring. He can be reached at steve@sagepacificliving.com.

SOLD – Hot Mt. Tabor Neighborhood!

1134 SE 60th Ave | 3 BR | 3 BA | 2621 sf | $539,900 | MLS# 14109017

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Enjoy this beautifully updated Mt. Tabor just minutes to Division, Hawthorne, and Belmont hotspots. Extensively updated from top to bottom, inside and out. Perched off the street for maximum light, this home retains lots of original charm, with some modern elements thrown in for a smart contrast. Great flow inside, two car attached garage, and the huge private backyard is a sweet retreat.

SOLD – Modern Lover’s Delight

SOLD. 7828 SE 119th Dr | 2699 sf | 3 BR  2 1/2 Baths

This smartly updated retreat will call you home. Sited perfectly to embrace abundant light & mountain views, just simply unpack and enjoy! Updates include modern cook’s kitchen, powder room, carpet, furnace, exterior and interior paint. Nicely flowing floorplan invites a myriad of living options inside, and outside offers two decks – including one overlooking a peaceful koi pond & lush landscaping. Great proximity to Brookside Park,  Leach Botanical Garden and Springwater Corridor; easy commute downtown, Max Green Line, Clackamas, and PDX. MLS#14399145

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Milwaukie Modern – Clean Lines, Abundant Space, Private Retreat

TOO LATE! But let me help you find your own modern space. I’m an Accredited Buyer’s Agent too.

1131 SE River Forest Rd, Milwaukie | 4 BR, 3 Bath | Over 3,600 square feet | $450,000 | MLS# 13146317

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Peacefully sited on a lush 1/2+ acre lot, this immaculate mid-century home is move-in ready. Recently remodeled and updated with new flooring, windows, high-efficiency furnace, circular paver drive & more. Scaled nicely for day-to-day living, yet large enough for any need – open floor plan in main house, expansive daylight basement, separate office, family/music room and guest apartment over garage.  Sellers have loved the warm and engaging neighborhood community with monthly book group and potlucks – and being close to the public boat ramp to boot!  Enjoy the natural and serene setting, while living within super-easy reach to Portland. Additional MLS detail here.

 

Hey, How is the Market?

THE HOME FRONT “Hey, how is the market?”

By Steve Strode,  originally published in PQ Monthly, November, 2013

It’s the question always asked at a cocktail party, when one learns there’s a realtor in their midst. People are used to hearing daily news on the macro-level—national foreclosure rates, price appreciation, inventory shortages. But what they really want to know is: How are things in their neighborhood? So now my standard response is, “Where do you live?” While that’s sometimes interpreted as a pick up line, it’s a completely necessary question.

Nothing is more local than real estate. Chiefly, it’s how we build community—one block at a time. Coming out of the recession, the majority of foreclosures were confined to a handful of states. But we still felt collectively paralyzed—that it was doom and gloom everywhere. And then we noticed. Places like Portland were starting to do okay; then later, doing well.

As I’m writing this article, I’m sitting in a hotel lobby in San Francisco, about to attend a Symposium on Sustainable Development. The program reads, “Sustainable development begins from the ground up. The first step is to change the way we think.” And I smile, knowing that what we live and breathe in Portland is not quirky or weird. It’s the future, but we’ve been experiencing it for years.

The National Association of Realtors just published survey results entitled, “Neighborhood Preferences are Changing,” which provides further support that Portland is getting it right—in the big picture. Sixty percent of respondents want a mix of housing, shops and services that are walkable. The majority responded they would give up a larger yard or would buy a smaller home if they could have a shorter commute. Seventy-eight percent said the neighborhood is more important than the house size. Having access to different types of transportation modes also rank very highly.

And what we’re seeing are buyers and renters willing to walk the talk. In major cities everywhere, Millennials are leading the charge. They are trading the car-dependent suburban culture they grew up in, exchanging them for an urban lifestyle, choosing micro-apartments of 400 square feet or less. The apartment is a place to sleep; the neighborhood and its amenities have become the living room.

These trends are playing out daily with buyers and colleagues I know. Professionally-marketed homes in close-in Portland are getting offers soon after hitting the market—often multiple ones. We’re seeing hot building trends in Portland, too. For example, every vacant lot along Southeast Division appears to be an apartment construction zone. A few builders are selling their formulaic “McInfill” homes on every available lot (I’m trying to coin that term as an urban version of “McMansion”—you read it here first). We all have friends desperately seeking an apartment, or know first-time buyers competing for homes.

All is not perfect. Re-development and new urban development is often viewed as a zero-sum game. The LGBT community is often associated with gentrification. We’ve moved into areas that have been maligned by the majority, renovated homes, and created vibrant neighborhoods. But these same neighborhoods have also been home to other groups for generations—and they often reach a tipping point where it becomes too costly for long-term residents to remain.

In the nationwide public radio show “State of the Re:Union,” host Al Letson featured Portland, discussed the North Williams corridor and interviewed African-American residents who have experienced the changes. In an only-in-Portland fashion, it was the bike lane proposals that helped bring racial issues to the surface, but also brought an opportunity for dialogue. Imagine being a multi-generational black resident, getting frequent calls to sell your house. You see this as your family’s neighborhood—and while the white callers meant no harm, they are not realizing that same call has been received dozens of times previously. (Disclaimer: as a realtor I am not suggesting “black” and “white” neighborhoods, but sharing an anecdote from Letson’s program.) As affordability has waned, we see various population shifts. And unfortunately, the same things that people like best about living close-in are not yet prevalent in neighborhoods on the periphery. Children have lost their sidewalks. Commute times are longer.

Local community is built through local involvement, and as someone on that radio show quipped, “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you don’t get fed.” Engagement has to be at the neighborhood level. If surveys indicate that we want walkable neighborhoods, this cannot be tied to income. On the whole, we’re getting it right in Portland and we’re well-poised for the future. But to create a sustainable model for all, we have to create that same sense of “local” in all Portland neighborhoods.

Steve Strode is a realtor in the Portland metro area, and co-founder of rEqual – an LGBT housing and advocacy organization. Steve is also President of Portland Frontrunners. He can be reached at steve@sagepacificliving.com.