Portland, Oregon

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Sept. 16, 2010

7 Great Reason's to Live in Portland's Irvington Neighborhood

Loren Castillo · Leave a Comment

Loren Castillo

I live in the Irvington neighborhood of NE Portland, Oregon. When I was looking for homes to buy, I knew exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to live on the East side of the river, but close enough to the City Center that I could still get there by bike in 10 minutes. I love to eat good food, so walking distance to restaurants was a must. I’ve also been known to occasionally partake in a drink or two, so being able to crawl home from bars was also a must. I was also looking for was easy access to the freeway. I know it’s not something everyone looks for, but it’s more convenient than you may think. I’m 6 blocks from I-84 and 12 from I-5 so access is simple, and I can get anywhere in the city in less than 15 minutes. More importantly, getting out of the city is a breeze. The Oregon Coast and the mountains are both only about an hour and a half away.

Here are a few fun facts about the Irvington neighborhood:

  1. The name for the neighborhood came from one of the oversight developers for the neighborhood named Irvington Investment Company in 1890.
  2. The Free Rail Zone (free zone to ride) for Max transportation starts at Lloyd Center, so you can take a short walk and be right downtown or to the Rose Garden to see a show in no time.
  3. There is a great high-end Lingerie shop on Broadway called Oh Baby that is sure to heat things up on a cold day. It has won the award for best lingerie shop from The Willamette Week since it first opened.
  4. Irvington boasts one of two Portland Tiki Bars, Thatch, that serves a drink called the Volcano bowl, which comes to your table on fire and requires a minimum 3 people to even order it!
  5. Irvington is incredibly easy to traverse on foot. WalkScore.com gave Irvington a walk score of 75/100 making it the 11th most walkable neighborhood in Portland.
  6. If you like to cook fresh produce, the Irvington Farmers Market is for you. It is open on Tuesdays from 10am-2pm and is only closed between Christmas and New Year’s.
  7. If you look around the neighborhood, you can still find the old iron rings that were planted in the sidewalks for tying up your horse.

If you’d like more information about the Irvington neighborhood, including the best restaurants, shops and bars, as well as real estate info, please don’t hesitate to call me for a tour!

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Sept. 16, 2010

Thinking Big in a Small Way: Green, Sustainable Homes in Portland

Who wants a tiny home? We all think we want to move up in size, convenience and number of bedrooms, right? But then, we pick paper over plastic at the grocery store and think we’re changing the planet for our children’s children. Right on! It’s a small step toward a better future…but a really small step. We can do more.I’m guilty too. I consider myself environmentally conscience by riding my bike on short trips around the city, making sure my car tires have the right air pressure, and blaming BP for the oil spill. But even those are just baby-steps. It is time to think bigger…or smaller, as it were. According to the Green Space website, “If all buildings in the U.S. met leading green building standards, national energy use and global warming emissions would drop by ten percent. The potential for reducing waste is even greater, with the rate of construction waste recycling at over 70 percent. Green building is also critical when it comes to managing storm water runoff”.

Have you considered buying a green LEED, or a minimalist home? After all, you care about the environment and want to invest in more than just your own future, right?

Slowly, but steadily, things are beginning to change. Just like anything new, it will take time for Green Building to gain mainstream acceptance. Buyers need to be educated and prices need to stabilize at an affordable level. Currently, Green homes can range anywhere from $140-400 per-square-foot to build, whereas a conventional home is closer $100, depending on the location. That’s a big gap. Increased consumer demand and mainstream acceptance will eventually drive prices down.

For now, at least one company in Portland, Oregon is bringing affordable green homes to the masses.

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If a purely minimalist home is what you are after than check out the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. These tiny homes start at $99. Not per-foot, though… just $99. That’s just for the plans, which you can purchase and then build yourself. Or, if you prefer, you can purchase a finished home ranging from 65 Square feet all the way up to 837. My first apartment was 550 sf. and it was perfect for myself and a cat. I think I could go back to that someday, but it would have to be well planned space, which these are.
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A Tumbleweed Tiny House

It was this mindset of sustainability that initially drew me to become a Realtor with eXp Realty. I used to drive an hour a day to get to and from the office, made multiple copies of every transaction for each file and supported a brick and mortar building, none of which I do now, thanks to inventive thinking and commitment to a smarter way of doing business. Think about the change it would make if every real estate professional made that switch.

So the next time you are at the grocery store and choose the paper over plastic (or better yet, bring your own bag!) I hope it reminds you to make the some kind of smart choices with your next home.

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Sept. 16, 2010

The Oregon Coast Offers Wine, Sun, and Surf For Portland Getaways

Portland living is great for many reasons, and today I’d like to highlight one of my favorites: The Oregon Coast.

Only a beautiful 80 miles away, the Oregon Coast offers more than just the ocean, beach and sun. It offers rest and relaxation at World-class resorts like the Salishan Spa and Golf Resort and the Overleaf Day Spa and Hotel. It’s also home to one of the best golf courses on the West coast, Bandon Dunes , which has been favorably compared to the famous Pebble Beach.

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Bandon Dunes Golf Course, Oregon Coast

Imagine sitting on the patio of your beachfront condo, watching the waves with someone you care about… Ahhh, what could make this better? How about a bottle of wonderful, local wine from one of Oregon’s boutique vineyards? The Flying Dutchman’s Pinot Noir is my favorite.

The Oregon Coast is known for having some of the West Coast’s best surfing. My favorite is a secluded cove with a long sandy beach called Short Sands (pictured below) located in Oswald State Park. Many people come to Short Sands to learn how to surf, though it is certainly a great spot for experienced riders to come and tear up the waves.

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Short Sands Beach, Oswald State Park, Oregon Coast

I know that Oregon isn’t typically thought of as a surf destination, but it is a local secret and a big reason why we love living here so much. So, whether you already live in Portland, or are looking for a reason to move here, go check out the wonderful Oregon Coast for a day, or two…You’ll feel refreshed and relaxed in no time!

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Sept. 16, 2010

Portland Real Estate Buyer’s Guide

Beginning Your Search

You can begin by looking through Portland listings with our Portland Map Search or view Portland Listings by Neighborhood. Inquire via email or phone about particular listings in which you are interested. You can save your searches and have updates emailed to you on a regular basis. Here’s what to expect when you contact the Portland PowerSearch team.

  1. An agent from our team will contact you via telephone (if you have provided your telephone number), unless you request to be contacted only via email.
  2. The agent will provide you with any available details of the listings that you inquired about.
  3. The agent will ask you a number of questions about your search parameters/criteria (i.e., bed/bath, price range, square footage, area, when you’d like to buy, etc.) and they will ask if you’d like to receive more listings via email as they become available within your search criteria. This can be updated as needed.
  4. If you are from out-of-area, feel free to request a complimentary relocation package with information about the area. This will get mailed out within 24 hours.
  5. The agent can provide you with a virtual tour of any property on the market. This includes listing details, 40-50 Top Quality Digital photos of the entire property, and the surrounding area.
  6. As Buyer’s Agents, we are not pushing OUR listings on you. It is our fiduciary responsibility to get you the best deal for your money.
  7. Based on your request for information and how quickly you would like to buy, you can arrange a time to meet with your agent to discuss the market, the buying process, and look at properties that interest you.
  8. Once you have looked at properties with your agent and have decided one one you’d like to buy, your agent will prepare a Purchase and Sale Agreement and begin the buying process. This can be done remotely, as well. We have the ability to email or fax any documents that need to be signed, in the event that you are unavailable in-person.

Finding a Lender

  1. It is best to get in touch with a Lender or Mortgage Broker at the beginning of the home-buying process. Pre-approval from your lender takes the guessing out of your buying-power and gives you the authority to make informed decisions. Most real estate agents will expect you to have this process in-motion before looking at homes in-person.
  2. If you don’t know who you’d like to use or if you live out of area, your Agent can help you. We work with several highly qualified and reputable lenders. In our experience, working with local lenders is preferrable. Local lenders know the market and have established relationships with the real estate community, including agents and escrow companies. This familiarity allows them to provide much more personalized service. If the bank, itself, is local, the buying process can often be made even simpler, as the complicated underwriting procedures are performed on a local level, rather than via a complicated web of nationally dispersed departments. Big banks like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Chase tend to have far more complicated and labyrinthine “systems”, which have a tendency to add undue stress and delays to the buying process.

Deciding on a Purchase Price

The offering price for a property depends on a number of items:

  1. The Market – How fast are homes selling in the neighborhood and price range in which you are looking? If homes are selling quickly, your offer needs to be strong…if they’re selling slowly, you might have more flexibility. Remember, no matter what you hear on TV, each transaction is different. Every Seller is different, and each has their own bottom line. Don’t assume that a slow market means you can make low-ball offers. It is important to listen to your agent’s advice. There is more to an offer than the price. Other terms like the closing period, inspection period and financing details are all negotiable, and a savvy buyers and agents know how to make the most of them.
  2. Your Needs – How fast do you need to buy? How much money can you spend? Are you paying cash or getting financing? What kind of financing are you getting? Which neighborhood and price range do you want? What kind of house do you need and want? All of these questions play a key role in deciding what price to offer and your real estate agent will help guide you in making the decision.
  • For example: If you have a tight time-frame and happen to find a place you love, it might make sense to focus more on just getting the house than on haggling for the lowest possible price. After all, if you offend the Seller with an inconsiderate offer, they may not want to deal with you…and you’ll be stuck spending more time, more money, and risking the possibility that you won’t find another house you like.

What Happens When You Make an Offer on a Property

Once you’ve decided on the price and terms of your offer, it is time to present it to the Sellers.

  1. Time Frame: Usually the offer has an expiration of 24 to 48 hours from the day it is given to the Listing Agent. Your agent will be in touch with you quite a bit during this time frame to let you know of any conversations that have taken place about the possible counter-offer or of other offers that may have come in.
  2. Seller’s Choices: At this point, the Seller has the option of accepting your offer, countering your offer, or not responding at all. If a counter-offer comes back, your agent will meet you at the office or fax or email you the contract right away.
  3. Buyer’s Choices: You then have the option of accepting the counter-offer, countering back again, or not responding at all and letting it die. This, again, depends on your needs and how fast the market is moving.

What Happens When Your Offer Gets Accepted

Once you and the Seller have agreed on all terms and conditions, you have reached what is formally known as “Mutual Acceptance”. It is from this point, forward, that all timelines and responsibilities set forth on the contract take effect.

  1. Portland Power Search Team Transaction Coordinator: Once your offer gets accepted, your transaction will be turned over to our Transaction Coordinator. Of course, your agent will also be in touch with you throughout the transaction and you are welcome to contact them anytime.
  2. Earnest Money: A check for the Earnest Money amount must be deposited into an Escrow account within 3 business days of mutual acceptance, as stated in Oregon Real Estate Law. Commonly, your Agent will collect the earnest Money check from you ahead of time, when you draw up the original contract. This saves you the trouble of having to meet again to present it.
  3. Escrow: Your complete contract and a contact sheet of all relevant parties will be sent to Escrow along with the Earnest Money check. As the Buyer, the Escrow Company and Closing officer are chosen according to your preference. Your Agent will likely make a recommendation, but it is technically up to you.
  4. Mortgage Broker: At this point, your Agent should already have a pre-approval letter from your Lender. It is your Agent’s responsibility to provide your Lender with a copy of the Purchase and Sale agreement, so that they may set the financing process in-motion.
  5. Inspection: It is highly recommended that you hire a professional to conduct a thorough home inspection, even if it is new construction. The purpose of the inspection is to protect you against any latent defects in the house that may not be known to the Seller, but may have financial consequences for you down the line. Inspections usually cost about $300-400.00, but this depends on the age and size of the home. This cost needs to be paid up front by the Buyer.Again, your Agent will make some recommendations, but the choice is yours. Our goal is to have the inspection ordered within 3 days of mutual acceptance and have it completed within 5 to 7 days of mutual acceptance. The standard time frame for giving the Seller notice to remedy any items on the inspection is 10 business days from mutual acceptance.
      1. Scenario 1 – Inspection with Minor Issues: You decide either to waive the Inspection Contingency because the minor issues aren’t worth asking concessions for, or you ask the Sellers to fix them and they most likely will because they’re not very difficult or expensive. Either way, the inspection contingency is waived easily.
      2. Scenario 2 – Inspection with Major Issues: You decide to ask for the Seller to fix or replace the items (or) to credit you for the amount that you believe it will cost to fix or replace, at closing. At this point the Seller has the choice to respond to fix all the items (or credit you the money), or to offer an alternative suggestion, or to not fix any items (or not credit any money at closing). If the Seller agrees to fix all items, the Inspection Contingency is automatically Waived. If the Seller chooses either of the latter options, then you have the choice to disapprove this response and back out of the transaction and get your Earnest Money back, or you can accept the response and Waive the Inspection Contingency and proceed to closing. (Please note: In addition to this process of Buyer’s Notice and Seller’s Response, the Buyer and Seller need to keep in mind that if a lender is involved (depending on how much the Buyer is putting down) the major items, such as a defective roof, rotting floors, etc, may need to be fixed before closing in order to get financing).


  6. Seller Disclosure Statement: The Seller is required to provide the Seller Disclosure Statement once there is mutual acceptance. The Buyer has the right to revoke their offer based on the information provided in this 4-page document within 5 business days of having received it.
  7. Lead-Based Paint Disclosure: The Seller is also required to provide this form if the house was built before 1978. The Buyer again has the right to revoke their offer based on this form within 5 business days of having received it.
  8. Appraisal: The Transaction Coordinator will be in touch with the lender throughout the process to check up on how the loan process is going. One important step that the lender needs to take is to order the appraisal soon after the inspection. The appraisal is the lending company’s assessment of what the value of the house is. This is different from market value, although they often can be very close. If the Appraiser notices what he thinks are defective items on the house, he can call for a free and clear Inspection. It’s at this point that the Buyer and Seller need to negotiate how those items will be taken care of in order to continue to closing. The appraisal is paid for as part of the closing costs for the Buyer, it is usually around $600.00.
  9. Escrow: The Title company will send you a copy of the Title Insurance for the property. It is the Title Company’s responsibility to find any liens, easements or encroachments that are on the property. They will notify you and let you know what steps are being taken to remedy the situation. If there is a lien on the property, most likely the Seller knows this and has already made arrangements to have it paid off at or before closing.

    Once the Inspection has been waived and the Appraisal has come in at value, the lender notifies the Buyer if there are any last items that they need to prepare loan documents (i.e., home-owner’s insurance, tax records, etc.). The lender should have loan documents sent to Escrow by at least 4 business days before closing. It is ideal to have them at Escrow at week before closing. Once Escrow has received the loan documents, the Closing Officer will prepare the Settlement Statement. She will then call both the Buyer and Seller to come in and sign at least 24 hours before the closing date, often 3 to 4 days. Please Note: If the closing documents need to be sent out of area, this needs to be communicated with the Transaction Coordinator at least 2 weeks in advance of the closing date. Once the closing documents have been fully signed and returned to Escrow, they will be sent to the city to record and the title will officially be transferred. Escrow fees are also part of your closing costs, and they depend on the purchase price, this information can be provided for you upon request.
  10. Closing Date: In the state of Oregon, the closing date is usually 24 hours after signing. In rare circumstances the signing and closing can happen on the same day, but this depends on the lender. Most lenders cannot make this happen.
  11. Possession: Possession is written into the contract. The Buyer can request possession upon closing or closing plus 3 days. Please make arrangements for your moving vans if possession happens 3 days after closing. The key exchange will be arranged with the Transaction Coordinator and they will notify you as soon as possible as to when and where you can get your keys.

What to Expect of the Portland Powersearch Team After Closing

  1. We will keep in touch with you via email and send you helpful hints for keeping your home in order throughout the year.
  2. We will be available for any questions that you may have about real estate, about entertainment options (i.e., restaurants, trails, parks, music, etc.), about what your house is worth as the years go by, and about whether or not we may have a potential buyer for your home if you consider selling it in the future.
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Sept. 16, 2010

Portland’s Ankeny Hardware Offers Old-School Service

Upon entering the hardware store on SE 11th and Stark, I thought, “This place isn’t going to have what I need!” I’ve built homes, remodeled, even added a studio apartment in the basement of a house once, so I’m no stranger to visiting the big box store 3 times a day for months. Ankeny Hardware surprised me though. The showroom is about 1,200 square feet, less than the size of one isle at a box store, but behind the desk the workers have access to 1.3 miles of shelves and 35,000 different items.

They had what I thought I needed and, even after I begged them to just give me what I asked for, they calmed me down and made sure I got the right item, which ended up being something totally different from what I originally wanted, and a much simpler solution. That’s not the kind of customer service I’m used to, where you’re told what aisle it might be in by some kid who just graduated high school. I guess being open for 110 years helps you accrue some knowledge. The owner, Norman Chusid, has been working at that store since 1962 and is the 3rd generation to own the store. He says, “We sell things that we would be proud to use. The other guys can sell the junk.”

I hope Ankeny Hardware stays open for a very long time, because if I have to listen to another Bett Middler song while I pick out deck screws I’m going to kill myself, so please give them a shot.

1134 Southeast Stark Street

Portland, OR 97214-1337

(503) 234-6110

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Sept. 16, 2010

5 Great Reason's to Buy a Home Today!

Lately, it seems like all we hear about is how bad the economy has gotten, and how awful the housing market has become. This is a tough time to sell a home. Bad news travels fast, as they say, and it sells a lot of ads for the media. What you don’t hear is that this is actually a great time to buy a new home. Prices have not been this low in years, and interest rates are still near record-lows. Here are a few important factors to consider:

  1. Your future is going to be expensive. Financial experts suggest that to retire, you’ll need to build up enough in savings and investments to generate yearly income of 70% of your pre-retirement income. That’s a tall order and a reason to start amassing some serious capital NOW while it is less expensive to assume.
  2. This is a buyers market.. But not forever. Right now the supply is still greater than the demand which means there are more homes for sale then the normal amount. This is good for the purchaser because there is more to choose form, the sellers are move eager to sell and you can get the best deal for your money. History shows that it will not always be that way and the market will swing back. The time to buy is now.
  3. House prices tend to rise over time, so a house is one of the best investments you can make. Home prices in the U.S. have risen three percent to six percent a year for the past 20 years. That trend is likely to continue. So if you buy a home now, you’ve put your capital in a safe investment where it is likely to grow in years to come.
  4. You’ll be buying a piece of real property rather than putting money in a landlord’s pocket. Right now you can purchase a home for close to the same amount you pay in rent. But there won’t be any more rent increases when you own your home… Even better you get great tax breaks for homeownership; the biggest is reflected in the house payment you make each month since, for most homeowners the bulk of that check goes toward interest. And all that interest is deductible.
  5. More resources to help you purchase a home today. Rates are great for FHA with 3.5% Down and Conventional hovering with 20% Down. Buying prior to year’s end secures a tax incentive for the entire year. mortgages interest and prepaid. Plus any Tax credits available is real money in a buyer’s hand after filing taxes!!
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Sept. 16, 2010

Important Questions to Ask Your Lender

The mortgage loan process can seem intimidating, complex and confusing, so I thought I might take this opportunity to share some good questions to discuss with your lender when applying for a home loan. Just print this page and take it with you when you meet your mortgage professional!

General Mortgage Questions:

  • What kind of fixed-rate and adjustable mortgage loans available?
  • How long can I “lock-in” the financing at the current interest rate and what is the lock-in policy?
  • Is a float down lock available in case rates drop after I have locked-in?
  • What are the other fees a lender may charge me in conjunction with my loan?
  • Are funds for a second mortgage available?
  • Is there a pre-payment penalty clause? This involves extra charges for paying off the loan before maturity. About 80% of all mortgage loans are paid off early.
  • What is the “grace” period?
  • How late can a monthly payment be made before a late charge is assessed?
  • What will happen if a payment is missed?
  • If you sell your house, will the new buyer (if he/she qualifies) be able to assume your mortgage at the same interest rate?
  • Do you have to pay “points” to get your new mortgage? Usually lenders charge points for the cost of giving you a mortgage loan. A “point” is 1% of the loan.
  • Will the lender require mortgage insurance?
  • Is the loan serviced locally or is the servicing sold?
  • What will the total closing costs be?

Questions on adjustable rate mortgages:

  • How often will the interest rate be adjusted?
  • Is there a maximum limit on each rate change?
  • How often will the monthly payment be adjusted?
  • Is there a ceiling on payment adjustments?
  • Can the term of the loan be extended?
  • What is the maximum rate that can be charged over the life of the loan?
  • Is there any potential for negative amortization?
  • What is the annual percentage rate?
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Sept. 14, 2010

7 Reasons to Take a Closer Look at Lake Oswego

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Having lived very happily in Lake Oswego for 25 years, I can point you in some fun directions for an enjoyable visit to this pretty little city.  I say start your day off with a steaming cup of Illy coffee, accompanied by a sweet treat, at my favorite coffee shop, Chuck’s Place.  I appreciate the comfortable atmosphere there, thanks to the friendly hands-on service from the owners Chuck and Lisa Shaw Ryan.  You can sense how much they care about their community.  (Lisa is even running for city council!)  They moved recently to a larger space at 2nd and B Avenue after building up a devoted clientele in their small shop for 10 years across from Safeway.  I have luxuriated many times this past summer under the warm sun at one of their new outdoor patio tables.

After your morning coffee, move on to Grahams’ bookstore, half a block away, for some high quality shopping.  This landmark business has been around for 57 years!  Paul Graham, the owner, says “people in this town are really concerned about the health of the local stores, restaurants and services.  They like having a wonderful, diverse community center.”  I’ve bought many beautiful gifts, interesting cards and all our gorgeous photo albums there.  In a pinch I’ll zoom into the office supply section in the back for an emergency print cartridge or file folder.  Check out their bookstore selection upstairs.

You’ll find lots of other shops in Lake Oswego to wander through, too numerous to mention here.  Afterwards, head to St Honore Boulangerie, a rustic French bakery where I love to meet friends or clients for lunch.  You’ll get to sit at a sweet little marble table, feeling the old-world charm that will transport you to France for awhile.  I love their Jambon Parisien, an exquisite Black Forest ham sandwich on a baguette with the perfect crunchy crust and chewy innards.  All of their breads are uniquely baked in their custom-built clay fire brick ovens using traditional techniques.  There are lots of creative sandwiches, salads and quiches to choose from.  Any size sweet tooth you might have can be satisfied with their delectable and artistically designed desserts.

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If you’re not ready for a nap after lunch you might like to take in a movie within walking distance at the renowned Lake Twin Theatre, which has been around for 23 years.  It was renovated in 1996 after being damaged from flooding along State Street.  Relax in the historic seats saved from the old Fox Theatre in downtown Portland.  I love the cozy smallness of the theatre, friendly help and delicious popcorn.  There are rarely long lines and the movies are current.  I love hanging out with friends in the art deco living room lounge.  Parking across the street in the shopping center lot takes away any hassle.  I’d rather go there any day over the crowded experience of Bridgeport or downtown Portland!

After your entertaining film, I would suggest walking back to Manzana’s for Happy Hour, especially if they’re serving their yummy crab cakes or calamari.  You can’t go wrong with their cheap and tasty bar food items.  I have appreciated the beautiful lake view and bustling bar scene many times!

I encourage you to save some appetite, though, for an exceptionally fine dinner, a few blocks up A Avenue, at Tucci’s, a lovely Italian Ristorante. I love dining there for the flavorful Italian style foods served in a warm, sophisticated atmosphere that conjures up a feeling of being in a tucked away restaurant in the heart of Italy. Ingredients come fresh from the Pacific Northwest to the open air kitchen.   It’s interesting to note that “Grandma Tucci”, the restaurant’s namesake, worked for the Lido di Venezia restaurant for over 50 years.  She embodied the tradition of family dining, as a celebration of family, food and friends. You feel that in Tucci’s!  It’s wonderful for special occasions.

When you’re ready to call it a night, you can consider taking it easy and staying at the Lakeshore Inn that’s situated between the Lake Twin Theatre, where you saw that great movie, and Manzana’s where you enjoyed Happy Hour.  I’ve actually never stayed there, but many of my friends have, for the novelty or when the power went out.  It’s right on the lake and has its own swimming pool.  Family owned since 1976, it’s the only hotel on the lake.  Dogs are allowed in some of the rooms and amenities include wi-fi in every room, along with flat screen TV’s, DVD players and HBO.

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Guaranteed, you’ll enjoy waking up to flowers in the morning, as Lake Oswego abounds in them.  It’s a beautiful little city with charm and character, worth visiting!!

Click here for more information on Portland real estate!

Jane Lee is a Real Estate Broker with eXp Realty in Lake Oswego, Oregon
Jane@portlandpowersearch.com  503.806.0517

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Sept. 8, 2010

7 Great Reasons to Live in Portland's Irvington Neighborhood

I live in the Irvington neighborhood of NE Portland, Oregon.  When I was looking for homes to buy, I knew exactly what I was looking for.  I wanted to live on the East side of the river, but close enough to the City Center that I could still get there by bike in 10 minutes.  I love to eat good food, so walking distance to restaurants was a must.  I’ve also been known to occasionally partake in a drink or two, so being able to crawl home from bars was also a must.   I was also looking for was easy access to the freeway. I know it’s not something everyone looks for, but it’s more convenient than you may think.  I’m 6 blocks from I-84 and 12 from I-5 so access is simple, and I can get anywhere in the city in less than 15 minutes. More importantly, getting out of the city is a breeze.  The Oregon Coast and the mountains are both only about an hour and a half away.

Here are a few fun facts about the Irvington neighborhood:

  1. The name for the neighborhood came from one of the oversight developers for the neighborhood named Irvington Investment Company in 1890.
  2. The Free Rail Zone (free zone to ride) for Max transportation starts at Lloyd Center, so you can take a short walk and be right downtown or to the Rose Garden to see a show in no time.
  3. There is a great high-end Lingerie shop on Broadway called Oh Baby that is sure to heat things up on a cold day. It has won the award for best lingerie shop from The Willamette Week since it first opened.
  4. Irvington boasts one of two Portland Tiki Bars, Thatch, that serves a drink called the Volcano bowl, which comes to your table on fire and requires a minimum 3 people to even order it!
  5. Irvington is incredibly easy to traverse on foot. WalkScore.com gave Irvington a walk score of 75/100 making it the 11th most walkable neighborhood in Portland.
  6. If you like to cook fresh produce, the Irvington Farmers Market is for you.  It is open on Tuesdays from 10am-2pm and is only closed between Christmas and New Year's.
  7. If you look around the neighborhood, you can still find the old iron rings that were planted in the sidewalks for tying up your horse.
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Aug. 17, 2010

Natural Beauty and Vintage Country Life in Sisters, Oregon

Welcome to one of nature’s most beautiful playgrounds, just a 3-hour drive from Portland, Oregon along the spectacular Santiam River Highway!!

What would you do if you only had one sunny summer day in the Sisters, Oregon area?  If you’re adventuresome you might get up into the gorgeous wildflower-strewn North Cascade Mountains nearby to bike, climb, hike or camp.  Or head for a pristine river (Metolius or Deschutes) to whitewater raft or fly fish.  Golfing might take you to Black Butte Ranch or Aspen Lakes Golf.

I recently took a short vacation to visit Ellen, an old (?) friend (well, we’ve know each other since kindergarten!) who lives near Sisters, Oregon, and had just one full day to spend.  I wanted it to be a relaxing visit, where we’d eat well, hear some live music, shop a little and take a hike in the mountains.  Ellen has lived in the small town of Camp Sherman (pop. around 200) for 30 years, so I figured she’d have her favorite places in the area.  I knew I was looking for a little more charm and sophistication than the Camp Sherman General Store has to offer, so that meant driving into Sisters (pop. around 2,000), 20 minutes away.

Ellen started us off, appropriately, at the Sisters Coffee Company, where they serve espresso and specialty coffee drinks made from beans they roast themselves.  The owners had started out 15 years ago selling their self-roasted coffee beans, before opening up a coffee shop a couple of years ago.  With outside tables, fine pastries and plenty of ambience, they had a happy crowd that Sunday morning.

sisters coffee company

The charm that Sisters exudes comes partly from its 1880’s theme, giving an old-Western feel to the buildings.  The town is known for its unique shops.  Ellen took us to one of her favorites, Bedouin, a delightful clothing and gift store with another coffee café, the artsy Navigator News, within.  Many other shops are similarly grouped together so that you can amble from one shop to another without going outdoors, creating a cozy community feel.

Another shop that Ellen adores is the Stitchin’ Post, where we found exquisitely beautiful fabrics, and its neighboring cubby hole gift store, Twigs.  It’s owned by Jean Wells who started the Sisters Annual Outdoor Quilt Show (largest show of its kind in the world!) 35 years ago.  This event draws busloads of people to the town for a week of classes leading up to the day-long show that is held the 2nd Saturday in July and claims 12,500 attendees.  The hotels fill up to the point of residents renting out rooms in their homes to accommodate visitors.  Check out upcoming quilting classes here!

All that browsing in the shops built up our appetites.  Depot Deli was next on the agenda for stamina rebuilding.  Delicious food!  My chicken quesadilla on a spinach tortilla was divine and Ellen’s spinach salad looked creative and yummy.  We sat at an outdoor table soaking in the sun, entertained by  various whimsical sculptures in the courtyard, invented from recycled goods.

The Rooster Rock Fire was just getting under control during my stay, so Depot Deli had to get in the acknowledgment act with a burger tribute…looks like a hot & spicy item!

depot deli, sisters oregon

Time to move a little faster on our feet after lunch.  We had stunning views of the Cascades from Sisters, but we never actually made it up into the mountains after spending more time shopping and dining in Sisters than we’d planned.  But hey, who needs too many plans when you’re on vacation?

sisters oregon cascades

Instead, we took a refreshing, leisurely afternoon stroll on a well-worn path right along the banks of the Metolius River, near its headwaters in Camp Sherman.   We were treated to the sweet smell of the Ponderosa Pines as the sap warmed during the day’s heat.  There’s nothing like it!

We rounded out the day listening to live music  at two fun spots.  First at Black Butte Ranch, sitting out on the lodge’s sunny upstairs deck, taking in Black Butte across a lovely pond complete with grazing cows in the far meadow.  The Misty River Band was playing over yonder and we could hear their beautiful voices.  We were then lured to Aspen Lakes Lodge at the far edge of Sisters for some rockin’ good tunes from a Rockabilly band out on their patio.  We lasted until the sun went down and then called it a day.  What a day!!  And all this a mere hop, skip and a jump from Portland! I hope you feel compelled now to make the trip to Sisters for your own adventure.  I know I’ll be back!

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Jane Lee is a Real Estate Broker with eXp Realty in Lake Oswego, Oregon
Jane@portlandpowersearch.com  503.806.0517

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