Portland Is for Pets

Portland: It’s raining. Also, we have cats and dogs.

In fact, Oregon is one of the few states in the nation with more cat owners than dog owners, but Portland proper belongs to the hounds.

We’re tied for first in the country with the most dog parks per capita (slipping a bit from 2012, when Portland led that category “fur and away”) and our dog ownership rate is 38.8%.

But dog parks and catios are only part of what makes a city statistically welcoming to our canine and feline family members. WalletHub recently performed this ridiculously in-depth study on the nation’s most pet friendly cities… and Portland is ranked all the way down in 26th place! This, despite receiving very high marks in both the “Pet Health & Wellness” and “Outdoor Pet-Friendliness” categories. That part at least makes sense, as we’ve got posh day spas for both pups and kitties.

Turns out, regardless of its many pet amenities (or perhaps because of them), Portland is one of the most expensive places to own a domestic creature. Portlanders typically love to spoil their fur babies with premium, natural foods and accessories. Additionally, our veterinary care costs are among the highest in the country. So it’s a great place to be a pet and a vet!

As any pet owner will affirm, looking for a new home involves consideration for the happiness of any animal family members. The next time you’re thinking of entering the housing market, I’d be thrilled to incorporate your pet plans into your overall strategy!

Spade & Archer Sets the Stage for Your Next Adventure

Like many of the small design-focused companies that have flourished in Portland in recent years, Spade & Archer is a product of the recession. In 2008 when Justin Riordan, an architect, saw signs of a layoff coming at the company where he worked, he realized that there were no other architecture jobs to be had in Portland. He decided he might as well create his own dream job. He asked himself, “If you could do anything in the world and didn’t have to worry about money, what would you do?” The answer: “I would rearrange people’s furniture.” But he realized that the only time people actually spend money on that type of thing is when they’re getting ready to sell their houses. Home staging was the answer. He called his husband and told him they were starting a company – he even had a name for it. A month later Spade & Archer was in business. He’s been busy ever since. The company has recently grown to Seattle and Palm Springs, with 22 employees in all.

It’s not surprising that the business is a success. Justin is the type of person that you warm to quickly, and trust easily. He is poised but genuine, practical and extremely well-organized. He expanded the business slowly, with the directive from his executive coach to replace himself in every aspect of his job – with the ultimate goal being that the business would run even better if he took off for six months. He quickly learned that the secret to a successful business is hiring the right people. Justin admits that it was trial and error at first, “I am a terrible flirt, I fall in love with everyone I meet. Great for marketing, but bad for business. The people we hire have hard skills but they’re also really good at handling pressure.”

First located in the 4,000 square foot house Justin shares with his husband and two children, the company finally outgrew its premises one Christmas when Justin’s husband balked at the mattresses stacked in the middle of the living room. The furniture inventory is now housed in a 4,000 square foot warehouse just a few blocks from their home in Portland, with a 6,000 square foot warehouse in Seattle. Spade & Archer doesn’t yet need a physical location in Palm Springs, where they focus mainly on vacation rentals. Justin’s team fully furnishes an entire vacation home in two days and has it ready to go on day three.

I asked Justin how he convinces people that their house will show better and they’ll get higher offers if they hire a home stager? Wrong question. Justin’s principle is “we don’t sell, we educate.” The analogy he uses is that if you walk into a Gap store, you’re willing to pay more for the crisply ironed and folded shirt than you are the one crumpled up in the corner. There’s a buyer for both shirts, but the buyer of the crumpled shirt wants a bargain, while the person buying the nicely ironed shirt is willing to pay full price. Spade & Archer is not selling the crumpled shirt. One of their recent properties went for $340,000 over asking, the highest amount ever in Seattle’s history. So the ultimate problem is not convincing people that staging works, because it’s pretty apparent that it does, but convincing people that they are not the client. Homeowners like to give their opinion of what they like and don’t like but Justin (nicely) tells them that, ultimately, of all the people in the world who are going to buy the house, they are not one of them. Instead, Spade & Archer is really really good at designing for their clients’ clients. In other words – the buyer.

Spade & Archer’s business model is a reflection of Justin, being somehow both methodical and quick at the same time. Each office has a creative director who is in charge of the day to day operations and overall setup of each project; and two design managers who are the profit centers for the office. They’re in charge of sales (ahem; education), design and installation. They meet with clients, pick out everything that goes into the house, and implement the actual staging – they are the 007s of Spade & Archer. Everybody in the entire company works to support them. For each design manager there are 2-3 warehouse people who move and arrange the furniture. The company runs like a well-oiled machine.  

Consultations are always free. Spade & Archer understands that they are first and foremost a service provider, and secondly a design provider. They operate on the premise that it doesn’t matter whether the space looks great if the client hates them in the end. If the client enjoys the process they’re going to come back time and time again, so they make the entire process as seamless as possible. Clients book a consult through the website, by clicking a button that says, appropriately, “book a consult.” It takes them straight to the Spade & Archer calendar where they pick a time and date that works for them and 90 seconds later have a confirmation. Consults take an hour and the client is given a price based on the size of the project. An average house, which includes 3bd/2ba, living and dining room, kitchen and family room, is about $3400 for the first month and $1,000 for each additional month. Once they give clients the pricing they never contact them again, especially since 80% of their clients are realtors. “We understand that real estate agents’ most valued asset is their time, and phone calls from us will just drive them away,” Justin explains. As soon as a client calls the date goes on the calendar. The last thing they do is send the client a check reimbursing them for anything they didn’t use. So if you paid for 30 days and you only used 15 you get payment for the other 15 days back.

They average about 80-90 houses at any given time in the summer, and 40 in the winter. There are six houses staged each week in each office, and six houses that are de-staged every week. They work four 10-hour days per week, starting at 7:15am. Trucks are loaded and ready to go by 8:30-9am. They go out and stage, come back, put everything away and might pull some things for the next project day and they’re done by 6pm. The crews have it down to a science at this point.

Spade & Archer clients see, conservatively, a threefold return in 30 days. If a client invests $10,000 in home staging they get a $30,000 return on investment in a month. A client in Seattle who used their services for a year reported a seven-fold return in 30 days. You might think that with that kind of a return, the furniture must be exotic and crazy expensive, but Spade & Archer isn’t selling furniture, they’re selling houses – they are also committed to buying local. Justin started the company with the concept of purchasing furniture with the lowest number of product miles. Product miles are determined by where materials are extracted, where the piece is built and where it’s sold. A piece of furniture made from materials sourced in Russia, which are shipped to China for manufacturing and then to the U.S. for sale have an astronomical number of product miles, whereas a piece of vintage furniture sold at a local Portland shop is at zero product miles. Ninety percent of the Spade & Archer inventory has less than 10 product miles. Each office also produces under four square yards of trash per year – in fact all of the offices together used one box of copy paper last year. Being designers, they’re also creative in their how they reuse materials. If a piece of outdoor furniture becomes too worn to be usable, they cut it up and make it into picture frames. They use things over and over and over, with virtually nothing going to waste.

Spade & Archer designs for the client’s client. They show how the house is used, so buyers understand the purpose and scale of every room. They enhance strengths and detract from weaknesses and make the home memorable in the minds of potentially overwhelmed buyers. They determine the demographic for each house partly on what the schools are like. If the elementary schools are great but the middle and high schools are terrible, they know the potential buyers will be 25-35 years old with either a very young child or no children. If the elementary school isn’t great but the high school is excellent – the buyers will be 35-45 with older children. If a college is nearby grad students or professors might be in the demographic. Once they determine the potential buyer, they design for that buyer. If they’re in the baby boomer generation Justin’s team knows they can’t use vintage radios and typewriters because that’s their parents’ old junk. But for millennials it’s their grandparents’ super cool stuff. So they’re always concerned with what the buyers’ parents’ aesthetic was so they can stay away from it, because, Justin says, “You hate your parents’ design aesthetic, but you love your grandparents’ style. If I can get an age for a potential buyer I know how I’m designing.”

Cultural differences matter too. A house in Hillsboro that might appeal to Intel employees will include a large Indian population. Justin’s team is aware of how they need to design to that market, and know what colors or other design elements to avoid, such as hanging a mirror in a bedroom, which is bad luck. Feng shui is very important too; an open toilet seat literally means money going down the toilet. With the huge influx of Chinese buyers heading into the Portland market from Vancouver, it’s more important than ever to understand these cultural differences. In fact Justin thinks that every realtor interested in capturing this market should be brushing up on WeChat, China’s version of Facebook.

The Next Adventure apartment looks like it’s been gleaned from a Wes Anderson movie set. This look is not “standard” Spade & Archer, which according to Justin, “acts mostly as a backup dancer as opposed to the headliner.” In the case of the Next Adventure apartment the client needed more because the apartment was both dark, small and outdated, with metallic wallpaper and grasscloth everywhere. Justin’s team treated the project like a concept car, not something that people are going to drive around but that everyone wants a chance to sit in. Everything that Spade & Archer put into the apartment was purchased specifically for the project, which gave them a chance to try new ideas and break their rules a little bit. The recent tenants were a young hipster couple with a little kid so they decided to design for them. Their concept was that the apartment was like a cabin on a cruise ship, a place where you store things and sleep. During the day you go on fabulous adventures and come back at night to recuperate before your next day of exploring. The family would use the apartment as a landing base before embarking on their next adventure. There’s a map with pins in all the places they’ve traveled, photos of the family surfing, the couple’s bedroom is an apres-ski love den, and the kids’ backpacks are at the ready above their beds. They’re doing what everyone else wants to be doing. “We make people feel like they can be that family, even if it’s just for 7 minutes, just long enough to make an offer,” says Justin.

Five More Questions for Justin Riordan


What are your favorite sources for design inspiration?

Everyone in the office reads Martha Stewart Living, not because of her great design concepts, but because of her advice on homekeeping. Clients will call and ask questions such as how to get rid of dents in a carpet. You put ice cubes on them and let them melt over the course of a day so water is slowly leaked into the fibers. Come back the next day and run a vacuum over the area and they’re gone.

Design-wise, there’s a magazine called World of Interiors that is way out there in terms of what’s going to happen in design 10 years from now. Elle Decor and House Beautiful are good for what’s happening right now or six months from now. We stay away from magazines like Dwell, Real Simple, and Sunset because they talk about what’s popular at this moment right now and that moment is over in terms of design. So we’re constantly trying to stay ahead of what’s happening in the industry. There’s a pin board above every design managers desk. They’re encouraged to tear out pages and put them on their pinboards and use those ideas in their designs.


Any other influences?

The series “Transparent” has a great design aesthetic. “Dear White People” has fantastic costuming and set design. I get a lot from movies, television, and plays. I love looking at what 19-25 year olds are doing in terms of fashion. It tends to be that interior design follows fashion by about 5 years, and 19-25 year olds tend to be 2-3 years ahead of fashion. Right now this demographic tends to wear clothes that don’t match, it’s all ironic, nothing is tailored, what’s ugly is beautiful. If you look at the Next Adventure space, that’s ugly is beautiful. So, being a 42 year old gay man wearing a pastel plaid tie, you have to forget about what you like and look at what someone else is going to like, so that’s a huge source of inspiration.


Worst design crimes?

The worst design crime in home staging is thinking that you’re the client. I had a homeowner whose bathroom was sponge painted pink and gold – a DIY project. All her friends told her they loved it, but I had to tell her that it looked like feces had been smeared on her walls and needed to be painted over. The worst design crime is believing your friends. They have absolutely no reason to be honest with you because they’d rather spare your feelings.

We also don’t want to alienate buyers by creating a feeling of us vs. them, so anything political, college or sport team-related is not allowed. An example was a house that had a huge Oregon State Beavers flag in the living room. When I told the owner that they’d need to take down the flag he refused. Why, the owner asked, was Justin a Duck? No, I’m a Rainbow, I went to the University of Hawaii. No, we have different priorities – I want to sell your house and you want to root for a football team. People can have a hard time letting go of control when they see three humongous guys in grey shirts come in to stage their house. People are incredulous that these guys can do a better job than they have.


What is the range of house prices you’ve worked on?

High: 22M

Low: 186k studio


Best tip for staging?

Practice empathy. Put your feet into your buyers’ shoes, and think like they think. Try to make it as easy as possible for as many people as possible to make a full price offer on the house. Because when you’re a seller with only one product and it happens to be the biggest investment you’ve made in your entire life, you may want to think about who your client is.


Next adventure?

I’d like to have offices up and down the west coast.

Written by Melissa Moran

Collaboration in Color

Puji Sherer, President/Chief Color Nerd of Colorhouse. Her dog, Goose, is VP of Morale.


Collaboration, creativity, sustainability, and integrity. These are the four principles guiding Colorhouse paint, a local, independent paint company with a unique mission: to make the world more colorful and less volatile.

Colorhouse was founded in 2005 by Virginia Young and Janie Lowe, two artists who had originally started a business called YOLO Paints. They spent all day in rooms thick with fumes from the paints they were using, and were coming home at the end of the day exhausted, with headaches and sore throats. Their concern over the toxicity of their materials fueled their research into healthier options, which lead to their immersion in Portland’s budding green building community.

At first, they experimented with making their own paints out of rice and other organic materials. The process was interesting from an artistic standpoint, but the product ended up being costly and inconsistent. They started talking to both paint chemists and green chemists about creating a paint that was safe to use, environmentally responsible, and of the highest quality, and so Colorhouse began!

“We really are the first paint company to combine greener paint with beautiful color,” says Puji Sherer, president of Colorhouse and Chief Color Nerd (favorite colorhouse shade: Thrive 0.5, a soft green inspired by the St. Johns bridge.) “It’s not just what’s in the can. Everything we do is from a green perspective.” The can itself is made from recycled materials, with 100% post consumer, chlorine-free labeling. Their headquarters uses renewable energy, and boasts the gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating, as well as numerous other certifications for sustainable formulas and practices.

When the company first launched, there wasn’t much public knowledge of Volatile Organic Compounds (the toxic chemicals that evaporate out of paint at room temperature, also known as VOCs) and other toxic chemicals found in conventional paint products. Educating consumers on this topic has helped to propel the entire paint industry in a healthier, more sustainable direction.

Now, regulations have been created requiring all manufacturers to reduce their VOCs, and safer, greener paint is no longer such a niche product. “It’s awesome that we’ve really helped to change the paint industry. And so now, we’re looking at how we can take this a step farther,” says Puji. “Larger paint companies have either focused only on color or only on the green. For us to combine green and color with the high quality paint has been our biggest success.”

Puji moved to Portland in her early twenties, after graduating college with a B.F.A. in painting and ceramics. She jokes that it was after moving that she realized she might not have gotten the most practical degree, and started wondering what she was actually going to do with it. “I distilled down the thing that I’m most passionate about, and it’s color. And the most practical application of color in our lives is paint!”

She started apprenticing with a local paint contractor to learn more about coatings, technique, and interior design. Inside people’s homes, she’d analyze the colors they picked, and why it was or wasn’t working with the space. From there, she moved on to doing color consulting on her own. That’s when she met the founders of Colorhouse and became their first employee. “They brought me in, and I’ve been here ever since!”

Throughout her time with the company, Puji has been involved in sales, customer service, marketing, sample production, color trend forecasting, and more. As Chief Color Nerd, her current focus is on developing new colors and palettes, often in collaboration with other local businesses.

For this process, the business they’re partnering with will put together a general mood board, featuring a selection of photos, items, pantone chips, and paint colors from other companies. From there, Puji uses her artist’s eye to relate those colors to existing Colorhouse shades that are working well, and create some new samples.

Paint samples are created in a machine that adds up to twelve different pigments one drop at a time to a quart of base, then mixes everything up. The software Puji uses breaks everything down into a color formulation, that can be fine tuned to perfect every hue. “There are a lot of colors that don’t make it,” Puji says, flipping through a stack of rejected swatches. “They can be too boring, too muddy, too peachy, too golden. I come more from an artist’s background so I really had to train myself to do all the careful records in the accounts.”

Eventually, the colors are narrowed down into a palette for their collaborators, who make the final selections. This overall creative process can take about ninety days before production even starts on a new color.

Colorhouse paint can be found all over town. Nedd Ludd, a craft kitchen in Northeast Portland, was painted in the morning, and was open again, serving dinner to the public that very evening. Bee Local, an artisan honey company, needed a paint for their beehives with a clean formula that wouldn’t be harmful to the occupants. This inspired Colorhouse’s beeswax palette: a collection of warm, earthy yellows and tans.

They have teamed up with Pendleton, Revolution Designhouse, the Joinery, the Land of Nod, and many others. They’re always working on diversifying their color collaborations, and will soon be releasing some exclusive palettes for One King’s Lane, an online home decor company.

When creating a new color for their own line, a lot of what Puji looks at is fashion, which can help forecast color trends. She also draws inspiration from travel, and from visiting new restaurants that pop up around town. The colors are intentionally designed to be timeless backdrops for living.

“We try to simplify the color choosing process, because a lot of those colors in typical paint stores don’t really look that good when they’re up on your wall.” Unlike other paint centers, the colors are curated, making the selection process less overwhelming. Puji and the Colorhouse team believe that painting a home should be fun, and have striven to remove all obstacles to that. “There’s the painting part, where if you have a low quality product, it makes that process even more painful because you’re doing so many coats. When you open up a can of Colorhouse you can really tell the difference in the quality of the product. It’s how it levels, the coverage that you get, how it flows.”

Painting a home is one of the biggest ways to transform it, and it’s also the most affordable. “We design our colors in a way that makes it so you don’t have to be afraid of adding colors. Don’t just go with the standard white everywhere. Color offers the opportunity to express yourself and your individual style. It’s a really cool creative outlet!”

In addition to its four main principles, the brand offers an accessibility that you can’t find elsewhere. Their headquarters, warehouse, and showroom share a building in Northeast Portland. Sun streams through their front window, illuminating the neatly organized paint samples in their cozy storefront. From behind a desk, Puji’s dog Goose, the vice president of morale, (favorite colorhouse shade: Thrive .03, an exact match to his tennis ball) taps his tail in lazy greeting. They do all the DIY projects and photoshoots for their website right there, in the warehouse, without hiring bloggers or influencers to do it for them. Colorhouse is a company made for (and by) passionate people, who together are making the world more colorful, and less volatile.

“We are inspired by color and creativity and we want to share that,” Puji says. “And I think that that translates to people.”


Written by Jane Hartle

Photos by Mark Coffin

What Market Trends Mean for your Mortgage

CNBC (the news network) recently reported that mortgage applications were down 6% in June. This week over week number fails to note that mortgage applications are still up 7.8% when compared year over year. Even though interest rates are approximately .375% higher than this time last year, demand remains high. The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) expects home prices to rise another 4% in 2017, after a healthy 6% increase last year.


So why are applications down? Lack of inventory!


Homes are again viewed as a good long-term investment. Even those paying private mortgage insurance on their mortgage are enjoying massive home appreciation. The average home buyer in the US is earning $13,000 per year in equity. In Portland, Oregon where prices rose nearly 13% in 2016, homeowners earned over $46,000 in home appreciation last year alone.

But what if rates go up? Mortgage rates change quickly with the economy, and with shifts in market sentiment. Mortgage-backed securities (MBS), the Wall Street asset upon which mortgage rates are ‘made,’ have been waiting for a reason to move one way or another. This has rates on shaky ground.

The average conventional 30-year fixed rate mortgage started June at just 3.95%. That’s down 7 basis points (0.07%) compared to the first week of May. These rates are down considerably as compared to January, when the thirty-year rate hit 4.20%. It’s still an advantageous time to be a buyer, but it may not stay that way for long.

MBS pricing responds to various economic influences, including the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy, jobs market reports, geopolitical concerns and forecasts for the new administration’s stance on economic issues. The Federal Reserve hiked rates on June 14th, and we could still see one more rate hike before the year end. The hike will immediately raise costs for homeowners with a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or any other debt based on Prime rate.

Fortunately, there’s no such direct relationship to mortgage rates. Over the last two decades, the Fed Funds Rate and the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate have differed by as much as 5.25%, and by as little as 0.50%. The Fed influences fixed mortgage rates, but doesn’t control them.

We don’t expect dramatic 30-year fixed mortgage rate swings after the Fed meetings. Rather, markets build in hikes long before they happen. The Fed makes its move known long before the meeting itself, in a series of statements and speeches by Fed members. Massive swings occur when the unexpected happens!

Mortgage shoppers should take note. Waiting for rates to go down could be an unwise move. The Fed, armed with every economic report available, says rates will only rise in coming years; 2017 could be the last opportunity at sub-4% rates in the next few decades.


So what is the mortgage industry doing in response to this high price, low interest and low inventory environment?


I serve two desirable markets limited by lack of inventory: Portland and Bend. Average median home prices within both city limits are increasing rapidly, forcing buyers to look outside to the surrounding areas for affordability. Those who do choose the city center are willing to pay for it. That means jumbo loans are back and very competitive.

During the mortgage crisis, jumbo loans all but disappeared. The ones that remained came with insurmountable guidelines for homeowners to meet. High down payments, interest rates, and credit standards made jumbo loans nearly obsolete. But jumbo loans have re-entered the lending landscape. In fact, jumbo mortgage rates are now nearly as low as conforming rates.

What is a jumbo mortgage? A jumbo mortgage finances loan amounts over $424,100 (the conforming loan limit in OR). Conforming loans meet guidelines established by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and can be easily sold to investors. A jumbo mortgage is often retained by the investor, and so the person with the money gets to make the rules. The underwriting requirements are similar to conforming guidelines but they are very detailed with less room for exception and often require some additional documentation and time needed to complete. It is a very viable loan product with competitive rates, but only for organized buyers who can accurately document their ability to qualify for it.

Other loan types have emerged to assist with this higher priced market as well. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have rolled out new programs for a wider array of buyers. An option called HomeReady requires just 3% down and is available to those with modest incomes.

Guild Mortgage has also recently announced a 1% down conventional loan. It is still structured as a 3% down conforming loan but the buyer’s personal contribution is only 1% and Guild Mortgage will contribute an additional 2% via a forgivable grant for the qualified buyer! The buyer moves in with 3% equity for only 1% down payment from personal funds.

For mortgage applicants with student loans, Fannie Mae has introduced easier qualification standards. Also, a Student Loan Cash-Out refinance program is now in available, with which homeowners can use their home equity to pay off student loans.

Not to be outdone, the government-backed VA home loans offer lenient credit requirements and are available to home buyers who have served in the U.S. military. There is no down payment necessary, and no monthly mortgage insurance charged.

FHA loans are still extremely popular for first-time homebuyers. Flexible lending requirements allow new graduates to obtain an approval just after starting their careers.

In this environment, finding the right home may be more difficult than financing it!


This piece was generously written by Brent Lucas of Guild Mortgage.

Guild Mortgage Company is an Equal Housing Lender NMLS#3274. Brent Lucas NMLS ID#590610 397 SW Upper Terrace Dr., Suite 150 Bend, OR 97702 ML-176. The information provided herein has been distributed for education purposes only. The positions, strategies or opinions of the author do not necessarily represent the positions, strategies or opinions of Guild Mortgage Company or its affiliates. Each loan is subject to underwriter final approval. All information, loan programs, interest rates, terms and conditions are subject to change without notice.

School Modernization and Equity for a Future Portland

by Kelley Schaefer-Levi

As the historic buildings of Portland and century-old public schools require repair, updating and expansion to accommodate a growing city and the needs of students, Portland Public Schools (PPS) is working with local designers, architects, contractors, school administrators, staff and alumni associations on creating schools that will accommodate the future of a changing Portland. The 2012 PPS School Building Improvement Bond is funding modernization projects around the city. The most recent of them is Grant High School in NE Portland.

Grant’s outdoor renovations, including new sports fields, landscaping and structure improvements are in bold color.


Construction on the new Grant High School has just begun, but the planning has been in the making for almost two years. The design and master planning of the high school renovation has been a community effort, progressive and collaborative in nature and has included an extensive engagement process over numerous public meetings.

Grant Magazine provides a voice for students in the planning and renovation stages of the project.

Beginning in the fall of 2015 through the spring of 2016 a series of public design workshops and open houses took place providing the Grant community a voice in the schematic design process where students, staff, alumni and the neighboring communities provided input on what they hoped to see in a modern Grant High School. The Grant Design Advisory Group held regular meetings throughout this time to provide feedback for the modernization process. From design to management and development, the project embodies innovation and equity. “The {Grant Modernization} project is one of the most progressive that I have worked on, from the women in leadership roles to the MWESB {Minority-owned, Women-owned, Small Business} joint venture with Colas Construction, to the inclusive culture of the school,” says Emi Day of Mahlum Architects.

The overall building design will maintain Grant’s historic exterior facade, including replicating the original 1923 windows, and the new additions will have a contemporary application of the same material palette, and follow the historic window rhythm. Housed in the new athletics wing will be brand new main and auxiliary gymnasiums, weight and locker room facilities, a new band room, and covered bike parking. The historic 1923 gymnasium building will become an Arts Complex containing ceramics, graphic design, printmaking and photography studios each with access to ample daylight from new windows and the historic skylight.

The library and science buildings will be demolished so that the lower level will become a light-filled space where students can convene in the commons and courtyards. The auditorium renovation was a major priority for the community, and will be updated with state-of-the-art theater equipment. The PPS Educational Specifications require 500 seats and the Grant Advisory Group decided to maintain the existing auditorium to keep as many seats as possible. Furthermore, the campus will be one of the first high schools nationally to achieve 100% gender-neutral toileting, a testament to the community’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity.

The campus will include additional outdoor areas that will be open to the public. The majority of classrooms will be located on the second floor, allowing views to nature from inside. One of the Design Advisory group’s main goals was to blend indoor and outdoor spaces to enhance the quality of the learning environment and deepen our connection to nature.

Mahlum’s rendering of Grant’s new courtyard.

Grant’s remodel focuses on daylight, accessibility, technology and modernization. In the public design workshops, the Grant community prioritized the need and desire for state-of-the-art facilities in all disciplines that meet Grant’s high-level leadership in curriculum and developing programs designed to prepare students with skills that will take them into future. Technology is at the center of the design where architects like Day of Mahlum has been advocating for digital displays in the public spaces where students will be able to connect to relevant content, whether it’s a custom welcome wall, digital playbill, details about an upcoming event, or a school-wide alert on monitors in the common areas.

These public spaces will also become an access point for students who may have hearing loss or different learning abilities. Historic team photos that once lined the halls of the high school have been digitized and could also be displayed as part of showcasing Grant’s long legacy. Grant Magazine articles and video could also be prioritized and could tell student and staff stories in the newly designed commons, lobbies, and gallery. Day explains, “There is so much digital content that Grant students create already. Grant has risen to the challenge of creating and curating authentic, meaningful content which is full of youthful, provocative questioning. Students are writing {and publishing} critically acclaimed stories that celebrate the voices of Gen Z. We want to take that culture of excellence and bring it to the forefront.  It must be part of the public experience of Grant High School.” While the budget doesn’t allow for the entire technology package, the community will likely see the value in becoming a truly digital campus.

The project will accommodate 1700 students. This number is specified by the district in the Educational Specifications for all new and modernized PPS high schools. The increase in student population is anticipated to grow and the new campus will add room for an additional 200-300 students.

Construction will begin in the summer of 2017 and the work will last for two years, with the modernized Grant scheduled to open in the fall of 2019. The spirit of inclusion and diversity along with public interest in creating a school that moves Portland into the future is at the heart of the project. At the groundbreaking ceremony the excitement was palpable. Says Day, “I am so inspired as a woman of color in architecture and construction to see women in top decision-making roles. The construction team was handing out t-shirts with EQUALITY across the chest, and I could really feel the momentum of change!”

This full feature appears in our July issue of All Things Real Estate magazine. To learn more, email hatham.atre@gmail.com.

Meet the Makers: Juju Papers

Avery Thatcher, owner of Juju Papers.

This month I interviewed Avery Thatcher, founder and creative designer behind Juju Papers, a local line of wallpaper that brings everyday – and not so everyday – patterns to life.

Launched in 2011, Avery’s creative arts background and international travels influenced her to launch Juju Papers. The company designs both residential and commercial wallpaper offering clients an opportunity to accommodate a scale and budget for any project.

What you’ll find in the collection are beautiful designs, whimsical accents, and stylish prints perfect for home or office.


  1. Tell us how Juju Paper started?

During my 20s I did a lot of traveling and was introduced to different decorative styles in homes in many different countries. I realized that one of the aspects that I loved about many of the countries that I travelled to was a daring use of layered patterns – I saw this in South Africa, Indonesia, Mozambique, and other places. I was already a visual artist at the time, but I decided to switch my focus to working in pattern. I first put energies into tile, mosaic and mural style, but eventually I started designing patterns on paper and then decided to start a wallpaper company.


One of Juju’s designs juxtaposes the curves of the flowers.

What drives your innovation process? How do you come up with new ideas and themes for your wallpaper collections every season?

I keep an inventory of concepts, photos and sketches that I add to daily. I gathered them as I as I start designing a new line. The photos I keep are mostly compositional studies, and I keep conceptual notes in word form. When I start to design, I use these notes in order to start putting the paint on paper. I paint with ink and acrylic medium on paper at a furious pace, and the notes guide the expressive tone. There’s no shortage of inspiration in my world – cracks in a sidewalk, old signs, rocks arranged in a stream, almost any composition can excite a great pattern.


How do you find distribution for your collections?

I mostly work with interior designers in order to bring their client’s vision to life. I also sell through select showrooms, to customers through our website, and to design/architecture firms on larger scale commercial projects. However, the bulk of our business is building relationships with interior designers and firms.

What’s challenging about being in your industry?

The biggest challenge in our industry is communicating to our customers that wallpaper is not a nightmare to remove or install! Too many of us had to deal with very old wallpaper installations that were a nightmare to remove. As a result, many people are hesitant to hang new wallpaper. Today’s modern prep coats and pastes ensure that strippable wallpapers, such as ours, are easy to remove. Our challenge is educating a new generation about how much wallpaper has changed.

How have perceptions of wallpaper changed? What do you tell those who are a little nervous about the permanence of wallpaper? What makes Juju Paper so special?

Talk about complementary!

I am so happy to say that wallpaper is truly back! I think that the bad associations with the permanence with wallpaper came when wallpaper was an “every wall in every room and purchased at my local hardware store and in many shades of tan” kind of situation. Our clients are design savvy and select their wallpaper with precision, seeking out small-batch designer wallpapers like Juju instead of just grabbing “whatev” at a large department store. If you find a wallpaper that speaks to you, it is worth the “permanence” of having it installed, and in theory, someday removed.

My intention at Juju is to create wallpapers that literally bring magic into a room. If you find a design that truly speaks to your style – and you know it, and you hang it – that design will actually tie the personal things that you already have together into a cohesive, intentional look. Whether someone finds that in my designs or someone else’s, I love the idea that that is possible! You just have to find “the one.”

How do you source your wallpaper?

Our wallpapers are screen printed by hand with water based inks on all US sourced, sustainably-harvested pulp paper.


The illusion of the dots moving vertically blend vividly with the circular mirror and the horizontal lines of the desk.

What can customers expect to see from Juju Paper in the coming months?

We recently released our Graffito Collection at Design Week in NY, and for the next few months we will continue to work with all of our interior designers and firms in order to get the samples into the hands of their clients, and gathering up all of the amazing client installation photos to share with our followers.

Meet the Makers is a series about the creatives driving innovation across industries in Portland, Oregon. Every quarter, you’ll learn about one of the city’s most adored brands interviewed by Inger McDowell-Hartye, owner and creative director of With Love, From PDX, a gifting company featuring locally-made goods and products.


Pearl — 810 NW Naito Pkwy #F19

$405,000 — 2 Bedrooms, 1 Bath — 901 SF

Outstanding river view just blocks to The Pearl, MAX, streetcar, more. Rare upper 2 bdrm on the river. View from LR, private balcony and 1 of 2 bdrms. Watch bald eagles, osprey, otters, 2 bridges & more. Open plan w solid hickory floors, granite & stainless. Heat & cool average less than $55/month. Bikescore 99. Transit 97. Pool. Don’t miss this gem on the river, with superior views, layout, finishes and community.

Listed by: Laurie Sonnenfeld @ M Realty LLC

SOLD — 5 Days on Market

Outstanding river views!

This waterfront home takes full advantage of its stunning, straight-on view of the Willamette River, seen from the living room, the private balcony, and the upper bedroom. This is the rare find of a top upper unit with a direct view up and down the river. From inside your home you’ll also see abundant greenery, river traffic like tugboats, wildlife like river otters, ospreys, and bald eagles, a large firepit, common areas, a miles long greenway path, and two bridges.

Just blocks from downtown, you’ll be close to MAX light rail, the Streetcar, NW 23rd, Saturday Market, Waterfront Park, and, via streetcar: OHSU, PSU, and the inner East side. The Pearl District begins 3 blocks north, with its upscale galleries, night life, and cafes. A bike lane right out front on Naito Pkwy and a Bikescore of 99 rank it as a biker’s paradise, with a Transit Score of 97 opening up endless possibilities.

Tastefully updated throughout, the appealing open design is enhanced by beautiful solid hickory wood floors, a granite and stainless steel kitchen, and glass-fronted built-ins. Stairs lead up to the two sunny bedrooms, an updated bath with granite, and laundry area. The neighborhood schools are highly rated (9 and 10/10). Enjoy a deeded covered parking spot, pool and hot tub. The HOA of $391 includes water, hot water, garbage, pool, insurance and more. Heating and cooling have averaged less than $55 a month year-round.

These sought-after, river view, 2 bedroom condos are seldom listed for sale; don’t miss this one for its superior layout, finishes.

Neighborhood Spotlight: Alberta Street

The Alberta Arts District is renewal defined.

Its history is anything but linear, having been nearly destroyed only to be rebuilt into a pocket of bustling Portland life, an icon of co-existing microcultures.

Alberta Street got its Anglo name from the British royalty in rule throughout the 1890s – Princess Alberta – and is tucked into the Humboldt and King neighborhoods in Northeast Portland.

As newcomers to the union ventured west and into Oregon, the Germans and Russians who permeated the surrounding streets brought new streetcar construction with them, laying the path for Alberta’s evolution into a living creative mash-up.

The streetcar became the artery bringing Alberta to life. Local businesses poured in, from markets to salons, even a theater and a library. Alberta was a line with no lines; people of all colors and backgrounds called the street home, mingling and doing business together.

The sun shines as people stroll past some of Alberta’s iconic street art.

Transportation, both a blessing and a curse, was also the culprit in Alberta’s temporary decline. The sounds of cars replaced footsteps and major freeways opened adjacent to the epicenter of Alberta, swallowing up most traffic, leaving the once-lively street more desolate. Businesses closed and families moved out.

Decades of residential and economical decline followed. The country’s disease of racial discrimination spread to Alberta, as businesses were looted and violence increased.

That all changed in the 1990s. Two organizations – the N/NE Economic Development Task Force and the Sabin Community Development Corporation (CDC) – built the groundwork that would push into motion one of the most vibrant neighborhood comebacks in Portland’s history. Then, one Roslyn Hill opened up the first new business on the street in years – a cafe enveloped by gardens – and the proverbial mural painting was on.

Committees formed. The city made Alberta a target area for revitalization. Citizens joined forces to clean the street and attract business. Artists began moving into the boarded-up buildings, and in 1997, art studios and businesses showcasing art opened their doors on the first Thursday evening of the month, turning the usually car-filled street into a giant colorful sidewalk (this would later become the popular Last Thursday event).


Fast forward to today. Alberta Street is the artistic jewel of Portland, a delicate mixture of old and new architecture and business, with small and large art and music establishments peppered throughout. As you walk, you will see full-on punk rock bars across the street from sleek, modern ice cream parlors. Cozy hipster cafes are just a few doors down from some of the best, most down to earth Mexican (La Sirenita) and Middle-Eastern (DarSalam) restaurants in Portland.


Collage, a one-stop shop for all your crafting and journal needs.

And while you are here, grab a latte or a slice of rhubarb pie (or better, get both) at Random Order Coffeehouse and Bakery – just look for the red ostrich logo. As you stroll the street, (abstract and a hodgepodge of trends and cultures), stop into Collage to satisfy all your journal and craft needs.

Go immerse yourself in local jazz music at the infamous  Solae’s Lounge , and after gawking at the incredibly detailed and beautiful murals adorning the walls of brick buildings on virtually every block, grab some tacos and a brew at Cruzroom. Want to cook a meal at home after your journey? Grab all the fresh ingredients you need at the Alberta Co-op.

Want to do it all by bike? Find your two-wheeled ride at Community Cycling Center, a nonprofit ensuring people of all backgrounds, colors and ages have access to safe bicycling, hands-on bicycle maintenance and riding education. Prefer to rent a bike? The Nike Biketown bike share system has a bright orange station at the corner of Alberta and Vancouver Avenue.

About  Last Thursday : it is free and held year-round, but the summer is when things really heat up. From June to August, Alberta is closed to all vehicle traffic from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and artists, musicians, performers – anyone really – replace the metal on four wheels. From 15th Avenue to 30th Avenue, businesses of all types welcome you with local art as the sun sets.

Let’s Talk ADUs with Kol Peterson


As I keep getting more and more great questions about ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units), I thought it’d be helpful to have an undeniable ADU expert weigh in on the subject.

Kol Peterson got his master’s degree from Harvard Graduate School of Design, teaches ADU classes through his company, Accessory Dwelling Strategies, LLC, and proudly lives in an ADU he completed in 2011.

I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did. Please reach out to me if you have any questions or want to discuss how an ADU might be perfect for your present or future property!

Portland has risen to become the national Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) champion, with more of the units being built in our northwest corner of Oregon than anywhere else in the country. ADUs are increasingly creative ways to add rental and multi-use space to your home.

And as Portland continues to find ways to handle population density, ADUs are a practical solution to increase density while retaining our urban growth boundaries.

What are major roadblocks people run into when building or considering to build an ADU?

Nationally, the biggest challenge homeowners run into is underdeveloped, nonexistent or inhospitable regulations for ADU development. However, Portland leads the country in ADU regulation and development.

Here, homeowners’ two biggest challenges are part and parcel of the same issue: 1) funding and financing, and 2) finding a contractor for the job.

Because supply is low and demand is high, not only is it challenging to find a contractor with time to bid an ADU project, but costs to build have gone up both in terms of labor shortages and in terms of materials nationwide, making funding a larger burden. The entry point to getting a detached ADU is at at least $120,000, but more realistically, $160,000 – $200,000. Some builders even have a minimum $200,000 bid on detached ADUs.

How has that been playing out for homeowners? How are they negotiating those challenges?

Intrinsically, ADUs are housing products developed by people who have an economic need to do so, often seeking out rental income. Therefore the demographic tends to be middle-class, or long-time homeowners who have equity in their home to tap.

Financing hasn’t been really figured out. The only ways people are able to finance are cash savings, family loans, home equity loans or cash out refinances. There isn’t a designated loan product that works particularly well for ADUs, although there are some local products that can be applied to ADU development.

Umpqua Bank has a really good construction loan product, and some local credit unions have workable renovation loan products like Washington Federal and Unitus. But they’re cumbersome, so most people who develop ADUs tend to use home equity lines of credit.

Do you have any advice on how to increase affordability and keep down costs as a homeowner?

You can go for a well-established building company with administrative staff who can do site visits, and pay more for those services, or you can work with new builders who haven’t built a lot yet, and, yes, take a bigger risk because they’re not as established. But you can potentially get in at a lower price point. That’s what I recommend to my clients and that’s what I did.

What about the return on investment for those seeking income?

More people are initially motivated by short-term rental income potential, but whether they actually stick with short-term rental in the long run is debatable. There’s no solid evidence to back up claims that most ADUs are short-term rental, but nonetheless there’s a lot of speculation going on around that topic. I think that in the long run most ADU development settles into a long-term rental stock because there’s a really strong demand for long-term rental housing of this sort, and the short-term rental market – being a hotel owner I can speak to this authoritatively – is not a predictable market for most of the year. From June to September you can make great money and there’s not enough supply to meet all the tourism demand, but from October to May most hotels are at 50 percent occupancy.

So I always caution people not to bank on the short-term rental market. Bank on the long-term rental.

So it’s safe to say you would recommend people plan their financials based on a long-term rental return?

Yes, which is a lucrative thing to do right now. In this neighborhood – Hawthorne – you can probably rent a 400 sq ft detached ADU for $1,500 per month, and if you bump it up to 800 square feet and one bedroom, probably $2,000 per month. There is a huge demand for it.

Could we be thinking about these spaces in any other ways? Is there any untapped potential?

I wouldn’t say untapped potential. If you ask people what they’re going to do with an ADU, often their response is this: “We want to use it for long-term rentals, but we might want to use it for short-term rental, and we also might want to use it for a family member who may move here or family and friends that are visiting, or maybe even just some flex space for us.”

It’s hard to quantify these ADUs, and they change use over the course of a year, which is part of the appeal of an ADU in the first place for many people (the flexibility one can provide). I don’t see any significant trend changes beyond perhaps that short-term rental market.

What do you think the most strategic use of ADUs are for homeowners?

If a homeowner is thinking strategically from a financial sustainability perspective, and if they are a one or two-person household, the best thing they can do for themselves is imagine living in the ADU, now or down the road, and build that ADU to be their dream home. It’s not always possible, but if they can wrap their head around it, it works out really well. Even if they end up spending more on the ADU, then they can get more rental income off the main house and it will cover the mortgage and then some.

Do you have any design tips or compelling innovations you’ve seen out there?

The one tip I’ll give is a technique that is fairly common, and has worked well every time I’ve seen it. It’s a great room on the first floor with a lofted bedroom over one half of the second floor. Whether that lofted bedroom is enclosed or not, whether the bathroom is up or down, and however the floorplan works on the first floor doesn’t matter; as long as the upper bedroom is taking up not much more than one half of the second story, it creates a really voluminous ADU.

Looking forward, we know that the SDCs (System Development Charges) have been waived for ADU development through July of 2018. What impact does this currently have on ADUs, and what impact will the extension or expiration of the waiver have on future ADU development?

One issue now is the growing number of small designers and builder companies who could be interested in scaling up their businesses if they had predictability around whether the ADU market was going to continue to flourish. However, they can’t make long-term decisions around their business in the absence of certainty around the SDC Waiver Extension.

From two surveys I conducted two consecutive years after my ADU tours, 75 percent of people responded that if there were a $17,000 SDC fee associated with their ADU development, they would no longer proceed with building an ADU. These SDCs add up to $17,000 to $20,000 for each ADU.

It’s impossible to know the impact of an SDC returning would be, but it’s fair to say that it would have a very substantial impact on the rate of development. Almost, perhaps, devastating or catastrophic for ADU development. Perhaps. We don’t know.

The three-year extensions have been great and this last extension was for two years, but I think at this point it makes sense for the city to consider doing some kind of permanent SDC fee, reduced SDC fee for ADUs, or perhaps, you know, I would advocate for potentially eliminating them permanently. I can understand why bureaus would feel the need to capture some fees, I just think that some thought needs to be given to what those fees should be and how they can be scaled to be in accordance with the relatively minimal impact that ADUs have on the infrastructure, and that creating a more predictable marketplace in the long-term would be a really good thing for businesses. I recommend that homeowners, builders, designers and all other stakeholders write the five city council members who vote on this waiver, including the mayor, about this issue.

Thank you so much for your time and insights! Where could someone interested go and see an ADU? Can you tell us more about the ADU tour?

Absolutely. This year the tour will be on Saturday, September 9th and Sunday, September 10th and we’re in the process of solidifying which ADUs will be on the tour. We will have roughly ten units in Northeast Portland on Saturday and roughly ten in Southeast Portland on Sunday.

As an event we have three goals: to help homeowners see the ‘fit & finish’ options of a variety of ADUs, to give people an opportunity to meet and talk with homeowners about their ADU build experience and to connect people with designers and builders of ADUs.

This is the single-best event for homeowners to attend if they’re interested in building an ADU – both for practical information as well as inspiration. This will be our fifth tour with Tiny House Caravan co-hosting the event, along with other local organizations.

To follow Kol’s research, insight, and work, visit accessorydwellings.org as well as pdxadu.blogspot.com to get more info on his ADUs for Homeowners class held every six weeks.

This interview comes from the May issue of All Things Real Estate Magazine. My professional media team at M Realty creates and publishes the magazine monthly. To learn more, or to advertise, feel free to contact me!

Explore Nob Hill

“It is all here,” says Peggy Anderson of the Nob Hill Business Association, when asked about what sets Nob Hill apart from other Portland neighborhoods.

Nob Hill is the bustling, diverse pocket between Burnside, 27th Avenue, Wilson, and Interstate 405. It is home to libraries, a number of schools, parks, religious institutions, a major hospital, and even an emergency room for pets, as well as countless cafes and boutiques. The neighborhood is an eclectic mix of the old and the new– traditional Craftsman style houses are shuffled in with sleek, modern apartment buildings. New businesses, like Aria Portland Dry Gin, are budding next to mainstays that have stood in the same location for decades. The result is a dense, destination neighborhood, but with affordable retail rents and manageable parking.

Northwest 23rd (or trendy third) was named One of America’s Best Shopping Streets in 2012, by US World Report. “You do have Williams-Sonoma,” Peggy says, “but most of them [the businesses] have five or fewer employees, and are locally owned, and I think that’s what makes us unique.”

Child’s Play, the Nob Hill toy store that guarantees smiles and a constantly changing selection of the best toys, has been delighting families with kids for over 35 years. Adults might be more drawn to an evening at Cinema 21, the famous, single-screen movie theater that has its own unique brand and reputation, uniting movie lovers through consistently high-quality films. The New Renaissance bookstore, which Peggy describes as a much smaller Powell’s, offers everything from coloring books to meditation classes. Dazzle, a fashionable, locally owned boutique is sure to live up to its name, with artfully curated clothing and sparkling jewelry. There is something for everyone, whether you are a permanent resident, or just visiting for the day.

The same is true for real estate in Nob Hill. The area offers such a wide variety of homes– from the Old Portland style houses, with their welcoming porches and beautiful woodwork, nestled throughout the Alphabet district, to the classic red brick apartments, as well as plexes, townhouses, and condos– ensuring there is something for practically any buyer’s budget. New condos and apartment buildings are continuously under construction, providing additional opportunities.

“My quip is,” Peggy says, “that I went to a lot of business association meetings all over Portland, but I really liked going to the Nob Hill one.”

Food Halls

We have all had this experience: You and a friend decide to grab some food and catch up, but you can’t agree on what sort of meal you should have. The food cart pods downtown, while varied and unquestionably delicious, get cold and wet in the winter. Neither of you have enough time to go to a sit down restaurant. The food court in the mall does not quite have the atmosphere that you are both looking for, either.

The idea of fast-casual dining, where quality food is served at a faster pace than traditional sit-down restaurants, is not a new one. This is especially true in a food-conscious city like Portland, which is likely why food halls have been gaining traction for the last year. Food hall vendors don’t tend to have large menus, focusing instead on perfecting one or two dishes; yet having all of these vendors under the same roof makes for a remarkably diverse menu overall. Additionally, food halls often carry a shared liquor license, so that any alcohol can be carried and consumed between micro restaurants in the common dining space.

Insofar as investments go, food halls are not nearly as expensive or risky as opening an entire standalone restaurant. This gives small businesses (food carts, for example) more and better opportunities for expansion and exposure. Each micro restaurant front is designed with the owner’s personal style and flair, something that makes for a multifaceted and exciting overall atmosphere that patrons enjoy being a part of.

Currently there are three food halls in Portland: Pine Street Market, Cart-Lab, and the Zipper. Soon there will also be the Portland Food Hall, and with the trend gaining so much momentum there will likely be more in the future. Having so many different cuisines accessible under the same roof means there is something for everyone in a food hall, which is probably the most genius thing about them.

Lasting Trends in Home Design


Lasting trends? What? Isn’t that a paradox?

Well, it might be, but let’s go along with it. I think these rising Portland trends have enough classic touch and practicality to stick around.



Not so hidden jewels

Eccentric, vibrant colors are in. This is increasingly common in the Portland Metro area, and elsewhere, as homeowners seek to add flair and evoke more emotion in their homes. This often adds stark and beautiful contrast to the warm, earthy colors already prevalent in homes.




Go small

The younger generations tend to prefer smaller -albeit more humble- living spaces. Combine this with an ever-growing desire to be mobile, and voila! We have ADUs and separate dwellings. Permanent homes- often much smaller- are built alongside the main home, and used as an extra living space or a cozy abode for visitors (permits are required, click here to learn about Portland’s ADU requirements).

Some of the more transient folks out there go a step further and stick these tiny homes on a set of wheels, allowing them to ride off into the sunset from the comfort of their own homes.




Get some you time

Truly private places are becoming more and more important in an overconnected world. Cozy, quiet places are quickly becoming must-haves in new and remodeled homes. Some folks turn these into silent reading spaces, others into music-jamming spaces. Whatever strikes your fancy, carving out your own personal space is surely the true path to home-owning enlightenment.




Your very own bar

Full bars and islands are exploding in popularity, as homeowners love keeping the night out at home. Often, family-style or picnic tables- complete with a bar-  are plopped right into the middle of the kitchen or dining space, even the basement, and used as a full-featured party space.

Portland- you love beer. Imagine the awesomeness of gathering your growlers and friends for a night out and completely making it your own.




Use it again

Repurposing materials- especially wood- is definitely a priority for Portland homeowners in 2017. Creating healthy living spaces- such as installing cleaner air systems and using no-formaldehyde cabinets- strengthens the growing repurposing movement. This is a microcosm of another rising trend- remodeling instead of buying a new home altogether. Remodeling saves time, stress, and money- not to mention it has less of an impact on the environment.








Non-Alternative Real Estate Facts


Regardless of where you stand on our colorful political spectrum these days, the term “alternative facts” has likely been a recent invader your personal media stream. As an antidote to that concept, here’s a handful of non-alternative facts about real estate. That is to say, they’re not arguably not true. They are, in fact, just fun facts that (hopefully) few people will spend their time arguing.

  • The most expensive Portland home sold last year carried the final price tag of a mere $5,441,294.
  • If you happen to be on the prowl for a trophy home, don’t despair… the most expensive property on the market, a 16,359 square foot villa in West Linn listed at a cool $18,000,000, is still very much available.
  • While January 2017 bedecked Portland with 8.39 inches of snow, it was nothing compared to our record winter wonderland of January 1893 that blanketed the City of Roses with 31.8 inches of snow.
  • January 21st, 1943 still holds the record for most snowfall in Portland in a single day at 15.5 freezing inches.
  • Portland’s more traditional precipitation, warm liquid snow, led to the Willamette River flood of June 1894, where it reached its highest recorded mark at 33.5 feet. Flooding was so bad that downtown businesses sold their wares to boat traffic from their second floor windows.
  • 122 short years later, in 2016, Money Magazine named Portland the “Best City in the West” due subjective things like our undeniable charm, as well as more concrete numbers like our median home price of $349k and unemployment rate of 4.7%.
  • Several large tech companies agree with Money Magazine’s assessment, planting their own roots in our tree-studded home. Portland has recently earned the nickname the “Silicon Forest.” Feel free to use that when you’re traveling and people ask you where you’re from.


If you’ve got some non-alternative facts of your own to share, I’d love to hear them!

As always, it would be my honor to help you formulate your property plans. Please consider me your resident expert for all things real estate. I’m always happy to be of service, even if it’s for something not necessarily sale related, like answering questions about testing for radon levels or finding a trusted vendor to make repairs on your property. All my contacts and experience are at your disposal!

Portland Traffic


Portland traffic, now ranked ninth in the nation (even worse than Boston, Chicago, and other large U.S. cities) has continued to grow over the last year- increasing by 6 percent according to state stats. Rush hour travel times are unpredictable, with frequent delays, and a single accident or spot of bad weather is capable of clogging up an entire area.

In order to avoid the rush hour commute, many Portland area companies are embracing alternative schedules, such as the compressed work week where employees work more daily hours than usual but fewer days a week, or flex time where employees work a set amount of hours per week but are given flexibility as to when they arrive and depart.

The opening of the MAX orange line has also cut down on congestion, especially downtown and in SE. Using public transport to and from work has the added benefit of avoiding difficult and expensive parking situations. Additionally, car-sharing websites like Drive Less Connect are growing in popularity, allowing users to carpool with other people going the same directions.

As the weather improves, many commuters switch to biking to work. Biking not only allows commuters to fly past slow-moving traffic jams, it’s also great exercise and reduces pollution. According to a study by the Portland Bureau of Transportation, over 7% of Portlanders bike to work, which is the highest percentage in the nation. Unlike our traffic ranking, that’s a statistic we can feel good about!

The Value of Working with an Agent

Popular internet-based real estate marketplaces like Zillow, Trulia, and Craigslist have made searching for your dream home a whole lot easier on your own. However, every home is unique (just like these kittens!). There are several important things to remember about why having a real estate professional on your side can make the process much better! Here are just a few ways your M Agent beats the internet:


    • Internet-based real estate marketplaces often give an estimate of a listing based on market prices of homes around the area. While these estimates and pricing calculators have gotten better over the years, especially at identifying trends in an area, nothing beats an agent’s local knowledge and resources in seeking out homes that are within your budget. If you are selling, online services don’t reflect what is really special about your home that makes it stand out from the competition. They can’t take that into consideration when pricing.


    • Your agent’s experience and knowledge can help you put your best foot forward at the negotiation table. You want someone on your side with access to the best facts and figures without undermining either the buyer or seller. While you may have some idea about how the market is playing out, a real estate professional will likely know just a bit more than you. Agents at M also have the benefit of working at a brokerage where there are forums for other agents to offer their support and expertise.


    • Your agent is there to understand your needs and your desires — the internet can’t really do that for you. By putting you first, and gaining your trust, your agent will be able to help you achieve your real estate goals, be it finding your first home or selling your third!


    • Not all homes for sale have an online presence — some homes exist just under the radar. Typically, agents will let each other know of new pocket listings that might be of interest, or share exclusive listings before they even hit the market. (See for yourself and check out my sneak peeks!) This is valuable information, especially in this current market.


    • When you’re working with an agent, especially an M Realty Agent, you know that they have your best interests in mind. The internet may let you quickly search for that house you drove past, but your agent can show you a house that you may have not considered, but is perfect for you.


There are many other things your M Agent can do for you — shuffling through mountains of paperwork is just one of them. If you’d like to learn more about what I can do for you, don’t hesitate to reach out.