Street of Dreams Comes to LO!

carousel-new_0003_House-9Since 1985, August is the month for the Street of Dreams in the Portland metro area. This showcase of luxury homes can be found nation wide, but it actually originated in Portland in 1985 when the Home Builder’s Association of Metroplitan Portland decided to have this showcase to highlight and promote home builders and designers.

While I have not attended every Street of Dreams, if it’s in LO I am going to go. LO has hosted the Street of Dreams at least 3 times, that I am aware of.

There is a real WOW! factor to it. I like to look at homes that are beautiful and that are perfectly decorated. It’s a bit inspiring, but more than that I always take away ideas. It lets me see color trends, architectural trends, and even take away ideas that I use on a small scale in my own home.

What are this year’s trends? Here are some of my take aways:

Blue is the hot color right now. I saw it everywhere: even in the trim color on the exterior of a house. Seriously, that is a big color commitment. This same house had blue cabinets in the kitchen. Yes, it had BLUE cabinets.

Natural stone and granite remains a must-have element. And just as I observed after the street of dreams about 3 years ago, the stone colors are trending to black, gray, and white. There was little or no use of what are called “earth tones” such as brown or rust.

Exterior kitchens remain popular with built-in gas grills, fireplaces, and refrigerators.

The floorplans are mostly greatrooms with a huge bonus or second greatroom upstairs. The second greatroom generally has a huge sofa area for watching a mega-size TV, a wet bar or second full kitchen, and a game table area. Two of this years houses have balconies off of the upstairs greatroom that are huge and have views of the valley or Mt Hood: really nice!

Contemporary is back in demand. Over half of the homes are extremely contemporary.

Here are some things that surprised me:

There is a house with only a 2-car garage. OK, this actually shocks me. A person with the financial capability to buy in this price range ($1,500,000-$2,750,00) is a person who not only has 2 cars, but perhaps a 3rd car in addition to all of the toys that need storage like snowboards, jet skis, etc. I think the lack of a 3rd car bay is a HUGE mistake for resale.

Some of the houses have unbelievably small master closets. Again, a big “duh”, this is so basic when folks buy expensive, new homes. The master needs a gigormous closet!

The remodeled Shaw house was not well done. This classic mid-century modern is the original home for the area. It is architecturally wonderful and I give credit to the Home Builder’s Association for saving it and doing a full remodel. But the resulting floorplan is chopped up with too many small rooms. There is a lovely courtyard, but none of the major living area looks out onto it. I just came away feeling that somehow it could have been done better.

Not one of the houses was built with a lodge motif. I think this is a big gap. The look and feel of wood-beamed ceilings and the use of lots of natural stone inside remains in demand.

Last, I show a lot of property in Lake Oswego, including up in this price range. These houses are gorgeous, but they are not over the top. Many homes in Lake Oswego could hold their own in this group, quite easily.

I do want to encourage you to go. It’s the best way to see these gorgeous homes without having to get your real estate license.

August 1-30, 10am to 9pm
$17 admission, kids under 10 years are free
Park at a shuttle pickup spot (M-F at LO Jr High, 2500 Country Club Rd/Sat, Sun park at 4000 Kruse Way). The shuttles come regularly and there is very little wait time.
Saturday and Sunday you can also take the Trolley from 2nd and A in downtown LO.
Food and beverages are available for sale.

If you want to visit the Street of Dreams website, click here.

Have a good time!

Tennis Opportunities

09_tennis_resurfI think there are quite a number of things that add to quality of life, and staying active and fit is one of them. For some that may involve aerobics, weights, walking, running, swimming, any number of activities. The greater your options, the greater the odds are that you’ll stay active, and tennis is a great option.

The City of Lake Oswego offers indoor and outdoor tennis options.

Outdoor tennis is found in 7 locations, 2 of which have lighting for evening use. These courts are first-come, first-serve with the exception of the courts that are located on school property. Use at those locations is affected by school use as well. But they are pretty simple to use and easy to find. For a list of locations, click here.

The indoor courts can be found at the Tennis Center at 2900 Diane Drive in Springbrook Park. Open daily from 6:00am to 9:00pm, courts are available on an hourly basis for $18 per hour. Reservations can be made up to a week in advance. For convenience you can buy lump sum packages (still at $18 an hour). In July there is a lottery for up to 4.5 months of advance reservations in September to May.

dsc_0387The indoor facility has four courts. There are a wide variety of activities for all ages, and all abilities: general use, lessons, competitions, youth tennis, it’s very impressive.

Of special note, the Lake Oswego Tennis Center, with sponsorship from the Greater Portland Tennis Council, provides the only Special Olympics tennis program in the State of Oregon.

Also, be aware for about 2 weeks each summer the facility is closed for maintenance. Last year the 2 weeks were in August.

I hope you find this helpful. Enjoy!

10 Very LO Things to do in 2015

New Year, new beginnings, time to make some plans for 2015. Here are my suggestions for some distinctly LO events to fit into your plans for the coming year:

1. Try an established or new restaurant. There are soooooo many to choose from. Gubanc’s for lunch (homemade soup), Riccardo’s for a summer evening on the patio, LaVang for unbeatable Pho, St Honore or Babica Hen for breakfast, Happy Hour at Five Spice, the list goes on and on. I recently tried Aji Tram, the fresh Asian fusion place on the corner of Bryant and Lakeview. It was fantastic! A bit loud with sports on big-screen TVs, but it was fun! Food was great and our little gathering really enjoyed ourselves.

2. Festival of the Arts in June. This is a a must do. Both the juried fine art show and the craft fair are a pleasure. I enjoy the art and like to hunt for a special find whether it is a gift for a friend or something special for myself.

Guardian of the Lake 2014 People's Choice Winner
Guardian of the Lake
2014 People’s Choice Winner
3. A walking tour of Gallery Without Walls. The exhibition changes every year. It is always exciting when the new exhibits are unveiled.

4. A walk or bike ride around the lake. OK, do this more than once. Do it lots! Views of the lake and magnificent homes make the time fly and the workout is awesome!

5. Attend a 4th of July parade and then fireworks over the lake.

6. Attend the Lake Oswego Heritage Council Home Tour. This is a major fund raiser for the Heritage Council and also an opportunity to get into private homes that are AMAZING.

7. Volunteer to pull ivy at one of the City Parks or Nature areas.

8. Volunteer to help in one of the schools.

Summer 2013 0799. Attend one of the City’s outdoor summer concerts.

10. Attend the annual lighting of the City Christmas Tree on the day after Thanksgiving!

There is so much more to do that just simply isn’t on this list. The point is that there is lots to do. I know I have had years where I do more or less than other years, but I also think that when I look back on years that I have really enjoyed, they have been years when I have gotten out and really involved in what is going on in Lake Oswego.

We here at the blotter want to wish you a very happy 2015! May you experience good health, prosperity, and many happy LO memories!

And for those of you who would like to challenge your knowledge of LO, here is a quiz courtesy of Pamplin Media:

Happy New Year,

The Good, The Less Bad, and the Ugly

The Good

Blog 007Some of the best barbeque you’ll find in Oregon is right here in Lake Oswego. Pine Shed Ribs has been named one of the 10 best barbeque restaurants by the Oregonian (the only one so named in the Southwest Metro area), and THE BEST barbeque in PDX by Portland Monthly. Located at 17730 Pilkington Rd, this little restaurant offers up mouth watering beef and pork ribs, brisket, pulled pork, chicken and great traditional sides like baked beans and coleslaw. I particularly like the outdoor seating on a nice day. My suggestion: get yourself on down there and check it out.

The Less Bad
It was reported this past week that underwater homeowners (those who owe more than their homes are worth) are down 42%. This got me curious about how that is currently reflected in the Lake Oswego housing market, and it is startling. In the last 12 months 73 homes were sold as shortsales (sold for less than the mortgage owed) and 40 were sold as bank foreclosures. In the 12 months prior to that 79 were sold as shortsales and 101 were sold as bank foreclosures. Today is substantially better with just 6 houses on the market as shortsales and 2 as bank foreclosures. Are we seeing the end of the distressed housing? I hope so, for all of our sakes.

The Ugly
Blog 009I am at war with moles in my yard! I love to work in my garden investing my time and my money. So finding the lawn pretty much plowed up by these little creatures is annoying. I refuse to poison them as a result of the great squirrel catastrophe of 2010. My current method involves Juicy Fruit gum. It seems to be working, but not 100%. If you have any suggestions, I would be grateful.

Have a great week!

2013 Street of Dreams

The 2013 Street of Dreams is just outside of Lake Oswego off of Rosemont Road. It runs until August 25th from 10am to 9pm, daily. Admission is $15.

Summer 2013 135The last 5 years the Street of Dreams barely had a pulse. Builders simply did not have the resources to build spec houses (built without having obtained a buyer, so speculative) that were over-the-top expensive. In addition, the market for million dollar homes was soft. This created a down-sized Street of Dreams experience with fewer homes and less expensive homes.

Well, the real estate market is back, big time. Evidence of this is the fact that this year’s Street of Dreams has 9 houses, all around $2,000,000, and 7 of the 9 houses have already sold. Demand is obviously high for luxury, high-end homes. This is your chance to see these amazing houses, get your own ideas, and see what $2,000,000 will buy.

Tried and True
Summer 2013 122Luxury homes do have an effect on standard housing. By standard, I mean homes in price ranges that more of the population can afford. Standard homes may be smaller, but they still have some of the features that are first seen at the show-case home tours. Several trends remain strong:
*Great room floor plans that allow big, open spaces for living and entertaining
*Luxury baths and kitchens with top-of-the-line granite, tile, and stainless steel
*Backyard entertaining areas, often covered, to allow interior and exterior spaces to blend
*Heavy use of stone, slate, granite, and natural materials

New Trends
Summer 2013 120Being homes at the high-end of values, I expect there to be some interesting trends. Here are just a few:
*Wet bars are everywhere. One house had 4 wetbars, in addition to the main kitchen. The difference between a wetbar and a kitchen is that the wetbar has some components of a kitchen, but not all. So it likely has a refrigerator and a sink, but not a cooktop or range. House #1 on the tour has 4 wetbars: dining room, great room, back yard and the master bedroom.
*Kitchens and baths are back to black, white, and shades of gray. No earth toned colors in any granite in any house on the tour. Many cabinets are white or painted gray rather than natural wood that has been so popular for the last 10 years.
*Walls of windows that can be opened or folded back to really expose the interior of the house to the back yard
* Swimming pools. Two of the houses had just spectacular back yards with swimming pools.
* Secret rooms. One house has a pantry that looks like kitchen cabinets. You don’t know it’s a door until you push it open. Another house has a secret passage (disguised as built-in shelves) that leads to a staircase to a 2nd-floor retreat.
* Second refrigerators in the pantry. Such a good idea.
* Craft areas in the laundry room and even on their own. House #5 had two entries from the garage. One came through a HUGE laundry room and the other came through a room that was equipped for art and hobbies. It was just incredible. There was a huge work station in the middle, a potter’s wheel and kiln to one side, and walls of organizational cubbies and shelves for every manner of supplies.
* Hard wood floors have rough/non-shine surfaces.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Summer 2013 126* Two houses have Kitchens off of kitchens. This is in addition to having walk-in pantries. These kitchens have the ability to handle some serious cooking, baking, and entertaining. Just amazing.
* Barn wood is everywhere: on walls, on counter tops (yes, on counter tops), on doors, just everywhere. Nearly every house has what I call a sliding barn door. It is a door hung on a rail that slides along the wall. Made of heavy wood with heavy steel hardware, I am just not sure what to think of this trend. It is interesting to look at, and even functional in a few situations, but mostly I think it’s a fad. Five years from now these heavy doors will be screaming “This house was built in 2013!”
* These houses are all built by the areas leading builders. They are gorgeous and stylized. But even in this circumstance there are a couple of homes that fall flat. The colors seem off with dark cabinets, the tile choice seems average, they are nice homes, but just not in the running with the quality of the better homes on the tour.

Summer 2013 115My favorite idea? The recycling shoot that is in the pantry of one house. Open a little door and drop your recycling down a shoot that ends in the rolling recycling cart in the garage. How brilliant is that?

The Street of Dreams is great fun and this year’s tour does not disappoint. How often do you get inside of such spectacular real estate? Now is your chance. I highly encourage you to attend.

Sweet Sounds of Summer

Summer 2013 075Summer is a full and rich time of year. I know it schedules out hard and heavy and I really have to prioritize what I want to do. So it’s easy to miss something here or there. This is one thing that you do not want to miss. Make an effort and take advantage of the LO Summer Concert Series. They are free and they are wonderful.

Curtis Salgado performed last night at Foothills Park. Children were the early dancers, but it did not take long for the full crowd to get involved. Curtis Salgado is internationally recognized. He was awarded the 2013 BB King Entertainer of the year award. He was John Belushi’s inspiration for the Blues Brothers. This is seriously great entertainment, and its FREE.

Summer 2013 079The next concert coming up will be July 28th, this Sunday, at Millennium Plaza Park, 6:00-7:30. Scott Cossu, a well-known, new-age pianist will be performing. His music is a blend of jazz, classical, and ethnic. It is bound to be good.

Then next Wednesday, July 31st from 6:30-8:30, Five Guys Named Moe will be performing at Foothills Park. This is a 12-piece show band with a huge horn section, back-up vocals, and strong lead singers. It sounds like the kind of band that makes you get onto your feet and move.

Summer 2013 063There is just something about live music on a summer evening. You can not help but smile and feel like this is what it is all about. I’ve got to share something so sweet, something so special, it really captures what I am trying to say here. At last night’s concert I saw a man wheel his wife in to the park in a wheel chair. As the music got going, he would lift her to her feet where she could stand, then, holding her hands between them, they danced. Smiling from ear to ear, they had a great time.

This is summer at its best. Don’t let it pass you by!

You Know It’s Summer When….

LO Farmer's Market

The Farmer’s Market is happening on Saturday mornings.

Every Saturday through October 12th, come and enjoy the Lake Oswego Farmer’s Market.  9:30 am to 1:30 pm, at Millennium Plaza Park, you’ll find a wide array of food and flora.  Several vendors offer fantastic fresh-made breakfast options, so that is a good place to start.  Live music is a plus.  There is even doggie daycare.  Then fill your basket with berries, fresh vegetables, artisian meats and cheeses, and many other lush options that let you know it is the season that fully brings us the fruits of the earth. 

The Vintage Trolley is again on the tracks.

TrolleyTake a historic ride on vintage trolley #514.  It is a replica of the original trolleys that were used in Portland at the turn of the last century.  Wicker seats, brass fixtures, and ornate woodwork will take you back in time.  The ride costs $5 for adults, $3 for children 3-12, and it’s free for kids under the age of 3.  Even better, there will be free rides offered July 4, 5, and 6, from 10 am to 4pm each day.

The ride is currently 20 minutes in lenght.  It stops just North of the Sellwood Bridge, due to the current bridge construction.  It follows the shore of the Willamette River.  There are 2 high-lights:  the 1400 foot Elk Rock tunnel (known as Oregon’s darket tunnel) and 686 foot Long Trestle.  I am a big fan of tunnels and trestles and this little trolley ride is great fun.  For more info, click here.

It’s Summer Concert time!

Suffice it to say that the City of Lake Oswego puts on two wonderful concert series.  The Sounds of Summer series occurs Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.  The concerts are split between Foothills Park and Westlake Park.  Performers this year include Curtis Salgado, Tom Grant, and Johnny Limbo and the Lugnuts.  For the full performance schedule of the Sounds of Summer series, click here.  The Moonlight and Music series occurs Sundays from 6:00-7:30 at Millennium Plaza Park.  Performers in this series include SoulMates, Ian McFeron, and Geoffrey Castle.    For a full concert schedule for the Moonlight and Music Series, click here.   It is pretty much the very essence of summer to spread out a picnic blanket, relax back in the warmth of a summer evening, and listen to some wonderful music.  These concerts are free.

For me, besides being busy with real estate, I enjoy the anticipation of all of the great goings on that are unique to Oregon in the summer.  I think because we have such distinct seasons, with our fair share of cold weather, we really know how to apprecaite and to make the most of the wonderful months of summer.




Babica Hen

Babica Hen 001Lake Oswego enjoys several really nice breakfast restaurants. The fresh pastries and fluffy omelets at La Provence are legendary. St. Honore opened next to Millennium Plaza Park recently, bringing amazing Croque Messieurs and Croque Madames (yum!), but these two fine establishments are now going to have some fierce competition. Babica Hen is in town.

Located next to Gubanc’s (at 15964 Boones Ferry Rd), it’s right in the heart of downtown Lake Grove.

The owner’s are the same people who own Gubanc’s, which is pretty much a restaurant institution here in LO. So it makes sense that they know what they’re doing. Whereas Gubanc’s is more of a lunch and dinner restaurant, Babica Hen specializes in breakfast with a few lunch options.

The menu is amazing. Le Waffle Lyonnaise (black forest ham, egg, arugula, and tarragon hollondaise), the Lemon Berry Crumble Waffle (Amaretto blueberries, lemon marscarpone, and brown sugar crumble), 3 different eggs Benedicts (tomato, smoked pork, and dungeness crab), prawns and polenta, and the well-named Iron Miner’s Breakfast (potato hash, eggs, roasted tomato, carmelized onion, cheddar, chorizo gravy, bacon AND maple sausage), are just a sampling. Seriously, the menu is huge and creative.

Babica Hen 002Prices are reasonable with waffles at $9, the Iron Miner’s Breakfast at $11, and the most expensive thing on the menu for $13 being Champagne Oysters (yes, this is what I had, fantastic).

Are you hungry yet?

I highly recommend giving Babica Hen a try. Be prepared to wait. The parking lot is pretty much packed, but the kitchen is efficient and service is quick. Last Sunday at 10am, my wait was about 15 minutes.

Hours are Tuesday thru Sunday from 7am to 3pm, closed on Mondays.


Stop the car Batman!

On a recent drive through Lake Oswego, I came upon a wonderful find. Two houses, across the street from each other, had their yards full of dozens of Jack-O-Lanterns. What a sight! I can not imagine carving so many pumpkins. I think I’m going to have to go by this evening to see them all lit up.

With the exception of the photo of my own Jack-O-Lantern, these pictures are of these two front yards. Happy Halloween!

Halloween in Lake Oswego

I really love the fall with crisp mornings and all of the glorious color of the changing leaves. I also love getting into the spooky spirit of Halloween. Yes, my house has pumpkins and giant spiders and the fragrance of spices in the air.

I know I am not alone in this. I have a client who plans trick or treating with his children around houses that he likes. He plans a route and then goes to the door with his kids so that he can get a brief glimpse inside. These are what he calls “Trick or Treat” houses.

If you are looking for an easy way to celebrate All Hallows Eve, consider putting the Lake Oswego Harvest Festival onto your calendar. It will take place in Millenium Plaza Park on October 31st, from 3:30 to 5:30. Activities include Trick or Treat Street, Games, Crafts, and a live performance from the Dragon Puppet Theater. Costumes are encouraged.