Open Houses for Sunday January 25th, 2009

Greetings, Lake Oswego real estate fans!

You can see from the line-up below and the report from Monday that activity in Lake Oswego is heating up. If only our temperatures would do the same.

Happy house-hunting:

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136 Oswego Smt. $142,000 1 Bd, 1 Ba, Open 1-3

26 Crestfield Ct. $172,700 2 Bd, 2 Ba, Open 2-4

5487 Tualata Ct. $289,000 3 Bd, 2 Ba, Open 1-3

4 Othello St. $424,900 4 Bd, 3 Ba, Open 1-4

108 Ridgeway Rd. $499,000 3 Bd, 1 Ba, Open 11-1

624 Livingood Ln. $574,900 4 Bd, 3 Ba, Open 1-3

625 Clara Ct. $587,500 3 Bd, 2 1/2 Ba, Open 12-3

3254 Duncan Dr. $599,900 4 Bd, 3 1/2 Ba, Open 2-4

13222 Deerfield Ct. $649,000 4 Bd, 2 1/2 Ba, Open 1-3

15713 Tara Pl. $729,000 4 Bd, 2 1/2 Ba, Open 1-3

5267 Lakeview Blvd. $750,000 4 Bd, 3 1/2 Ba, Open 1-4

540 Northshore Rd. $759,000 4 Bd, 2 Ba, Open 2-4

426 7th St. $778,950 4 Bd, 2 1/2 Ba, Open 1-4

17606 Woodhurst Pl.$895,000 5 Bd, 3 1/2 Ba, Open 1-3

2941 Westview Cir. $899,900 4 Bd, 2 1/2 Ba, Open 1-3

15847 Springbrook Ct.$938,000 3 Bd, 3 ba, Open 2-4

3030 Westview Ct. $959,000 4 Bd, 2 1/2 Ba, Open 2-4

2600 Dellwood Dr. $995,000 4 Bd, 3 Ba, Open 2-5

3600 Southshore Blvd. $999,000 3 Bd, 2 1/2 Ba, Open 2-4

3300 River Woods Pl.$1,095,000 3 Bd, 2 1/2 Ba, Open 1-3

943 S.W. Atwater Rd. $1,235,000 4 Bd, 2 1/2 Ba, Open 1-3

16359 Chapin Way $1,439,000 4 Bd, 3 1/2 Ba, Open 1-4

13200 Thoma Rd.$1,995,000 5 Bd, & 2 1/2 Ba , Open 2-4

Personal Kitchen Experiences – Share Yours!

kitchen_aTuesday was such a momentous occasion, and many of us took time off from work to watch the inauguration and the rest of the exciting events of the day.  In the afternoon I took one of the many photographs I’d shot from the television screen and emailed it with my best wishes to a huge list of family and friends. I called the photo and email “New Day in my Kitchen”.

It occurred to me that many of us spend important moments in our kitchens.  Some of our best times with loved ones are spent there, and of course there is a lot of talk lately about those discussions of family budgets etc. occurring around kitchen tables throughout the nation.  I took a look around my kitchen, and thought of some of the decisions I’ve made pertaining to it through the years. I also thought about comments from some of my clients lately as we look at homes they are considering.

My kitchen is very large and, as I enjoy entertaining, it is perfect for large or small gatherings and tends to be where the laughter and conversation is always liveliest. In the beginning when I purchased my home, I wanted to “gut” it as it has very 50’s white pine cabinets with that unmistakable “country kitchen” flavor. I like to think of myself as more Mediterranean than “country”, and so made some major modifications along the way to nudge the look that direction. But the cabinets actually grew on me, and now I love them and wouldn’t think of touching them.  Other aspects of my kitchen did not win me over however, and so I had some decisions to make.

The counter tops had to go. I chose granite, and/but had to consider a few things as I made that decision. First of all, I decided on granite tile rather than slab. I did this because I had so many projects going on at once throughout the house and granite tile, being more economical than slab, allowed me to accomplish much more on my budget and still have that beautiful gleaming look that I love. In the process though, I had to take practicality into account and consider a few things about granite:

  • If choosing granite tile, be sure to select product that is cut for minimal grout lines (some are cut in such a way as to necessitate wider grouting between tiles).
  • Think about the whole kitchen, and how the granite contrasts or matches other elements such as flooring, cabinetry and fixtures. It should all work together.
  • Know that granite requires careful cleaning and upkeep- You will want to seal, and then re-seal your granite every year or so to protect the integrity of the stone.
  • Grout between granite tiles needs to be sealed and re-sealed as well as the granite.
  • If you use lots of lemons in your cooking, know that the acid from citrus can damage your granite severely. My installer informed me that if you left a half- lemon lying upside-down on your granite counters overnight, it would eat a circle into the granite. I have not tried this to prove or disprove what I was told, but suffice it to say that you are now forewarned as was I.  You will also want to eliminate citrus cleaners from your collection… and/or tell your cleaning service not to use them.
  • Remember that, unlike laminates or even stainless steel which are both very popular and good options, things usually break when they hit granite. Now, tile of any kind will cause breakage as well, but with granite you at least generally do not have to worry about it breaking, which can be a problem with regular tile.
  • Remember that there are other options such as quartz, poured concrete, and man-made granite look-alikes, all with their own charm and benefits. Talk to a qualified professional about your choices as I did.

The next choice for me was flooring.  I was absolutely convinced that I wanted travertine in my kitchen.  A very nice consultant talked me out of it explaining that it is very slick when wet, requires even more care and upkeep than granite, and can crack when heavy things drop on it. (Me? Drop things?!)  Now, I was really hard to convince but I finally gave in. (I did put it in one bathroom however… so I got my travertine “fix”, and also chose rough travertine for my back splash in the kitchen getting some of the Mediterranean feel I was after.)  He tried to talk me into the practicality of laminate for flooring, but in the end approved of my selection of porcelain tile.  I achieved the Mediterranean look I wanted, and got a durable floor that requires less upkeep. I do still have to be mindful of dropping bowls etc., but for a different reason- porcelain is just plain hard, so unlike the more practical laminate surface, shattering is what happens when you drop ceramics or glass on it.  Remember also- grouting needs to be sealed and re-sealed, and the grout color should take into consideration the fact that it is being walked on… all the time, as well as the unavoidable effects of gravity.

There is so much to talk about with kitchens, and I am not even going to get into sinks, appliances, range venting etc. in this post (another time : ) but  I do want to look at the basics. The other day I was showing a property with a remodeled kitchen that had beautiful slab counters, tile flooring, and a great layout. My client pulled out a drawer and mentioned that her daughter noticed that the fixtures had been replaced but not the cabinets… just like she had seen time & time again on a popular TV design/remodeling show.  She liked them anyway, but it is something to think about. Here in Lake Oswego, many homes were built in the 50’s, 60’s & 70’s, and if a remodel does not include new cabinetry, make sure you love the function aspect of the cabinets as-is.  There is a reason people choose not to replace cabinetry. It’s expensive. Now, I made this same decision in my kitchen, and/but DO love my cabinets. There are times when I wish I could pull out smoothly rolling drawers and shelves, and spin in-cabinet lazy susans for easy access.  I made a choice because I love the look of mine… they are rustic, and the iron handles are a feature I took into consideration when choosing the color of my granite etc. That said, if I ever choose to sell my home, a buyer will need to love them as well.  If you are not so crazy about your cabinets and considering a remodel, know that the choices you make should appeal to the widest pool of buyers… that is if you know you will want to sell in a few years.

Lastly, as far as basics go, if you are shopping for a home, notice whether the layout of the kitchen fits your lifestyle. Do you use breakfast bars?  Do you enjoy privacy while cooking or prefer “great-room” openness?  Do you entertain?   Do you enjoy cooking with your spouse or kids? If so, is there room for two or more people to move about in the kitchen? Just pay attention to how the kitchen matches your needs.

I would love to hear comments, personal kitchen remodeling experiences, or additional information you’d like to share. Please feel free to post a comment.  Personal experience is valuable, and we’d all like to learn from yours!

Open Houses for Sunday, January 11th

We had views of the mountains this morning, and are supposed to be dry and hovering near 50 Sunday! (Do I sound excited?)  If you decide to venture out and enjoy the weather and some “house-browsing”, here are some that will be held open on Sunday according to RMLS:

5054 Foothills Dr.       $285,000   2 Bd,   2 Ba,   Open 2-4

1650 Fircrest Dr.         $429,000   4 Bd,   3 Ba,   Open 1-4

1265 Rockinghorse Ln.$444,000   4 Bd,  3 Ba,   Open 1-3

4 Hillshire Dr.               $575,000   4 Bd,  3 Ba,   Open 1:30 – 3:30

5624 Southwood Dr.   $599,900   4 Bd,  3 Ba,    Open 2-4

3254 Duncan Dr.         $599,900   4 Bd,   3 1/2 Ba, Open 1-3

426 7th St.                  $778,950   4 Bd,   2 1/2 Ba, Open 1-4

16359 Chapin Way     $1,439,000 4 Bd,   3 1/2 Ba, Open 1-4

13200 Thoma Rd.        $1,995,000  5 Bd,  5 + 2 1/2 Ba, Open 2-4

Insurance & Adventures in Home Ownership

slide_1bWe’ve given you plenty of coverage of the exciting and unusual weather experienced lately here in Lake Oswego. I hesitate to scare the bajeezeez out of anyone contemplating living here, and/but believe that even though this is unusual weather, the story I’m about to share is extremely valuable for just that reason, and highlights the importance of giving great consideration to the type of insurance you decide to carry when purchasing a home.

Last Friday at about 1:00AM, 23-year old Sammy Abazzaz and a group of his friends were relaxing and having a late-night snack in the second-floor kitchen of Sammy’s Lake Oswego home when a mudslide hit its rear filling the level below with moving earth, throwing granite counters at them and opening a crevasse at their feet sending some plummeting beneath it.  Sammy’s parents were in British Columbia celebrating the new year and rushed home upon hearing of the catastrophe. All the occupants are reported to have escaped and are deemed relatively “OK” with the exception of one broken arm and lots of nightmares I’m sure.  According to the Oregonian,  Sammy relates: “It came through almost like an avalanche, through the windows and the house”.  Heavy rains and a plugged drainage point on the hill above the home reportedly caused the slide.

slide_6Scott Burns, a professor of geology at Portland State University advises:  “The important thing is to get people in Portland and the rest of this area to ask the question, ‘What can I do to prevent landslides on my property?’ ”  “There was just a lot of storm water going down the streets and going in every direction,” said Bill Burns, an engineering geologist with the state Department of Geology and Mineral Industries. “There was just so much water, it was just over-taking the system.”

slide_3The family reportedly had homeowners insurance, but not the additional protection of landslide coverage which is typically excluded from most policies. I would pose that in addition to being the most diligent and informed homeowner you can possibly be, you also need to acknowledge that sometimes “stuff happens”, and therefore it is prudent to assess any “potential” hazards (even if you believe them unlikely) and protect yourself with appropriate insurance. This means you may end up being the one inquiring as to the availability of such add-ons, and so need to come armed to any discussion with data to guide your inquiries and decisions. To that end, let me provide you with some basic information, which I suggest you view as a primer, and not as the replacement for consultation with your insurance agent who, unlike me, is the “insurance expert”:

  • Most homeowners policies will not include: floods, mold/fungus, earthquakes, mudslides/landslides, sinkholes, war or nuclear accidents.
  • If you do have, or are considering flood insurance, check to see if you are covered for a landslide should the slide be carried by a body of water. Some flood policies cover mudslides ONLY under these circumstances.
  • Cost of coverage is based on where you live & other factors. (visit: http://www.Floodsmart.gov). A typical quote for someone NOT in a flood plane according to my own insurance office only will cover up to $250,000 in structural damage, and $100,000 for content damage.  ** For $200,000/structure and $80,000/contents in a recent “preferred location” quote in SW Portland, the price tag I’m told was $326/yr.
  • Generally speaking, “property damage” is not intended to include a detached garage, outbuildings, tool sheds etc. These may be covered, but usually at around 10% of the amount of coverage applicable to your home.
  • The most common policies in the United States cover losses due to fire, lightning, fallen trees, tornadoes, wind storms, hail explosions, smoke, vandalism and theft. The amount of coverage that you have is an item for discussion between you and your insurance agent.
  • Water seepage from the ground up into your home is usually considered a maintenance issue and not covered in standard or flood policies.  Waterproofing and appropriate drainage work is recommended if this is an issue.
  • Although the term “Acts of God” is bandied about by most of us, it is not a term that’s actually included in homeowners insurance policies.

We all live on planet earth, so accordingly, we are susceptible to all kinds of unexpected occurrences.  Importantly, let me repeat-

  • Get/Stay informed.
  • Gather information about your property and any “potential” hazards.
  • Take appropriate mitigating actions to remove any threat(s) if possible.
  • Consult your insurance agent for the best advice on protecting yourself, your home and your family.
  • Should you not already have a trusted insurance agent/advisor, request some references from your Realtor.

Home ownership is an adventure.  Suit up, and enjoy it!

Market Activity for December 29, 2008 to January 4, 2009

The holidays are over, the snow has melted, and it’s time for the market to get going. This past week there were 13 new listings, 3 pending sales, and 2 closed sales. Of particular interest to me is the sale on Dellwood Dr. Dellwood is absolutely one of the prettiest streets in Lake Oswego. This was a house that Linda and I had toured together during a Broker’s Open. It was a mid-century modern in architectural design and was decorated in the same manner. It had been on the market for a very long time. An offer was accepted on it in mid December and it closed just two weeks later. For the location the house was a nice value and I sure the seller is happy to start the new year with the house sold.

NEWLY LISTED (DECEMBER 29, 2008 – January 4, 2009)

ADDRESS
LIST PRICE
TOT. BEDS
TOT. BATHS
TOT. SQ FT
PROP TYPE
LIST DATE
4 TOUCHSTONE $129,900 2 2 979 CONDO 1/1/2009
210 S STATE ST $199,900 2 1 1,284 CONDO 12/30/2008
3433 MCNARY PKWY $249,900 2 2.1 1,136 CONDO 1/2/2009
1635 ASPEN ST $345,000 3 2.1 1,618 DETACHD 1/2/2009
17755 HILL WAY $375,000 4 3 1,887 DETACHD 1/3/2009
845 LAKE FOREST DR $459,000 3 1.1 1,359 DETACHD 12/31/2008
4750 UPPER DR $469,900 4 3 2,692 DETACHD 1/4/2009
4691 SW HERITAGE LN $639,900 4 2.1 2,882 DETACHD 1/4/2009
1189 SUNNINGDALE CT $699,000 4 2 2,056 DETACHD 1/2/2009
1913 CHERYL CT $1,380,000 4 4.1 5,791 DETACHD 1/4/2009
16771 MAPLE CIR $1,650,000 3 3 2,074 DETACHD 1/3/2009
4398 Lakeview BLVD $1,895,000 4 2.2 3,309 DETACHD 12/30/2008

PENDING SALES (DECEMBER 29, 2008 – Janaury 4, 2009, 2008)

ADDRESS
LIST PRICE
TOT. BEDS
TOT. BATHS
TOT. SQ FT
PROP TYPE
DOM
4206 WOODSIDE CIR $284,900 2 2 1,799 ATTACHD 8/3/2008
1640 WORTHINGTON ST $359,000 4 3 2,342 DETACHD 10/28/2008
5350 LAKEVIEW BLVD $459,990 6 2.5 2,580 DETACHD 8/19/2008

SOLD (December 29, 2008 – January 4, 2009)

ADDRESS ORIG. PRICE SALE PRICE
TOT. BEDS
TOT. BATHS
TOT. SQ FT
PROP TYPE
DOM
2958 DELLWOOD DR $669,900 $547,000 4 3 3,272 DETACHD 775
14527 PFEIFER WAY $799,000 $650,000 4 3.1 3,788 DETACHD 120

Criteria: Homes in the 97034 and 97035 zip code, listed, pending or sold between the dates listed above as reported by the Regional Multiple Listing Service (RMLS). DETACHD refers to Single Family Detached Residence, MFG refers to manufactured housing, and ATTACHD refers to single-family residences with some portion of the structure attached to another property, but not constituting CONDO ownership. DOM stands for days on market, or the number of days from when the listing became active and when it received an acceptable offer.

If links to ACTIVE properties do not bring up property information, the listing may no longer be active, but rather expired, cancelled, pending, or sold.

Open Houses for Sunday, January 4th, 2009

The holidays are behind us, the snow has melted, and it’s time to get back into the saddle. Here are this weekend’s open houses that are being promoted on the RMLS. All are being held open on Sunday the 4th.

12868 Boones Ferry Rd, a townhouse, $295,000, 2 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, open 1-3

5807 Ridgetop Ct, a house, $539,900, 5 BR, 2.5 Baths, open 1-4

624 Livingood Ln, a house, $574,900, 4 BR, 3 Baths, open 1-3

17512 Greenbluff Lot 1, a house, $1,425,000, 4 BR, 4 Baths, open 1-4

17554 Greenbluff Lot 2, a house, $1,850,000, 4 BR, 4 full + 4 half Baths, open 1-4

Have a great weekend.

Lake Oswego Real Estate Activity Report – December 22-28, 2008

Lake Oswego saw two properties enter the market last week.  Feet of snow and ice may stop delivery companies and impair mall traffic the week of Christmas, but the real estate market moves forward! (albeit slightly)

One property went “Pending”, and we have no sales for the week.

Here is the latest Lake Oswego real estate market activity report (see below the tables for additional notes):

NEWLY LISTED (DECEMBER 22-28, 2008)

ADDRESS
LIST PRICE
TOT. BEDS
TOT. BATHS
TOT. SQ FT
PROP TYPE
LIST DATE
12826 Boones Ferry RD 299900     2           2.1           1398       CONDO   12/23/2008
570 7TH ST                  739000    4           2.5           2528       DETACHD 12/23/2008

PENDING SALES (DECEMBER 22-28, 2008)

ADDRESS
LIST PRICE
TOT. BEDS
TOT. BATHS
TOT. SQ FT
PROP TYPE
DOM
1428 PINE ST 449000            3            3.1                 2738            DETACHD     782

Criteria: Homes in the 97034 and 97035 zip code, listed, pending or sold between the dates listed above as reported by the Regional Multiple Listing Service (RMLS). DETACHD refers to Single Family Detached Residence, MFG refers to manufactured housing, and ATTACHD refers to single-family residences with some portion of the structure attached to another property, but not constituting CONDO ownership. DOM stands for days on market, or the number of days from when the listing became active and when it received an acceptable offer.

If links to ACTIVE properties do not bring up property information, the listing may no longer be active, but rather expired, cancelled, pending, or sold.

Open Houses for Sunday, December 28th

Well, we still have lots of snow on the ground, but roads are generally passable thanks to some rain & melt-off. So… It’s Open House time!  You know those visiting relatives you’ve always wanted close by???  Pile them in the car on Sunday & take a tour.   Here is what’s on tap according to RMLS:

18530 Pilkington Road $319,000     3 Bd, 2 Ba,   Open 1-4

624 Livingood Lane      $574,900     4 Bd, 3Ba,    Open 1-3

16359 Chapin Way $1,439,000  4 Bd, 3 1/2 Ba,  Open 12:30-3:30

Local Flavor + Holiday Wishes For You!

Wow! A newscaster said yesterday that we are experiencing the biggest snow event since 1964!  For those of you who tune in to the Blotter from out of state, I am attaching a few photos so that you can see what we are talking about. Dianne has posted some for your amusement as well. We usually focus on real estate pretty much exclusively in our Blog, but with this kind of excitement, we can’t resist giving you a little local flavor.

Real estate is happening in Lake Oswego however, as you can see from Monday’s Activity Report.  I experienced an inspection last week in a foot of snow… before it REALLY got going : )  But that is another story. For now… here’s what life in Lake Oswego has been like-

Main roads are kept pretty passable with mostly packed snow, and are sanded regularly (Oregon does not use salt), but side streets, especially hilly ones, are let’s say…  invigorating! Kids who have been out of school an extra week this Winter Break are sledding everywhere. Lots of folks have bagged their aspirations of mobility as evidenced by the feet of snow burying their cars on the sides of many roads.  Others who are able and so inclined have headed for Mt. Hood where skiing is incredible, and road crews are always ahead of the curve. Trees laden with snow and ice have released some of their burden in the form of limbs in yards and on roadsides. But hey… it’s pretty!

Christmas has taken on a completely different tone this year.  Instead of filling the malls, people gather in kitchens around batches of cookies. Fireplaces are the center of many homes where friends, family and a variety of hot beverages and toddies complete the picture.  The uptick in Internet shopping in the area has kept UPS busy all over! This year is definitely one we will never forget.

Dianne and I would like to take a moment to wish you the very best of the Holiday Season. Whether your beliefs are Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist,+++ or you simply harbor a fondness for Santa, this is a season of hope and love which we all can share. We also want to say thank you to our clients who’ve trusted us with their real estate needs this past year. We are grateful for your business, your loyalty, and your faith in us. We look forward to the New Year ahead, and want to wish you and yours every happiness. Thank you for reading the PropertyBlotter!

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays.

Snowapalooza 2008

I wrote a post about the rainy season in Oregon not too long ago, so I was trying to avoid writing something about the past ten day’s snowfall. I mean, don’t we have anything more significant to talk about than the weather? But this has gotten to be too big of a deal not to mention it.

Snowfall in the Portland area happens, but it is light and some years, rare. We get so little snow that it only takes and inch or two to shut down schools. Most years it is comical how easily people in the Portland area will use a dusting of snow to create a good excuse to take the day off and go sledding with the kids. And snow at Christmas, well that is nearly always wishful thinking. Be careful what you wish for….

In the past 10 days we have had about a foot of snow and half an inch of ice. It is amazing. The temperatures have been below freezing for days in a row. It feels more like North Dakota than Lake Oswego. Well, maybe 12 inches is baby stuff for someone from North Dakota, but for us, it’s truly an event. It’s Snowapalooza 2008.

I am posting several photos that were taken in my yard. I am also posting a photo of my 20 year-old son’s friends who showed up at my house early in the event for some midnight barbequing. Oh to be twenty and so enthusiastic!

Temperatures are supposed to get up into the 40’s and 50’s over the weekend. So this will all soon be just a memory. In the mean time we are living in a winter wonderland.