Blog Buyer First Time Buyers Fall in Love with Lents Farmhouse

First Time Buyers Fall in Love with Lents Farmhouse

By Mel Marzahl, April 8, 2019

Starting their Search

When first time buyers Adina and Caitlin started their search they wanted a condo. They were tired of living in a rental where the landlord didn’t keep up with repairs. So, they thought the convenience of not having to maintain the exterior possibly having a gym would be great. Starting their search Adina and Caitlin really wanted to find something affordable and start building equity. Their plan was to eventually, in 5-10 years, buy the big family house they really wanted.

The Problem with Condos

Many first time buyers have a similar story. They start out looking at condos because of the lower price. It makes sense at first, the low price, the ease of upkeep. It’s not until they talk with their agent and lender that they start factoring in the high cost of HOA dues and realize how the HOA costs affect their approval price. Once they realize the big impact those high HOAs have on their price, they consider widening their search to include other types of homes.

Financing Tip: Even condo listed at 280 may have a HOA payment of $400/month or so.  This means a buyer putting roughly 5% down would need to be pre-approved for 360-375 to actually qualify to buy it.

Adina and Cailtin (center) with Mel Marzahl, their agent (right), and Dawn Carter, their lender (left)

Change of Plans

This is predicament Adina and Caitlin found themselves in. They liked the idea of a condo for the ease of maintenance, but they realized they could pay the same amount monthly to buy a great starter home instead. When we opened up their search to include single family homes there were so many more options. In their price point some houses needed major repairs but they wanted something they could live in, and slowly fix up. A complete remodel is not in the cards for most first time buyers. We searched all over SE Portland and looked at every 2bd 700 sqft bungalow on the market, until this big, blue, beauty popped up!

The Happy Ending

They widened their search just a bit more. Including a few areas they hadn’t originally considered, like Lents. The house they found is a beautiful, 4bd, 3 story, neon blue farmhouse. It has a front porch made for a swing and summer evening hangouts. This house checked all their “must have” boxes, and more. The main floor was fixed up enough, they could move in, enjoy it but make changes slowly. It has a basement for an art studio, a big lot for gardening, and a whole upstairs level with two bedrooms, a sitting area, and space to add a bath and kitchenette.

Adina and Caitlin got everything they wanted 5-10 years from now, today. Their new house is a beauty that lives well for them in terms of style and financially. They plan to rent the private top level to travelling nurses for some help on the mortgage. After they start a family they’ll have room to grow for the kiddos. They will be the first to tell their friends to consider all their options when searching for a home. Because they know better than most that you might go from looking at 2bd condos in Multnomah Village or Lake Oswego, to 4bd farmhouses in Lents in a matter of a month or so.

CONGRATS on your first home Adina and Caitlin!

Adina and Caitlin on the front porch of their new home!



Mel Marzahl


A Pacific Northwest native, Mel became a passionate advocate for homeownership and investing in real estate after buying and selling her first home. What interested her most was realizing the significant financial impact the right investment property can make and learning how much having a home to truly call your own can improve your quality-of-life. Her specialties are working with first time home buyers and sellers but is fluent in all aspects of residential real estate. She is also a CNE, or Certified Negotiations Expert, and knows that with all the technology available to buyers and sellers, one of the best skills a realtor can have is knowing how to be a collaborative negotiator in order to get the best for their clients. After a decade long career working in operations and client service for creative companies in the San Francisco Bay Area, Mel earned her Oregon Broker’s license and made the move to real estate. Her philosophy in real estate is listen to her client’s needs and to treat everyone involved in a transaction with honesty and integrity. She loves getting to know her buyers and sellers, many of whom become friends, and ensuring they get the highest level of service she is known for. With a background in art and events, Mel brings creativity and an eye for detail to the table. She enjoys a remodel project, has a soft spot for Old Portland and 1900's craftsman houses, helping first time buyers, and educating her clients on the selling and purchasing process. She believes in staying up to date on Portland real estate trends, but also technology and tools available to agents. This gives her an edge when it comes to researching and marketing properties, as well as communicating with her clients. When Mel is not working in real estate she is volunteering with the Red Cross, gardening, hosting dinner parties, or relaxing at home on Bull Mountain with her husband, Mike, and two big dogs, Indy and Jackson.
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