Blog Stories From the Philippines to Portland

From the Philippines to Portland

By Alyssa Isenstein Krueger, September 7, 2018

Buying a first home is always a big deal. And it’s an even bigger deal when you’ve moved halfway around the world for the opportunity for a better life and the ability to work hard, save money and buy a house. This past June a lovely woman named Ammel contacted me after finding my name and profile on the list of Portland Housing Center partner real estate brokers. Ammel and her parents had moved to Portland from the Philippines a few years ago with the dream of a better life which included owning their own home, and after years of saving, of taking classes they were just about ready to dive into the house purchase journey. I met Ammel and her mom Melba at a Starbucks in East Portland, and I immediately knew that working with this family was going to be about as rewarding as it gets for me as a real estate broker.

When we met, Ammel and Melba had taken the home buying class at Portland Housing Center and had done a ton of research on homes in the area where they were looking to move to. They had been renting an apartment in East Portland and had really come to love the area and everyone in the family works in that part of town, so they knew where they wanted to live. They were 95% there on saving up for the down payment and closing costs, and by mid-July, they had hit their savings goal. In addition to knowing the general area where they wanted to buy, they also wanted a home with a minimum of 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms with a 2 car garage that would be easy to maintain and very importantly had space for a garden. Having never owned a home before, the idea that they could grow their own food in their own yard had appeal beyond measure.

Once they hit the go button, it only took a couple of weeks to find the perfect home- a solid 1962 one level ranch on the very western edge of the Rockwood neighborhood in Gresham. In addition to the right bedroom and bathroom count, it also had beautiful hardwood floors and a ginormous family room off the kitchen that is perfect for large family gatherings. Two offers came in, and Ammel’s family offered $5k over the list price and that was enough to get them the house. The house inspected great with only a few minor electrical and plumbing issues that can easily be fixed, and we negotiated enough credit for them so that they can have those repairs completed right away. Handing the keys over to Ammel and  her family was a joyous occasion. So many years of dreaming, saving, and researching had all culminated with being able to and successfully buying a home.

Ammel isn’t done though with her dream- buying this home is only the first step in her grand plan as she sees this house as security for her parents future. Her boyfriend recently moved up to Portland from California and looking into the not too distant future, there are plans of getting married and buying their own home, and I look forward to watching this family get settled and bloom!


Alyssa Isenstein Krueger



I am living the dream. Working as a real estate broker in my home town brings this native Portland gal joy beyond measure. I took the round-about-road towards this career. After graduating from Sarah Lawrence College in NY two decades ago with a degree in liberal arts/creative writing, I returned to my hometown of PDX and got a job in a legendary record store of days gone by, worked as a music and culture writer for Portland’s oldest weekly publication while pursuing a graduate degree in Urban and Regional Planning at Portland State University. Armed with my masters degree, I moved into the realm of affordable housing, community development, and urban planning, and then rounded the corner with a long stay in arts management then back around the bend when I got my real estate license and went to work for a non-profit housing builder at the cusp of the market crash in 2007. In the time between that market crash and the ensuing madness, I’ve stayed on top of the market like a dog guarding a bone. Using a magical combination of experience, instinct, and market data, I know what homes are worth, I know how to write a terrific offer, and I know how to help a seller market a home and receive and accept a great offer. Mutual trust and tender relationship building is the basis and foundation of my real estate practice. I use my skills as an active listener, creative solution finder and ace negotiator to get my clients the best price on a home, win the multiple offer roulette, and have as smooth and easy transaction as possible. Timely and responsive communication is the most important aspect of building trust and I don’t take that part lightly.  I am a stickler for details and nothing pleases me more than guiding a client through the home buying or selling process (and sometimes both at the same time). My role is one of advocate, advisor, partner, transaction organizer, and counselor. I am a partner broker with Portland Housing Center and relish the opportunity to work with eager first time home buyers. I have a knack for seeing the potential in almost any home and love to help clients see past what is and help them envision what can be. I have a decade of first-hand experience renovating and caressing my bungalow in Ladd’s Addition and had the honor of having my own home featured in a story in the Oregonian’s Homes and Gardens section. I can feel the love for any and almost all homes, but my heart goes all aflutter when entering a museum quality time capsule house -- the solid mid-century ones with the original pink or green tiled bathrooms, those charming early 1900’s farmhouses with the original kitchen cabinets and fir countertops, the cozy bungalows with the built-ins still intact. When I’m not working with clients, you’ll find me hanging with my two boys, Kalman and Saul, and my husband Robert, a Fine Art Conservator with his own business, Cascadia Art Conservation Center.  Retired racing greyhounds have been my constant companions since 1997, and our family includes Peanut the greyhound, Pinto the South Korean Italian greyhound, and our chickens, Rosie, Lola, Squishy, Duck and Prince. I am an obsessive gardener/plant fiend and love that we live in a climate where I can grow eucalyptus trees (I have 5 in my yard including a couple I started from seed) alongside blueberry bushes (6 in my yard). Given some free time, you’ll find me junking at an estate sale, dreaming of high brow junk, low brow art, making things, sewing, reading and dreaming of tropical locales.
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