Blog Stories I got to pick my own neighbors!!

I got to pick my own neighbors!!

By Alyssa Starelli, April 25, 2018

Even as a REALTOR® it’s a rare occasion that one can choose their own neighbors. It’s part chaos and part providence, as with anything, timing is everything.  I’ll say it again, TIMING IS EVERYTHING.

I didn’t even know my friends Jeff and Stephanie were house shopping. I got a call one morning from Jeff telling me they were leaving the REALTOR® their mortgage broker had assigned them (btw, don’t let them assign someone, find your own!) as she wasn’t ‘getting it’.  Thrilled to work with one of my favorite people– not unlike most, I’ve admired his wit and convivial personality for two decades now–  we got down to business and talked shop. LITERALLY. He needed a shop, a big one (most my clients do, I now specialize in garages!) and a decent-looking house, big enough for his myriad and sizable collections of kitsch and nice enough to please Stephanie’s aesthetics and wants too.  It also needed to be in a SE neighborhood,  bordering on or in Milwaukie,  and preferably in Felony Flats – the last bastion of affordable housing West of  82nd. Even more ideally,  they’d like to buy in what I fondly call “Felony Heights” , where we currently both reside and where the Flying 15 Motorcycle Club, with whom we socialize, have a club house.

I set up a search, like I always do.  I let it soak for a bit and let Jeff tell me what they thought of it– the gist was “somewhat depressing, but hopeful for Spring, antsy to move now”.  I perused it myself and found it agreeably fairly dismal, most places were expensive AND small. Then it DAWNED ON ME — The house just West of me,  yep, exactly NEXTDOOR had recently been on the market and recently withdrawn, but I knew they were moving.

I pondered, I debated, I contrasted and compared… What would it be like having Jeff and Steph as neighbors? Probably pretty rad.  Is there anybody I could ever prefer as a neighbor? No. Would we make good and helpful but also fun neighbors for each other? Absolutely. Would we maintain healthy neighborly boundaries and respect? Definitely. Could any neighbor be a better communicator? Definitely not.  Did I enjoy every single time I ran into them? YES.  The debate was won, I would offer up the house next door and if it fit their wants and criteria, perhaps I just picked my own neighbor!?

So I called Jeff…. The conversation went something like this: “Um, I’m not sure this will intrigue you as it’s a pretty suburban looking house, and it’s right next to mine, and I’d never tell anyone else about it… but it’s got a RAD two story shop, and I think we’d make good neighbors….. what do you think? (cringe).  It felt a little like asking someone out on a first date, would they want to be my neighbor too?

Jeff ‘s interest was piqued! Even as I shared the realistic  highlights and lowlights of this specific house and street he seemed genuinely interested.   As the house was officially withdrawn and could not be shown without appointment, he’d have to do a drive by. He liked it well enough and really liked the idea of a two story garage (!!), but moreover, the location was ideal and the street quiet, it was winning him over.  He wanted a tour of the interior..

It took some wrangling and a painful few weeks wait, but I got them in. Unlike any normal real estate scenario, they met the seller –my current neighbor–  who told Jeff that part of the job was watching after and helping me out. Jeff apprised him of how many years we’d known each other  (we guessed 20) and we reminisced his having helped me move into my house 14 years prior. He was ready for the challenge. My neighbor was impressed,  I was embarrassed but will admit that there was the frozen pipe event; the roofing debacle; some scooter and car help; and any time he heard my ladder going up in the rain I got a brow beating and assistance.

Bryan (the “neighb”) seemed pretty excited too, as the timing could not have been better for him, and the ease of not having to list the home again seemed ideal.  They’d had an appraisal the month prior and knew exactly what it was worth (less than they had listed it for prior) and that’s what they wanted, so there was no difficulty in negotiations.  It fit exactly within Jeff’ and Steph’s budget which had been my biggest concern, probably their’s too, and seemed almost like the universe had a stake in the game.  Timing was everything and it couldn’t be better.  I had just chosen my new neighbors!!

So with just a few hiccups mostly due to a seriously pedantic appraiser (thanks FHA) and the hard work of a totally on-it lender (Joel Martin/Fairway), we were able to close in 24 days, on Friday the 13th,  Jeff’s preferred date for sooo many reasons. If you know Jeff, you won’t be surprised.

In closing, firstly, I’d like to congratulate Jeff and Stephanie on their new home!! Secondly I’d like to welcome them to the neighborhood!!!  Thirdly, I’d like to thank them for agreeing to be my neighbors (hey that’s a BIG decision!) and lastly, I look forward to a summer of wine, witty conversations and good friends.  I promise to be a good neighbor, you may use any of my garden tools.  : )

Alyssa Starelli

Broker | OR

A Portland native, Alyssa started her real estate career in the chaotic market of 2005, and quickly realized she reveled in matching particular clients with their perfect home, no matter how unusual. She then began specializing in mid-century properties - both Modern and Modest. More recently, she has included what she calls "Period-Perfect" homes to her repertoire. Her goal in this is to seek out those hard-to-find, unremodeled original homes of all eras. When I started in real estate, I realized there was a market for ranch homes, from Mid-Century Modern to the more modest Daylight Ranch, but few REALTORS® willing to service it. I started highlighting these 'Picks of the Week' on my website, introducing enthusiasts to the full gamut of midcentury houses of Portland. In 2006, I founded the Mid-Century Modern League in order to educate the public about the importance of preserving these gems. Today I continue to focus on Mid-Mod, but have added vintage, mostly unremodeled houses of earlier eras, which I call 'Period-Perfect', because they have interest to clients and are under-serviced too. Frankly, I enjoy seeking out any unusual or original elements a client might be interested in, it's a challenge to rise to." As Founder of the Mid-century Modern League, Alyssa is considered an authority in the local mid-century architecture scene, and is especially proud to include the Editors of Atomic Ranch Magazine in her past-client list. Often quoted in news and radio, she has been able to bring additional interest to her business, listings, and client's homes - many of which have been featured in magazines such as Atomic Ranch, Oregon Home, The Oregonian and also included on several local home tours. With a background in marketing, and an eye for the unique, Alyssa really enjoys buying and selling properties whose interesting features may be overlooked by other realtors, even (or especially) if those features aren't mentioned in the listing. As a hobby, Alyssa has issued herself a challenge to walk every residential street of Portland proper and document the best architecture specimens of each neighborhood. There are about 3500 square miles of Portland, and it's a big feat. By the time she finishes, she will have seen every house in Portland with her own eyes! You can follow her walks on her blog Portland-by-Foot. When off duty, you can find Alyssa at estate sales, honky tonks, her friend's cattle ranch, or seeking out ghost towns, roadtripping to the Oregon high-desert. A music fanatic and semi-retired booker/manager, Alyssa is heavily immersed in the western swing, old-school country, and rockabilly music scene, and you'll often find her out at shows, dancing, maybe even sharing her favorites on the radio. Alyssa Starelli 503-888-1362
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