By Alyssa Isenstein Krueger, March 29, 2022
By Alyssa Isenstein Krueger, March 29, 2022
Back in 2011 I met one of my very favorite buyers ever, Mel. She worked with the Portland Housing Center and had $9,000 to from a matched savings account through Portland Housing Center. She used that $9,000 for a 5% downpayment on an oh so very vintage 760 sf 1920’s bungalow in Arbor Lodge that she bought for $180,000.
Fast forward to 2021. Mel is now married to Ryan and they are resource parents for kids in need and through the processes, have adopted 2 amazing kids with a third in the works. And all 5 of them plus a pup and a kitty were living in the oh so very vintage 760sf vintage 1920’s bungalow in Arbor Lodge. To say they were busting at the seams goes without saying, and yet they were able to take advantage of every nook and cranny to make the most of their tiny space. They contacted me to formally declare that it was time to move and buy a bigger house. At first they thought they needed to sell first then buy because they didn’t have a lot of cash on hand for a down payment on their next house, but they sure had a heck ton of equity in their little bungalow. I visited the house last fall and after seeing how packed the house was- packed but tidy and clean!- I told them I there was no way they could think they could sell first then buy. They needed to move out to make the little bungalow shine. Mel’s little house that she put $9,000 down on had more than doubled in value since she purchased it 11 years ago. Their best option was to get an interest only HELOC (home equity line of credit) on their bungalow and pull out as much cash as possible and use that for the down payment on the next house, then sell the Arbor Lodge bungalow. And because Mel bought the house so long ago for so little, their current mortgage payment was less than rent on most studio apartments in Portland. It took a few months, but by the end of January, the HELOC was funded and they had a pre-approval letter on hand.
After living in North Portland so long, Mel and Ryan longed for a big house with an even bigger yard for their young family to grow and spread and run and live. They knew that to get what they wanted on their budget, they most likely would need to move to the suburbs. A day or so after all the financing pieces came together, Mel and I met up at a house in Happy Valley to begin the search. From the photos, she wanted to love the house, but after visiting the house, it was clear that this was definitely not the one. After I locked up the front door we stood around on the street in front of the weird house and talked for a quite a while. We talked about their ideal house- which would be a mid-century, room for a hot tub, big enough for bedrooms for everyone plus a separate kid play area from an adult living room and home offices/art studios for both Ryan and Mel. And to really hit the mark, if it had a swimming pool- that would be divine. We decided that we would conjure this house and it would appear. Because that’s the way the universe works when you are Mel.
I got home and lo and behold mere hours after that conversation a house popped up on the market that fit the bill EXACTLY and it had a pool. The conjuring worked full stop. I made an appointment to see it that same evening, and this time Ryan was able to join us. The mid-1970’s split level house had street presence perched up on a hill with a large and tasteful fountain beckoning at the bottom of the stairs up to the house. We went inside and these two were LIT UP with excitement. It was literally perfect for them and had a gorgeous view of the west hills and the all important pool. The sellers weren’t looking at offers for another 5 days, so that gave Mel and Ryan time to think about how badly they wanted the house and how much they would be willing to fight for it. To rule out any other areas, Mel and I went to a couple of houses in Beaverton, but after seeing the Happy Valley pool house, any other house was a disappointment. On Saturday, 5 days after the pool house came on the market, they went back to the house for the open house and took the kids. After that visit, there was no question in anyone’s mind that this was THEIR house. There was some intense last minute negotiations including bumping up their offer twice to beat out other buyers, their well presented and solid as a rock offer was accepted by the sellers- and it wasn’t the highest of 6 offers on the table. The house inspected like a dream, closed on time and Mel and Ryan are planning out their future in the dream house with the pool.