Blog Alyssa Isenstein Krueger The Conjuring Of A Mid-Century House With A Pool In Happy Valley

The Conjuring Of A Mid-Century House With A Pool In Happy Valley

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.

Alyssa Isenstein Krueger

Broker | OR


I am living the dream. Working as a real estate broker in my home town brings this native Portland gal joy beyond measure. Check Out My Reviews! 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, our 2 cats Spaghetti and Will, and our chickens, Rosie, Lil' Peck, Penelope and Nugget. I am an obsessive gardener/plant fiend and love that we live in a climate where I can grow eucalyptus trees (I have 3 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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