Blog Alyssa Isenstein Krueger Tricky Plan to Buy a Mid-Century in South Tabor Worked!

Tricky Plan to Buy a Mid-Century in South Tabor Worked!

By Alyssa Isenstein Krueger, May 12, 2021

My clients Jake and Greg purchased a blah mid-century rancher in St. Johns in 2017. Over the last four years they worked tirelessly to turn the bland into beautiful. While they loved their home, they really wanted a larger mid-century with a basement and in their dream world, they would be able to move in inner-SE Portland. The first time I visited their St. Johns home I was totally wowed by their home and what they had done to it. Like a lot of would be sellers who want to buy a move-up home in Portland, their biggest obstacle was the uncertainty that goes along with putting a house on the market without knowing where you are going to move. They ran all the numbers with their lender, and to get the kind of house they wanted, they realized that they would have to sell their home first before they could buy. In years past, this would have been the type of situation where getting a contingent offer accepted would have been the path. But it’s 2021 and contingent offers are just not a thing with the incredible demand. We looked at a couple of houses that came on the market, but those homes were receiving multiple offers and with the need to write a continent offer, they knew they had no chance.

In mid-February a mid-century home in South Tabor came on the market. The location was ideal, and on paper, it seemed like it might work size wise and it was built in 1951, so as long as it had some original mid-century features, it could be a winner . But there were no interior photos- only 2 exterior photos. It was also tenant occupied and subject to interior inspection, which meant we couldn’t see the house until we had an accepted offer. After seeing the house on RMLS, I had a crazy idea that maybe they could write a contingent offer on the house, then see it, and if they liked it, move forward, and if they didn’t, no big deal, they would just terminate. I shared this idea with my clients and lo and behold it actually got them excited. They drove by the house that night, and did some sleuthing online and found interior photos from when the sellers had listed it as a rental. They let me know that night that they wanted to write on offer on it.

It took us a few days to pull together the offer because we had to work through their financing, figure out what to do about the tenants, and pull some other pieces together including figuring out how much they could sell their house for and when they could get it ready to hit the market. After spending a couple of days getting the offer all prepared, I sent it over to the listing agent. Unfortunately, all the work felt for naught because the sellers wound up accepting an offer from a buyer who said they would take on the tenants, whereas our offer specified that the sellers needed to give the tenants a 90-day notice upon my buyer’s acceptance after the walk-through. The sellers put us in back-up, and on the same day they allowed the first position buyers to walk through, they let us have 20 minutes to walk through the house as well so my buyers could decide if they wanted to stay in back-up. We went over to the house to do the walk-through, and both Jake and Greg LOVED the house- it was even better then they expected and from that moment, they were determined to make it all work. Fortunately the first position buyers backed out, which moved my clients out of back-up and into first position. Once they were under contract, we thought we were looking at a 90-day close, so my clients got to work furiously getting their house ready to go on the  market.

We put their house on the market about 10 days after they moved into first position, and they received 5 offers- all well over asking and all offered sufficient rent back.  The offer they accepted was $105k OVER what we listed their St. Johns house at. As soon as they accepted the offer on their house, we sent over a notice to the sellers on the South Tabor house removing the contingency. During the 2 simultaneous transactions we had a few big bumps- the house they were buying needed a new roof and other bigger repairs and the sellers refused to give them any credit, let alone do repairs, and the appraisal on their house in St. Johns received a pretty low appraisal- more then $40k below the sales price. Both of these blows hit hard because in order to feel like they could afford to do the repairs needed on the South Tabor house, they really needed the sales price on the St. Johns house to stick. Thankfully the buyers on their St. Johns home switched lenders, and within a week we had a new appraisal at value. Meanwhile, the tenants in the South Tabor home purchased a home, and gave their notice to vacate 30 days prior to the 90 day notice they had, so Jake and Greg were able to close on the South Tabor house only 5 days after they closed on their St. Johns house. And since they did receive rent-back, they get to spend the next month having floors refinished, the roof replaced and doing other repairs on the new house before they need to be out of their St. Johns house.

Throughout what turned into an almost 90 day start to finish process, Jake and Greg persevered with their eyes on the prize. When it all was said and done and I handed them their keys, they were still in shock that it all actually worked out. This is the nuttiest market to be a buyer in ever, but if you are willing to be creative, take some risks to take the plunge- opportunities are out there!

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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