October House Crush

House crushes can be any style, size, condition or location. They are the homes that touch your heart, inspire your imagination and make you feel good. They put a smile on your face every time you visit. 

This month I am house crushing on one of my listings in Northeast Portland, just north of Alberta Arts and Killingsworth in the Vernon neighborhood. The is a fully restored 1916 Old Portland home with stunning original woodwork throughout. 

This fantastic home was remodeled and restored in 2015 with updated systems and an all new kitchen with high-end appliances. A unique feature of this home is the three fireplaces, one of which is in an enclosed front porch. 

August House Crush

House crushes can be any style, size, condition or location. They are the homes that touch your heart, inspire your imagination and make you feel good. They put a smile on your face every time you visit. 

This month I am house crushing on one of my listings in North Portland's Historic Piedmont neighborhood. The home is a 1925 Dutch Colonial with a newly added master suite wing on the main floor. 

This home is the perfect blend of old school charm and modern convenience. There are three generous bedrooms upstairs and a full bath. The lower level has a family room and half bath. The property boasts a oversized double car garage with a finished bonus space above. 

June House Crush

House crushes can be any style, size, condition or location. They are the homes that touch your heart, inspire your imagination and make you feel good. They put a smile on your face every time you visit. 

This month I had the pleasure of selling one of my house crushes to an amazing family of five - the Maryatt-Bryants. 

Mapleridge Drive feels awesome, the views are breath taking and I love the West Haven neighborhood where it's located. The home faces west toward the coastal range, and is surrounded by amazing greenery that helps you breathe deeper and relax. 

The flow of the home is wonderful for entertaining year round. The rooms boast vaulted ceilings and lightly stained wooden plank paneling. There are decks off of all three levels of the home where you can take advantage of the night skies. 

This custom contemporary home was built in 1979 and listed by Debbie Smith, of Residential Realty Northwest. Debbie is an amazing realtor and one of my favorites to work with because, just like me, she cares about all parties involved in the real estate transaction.

Hidden Gems: Portland Hikes

Nestled between coastal and Columbia River Gorge hiking treasures, it’s easy to overlook the gorgeous hikes we have right here in Portland. These three gems provide an immersion in nature without a considerable investment in driving time. Explore the one closest to you or hit all three for a hiking hat-trick!


Wildwood Trail to Pittock Mansion Hike

Beginning this hike under the Thurman Street Bridge, the Wildwood Trail winds its way up and through a lush green landscape, populated thickly by tall trees that echo with birdsong. Expect to meet friendly flocks of local trail runners, making the pleasant climb past the mysterious Stone House, across Cornell then onward and upward to Pittock Mansion’s perch in the West Hills. This hike offers lush scenery typically found farther east in the wilds of the Columbia Gorge as well as the chance to tour a landmark rich with Portland’s history.

Start: Lower Macleay Park Trailhead
End: Pittock Mansion
Distance: 5 miles (round trip)
Elevation Gain: 900 feet
Cost: free (mansion tours $7-$10 depending on age)

Crystal Springs to Reed Canyon Hike

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden serves as a mecca for local flora, fauna and waterfowl. Begin your journey in the manicured grounds, its rhododendrons in bloom from mid-March through the summer, and progress into the 28 acres of rehabilitated forest in Reed Canyon. Deer are prevalent, as well as river otters, who can be glimpsed pulling fish out of man-made Reed Lake. The canyon is also home to Reed College, its nostalgic Tudor-Gothic architecture perfectly at home in the natural setting. Leisurely return to the trailhead while ruminating on this center for academia set in the simple beauty of classic Northwestern environs.

Start: Crystal Springs Trailhead
End: Crystal Springs
Distance: 2.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 145 feet
Cost: $4 – March through Labor Day from Thurs-Mon, free all other times

Tryon Creek Hike

Located just north of Lake Oswego, this verdant state park is bisected by Tryon Creek, which is fed here by a network of smaller streams. The abundance of trail options (pick up a free map from the visitor center at the trailhead) allows for creative exploration of several modest bridges spanning the waterways. Chart a trek of ideal length or simply meander through the lush expanse of protected land, losing yourself in this wooded oasis amidst civilization.

Start and End: Tryon Creek State Park Trailhead
Distance: roughly 2.5 miles (hikes vary)
Elevation Gain: roughly 200 feet (varies)
Cost: free

The Power of Staging a Home

An empty home offers a bland, cavernous glimpse at bare walls and forces you to roughly estimate what each room could hold.

An occupied home shows what it would look like if someone else moved all their belongings into your house.

A professionally staged home presents a version of the home that bursts with potential, offering an approachable vision of how the house could be embraced. It transforms the house into a template that can only be enhanced by a potential buyer’s personal touches. It invites the imagination and prompts an emotional connection.

Justin Riordan, the Creative Director of Spade and Archer Design Agency, kindly articulates his thoughts on the importance of proper home staging:


“Staging can be downright creepy. A buyer walks into a house and it seems like somebody lives there and yet it doesn’t. The quickest way to tell a potential buyer that the staging is not real is to use imitation items. We never use fake plants, food, electronics (like TV’s and computers). The more fake items (or fakery) used, the faster the buyer will know that nothing they are seeing is real.

“The purpose of staging is to help make the house stand out. If the staging overshadows the house, then it fails. Think of it this way, your house is the super star, the staging is the backup singers, cute, but not the main attraction. We never use items that are emotionally evocative. They pull the emotional attention away from the house. Emotionally evocative items fall into five categories: Religious Items, Political Items, Scented Items, Items with Fur, and Vice Items.

“Light is the single most important item when showing a house. ‘I wish this house was darker,’ said nobody, ever. People in Portland crave light, we give it to them. We remove window coverings, pull up blinds, and turn on all the lights before a showing.

“When staging your house, it is important to remember: Of all the people that might buy your house, you are not one of them. Your stager is not designing to your taste, they are designing to appeal to the most people possible.”

For more of Spade and Archer’s design philosophy, visit spade-archer.com or call 503-841-7506.

How to Boost Your Credit Score

Brent Lucas of Guild Mortgage prepared this helpful guide to boosting your credit score.

We all know that having a good credit score is important to our financial well-being and can open doors, such as allowing us to borrow money at favorable rates for homes, cars or college tuition for our children.

Understanding, though, doesn’t always lead to following the best practices and many of us make basic mistakes with our credit that can hurt our scores, according to a recent survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).

Fortunately, you can repair and improve your credit score if it has been damaged and the Guild Mortgage home gurus have found expert advice to help. It starts with knowing what you are up against, advises the NFCC. All U.S. consumers are entitled to a free copy of their credit report every year from each of the three credit reporting agencies, and these reports can be obtained at AnnualCreditReport.com. Look at your report and find out if there are any issues that you need to correct, such as late or missed payments.

If you do spot any errors on your credit report, dispute them with the credit reporting agencies, says Forbes.com. The three agencies are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, and all three offer online options for disputing erroneous entries on your credit report.

Negotiating with your creditors can also prove beneficial. For example, contact a credit card company and offer to pay your balance in full if they will report your debt as “paid as agreed,” or remove the late payment information from your credit file. Forbes.com advises getting this agreement in writing before you make the payment.

Another important step you can take is to set up automatic payment reminders for your bills, says myfico.com. That’s because payment history is one of the major factors used by the credit agencies in computing your credit score. You can take it a step further and be worry free about missing due dates by setting up automatic payments for your credit card bills, which will be deducted each month from your bank account.

Paying down your debt is also extremely important. Although this can be difficult to do, it is more manageable if you take it on a step-by-step basis. First, stop using your credit cards. Then, come up with a plan to pay the most on cards that charge the highest interest rate. Over time, you will see a marked reduction in your debt, which will make you feel proud of your progress while boosting your credit score.

If you are having trouble getting approved for credit because of your credit history, consider a co-signer for a loan or credit card. You will have to find someone willing to be equally responsible for any late or missed payments, which would damage their credit score as well. But if you use this opportunity responsibly, you can rebuild your credit score while also learning and establishing good credit habits. The biggest step, according to the experts: not borrowing more than you can afford to pay back, and making your payments on time.

Credit limits are also something to manage intelligently. Those who max out their credit cards can hurt their credit score. Keep your credit card balance at or below 35 percent of your credit limit, advises USAToday.com. Consumers with the best credit scores tend to use about 7 percent of their available credit, but 10 to 20 percent is within a safe range, says the website.

Finally, maintaining a diverse mix of different types of credit can boost your score. This could include a mortgage, home equity line of credit, auto loan or credit card. And of course, make the payments on time so you build a positive history!

By following these tips, even if your credit has taken a hit in the past, you can get back on the road to good financial health and use credit effectively.

If you’d like more information about preparing your credit score for home ownership, now is the perfect time to reach out to your favorite real estate agent to be connected with a financial professional like Brent.

A Guide for Every Buyer

Whether you are looking for a first home, investment property, or purchasing your dream home, buying real estate can, at times, be a difficult process to navigate. Here are a few tips for any home or investment property buyer.


First Time Home Buyers: 

  • Make a wish list. Talk/meet with your realtor and discuss what you are looking for in your home, and what neighborhoods you are interested in. Their job is to get to know you and meet your needs, so don’t be alarmed if they suggest an area or home you haven’t yet considered.

  • Don’t judge a book by its cover. Same goes for a house. Visit the property in person, look around, and visualize the potential. When you buy a house, it’s not just a place to live, it’s an investment.
  • Consider all of the costs. Aside from the monthly mortgage payment, make sure you have a financial grasp and budget for what it takes to own a home.
  • Make a reasonable offer. When it comes to negotiating with the seller, the three most important matters are information, preparation, and realism.

Investment Properties/Flippers:

  • Find the right neighborhood. It’s important to know the dynamics of a neighborhood– are most homes owner occupied or do some rental properties exist? Location is also key when it comes to tenant retention and happiness.

  • Be aware of local rental regulations. It is a safe assumption that you’ll need to bring your property into accordance with local rental regulations prior to earning any income from the property.

Luxury Real Estate:

  • Learn about the search process. Many luxury homes go unlisted to protect the seller’s privacy. By hiring a local, luxury real estate specialist, you can use their connections to identify which homes are for sale, and meet your search criteria.

  • Consider the financing. The loan process for luxury homes typically takes longer than for smaller mortgages. Since it can take extra time, you will want to be pre-qualified early in your home search process.
  • Thoroughly inspect any property you are considering making an offer on. In many cases, luxury homes are larger and have amenities that may require specialized home inspectors.

Second Home or Vacation Property:

  • Choose your location/destination carefully. You’ll want a place for you and your loved ones to gather that is easily accessible and offers a variety of activities for everyone to enjoy.

  • Buy under your budget. If you are planning on hiring someone to maintain your house while you are at your primary residence such as landscaping, there will not be much wiggle room in your budget to afford it.

  • Understand the tax implications. A qualified real estate agent should be able to provide details about taxes in the area, and possibly even tips on ways to save, such as buying just outside the city limits.