I love that there are so many nature parks here on the westside, and my favorite is Orenco Woods Nature Park. Why? The park is located close to the NextHome Realty Connection Orenco office which means it’s a great place to go for a walk with my friend, Rebecca when we take a lunch break.
The park features 1.6 miles of trail where if you’re lucky you may have the opportunity to see blue heron and beavers along the the wetlands of Rock Creek. You also may be fortunate to see red tailed hawk, black tail deer and as well as other wildlife. It’s a fabulous place to take the kiddos thanks to the natural play area.
If you are looking for a place to hold a birthday party, celebrate time with family or friends be sure to contact the City of Hillsboro and reserve the covered picnic area.
The park is considered a metro park and traditionally dogs and other pets are not allowed. However Orenco Woods connects to the regional Rock Creek Trail so metro does make an exception. All dogs must be kept on a lease and please be kind to other patrons of the park and pick up after your floof.
One of my favorite things about the park is that when I’m walking to it I get to go by a little lending library. I’m an avid reader and am slightly obsessed with little lending libraries. If you find it I hope that there is something that interests you and your able to take advantage.
When you start to think about the process of buying a house one of the first questions a future buyer asks is how much home can I afford? There is so much more to this question that you would think.
The first step and most often the longest step in preparing to buy a home is to start saving money. Why? You’ll need money for your downpayment. There are some loan programs out that will allow you to put down as little as 3.5% of the purchase price to be put down towards the purchase of your home. Many folks think that they need the traditional 20% like their parents did. While this is great if you are able to save up for it, it isn’t always realistic. If you find yourself in a situation where it’s hard to save money one way to help is to look for loan programs that offer downpayment assistance. They can often be found at your state and local levels. Not to mention that if you are a first time home buyer there are often incentive programs out there for you. To find out what options are available to you talking to a trusted local lender is important.
While you’re saving for your downpayment another expense to remember when you buy a home is that you will have closing costs – the fees associated with conducting the real estate transaction that will need to be paid as well. These feels are on top of your downpayment. Having your lender and/or title company prepare an estimated closing cost sheet will help you plan for these expenses.
Once you’ve saved for your downpayment and closing costs you may think that you’re good to go, however there’s something else that you need to consider because your lender certainly is. It’s your debt to income ratio. Lenders look at this to see how much debt you have compared to how much income you’re bringing in. Many buyers do not realize that lenders will be looking at this in addition to your credit score. While your credit score allows the lender to see your track record with making payments on time, the debt to income ratio allows the lender to see how well you handle your money and if you are capable of taking on more debt.
As the lender looks at this ratio they like to see a debt to income ratio under 50%. If your debt to income ratio is above 50% it is a good idea to take steps to lower it before applying for a home loan. This ratio is going to greatly factor into how much a lender is willing to lend to you, what your interest rate will be, and other loan terms. If you are sitting at close to that 50% mark I would encourage you to work to pay it down if at all possible.
After preparing for all of these things you may say I’m ready to buy that house and find out how much I can afford. As you prepare make sure that you also have some funds saved up for moving expenses, utility hook ups (yes some do request a deposit), any new furniture you may need to buy (do not buy this while in the process of purchasing your home, any large purchases can change your debt to income ratio and affect your ability to procure your home loan) and finally any home improvements you may want to make after you move in.
There are many factors that go into determining how much home you can afford but what I ultimately like to tell my clients is that it’s not about how much you were approved for, it’s about the monthly payment you are comfortable with. If the loan amount you are approved for is going to put you with a mortgage payment that you are stressed out about making each month then you will be missing out on the joy that is home ownership.
For more great information on preparing to purchase a home be sure to check out Fannie Mae!
Even before the pandemic forced everyone to hunker down at home, 79-year-old Fran Rothman decided to move out of a townhouse and live the rest of her life where she would never feel alone.
The retired special education teacher and social worker settled into an arrangement that promised to grant that wish: Collaborating housing, or co-housing, in which everyone in the community agrees to share chores, solve problems and socialize together.
At PDX Commons, a 55 and older complex in Southeast Portland’s Sunnyside neighborhood, Rothman can open the front door of her condo and find camaraderie.
Neighbors she’s known over years of committee meetings and potlucks can be heard singing on their balconies. Folks wave at one another as they move about, and people not seen outside for a while are called to make sure they’re fine.
If it weren’t for COVID-19, the three dozen seniors living here would be looking forward to a dance party with a live rock and roll band. Instead, they continue to keep their distance while watching out for one another.
The U-shaped building they collectively designed, built, own and manage makes interaction easier.
There are walkways in front of the condos on the top three levels and next to the courtyard is a large meeting and dining space. Twice a week, resident foodies using the communal commercial-style kitchen take turns making dinners for everyone.
“Our meals rival Portland restaurants,” says Rothman. “We have great cooks who live here. We’re not talking about a pot of soup.”
Some of the ingredients are harvested from gardens residents tend to on the rooftop deck.
They take the elevator to the ground level to spend time in the library, media room with a big screen TV, or the craft and exercise room. In another wing is a workshop and bike storage as well as a dog-wash station.
Although the sit-down group dinners indoors are now masked affairs in which people bring their own plate to take home to eat, in good weather homeowners can be six feet apart outdoors around a fire pit.
“We all are in this together,” says resident Ann Lehman, 67, of the group that makes decisions by consensus. “The loneliness factor exists but not like for most adults living alone or even a couple by themselves or someone in a nursing home with their own room.”
Lehman says a perk of living with retirees who are regular hikers, bicyclists and campers is she can go for a walk with one of them without planning in advance.
Co-housing requires work
Each co-housing complex is unique, in physical size and configuration to work for the young families or empty nesters, or both, who live there. The private homes could be newly built or remodeled apartments. The communal space could be a multipurpose room or a century-old farmhouse.
The common goal: To coordinate efforts to benefit all.
People living in collaborative spaces buy a unit or sign a lease knowing they will interact often with their neighbors. People who want to control the activity may not like all the committees, writes Charles Durrett in ”Senior Cohousing: A Community Approach to Independent Living-The Handbook.”
Those who benefit desire traditional forms of community and a sense of belonging, according to Durrett.
“Living in community supports resilience,” says Eli Spevak, who lives at Cully Grove, a 16-unit co-housing community in Northeast Portland that his company, Orange Splot, co-developed with Zach Parrish in 2012.
“It also helps to live with people who have a wide range of skill sets, a nice level of trust and the ability to team up on group tasks,” Spevak says, adding these are “all handy things in case of catastrophe, whether that be earthquake, massive power outage or pandemic.”
Some are within walking distance of parks, shops, restaurants and grocery stores; others are remote or on acreage. All have a focus on sustainable living, reducing waste and keeping costs down with residents managing the finances and keeping up the property.
The condos have from 625 to 1,250 square feet of living space. All 27 were sold for between $355,000 and $720,000 before the building was completed in July 2017.
Today, an 846-square-foot condo with two bedrooms and two bathrooms and a north-facing balcony at 4262 S.E. Belmont St. #404 is for sale at $595,000.
Property taxes are $7,300 a year and homeowners association fees, at $557 a month, cover water, garbage pickup, recycling and community Wi-Fi and activities as well as property insurance for the building and a reserve fund.
PDX Commons is participating in National Cohousing Open House Day on April 24 over Zoom (join in by filling out a contact form at pdxcommons.com/contact.
Part of each owner’s continuing responsibilities is to work on committees.
Rothman is a member of the building, grounds and finance committees. One of her jobs is night watch, in which she makes sure outside doors are secured.
Events like a dance party are planned by the FunC (fun committee) and the gift-loan committee sorts out what people are donating or letting the community use, from a kayak to garden sculpture.
A retired nurse and a scientist contributed to the health committee, which sent group emails as facts became known about COVID-19.
When the coronavirus was even more of a mystery, people reacted to fears to different degrees.
“We made sure no one was so alone that they were scared,” says Lehman. “No one has been sick from COVID. Now, we’re struggling to make sure everyone gets vaccinated.”
Residents held Zoom meetings in March 2020 to agree on a code of conduct to reduce the risk of anyone contracting the virus.
As recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hands are washed often, surfaces are sanitized and cleaning chores were stepped up.
Families and friends could not visit inside the complex or stay in one of the two shared guest rooms.
Residents with health conditions that made them more susceptible to COVID-19 had groceries delivered or neighbors shopped for them.
“Ultimately, if these are the people you live with, you are not going to jeopardize them,” says Rothman. “We supported everyone’s comfort zone.”
Over the last year, the residents have spent more time together, since no one was traveling, and they learned new skills. Many participated in national co-housing webchats and virtual conferences.
Lehman led yoga classes and other exercise sessions continued even when the teacher couldn’t enter the complex. Birthdays are celebrated by everyone standing on porches and blasting a favorite song on iTunes.
Over time, they formed small social pods with folks on the same floor.
“As we get older, it’s better to live around people than in your own space,” says Rothman. Experts agree that limited social support and stimulation can lead to isolation, which affects physical and mental health.
After Rothman and her partner moved to Portland from Sacramento seven years ago to enjoy the city’s cultural activities, good transportation and closeness to recreational camping area, they lived in a townhouse where neighbors were friendly, but there were no joint activities.
Rothman says a co-housing complex is a place in which relationships can thrive: “Where you can enjoy your neighbors, do things with them and share with them.”
This week’s local hot spot of the week is a beautiful 38 acre nature park in Hillsboro – Noble Woods Park. The park has two different entrances one at E. Main St. and one at SE Century meaning that there should be an entrance close to you.
The park has fabulous opportunities to view wildlife it is also a wonderful place for recreation. The park consists of paved and soft-surface paths which will take you through open and wooded areas. You will enjoy viewpoints, boardwalks, as well as a bridge that crosses over Rock Creek.
Enjoy the park with benches, a reserved picnic table area and restrooms.
As you venture through the park you will enjoy the babbling brooks, birds and more. You are welcome to bring your furry four legged friends with you so long as they are on a leash.
A Portland events company is poised to turn a former shipyard into a 7-acre outdoor event venue for the summer, with COVID-19 protocols in place.
The Waterfront Blues Festival is a go this summer after it was canceled last year because of the pandemic. The annual festival will have a new home for 2021 and allow much smaller crowds.
It will be a highlight of a whole series of events planned for The Lot at Zidell Yards, a former shipyard being converted into an outdoor venue on Portland’s south waterfront between the Tilikum Crossing and Ross Island bridges.
Fuller Events of Portland has big plans for the space, which is not far from Waterfront Park where the blues fest is usually held.
“Our project is to bring back events safely,” said Christina Fuller of Fuller Events. “We’re building out a socially distant outdoor performance venue knowing that events look different.”
Renderings of the venue show what “different” looks like: pods of space, set apart for small groups to gather.
“So you’ll get the experience of sharing the moment of the live music or the charity auction or the festival, but still within appropriate spacing and the comfort of being around people that you choose to be around,” said Fuller.
Fuller and her husband Tyler are no strangers to Portland’s biggest events.
From the Waterfront Blues Festival to the Rose Festival, Hood to Coast and more, they’ve been involved in making big events go off smoothly. Their goal for 2021 is get back some of what the pandemic took away from event goers and those who work in the industry.
Their plan for The Lot at Zidell Yards includes food service, a stage for performers and an enormous 16-by-30-foot LED screen to highlight lives shows or show movies.
“And so we really encourage people to patronize the blues festival not only because it’s going to be a wonderful event with some terrific musicians, but also that ticket price helps to feed older adults in our community as well,” said Meals on Wheels spokesperson Julie Piper Finley.
Fuller says it will be a highlight of a season of fun, safe events that will bring back the community.
“And we’ll feature local, regional, national artists that folks have known to associate with the blues festival, and we’re just over the moon that we still have a waterfront place just a little bit up the river.”
Other events planned for the venue include Portland Pride, a series of film and music hosted in partnership with Hollywood Theatre and more live music.
Builder Tony Marnella doesn’t want to sell just one new house to raise money for children with cancer. Rather, he wants to build one each year, starting now.
The owner of Vancouver’s Marnella Homes is galvanizing construction workers in the Portland area to volunteer to complete a luxury residential property, valued at more than $1 million, near Vancouver Lake.
After the last donated Bosch appliance and high-end finishes are installed this summer, the 2,827-square-foot dwelling will be sold. All proceeds will go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, at which families do not have to pay for travel, housing or food while children receive free cancer treatments.
The St. Jude Dream Home Showplace, as it’s called, will be open during the NW Natural Parade of Homes tour in Felida Overlook in Vancouver from Sept. 10-26. The Building Industry Association of Clark County, which organizes the home tour, is helping Marnella connect with donors, contractors and businesses offering materials or services.
“Every dollar generated from these homes benefits children with cancer and their families,” said Marnella, who noted he was granted a new lease on life after surviving non-Hodgkin lymphoma and hopes to establish a tradition of completing many homes for St. Jude in the Northwest. “If we can help ease the pain of kids today and in the future, sign me up.”
St. Jude supporters across the U.S. have raised funds by holding raffles in which the winner receives a new home. About seven years ago, a smaller home for St. Jude was built in Bellevue, Washington, and sold to benefit the research hospital.
This is the first St. Jude Dream Home program in the Portland area, said DeeAnna Janku of American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC), a fundraising and awareness organization founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas in 1957 for St. Jude.
More than 540 St. Jude homes have been constructed nationwide since the first one in 1991, raising almost $500 million for research and treatment, Janku said.
For what he believes will be the first of many St. Jude homes, Marnella is working off designs for a Southwestern-inspired, single-level house named The Sedona that will have three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a powder room.
On Friday, Dario Ramos of Vancouver, along with a small crew, lent a hand to the project by installing post-and-beam framing. This weekend, volunteers from Aumsville’s Jose Garcia Construction and Hillsboro’s Arm & Hammer Construction will continue the work by putting up walls.
“For these guys to come out here is a big ask,” says Marnella. “Framing a home takes two to three weeks of full days with a standard crew.”
Marnella said he wanted to involve different crews to ensure there will be experienced volunteers for the next project — and allow “18 to 20 guys to go back to their families and share that they were part of this build and are appreciated for their generosity.”
People can give any amount to offset specific costs — such as $1,000 toward the purchase of the lot or $50 toward lumber costs — by visiting the Marnella Homes website (marnellahomes.com/stjude) or calling 503-654-6642.
The weather is getting warmer, the days are longer, and it’s time to get out and explore. Living on the westside of the Portland metro area you will find that you have plenty of opportunities to do just that without having to venture too far thanks to all of the local trails. Each Monday in April I will be highlighting some of the different trails in the area as part of my hot spot of the week feature.
Today I am sharing Rock Creek Trail with you. The trail is approximately 3.5 miles long with an additional 1.5 miles that will take you from Rock Creek Park into the City of Hillsboro. The trail gets it’s name for a tributary off of the Tualitan River that heads towards the Tualitan Mountains to the North, and intersects with the trail west of Bethany Lake Park.
The trail goes from east to west along the Springville Creek Power Corridor. This corridor extends from Rock Creek Blvd toward the Washington County/Multnomah County lines. As you travel the trail you will be greeted with beautiful views of forests, wetlands, and meadows. You will also find parks along your route where you can take a rest or let the kids play. The trail is a popular destination for those who love to bike, run and enjoy wildlife.
In addition the trail connects to Portland Community College’s Rock Creek Campus as well as intersecting with the Waterhouse Trail.
If you follow the trail to the far west end you will find the Rock Creek Power Line Soccer Fields, as well as Bethany Lake Park off of 185th which has plenty of parking. The lake is stocked with trout and you are more than welcome to fish there so long as you have a valid fishing license from Oregon Fish and Wildlife.
As you travel east along the trail you will find one of the Tualitan Hills Parks and Recreations more popular parks, Bethany Meadows Park aka Pirate Park. It’s known for its ship shaped play structure, climbing features, sand pit and tower. So much fun for the kids.
Finally venture to the far east end of the trail to visit Kaiser Woods Natural Area where you will be able to see wildflowers in the spring, and listen to song birds all year long.
But the city’s suburbs and exurbs are even hotter markets.
Remote work wasn’t the reason Dwight and Carla Hager decided to move out of their house in Portland’s Reed neighborhood last summer, but it blew their list of possible destinations wide open.
Dwight’s commute used to take him to either Kaiser Permanente’s Sunnyside or Hillsboro facilities, depending on the day. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, his call center shifts turned into work-from-home days. The new schedule—coupled with Carla’s planned retirement in a few years—meant the two could potentially have moved as far as McMinnville, Dwight says. They ultimately settled on Wilsonville as the sweet spot between city amenities, open space, and a reasonable commute.
Like the Hagers, plenty of Portlanders jumped farther out from the city in the past year. The housing market is surging throughout Portland and the surrounding counties, fueled by record-low interest rates and a desire for more space during a pandemic that’s kept many families cooped up together for months on end.
“An urban-to-suburban trend has been something that’s been widely talked about,” says Terry Wollam, managing broker at Wollam & Associates in Vancouver. “It’s not just urban-to-suburban, but it’s also suburban-to-rural.”
Wollam says he’s seen increased interest as far up Interstate 5 as Kalama and Kelso. On the Oregon side, Clackamas, Sandy, Boring, and Damascus have all become more popular destinations, according to Christopher Love, managing broker at the Woodstock office of John L. Scott Real Estate.
A recent John L. Scott Portland-area analysis shows a pattern of shrinking inventories and faster sales in the second half of 2020. The percentage of homes with pending sales in their first 30 days on the market hovered at 40–50 percent in 2019, but has been above 60 percent since June. The same pattern can be seen to an even greater degree in Clackamas, Washington, Columbia, and Clark Counties, where the 30-day-sales percentages ranged from about 68 to 86 percent between June and November 2020.
There’s another, less-conventional indicator of rural growth, Wollam says: a booming market for septic systems in new houses beyond the reach of municipal sewers. Cory McNair, owner of McNair Septic Design and Consulting in Clark County,just over the river in Washington, says 2020 was one of the company’s busiest years.
Some of the growth was in repair work, he says—existing systems failing under heavier use—but much of it was also in new systems for fresh construction in towns like Yacolt, Woodland, and Kalama.
It’s easy to see where the demand comes from. More than 800,000 Oregonians—around 40 percent of the state’s workforce—are capable of remote work based on their industries, according to a July 2020 report from the Oregon Employment Department.
Working from home makes long commutes less of an issue, and it pushes people farther from the urban core in search of roomier houses with space for work, school, and recreation.
“We’ve seen more people want to buy houses with pools and workout facilities, the extra amenities that they can do at home, and when they stretch outside of the city limits their dollar stretches further,” says Jessica Tindell, president of the Portland Metro Association of Realtors.
The pandemic accelerated the suburban trend, but it didn’t create it. Love says his office has seen increased interest in the suburbs and exurbs for a couple of years, driven by a desire for lower property taxes and more space as Portland proper becomes denser.
“I think [COVID] was a scale-tipper,” Love says. “That was the last straw.’”
Wollam says he’s also seen a big surge in additions and renovations. The inner Portland market also remains highly sought after, Love says, with plenty of newcomers and locals who want to downsize or upsize.
Ultimately, single-family homes with space for home offices are in demand across the board, says Gerard Mildner, academic director at Portland State University’s Center for Real Estate. Buying a new house is a long-term commitment, but buyers and even some employers seem willing to bet remote work will stick around.
For example, Riverview Community Bank switched about 100 of the 237 employees at its Washington and Oregon branches to remote work, says executive vice president Kim Capeloto. The customer service staff will eventually need to return, but there’s a backroom contingent that may be able to stay remote.
“I think we’ll still have folks that operate remotely, for sure,” he says. “I think that it’ll end up being more of an option.”
“I got an email from the Oregon Realtors Association and I immediately told my husband,” Granum said. “I was just really excited to have the opportunity.”
Just as excited as Granum are grocery workers. They, too, can get a vaccine two weeks sooner than expected.
“These workers can’t work from home,” said Miles Eshaia of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 555. “They can’t work remotely. They’ve shown up to work everyday throughout all of this since the beginning. Having access to the vaccine if they want it is a really good thing.”
There are dozens upon dozens of front-line workers who will become eligible for a vaccine as soon as the first Monday in April. Those working in food service, finance and the legal profession are included in the group.
“In keeping with Oregon’s commitment to equity, this change gives front-line workers and other [Phase 1B, Group 7] populations more time to get vaccinated,” said Patrick Allen, director of the Oregon Health Authority.
Allen says the state is able to move up the vaccine timeline two weeks early because more and more doses are coming in from the federal government and counties and health providers are making progress vaccinating seniors.
Granum is ready for her shot. She plans to jump online and schedule a vaccine appointment as soon as she is allowed.
“I don’t know if it’s a day my kids get to go to school but if it is, I’ll be on the computer right after they leave.”
If you were to drive by Garden Frog Nursery in Hillsboro you might just keep on driving based off of it’s looks and location. Let me assure you that looks can certainly be deceiving. Garden Frog is basically right across the street from Lowes and Home Depot. It’s got the appearance of being some place that wouldn’t have a whole lot of options, yet they really do.
We like to go their to get our seed potatoes each year, and of course to look around. I love that they have lots of different plants as well as cute pots and items for your yard. The people who work their are knowledgeable as well.
In addition to plants they also provide landscape design services and can help you figure out landscaping, hardscaping, lighting and irrigation. They also provide delivery services.
Something that I find really nice since I’ve got a black thumb (my husband takes care of all of our plants) is that they have a section on their website dedicated to plant care and information It’s especially handy if you’re just getting into gardening too.
So if you’re out taking a tour of local nurseries this spring to see what each of them has be sure to stop by Garden Frog.