Thursday, March 21, 2019

Instant offers! The easy button has a price.

You may have seen some buzz around a few real estate "disruptors", offering instant, or easy sales.  There are a few different business models out there.  But basically, they are offering to save you the hassles (and expense) of marketing your home.  Instead, they'll "bring" you an offer to purchase.

Some companies will actually buy your house, and then take on the hassle of preparing and marketing the home. And they'll pocket the difference.  Others have a posse of investors set to buy houses.  Or, maybe you're getting the old fashioned letters in the mail from folks who either have a buyer, or offering to buy your home, in an easy, quick, no hassles transaction.

There are times, and situations, where prepping and marketing a property is indeed too much of a hassle, and for extenuating reasons, owners just need to get the house sold and move on.  I had a client a few years back, who, through a job transfer, had two weeks to show up in another state, at work.  They'd found a place to buy in their destination city.  But here in Portland, had a VERY busy household, with a few boys, several pets and lots of unfinished projects.   Getting the place sold quickly was the goal.  Once I educated them to how much they might be leaving on the table, and was sure they wanted to for go the hassle, I was able to connect them to a cash buyer, and get their home sold, as is (without all that prep work) and quickly.  You don't have to forgo representation to have a quick, easy transaction.

Of course most sellers want top dollar for their property,  but that does come at a cost.  Getting and keeping your home show ready, scheduling showings around your family coming and goings, and not having a date certain, nor an amount certain for an offer can be stressful.  There is nothing wrong with prioritizing quick, easy and known dollar amounts and timeliness over the most long as you have an idea of how much money you are forgoing.  And as long as the "easy button" really is as easy as it sounds.

In general, folks making these instant offers are very astute buyers.  Many have access to lots of capital, and big data to help them make their buying decisions.  No offense, but most certainly, they know way more than you do.  And, most of these instant offers don't provide for you, the homeowner, having your own representation in the transaction.  Don't worry your pretty little head, they'll take care of everything.

But sometimes, these offers are crazy low, as in criminally low.  We just got one on our house.  The sender obviously doesn't know I am a real estate agent.  The offer to buy is for $300,000, all cash at closing or the proceeds from private financing.  Note.  This is not an actual cash offer. They don't have the cash on hand, and will be getting some kind of financing, it just may not involve an appraisal on the property.  But back to the price.  Zillow thinks our house is worth $655,998, and Multnomah County shows the market value at $609,440.  This offer is WAY off.  Other terms of the offer include a 60 day closing, and no realtor fees.  No realtor fees also means the seller would be selling to very astute buyers, with no representation themselves.

This "offer" came with a letter of intent, which if signed, commits the seller to working with these folks for 60 days.  That is that the seller, " will not directly or indirectly, solicit, entertain, discuss or accept any offers in connection with or enter into any agreements with respect to the sale, or other conveyance of any interest in the Property with any person or entity other than buyer".  Wow.  So if I got all excited and signed this letter, to "see where it goes", I'd be stuck with these folks for 60 days.  Oh, and the paperwork also says..."we hope you consider us as a trustworthy resource to obtain fair and flexible terms for a clean and straightforward transaction,"  I'm not sure offering 50% of value is fair or trustworthy.

Please please please, if you are wanting to avoid the hassle of selling and just want a quick easy deal, don't sign this stuff right away.  Take time to do some research, ask a realtor.  For heavens sake, at least look at County's opinion of market value and zillow.  I don't love zillow, but they're at least an independent data point!

Yes, I get the attraction of an easy sale, but sure don't think its worth $300,000!  I worry about less astute owners, especially the elderly, who could really lose out.  Oh, and when I do some digging on with the Construction Contractor's Board of the underlying developer, I do find some complaints filed.  hmm

If you are approached about an instant offer, and want a reality check, please get in touch.  I'd be glad to give you a market analysis so you can compare.  But, get in touch before signing anything!  503-312-8038

Monday, March 11, 2019

Portland's Ladd's Addition

Way back when, Portland was actually three separate cities; Portland, East Portland and Albina.  In 1891 the three cities aware combined into a single city, and that same year, the Madison Street Bridge (now Hawthorne Bridge) opened.  These two events led to an eastside boom.

Also in 1891 , William Ladd and his wife Caroline Ladd filed the plat of Ladd's Addition, dividing the land into 32 blocks with 716 lots.    Bounded by SE Hawthorne and SE Division, SE 20th and SE 12th, Ladd's Addition remains one of Portland's closest neighborhoods to downtown and the central east side.

Photo courtesy of Oregon Historical Society.
Circa 1915
The neighborhood is distinct for its street layout, which was Ladd's own idea (against the advice of his surveyor).  Some say it was based on the layout of Washington DC, though there is no real evidence of that.  Aside from the layout, Ladd's Addition is unique for its five parks that interrupt the street layout, and for the service alleys.  The neighborhood is considered a monument to the City Beautiful movement.

The five parks were part of Portland's 1903 Olmstead Parks Plan (Olmstead, of New York's Central Park fame).  These parks are lushly gardened with roses (Portland is the Rose City after all), rhododendrons and azaleas.

As the neighborhood was built out, street tress were planted, (mostly elms, maples and lindens), making Ladd's Addition one of America's most treed neighborhoods.  Dutch elm disease has hit Ladd's Addition hard.  There is a community based tree inoculation program, and volunteers regularly plant trees to maintain the neighborhood's lush tree canopy.

It was thought the alleys of Ladd's Addition would lend it a tone of affluence.  There are few curb cuts on the main streets of Ladd's Addition, and many houses have garages accessed from the alley.  In addition, most utilities were run down the alleys, giving the streets a clean look.  Today, most residents park their cars in front of their houses, on the street.  The garages are most often used for storage.

As with many neighborhoods in Portland, Ladd's Addition originally had deed restrictions, excluding racial minorities (except as servants).  As those restrictions expired, some Asian American families moved in to the neighborhood, and in 1939 the Portland Realty Board informally designated Ladd's Addition as suitable for "oriental" families.  Seemingly African Americans and other minorities continued to be excluded by zoning or deed restrictions until the Fair Housing Act of 1968.  Other tactics continued racial discrimination in housing well past 1968.

Referenced above, the City Beautiful movement was an effort to introduce beautification and monumental grandeur in cities.  It was thought such beauty would lead to civic and moral virtue, creating social order through beautification.  Read more about that movement here.

Ladd's Addition was Portland's first residential historic district (1977), and in 1988 the Ladd's Addition Conservation District Guidelines were adopted, with rules and restrictions on changes to the street/garden system, new buildings and exterior rehabilitation of existing buildings.  These guidelines address preservation of sidewalk details and horse rings, park use, front and side yard visibility, parking strips, trees, and many restrictions on remodeling and new construction to keep properties consistent with the historic character of the neighborhood.

Horse ring in a Portland curb

Today, Ladd's Addition remains a very sought after neighborhood.  The combination of architecture, close-in proximity, superior access to public transportation and bike routes, and nearby amenities of the surrounding neighborhoods have Ladd's Addition at the top of many lists.

I'll soon have a listing in this fab neighborhood.  The house I'm listing is shown in the photograph above! Check back in about a week.

Thanks to the Oregon Encyclopedia ( a Project of the Oregon Historical Society) and the American Planning Association for their excellent information).