What We Are Loving About Lake Oswego in November

  1. Hot Books for Cold Days Winter Reading Preview. One thing we can all safely do indoors this winter is read. Join Lake Oswego librarian Chris Myers on Tuesday, November 10 from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. for a Zoom review of over 30 new or forthcoming books in a variety of genres for yourself or to consider as gifts this holiday season. Consider it speed dating for book lovers. And while we’re talking books, let me put in a personal plug for my daughter’s book, Waiting at Hayden’s, which has been acclaimed by readers as “A pleasant feel-good love story during a time when the world feels upside down!” and “one of my new favorite love stories!”
  2. Harvest Centerpiece Workshop. Here’s a classic case of “give and you shall receive.” By supporting this event, you will not only walk away with a beautiful holiday centerpiece full of texture from flowers, foliage fruits and vegetables, and vines but you’ll also be supporting the Lakewood Center for the Arts. Local professional floral designer Carol Kelly will lead a one-hour virtual Zoom workshop on Saturday, November 21 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon showing you how to assemble the materials provided into a stunning display. Upon signing up, you will be asked to indicate your color palette and pick up date for your workshop kit from the Lakewood Center. Color schemes are yellow/orange, red/burgundy, and white. Tickets are $100 with $50 a tax-deductible contribution. Workshop kits will be available for pickup on Friday, November 20 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Registration deadline is Monday, November 16.
  3. Fall Menus at Local Restaurants. Tavern on Kruse launched its fall menu on October 22 so is in full swing this month and captures some of fall’s favorite flavors like roasted delicata squash rings featured in the Fall Splendor Salad, pumpkin in the pumpkin asiago ravioli, and cornmeal-crusted green fried tomatoes on their fall burger. The Tavern is also offering to simplify your Thanksgiving meal preparation by offering a full Thanksgiving dinner as a “Finish at Home” meal. The menu is complete with honey-roasted turkey breast, garlic mashed potatoes, apple and house-made sausage stuffing, brioche rolls, green beans, cranberry sauce, gravy and yams. Orders must be placed by 3:00 p.m. Tuesday, November 24, for pickup Wednesday, November 25 between 4:00 and 5:30 p.m. Another option to consider for Thanksgiving dinner is Stickmen Brewery’s Pre-Ordered Thanksgiving Smoked Turkeys. Stickmen’s is taking advantage of the culinary skills of Chef Ambrosia Otto, named one of the top 25 best chefs of Louisiana by the American Culinary Federation by incorporating smoked BBQ items into their menu. A 12-14 pound brined and smoked turkey will be the star of your Thanksgiving dinner if you pre-order and arrange for pickup sometime between Tuesday, November 24 through Thanksgiving morning, November 26. The cost is $65. Don’t worry—they’ve got you covered with sides as well. Check out the menu.
  4. Reunion Farmers’ Market. The show must go on! The Lake Oswego Farmers’ Market found a way to thrive this summer and its fall follow-up promises to return on Saturday, November 21 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in Millennium Plaza Park. Vendors will be featuring some of your favorite autumn stars including pumpkins, sweet potatoes and mushrooms.
  5. Holiday Lights at Bigelow Plaza and Millennium Plaza Park. The annual tree lighting (now in its 56th year) will be a go, but not in the usual way. While there will not be any traditional tree lighting celebration due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions, the lights will be on display and Lake Oswegans are invited to take in the sights during the season. The City of Lake Oswego will be releasing a special virtual greeting card on its website and on social media featuring some of the annual Tree Lighting favorites on November 27, the traditional day the celebration is held.
  6. Lake Oswego Tree Summit. Lake Oswegans are invited to attend and participate in the second annual Tree Summit on Saturday, November 21 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. via Zoom. This is a chance to learn more about your role as a steward of our urban forest. In addition to listening to keynote speaker, Kristin Ramstad, Manager of the Oregon Urban and Community Forestry Assistance Program for the Oregon Department of Forestry, you can register for a breakout group discussion on one of these topics: Tree Preservation and Advocacy, Actions at Home (that have a big impact), Community Science and Actions, and Habitat Enhancement and Tree Care. Register online.

Don’t miss out on all there is to love about Lake Oswego. Be sure to subscribe to my blog so you get weekly updates in your inbox. Click the “Sign me up” button in the top right-hand column.

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Love It or List It: Lake Oswego Edition

HGTV’s show, Love It or List It features homeowners who struggle with the functionality of their home, with one partner thinking that all it needs is a renovation and the other who thinks it requires a move.

Enter in the team of Hilary Farr and David Visentin who put their talents to work to convince them to Love It (Farr) or List It (Visentin). A tally through their ninth season (they’re into their 16thth ) showed more homeowners choosing to stay in their homes once Hilary worked her magic.

How do you decide whether to Love It or Leave It if you live in Lake Oswego? Here are some tips to consider in your decision.

1. Start out with the information you need to make an informed choice. That means meeting with an experienced hyper-local Realtor who can tell you what your home is worth both in its current condition and its remodeled condition and what a new home to address the issues where you currently are would cost.

2. Identify your issues. Some of the ones I often run across with my clients include:

•Size: the house is too big or too small. This is one issue that often leads to a decision to sell. Whether the kids have flown the nest, leaving you with more square feet than you need and more bathrooms than you care to clean or the kids have multiplied leaving your house bursting at the seams, matching the size of your home to the phase of your life is often the catalyst for moving.

•Space: maybe those small bedrooms worked when the kids were toddlers but with adolescents on the horizon, they may not provide the space you (and they) need. Or maybe you’ve started working from home and the dining room table just isn’t cutting it. Space issues that require adding on or knocking down walls also often trigger a look at weighing the costs of a renovation with the cost to move.

•Condition: the house needs updating. Is a facelift sufficient or does it require a heavy-duty makeover? And if so, do you have the budget and the time for that? Again, here is where making an informed decision requires some legwork on your part. I recommend making a list of the repairs/renovations you have in mind and then gather estimates from licensed professionals. If you need some referrals, I’d be happy to provide some for everything from refinishing hardwood floors to replacing your deck.

3. Identify what you love about your place. Here’s what I often hear from clients:

•Location. They love their neighborhood, their kids’ school, work commute. Luckily, no matter where you land in Lake Oswego, your child will end up in a good school so that can often be reassuring should other issues point towards moving. Neighborhoods also rank high with each boasting of a long list of attributes. You can read about some of them here and here. But in some cases, the location may be such an anchor that you will want to stay rooted and make that decision work.

•Layout. For some, the layout of your current home works great and it’s just a question of wear and tear that is the issue. Features like open floorplan, master on main, bonus room can be extremely important to how a family functions in a home so they too may present a reason for staying. You might consider asking a Realtor to show you similar homes with those features to get an idea of what your cost of moving would be to retain them while getting an upgrade that you don’t have to manage yourself.

4. Ask yourself: How long you have lived in your house? Have you been there long enough to take advantage of increased property values? You also want to avoid capital gains tax on appreciation so make sure you’ve owned and lived in the property for more than two years in the five-year period before selling.

If you’re trying to decide whether it’s best to remodel or sell your home in Lake Oswego, please give me a call at 503.939.9801 and/or check out my website. I’d love to sit down with you and help you make an informed decision based on some of the issues I’ve mentioned here. I’ve been a top Realtor in Lake Oswego for over 30 years and I’d love to put that experience and market knowledge to work for you. In addition, I’ve weighed many of these issues myself on a personal level so I can speak to you from my own experience as well. When it comes to making decisions about our homes, it’s not always just about the facts. It’s an emotional decision too and I get that. I’m hoping you’ll trust me to help you weigh all your options and make the decision that best works for you!

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5 Things We Love About Lake Oswego in October

  1. All things pumpkin. How do you like your pumpkin? In ice cream? Then check out Salt & Straw’s Mummy ‘s Pumpkin Spiced Potion laced with caramel. In your muffin? Head over to Kyra’s Bake Shop where the pumpkin chocolate chip muffins will be appearing all month as well as the pumpkin spice cheesecake cupcake. And it doesn’t stop there. You can find pumpkin croissants at La Provence, and some form of pumpkin cookie at the new kid in town, Cookie Crumble. And if you’re not sure what you’re in the mood for, stop by Too Sweet Cakes for an assortment of pumpkin offerings including pumpkin spice bread, pumpkin cake and pumpkin pie spice croissant doughnut.
  2. Stickmen Brewing Company’s Beer Pairing Dinner. Autumn’s bounty will be on display during this fun socially-distanced event. Five courses will each be paired with a Stickmen beer selected to compliment the flavors. Things start off with light appetizers and beer samples and proceed through a sweet potato corn bisque, smoked Brie fondue, Lamb lollipops, smoked salmon cakes and finish off with smoked pumpkin crème brulee. See if there is still a spot open for Tuesday, October 27 at 6:30 p.m. $50/person.
  3. Autumn décor. Visit one of our local boutiques and find yourself feeling all warm and cozy while sniffing pumpkin candles at City Home PDX, selecting a knitted pumpkin or comfy Sherpa jacket at The Grove or picking out table accents at Wishbone Home and Design.
  4. Fall colors. The nights are dipping into the 30s and 40s which is sending Mother Nature into overdrive, replacing the green leaves on our deciduous trees with a brilliant array of autumn colors. Read one of my earlier blogs highlighting some of the places in and around Lake Oswego where you can catch this beautiful display.
  5. Brisk mornings. If you’ve read my blog for long, you know summer is my favorite season. But I’d have to say fall comes in a high second place here in Lake Oswego, for many of the reasons mentioned above but also because it not only LOOKS like a different season but it FEELS like one too. The sun is softer. And the mornings are brisker, like a fall morning should be. Granted, it requires a little more bundling up to get those walks in, as well as a little more “gearing up” mentally, but once I’ve out there, my senses feel like they are getting a shot of adrenaline as they are flooded with the sights and the sensations of autumn. Not a bad way to start your day!

I love living in Lake Oswego and I know you would too. If you’re considering moving to Lake Oswego, please give me a call at 503.939.9801 and/or check out my website. I’ve been helping families make Lake Oswego their home for over 30 years and I’d love to do the same for you!

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Halloween Covid-Style in Lake Oswego

Halloweeners who dare can see this larger-than-life skeleton in Village on the Lake.

When it comes to the holidays, I’d like to improvise on Oregon’s tourism slogan to say, “Covid Holidays: They Look Different Here.”

We’ve already seen Lake Oswegans’ Covid renditions of birthday and graduation parties, weddings and anniversaries. The Fourth of July was basically canceled. And now we find ourselves on the verge of the big three: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

The CDC guidelines discourage traditional trick-or-treating this year and instead encourage activities like carving pumpkins, virtual costume contests and Halloween scavenger hunts. While we no longer have little ones in the house, we remember, and realize no trick-or-treating may be a hard sell. To that end, I’m posting a Halloween scavenger hunt list below that might help. And neighbors might want to consider ways they can treat while at a safe social distance—one neighbor is planning a chute drop to deliver the goods; others might want to leave treats on the porch or at the end of the driveway. I heard of one gentleman who built a robot for safely handing out treats. And another expert suggests we trick-or-treat in reverse, meaning that those of us with treats go around leaving our candy on neighbors’ porches. The point is, as with the rest of Covid, Halloween is calling upon us all to get creative.

Here are a few other Halloween happenings in and around Lake Oswego:

MONSTER MASH. Taking a page from drive-thru birthdays and graduation celebrations, the City of Lake Oswego is hosting a free drive-thru version of its annual Monster Mash on Saturday, October 31 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Visit the Parks and Recreation website Halloween week to download a map that will guide you to eerie parks and facilities throughout the community. Cruise through the parking lots and pick up your pre-bagged goodies. Costumes are encouraged both for you and your cars!

You’ll find this creature in the First Addition.

NEIGHBORHOODS. While you’re out looking for Monster Mash spook-spots, you might want to also explore some of the Lake Oswego neighborhoods to add more thrills and chills to your ride.  That’s where one of my previous posts on decked-out Halloween neighborhoods might come in handy. Some of the areas to explore from the safety of your car are Cardinal Drive, Westlake, River Run and Village on the Lake. Just like Lake Oswegans joined in the early Covid ritual of placing teddy bears in the window for kids to spot on their daily walks, look for Lake Oswegans to join in what Pinterest is seeing as a trend this season—decorating their front doors to express holiday cheer while staying in. I know we have a wicked witch with a bad sense of direction who will be gracing ours.

OAKS PARK HAUNTED DRIVE-THROUGH. Speaking of drive-through events, Oaks Park is presenting a Haunted Drive-Through experience. Choose from five themed experiences that play out through a number of scenes and range from 2 to 4.5 on a scary scale of 1-5.  When your turn is up, you’ll be given a sanitized Bluetooth speaker and led to a parking spot where your first scene will unfold in front of you complete with actors, sound effects, lighting and special effects. When that scene ends, you’ll be instructed to start your car and move to the next spot where you story continues. Attendance is limited and prices vary depending on the time. Buy your tickets online in advance.

HOLIDAYS ON FRANKLIN STREET. If you feel like driving a bit, the residents of Franklin Street in Vancouver are planning their biggest Halloween display yet with lights, music and special effects. Decorations will be up starting October 3 but on Halloween weekend they will be offering drive-by trick-or-treating as well as what they are calling a “traditional experience.” 46`6 NW Franklin Street, Vancouver, Washington.

As promised, here’s the Halloween Scavenger Hunt Checklist. Happy Haunting!

Item to Find (1 point each) Check if found
Carved pumpkin
Flying witch
Spider Web
Blow-up Pumpkin
Decorated pumpkin
Halloween lights
Body parts poking out of the ground

Don’t get spooked about buying or selling your home during Covid. Give me a call at 503.939.9801 and/or check out my website. I’ve been helping people move in, out and on during Covid and I’d be happy to do the same for you!

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The Numbers Tell an Interesting Story About the Covid Housing Market

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. When it comes to studying the impact of COVID-19 on the housing market, the numbers say even more.

A recent survey by Sears Home Services found that 44% of us are less satisfied with our homes than at the beginning of the pandemic. That may explain why so many people are deciding to move, causing home sales to spike and inventory to drop.

Consider these statistics:

Before the wildfires took off, pending sales in the Portland metro area hit an all-time increase of 67% compared to the same period last year.

Comparing home sales activity during the three months from July 5, 2020 to October 5, 2020 to the same time period a year ago, pendings were up 14%. And 5 of the last 8 months have seen less than a two month’s inventory of homes on the market.

The mortgage rate is also helping to fuel this activity, sitting at a record low 2.90 for the average 30-year mortgage compared to 7.90 leading up to the 2000 election and 3.40 in 2012 and 3.48 in 2016.

The average sales price in the Portland metro area stands at $481,000 today which is a 241% increase over the average sales price of $198,900 back when George W. Bush and Al Gore were battling it out in the election.

When you look at where the sales are really booming, the numbers reflect what we’ve been hearing—Covid’s impact is felt differently depending where you fall on the economic spectrum.

According to the National Association of Realtors, higher end homes in the Western region are seeing the biggest increase in sales compared to a year ago. The change in sales for homes priced from 1 to $500,000 has decreased but starts to increase once you cross that threshold. Homes in the $500-$750K price range have seen a 12.9% in sales; $750-$1M a 20.2% increase and homes listed at $1 million and above are enjoying a 32.7% increase.

Circling back to that Sears Home Services survey, it seems our dissatisfaction with our homes has us dreaming of features we’d either like to add to our existing space or find in a new home. The top five things we are wishing for are: Home Gym (41%), Home Office (37%), Gaming Space (32%), Kitchen Space (31%) and Yard/Garden Space (28%).

If you find yourself in that 44% of Americans who are dissatisfied with your home and want to move to Lake Oswego, please give me a call at 503.939.9801 and/or check out my website. I’ve been helping people move in, move around and move out of Lake Oswego and the Portland metro area for over 30 years. Let me put my experience to work for you!

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5 Things a Good Realtor Should Be Telling You That You May Not Want to Hear

As in all walks of life, there are times when being a Realtor calls for having the “hard talk.” To be honest, that “hard talk” has sometimes cost me a sale. Whether I’m being honest with a potential client about the value of their home or advising a buyer not to buy a particular home, honesty does not always translate into me getting the listing or getting the commission. But it’s how I operate, and it’s what I think you should expect from any Realtor you work with.

Here are a few areas where you should expect your Realtor to “tell you like it is” and not necessarily “tell you what you want to hear.”

  1. True Market Value. It’s only natural that when it comes to selling our homes, we may see more value than is really there. Why? Because of the memories, the love, the time and money we’ve invested in our home. I’m guilty of it too. Which is why it’s so important to get a Realtor’s honest opinion as to the value of your home based on facts, not feelings. A good Realtor will look at comparative sales in order to arrive at a recommended listing price. That doesn’t mean comparing your next door neighbor’s 4 bedroom, 4,100 square foot house with your 2 bedroom, 1,800 square foot house. He or she will take everything into consideration: size, condition, age, location, when choosing what sales to compare yours to. The figure he or she arrives at may not be the one you had in mind, but it is the one that is driven by the data. And when it comes to time spent on the market, homes that are competitively priced, fly off the market sooner.
  2. Condition of Your Home. When we live with certain things day in and day out, we get used to them. Things like pet odor, dog hairs, accumulated clutter may escape our purview but will definitely influence how your home comes across to a potential buyer. I’ve had to have the hard talk many times with clients, explaining the need for a deep cleaning, painting, or landscaping. It’s never easy to bring up but it’s definitely a conversation a good Realtor should be having with his or her client.
  3. Tax Complications. When factoring in the profit you’ll be walking away with from the sale of your home, it’s important to take into consideration the tax consequences and how they may affect you. A good Realtor can walk you through some of those so you are not blindsided. For example, if you have a capital gain from the sale of your primary residence, you may qualify to exclude up to $250,000 of that gain from your income, or up to $ 500,000 if you file a joint return with your spouse. You can’t take advantage of those exclusions, however, if the home wasn’t your primary residence, you didn’t own or live in it for two out of the five years prior to selling, you already claimed the exclusion on another home you sold within the past two years, or if you acquired the home through a like-kind exchange within the past five years

A different set of complications occur with the sale of rental property. All that depreciation you were able to claim and write off your income taxes has to be recaptured upon the sale and taxed at that time which needs to be taken into consideration when determining whether to accept an offer.

While it’s best to consult with your accountant in these matters, your Realtor should at least be making you aware that these factors can play into just how much money you are putting into your pocket upon the sale of your home.

  1. When to Walk Away from a Home. As much as I love to make a sale, I value doing right by my client more. And sometimes that means advising a buyer not to buy a particular home. For example, recently I talked some clients out of buying a home for their daughter. It seemed like a good buy at first, but once the inspection report came in identifying all the work to be done, I advised them to walk away from this place and look for something a little more expensive that doesn’t require all that investment. In another situation, I reminded some clients who were considering a $1.325 million home that their original ceiling was $1.2 million. They were moving from California and wanted to use some of the proceeds from that sale, but preserve the rest for travel and other things they wanted to do. In the end, they agreed that it made more sense to stay within their budget and thanked me for holding them to their limit.
  2. When to Accept an Offer. On average, the Lake Oswego real estate market appreciates 5% per year compounded. But conditions can change depending on a variety of things, especially demand. Right now we are seeing a lot of internal movement–Portlanders moving to the suburbs, and Lake Oswegans moving up or down. And there are out-of-state buyers too, driving demand. However, sometimes, especially when a buyer has insisted on listing their house for more than what their Realtor recommends, offers may come in that are below the asking price and the seller’s initial expectations. In some circumstances, it’s best to wait it out. In others, it’s not. A good Realtor can help you sort out which is the best scenario for you. Considerations include: your post-sale plans, how much activity your house has received, how much activity there has been in your price range, your current financial situation. Again, it’s not always an easy conversation to have but one I am always willing to undertake should the occasion call for it. And that’s what you should expect from any good Realtor.

If you are looking to buy or sell a home in and around Lake Oswego, please give me a call at 503.939.9801, check out my website, and/or fill out the form below. I’d love to put my 30+ years as a local Realtor to work helping you make your next move!

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Celebrate National Do Something Nice Day

Monday, October 5 is National Do Something Nice Day. It sounds like the perfect prescription for a country mired in divisive political battles on so many levels.

Besides being good for someone else, and good for the collective mental health of our country, turns out that acts of kindness are also good for your own health. Studies confirm that doing good boosts happiness and well-being and it doesn’t matter who you do the good deed for. From family member to stranger, even for yourself, the rewards you reap for kindness are blind to the recipient.

So the possibilities are endless. Look around—where, even on a small scale can you touch someone in a positive way?

My wife and I decided to get a head start on celebrating this holiday and distributed thank you cards to random neighbors who have provided some welcome entertainment on our daily Covid walks.

We left one in the mailbox of the family who has delighted us with their imaginative chalk art creations on their driveway. We pass by their home about once a week, and almost each time we’ve discovered a new theme: under-the-sea, outer space, stained glass. Who knows what inspired them! Maybe they were just bored. Maybe they wanted to give their kids a project to keep from going cabin crazy. Or maybe they wanted to entertain the passers-by who they knew would be grateful for anything that interjects a bit of discovery in a life that circumstances dictates needs to be fairly routine. That’s how their act of kindness touched us and we did what we could to touch back.

Another thank you card went to the home in the Rivergrove neighborhood that posts daily words of wisdom on an outdoor chalkboard. They usually have a humorous slant to them and we are always curious, when it’s our turn to walk down that street, what message will greet us. In talking with a neighbor, we discovered that this woman makes sure the messages get updated even when she’s gone. She apparently realizes what many of us need to be reminded of—what a difference one person can make, even with small acts of kindness.

The last card we dropped off went to neighbors in the Bryant Woods neighborhood who post two jokes on a tree in their front yard. Sometimes they’re funny enough that we take photos and send them to our kids. One of the better ones was a picture of a pilot parachuting outside one of his jet’s windows holding a sign that said, “I was your pilot but someone sneezed. Good luck!” Another was a photo of a bottle of Jack Daniels with a spray nozzle attached at the top and the message, “Anti-virus spray! Spray throat twice each hour.” We pass by this house once a week and they have yet to repeat. We applaud their dedication and their sense of humor.

The studies are right—each time we’ve dropped off one of our cards, we’ve felt a little better too. We like to think of kindness as a boomerang—you toss it out there and it comes back to you. Hopefully, our recipients felt the love. And hopefully, whomever you connect with next week does too.

And just a reminder: this Sunday, September 27 you can join in the Gallery Without Walls virtual celebration at 3:00 p.m. by signing up online. Tour the 14 new rotating pieces and listen to some of the artists talk about their work all from the comfort of your home!

Be sure to sign up to receive weekly updates on my blog of what is happening in Lake Oswego and all the reasons why you might want to live here! Click the “Sign me up” button in the top right hand column. 

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Tips for How to Win a Bidding War When Buying a House in Lake Oswego

With the current inventory, low mortgage rates and a heightened appreciation for the place we call home, bidding wars are becoming more common here in Lake Oswego. I’ve represented clients in a couple just within the last two weeks.

What can you do to increase your chances of having your bid be accepted in a multiple-offer scenario? Here are a few tips.

  1. Get pre-approval before starting your home search. Coming in armed with a pre-approval letter assuring the seller that you can qualify for the loan needed to purchase their home, definitely strengthens your case. In spite of the advantage that gives you when making an offer, a recent survey by realtor.com showed that only 52% of active homebuyers had obtained a pre-approval letter before beginning their home search. Besides giving you the advantage in a bidding war, meeting with a mortgage lender before looking for a home also helps you zone in on homes you know you can afford. It saves you valuable time when looking and could make the difference in whether you get the home you want when you find it.
  2. Come in with your best offer. In a competitive market like ours is proving to be, your first offer needs to be your best offer. Price speaks volumes to sellers so be sure your offer is heard loud and clear. If there is other interest in a home you have your heart set on, it is not the time to negotiate. You will probably only get one chance so make sure it’s your best one. The National Association of Realtors reported in July that not only are houses moving quickly, but they are also averaging three offers per home sold compared to two offers a year ago.
  3. Work with a professional Realtor. When navigating a hot market, it helps to have the hyper-local insight of an experienced Realtor to guide you in making an offer that is fair and also competitive. In many cases with multiple offers, the winning one offers over the asking price. How much over should you go? How can you protect yourself to ensure the value is there and will be in the future when you decide to sell? What’s the right number that will get you the house but that will also appraise? These are the kinds of questions a Realtor with knowledge of the local market can answer, helping you arrive at a number you feel comfortable with and that hopefully, will get you the house.
  4. Don’t be afraid to add a personal touch. You never know how even the playing field is when up against multiple offers. Someone could be offering all cash. Someone may be offering $30,000 over. But let’s say all things are equal. A letter explaining how much you love the home, what you love about it, why this home would be the perfect next move for you could be the tipping point. If that’s your style, it couldn’t hurt and I’ve had it work for some of my clients.

I’m here to help if you’re considering buying a home in Lake Oswego. Let me go to work for you! I’ve lived here and been a Realtor here for over 30 years so I know the market and I’d love to use that knowledge helping you find your next home. Call me at 503.939.9801, email me at costellok@hasson.com  and/or check out my website. I hope to hear from you!

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Six Ways You Can Help During This Wildfire Crisis

“How can I help?” That is what many Lake Oswego residents on Next Door, Facebook, and Twitter are asking.

And it fits our profile. I remember when our family home flooded back in 1996, neighbors and friends showed up at our door asking, “How can I help?”

The threat facing us now is a different kind, but equally concerning, and even though all of us have stories to share of how our lives have been impacted by COVID-19, a crisis like this taps into a resilience of community where the whole is greater than the parts.

That’s why you find a neighbor in Rivergrove offering RV parking and yard space for up to 10 small animals or 2 horses or cows. Or other neighbors putting together free activity kits for kids. So, if you are wondering how you can help, here are a few suggestions.

  1. The LO Hunt has taken in over 100 horses and is providing space in their fields for evacuees to park their RV’s and seek shelter. Volunteers have rushed to their aid with donations of food, water, horse supplies, and even 8 tons of hay from one anonymous donor. But the need is still great for cash donations which you can contribute here, as well as equestrian supplies and volunteer time to do everything from mucking (a nice word for removing manure from stalls), feeding, watering and barn maintenance. Click on the links for more information. The Club is located at 2725 Iron Mountain Blvd.
  2. The American Red Cross has received all kinds of material donations for evacuees and at this time is requesting cash. Click on this link and specify that the donation is for western wildfires relief. And if you’re thinking you’d like to offer a helping hand in times like these, sign up to be a Disaster Relief Volunteer.
  3. Oregon Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster is another resource in need of your donations and your time. You can sign up to do both here.
  4. The Bridgeport Church has been collecting donations in support of firefighters including water, granola bars, protein bars and grab-and-go fruit. Check their facebook page for updates on future collection times.
  5. Do your due diligence. Captain Brandon Paxton with the Clackamas Fire Department suggests that one of the best ways to help out is to be prepared at whatever level of evacuation you are. Level 1 is Be ready with bags packed and valuable items identified and ready to go. Level 2 is Be set, and one of the recommendations Captain Paxton made is to create your own defensible space around your home by cleaning your gutters and removing any combustible materials from around your house. He also asked that we not leave sprinklers or water on in order to preserve water for the firefighters. Level 3 is to Go immediately. Firefighters ask that unless we are at a Level 3, we stay home as much as possible to keep roads open for residents who do need to evacuate quickly and safely.
  6. Keep up-to-date on wildfire information. A good resource is the Clackamas Fire Department’s facebook page.

Here’s to helping each other get through this trying time. Take care.



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Getting Creative in Lake Oswego During COVID-19

COVID-19 has required individuals and businesses to pivot to respond to the challenges that social distancing presents.

In the beginning, my business met the challenge with a new set of protocols including virtual tours, controlled showings with limited access and safety measures such as shoe removal, use of latex gloves and throwaway booties, sanitizing doorknobs and light switches.

Six months in and Lake Oswego businesses are still finding ways to reinvent themselves to weather this current health and economic storm. I wanted to shine a spotlight on a few of them.

LAKEWOOD CENTER FOR THE ARTS. One of the first annual casualties of the pandemic was the 57th Annual Festival of the Arts, usually held at the Lakewood Center and George Rogers Park in June. Instead, art supporters can view two of the six 2020 exhibits, Art in the Park and Artist’s Vision, on their Online Gallery. For an in-person experience, the Center is offering “Art in the Bubble,” a series of artist presentations and demonstrations and discussions centering around a theme. The talks are being held in Nicoletta’s Table & Marketplace banquet hall with the opportunity to enjoy a no-host happy hour before and dine in or takeout a delicious meal afterwards. Attendance is limited to 16, with groups seated 6 feet apart from each other and masks required. Tickets are free and sold online in groups of two but donations help to support programs like this. The first program features Contemporary Latin-American Artists on September 23.

Art Decked Out is a limited visual art event being held on evenings in September on the entryway deck where attendees can hear artists speak and demonstrate, followed by private showings (8 masked people at a time) of the Lakewood Center Entryway Gallery. The first event is Tuesday, September 15 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. with a focus on Intaglio printing. Attendees are invited to bring their own drinks or treats or place an advance order from Nicoletta’s and advised to bring their own lawn chairs. Admission is free, but donations encouraged.

TAVERN ON KRUSE. Back when sheltering in place first started, Tavern on Kruse was one of the first restaurants to start doing business differently. They were offering paid takeout meals twice a week to help support free meals for restaurant workers who had been laid off. This summer they have been experiencing near capacity thanks to their spacious outdoor patio seating where diners can safely socially distance. (Regularly scheduled outdoor jazz could also have something to do with it too). They are also offering “Finish-At-Home” entrees that promise gourmet quality that you can put the finishing touches on in just 10-15 minutes in your own kitchen. Orders must be placed by 3:00 p.m. the day PRIOR to pickup and picked up between 4:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. the day of. Featured entrees vary each day with options that include: Seared scallops and clam chowder, and molasses- brined pork chop.

LAKE OSWEGO PARKS AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT. One of this department’s first challenges was redesigning the Lake Oswego Farmer’s Market which I covered in an earlier blog. But more recently, the department proved that it just keeps reinventing with “Flicks at the Farm.” This physically distanced carpool cinema debuted at Luscher Farm the weekend of August 15-16 with movie-goers viewing Jumanji and Toy Story 4 on an inflatable screen in the field behind the community gardens. The Lakewood Center offered its own version of the movie drive-in experience with a showing of Night of the Living Dead in its parking lot accompanied by additional shrills and thrills from the performance group, Creatures of the Night.

LA PROVENCE. While this popular restaurant is now offering dine-in service, it also introduced some new options when that wasn’t an option which are still very popular. One is their Family Menu featuring a meal that can be reheated at home that includes delicious offerings like Beef Bourguignon for $35. Another is their Le Petit Market with items that are ready for you to take home and bake like croissants, cinnamon rolls and cookies. They come highly recommended!

ARTS COUNCIL OF LAKE OSWEGO. Despite COVID, the show must go on. While the ARTspace Gallery is now open for socially distanced viewing, pieces from the Plein Air exhibit can be viewed and purchased online. And the Arts Council is taking its annual Gallery Without Walls celebration online September 27 at 3:00 p.m. during which viewers can go on a virtual tour of the 14 new pieces and hear from some of the artists on their creative process. Register online.

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