Poetry Boxes in Lake Oswego Celebrate Poetry Every Day

This is one of many poetry boxes you’ll find inspiring Lake Oswegans as they walk around town. David Cooke is responsible for many of them, including this one at the entrance to the Lake Oswego Library.

April is National Poetry Month and in Lake Oswego, that is something to celebrate.


Well, for one thing, Oregon Poet Laureate William Stafford called Lake Oswego home.

Add to that the fact that the First Addition-Forest Hills Neighborhood Association used Neighborhood Enhancement Program grant funds to create the Stafford Grove on Sunningdale Road, a small park near Stafford’s former home.

In addition, the Old Town Neighborhood Association sponsored a poetry contest a few years back and selected three winning poems to memorialize in their sidewalk poetry project.

And, for those of you who walk the neighborhoods of Lake Oswego, you’ve probably encountered a poetry box or two where residents encourage us to take a moment to think about the world and our place in it in a different way.

Poet, former school teacher, carpenter, landscaper and former Lake Oswego resident David Cooke is responsible for many of the poetry boxes found in neighborhoods near and far.

In business since the early 2000s, he has seen an uptick in orders with Covid. “Everyone was staying home and still wanting to build community,” he explains, “and poetry boxes are a great way to do that.”

Most of us have probably walked by one of Cooke’s creations when visiting the Lake Oswego Library. Recently refinished, it stands right at the entrance and has housed one of Cooke’s own poems, finished off with his message to us all, “Take a poem. Leave a Poem. Take a Moment. Leave Inspired.” Another sits on Lake Grove and another on Firwood Lane. Cooke believes four of his boxes dot our city’s streets; however, you can also find some DIY varieties around town as well.

Cooke has several styles to choose from, ranging from $225 to $399, all built to be weather-resistant and featuring beautiful, sturdy woods like Mahogany, Red Cedar and Black Walnut. He’ll also work with clients to create a custom design, incorporating additional elements to reflect their style. You can order them here.

When I asked Cooke what motivates a homeowner to install a poetry box, he explained that they are usually people who read poetry or people who write poetry and want to share with their neighbors. I think I fall into a third category of person who doesn’t write it, and doesn’t usually read it UNLESS I encounter it on one of my walks. So, as I explained in one of my most popular blog posts, “10 Things I Learned About Lake Oswego On My Covid-19 Walks,” it seems Lake Oswego neighbors like to find new ways to keep us walkers entertained and I think poetry boxes are a great way to do just that! As Cooke sees it, it’s a two-for-one deal. Walkers can get their exercise to stretch their legs while also getting their poetry to stretch their minds.

If you are trying to decide, “To sell or not to sell: that is the question,” let’s talk.  While I can’t recite poetry, I can recite the latest housing market updates for Lake Oswego and would be happy to share them with you if you are thinking of buying or selling your home. Give me a call at 503.939.9801, email me at costellok@hasson.com and/or check out my website.

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What to Do With Your Stuff After Spring Cleaning Your Home in Lake Oswego, Oregon

Spring is in the air which means that if you’re like the majority of Americans, you will do some form of spring cleaning.

This annual tradition, in which 69% of recently surveyed Americans partake in, has its benefits. Another Harris Survey of 2,000 Americans concluded that 86% of us feel more relaxed in a clean home.

And what’s the main culprit that we want to tackle? Clutter seems to be the worst offender.

So, once you’re done sorting, dividing, organizing and tossing, what do you do with all that stuff?

I’ve written an earlier blog about where to recycle, donate or upsell used clothing, but what about the “don’t know how to get rid of it” stuff?

Here’s a guide to some of those harder-to-know-how-to-dispose of items you may find lurking in your garages, attics and basements.

PAINT. Lake Oswegans have several options close to home. Both Miller Paint at 544 N. State Street and Sherwin Williams at 15659 Boones Ferry Road. They will accept small quantities of house paint, stains, varnish and primer for free. Habitat for Humanity Restore at 10445 SE Cherry Blossom Drive will also accept small quantities of household paint for free.

HAZARDOUS WASTE. Paint falls in this category, along with motor oil, batteries, CFL or LED light bulbs, and prescription medications (empty bottles into ziplock bags). All of these can be taken to the Metro South Transfer Station at 2001 Washington Street in Oregon City.

APPLIANCES. Habitat for Humanity Restore will take clean kitchen and laundry appliances 10 years old or newer and in good working and cosmetic condition as well as working dishwashers made after 2014. Newer microwave ovens in good, working condition may be resold in the store while non-working microwaves are accepted for scrap. Call for pickup or head over to drop off yourself. If you have a bigger load and don’t want to do the schlepping yourself, consider calling Big River Junk with rates based on the percentage of the truck bed you fill. Minimum charge is $100 for 1/8 of the volume up to $550 for a full truckload.

TELEVISIONS AND COMPUTERS. Goodwill Industries right here in Lake Oswego will accept televisions and computers and monitors. They participate in the Oregon E-Cycles program that accepts up to seven laptops, monitors, printers, televisions and computers for free. 17162 Lower Boones Ferry Road.

CELL PHONES. The Tigard Lowe’s has a recycle bin for cell phones at the Customer Service/Return desk at the entrance to the store. 12615 SW 72nd Avenue. Another option is to donate your old cell phones to the Call to Safety program. Call to Safety collects cell phones and laptops and distributes them to survivors of domestic and sexual violence. All profits are used to fund services for survivors who access the program. Phones do not have to be in working order and can be mailed to Call to Safety Cell Phone Project, P.O. Box 42610, Portland, Oregon 97242. Please do not include cases, any additional batteries or chargers (unless the phone is in working condition).

BATTERIES. Batteries Plus Bulbs at 7715-A SW Nyberg Road in Tualatin accepts your recyclable batteries, bulbs and electronics, although fees may apply. You can also take them to the Hazardous Waste Center at the Metro South Transfer Station at 2001 Washington Street in Oregon City.

ATHLETIC EQUIPMENT. Have your hockey stars moved out of the house? Traded in your old golf clubs for new ones? Play It Again Sports is willing to give you cash or trade for quality used fitness, hockey, baseball, golf, football and soccer gear. 9244 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway.

SHOES. I haul all the family shoes out of the shelves and spread them out on the garage floor every year to force family members to decide how many they really need. The ones that don’t make the cut can find another home. Options include: Donating to Soles4Souls (dropoff at DSW in Bridgeport), or to a homeless organization, especially if they are winter boots or shoes. Nike will recycle your running shoes through their Nike Grind program. Just drop off at any Nike store or outlet. Or pack up your gently used pairs and send to One World Running who will distribute them to developing countries. Mail to One World Running, P.O. Box 2223, Boulder, CO 80306.

If after all that spring cleaning, you’re thinking you can now downsize or need to get a bigger place, give me a call at 503.939.9801. I’d be happy to explore your home buying/selling options in today’s Lake Oswego housing market. You can also reach me at costellok@hasson.com and/or check out my website.

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Why Rising Interest Rates Could Be Good News For Lake Oswego Homebuyers

This may sound counterintuitive, but many real estate experts are saying that rising mortgage rates may actually be GOOD NEWS for homebuyers.


  1. Less competition. Right now, potential buyers are still scrambling trying to lock in rates before they go even higher so it may not feel like things are cooling down any time soon. However, further down the road, with the rising interest rates and home prices reflecting last year’s appreciation, many potential homebuyers may be priced out of the market. That’s good news for homebuyers that can still make the cut, especially if they are in the higher end of the market. As interest rates climb, buyers may be forced to shop in a lower price range than they would have when rates were in the under 4% range to afford the monthly payments.  That may leave high-end homes with fewer takers while the medium to lower-priced homes will still be hot commodities.
  2. Slowdown in home appreciation. This prediction seems to be all over the place with Zillow calling for an increase of 17.3% by years’ end, Fannie Mae setting its sights on 11.2% and the National Association of Realtors calling for a 5.7% increase in median home prices. But logic has it that as more buyers are pushed out of the market that will mean less competition for the homes that are for sale resulting in more realistic offers and a cooling down of the frenzy we saw in 2021.
  3. Cash buyers can profit from the market conditions. Cash buyers are immune to the fluctuation of the mortgage interest rates but that doesn’t mean the rising rates don’t affect them. However, it’s in a good way. They may be able to take advantage of less competition in the higher-end market if the higher rates send buyers settling for less expensive homes.

Trying to decide what current market conditions mean for you as a potential home buyer or seller in Lake Oswego can be difficult with online advice running from “The year 2022 could be a great year to buy a house—if you’re ready. It could also be a horrible time to buy if you’re not,” to “It’s a terrible time (to buy)—but as good a time as any.” The best way to decide is to sit down with an experienced Realtor who knows your local market and can help you assess if the conditions match your financial situation. He or she can also put you in touch with a loan officer who can give you current interest rates, loan options, and down payment requirements so you can make an informed decision based on what you know and not on what you’ve heard.

I’d be happy to be that Realtor for you. With over 30 years as a Lake Oswego Realtor and resident, I am here to help you make sense of current market conditions and decide your best strategy for moving forward. Feel free to contact me at 503.939.9801, email me at costellok@hasson.com and/or check out my website.

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Here’s How to Celebrate Arbor Month in Lake Oswego

One of the first things visitors to Lake Oswego comment on is our tree canopy. It’s a feature we take pride in and this month, it’s a feature we celebrate. In honor of Lake Oswego’s Arbor Month, the city has organized several events that you are invited to participate in.

Here’s a look:

Tree Pruning Workshop. This is Lake Oswego’s version of “Everything you wanted to know about pruning but didn’t know who to ask.” The Who is ISA Board Certified Master Arborist Damon Schrosk of Treecology, Inc. He’ll explain all you need to know to give trees and shrubs  in your yard their best chance for thriving. Limited to 30 Lake Oswego residents so register here for free. Saturday, April 9 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Foothills Park Pavilion, 199 Foothills Road.

Free the Trees in Hallinan Woods. Invasive ivy poses a real threat to our trees and you can help remove it by joining Friends of Hallinan Heights Woods in one of their regular stewardship opportunities. To register, contact Christy Clark at 916.261.1514 or triangle3.c@gmail.com . Sunday, April 10 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Park on Hemlock Street or Hallinan Street and follow the paved trail into the woods. Bring gloves and water to drink.

LO Tree Inventory Project. Learn how to collect data on the health and diversity of Lake Oswego’s urban forest in these free workshops. All you need is a smartphone or tablet to access the Oswego Lake Watershed Council’s LOTree survey tool. Register for the workshop online. Monday, April 12 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. for the Indoor Presentation and Outdoor Demonstration at the Lake Oswego Maintenance Center, 17601 Pilkington Road and Saturday, April 16 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. for the Outdoor Demonstration and Practice Session in George Rogers Park, 611 S. State Street (meet near the Iron Furnace).

Farm Saturday. Adults can’t have all the fun! Kids ages 5-12 are invited to spend a Saturday morning at Luscher Farm, taking part in Arbor Month and Earth Day-related craft and farm activities and learning about organic gardening. Fees: $42/Resident; $63 Non-Resident. Register online. Saturday, April 23 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Luscher Farm Barn, 125 Rosemont Road.

Lake Oswego Sustainability Resource Fair. Wondering how you can make a difference when it comes to building a sustainable future for our city? Plan on attending Lake Oswego’s first annual Sustainability Resource Fair and connect with community members and organizations who are advancing sustainability in our city. Kids can participate in arts and crafts and everyone can tour the new Lakeridge Middle School with its sustainable design features. Bartlett Tree Experts will be giving away tree seedlings too. Sunday, April 24 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Lakeridge Middle School, 4700 Jean Road.

Springbrook Park Preschool Nature Walk. Feed your child’s curiosity with this FREE nature walk led by enthusiastic guides from Friends of Springbrook Park as they teach preschoolers what trees do to thrive and survive. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Contact Anne Lider at 503.701.2291 or anne.lider@gmail.com if you have questions. Wednesday, April 27 from 10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Park at Uplands Elementary School, 2055 Wembley Park Road and meet at the Park kiosk located below the school playground.

Find the Stewardship Gnomes. Lake Oswego’s Stewardship Gnomes will be back out hiding in our natural area parks from April to October and if you find them, you could win a prize. Each month the city will be posting clues on where the gnomes are hiding that you can find here. Once you find them, here’s what you need to do: https://www.ci.oswego.or.us/parksrec/stewardship-opportunities

  • Take a photo of you, your dog or anything by a gnome.
  • Post your gnome photos on social media using the hashtag #LOparksgnomes for a chance to win your very own garden gnome this October.
  • Need a hint? The gnomes will be hiding on trees at Hallinan Woods, River Run Natural Area and Springbrook Park during April, and they’ll make their way to Foothills Park, Iron Mt. Park and Southwood Park in May.

Soil Your Undies. Last year’s Soil Your Undies Campaign was so beneficial that the Oswego Lake Watershed Council is inviting residents to participate again. By burying a pair of cotton undies at least six inches underground and then digging them back up in 60 days, you can see just how busy the microscopic organisms are in your soil. The more broken down your underwear is, the more active soil microbes you have in your yard. Register to participate and select a pick-up location for a free brand new pair of 100% cotton tighty-whities on either April 17 or April 23 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Be an LO Tree Hero. Here’s your chance to fulfill your superhero dreams. Sign up to remove invasive ivy from your tree and property with some education, leadership and tools from the Oswego Lake Watershed Council. Find out how you can become involved online.

Enter the Arbor Month Art Contest. Lake Oswego kids in grades K-5 are invited to enter Lake Oswego’s tree and wildlife-themed art contest. Works of art need to include insects, amphibians, birds, mammals or any other type of animal found in the urban forest. Entries must be received by 11:59 on Sunday, April 24. Winners will be notified on National Arbor Day, April 29, and prizes will be awarded at the Lake Oswego Farmers’ Market on Saturday, May 21. Click here for contest rules and online submission form.

Stay up-to-date on what’s happening in Lake Oswego. Subscribe to my blog by clicking the “Sign me up” button in the top right-hand column. You’ll receive weekly updates.

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The Thing We Love Most About April in Lake Oswego: Lake Oswego Reads

Once again, the Lake Oswego Reads program has selected a book, How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang, that invites participants to not only read and learn something but also to feel something too.

As one book reviewer said, “This book will stay with you for a long time for all the right reasons. It’s also gonna make you mad as hell in places.”

And another: “For those who want something gritty and uncomfortable, yet shimmering, poetic, and serene, this is a great choice.”

And finally, “It made me sad, it made me cringe, it made me put it down and abandon it and then take it back to continue.”

Luckily Lake Oswego Reads organizers have lined up a series of FREE events to help us all process what we read. Here are some of the highlights. For a complete list, visit the library’s website.

FIND A POT OF GOLD. The new City Hall Booktique has hidden three items that lead to a pot of gold. Bring your young gold miners in for a fun activity. Friday, April 2 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., 380 A Avenue.

CALLIGRAPHY LESSON FOR KIDS. Tim Loh, Chinese Brush Artist, will offer families the opportunity to learn about the tools and techniques of Chinese calligraphy. Says Loh, “… brush calligraphy is the foundation of Chinese brush painting.” Mr. Loh will provide the materials for everyone to experience trying calligraphy themselves. Saturday, April 2 at 11:00 a.m. Lake Oswego Public Library, 706 Fourth Street.

STUDENT PANEL DISCUSSION. Listen in and walk in the shoes of LOSD students as they discuss the role of gender identity as young people in today’s day and age. Sunday, April 3 at 2:00 p.m. Pre-registration is required. Join with Zoom.

DISORIENT FILM FESTIVAL: CURTAIN UP! This film, about theater club students in an elementary school in New York’s Chinatown, won the Best Feature Documentary Award at DisOrient 2021 as well as the Audience Choice Award for Feature Documentary. Get ready to have your hearts won over by these young thespians as they face their fears and stereotypes. Sunday, April 3, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. Lakewood Center for the Arts, 368 S. State Street.

LAKE OSWEGO READS ART SHOW. Hear and see how local artists translated Zhang’s words into visual expressions that will be on display throughout April. Light refreshments will be served. Monday, April 4 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Lakewood Center for the Arts, 368 S. State Street.

MASSACRED FOR GOLD. In his book, Massacred for Gold, R. Gregory Nokes tells of the experiences of the tens of thousands of Chinese who journeyed across the Pacific to mine gold and build railroads throughout the American West. They go from being wanted to fill a labor shortage to being reviled when jobs became scarce, a hostility that drove the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, barring any more Chinese laborers, but allowing those in the country to remain. Wednesday, April 6 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Oswego Heritage house, 398 10th Street.

TRANSGENDER HISTORY IN THE 19TH CENTURY. Ms. Burleton, Program Director of TransActive Gender Project at Lewis & Clark, will explore the intersections between transgender history in the 19th century and how that was impacted by nonbinary Chinese immigrants. Friday, April 8 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Lake Oswego Public Library, 706 Fourth Street.

IN SEARCH OF LAKE OSWEGO’S CHINATOWN. Join historian Susanna Kuo for a guided walk in Old Town and George Rogers Park to learn about the Chinese workers who once lived and worked in Oswego. The walk will begin at the Iron Workers Museum on Wilbur Street and conclude at the iron furnace in lower George Rogers Park. Sunday, April 10 at 1:00 p.m. beginning at the Iron Workers Museum at 40 Wilbur Street and concluding at the iron furnace in lower George Rogers Park.

AS AMERICAN AS CHOP SUEY. This talk explores the experiences of Chinese immigrants and Chinese Americans through the lens of Chinese cuisine. Professor Glosser will examine Chinese restaurants as one strategy for finding a niche in the United States, the chop suey craze of the early 20th century, cookbooks written for non-Chinese, and the international developments of the 20th century that changed white American’s perspectives on China and Chinese Americans. Wednesday, April 13 at 7:00 p.m. Lake Oswego Public Library, 706 Fourth Street.

MAYOR’S BIKE RIDE. Mayor Joe Buck and friends will lead cyclists through Lake Oswego with stops at Iron Mountain Park to learn about Oswego’s early history as a mining town and at Babica Hen for a snack. Pre-registration and completed waiver is required. Saturday, April 23 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., beginning at Millennium Plaza, 200 First Street.

PORTLAND CHINATOWN MUSEUM VISIT. Enrich your understanding of this year’s story and the themes it carries with a visit to Oregon’s first museum about Chinese American history, art and culture. Pre-registration is required. Sunday, April 24. Van leaves from the library at 1:30 p.m. for a 2:00 p.m. tour which should last an hour. There will be an additional 30 minutes of free time afterwards. You may also drive yourself and meet the group there but please indicate that when registering. Lake Oswego Library, 706 Fourth Street. Portland Chinatown Museum, 127 NW 3rd Avenue.

DUMPLING DEMO. Learn how to make two kinds of Chinese dumplings with Chef Abbie Qi, Liping Jin and Emily Zou. Check the website for recipe and ingredient list. Sunday, April 24 at 4:30 p.m. Pre-registration required. Join on Zoom.

LAN SU GARDEN TOUR. Considered one of the most authentic Chinese gardens outside of China, this is your chance to tour this Portland treasure. Pre-registration required. Tuesday, April 26. Meet at the library (706 Fourth Street) at 10:30 for a van ride to the tour at 11:00. Vans are scheduled to return to the library at 12:30.

C PAM ZHANG PRESENTS: HOW MUCH OF THESE HILLS IS GOLD: REIMAGINED HISTORIES. Hear the book’s author explain her research and her approach as well as other insights into the writing process and the role fiction can play in our understandings of history.
Questions for the author can be submitted ahead of time. Tickets are required and were given away on March 5. Friday, April 29 at 7:00 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Lakeridge High School Auditorium, 1235 Overlook Drive.

Don’t miss out on what’s happening in Lake Oswego. Subscribe to my blog by clicking on the “Sign me up” button in the top right-hand column. You’ll receive weekly updates on events, people and the Lake Oswego housing market.

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Spring Break Scavenger Hunt in Lake Oswego

Planning a staycation this Spring Break with your kids in Lake Oswego? I’ve been there, done that, and know coming up with ideas can be challenging.

So, let me pay it forward.

Load your kids up in the car and head out with copies of this Scavenger Hunt list in hand in search of as many items as you can find. Maybe give yourselves a challenge to see how many you can find in a certain amount of time. Or challenge some friends to do it with their kids too and see who finishes up first.

I’ve also listed links to some blog posts I’ve written on some of these things that could add a little more flavor to the hunt. Enjoy!

•Little Free Library. The number of Little Free Libraries has grown since I wrote this post back in 2013. Feel free to check out their inventory when you spot one, and maybe come home with a book or two (you could pack a couple to replace the ones you take)

•Chicken coop. We may be in the city, but we’ve got quite a few farmers at heart within our boundaries. My wife and I have spotted several on our walks from the simple studio layout to more of a resort complete with a covered fence tunnel and umbrellas that provide shelter in the rain.

•Porta Potty. This should be an easy one because there is so much construction and remodeling going on in our town. In fact, my wife and I started a porta-potty count on our COVID-19 walks and the current total is 366. If your kids want to take on the challenge and see if they can find more than that, well, then, there’s another day’s activity for you!

•Black house. Black exteriors are one of the design trends I mention in this post. You may be surprised how many you find in Lake Oswego.

•Boat on a trailer.

•Poetry Box. These are sprinkled around Lake Oswego neighborhoods and in front of one of our city’s institutions (hint: they carry a lot of books). Often they’re attached to a pole or tree in front of residents’ homes and display poems to enjoy for any passersby. Watch for a blog post about poetry boxes coming next month in honor of National Poetry Month.

•Someone walking a dog

A car displaying a Lakeridge or Lake Oswego High School sticker in its window

•A birdhouse

•A tree with moss growing on it. Extra points if there are also ferns growing on the moss!

•A street sign with the word “Lake” on it

Someone walking holding a cup of coffee from a local coffee shop. If you need to refuel while driving around, check out my latest roundup of coffee spots in Lake Oswego.

•A flower blooming

•A house with a red door

•A California license plate. Californians are some of our biggest imports and explain that positive net migration I talk about in this blog.

A fountain

•A stream. While our lake is our dominant water feature in Lake Oswego, we are also blessed with lots of streams that help to refill our lake in the years it is drained.

•Someone walking a baby in a stroller

•Someone on a kayak or paddleboard. If you can’t find someone braving the weather on our lake for this one, don’t forget that other body of water that runs along our east side!

•A goose. They say they fly south for the winter, but Lake Oswego is such a beautiful spot that I’ve seen many who choose to stay put year-round.

•A Heritage Tree. There are 38 Heritage Trees in Lake Oswego, designated as such because of they have notable historical, cultural, environmental or physical qualities. You can look for the markers designating them as such and/or you can use this map to lead you to the spot.

I’m around during Spring Break, so if you’d like to find out how this hot housing market has increased the value of your home, give me a call and we can meet. I can provide a complimentary market analysis to give you the information you need to decide what to do going forward. And if you’d like to look at homes for sale in Lake Oswego, I can set that up too. Give me a call at 503.939.9801 or email me at costellok@hasson.com.

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10 Things About Lake Oswego That Make Me Smile

  1. Village Baskets going up. To me, this is a harbinger of summer in Lake Oswego which, as you’ll probably be able to tell from this list, is my favorite season here. But it also is a testament to the generosity of folks who contribute to the project each year and the volunteers who hang them.
  2. Kids walking home from the Lake Grove Swim Park. I recall the first time my wife and I drove through Lake Oswego and we spotted the Lake Grove Swim Park. It brought me back to my days spending summers at the Russian River in California, some of my most cherished childhood memories. Now our kids have similar memories spent at the swim park during their growing-up years first as little tykes and then later, a couple of them as lifeguards. So, when I see kids with wet towels hanging from their shoulders, walking back home with friends from the swim park, I smile knowing that they too, are forming lasting memories.
  3. Lemonade stands. In our house we have a rule, “Always stop at a lemonade stand.” And that’s a payback for all the folks who stopped by our house when our threesome used to plant themselves out in front of our yard with signs and high hopes. Neighbors and passers-by didn’t disappoint. I see those same looks of hope in little Lake Oswegans’ faces and sheer delight when one of us pulls up.
  4. Snow day. To look out and see our yard covered in a white blanket brings real delight in the middle of winter here in Lake Oswego. Everything slows down, and everything gets really quiet except for the sound of kids finding ways to play in the snow. Luckily here in Lake Oswego we often get these little breaks from what can sometimes be too much of winter’s doldrums. A day or two of it has me smiling. More than that, not so much.
  5. The sound of kids playing outside. Speaking of kids playing, I like that sound no matter the season, but again, it’s something that can be a harbinger of summer here in Lake Oswego. We have a small park at the end of our street, and when our kids were little, the neighborhood gang would gather there for capture the flag, a baseball game or tag. And we could hear them playing from our yard…that is, until we rang the dinner bell for them to come home. Sounds like small town stuff to me, and that makes me smile.
  6. Millennium Plaza Park. When we first moved to Lake Oswego, the area where this park now stands was home to apartments. Fortunately, our city leaders had a vision and a path for getting there and now this park is home to some of our town’s most treasured events. It makes me smile to recall some of those leaders who were my friends and to know that Lake Oswegans keep an eye on the future and the kind of town we want our city to be.
  7. The sound of crickets. Remember what I said earlier about summer being my favorite season here? Well, you’d think crickets would make me sad because they usually don’t start singing till later in the season and could almost be considered a harbinger of fall. But I love the sound as it’s one more sense of mine that can experience all that summer has to offer up to its Lake Oswego residents.
  8. The expression on visitors’ faces. From our lush surroundings to our beautiful lake, visitors’ eyes light up when they see Lake Oswego for the first time. I wrote a blog years ago on what some of those visitors had to say, and if you read it, I think it will bring a smile to your face too.
  9. New discoveries. We may be a small town (but growing) and I may have lived here for over 30 years (and counting) but as I mentioned in a recent blog, I continue to learn new things about Lake Oswego all the time. My wife and I have been taking daily morning walks since COVID arrived, and we’ve learned new pathways, discovered streams, and much more that you can read about in this blog.
  10. New homeowners. The great thing about loving something so much is that you want to share it. And I have gotten to do that as a Realtor in Lake Oswego for over 30 years. Whether someone is relocating here from Portland, Texas or California, they are so happy to make the move. And helping to make that possible, knowing all the reasons to smile that await them, makes me smile too.

Let’s see how I can make you smile! If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home in Lake Oswego, I’d be happy to meet with you and discuss how I can help. Give me a call at 503.939.9801, email me at costellok@hasson.com and/or check out my website.

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Tips for Getting Your Home Ready to Sell in Lake Oswego

Spring has traditionally been the kickoff to the home selling season, but coming off a year when there didn’t seem to be an off-season, those old rules may no longer apply.

What does apply, however, is that if you are considering putting your home on the market, there are things you should do BEFORE that happens.

  1. Meet with a Realtor. As a homeowner you have a product—your house—and the best way to sell it is to know what the market for it is and how best to price and package it. That’s why a hyper-local Realtor should be your first step in getting ready to sell. He or she can tell you what similar homes are selling for in your area, what cosmetic things you should consider doing to improve its sell-ability and walk you through some of these other suggestions.
  2. Declutter. Letting go is hard to do but necessary when it comes to preparing your house to market. Less stuff makes it seem like your home has more space and makes it easier for potential buyer to imagine it as their home. If can’t entirely let go, then relocate those files, knickknacks, boxes and hardly-ever-worn clothes to a storage unit. The cost of renting it will pay off in the long run.
  3. Work with a stager. In a recent report by the National Realtors Association, 47% of buyers’ agents cited that home staging affected most buyers’ view of a home and 82% said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home. That’s the effect you want so that’s why I provide a free consultation with a stager as part of my service when listing a house with a client. Often the suggestions concern rearrangement of furniture, areas that need to be decluttered, decorative touches to add to curb appeal and an inviting welcome.
  4. Make needed repairs. You want to eliminate as many objections a buyer might have BEFORE you start showing your home. This again is an area a Realtor can help you with in determining the repairs you should tackle and even referring you to experts to get the job done!
  5. Consider upgrades. This again is a judgement call, best made with the advice of your Realtor. Market conditions will determine how much, if any, upgrades are needed. First place to look would be worn or stained carpets or fresh paint on dark or marred walls. On the other end of the spectrum are major renovations like updating your kitchen or master bath. But again, in a seller’s market like we saw in 2021, those type of upgrades might not have been necessary.
  6. Clean, clean, clean. If you don’t already, this might be the time you hire a professional as well as specialists to tackle things like the carpets and windows. Ask your Realtor to do a smell check. Often when we live with odors from pets or moisture, we become immune to them. But I can tell you, a bad house smell can often be the biggest turnoff to a potential buyer so insist your Realtor be brutally honest with you. Better to address the situation BEFORE you start getting that feedback from buyers’ agents.
  7. Increase your curb appeal. Do a drive-by and see what potential buyers might see—overgrown shrubs, moss on the roof, cracks in the asphalt driveway, bald spots in the lawn. Since homes with high curb appeal tend to sell for an average of 7% more than similar homes with an uninviting exterior it’s worth your time and money to clean things up and spiff them up as well with decorative planters, colorful flowers, power-washing, a newly painted front door or an updated garage door.  
  8. Get an inspection. Again, this is a judgement call, depending on the status of your home and how competitive the market is. Once a buyer’s offer is accepted, he or she will conduct a home inspection but if you’ve already done so, you’ll know in advance what issues might surface and can address them ahead of time if you wish. The fewer surprises once things get rolling, the smoother your home selling process will be.
  9. Consider putting your house on the market sooner rather than later. While typically sellers wait until late March or later to hang out the For Sale sign, inventory right now, especially in Lake Oswego, is at one of its lowest so it might be good advice to get in early.

If you’re thinking of selling your home, let me be your first step in order to make all the other steps that much easier and more productive. I’ve been helping people buy and sell homes in Lake Oswego for over 30 years and I’d love to put that experience to work for you. Give me a call at 503.939.9801, email me at costellok@hasson.com, and/or check out my website and I’d be happy to meet with you.  

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10 Things We Love In and Around Lake Oswego in March 

SHE SAID THAT. In honor of Women’s History Month, the Lake Oswego Library is challenging kids to match ground-breaking women’s quotes with their images displayed on a whiteboard in the children’s library. New women and quotes will be featured each week. Here’s one to get you started. Who said: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” (Answer at the end of this blog) 706 Fourth Street, 503.636.7628.

GLOBAL ART PROJECT. The woman quoted above also said this: “It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” The Lake Oswego Library is inviting residents to participate in the Global Art Project whose mission is to create a culture of peace by connecting people around the world through their artistic visions of peace and goodwill. Visit the children’s library to create an art piece expressing your vision of peace or create your artwork at home and bring it to the library. Works will be displayed during March and April, then exchanged with artists around the world. 706 Fourth Street, 503.636.7628.

LAKE OSWEGO READS AUTHOR TICKET GIVEAWAY. The library will be giving away free tickets to hear the author of this year’s Lake Oswego Reads Selection, How Much of These Hills Is Gold: A Reimagined History by C Pam Zhang, on Saturday, March 5 from 11:00 a.m. until all tickets have been distributed. Her presentation will be on Friday, April 29 at 700 p.m. at Lakeridge High School. Tickets are free; however, you must present a Lake Oswego Public library card to receive one.

WOODEN SHOE TULIP FESTIVAL. The 38th floral display will be held this year from March 18 through May 1, with field reports posted daily on their website. The flowers put on quite a show with 40 acres of tulips in bloom when they all get going. Currently season passes are available at $40 each; day passes will go on sale March 1. Hours are 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on the weekends, with more activities offered on the weekends as well. All tickets must be purchased online.

FLORAL WINE & DESIGN. Zupan’s is offering their popular virtual workshop again in March. Participants pick up floral materials, cheese and a charcuterie plate prior to class. Enrollment is limited to 10 participants. Sunday, March 13 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. $125 fee. Good News! Next month’s class will be in person again, in the breezeway. Stay tuned.

THE DULLAHAN IRISH PUB ST. PATRICK’S DAY CELEBRATION. Get your green on and head over to The Dullahan Pub on Thursday, March 17 for live music and special menu and drink offerings to celebrate the occasion. While not scaled up to pre-COVID festivities yet, attendees will find plenty of reason to raise their glasses and say, “Sláinte!” Depending on demand, the special offerings may extend through the weekend. 352 B Avenue, 503.305.8087.

TRYON CREEK OWL FEST. Learn about the five owl breeds that live, breed and nest here (and another that has been known to fly over). Check for updated details. 11321 S. Terwilliger Blvd., 503.636.4398.

THE WORST DAY OF THE YEAR RIDE. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. So since the weather in March is still cold in the Portland metro area, ORbike decided to make an event out of it. Bicyclists can brave the elements in costumed style and chose one of three routes ranging from 15 to 41.6 miles on Sunday, March 20. The registration fee covers a hearty breakfast, syncopated drummers and a half-time party.

SPRING BREAK CAMPS. These are always a March highlight and you can read all about them in an earlier blog. And here’s another option: Tryon Creek is also offering a Spring Break Camp for ages 7-12 from March 21 through March 24 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Activities include hiking, storytelling, nature art and campfires. Fees: $425/non-Friends of Tryon Creek Members; $375/members. 11321 S. Terwilliger Blvd., 503.636.4398.

CHERRY BLOSSOM TREES. These beautiful harbingers of spring are abundant around Lake Oswego and the Portland metro area. You’ll find them in Sundeleaf Plaza, Millennium Plaza Park, and lining many of our commercial and neighborhood streets. Venture up to Portland and catch the 100 tree display on the northwest side of Waterfront Park towards the end of March or stroll through Hoyt Arboretum where 60 cherry blossom trees are planted along the 12 miles of trails.

Spring is also a popular time for home sales so if you’re in the market, be sure to start by giving me a call at 503.939.9801 and/or check out my website. I’ve lived in Lake Oswego and been a Realtor in Lake Oswego for over 30 years and would love to put my experience to work making your next move your best one!

Answer: Eleanor Roosevelt

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Lake Oswego Housing Market Forecast

“The structure of our market is really strong.” Those were the takeaway words from Noah Blanton, President Oregon Direct with WFG Title Company in a recent presentation to Hasson Company Realtors.

What is he basing that opinion on?

He’s looking at the expected inbound net migration, lack of inventory and the number of homebuyers in the stage of peak housing consumption.

Let me explain.

Inbound net migration. While Oregon was seeing a positive net migration pre-pandemic, that trend has continued and been fueled by people realizing they could decide where they want to live and how they want to live thanks to working from home. Popular annual surveys find Oregon at the top of many lists of most popular states to relocate to. Mayflower lists Oregon as #3 and the United Van Lines annual movers’ survey ranked Portland as #10. So, we are importing demand for housing as well as having to meet the need that is already here.

Lack of inventory. December of 2021 saw the Portland metro area’s lowest inventory with only 0.6 months available which means that homebuyers were snatching up listings as fast as they were coming up. In the last 30 days there were 2,154 new listings in the Portland Metro Area and 2,556 new pendings, so 400 more pending sales than listings. Things definitely remain tight. What I found interesting in the presentation were some of the not-so-obvious reasons for our lack of inventory.

It seems that the amount of refinancing could be playing a role in this. Refinancing was incredibly popular among current homeowners last year with many taking out loans to build an office, an extra garage or an outdoor living area. It made more financial sense for them to refinance and add the improvements they wanted in a new home than to venture out into a competitive housing market looking for those things and perhaps having to pay much more for them. As a result, some current homeowners who otherwise might have put their homes on the market are deciding to stay put.

Another force affecting the supply is the fact that we are not building our way out of the issue. Only 31% of the housing units built in 2021 in the Portland metro area were for single family residences. The rest were for multiple housing units to meet another rising demand for rental housing. The increased cost for raw materials as well as for labor means that new construction is not necessarily an affordable alternative for homeowners.

Homebuyers at the peak of home consumption. When you look at the demographics of Oregon’s population, you see that the prime homebuyer age group (ages 25-54) is well represented and projected to grow substantially by 2029, with the 35-39 age group being the largest. These are folks in the “root setting” years so they will continue to drive the demand for housing.

Forecasters like Blanton believe that these market indicators make for a very solid real estate market foundation that will ride any economic cycle we may experience.

Things still promise to be challenging for buyers, but the good news is that people buying into the Lake Oswego housing market are buying into a good thing. While appreciation rates this past year were in the double digits, the average yearly change is +6.1% and that’s accounting for the housing market crash back in 2008 when values dropped 29% over the next three years. So even in buyer’s markets, homes in Lake Oswego continue to appreciate.

Another thing buyers should take into consideration when submitting offers is that 20% of all new listings in the last 30 days are “Back on the Market” listings which means that one out of five deals ended up falling apart so it’s wise to put yourself in a backup position on a house you really want. With odds like that, you could find yourself being moved up to #1 position with the seller coming back to you and asking if you’d like to buy that house you had your heart set on.

I’ll admit—getting into the real estate market during these times can admittedly be challenging which is why working with a hyper-local Realtor like myself can be the advantage you need right now. I received a Hasson Company Top Performer award for 2021 and have consistently ranked up there over my 30+ years as a Realtor in Lake Oswego. I’d love to put my experience to work finding you a home so you too can enjoy not just home appreciation but the quality of life that Lake Oswego offers. Give me a call at 503.939.9801, email me at kevin.costello@cascadehassonsir.com and/or check my website.

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