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Old 09-29-2014, 12:13 AM
 
17 posts, read 23,557 times
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As the title states - is this even remotely possible these days or should I simply get the thought out of my head now?

Some background (and first post here in Portland). We are a younger married couple (I'm originally from Pennsylvania, wife is from Iceland) who recently moved back to the US after living in Germany and Iceland for the last 5 years. We're looking to relocate to the Portland area as the city itself and the surrounding areas are some of my favorite parts of the country. We've been numerous times, though I haven't actually visited in the 5 recent years that we were abroad so I'm sure it's changed a bit. We have a planned week-long trip at the end of October to get a better feel for different neighborhoods and to hopefully house hunt a bit. Last I was there, I fell in love with the West Hills area which I am aware is a more costly part of the metro area.

Here's for what we are looking: Small house (1200 sq ft or less is plenty for us) on a pleasant and peaceful plot (can also be small). Quality construction (good bones). Tucked up a small hill would be nice. We're open to all areas so long as we are not stuck in far out suburbia. We hike, run, ride, walk, cook at home and generally love the outdoors. In addition, we both thrive better in cooler climates - especially my pasty wife who curses the sun with every free moment. Being close to amenities is a wonderful bonus however so long as we can bike to places/town that is more than enough for us.

I work from home and have for nearly 6 years at this point. My situation is unlikely to change anytime soon so closeness to a job is not important nor is commute. My wife does that same. I've worked hard the past 12 years in my field saving every extra penny I have. We'd be first time home buyers but we'd bring a sizable downpayment to the table. Neither of us have any other debt (university in Europe is far cheaper than here - paid off student debt two years ago). We'd like to start a family soon which is part of the reason for our move.

Finally, I know you get these type of posts often so I'd like to thank you in advanced for helping us narrow down our selection and have an even better idea of areas for our October trip. This board has been extremely hopeful thus far.

Kind regards.
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Old 09-29-2014, 01:22 AM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
46,031 posts, read 33,745,370 times
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Sure, you might find a property or two in the West Hills. But if you wanted that hillside terrain, you could look in Southwest Portland and easily find what you might be looking for.
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Old 09-29-2014, 01:37 AM
 
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Hi urbanlife,

I've been also looking into the SW area. I only briefly spent time down there so I certainly am not familiar as much with that area however I have heard great things. I've been looking a lot on Redfin but without knowing all of the pockets I'm not sure what is what. This one caught our eye but again, I am less familiar with the area.

https://www.redfin.com/OR/Portland/3.../home/26567064
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Old 09-29-2014, 02:00 AM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
46,031 posts, read 33,745,370 times
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Wow, that is a fantastic find. I would say based off what you wrote, that is exactly what you are looking for.
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Old 09-29-2014, 02:22 AM
 
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Thanks urbanlife. It has the looks and seemingly the area - just find it curious with houses selling like hotcakes in Portland at the moment why this one has been sitting for so long. Perhaps too much for the area. 308/sqft is probably high I'm assuming. Or perhaps the house is poorly situated near-to some loud area/road or has something wrong. Typically when a house sits like that it's got some major issues.

Anyhow, this was just an example. It would definitely though be along the lines of what we are searching. The size is good, even a little "large" for us at the moment but the styling (mid-century ranch type thing) is pretty much spot on with a nice, open feel. I'll reach out to the relator on Redfin for more specifics but we're really looking forward to exploring the SW area more. As you said first, we could possibly get lucky in the West Hills but I'm guessing most houses there are out of our budget.
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Old 09-29-2014, 07:16 AM
 
Location: Winter nightime low 60,summer daytime high 85, sunny 300 days/year, no hablamos ingles aquí
700 posts, read 1,426,984 times
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Quote:
We hike, run, ride, walk, cook at home and generally love the outdoors.
I assume the proximity to Forest Park/wooded nature areas is the reason why you concentrate on West Hills.
If so, ask yourself a few other questions:

1. How close do you have to be to the center of the city? Around here, the closer, the higher the price.
Are you going to utilize that proximity by going downtown all the time? Is is worth the (substantially) higher price?

2. We tend to get bored with everything we do eventually. Even if you live right on the edge of Forest Park, by year 2 or 3 you may be sick and tired of running/hiking the same trail over and over. A place that is not so close, but with good access to a variety of choices (and again, much cheaper) may be a better option.
Hiking Wildwood Trail or walking to a coffee shop will get old eventually, the housing costs are forever.

3. 'Young family' you say. Any chance of children happening sometime in the future? Then think 'school district'. Most schools in Portland are mediocre to bad, with just a few exceptions (ex. Goose Hollow)
OTOH, most schools outside of Portland on the West Side are good or very good.

So, with the following in mind...
- Keep on looking in the West Hills area. If you persist, you may find something. I love to visit, hike the Forest Park and Marquam Hill park regularly, and overall appreciate the beauty of that region. However, I think there are places that provide similar benefits, and more, at lower cost, elsewhere.
Keep in mind that the land in West Hills is very expensive, so there will be fewer and fewer $300K or $400K houses when the owner/builder can put a $700K or $800K house on the same lot.
The best RE site for PNW (OR, WA, ID) is Washington Real Estate, Oregon Real Estate, Idaho Real Estate, John L Scott

- Cooper Mountain area.
It is suburban in feel, but has lots of facilities around. Beautiful, hilly region, with panoramic views from every corner. Cooper Mountain and several other parks and natural areas nearby. Most housing is new (=less need for constant repair, which is the case with NW Portland housing), a bargain compared with West Hills, good schools. Spacious, airy and relaxed feel compared with claustrophobic Portland/West Hills.

- Tryon Creek Park area.
It's straddling Lake Oswego and SW Portland. Again, great outdoor opportunities, hilly, somewhat isolated in spots but nearby 'civlisation'. It's pricey, but not more pricey than West Hills, and, if you buy on the Lake Oswego side, MUCH, MUCH better schools plus MUCH lower taxes.

Finally, if you work from home, you can live anywhere. Perhaps you'd reconsider the 'outer' suburbs. Ex. the NW corner of West Hills? The outdoor opportunities are better than anything close to Portland, while the prices are much lower.
How about the Oregon Coast? The most beautiful part of the state, unbelievable outdoor recreation, and less chance to see the sun than anywhere around here ;-)

BTW, I don't think the house you found is such a good deal. $308/sqft, over 4 months on the market, $6000 in taxes... never forget taxes - you may pay-off mortage early, taxes are forever, and generally substantially higher in Portland and Multnomah County than in Washington and Clackamas County.
When I was house-shopping I've seen lots of houses that looked great on the pictures, but in fact had serious problems the pictures did not reveal. This house may be in the same category, otherwise, it would sell long time ago.

Edit: almost forgot: how much %-wise are you willing to put down? A lot of 'good deals' in 'hot' areas are cash offers, with which you won't be able to compete.

Last edited by skiffrace; 09-29-2014 at 08:10 AM..
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Old 09-29-2014, 10:55 AM
 
892 posts, read 1,513,966 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simplesample View Post
Hi urbanlife,

I've been also looking into the SW area. I only briefly spent time down there so I certainly am not familiar as much with that area however I have heard great things. I've been looking a lot on Redfin but without knowing all of the pockets I'm not sure what is what. This one caught our eye but again, I am less familiar with the area.

https://www.redfin.com/OR/Portland/3.../home/26567064
There's some large cracks in the patios. Perhaps it has foundation issues?

I agree with Skiffrace to make sure you're in a good school district. It's not too far to jogging, biking, outdoors from pretty much anywhere in the area.
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Old 09-29-2014, 11:36 AM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
10,953 posts, read 19,494,873 times
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All of the Lincoln High School feeder schools are excellent and I have no reason to believe that Wilson HS feeder schools are problematic.
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Old 09-29-2014, 11:42 AM
 
Location: Portland
1,620 posts, read 2,142,009 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SETabor View Post
There's some large cracks in the patios. Perhaps it has foundation issues?

I agree with Skiffrace to make sure you're in a good school district. It's not too far to jogging, biking, outdoors from pretty much anywhere in the area.
Good eye SETarbor. Using Google map street view ,there is a large crack in front of the garage too. This home also backs up to the Shell station with its convenience store.
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Old 09-29-2014, 11:56 AM
 
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Thanks for the responses. The percentage down will depend on the house price. 450,000 is really the max I'm looking to spend. I'd feel more comfortable in the 300s but I do believe in buying the area and not the house per se. I realize you pay a premium for a house in the West Hills. The hope would be to (hopefully) find a smaller gem since the American desire is usually to owe a large house on a large plot but this is, of course, hard to find.

The Oregon coast is truly beautiful. I've spent a lot of time up and down the entire coastline. I suppose the only way to describe this is to simply say like many of my generation, the desire to be far out in the suburbs has been lost on me. I have lived in the pure country side, in the largest cities in the world and in the suburbs. While I do not need nor want to live in a place like NYC or Tokyo, it is still important to have city amenities close by. You can work from home and move to a mansion in the middle of nowhere. You have a mansion in which you reside and not much else. This need is especially stronger when you do work from home because it's important to get out of your house, meet people, socialize, etc. since you don't have the normal "workday" interactions with colleagues. The important part is striking the balance between city living and still have the peace and quiet that we seek. It's really important to us to NOT have a large house or plot though. The right sized house with a smart (open) layout is more than enough.

That being said, we certainly don't need to be in the West Hills. That's why I was asking if it's possible to find something at 450 or less in that area since, to me, that would be worth it. If I'm looking elsewhere (which I am) then I'd be more comfortable in the 300s.

Thank you for your suggestions. I looked at both areas. Tyron Creek Park looks like a nice area. It's probably pushing the outer limits of how far we'd like to be from the city however this is only judging from the map. I'll better understand distance during our trip this time. Also, thanks for the real estate link. Is there a reason you say this site is best? My understanding was that Redfin and the like pull directly from MLS as well. Also, I've never been to Lake Oswego so I reserve my judgement for the place until I'm there however from what I gather from this board is that the typical inhabitants of the area can be somewhat insufferable. This is only what I've read and have no idea about this personally. I just never bothered to look there since it sounded as though it was the wealthy, cookie-cutter part of town. If this assumption is false, I'm happy to spend a day walking around the neighborhood there.

Anyhow, keep the suggestions coming. This is very helpful. As I remember from trips before, the east side isn't quite what we are looking for topographically. Are there any pockets (I've read around Mt Tabor) that have the same hilly, leafy feel?
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