Life in Portland Blog

Home Buying, A Geek Odyssey Part 3: Real Estate 101

With all of our financial ducks (mostly) in a row, it was time to sit down with our agent for a Real Estate 101 session. This serves two purposes: familiarizing ourselves with the process, and our agent gaining a solid understanding of what we're looking for.
Again, full disclosure - I'm Urban Nest's Office Manager, so I'm lucky to work with and for a diverse group of excellent brokers. When interviewing for the job here, I mentioned how it had been my life dream to own my own home. Rachel Freed stopped, looked me dead in the eye, and said she'd make that happen.
And so now, she is.
As we are on the very brink of jumping into the deep end of home-buying, Wade and I are noticing, with considerable relief, that Portland's available inventory of houses for sale is once again looking healthy. January was all tumbleweeds and dives, and it was pretty disheartening. But now, each day, there are great new houses on the market - and they come and go fast! I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having a savvy, smart advocate on your side when it comes to buying a home. In this market, in our crowded price range, you need someone not only with experience on your side, but someone who is adaptable to the twists and turns of the industry. Of which there are many. Each potential home presents different complications and considerations, quirks and issues that have to be unearthed and dealt with before you sign on the dotted line. Having a flexible, sharp agent is not only wise, but crucial to your investment. For us (and many others like us), it's the biggest investment of a lifetime.
Real Estate 101 is an in-depth discussion about the process of buying a home. Urban Nest have some stylish and straight-forward literature on each of the steps involved, which Rachel then explains in layman's terms, helping to demystify the process. During the interview, Rachel gleaned information about our lifestyle, what we both want in a home - completely and infuriatingly opposite to each other, in some areas - what's open to compromise and what's not, and neighborhoods in Portland that we love. Even though I sometimes felt I was asking too much for our budget (private backyard, vintage style, walkable/rideable, wooden floorboards, right next door to Pok Pok Noi, etc), it's important to be very clear on your tastes and necessities, to help build a complete picture of your perfect home. What we think of as being impossible right now, just might present itself at some point in our search.
(As a side note, I overheard agent Denise Shorter in the office yesterday describing her job as being a "glorified real estate psychic" - clients rely on you to predict the market, the up-and-coming neighborhoods, where is the new best place to invest in a property - all of these skills that are so important to the trade, and invaluable in an agent.)

We now receive daily notifications of new houses in our preferred areas as soon as they are posted online, and Rachel and our showing agent, Ceil Irwin, are on standby to walk us through a property on the fly - being first on the scene is important, as these homes are quick to be snapped up! And even though we're not quite ready yet, it was recommended that we educate ourselves ahead of time by going to open houses on weekends, to get a feel for what's available at what price in what neighborhood. This will allow us to make a confident and informed decision when we are finally ready to take the leap and put in an offer on a home!

Catt (& Wade)