Susie Knows Vanessa + Kyle

Vanessa and Kyle arrived in my neighborhood earlier this year and we bonded right away. Before long, they decided to end their renting ways and hop into the housing market … and they were real estate savvy and knew what they wanted. While I miss having them as neighbors, they now have a fabulous home to call their own! Here’s their story (as told by Vanessa):

How’d you two meet? What brought you to PDX?

Vanessa: We went to high school an hour away from each other in Pennsylvania, but we met in our early 20s across the country in San Diego. I like to say the sparks were instant. We spent nights talking for hours in the corner of a crowded bar or restaurant.

BUT life moves on. I flew back east and Kyle stayed in California. About 5 years later, we reconnected at a wedding. Years later, I end up moving to San Diego to be with him, which was the hardest decision I ever had to make. Not for moving with Kyle, but for leaving the east coast, which is my identity. Moving from the Northeast to Southern California was culture shock for me.

We had a deal. 3-5 years, we would move back east. However, we were open to a couple other cities, and Portland made the list. When an opportunity for Kyle’s job came up, we took it! We packed all of our stuff in San Diego in March 2020…two weeks into the COVID-19 lockdown. We traveled with as many Lysol spray and Clorox wipes as we could fit in the car (and even some extra Costco toilet paper, because you never know!) We rolled into our short term rental in SE late one night with all three of our dogs exhausted. 

“Pali – Our COVID puppy, because that seemed like a good idea at the time.” 

What made you decide to hop into the market?

That was kind of our deal with moving here. We had watched home prices in Southern California move from expensive to out of reach in just a couple years. I had been dying for a home to feel settled for the longest time, and now that we could afford it, we started looking a couple months after moving. No point in paying expensive short term rent for longer than we had to. 

Previous neighborhood you lived:

Our short term rental was in SE Colonial Heights. Two blocks to Division. A few blocks from Hawthorne. We got spoiled. Kyle could bike to work in the Pearl in just a few minutes. We could walk everywhere (that we didn’t get to since it was closed for COVID ). We loved the area, and it was our first choice to buy between Ladd’s Addition and Mt Tabor. Until we started looking at what under 700k gets you and saw how much more bidding wars drove up the prices. 

Neighborhood of new home? 

We ended up buying in Rose City Park. I needed easy highway access for work. Kyle could still bike to work downtown and we lived within a couple blocks of not one but two dog parks for our high energy new puppy. Not to mention, prices were *slightly* more affordable. 

Picture perfect in Rose City Park!

What were you looking for in a home?

Kyle and I were pretty much polar opposites. He likes those brand new modern, boxy homes and I wanted a classic craftsman with charm. We agreed on having a decent-sized backyard and a garage (non-negotiable). A basement was also a must-have along with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. A bigger kitchen that could be opened up (or already was) was also important. Kyle didn’t want a lot of big projects to do but I wanted a few to be able to put our stamp on it. 

Swoon!

How did the house-hunting go? 

Mike and Susie Moran happened to be our neighbors across the street. We all just instantly clicked. Susie spent hours on our front porch (socially distanced, of course) discussing neighborhoods and areas to explore. I, always being over-prepared, already had researched to death neighborhoods and the housing market in Portland. I had a top 5 list of neighborhoods.

Kyle, on the other hand, was not as well-versed. Every time I bring up real estate, his eyes roll to the back of his head in boredom. Susie was beyond patient showing us way too many homes. She would give us tips and tell us other neighborhoods to explore. We bid on our first house in SE division, which went for 80k above asking. We were shocked and learned a lot from the first lost house. We lost a second home by 5k in Rose City Park. We hated the “offers due” thing here in Portland with a passion. So, when we saw the house we ended up buying, we put in an offer right away before they could wait to create a bidding war. We offered a fair price with good terms, and we got it!

Any surprises in the process?

We were shocked at how far some buyers were willing to go to get a house. People were WAY overpaying for homes and waiving inspection on homes built in the early 1900s. Crazy. I am more emotional and probably could have gone down that path, but Kyle is very rational. He kept reminding me that this is a financial investment first and foremost, and we had to view it that way at the end of the day.

Do you have any house projects planned for the future?

The kitchen! It’s big, but it’s closed off from the rest of the house. The backsplash irks me every time I walk in the room. We already had a contractor come look at removing the wall between the kitchen and dining room. Construction starts mid-October! We were surprised at how affordable it was to do!

We are also getting new carpet in our bedroom and adding a bathroom and closet door. But seriously, Portland, what is it here about not having doors on the bathroom?!? Stop that right now!

Before Living Room
After Living Room: “Still waiting on our sectional… 8 weeks later!” 

What’s your favorite part about your new home?

Our backyard and the covered patio. It was the reason we bought the house! I also love how much space we have. We have space to spread out while both working from home. 

Any advice for future buyers?

Try, try, try to take Kyle’s advice and view it as a financial decision first. Don’t overpay because you are being emotional and in a bidding war. Put in what it’s worth, and be willing to let it go if someone offers more than the value to you. Don’t get emotionally attached until you have the keys in your hand (says the woman who cried every item they lost a house :)). 

Also, look at the homes you may cross off the list for some reason or another. We almost didn’t look at the home we ended up buying because it was on a busier street. That was originally a deal breaker, but once we saw how big of a yard we could get, it balanced out! My advice— still look at it! You never know! You always have to give on a couple things. 

Thanks for sharing, Vanessa & Kyle. Portland is happy to have you two and all your furry friends!

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