We're a family of 3 in our 30's and are relocating to Portland, OR from CA. We're first time home buyers

Asked by Shelley, California Tue Jan 29, 2008

searching for a bungalow/craftsman 3 BR home in the $250 - $300K price range. My husband has a construction background so we aren't afraid of a light fixer. We are concerned with an excellent school district for our child and a safe, urban neighborhood (with sidewalks!). We've looked into SE. Any advice you can give on first time home buyer benefits or neighborhood recs would be a big help. Thanks!

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Laurel’s answer
Laurel, Home Buyer, Portland, OR
Tue Mar 4, 2008
As a relocated Californian myself, I was surprised to see the great "bargain" neighborhoods promoted by realtors. If you're accustomed to Californian neighborhoods built in the 1950s and later, you may not find some of these neighborhoods promoted as bargains as all that charming. I've been struck that they're actually kind of run down.

To new buyers looking to relocate I'd caution you to read the neighborhood web sites with care. Most of these are sponsored by real estate groups, who put the best picture on them. They show one cute shop or upgraded Victorian in a photo, which implies the whole region looks that way.

Check out Portlandmaps.com to identify crime rates and understand the turnover in a property. Also be aware that the market is highly variable these days and you can't rely on "comparables" to give you a clear sense of value. A lot of properties in the "value" neighborhoods have been flipped in recent years and new buyers will be absorbing the overinflated prices of earlier years.

Portland is a lovely place, but you really need to visit and spend some time before you're convinced that it's for you. If you're used to southern CA subdivision communities, you might check out Beaverton, which is much newer.
1 vote
Elisha Joyce, , Portland, OR
Tue Jan 29, 2008
We, too, were a family of 3 when we moved to Portland almost 5 years ago. I spent about a week tourning the different neighborhoods where I could find something in my price range... and then SE Portland (where you're now considering) stole my heart. It is a fabulous part of the city - a great urban vibe, wonderful neighborhoods, and ecclectic people. Considering you're looking for a bungalow/craftsman home, SE is also where you'll get the most bang for your buck in a vintage home.

In regards to schools and other demographics that may sway your decision in one direction or another, here is a website that will be invaluable for your search:

http://www.portlandmaps.com (You simply type in the address of the home you're considering and it gives you EVERYTHING you want to know: schools, property information, crime stats, zoning, etc., etc.)

As for schools particularly, Portland Monthly (an awesome local publication) publishes the school report cards every December. Here is a PDF of the article:

http://www.portlandmonthlymag.com/documents/schoolgrid07.pdf (When you find a place you like all you'll have to do is check out the school on this cart to see if it meets your standards.)

Finally, I must say this is a great time to be buying into the market. Not only is there great inventory and many options, but rates are lower than they've been in years!!! To take advantage of what is going on with the rates, though, I highly recommend getting in touch with a great mortgage broker that can lock your rate while you continue your search. (I have a wonderful referral if you need one.)

Anyway, if you email me through my website with additional home specs I would love to sift through the listings and send you the ones with easy access to things - and there are a few that come to mind as I write this. (Not only did I live in inner SE for 4 years it is the heart of my business.) In any event, enjoy the move!! You are going to LOVE Portland.

Many blessings, Elisha
1 vote
Dirk Knudsen…, Agent, Hillsboro, OR
Tue Jan 29, 2008
I would not move to Portland Schools as my first choice. They loose enrollment every year and are constantly underfunded by the voters there. There are some great schools there but most people in the know would not classify them as "excellent".

The Beaverton and Lake Oswego School are tops. There are plenty of good homes in Washnigton County for sale in your Range. The property taxes can be several thousand dollars less as well.

I would do you research before you leap. For a complete list fo schools and their academic scores email me. For help with Financing use the FHA Oregon Bond Loan for first time buyers.... it is at %5.125 right now on a 30 year with very low down.

Call or email if I can help.


Dirk Knudsen
Re\Max Hall of Fame
#1 Rated Re\Max Team in Oregon
"The Real Estate Doctor"
Web Reference:  http://www.nwhomecenter.com
1 vote
Todd Adams, Agent, Beaverton, OR
Thu Jun 12, 2014
Congratulations! Portland is a great city. The biggest challenge you will face is your price point. Portland is a friendly city. I suggest contacting the city and requesting a map of the city with its neighborhoods designated. The walk factor in Portland is something to be admired and will allow you to see what the different neighborhoods have to offer and give you a good idea of what appeals to your needs.
0 votes
bigjules, Home Buyer, Irrigon, OR
Thu Jun 5, 2014
Don't move to the Portland Public School district. The quality of education is mediocre at best. Move to David Douglas Schools which is East SE Portland toward Gresham. Not only are house prices lower, but the schools (especially Alice Ott Middle School and David Douglas High School) are top notch. I work for Mount Hood Community College and, not only are students from David Douglas SD consistently testing higher in placement for college than PPSD, but, on average, high school graduates from PPSD don't even test on the chart for college readiness unless their parents have supplemented everything they've learned at school. Avoid Portland Public Schools!
0 votes
Nikki, , Lake Oswego, OR
Tue May 6, 2008
Has anyone offered you the Home Buyers Scouting Report?

This is an Exciting & FREE home finding service directly to home owners.

The Report is customized to your price range, home styles, neighborhoods, bedrooms & more.

HBM shows exactly what homes sold for (up to 12 months), current listings, & recently sold homes.

The Home Buyers Scouting Report offers ALL the available listings that match your personal search criteria from area real estate companies, COMPLETE with Pictures, Prices, Directions, & Maps.

You will receive ‘Quick Alert’ emails of new listings as they become available & you can even schedule a property showing with your REALTOR through Home Buyers Scouting Report!.

Let me know if this is something you want to untilize.

Talk to you soon!
0 votes
D, , Oregon
Fri May 2, 2008
Hello Shelley,
First time home buyer financing used to allow the buyer the ability to come up with less of a down payment. Financing now doesn't matter if you are a first time buyer or not, you still can go for the same type of financing. If you are looking for a low or no down payment loan then call me. Although there are 100% financing programs, you'll find that the private mortgage insurance company (pmi) will not always insure the loan. So using someone that knows what they are doing and keeps up with the rapid and ever changing guidelines is very helpful.

There are other ways of obtaining a down payment....gift funds and borrowed funds are some ideas but there are many options. Call me with your scenario and I'll put together some options for you free of charge. It helps to know what to expect. You can email me at crystal@ambientlending.com or call me toll free 877-777-9763. We lend within the entire State of Oregon. http://www.ambientlending.com
0 votes
Kelley, Home Seller, Hillsboro, OR
Wed Apr 2, 2008
I plan to put my 2005 3/2.5 house on the market in May. It's a great house with lots of upgrades - laminate throughout lower level and most of upstairs too. Custom paint colors and tile in the bathroom backsplashes imported from Turkey. It has a great view of the Jackson Bottom Wetlands preserve - nesting eagles and all kinds of wildlife yet only 25 minutes by car to downtown Portland. Good school district, friendly neighbors, low HOA that also takes care of front yard.
Let me know if you'd like more details.
0 votes
June Lizotte,…, , Portland, OR
Wed Apr 2, 2008
I'usually give this information to my clients as they start their home search. I like to have them well informed of any neighborhood they are looking at. Since we, as Realtors(c) can not ''STEER" we are better to give resources for investigations to make a buyer's job easier.
I would really love to help you in your search as you consider relocating. I have a lot of experience with relocations and can also send you a relocation packet. You can go to my web site below and email me to request this relocation packet. You can also search all listed homes, see house-specific satalite mapping, community connections, events etc. To check my QSC rating go to http://www.qualityservice.org and type in my name June Lizotte and state of Oregon.

To check on Registered Sex Offenders

To check Crime Stats, School Report Cards, zones etc.

To check on aerial maps, satellite imagery of global locations, zones and other pertinent information regarding a home you may wish to purchase or to simply enhance your knowledge of geography and topography.

http://www.familywatchdog.us/ (they can link this one from my web site as well)


http://www.pdx.edu/cpso/campuscrimelog.html Portland State Crime Log

http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/results/?id=116 Area school report cards

http://www.ed.gov/nclb/landing.jhtml Area Education (No Child Left Behind)

http://www.learningfirst.org More on Oregon Education Issues

http://www.osba.org/hotopics/rptcard/index.asp More On Schools- OR. School Board
Web Reference:  http://www.junelizotte.com
0 votes
Jesse Knight, Agent, Lake Oswego, OR
Tue Mar 11, 2008
If you need any information, feel free to email me directly. I specialize in first time buyers in close-in SE and NE Portland. I moved here from Los Angeles five years ago. It's a trip, I can tell you that. Portland is night and day from So Cal. It's wonderful, though. I agree with much of the advice you've already gotten. It will be extremely important for you to actually visit the neighborhoods you're interested in. SE Portland can vary quite a bit "street by street". You might love one block yet be put off by an area three blocks away. As you've probably found by now, Portland's public schools aren't always the best. Having said that, there are some really good ones. You'll want to make sure you choose a neighborhood with one of the better local schools. The more info you can give me the better I can direct you to some neighborhoods I think you'd like.

By the way, sounds like we have some similar backgrounds. I just turned 34. Both my wife and I grew up in SoCal. We own a classic home. Etc. etc.

Give me a shout if you'd like some help.
0 votes
Gloria Matth…, Agent, Vancouver, WA
Sun Mar 9, 2008
Wow, I love this thread, REO's auctions, cautions....Absolutely get inspections, and often you can negotiate a repair. If you are not working with an agent that will help you make an aggressive offer, find one. I am in Vancouver...yet I know SE has become very popular. Vancouver has some great neighborhoods, great schools, and no income tax!...
I just stopped by to drop off a "community reports" link I provide folks....great information and can zoom right into an address.
0 votes
MissTessi, Both Buyer And Seller, Seattle, WA
Sun Mar 9, 2008
I looked into the auction side of it, and I am going to stay far away from that avenue. I would not buy a house I could not have a full inspection done on. I am going to do either a Short Sale, or buy an REO house. Both of which would allow me, or other buyers for that matter, the ability to have the house inspected by professionals, before deciding to buy.

I should have made that clearer in my post. Thank you for bringing that up. Buying at the auction is very very risky business, and should be left to professionals that have that kind of money to waste.

0 votes
Kathy Amorin, Agent, Vancouver, WA
Sun Mar 9, 2008
Miss Tessi, this is a great avenue for someone who had the time and talent to discern the facts and determination to stick to it...however, is you are transfering and need a quick move or do not wish to engage in that kind of real estate the traditional avenue is always there...My Husband and I have in the past purchased realestate on the Courthouse steps, it is fun and has been worthwhile...I do know others that have had disappointment taking that avenue, as you cannot always view the interiors of the homes being sold and do not know the condition that has been left behind...so, buyer beware...there can be some angry and disappointed homeowners on their way out...
0 votes
MissTessi, Both Buyer And Seller, Seattle, WA
Sun Mar 9, 2008

I am not a realtor; I am also a home buyer. I have been researching prices in Portland, Vancouver, and up here where I currently live, Seattle. I will be buying a home that is either in Foreclosure (you can offer a price to the Lender, called a short sale), or an REO (stands for Real Estate Owned) home. An REO home has gone through the auction and the bank bought it back. Either no one bid on it, or the bank out bid them. I will make sure I am not buying a house where the bank out bid someone and I am paying more than $.50 on the dollar for a home.

If you want the websites I use for my research email me for them. I love Portland, I used to live there and I can't wait to get back.

I would NOT pay the prices that are on the MLS or flyers. Many, many homes are either IN foreclosure, or on the brink of foreclosure. You are in the driving seat, and you can do a little research and save yourself tens of thousands of dollars, if not more.

0 votes
Julie Murray, , Clackamas, OR
Tue Mar 4, 2008
Sls was right on! Portlandmaps.com is one of the best sites to look on and you can see the crime in the area. I always think it's a great idea to visit the neighborhoods that you like at different times of the day and sit in the car and really spend some time checking things out. I also think the area will depend on where your commute will be. There are some great areas in SE and some really bad areas. Most of us "agents" have school info on our web sites that pull from a third party source so school info should be a true picture for you. My best advise would be once you narrow it down find someone in that area that really knows it and will spend the time to show you and your family around. There is more to a good agent then just selling you a house, most will take the time to help your family really love the area and home that you are investing in. Good luck!
0 votes
Maryann Ward, , Oregon
Tue Mar 4, 2008
Having lived in California I was amazed that I could actually buy a house in the Portland area. I think where you are looking is great.........have you considered Overlook in northeast? Check out schoolmatters.com for comparisons on school districts you are considering.
0 votes
Kathy Amorin, Agent, Vancouver, WA
Tue Mar 4, 2008
Shelley, you may want to consider Vancouver, Washington for a look as well...we have excellent school systems here, parks, walking trails, and much, much, more...give it a look...
Web Reference:  http://www.kathyamorin.com
0 votes
Aimee Virnig, Agent, Portland, OR
Mon Mar 3, 2008
Hi! I have helped several buyers in your similar circumstances find their first homes in Portland. I also have 3 kids who have attended Portland Public Schools in SE and think you will find them to be excellent (despite what you might hear in the media). Depending on your children's ages, you have lots of options. SE Portland is home to a public Chinese Immersion school (at Woodstock), Japanese Immersion (Richmond) and Spanish Immersion (Atkinson). They also have many excellent K-5 and K-8 formats, and even a year round (Abernethy). I would love to send you some houses that fit your parameters if you are interested! Good luck...
0 votes
A Mom Of Thr…, , Southwest Hills, Portland, OR
Fri Feb 29, 2008
We also have three children and spent a year searching through neighborhoods and schools before settling in the Hillsdale neighborhood and our kids are at Rieke Elementary and Gray Middle School (the best and smallest middle school in the city--I subbed at most of them, and by far looove Gray). The kids are great, the families are incredible and down to earth. Good restaurants, five minutes to downtown, safe area, lowest crime rate in the city, and it's extremely family-friendly.

Good luck! I'd search in the 97219 or 97239 zip codes for some great houses and schools. Our second choice school would be Maplewood, by the way.
0 votes
Bill Carter, , Portland, OR
Sat Feb 16, 2008
My wife and I bought a home from Renaissance Homes. They are great neighborhoods and the schools are excellent. I know they have numerous neighborhoods around Portland with varying prices. We wanted a nice new home that was built to green standards and that is what we found with Renaissance Homes. Great people and a great product. I would highly recomend checking them out.

Best luck on the relocation,

Bill Carter
0 votes
Chris Courtn…, , Eugene, OR
Sat Feb 9, 2008
To narrow your search for Portland metro real estate, please visit http://www.HouseNow.com which is a website catering specifically to Oregon real estate having 2 mls feeds including the Portland metro area. Specifically, I would suggest the Multonomah neighborhood, Sellwood, Hawthorne, and gentrifying areas such as Hollywood and others...it is a huge market and neighborhoods are always on the change. Regards, Chris Courtney
Web Reference:  http://www.HouseNow.com
0 votes
Laurel, Home Buyer, Portland, OR
Fri Feb 8, 2008
One poster mentioned Laurelwood, Irvington, and Alameda as great neighborhoods. They are, but a reasonable house in those neighborhoods will cost a great deal more than $300K. I've been looking in the 300-500K range in those neighborhoods, and unless you're willing to live on a very busy street or in a condo, most houses start at over $400K. Of course, prices are starting to slide down. BTW, I'm not a realtor, but a buyer.
0 votes
Noelle McEwen, Agent, Portland, OR
Fri Feb 8, 2008
Hi Shelley,
My family moved here from California 10 years ago. We love it here! For urban neighborhoods with character, I recommend the classic neighborhoods like Laurelhurst, Irvington, Woodstock, Alameda among a few. For school info go to http://www.GreatSchools.com. Feel free to use my neighborhood based search engine at http://www.NoelleSellsHomes.com and feel free to call and I will tour you around. 503-495-3841.Cheers! Noelle McEwen
0 votes
Gloria Matth…, Agent, Vancouver, WA
Wed Jan 30, 2008
I just found a great service for neighborhood and school information
Put in the zipcode and all the information and links you could want are there
0 votes
Deb Counts-T…, Agent, Portland, OR
Wed Jan 30, 2008
Shelley, first off, welcome to Portland! You should have no problem in your price range, once you decide on WHERE you want to be - and location is HUGELY important.

There are many great neighborhoods in Portland - it's one of the things I love best about living here - and many things for an active family to do! I would strongly recommend checking out this site first for school district information - http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/results/?id=126. You'll see all the scores for each school, and it's very interesting information! That can help you determine if you want to be in Portland proper or if you'd rather be on the west side.

Don't hesitate to get in touch with me if you have any questions!


Web Reference:  http://www.saltbreadwine.com
0 votes
Gloria Matth…, Agent, Vancouver, WA
Tue Jan 29, 2008
Im in Vancouver WA....across the river to the north........but wanted to send you the link to the HOMEOWNER center in portland. This is where you'll find classes and qualify for first time homeowner benefits.

Web Reference:  http://www.felidahomes.com
0 votes
Christina Al…, , Portland, OR
Tue Jan 29, 2008
I would also look at the N Portland area along with West Linn or in Beaverton, those school districts are the ones my clients look for. I would love to help you relocate and help get you in touch with a great realtor in the Portland area. Don' hesitate to contact me at 503-699-0090 office or 360-921-7416 cell if you have any other questions.

Christina Alwert
Advantage Mortgage Group
0 votes
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