I bought my first house when I was in my early 20’s, up in a suburb of Seattle. It was a 1914 house, with fuses, old plumbing, no real kitchen and lots of updating needed! My husband’s dad had built and remodeled houses, and he had worked with his dad, so he just knew what needed to be done. We worked on that house ourselves for several years, redoing the wiring, plumbing, adding a bathroom, adding a full 3 story brick fireplace and chimney, taking out walls, adding french doors and a bay window, and a huge shops outside with big playroom upstairs…plus alot more! We did all the work ourselves, and it turned out really beautiful! During that time we also built a big house on a lake for my parents, doing all the work ourselves, and did remodeling, adding shops into stores and alot of other construction and building. From the time they were young, our 3 girls helped us do what they could, and they learned from the ground up! We taught them to use saws by the time they were 9, and do all kinds of things you wouldn’t think kids could do! All these skills I learned back then, I use in real estate now, because I really understand how a house is put together, what problems come up, and can help both buyers and sellers evaluate issues they encounter.
In 1989 I decided to start home schooling my girls. I also started my own home school, called Imagination on Tap. I taught 30 kids, grades K through 8. It was alot of fun. We did hands on, creative, classes that were lots of fun. I loved being a teacher, it came naturally to me! I also use all my teaching skills in real estate. You have to be able to explain all kinds of things to both buyers and sellers, you have to be able to organize your thoughts, and express them in a simple way so people can understand, to break complex things into easy to understand parts, and to negotiate repairs and other things in a clear, straightforward, strong manner, so that it makes sense to others.
If you want to see photos of when our family was young, click here! The girls helped us with everything we did! We had a huge garden, preserved and canned, made everything ourselves, including completely restoring and adding on to our house, we even built lots of our furniture, and hauled in a 10 foot by 8 foot pickle barrel and turned it into a pool!
Moving to Portland
In 1993 our life took a huge turn, and we ended up moving to Portland. I had always loved Portland, my in-laws lived in Hood River, and we went down to visit quite a bit. It was always warmer and sunnier, and the trip through the gorge would take my breath away every time we did it! The Hood River Valley was beautiful, the Columbia River spectacular and the ocean beaches were almost like works of art…not like the windswept Washington coast. I had always dreamed of moving to Portland, since we studied the Oregon Trail when I was in 3rd grade in Illinois. Now I was finally going to live in Portland!
When I first got here, I just couldn’t get enough of exploring all the beauty. We lived on Bull Mountain, and if you went down the back way, you found yourself in the most beautiful farmland and countryside I had ever seen! I loved every minute of it. We bought a 1970 huge fixer that was on the south west side of Bull Mountain, on almost an acre, overlooking the valley below and the coast range. The house was huge, 4400SF, and every inch needed work! It had a Federal Pacific Electric Panel, aluminum wiring, old aluminum single pane windows…it was 75 feet of windows upstairs and in the daylight basement, all looking south, up where the hawks and eagles flew. Our next project!
We did everything to it, one thing at a time. The first thing we did was to level tiers in the land, so we could built a swimming pool, basket ball court, have a garden and a lawn to play on, and put in a hottub. We did all this ourselves, even building the pool and wiring it ourselves.
Becoming a Realtor
In 1998 I decided to get my real estate license. I had always loved houses, I loved working with people, and had kind of always dreamed of being a realtor! I worked for Better Homes and Gardens, Coldwell Banker and Equity. Everyone in these offices seemed to be doing what they had always been doing- for years and years and years! But the world was changing, and fast! People were getting cell phones, using the internet, having access to fax machines etc. We were told to do open houses, not because they help sell the house, but because that is what realtors do to get the listing! And to get buyers! That did not make sense to me. Why do something that does not really work? We were told that the company would pay for the advertising- so we could put our listings in all the black and white newspapers and those little home sale brochures that come out once a month and are outdated by the time they come out, and then the company would take half of our commission! And that was why realtors had to charge so much!
I realized that things were changing- and we, as realtors, had to change also. I decided to get rid of the things that we all knew did not sell houses and that just wasted time and money; and then I would pass on the savings to my clients. I also realized that housing prices had come up so much in the past 5-10 years- but realtors were still charging the same 6% and 7% commissions they did when houses were under $100,000! I made up a business plan, to do 1.5% full service listings, to use the internet to advertise, to build a website that taught people about the neighborhoods and suburbs that were in the Portland metro area, and to implement any new technology as it came out! But I had to find a company that would let me do that. Oregon First was that company!
I found a good company that did not take half your commission, and that was willing to let me try out my idea. That company was Oregon First. It was a wonderful company to work for- they were on top of everything- extremely involved in what was going on- and they taught me a lot. I was their top producer month after month, and the top in sales for the whole year in 2005. But other agents in the company began to get calls asking them if they would do 1.5% Listings. They did not like that. So I was told that I could not advertise the 1.5% anymore! That went against everything I believed in- so I decided it was time to start my own company. That was how Portland Creative Realtors was born!
We had to build a website, something that would really teach people about Portland, all it’s neighborhoods and suburbs, how they were different, what each one offered. I knew what I wanted to write, but I didn’t know how to put it in a webpage! This was way back in 2005, things were different. My husband took it on, learned Dreamweaver…which back then, was the only way you could create a really unique website that allowed you to put photos, charts, and other information exactly where you wanted it to be, instead of using a template. So Robert became my web guy- and he patiently put up with all my ideas and creativity….with my insisting that each page looked exactly the way I wanted it to look, he took Dreamweaver classes at a tech school, and learned how to make exactly what I wanted. He helped me create this new website, which was much easier because we use WordPress, and he built me a unique template with a combination of WordPress and what he already knew about HTML, Java and all the other languages I know nothing about! He is my best friend and my partner, and he helps me with all the things that need to be done, whether it is in the business or around the house! We have a huge garden and chickens and a green house, as well as a pond that we can swim in with a waterfall. He takes care of all that when I get busy, so that we have a peaceful place for our whole family to unwind and relax in! Our business is really part of our family. And because we love our family so much, our real estate company is the means to sustain our little family, so it is part of us, it is our lifeblood! And we all do it together for each other.
How my Family got Involved
When I was working at Oregon First, my youngest daughter, Hayley, was just finishing up high school. She home schooled, so went along with me when I previewed houses, helped me with the files and books and other things, and fell in love with real estate! When she turned 18 I asked her what she wanted to do with her life, and she announced she wanted to be a realtor and work with me! It was the best gift I could ever have imagined getting! She went to school and got her license within 2 months of turning 18, and we became partners! She and I sold 35 houses together that first year in 2005, and I was consistently the top selling agent for Oregon First. By the end of the year, I was told I couldn’t do 1.5% Listings anymore, so I knew it was time to start my own company! So in December 2005 I got my Principal Brokers Real Estate License, and in January we opened the doors of Portland Creative Realtors. We were off to a roaring beginning!
At the time, Wendy, my oldest daughter, taught piano all over Portland. She loved giving piano lessons- in fact she had started teaching piano whenshe was just 12, to all the little kids that came to our school. But as she watched Hayley and I, as we built our real estate business, and saw how much fun it was, she decided to get her license too and joined us in the summer of 2006. Lisa, my middle daughter, worked as a Corporate Travel Agent in Portland, but she wanted to have a baby and be
able to have a more flexible schedule, so by the end of 2006, she got her real estate license and joined us. They both did amazing that first year, and it continued on. We were different than most realtors, we did full service 1.5% listings, had written the first full Portland Neighborhood Guide so our buyers could understand Portland as we did, and we specialized in helping people from other areas get to understand the different neighborhoods and suburbs of Portland. We just updated the guide and it is over 200 pages!
Lyle, Lisa’s husband, worked at Trader Joes for over 10 year. But when they had their 2nd little one, Hazel, he wanted to spend more time with his family, so in 2014 Lyle got his real estate license and joined us. Lyle has been a real asset to our company. He brings in all the customer service he learned at Trader Joes, and he is a young man, so has lots of different more modern ideas for marketing and trying new ideas! Lisa is taking a temporary break from Real Estate to Homeschoool Oliver, and spend more time with Hazel! She still does what she can to help Lyle and someday they will be a husband wife team.
Oliver is now 11, Eden 9 and Hazel is 4. Oliver and Eden are growing up part of the business. They have, at times…when possible…. gone with us to show houses, or to preview houses since they were pretty young. They are learning to do videos and other marketing things, Oliver even helped us build this website, helping us to transfer some of the material from our old website onto our new; and as they get older, they will play a bigger part in our company. Oliver does his Home school here
some of the time, and it is awesome to be able to work in the office with my grandson right near me doing is own work.
Real Estate is a mixture of computer work, research and being out with clients, so having my grandchildren there makes it feel almost like I’m not working! Hazel is too little yet, but she is such an important part of our family, she is there all the time in our hearts! She will stay at my house, in my office as I work, just like Oliver and Eden used to do when they were little. I have lots of toys, creative materials, books and other things to keep her busy, and we have so much fun together. It makes my job more a job of the heart, because it is our family business- it takes care of us all. You can see more of what our family does together to enjoy each other’s company on our Family page.
How I work with buyers
I also love working with buyers! Each time I go into a house, it is an exciting adventure! Each home is usually shown off at its best- it is always fun to see other peoples taste and style- and I have always loved people, and helping them. So its fun trying to put myself in your place and help you find a house- in your price range- that you can fall in love with! I have become an expert with the Portland neighborhoods- each one has its own unique flavor and personality- and I love to help people learn about the different areas so they can choose the one they would be happiest in.
I call myself The Creative Realtor because I am creative in the way I look at houses. I can see the potential- but, because of my extensive remodeling and building experience, I can also see serious problems that would be hard or expensive to work with. I’ve been a Real Estate agent for 10 years, and have lived in the Portland metro area for 15- so I know the, prices, what is a good deal, where the safe areas are, the up and coming areas, etc.
I have done lots of remodeling my whole life- started when I was in my early 20s with a 1914 house that we completely redid- from the plumbing to the electrical to adding windows, building a full brick fireplace and chimney, taking out walls, adding additions and a building complete huge separate shop! Then we built a huge house for my parents up in Seattle on the Lake- we did all the labor! I learned a lot- and have been doing it ever since.
I worked at the Tigard Home Depot for 5 years, 3 of them in the Electrical Dept. I wrote and taught classes on electrical, plumbing, tile, flooring etc etc-sometimes teaching full 8 hours days! I even wrote and taught the 2 hour Home Depot University Electrical Class! I learned a lot while I was working there-from both the other associates and my customers- and I can use all these things that I have practiced and learned when I help you look for a house. I am not an expert-and would certainly never think to take the place of a certified home inspector- but I have a good sense as to what can be easily fixed and what could be a serious problem. This can help you when you are looking at homes, trying to narrow them down and figure out which ones would be a good fit for your remodeling skills.
I have a good sense of the market- and what houses and areas will have the most chance of giving you good future equity- It is fun and challenging to look at each house and analyze it in every way- whether it fits your personality and needs, your remodeling skills, your family and future plans etc. I can not think of anything better than helping someone find a real home that they are going to love and make their own!
I also have an awesome search tool on my website- I call it Auto-Search-Send. You sign up for whichever neighborhoods in the Portland Metro area that you like, plus price range and size- and it will email you listings from those neighborhoods -as soon as they come out! You do not have to be constantly searching every day to find new listings. Then when you see one you want to take a look at, you can email me right from the program, tell me you would like to look at the house- and I can get right on it and show it to you. This is by PDX Homequest. They also have an option that lets you do searches right from my website by clicking on a little house that shows where the neighborhood is, or by the name of the neighborhood. It will bring up all the houses in that neighborhood that are for sale. Again- you can call me or email me, and I will meet you there as soon as possible! If for some reason I can not. I have a Daughter and Son-in-law! We work together as a team, to make sure our clients are well taken care of.
One last thing, I only take on so many clients. I always want to make sure that if I am working with a buyer, I will have the time to devote to him when he needs it!
How my experiences melded into the realtor I am today!
When I had to write a quick summation of my life, who I am, and what I’ve done, this is what I came up with. Somehow it all translated into what I am today, and it all helped a little bit to create the realtor I am and what I bring to my clients.
How I look at life, you need to do this in order to be happy and productive: Take a little time each day to enjoy nature- it feeds your soul and makes life so much richer! Be Creative! Take time to really enjoy your family! Plant a garden-Ride your bike- Play in the leaves-Go for a walk! The simple things add joy to life!
I’m a mother, wife, grandma and a fulll time Realtor…plus really active- have a lot of things I love to do….and not enough time to do them! I’m never bored, in fact, I can never remember being bored in my whole life! There are a million things I would like to do if I had time- and I try to squeeze a little bit of them into each day and week and month and year!
I have lived all over the place- New York, Chicago, Brussels Belgium, New Jersey, Massachusettes and Seattle- Plus I’ve traveled all over the world-Some of the more interesting places I’ve been are: climbed up into the Great pyramid in Egypt, visited the Dome on the Rock in Jerusalem, the Cedars of Lebanon, a Muslim Temple in Damascus, Skiied the Matterhorn in Switzerland…in a little town called Zermatt that has no cars or any way in except by train. I’ve been to Paris, London, Germany, Venezuala- and of course all over the US, Hawaii being my favorite!
I went to high school in Chappaqua, NY- it’s a beautiful little suburb of NYC with rolling hills and homes on an acre. We had a pond we ice skated on and swam in. Then got married, moved to Seattle, had 3 kids, got married again, moved to Portland and raised 6 kids!
I was a teacher for several years- had my own school and taught 30 homeschoolers- as well as homeschooling 5 of my own kids! Then I tutored, wrote children’s books and a beginning reading series which used to teach first graders to read, both tutoring and teaching at The Village Home, a Home School Center that is part of the Beaverton School District. Then worked at Home Depot teaching classes on home remodeling, electrical, plumbing etc.
All these different experiences melded together to make me who I am. My early life led me to explore and understand the world in a way many people don’t; seeing different cultures in different parts of the world, understanding that the United States isn’t the way most people live and opening me up to new ideas and ways of thinking. My family has always been really close, and we have always worked, played and created together…Thus the Family Business. Teaching is a big part of who I am, and it is a big part of doing real estate; being able with people and explain the things they need to know. Writing has been part of my life since I was young, and it blossomed into this website!
We all are a combination of our experiences, and my experiences somehow led me to what I am today! It’s a wonderful like, working with your family, helping people find the lifestyle and home they want, and seeing their joy when they finally find the right house! It seems to take all the parts of me and combine them into one!
Why the 1.5% listing program is such a big part of our business
Below you will find a description of what I do as far as selling your house-what my business plan is and how I carry it out. I wrote this plan 3 years ago when I started doing 1.5% listings, and it is still working very well. Every month we seem to discover some new way of promoting our listings on the internet- and we try everything we find. Some work, some do not. I have not listed them all here- but can explain all the different ways we can try selling your house. After watching what was going on in real estate, I came up with a plan that works really well.
My main goal is to get people to my website. If they go to my website, they will call me or email me, ask me questions, and then I can offer to show them the house. If they end up buying the house, the seller pays a total of 2%. The way I get people to go to my website is that all my advertising is geared that way. I have 20 or more photos of your house on my website – so in all my advertising, flyers, Craigs List etc, I have people Click to see extra photos. Most people want to see extra pictures, so it is a natural step. Here are some of the things I do:
- I co-List all my listings with one of my daughters. So you have two of us working for you- and we both have cell phones that we keep with us all the time! We make sure to answer clients questions as soon as possible, call people back, and schedule showings at the earliest time the buyer can look. This is extremely important, because a lot of agents just have an answering machine, or a talking house recording or maybe an unlicensed assistant, taking messages. People in our society want to have immediate action and response- and cell phones make that possible.
- I take lots of quality photos of your home, I have taken up to 80 of one house! We 8 of them on the realtor RMLS website, and the at least 20 more of them on my website. I’ve been doing photography for over 30 years- have a Cannon Rebel, a high quality digital and digital movie camera. I am very picky about my photography- the pictures are what bring the buyers! I edit all photos with Adobe Photoshop or Fireworks-(which works best for photos shown on the internet), and I do my flyers on Adobe Illustrator- so my flyers and photos are very professional.
- I am a writer by trade and my ads are quite descriptive. The photography and descriptions of the home are what bring the buyers- and I make sure mine are top quality!
- We put your house out on Craigs List twice a week. This is part of my business plan for getting you the 1.5% listing price! All our listings are also featured on realtor.com- with a huge write-up, extra photos and a link to my website to see extra photos.
- I will show your home for you if you have a buyer that is interested. This takes the pressure off you, and allows the buyer to feel free to check out your home thoroughly, without feeling uncomfortable that he is imposing on you! And if you find the buyer, or if the buyer finds me and does not use another agent, you will only have to pay me a total of 1.5%, which is the listing fee that we agreed upon! And I have to do all the paper work for both sides! We sell about 25% of our homes ourselves, without another agent involved- which means a lot of savings for you!
- I will put an RMLS lock box on your home and have a professional sign put up with a flyer box. I use all the awesome photos I took to create high quality color flyers and we keep your flyer box full!
- I will do all the paper work. There are alot of things to take care of when you are selling your home- and “Time is of the Essence!” Someone needs to stay on top of all the deadlines, and make sure everything gets out on time- or the deal could fall through!
- If another agent sells your home, you will have to pay him 2.5% which is a total of 4% instead of 6% or 7%. On a $400,000 home- that adds up to a savings of $10,000 to $14,000.
- I will make sure buyers are pre-qualified, stay on top of the inspections, repair addendums, negotiations between buyer and seller, keep in touch with the other realtor, the loan guy and the title company- to make sure your home will close when it should.
- I also do lots of other creative advertising- and get alot of action that way. We use trulia.com PDX Homequest Virtual Flyers that are sent out to the search engines and other internet sources. We are always trying new things. My houses usually sell quickly- If we price them right, and I do high quality photos and advertising- your home should sell easily!
So, as you can see, I am a little bit different than most realtors! I do alot online- it works quite well, because you are able to see lots of color photos, maps etc, and you can give me feedback as to what you like. That helps me narrow the market down for you. In fact, if you email me your price range, location wanted, size, # bedrooms, style of home or condo and anything else that is important to you- I will research it for you and send you some listings that fit your needs- with lots of pictures that you can look through so you will get a good idea of what the house is like. Then if you’d like to see any of them, we can set up an appointment to go check them out! Make sure that you send me your full email address, though, so that I can link it to listings- that way you will be able to click on the pictures.
Phone Number: 503-998-4429