Finding Love on Love Street

It has been said that one has to “kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince”. In this case, the frogs my client Keith kissed were homes in Woodstock, and the prince he finally found was the home at 4026 SE Liebe Street.

Having initially lost Liebe Street, meaning “Love Street” in German, during a bidding war, she came back to Keith when the first buyer decided they were not a good match.
Keith, having patiently waited for his turn, embraced her with open arms. Between the huge, light-filled living room with views of downtown, the retro kitchen, the office space and the basement perfect for Keith’s pottery, it truly was a match made in heaven!

Congratulations on your purchase Keith, and thank you for entrusting me with your investment!

Calle Holmgren

Moving to Portland

Portland is a place known for lush greenery and verdant parks, eco-friendly residents, and a myriad of coffee shops, craft breweries, and eclectic eateries. If you’ve ever had the chance to play tourist here, you’re likely already aware of a few of things that make this city great – proximity to Oregon’s beautiful beaches and mountains, ample opportunities for kayaking, fishing, hiking, and other outdoor recreation, and our thriving arts and music scene. Not to mention there are lots of fun landmarks and attractions to explore, like the Oregon Zoo, the Japanese Garden, the nearby Columbia Gorge, and Washington Park, just to name a few. By vacationer’s standards, this is a great city to visit, but what’s it like to live here?

If you’re contemplating a move to the lovely City of Roses, you’re probably curious to know a bit more about the city than just the travel guide highlights. To give you an inside look at the real nitty-gritty details of what it’s like to live here, our friends at Great Guys Moving Company, in conjunction with Moonraker Marketing, have put together a useful infographic. In this “Moving to Portland” guide, you’ll find helpful information on everything from the most walkable neighborhoods to the climate to the cost of living here.


What are the big takeaways? Portland, the 29th largest city in the country, is a very manageable size. With fewer people and more land mass than other West Coast cities, Portland is also one of the most affordable. While almost everything is more expensive here (except the cost of energy) than compared to the national average, it’s still a lot cheaper than living in Los Angeles or San Francisco. For instance, the average cost of a home in San Francisco is more than double the average home price in Portland. It’s also a great place to live for those looking for a reprieve from California’s insanely high taxes. Though the Oregon income tax, at 9%, is one of the highest in the country, it’s offset by the fact that there is zero sales tax. Portland is also a great place for job-seekers, with unemployment at .6% below the national level and ample career opportunities in everything from farming and fishing to sales and construction. When it comes to weather, Portland is a tad rainier and sees fewer sunny days than the rest of the U.S., but it also has an overall milder climate.

I can help

Whether you’re moving here for a new job or just a change of pace, you’ll find that Portland is a great place to call home. As you plan your move and start the search for a place to live, keep me in mind. Whether it’s a contemporary condo in walkable downtown Portland or a craftsman bungalow in Laurelhurst, I can help you find the perfect property to call home!

-Calle Holmgren

Overcoming Obstacles

I work very hard for my clients to make sure each transaction is as stress free as possible. However, things happen that are out of my control, and that was the case when my fantastic first time buyers purchased their home in SE Portland last month.

A Smooth Start

Things started off smoothly – the earnest money deposit was wired to the title company, inspections were scheduled and disclosures were reviewed. Our home inspector called out the roof and we successfully negotiated a credit from the seller to have the roof replaced. So far so good, right?

The Appraiser Throws a Wrench

Enter the appraiser. An appraisal report is not just an opinion on value, it also includes remarks about the property’s condition. In this case, the report included the following verbiage:

“Roof is nearing the end of its economic life with noted composition loss and patched shingles. An extraordinary assumption has been made that the roof has 3 to 5 years of remaining life. If the client has concerns regarding the condition and remaining life of the subject roof, an inspection by a licensed roofing contractor is recommended.”

This threw a wrench in the works. The underwriter would not approve the loan without a certification from a licensed roofer stating that the roof had at least 5 years of life left. Since we were less than a week away from closing, the buyers and I had to scramble to come up with a plan.

Coming Up With a Plan

The first thing I did was to ask the loan officer to push the roof certification condition from a prior-to-doc condition (a condition that has to be satisfied before loan documents are issued) to a prior-to-funding condition (a condition that has to be satisfied prior to the loan funding, which typically happens on the day of closing) to give us more time to get a roof certification issued.

The second thing the buyers and I did was sit down and call every roofing company in the city to see if anyone could come out the next day to review the roof. Our concern was that the roof would not qualify for a roof certificate so we also scheduled roofers to go out there to bid on having the roof replaced. Being that this was 4 days before closing and this was one of the wettest winters on record, we knew that the chances of finding someone who could go out there, bid the job, and get it done in less than a week were slim to none.

The Solution

My buyers reminded me that they had seen a roofing company truck at the neighbors house and said they would go over there to see what that company’s availability was like. Well, fortune favors the brave, as they say, and them going over there to knock on the door turned out to make all the difference. Not only was the company available to provide a bid right there on the spot, they were also able to move some other appointments around to replace the roof on this home and allow us to close on time.

The weather refused to cooperate but the company was still able to replace the roof in pouring down rain and a wind storm. The completion certification was sent to the lender who funded the loan and the transaction closed!

 New roof being installed New roof being installed  Roof Before Roof Before  New roof being installed New roof being installed  Roof After Roof After

-Calle Holmgren

Adam, Cole, & Will’s Exciting Journey!

When I first met Adam, Cole, and their adorable 10-month old son Will, they told me their exciting story. After having spent a decade living in NYC moving from neighborhood to neighborhood in search of their dream place, the idea that one day they would find a home, a place they could set down roots and raise a family, started to seem like an ever elusive dream. They had to make a difficult decision – leaving NYC. They realized they had to leave; their home was not in the big city.

From there, they spent months on the road, driving from town to town with the hope that one would feel right to them, but it wasn’t until they came to Portland, walking through Mt. Tabor Park, that they finally felt it- they were home.

During their first eighteen months in the City of Roses, Adam, Nicole, their son Will, and their four legged friend Vera spent every day falling more and more in love with the city. The dream of homeownership started to feel more like a reality.

When the charming blue house with the orange door came on the market in Brentwood-Darlington they had a feeling and knew they had to go see it. Their plan was not to look at houses so close to the holidays, but this one had something special. Had they found their perfect niche within the city? From the moment they turned onto the street, spotting the orange door, they knew. They could so easily see themselves walking their little boy to and from Woodmere Elementary, gardening in the beautiful backyard, and taking loops around the neighborhood with their sweet dog.

Once inside the house, the feeling was solidified – this could be their forever home.

The house felt warm and welcoming. Adam & Nicole pictured themselves cooking family meals in the adorable kitchen and eating together with their friends in the backyard around a fire.

Adam and Nicole beat out several other buyers and landed the winning offer on the home. After inspections, repair negotiations and a somewhat stressful loan process, the home was finally theirs! The dream of homeownership was no longer elusive – it was real. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your exciting journey!

Calle Holmgren

Design on a Dime

Many of my home buying clients ask me questions such as “How much will it cost to remodel the kitchen?” or “What do you think it would cost to re-tile this bathroom?”. I always give them same answer – it depends. It depends on a number of different things:

  • Who you hire to oversee the project, if any. Maybe a general contractor is not needed?
  • What finishes you use. Will you purchase a slab of Carrara marble for the bathroom vanity or are you OK with quartz? Maybe a butcher block countertop from IKEA could work perfectly in the kitchen?
  • Who the contractors are that you will use. Sure, companies such as Hammer & Hand are very good at what they do, but they also charge a premium for their services.

Bottom line is, there are ways to cut financial corners without compromising the final outcome of the project. My advice is to pay with sweat equity rather than check equity.

Case in point, the main floor bathroom at my personal home was outdated and not at all suitable for a family of four. There was a pedestal sink that didn’t even have space for a bar of soap. The wainscoting was outdated and there was a laundry chute that was begging for one of our daughters to get stuck in.

With a vision, hard work & a few cuts & bruises we were able to transform the space quickly, and more importantly, on budget.

  • The vanity was purchased on Craig’s List for $200.
  • The quartz surface is a beautiful remnant which cost less than $500 including fabrication and installation.
  • My wife did the plumbing all her myself after a quick lesson from her dad and by watching YouTube videos.
  • At the end of the day, we spent around $3,000 with professional tiling of the shower & wall taking the majority of the expense.

Designing on a budget forces creativity and affords such a sense of accomplishment when the project is complete. We can’t wait for our next design on a dime project!

Calle Holmgren

Review from a Happy Homeseller

Our experience was nothing but positive!

We got the advice to interview a few real estate agents when selling our condo and buying a new home. This was great advice because Calle quickly stood out as the most professional, organized, driven, charismatic agent. Our experience was nothing but positive.

Calle worked hard to help us sell our condo way above what we thought it would go for.

He also patiently helped us find the exact right fit for our family when buying a new home.

My husband and I still can’t believe what Calle found us! In this crazy, competitive Portland market, he helped us land a home that checked all our boxes and was in our price range.

Calle consistently reminded us of our goals and needs as we navigated the tricky process of house hunting. He was incredibly responsive via phone, text, and email at all hours.

I’ve already shared his contact info with everyone who mentions buying/selling because I know Calle works tirelessly to take care of his clients.

I couldn’t recommend him more.

Calle Holmgren

The Lanes Move to SE

A few weeks back I wrote about setting a new record at the Embassy, when representing Tim, Tiffany and their son Kesey in the sale of their NW condo. That was only half the story though…

Prior to putting their home on the market we had spent time in SE and NE Portland looking for their new home. We even made an offer on a Sellwood home that fortunately went to another buyer. I say fortunately because we found a house that was a much better fit for them – 4312 SE Salmon.

The only problem with SE Salmon was that there was already an offer on the home, and we would need to make our offer contingent upon the sale of Tim & Tiffany’s condo, which was not even on the market yet. In today’s fierce real estate market, getting a contingent offer accepted is no easy task. Well, we gave it our best shot and presented a contingent offer that would allow us a little bit of time to get their home on the market and an offer accepted. The seller, however, had already had an offer accepted on her next home and did not want to stack up too many dominoes with the fear that if one falls, so does the whole thing. In other words, she accepted another offer.

We were able to get into first Backup Position though, meaning that if the other buyer pulled out, we would be first in line. I explained to my client that the chances of the other buyer pulling out on such a nice house would be slim to none and to not get their hopes up. Right in the middle of my expectation management I got a phone call from the listing agent letting me know that the other buyer had a change of heart and won’t be moving here from Arizona after all, and that the home is ours if we want it. If we want it?! Are you kidding me? Tim and Tiffany were ecstatic to hear their backup offer had been pushed up into first place!

We immediately had to speed up the process of getting their home on the market because if they couldn’t get their condo sold, they wouldn’t be able to buy SE Salmon, which means the seller of SE Salmon wouldn’t be able to complete the purchase of her new home. Lots of moving targets but we were confident we could get it done.

Fast forward to December 12, 2016, one business day after we closed on the condo: Tim, Tiffany and their adorable little boy Kesey get the keys to their new home. We had pulled it off!

For me personally this was extra exciting as my family get to be neighbors with such an awesome family. The best part of all? It won’t be just the three of them living in the house… Prior to closing Tiffany found out Kesey is getting a sibling!

Calle Holmgren

New Record at the Embassy

Recently I had the honor of representing Tim and Tiffany in the sale of their unit 505 at the Embassy.

I am glad to announce that after listing the home at $285,000 we just closed at $303,000.

At an approximate square footage of 580, this means the price per square foot was around $520 – the first time in Embassy’s history that a unit has sold for over $500 per square foot!

The difference between a “property” and a “home” is a buyer’s emotional attachment to a house and that attachment can easily equate to thousands of dollars. My wife Nicole is a designer and gives free design consultations to all my clients. The purpose of this consultation is to outline what should be done to make the home appeal to more buyers and create that emotional attachment we are looking for. Moving furniture, bringing in accessories, de-cluttering, art placement, color schemes; this is all part of the design service that has been instrumental in our success.

Calle Holmgren

Record Shattered!

When I first visited my clients’ home at 2217 NE Ainsworth I knew it was a special home. Adorable from the inside and even better on the inside, with a well-appointed floor plan, lots of light, original details mixed with modern updates and an awesome yard with a grassy area, a wood deck and a jacuzzi. Add to that a fantastic location right across the street from Alberta Park and I had a feeling this one would strike an emotional chord with buyers.

After my clients had moved out my wife Nicole and I got busy with staging the home and getting it ready for market. We watered and mowed the lawn, trimmed the bushes, and cleaned.

After lots of work the home was ready to come on the market. The weather forecast promised sunshine on the weekend we were to come on the market so we geared our marketing campaign towards doing some killer open houses.

The open houses were advertised in print, social media, online, through email and personal invitations, and since NE Ainsworth is a fairly large street, we even had custom open house riders added to the sign.

On the day of our first open house we were ready! Our daughters welcomed guests with some organic lemonade and property brochures. I was inside the home, offering catered food and giving a tour, and Nicole was in the rear yard answering questions.

The end result was even better than expected. We received 8 offers and closed escrow $54,700 over our asking price – shattering the record for a 2 bedroom, 1 bedroom, <1,500 sq. ft. home north of Jarrett Street!

Clearly, who you work with matters.

Calle Holmgren

From Holland to FoPo!

More times than not a relationship with a buyer follows the same basic outline:

  1. Home buyer gets referred to you by a previous client
  2. Met said buyer and do a Buyer Consultation to wants & needs, timelines, budgets and to explain steps involved in purchasing a home
  3. Get buyer pre-approved by lender
  4. Go home touring
  5. Make offer
  6. Home sold

Every once in awhile, however, some of these steps get eliminated, and such was the case with Christiaan and Rian. Christiaan called me out of the blue and wanted me to meet him at a home in Foster-Powell that had just come on the market. I cleared my schedule and went out to meet him. I am glad I did because Christiaan fell in love with the home. We called his fantastic mother, Rian, in Holland and agreed to make an all cash offer.

After some back-and-forth with the sellers we got our offer accepted. The inspection revealed some issues and we went back to the negotiation table with the sellers and ultimately came to a happy conclusion.

Less than a month from when I first heard from Christiaan and Rian for the first time we closed on the house and Rian and Christian are the proud, new owners of their first home in the US.

Calle Holmgren