5 Questions on Friday with Libby Davidson 

Question 1: What are the benefits of hiring a designer?

So many! We work really hard with and for our clients to create unique spaces that are both attractive and functional. We typically study the behaviors and amovements of individuals in their specific working and living environments to create this balance. And we can help you save tons of time and money in the long run!

Question 2: Do you sketch your designs, or do you work digitally? How do you share your design ideas for a project?

Initially, I prefer to sketch my ideas and plans to show clients what I’m thinking. I feel like showing clients something digital right away makes them feel that plans are more permanent and not as easily changeable. Once ideas are close to finalized and agreed upon, then I’ll create it digitally. Almost always I will bring samples of whatever soft and hard goods (i.e. countertop, wallpaper, textiles, fabrics, etc.) to let them get a better idea of what they may or may not like up close and personal.

Question 3: Where do you pull your design inspiration?

For me, each project’s inspiration is unique dependent upon the client. Upon our first meeting, I like to get a good grasp on the clients’ hobbies, interests, and general background. Then I usually have them create a Pinterest board showing me examples of different styles they like so I can come up with ideas that are unique and specific to them. For example, the project pictured here was for a fitness and wellness instructor’s office, and my concept was to embrace the idea of renewal. He was already helping his clients take what they already have, i.e. their bodies, and turn them into something better and more useful. Within the space, as many elements as possible were used to reflect this including: old basketball floors, old airplane parts, World War II military fabric, vintage lockers, and old sailboat sails. 

Question 4: When designing a room, what’s the most important factor for you?

The most important thing for me is FUNCTIONALITY! We can cover up that functionality with whatever style and décor that is right for the client.

Question5: How do you use light in your designs?

Without good lighting, the impact of all other well-thought out details will be lost. I always try to have a mix of light sources at different levels, with consideration of natural light, to create a flattering ambiance. Appropriate task lighting for whatever you do in that space (i.e. reading, food prep, getting dressed) is key.

What are the benefits of going Solar?

This week we reached out to SolarCity about being our 5 on Friday spotlight; they sent us in the direction of a wonderful recent blog post, which we are re-posting with permission. More questions about solar? Give us a call!


The Facts of Light: What are the Benefits of Going Solar?

By SolarCity | Febuary 24, 2016

We get a lot of questions about solar power. That’s why we’ve introduced “The Facts of Light”—a place where you can inquire about all things solar, and we’ll do our best to get you the answers.

Homeowners who choose rooftop solar are, no doubt, aware of its number-one benefit: saving money. They’re reminded of it monthly every time they pay less to power their home.

Fact is, solar from your rooftop costs less than traditional utility power in many areas of the country.

But saving money is just the start. Going solar brings a host of other benefits—ranging from environmental to economic—that anybody can feel good about.


Going solar can help reduce our country’s carbon footprint

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, solar could play an important role in helping the country meet the carbon dioxide emissions reduction goal set forth in the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan. The plan calls for power plants to reduce their emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Going solar means choosing reliability

Scientists predict the sun will shine for another 5 billion years. Until then, rooftop solar provides a source of energy that’s as reliable as the dawn. The emergence of easy-to-use battery backup systems can offer homeowners and businesses even greater reliability and freedom from grid outages.

Going solar contributes to the country’s energy independence

According to the White House, our country’s move toward energy independence is increasing our energy security, cutting carbon emissions, and enhancing economic growth. A variety of factors are helping drive this move, including the adoption of solar and other renewables. Energy produced on your roof is definitely not energy created by imported fuel.

Going solar may improve your home’s appeal when it’s time to sell

In 2014, we surveyed home buyers and sellers who had participated in a transfer of a solar lease or PPA agreement. About 70 percent of both buyers and sellers said they thought solar panels added to the overall appeal of the home. This complements a 2014 study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. It concluded that owned solar power systems can add significantly to a home’s value.

Going solar helps create jobs

According to The Solar Foundation’s 2015 National Solar Jobs Census, there are nearly 209,000 solar workers in the United States. Industry employment has increased by 123 percent in the last six years, with 2015 marking the third year in a row that the U.S. solar workforce grew by over 20 percent. In the last year, solar created jobs at a rate 12 times higher than the overall economy.

Going solar puts you on the cutting edge

These are exciting times. According to our 2015 Clean Energy survey, Americans named solar as the most important energy source for the country’s future, and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reported that 868,954 U.S. homes and businesses had already gone solar by the third quarter of 2015.* People who choose solar today are still considered early adopters, but expect that to change in the not-too-distant future as solar becomes even more mainstream.

It’s easier to go solar today than ever before. Financing options range from no money down to paying in full. Service agreements often include permitting, installation and repair services.

All you have to do is sit back, save money and enjoy these many benefits.

U.S. Solar Market Insight by Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research

5 Questions on Friday with Molly Paris

This week for 5 on Friday, we were so happy to chat with our Principal Broker, Molly Paris!

Question 1  What do you wish clients knew before you worked together? 

 To be quite honest, it is easy for me to work with clients that know nothing about real estate as well as an experienced Buyer or Seller.  I have no expectation of a client and always start with the same questions when I interview them.  I need to find out how much knowledge they have and/or how much knowledge they want to learn.  It’s different for everyone.  So the answer is that I don’t wish clients knew anything before we start working.

Question 2. What do you hope they learn with you after you close on a transaction? 

What I hope a client learns from me in a transaction is that if you have enough information in most situations, it will often eliminate fear and hesitation.

Question 3.  Looking through an inspection  report, what items are you most concerned about? 

 When I look through an inspection report, I am often looking for items where the client would be concerned and what those issues would cost.  Trying to decide with the client whether  “the condition is “typical” for the price and location” is often difficult.  I am rarely concerned about what is on an inspection for myself.

Question 4. Do you have any personal deal breakers with properties? 

I personally do not have any deal breakers, if the price of the property is right for the location and condition.  There is an old real estate quote that says, “There is no objection price won’t overcome.”  I’ve found that to be true with all my real estate transactions.

Question 5.  What part of a real estate transaction is your favorite? 

 My favorite part in a real estate transaction is helping my client achieve their dreams and then watching their reaction when they obtain them.


Five Questions on Friday with Portland Edible Gardens, Spring Edition

This week for 5 Questions on Friday, we wanted to check back in with Ian Wilson, the owner of Portland Edible Gardens. Last October, he gave us some great ideas about how to put our beds to rest. This week, he gave us 5 things to do to help get your vegetable garden ready for Spring:


  1. Do some spring cleaning! This means raking up old leaves or mulch, pulling any vegetable leftovers from Fall/Winter, and weeding ahead of any planting.  A ground covering is very helpful in the Winter to protect your soil from erosion and compaction, but in the spring it’s time to expose that bare soil and let the ground begin to warm.  Also, removing ground covering will eliminate habitat for slugs and other pests.
  2. Spread some good quality compost. Spread 1″ of good quality compost for planting areas that have been productive before, or 2-3″ for new planting areas, or areas with heavier clay soil.  This can be compost you have created from food scraps at home, or compost purchased from a local nursery.  If you are using home-scale compost, make sure it is finished compost.  This means it has completed the composting process and does not resemble its former life as a vegetable scrap at all.  Finished compost should be dark and crumbly and smell sweet and earthy not sour or unpleasant!
  3. Till your compost into the top 6-12″ of soil.  This is best accomplished with a good quality digging fork.  It can also be accomplished with a small rototiller in larger in-ground gardens.  But tilling by hand is always the best method for causing minimal disturbance and destruction to your precious soil!  After you are done, there should be no sign of the compost on the surface, which should be thoroughly and evenly mixed into your planting area.
  4. Add a heavy dusting of certified organic granular fertilizer. Incorporate the fertilizer by raking the surface lightly until the fertilizer disappears.  While compost is an excellent addition for building the texture and “tilth” of your soil, organic fertilizers will supply many of the essential nutrients that your vegetables will also need to thrive.  There are many high quality organic fertilizers available at local nurseries.  Just make sure that they are intended for use in vegetable gardens so they have the proper balance of nutrients.  I like to use Down To Earth Biofish, or E. B. Stone Organics Tomato and Vegetable Food.  Both are available at Portland Nursery.
  5. Plant some veggies! February is a great time to plant Sugar Snap Peas, Snow Peas, and Fava Beans.  By early March, with a little sun, there are tons of veggies that can be planted.  Spinach, Arugula, and Bok Choi are great early season greens to plant.  Or if you want to grow some roots, try Radishes, Turnips, or Carrots grown from seeds!  For more guidance on when to plant what in your garden, check out this amazing planting calendar from Portland Nursery!

Happy Growing!!!

Ian Wilson

Owner, Portland Edible Gardens, LLC


Five Questions on Friday with Bethany Imhoff

This Week, Bethany Imhoff  Shared Five Things to Know About Fannie Mae’s HomeReady Program

Fannie Mae is making some changes, and first-time buyers should take note. The new HomeReady program aims to help low to moderate income borrowers overcome some common barriers to home ownership. While the program is available to repeat buyers, and as an option for a rate-and-term refinance, it has some unique aspects that could be especially beneficial for first-timers. Here are some of the highlights:

  1. Your down payment can be as low as 3%, all of which can come from gift funds. Lender and seller contributions can go toward closing costs. And unlike an FHA loan—a longtime go-to for new homeowners—HomeReady does not require an upfront mortgage insurance premium.
  2. Income Pooling is allowed. Traditionally, the only income considered is from the borrower and co-borrower, if applicable. HomeReady allows more flexibility, counting the income of other relatives who may share the household.
  3. Homeownership education is a requirement. At least one borrower must complete an online course designed to prep buyers for responsible homeownership. The course lets you go at your own pace; you can work on it from your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
  4. The program is available to buyers with a credit score of at least 620. If you haven’t yet established enough credit to have a credit score, you may be able to use nontraditional forms of credit, like gym memberships or utility bills.
  5. There is an income limit. In almost all cases, you may not make more than 80% of the Area Median Income. You can find these figures for the Portland metro area—and beyond—here. Exceptions will be made for properties in low-income or high-minority census tracts.


Bethany Imhoff  •  MLO-1378711

Team Banker/Client Liaison
Pacific Residential Mortgage, LLC  •  NMLS-1477/WA CL-1477  •  Equal Housing Lender
bethany.imhoff@pacresmortgage.com • (503) 210-4289
Credit on approval. Terms subject to change without notice. Not a commitment to lend.  Call for details. www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org


Meet Nancy and Robert

When Nancy and I met for the first time to talk about their house hunt, we sat down in a SE children’s café so her boys could run around outside while we talked about their wish list. Nancy from the beginning had a clear goal: finding a place within a great school district for her boys.

Her boys ran in and out of the café doors to check in with us, they played in a little enclosed area where we could keep our eyes on them and talk. Nancy and her husband, Robert, had had two Realtors help with the search before we met, and I wanted to make sure I was her last.

Her 5 year old seemed to approve of me being their Realtor, and asked me to go get Thai food with him; he clearly saw the way to my heart pretty quickly. Nancy and Robert just ended up being so fun to see properties with- Nancy has an ear to ear smile, and did happy jigs when she saw brand new washer and dryer sets.

The condo they closed on last month is a great fit- it has gorgeous light, a great fireplace, and it’s in one of the best school districts in Oregon. I loved being their Realtor. I loved seeing their love for each other, and for their boys. And I am so happy they love their new place!

Meet Olivia and Connor

Connor and Olivia were a young, industrious couple I met last summer.  They were excited to get into property management and had done their homework.  Connor’s Dad, Kevin, was willing to help them with their down payment, and after seeing several properties:  duplexes, triplexes and single family houses, we settled on a four plex that needed some love.  The seller had owned it for too long, and had let too much go on it: the roof leaked, there were leaks in the basement, it even had a leaking gas stove!

As soon as we closed, Connor and Olivia took on the project and I’m happy to report they’re in the process of fixing all the deferred maintenance.  They’ve also kept all the pre-existing tenants, too, who are so excited to have landlords who care about the property.  It’s so great to see new owners who care and are improving their property and the lives of people in their community.

Meet Qatanna & Doug

The first Saturday Qatanna and Doug had the keys to their new house, it felt like a party. The rooms were mostly empty, with the exception of expertly labeled and organized boxes in the dining room. There were only a few chairs in the living room but fifteen old friends gathering in a circle looking around the new North Portland abode.

Doug and Qatanna are good friends to have; they’re friends who always show up to help out, and they’re also perfect hosts. Qatanna is a trained pastry chef, but Doug is in the kitchen just as often as she is, trying out a new creation, or just whipping up his dad’s famous recipe of Hobo dip. (You can’t knock hobo dip until you try it- its melted cheesy goodness with a light spice and ground beef. You eat it by dipping in tortilla chips or sourdough bread, it’s killer.)

Their new house is beautiful, and Qatanna and Doug have a knack of making you feel at home. They wanted a place where they could put down roots, help build community, and someday raise children.

Doug particularly likes the garage at the new house, which affords him ample room to work on his wood working projects, (he makes beautiful coffee tables and desks) and Qatanna love the kitchen and the fruit trees in the yard.  To help make it feel like home, Qatanna and Doug rescued a tiny baby kitten named Hiro, to keep their other sweet cat, Mooka company.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Doug and Qatanna! We love your love for each other, and we’re so happy we could help you find your new home!

Meet Amy

Amy was going through a breakup and she wanted to own something all on her own.   I was excited to help her get a fresh start.  We saw a ton of crappy houses and had almost given up when we went and looked at a house that was advertised as a “fixer”.  The listing said it couldn’t be financed but when we looked through it, we didn’t see anything that indicated we couldn’t get a loan.

We were able to convince the listing agent and the seller, and we got Amy in her new digs, with a gorgeously landscaped yard, a fully finished basement, and two bathrooms, all for $325,000.

Amy loves her new home!

5 Questions on Friday with Lovett Deconstruction

What is Lovett Deconstruction’s mission?

Lovett Deconstruction is a full-service deconstruction contractor whose mission is to encourage the reuse, repurpose, and/or upcycling of quality used building materials by disassembling built structures by hand in order to preserve the material’s integrity.lovett logo

Who are your clients?

Our clients include developers, builders, contractors, and homeowners – basically anyone who has a project in which they would like a building or individual rooms removed before beginning anew. In the case of an entire house being removed, we take everything down to the foundation, salvaging as much material as possible. In the case of individual rooms, such as a kitchen, we remove all of the appliances, fixtures, cabinets, countertops, doors, etc. for salvage, then remove walls and flooring back to the framing and subfloor, leaving a clean shell, ready for the remodel.

What can’t be reused or repurposed?

You can find die hard DIYers find creative uses for nearly everything. That said, people don’t line up to reuse or repurpose plaster or dry wall.  Items that have a potential to contain hazardous materials, such as lead or asbestos, should also be disposed of according to DEQ regulations and not be repurposed. Other than that, the sky’s the limit – chimney bricks become raised garden beds, doors turn into work benches, window weights can be landscape edging, and on and on. 

Are there regulations changes you see in the future that will be beneficial?

Actually, the construction/deconstruction industry is currently going through a radical regulation change as it relates to the disposal of building materials in the Portland metro region. Though hazardous materials has, for decades, had very specific disposal regulations, transfer stations and landfills are now requiring all loads to be tested for asbestos before being dumped. The change has come due to the increased understanding of asbestos hazards and its historical propensity to be used in every type of building material (the natural occurring mineral is amazingly heat resistant, which is a huge plus when building structures to not burn down).  New rules will benefit the environment and community, but the transition has caught many builders – and homeowners – off guard as the testing and paperwork has increased dramatically. Because waste disposal is such a large part of what Lovett Deconstruction does, we have, and will continue to, stay abreast of the changes and make sense out of the regulations for our clients.

demovsdeconWhat are you optimistic about?

Early last year the City of Portland convened a Deconstruction Advisory Group to investigate ways to incentivize deconstruction over mechanical demolition. The group recommended, and City Council approved, a grant program offering up to $2500 for deconstruction to help offset the costs vs. using a bulldozer to raze the house. Though mildly successful, there was no real uptick in full house deconstructions over demolition. In response, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability will be recommending to City Council that deconstruction be made mandatory for houses built in or before 1916.  If successful, it could keep nearly a third of Portland’s demolished houses out of the landfill, as well as put used building materials back into the market. It is definitely an exciting time to be in the deconstruction industry.