Moving To: Downtown Portland

Landing on their feet

After getting outbid in NE Portland, a family heads across the river.

Commemorating the occasion in front of the new house.

Portlander Janet Terranova was tired of the mess and disruption of annual remodeling projects on their 1913 bungalow in the Grant Park neighborhood. Those projects became even more stressful once she and her husband Carl added a daughter, Josie, now 3, to their family in 2012. Escaping from endless renovations meant moving, but how do you house hunt with a 3-year old?

Initially, Janet and Carl brought Josie with them to open houses, carting along snacks and a potty just in case. Sometimes their realtor, Jan Stranski with Windermere Stellar, entertained Josie in one part of a house while they walked through, up and down stairs for a few uninterrupted moments. On other days they hired a babysitter or took time off from work to look at homes while their daughter was in daycare.

“We bid on at least five homes in Northeast,” says Terranova, admitting that she eventually lost track of the total number.

“We were dead-set on not leaving our neighborhood; we love Northeast. We had a good commute, good schools and had found a great daycare for our daughter,” Terranova added. Instead, they searched for a newer home, or one that had already been updated, in the area around Hollywood and Grant Park.

From NE to SW, and finally into a new home.

Their realtor steered them away from several homes they were interested in when she saw the properties already had multiple bids creeping over their price limit (a pretty common occurrence in their preferred neighborhoods and price point of about $550,000-$700,000). None of their bids — $20,000, $30,000 and once $40,000 over asking price — were accepted, which lead them first to look further east — and eventually to Southwest Portland.

The Terranovas visited nine houses in one day in Southwest, looking for a newer home with a yard and within walking distance to shops and other community resources. Their first and only bid in Southwest, $40,000 above asking price for a new South Burlingame home, was accepted the next day.

Janet Terranova admits to feeling beaten down by the process. The fast-moving market and sense that they didn’t have a shot at any offer being accepted pulled them into an almost manic mentality of impulse-buying, which was unnerving with nearly half a million dollars at stake.

“When Jan called to tell us our offer had been accepted, we weren’t really excited,” says Terranova. “It took a few days to take it in. We’d gotten into the pattern of looking for houses every spare moment.”

They also waited to put their own home on the market until they could move to their new home, despite the strain of paying two mortgages. But with the pace of the current market, they didn’t have long to wait. Four days after listing their home, they were happy to accept the highest of 14 offers, $91,000 over their asking price.

The Terranovas let go of their dream for a house in Northeast Portland, but their new home is still in walking distance to a park and shops, and has a yard where Josie and their dog, Bentley, can play, along with plenty of other kids and families on the block. Plus, the family now has all the space they need without the worry of remodeling.

“And I don’t regret it one bit,” says Terranova. “I don’t miss Northeast at all. I love that it’s quiet, and I can actually park in front of my house here.”

Heather Lee Leap
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