Below are a few of the more common questions I've been asked. If you have a real estate and/or central Oregon-related question that isn't answered on this website, please let me know and I'll do my best to find an answer for you.
An agent is a person who conducts business on behalf of another person or group.
A broker is an agent who buys or sells real estate for a Principal (i.e. another person or group) on a commission basis without possessing title to the property.
The use of "agent" or "broker" varies by State. In Oregon, "broker" is the legally accepted title per Oregon Revised Statute 696.
A Realtor® is an agent or broker who holds membership in the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). NAR members subscribe to the extensive NAR Code of Ethics and pay annual dues. Yes, the word "Realtor®" capitalized and is usually followed by the "®" as it is a registered trademark. It's all very legal and seemingly overly-precious, just like Oscar®, Home Depot®, Coca-Cola®, and many other corporate names. It's also pronounced REAL-tor, not RE-le-tor. Two syllables, not three. Also, note the "t" - "tor," not "dor." I admit that it is a bit of a tongue twister for some - including me. I usually prefer to just go by "broker."
The overwhelming majority of brokers in central Oregon are also Realtors®. The Central Oregon Association of Realtors® (COAR) maintains the Central Oregon MLS and requires NAR membership of all agents and brokers who join.
Please see any of the links below - which are also duplicated under the "Services" drop-down menu at the top of this page. If you have a question that isn't answered on any of those pages, please contact me and I'll do my best to get your question answered.
Get a pre-approval letter from your lender (or proof of funds if you are a cash buyer) in hand as soon as you can. This will tell you how much home you can afford and it will also show sellers that you are serious and ready to purchase when you write an offer. In this market, you have to be pre-approved in order to be taken seriously as a buyer. Many brokers won't even take you out to look for homes unless you are already pre-qualified for a loan or have some other proof of financing. There is no point in looking at homes outside of your budget or submitting an offer that you can't support. For more on this PLEASE view this article over at the lightersideofrealestate.com. It goes into a little more depth about why this is so important for you.
Be realistic with respect to the market. Real estate is market-driven. A home that was $400,000 in 1996 may not be worth that much to buyers today - even if you have made improvements to it. OR it may be worth more. It depends on the market. Location is a factor as well, but ultimately prices are market-driven.
No. I don't work under a retainer. I work solely on a commission basis. I get paid when a transaction closes. To say it another way, I only get paid when your dream of owning a home is realized.
Yes. I dedicate myself and my time to those who commit themselves to me. That is, I work with buyers and sellers on an exclusive basis and a written agreement is involved. It's a similar situation to what a doctor, lawyer, architect, contractor, or just about any other professional services provider would insist upon, though my contract is likely much more simple in comparison. And honestly, the main purpose of the Buyer/Broker agreement is to reinforce the exclusive nature of the relationship. It is generally considered unethical for brokers - unless they are part of a team or otherwise have an agreement in place between them - to share clients.
The way I work is that I treat the first day as a grace period. Before I take new clients out, I like to meet them first and take 10-20 minutes to go over the State-mandated disclosures. These are legal disclosures that I am required by State law to provide you with. To that end, I need to get them signed and/or initialed by you as proof of delivery. Typically, I do this at the office, but I can also meet you elsewhere or, if you are unavailable to meet, I can email the documents to you and you can sign them electronically. Nothing that you sign or initial on this first day will legally bind you to myself or Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate. This paperwork is purely for your information, but I am required by law to provide you with it.
I also like to go over the standard Buyer/Broker agreement, which is a single page legal contract that 1) outlines the services I provide, 2) states my commission, 3) obligates you to work with me exclusively, 4) stipulates the period of time we are obligated to each other, and 5) that either party can cancel the agreement at any time in writing prior to the time Broker presents an offer on Buyer's behalf to a potential Seller. Not every office or broker will require you to sign a Buyer/Broker agreement. You'll find that the standard of professionalism varies.
As important as the Buyer/Broker agreement is, I do not require you to sign it at our initial meeting. After we've gone out and seen a few homes (no more than six), if you feel comfortable with me and would like to continue, THEN I'll have you sign the agreement and we can move forward. If not, we'll part ways as friends. No harm, no foul. Two exceptions to this process are as follows...
I strongly discourage viewing more than six (6) homes in any one day. It's extremely unlikely that you will be able to remember and distinguish them from each other if you exceed that number. Because of that, you will likely want to go back and see some or all of them again. More often than not, it ends up being a waste of time - not just for me, but for you as well. So, I strongly advise against it. However, if you insist... If you are only in town for the day and you are supremely confident in your ability to remember and keep straight the individual features of more than half a dozen homes, I may accommodate you. HOWEVER, in that circumstance, I will insist on having a signed Buyer/Broker agreement in place first. And when the day is done, if there is any question about your ability to remember each and every home we visit, then from that point on we will not visit more than six (6) in any one day again.
Also, many homes require advance notice/scheduling before showing. Usually 24 hours is requested. So you'll need to keep that in mind and let me know in advance so that I can get them scheduled.
Of course! However, for remote listings, I like to have the Buyer/Broker agreement in place first. It assures me that you are serious and it also provides me with a sense of personal security.
It depends on nature of the problem. It's it's problem with zillow's home search, I'd recommend you try the home search function on this website, the one on my other website, and/or a HomeFinder account. I'm also more than happy to set up up with your own client portal in the central Oregon MLS - just call or shoot me an email and I can get that going for you.
If you are having issues with Zillow's "zestimate," I'd point you to my own home valuation website instead. It will give you three prices instantly, including the one that you will find on Zillow. If you want something a little more in depth, let me know and I'll be happy to work up complimentary CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) on the property of your choosing.
While I do have a profile on zillow, the only time I ever really visit that site is to look up old photos of expired listings - which is just a little easier than looking them up in the MLS directly with my broker access. Beyond that, I've found the information and search functions in my own websites to be faster, more complete, and more accurate that anything on Zillow.
Right now. That's the easiest, most common answer brokers will tell you. And to a point, they are correct. The sooner you can get a home on the market, the sooner it is likely to sell. However, with that in mind there is a cycle to real estate. In any given year there are three peaks and three valleys in the sales cycle. The biggest peak is the spring season, which begins on January 1st and extends through late April/early May. Then there is a lull in activity as the schoolyear comes to an end. In mid to late June, the summer season begins and activtity ramps up until late August/early september when, again, there is a lull in activity as the schoolyear begins. The last surge occurs in October through early December. And the last lull happens in the last half of December as people focus on the holidays. So, what is the best time to list within that cycle? Right now. One can make the argument that the spring season - especially the late spring season - is the best time, because that's when activity is at a peak. Proponents of this strategy will tell you that prices and demand tends to be higher. However there are plenty of brokers that would argue for the October-December window, on the rationale that the buyers in that timeframe tend to be fewer, but are in general more serious about buying. And there are certainly those that will argue that the summer season is the best time for showing your home. Finally, there are those that will argue in favor of the lulls between seasons (lower inventory can translate into less competition between sellers). So which do I argue for? Right now. Followed by as soon as you can list. Get it listed, get it sold.
Right now. Seriously. If you see a home you like, write an offer. Don't wait. You run the very real risk of losing it to another buyer and/or paying more if prices rise. The market is always active. As I stated above, some times of year are definitely better than others, but there are always buyers looking to buy and sellers looking to sell. You can certainly make the argument that you'll have less competition with other buyers during the seasonal lulls. But you'll also have less inventory to choose from. If you are comfortable with that trade-off, then go for it! Deals can be found (or created) any day of the year. However, having said that, there are two days of the year that stand out. The first of those is Christmas Day. There are a number of reasons for this. The holidays put people put people in good moods. They are inclined to be more generous (even when it comes to negotiating a lower price). Home prices generally fall to a yearly low in December as owners want to get them sold before the first of the year. Owners that list their homes during the holidays are serious about selling them and often willing to negotiate to get them sold. And yet, because it's holiday season, there are fewer buyers out there looking - which means less competition for you! The second best day is Easter Sunday for similar reasons. It comes in second because it doesen't have quite the holiday cushion around it that Christmas Day enjoys. If you are looking for a deal, those are two times of year that could prove lucrative for you. So find a broker that is willing to work with and for you on holidays and Sundays and you'll be halfway there (I routinely work both). Beyond that, get your pre-approval letter (or proof of funds) before you start looking and be ready to write an offer when you see the property you like. It's really as simple as that.
Sure. The one that seems to be a favorite among brokers is GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, but personally I've never cared for it. It seems less about real estate and more about sales - which, given my background in design, is the exact opposite of how I think. So, these would be my top six picks (in order of year of release)...
THE MONEY PIT (1986)
Directed by Richard Benjamin; Starring Tom Hanks, Shelly Long, Alexander Godunov, Maureen Stapleton, & Joe Mantegna
Synopsis: "A young couple struggles to repair a hopelessly dilapidated house."
Trivia: The first of a number of collaborations between Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.
HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE (2003)
Written by Robert Souza & Ron Shelton; Directed by Ron Shelton; Starring Harrison Ford & Josh Hartnet.
Synopsis: Two LAPD detectives who moonlight in other fields, investigate the murder of an up-and-coming rap group.
Trivia: Apparently, Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett did not get along during the production and promotion of this film.
THE HOLIDAY (2006)
Written & directed by Nancy Myers; Starring Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black, & Eli Wallach.
Synopsis: "Two women troubled with guy-problems swap homes in each other's countries, where they each meet a local guy and fall in love."
Trivia: Nancy Myers is known for casting evocative homes in her films. If you like this, see also, FATHER OF THE BRIDE (1991) and SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE (2003).
A GOOD YEAR (2006)
Written by Marc Klein (based on the novel by Peter Mayle); Directed by Ridley Scott; Starring Russell Crowe, Marion Cotillard, Abbie Cornish, Freddie Highmore, & Albert Finney.
Synopsis: "A British investment broker inherits his uncle's chateau and vineyard in Provence, where he spent much of his childhood. He discovers a new laid-back lifestyle as he tries to renovate the estate to be sold."
Trivia: According to director/producer Ridley Scott, every scene of the film (except the London scenes) was shot within eight minutes of his home in Provence.
99 HOMES (2014)
Written by Ramin Bahrani Bahareh Azimi, & Amir Naderi; Directed by Ramin Bahrani; Starring Michael Shannon & Andrew Garfield.
Synopsis: "A recently unemployed single father struggles to get back his foreclosed home by working for the real estate broker who is the source of his frustration."
Trivia: Michael Shannon and Andrew Garfield have both played famous comic book characters. Shannon portrayed DC Comics character General Zod in MAN OF STEEL (2013) and BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (2016). Garfield played Marvel Comics character Peter Parker/Spider-Man in "THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012) and its 2014 sequel. Both actors are Oscar nominees as well.
THE BIG SHORT (2015)
Screenplay by Charles Randolph & Adam McKay (based on the book by Michael Lewis); Directed by Adam McKay; Starring Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, & Steve Carell.
Synopsis: "In 2006-7 a group of investors bet against the US mortgage market. In their research they discover how flawed and corrupt the market is."
Trivia: Nominated for five Oscars: Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Christian Bale), Best Achievement in Directing, Best Achievement in Film Editing, and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay. It won the award for writing.
My personal favorite of those is A GOOD YEAR. I love everything about it and watch it one or more times each year. My second favorite is THE BIG SHORT. It's not necessarily a feel-good movie, though there is humor within it. It's also very well written, directed, & acted. As a cautionary tale, it's pretty fantastic.
Absolutely. Drop me a line and I'll send you a list of several lenders in the area. I think you'll find that they are more responsive, personable, & knowledgeable than the big banks.
As a registered architect, I generally don't recommend designers - who, by definition, are not licensed. It has been my overwhelming experience that they are not as educated, qualified, thorough, talented, or creative as architects. However, they do tend to be cheaper (in every sense of the word). If that is your bottom line and you are willing to settle for less in return, then yes, I can provide you with a list of local names.
Certainly. I maintain a list of them as well. Contact me ad I'll get it out to you. If you can share a little bit about your project, I may also be able to narrow the list down for you. Architecture is a wide profession and many architects specialize in certain areas and/or aspects of architectural design (i.e. commercial, residential, institutional, etc.). Even among residential architects there are specialists who only will take on modern design, or sustainable ("green") design, or historical preservation, etc. I also encourage you to verify the status of any individual or firm using the the word(s) "architect," "architecture," or any derivation thereof in their title or business name with the Oregon State Board of Architect Examiners. As noted on the Board's website, "Oregon law prohibits the practice of architecture or use of the architect title by unregistered individuals and firms." Regrettably, there are a number of non-architect firms and individuals in the central Oregon area who have been or are currently in violation of this law.
There are over 300 licensed contractors in central Oregon. Maintaining a list of all of them is a bit cumbersome. However, I am familiar with quite a few and can provide you with some recommendations. I further recommend verifying the license & dispute status of any contractor you are considering hiring with the Oregon Construction Contractors Board prior to signing any professional services contract with them.
I would like to design a house with ICF Construction and a standing seam metal roof or possibly a roof using Tesla's intriguing Solar Roof. I'd favor a south-facing orientation to maximize passive solar heating, but also incorporate active solar panels to help offset electricity costs. As far as style, I've had good experiences with Tuscan, Mission, Craftsman, and Pacific Northwest regional styles, but mountain, Asian, and desert modern styles are also well-suited to central Oregon. I have even seen examples of desert southwest architecture in the area, but I would think twice about designing my own house in that style. Flat roofs can be problematic with snow. And plaster exteriors tend to crack with central Oregon's wide daily temperature swings. That's not to say homes can't be designed and built in that style. You just have to take a little more care when doing so and expect a little more maintenance over time. I personally adore that style, but probably wouldn't opt for it in this region much further south than Redmond.
Nope. Not at all. Though I maintain my architectural license, I have indefinitely suspended my practice and am no longer accepting architectural clients. I am fully focused on real estate and use my architectural background to better service my real estate clients. What this means is, if we decide to work together, I will give you my architectural opinion when requested at no extra charge. That's really as far as I take it. I don't do design, nor do I prepare drawings. I allowed my CAD software licenses to expire a few years back, so I have no means of creating drawings even I wanted to. But I'm happy to offer my opinion and even give design suggestions to my clients who want them.
Yes (and no). Oregon and New Jersey both mandate that only trained professionals can pump "Class 1 flammable liquids" into vehicles. Although, apparently in 2001, the Oregon law was amended to allow motorcyclists the option of fueling their own tanks. A 2015 law allowed certain rural gas stations to enact "sundown to sun-up" (6 p.m. and 6 a.m.) self-serve gas. A new law (effective Jan. 1, 2018) pertains to counties with 40,000 residents or less and allows gas stations to be self-service around the clock.
This is also true. There are four states without a sales tax: Oregon, Delaware, Montana, and New Hampshire. A fifth, Alaska, has no state-level sales tax, but does allow municipalities to impose a retail-level tax. It should be noted that while there isn't a state-wide sales tax in Oregon, there are a few taxes on specific sales – for example gasoline and marijuana.
All of them are perfectly wonderful! However, if pressed, I'll mostly likely pick Brasada Ranch. I love a nice panoramic view of the Cascades and, in my opinion, the view from Brasada is one the best around. I also like sparsely populated Juniper trees with their twisted trunks and bluish berries. Brasada has those as well. And I appreciate the western farmhouse-style architectural theme that is fostered at Brasada. My next two favorites are Eagle Crest and Pronghorn for similar reasons. But that reflects my own personal preferences. Yours may well differ. For example, you might prefer taller, more densely spaced pine trees and would therefore want to look at Sunriver, Caldera Springs, or Black Butte Ranch. Or you might want to be close in Bend. In that case I might recommend Tetherow. The trick is to find (or discover) what you love most about central Oregon and then look for a home in an area that reflects those characteristics. And if I'm honest, my own personal favorite development in all of central Oregon isn't exactly a resort at all. It's Ranch At The Canyons.
In that case, you would likely be less interested in the setting and more interested in the numbers. Which resort has the most amenities for guests? Which has the most property management companies? Which has the most renters? Which property has the greatest return on investment (ROI)? I am familiar with all of the major destination resorts as well as a few of the smaller resorts. The amount of revenue will depend on the house and its location. Typically, three-bedroom homes are the hardest to keep filled. Short-term vacation renters tend to favor more affordable two-bedroom options for single-family vacations and four-plus bedroom options for multi-family stays. We share our Sunriver office with Vacasa - which manages rentals throughout central Oregon. Through them, we can get reports on most properties as well as additional insight into the rental process. We have found that Vacasa tends to bring owners a greater number of bookings (and thus, profit) than many other companies.
I like the high desert landscape and climate. One of my favorite recipes is: yellow grasses + green junipers + blue sky + distant, snow-capped volcanic peaks = personal happiness.
I could do without the stupid drivers. Though most drivers in central Oregon are perfectly fine and considerate, there is a percentage who are impatient, rude, and unsafe. The roads would be a better place without them. However, that being said, I'm more than happy to deal with rush hour traffic in Bend every day than non-rush hour traffic in Portland any day.
I could also do without wild fires.
It depends on your definition of "harsh." Personally, I think the winters in the mid-west are more extreme. Central Oregon is a high desert environment and does not get as much precipitation as western Oregon. Bend averages around 12 inches of precipitation a year. Redmond averages a bit less and La Pine averages a little more. The temperature in Bend in December averages 31°F. Again, Redmond's temps tend to be slightly warmer and La Pine's are colder. That being said, there are extremes. I've seen temperatures fall below 0°F on a few occasions. And there have been a few winters where there has been over 2 feet of snow on the ground in downtown Bend. As far as special clothing goes, I recommend warm socks and waterproof boots. A warm hat and gloves/mittens are useful too. I like those with Thinsulate™ Insulation. I've lived in jeans through every winter I've experienced since moving here, but if you spend a lot of time outside, you may also want to invest in snow pants. I've found everything I've needed at Fred Meyer. You can likely find items at Kohl's, Macey's, Ross, Target, and T.J. Maxx as well. If you need specialized clothing and/or equipment, there are a few dedicated stores like Columbia Sportswear, Dick's Sporting Goods, Mountain Supply, REI, Sportsman's Warehouse, etc. in town that can likely provide what you need. Beyond that, there is always amazon.
As long as you are careful, you shouldn't have a problem. The mountain passes can be slow going due to snow/ice, but at the lower elevations, ODOT (Oregon Dept. Of Transportation) does a very good job of keeping the highways clear. They also maintain a network of traffic cameras on their TripCheck website that can give you a real time view of road conditions. City streets are usually maintained by their public works department(s). As a point of reference, I drive an all-wheel-drive Subaru and have never had to chain up since I've lived here. The only time I've ever been stuck was during the 2016-17 winter when I had trouble getting out of my snow-filled driveway. At the same time, it can still be easy to lose control of a car - even an all-wheel drive car - if you aren't careful. Your mileage will vary based on your vehicle, your driving style, and road conditions. If you don't feel confident with winter driving or simply want to learn more about how to drive in adverse conditions, check out the Deschutes County SkidCar Training class. If you need snow tires, chains, batteries, etc., I recommend Les Schwab Tire Centers. I've found them to be extremely knowledgeable and the service is second to none.
Dangerous creatures are where you find them. River otters look perfectly adorable, however they can be ferocious if provoked! But yes, there are a few creatures that you should definitely be aware of. I can think of four or five specifically.
Number 1 on my danger list is the rattlesnake. The rattlesnake is the only venomous species of snake in Oregon and there are two sub-species to beware of. The Northern Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus oreganus) is found west of the Cascades, while the Great Basin Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus lutosus) is found here in the high desert. I was born and raised in the Portland area, relocated to central Oregon in 2002 (when I was 31), and I have yet to encounter a rattlesnake in the wild. Despite their aggressive appearance, they really don't want anything to do with people. They are also equipped with that handy rattle - which they will shake long before they strike. The Pacific Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer) is often mistaken for a rattlesnake since it is roughly the same size, has similar markings, and has even been known mimic a rattler when threatened - though it lacks the rattle. The Gopher Snake is of the Colubridae family and has a narrower head shape than Rattlesnakes, which are of the Crotalinae family (more commonly known as pit vipers). Additionally, the Gopher Snake is non-venomous.
Second on my danger list is western black widow spider (Latrodectus hesperus). I had never seen one until I relocated to central Oregon. While I have never found one in my house, I have found them in tall grass, sheds, barns, foundation vents, and crawlspaces. At one office I worked at, there was even a Black Widow that made her home on the window sill next to my desk! However, as venomous as they are (and they are surprisingly venomous for their small size), they are not an aggressive species. While I certainly don't recommend handling them, it (*shudder*) can be done. The other significantly venomous spider in the United States, the Brown Recluse (Loxosceles reclusa), is not native to Oregon and is more likely found in the southern part of the country. In the past thirty years, an invasive European species, the Hobo Spider (Tegenaria agrestis), has found its way to Oregon. There continues to be some question regarding its level of aggression as well as the toxicity of its venom. Personally, I have not learned how to positively identify it. Photos I've seen place it very close in appearnce to common grass spiders and house spiders (both of which are harmless to humans).
Third danger is the North American cougar (Puma concolor couguar) or Puma or Mountain Lion. These are the largest cats in the Oregon and the second largest in the western hemisphere after the Jaguar. Cougars are mostly solitare and roam enormous territories of 150 square miles or so on average. Their prey of choice is deer. Central Oregon is home to deer - which you can find pretty much everywhere. So it shouldn't come as a suprise when I tell you that there are cougar sitings every year and occasionally in town. Since living here, I've never heard of one attacking a human, but there have been instances where they have killed pets. As I understand it, it is illegal to kill a cougar unless you are a member of local law enforcement or with the Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife. I have also heard that it is extremely difficult to relocate cougars. Because of this, when caught, they are usually euthanized instead. The other two species of wild cats that you may encounter in central Oregon are bobcats and lynx. Both are significantly smaller than cougars, but just as reclusive. Of the three, I have only seen the lynx in the wild.
Fourth on my danger list is the Northern Scorpion (Paruroctonus boreus). It's really not a danger at all. The stinger on the tip of its tail is no more painful than a bee sting and likely not even as potent. That being said, they make my list because they are suitably creepy and much to my annoyance, I've found a few on my living room floor over the years. Apparently they glow under a black light - which gives me an idea for the kind of night lights I should install in every room.
That's really it for my shortlist of dangerous animals. Those are the ones that I don't want to cross paths with. But there are others to be aware of, including:
You'll notice I said "be aware of" rather than "be afraid of." There is a difference. I can't think of a single creature in this state that actively preys on humans. However, that doesn't mean the potential danger doesn't exist. It also likely increases if you have small children and/or pets. For more information, please see the Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife and/or visit the High Desert Museum.
Stop it! ;)
All original content, formatting, and layout © Mitch Darby. All rights reserved.
Information provided deemed reliable, but not guaranteed and is subject to change without notice.