Portland, Oregon, has risen as a major economic hub that has enticed not only tech giants like Google, Mozilla and Airbnb, but also millennial, highly-educated transplants looking for a place to offload their talents. And while the industrial prowess of the region attracts companies and individuals alike, the city’s vibrant culture helps retain them, prompting a raft of mavens and media outlets to describe Portland as a “top moving destination.”
Last year, Portland absorbed most of the 60,000 new residents, who moved to Oregon from California, Washington, Texas and Arizona among other places. This population gain catapulted the state to the 9th fastest growing in the country.
Moving to a new city, however, is daunting. It comes with working through overwhelming logistics that can cut the line between a smooth transition and a nightmarish relocation. Having moved to Portland from the East Coast with two small children over 20 years ago, real estate agent, Kristen Kohnstamm has a first-hand understanding on what it takes to uproot your family to plant it somewhere else, hundreds of miles away. Over the years, she has helped hundreds of other families do just that.
Haute Residence talked to Kohnstamm, a principal broker with Cascade International Sotheby’s Realty, about the art of relocation and finding a new community to call home.
A friend and past client of yours said you have a unique gift when it comes to matching people up with the right community. Where does the drive to immerse in a community come from?
My husband and I unexpectedly moved our family to Oregon 20 years ago. We spent our first 2 years here immersed with family but unable to really find community. With no roots here myself, I was desperate to find this. We relocated to our now neighborhood and immediately made friends, most of whom are still friends today. We have raised our families together and have experienced so much of life together. This has shown me how important this is to find the right location, the right mix of people, the right school system. It is all individual and it is what helps to make us all happy. Since I have experienced this myself I know the questions to ask buyers looking for a new home to help them find a place that is right for them. As far as immersion in a community, my community has given so much to our family, I want to give back to it as a thank you. This is why I have enjoyed doing so much volunteering.
What are the ways for new Portland residents to engage in their community and feel at home as soon as possible?
This is a different journey for everyone. When you have kids, volunteering at schools is easy. Beyond this encouraging people to follow their passions helps guide involvement. I have deep roots here now and chances are very good that if I don’t have a direct connection, I know someone who does. I enjoy helping people connect so they can quickly find the lifestyle and community they are seeking.
What mistakes do people seeking to move to another city usually commit or are there any lessons that most learn the hard way relocating?
I think finding a real estate broker who really understands you and your goals is essential. Someone they can trust. From there, understanding neighborhoods and communities is essential. Again, if I am not an expert for a way of life or a section of town for clients, I do not pretend I am. I will instead find a broker who is the best versed for where my clients should be to ensure we end up with the right home for them.
Relocation can be such a stressful process. Drawing on your own experience moving across the country and helping others settle in Oregon, what real estate advice do you have for those seeking to relocate today?
Finding the right team of trusted advisors to help you do it! Make sure you have the right people on your team and use the expertise and experience of others to build the right team for you. Establishing rapport and this kind of trust with my clients is essential, it is the foundation of providing exceptional service well beyond the details of the transaction.
Have you had clients who have purchased property before seeing it prior to relocation? How can a realtor be most helpful in such situations?
I have not had this happen yet, although I have had clients get a house under agreement to purchase and then fly across the country to verify it was the right house for them. For these buyers we had spent a few days together looking at homes, so when I found a house that had not hit the market yet, but that I knew would go quickly when it did, they trusted me that it was the right house and we made a successful offer. They are still loving this house 10 years later and have become very good friends of my family.
You and your family have lived on Portland for two decades now. How has the city changed?
Wow. This is more a question of how has it not changed. Portland has really grown into a vibrant city with something to offer everyone and is a very livable city compared with many other cities in the country with a very diverse population.
Our nationally-acclaimed food scene, renowned breweries and coffee shops, award-winning wineries, along with splendor of the mountains, beaches, rivers, and hiking all within driving distance – provide literally something for everyone. People love the relaxed yet increasingly cosmopolitan lifestyle.
Where do most new Portland residents come from today? Has the demographic and regions of origin changed over the years?
When I first started selling real estate most buyers came across the river, from the east side to the west. Those relocating from outside of the state were few and far between. Now, we have buyers coming from all over the country and the world. Nike, Intel and many other companies bring employees back to headquarters as well as attract workers to Portland.
How did the luxury real estate market in the city fare last year? What are your expectations for 2018?
Last year was a really strong year for the luxury market in Portland, with 96 properties sold for over $2 million. 20 of these were over $3 million with 5 selling at or above $4 million and 2 selling for more than $6 million.The Portland market remains hot as we head into spring with 89 homes for sale above $2 million. While we are not anywhere near comparable to California or other luxury markets, we definitely hold our own.
Images courtesy of Kristen Kohnstamm