Historic Fixer, Our Future Home

In the Portland market, we tend to think of fixers as being in the $200,000 range and under 2000 square feet. The buyers are usually first time homeowners or investors looking to “flip” the property for a profit (note that you have to be a licensed contractor to do this (or at least check with the http://www.ccb.state.or.us/)).
This picture is the house circa 1900. The oldest picture we have found. The only other old picture we have is circa 1950 and the front porch has already been removed and only stairs remain.

Our new fixer project is none of the above. We’re experienced buyers looking to move in once the remodel is complete. The house is well over the $200,000 price range. The William L. Brewster house is on the Historic Registry as a contributing property to the Historic Alphabet District in downtown Portland. Brewster was one of the city’s first commissioners. The house was designed by the architecture firm of Whidden & Lewis circa 1900. It’s got seven bedrooms and three and a half baths and is just under 4000 square feet plus 1300 square feet of unfinished basement. The first time we did this, our project house was much smaller and we had intended to flip it but made it a rental instead that we still own.

The house had been in the seller’s family since 1943. During that time, it was a boarding house and was also vacant for six years. During the vacancy, all the fixtures were stolen and a major roof leak has water damaged the floors and ceiling through all three floors of living space. The roof was repaired but nothing inside was. Since taking possession on August 19th, we have filled a 30 yard drop box, our utility trailer three times and had a truck load of scrap metal hauled off. There is still a lot of removal to be done since we really haven’t started any construction. Our next step is applying for city permits. We’ve already submitted our application to the State Historic Preservation Office for their Special Assessment Program. That’s another blog topic for another day.

It’s been about a month since we first became aware of the property. I didn’t write about it until now because like all real estate, I don’t believe it until it closes. The sale was a FSBO with a sign in the yard. We negotiated the sales price standing on the front stairs with grandfather and grandson. I think they got a little less than they wanted and we paid a little more than we wanted but the competing offer for more money was going to hack the historic house into smaller units. We were fortunate to have full access to the vacant house during escrow so once it closed; we were ready to start our project. It will get 100% new wiring & plumbing, a new furnace and for the first time, an air conditioner. The oak and fir floors have been inspected and everyone hopes that they will come back to their original glory.
We’ve take a couple hundred before pictures so they need some organizing before posting here. Check back soon. These pictures were taken the day we wrote the offer.

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