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Portland Real Estate Focus: Forest Heights

Forest Heights has been one of the long standing “desirable” neighborhoods in Portland. Located between the high tech corridor to the west that is home Nike, Intel and other large companies and downtown Portland to the east. The development rises up the hillside offering so great views to the west and the setting sun. Views are often tempered by steep lots that sometimes makes decking the primary outdoor living space due to the steepness of some lots. Forest Park Elementary School serves the area and feeds into West Sylvan Middle School and then Lincoln High School.

The Forest Heights neighborhood began life as an investment by the Nauru Phosphate Royalty Trust, operated by the nation of Nauru.

The tiny South Pacific island country, about 2,500 miles northeast of Sydney, Australia, made heaps of money from phosphate mining and created a means to invest the money worldwide.

Among other areas, the Nauru (pronounced NAH-roo) trust invested in real estate. It built a skyscraper in Melbourne, Australia, and, in 1988, stumbled across 600 acres of vacant, residentially zoned land near Portland. Portland Tribune 2002

Forestheights
Two decades have made Forest Heights into what it is today. The recent commercial development in the heart of the neighborhood has helped make it into a community unto itself. Starbucks, a drycleaner, a grocery store and a competing real estate company now call Forest Heights home. Prior to their opening, the nearest services were out on Barnes Road a couple of miles away. Forgetting the milk was a time consuming proposition.

There have been considerable growing pains in the neighborhood, especially in the condo market. I’ve heard it said that the developments in Forest Heights “have been, are in, or will be in litigation over construction at some point.” Condo owners in Forest Heights have two HOAs since Forest Heights has its own and each development has its as well. The Forest Heights HOA maintains the overall area including the network of walking trails, some landscaping and enforcement of real estate signs in the neighborhood.

As of today there are 41 single family listings priced between $615,000 (2518 SQFT) and $1,495,000 (6193 SQFT). There are 22 condo/townhouses priced between $219,900 and $689,000.

Image from Google Earth.

9 Comments on “Portland Real Estate Focus: Forest Heights

  1. I’m the president of one of the townhome/condo communities in Forest Heights- Leighbrook (the white English Tudor community across from Starbucks).

    Leighbrook was built between 1995-97. Ten years later we’ve never been in litigation over construction, nor have we had any major construction defect problems to deal with.

    It is important to not post generalizations or rumors about large areas of real estate, such as Forest Heights. For example, quite a few years ago a realtor stated at a big local realtor convention that our community had EIFS (it does not) in explaining that it is a problem in Forest Heights. This caused the realtor group to have to issue a written apology to all local realtors and create/print flyers for our community to use for clarifying this false rumor when a home in our community hit the market (until this rumor died out).

    I’m sure one can make the same broad statement about condos/townhomes and construction defect issues in the Pearl District, NW23rd area, etc., when it might only relate to one or a few buildings/communities. When the construction in large areas of real estate is done by different builders, it is more important to differentiate which builder was the problem and not generalize that there are widespread problems.

  2. I hear you CA but I am not sure that I 100% agree with you. I am probably guilty of hearsay as I can’t quote who I heard it from but the problem, I believe, is real. I’m not here to slam communities or anything of the like so perhaps you can help shed a more accurate light.

    If agents find it necessary to say “no litigation in this community” it says to me that the expectation is that there would be litigation- there are two active listing in Forest Heights with that in the remarks.

    I don’t know how many associations make up Forest Heights. I do know of two associations in Forest Heights that have suffered from construction defects.

    Perhaps you have the ability to provide a definitive list of associations and their litigation/special assessment history? I think there are nine or ten associations and if the two I know of are the only ones 20%+ would still be a very high percentage in my mind.

    Ultimately, with any building, condo/townhouse or otherwise, it comes down to buyer beware.

  3. Condo owners in Forest Heights have two HOAs since Forest Heights has its own and each development has its as well.

    Two HOAs to deal with – what a nightmare.

    I’ve heard it said that the developments in Forest Heights “have been, are in, or will be in litigation over construction at some point.”

    Is that because they are typically built on such steep land? A lot of places up there just look like a disaster waiting to happen.

    The Forest Heights neighborhood began life as an investment by the Nauru Phosphate Royalty Trust, operated by the nation of Nauru.

    That’s fascinating. I had no idea. So basically tony Forest Heights was set up by a banana republic.

    For example, quite a few years ago a realtor stated at a big local realtor convention that our community had EIFS

    CA: what is EIFS?

  4. EFIS is synthetic stucco.

    From the CCB:

    The 2007 Legislature took new measures to ban Barrier-type Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems (EIFS), sometimes called
    “synthetic stucco,” in new construction. Health and safety concerns regarding the installation of EIFS barrier systems led to the change in law. All EIFS or “synthetic stucco” systems must have a waterproof
    membrane over the substrate and a drainage system to allow moisture to drain from behind the EIFS.

  5. There are 12 townhome/condo communities in Forest Heights:

    Miller Hill (67 units)
    Austin Row (8 units)
    Silver Ridge (64 units)
    Leighbrook (27 units)
    Village at FH (72 units)
    Edgewood (47 units)
    Mill Creek (75 units)
    Creekside (33 units)
    Brownstone (140 units)
    Montara (52 units)
    Forest Heights Crossing (44 units)
    Ventana (24 units- new/under construction)

    I can clarify off the record as to which ones I believe are better financially, better constructed, etc.

    My point was that all real estate purchases should be buyer beware and involve background research. This is always of importance with condo/townhomes due to determining fiscal stability (30-year reserve plan compliance), maintenance/repair history, quality of construction, etc.

    I’m sure one can make the same point you made regarding FH’s condos/townhome communities with other areas of town with high percentages of condo/townhome communities (such as the Pearl and Uptown). Anytime you have common ownership of large assets and people can join together to deal with a joint or common problem (such as a construction defect problem), then you will find this issue.

    The listing comments you are seeing is exactly the point I’m making. A rumor can get out of hand and it is important to do your research to find out about individual communities and not make generalizations.

    Clearly the listing agents are trying to clarify over false rumors so that agents that know little about the area don’t mistake one community having issues with another community that does not have issues (even if they are in the same neighborhood/zip code and built by different builders at different times, etc.). Generalizations are problematic.

    If you are representing a buyer or seller in FHs (the Pearl, Uptown, etc.) in a condo/townhome purchase, then it would make a lot of sense to learn as much as possible about the various communities to make informed decisions. Many times buyers/sellers/agents don’t account for the positive or negative value a stable HOA/community gives to property value.

  6. I have heard of similar problems and lawsuits in the Pearl but that they are kept quiet. Maybe it’s not as big a deal anymore as more and more Pearl condos are going to be apartments.

  7. I’ve worked on may condos here in Hampton Roads, Virginia and what I find is that the problem is not with the system itself or the contractors for that matter. Invariably the details are what’s suspect. For example, in 1996 and even today, Dryvit still sells Adeps, which is an adhesive used to attach EPS/foam to wood substrates. In my estimation EIFS only belongs on cementitious substrates.

  8. I’ve worked on may condos here in Hampton Roads, Virginia and what I find is that the problem is not with the system itself or the contractors for that matter. Invariably the details are what’s suspect. For example, in 1996 and even today, Dryvit still sells Adeps, which is an adhesive used to attach EPS/foam to wood substrates. In my estimation EIFS only belongs on cementitious substrates.

  9. We recently purchased in Forest Hights, the preliminary home inspection did include the statement that we were NOT a stucco siding.

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