Mexican Architecture Tour: Oaxaca’s Modern Design Movement

Can’t stop thinking about my trip to Mexico… As I’ve been researching for my upcoming trip in December, I thought why not share my findings with my followers who love architecture just as much as me?


We are witnessing a modern design movement throughout Mexico, especially across the Oaxaca coast. Oaxaca is known for its production of mole and mezcal (yuuum), but the city is officially a mecca of modern architecture.


The lovely Michaela Trimble (travel blogger with CA Travel) described Oaxaca as the world’s newest and “greatest architectural playgrounds emerging along the shores of [Mexico]”, which only got me more excited to dive into Oaxaca’s newest residential and commercial builds!


With that being said, join me on a tour of Oaxaca’s modern architecture!



Nuestro Sueño House


Modern design meets warm details. Nuestro Sueño was built in 2021 for a retired American couple who dreamed of spending their retirement in Oaxaca. The couple is very social, so the Espacio 18 team designed a space that is adaptable, lively, and designed for entertaining and housing friends and family. The center of the home contains the kitchen and patio, and all other rooms are built out from this space. The primary bedroom faces the east, with a full bay window, so the couple wakes up to the sunrise every morning. No alarm clock needed!


Villas Lunaya


Villas Lunaya is a meditative and minimalist retreat surrounded by palm trees. Truly, serene. The flooring is designed with white marble, which keeps the floor cool despite the Oaxacan heat. The entire space is designed with calming neutrals and natural materials, intended to soothe guests. Perma Casco Arquitectura designed each room with an emphasis on privacy. Owner James Vybiral called Villas Lunaya his “dream come true”, continuing with:


“The concept of complete privacy comes from Bali, Indonesia. Then the idea grew organically, being inspired by and reflecting the style of contemporary Mexican architecture… We wanted to add our ‘piece of art’ to the environment”



Design by Javier Sanchez


Typical of restaurants in this area, Criollo was renovated from a former residential home. The restaurant is located in the center of Oaxaca City, drawing in locals and visitors from out of town. The Head Chef Luis Arellano builds seasonal menus, bringing in the freshest ingredients from local farms and fisheries.
Criollo’s front door leads you through the kitchen and into a gorgeous courtyard. Architect Javier Sanchez enhances the family-orientated, loving atmosphere while integrating modern design throughout. A beautiful blend of tradition and modern minimalism!


Check out the images below to see Sanchez’ use of natural wood, concrete, stone, and tons of native plants.



Sofora House


The Sofora “House” Hotel is designed to shelter guests while embracing the surrounding environment. In fact, architect Alberto Kalach describes the Sofora House as “a refuge… of natural beauty”. The building is constructed of 10 “vaults”, aka hotel suites open to the environment, that all face the ocean. Each room has spinning grated archways that offer privacy without obstructing the ocean view!
Architecture aside, the hotel follows a farm-to-table principle and only serves food that was produced or and sourced by local farms!


Casa Tiny

Designed by Aranza de Arino


When Arino designed Casa Tiny she was only 25 and studying at Universidad Iberoamericana. She was commissioned by her good friend (and film producer) Claudio Sodi to build an ocean-side oasis. The tiny home is now available to rent on AirBnb!


During the design process, Arino was inspired by Thoreau’s novel, Walden, which reflects on living simply, surrounded by nature. The house faces the Pacific Ocean, is surrounded by natural vegetation, and is lined with the tallest tree in the area. She described wanting to use as few materials as possible and “push to see what [we] could produce. Parota is a local wood and concrete is part of the local building expertise. Our crew knew how to use it, but the gabled roof was a new challenge; they hadn’t cast a slanted roof in one piece before.”



The Expendio Tradición


The Expendio Tradición is a visually stunning Mezcal bar remodeled from a former residential home.The original structure of the home is intact, and the interior was remodeled to create a single, open space with the bar as the focal point. Every corner of the bar is visually inviting and references the long historical significance of Mezcal! The walls are backlit and display mezcals from across Mexico.


Check out this quote by the lead architect, Exequiel Farca, that perfectly put my passion for art, design into words!


“Design and art are fundamental parts of human life, they are ways that humans express themselves and the society they live in. Both design and art are a reflection of society, always evolving alongside humans. Design is an intention with a result, while art is an inspiration.”



Oaxaca’s Historical Archive Building


The Historical Archive Building was built to “preserve and protect a dispersed, disorganized, and partly destroyed treasure of documents”. Finished in 2016, the building was constructed with winding, unique levels due to the topography of the building site. The design is earthy, natural, with natural light streaming from roof-trimmed skylights. The building was built around existing vegetation, to preserve as much of the natural environment as possible — check out the second and third image!


The people, the food, the history, the celebrations, and the architecture —there’s nothing about the culture of Mexico that doesn’t inspire me.  As a latina woman, I have had an admiration for Latinx artists, designers, and architects my entire life.
Leave a comment below or on my IG @marissasainz if you would like to see more of these blogs. Where should we tour next? Jalisco? La Paz? Mexico City? Let me know!

Single-Family Homes Versus Condos: Which is the Better Investment?

Today, we are diving into a debate I hear often as a Portland realtor: single-family homes versus condos for investment properties. Which route is the most hassle-free? Which will lead to the best return on investment? Which is the smarter investment?


Before we dive in and answer those questions — if you are beginning your property investment journey or are new to the Portland market, reach out. Let’s chat! I love helping my client’s make smart decisions about where to place their money in the real estate market.


Alright, let’s get into it!

Condos: Lower Upfront Cost & Higher Risk


Condos are a tempting investment for a great many reasons. Particularly, condos have a lower up-front cost, relatively low-maintenance (in most cases), and decent appreciation.


Cost is one of the greatest barriers to real estate investing, which makes condos a great, affordable choice. The average cost of a single-family home in Portland is $602,000, while the average cost of a Portland condo is $430,000. That’s a 33% difference in upfront costs, ideal for first-time buyers looking to build equity!


Unlike a single-family home, landscaping and exterior maintenance are often taken care of by a HOA (more on this later), which makes it ideal for renters and those not interested or able to contend with exterior home upkeep.


How about return on investment? Condos also have appreciated 9.9% (nationally) in the past year, which is pretty great!  Factors that affect appreciation, especially of Portland condos, include:
  • Accessibility — check out the Walk, Bike, and Transit “Score” of a property here!
  • Amenities — how many grocery stores, restaurants, bars, schools, community hubs, ect. are there nearby? Additionally, what amenities are available on the property (pool, gym, grilling area)?
  • Noise pollution — close to a busy highway, bustling city street, or long-term construction?
  • Maintenance — how well is the property being maintained, regardless of the property’s age?


For more information on what factors affect return on investment and appreciation, check out my blog, 3 Things to Consider When Looking for an Investment Property


However, condos can certainly come with drawbacks. One of the first that come to mind are the pesky HOA fees and rules. Fees can typically range between $100-$700 per month. Why such a wide range? Because these fees are based on what is covered; some HOA fees cover exterior and landscape maintenance while others include utilities, security guards, and reserve funds. HOA’s can also come with many rules, from prohibiting leasing or short-term rentals, to noise ordinances and more.


Beyond HOA fees, there is the potential for special assessments — added fees that often sneak up on owners of condos or homes belonging to HOAs. Special assessments strike when an HOA reserve is depleted after an unexpected occurrence (damaged roof, broken elevator, or other unexpected large expenses). These special assessments may be stacked on top of normal HOA fees until the debt of these lump expenses are resolved.


Single Family Homes: Double-up Income for Better Return on Investment


Now, let’s compare the pros and cons of single-family home investments. Single-family homes appreciate faster, turnover of tenants are less frequent, and you (generally) don’t have to worry about HOA fee.


Because the demand for single-family homes is greater in the Portland area (and across the nation), which directly impacts the rate of appreciation! Additionally, Investing and leasing out a single-family home comes with a sense of security. As an investor, vacancies will generally be less frequent, compared to a multi-family condo. That being said, vacancies of a single-family home will have a more significant financial impact. If you rely on the passive income of your investment property, an unexpected vacancy may be a significant bump in the road.
Now, let’s dive into how to make the most of your investment property and yield the return on investment!


You’ll find the most success investing in properties with two streams of income. This includes duplexes (where you may occupy one side and rent out the other) and homes with potential for an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) in the basement or guest house. Essentially, renting a portion of the property generates passive income, allowing for:
  • Quicker mortgage payoffs
  • Money to invest back in the property through renovations, updates, and necessary maintenance
  • Tax deductions. The IRS allows for write-offs of half of any expense that benefits both sides of the duplex or ADU.​​
Check out a few stories of my investment clients and their duplexes!



Let’s break it down: Condos vs Single-Family Homes


Condo investment “pros”
  • Lower upfront costs, great for first time buyers
  • Generally lower maintenance with fewer individual expenses
  • Steady appreciation rate


Condo investment “cons”
  • HOA and special assessments fees may prompt unexpected costs
  • HOA regulations may prohibit subletting or short-term rentals


Single-family investment “pros”
  • Greater appreciation rate
  • Less frequent turnover of tenants
  • Generally no HOA fees!
  • Potential to invest with two streams of income for quicker mortgage payoffs, extra income for property renovations, and tax deductions!
Single-family investment “cons”
  • Greater upfront cost
  • Maintenance and renovations are on your plate, not an HOA’s
  • Greater financial impact of vacancies


I would love to help you start — or continue — your real estate investment journey. Whether you are starting from the ground up or have a few investments under your belt, reach out. And for more investment tips, follow me on IG! @marissasainz


Looking forward to chatting with you!

Closing: Cozy Cape Cod Remodel in SE Portland

I was lucky to represent John and Janelle as buyers in 2017, and now again as sellers in 2021! I helped them buy their home on SE Kelly back in the day, but now they need more space for their growing family. They put so much work into the SE Kelly home, including a full basement remodel, kitchen renovations, and energy efficiency updates. The home now scores a 7/10 Home Energy Score.


This quaint cape cod style home lives in the Richmond neighborhood of Portland, making it walking distance from SE Division’s popular bars, restaurants, and shops. The family room features a brick, wood-burning fireplace to cozy up the light filled room. The fireplace is an original feature of the 1938 build! Warm toned hardwood floors and clean white details brighten the living room and kitchen.


One of the best features and return-on-investment for my clients is the remodeled basement. John and Janelle designed a cozy family area, 2 bedrooms, a full bath, and a laundry room. Perfect private space for guests, in-laws, or even a rentable short-term rental space!


Thank you both again for your continued trust. I can’t wait to see how you transform your new home. It’s always a pleasure to work with repeat clients. Until next time!


Listing Details

Closing Price: $631,000
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms:  2
Home Sq. Ft: 1,672
Lot: 3,920
RMLS: 21521740


Are you looking to buy or sell in the Portland area? Hop over to my contact page and get in touch!

Closing: Charming Bungalow for First Home Buyers

It’s been a joy helping the lovely Jessica and Alex purchase their first home! It has been 2 years in the making and they found the perfect starter home for their family.


They first wrote an offer on their new home competing against 4 other buyers. When their offer wasn’t accepted they wrote an offer on a home a few blocks away that was a great fit in a slightly different neighborhood.  A few days later we learned that the buyer of the first property backed out! The couple jumped at the second chance to buy the home!


Negotiation with the seller was fast and furious to ensure the home wouldn’t be put back on the market, which worked out beautifully for us. We were able to see the previous buyer’s inspection reports, which helped my clients feel confident in their offer and in asking the seller to pay closing costs.


Want to peek inside their new cozy bungalow?




Walk through the front door and you are greeted with an open concept living room, kitchen, and dining area. The entire interior, aside from the kitchen, features dark hardwood flooring. The kitchen is set with white cabinetry and tile flooring, updated stainless steel appliances, and contrasting black countertops. The spacious second bedroom will double as an office and guest room for visiting loved ones. My clients also scored with a huge 45 x 155 ft backyard and detached garage with loads of potential for vegetable gardens, flower beds, and landscape design projects once they’ve settled in. Their 5 dogs will also enjoy the space!






Congrats on your first home! Jessica and Alex are in their mid-20s and have just finished college. They jumped at the chance to invest in real estate early, and I am so happy for them! Getting a headstart on real estate investments is a great opportunity for long-term equity and credit building. Check out my blog on real estate investing here!


I hope to help in the future when you are ready to invest in your second property!


If you’re interested in buying, selling and real estate investments, I’m only a phone call away — (512) 736-6111

Top 4 Time Management Hacks for the Busy Businesswoman

As a full-time business woman, full-time mom, and working with post-COVID-lockdown limitations, time management is everything. There are only so many hours in the day and BOY do they fly by, especially when you have a little one running around.


I rely on my wonderful husband and the community at Escuela Viva, but even with my support system, my day-to-day life can feel chaotic. For my fellow working women — with kids or without — here are my top tips for staying organized, productive, and level-headed.


Maintain a Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Schedule


Do you know what method of planning works best for you? Do you prefer having your day laid out digitally, in your Google Calendar or Calendly? Or do you prefer a physical daily planner?


The convenience of a digital planner is paramount, but I suggest using a daily planner for your day-to-day tasks. The University of Tokyo recently conducted a study confirming that the act of writing on physical paper is linked to improved memory compared to typing. Scratching your to-dos in a planner and prepping your month on a physical calendar will help you prepare for the days ahead.
However, I suggest keeping appointments, zoom meetings, and major due dates in your digital calendar to ensure you receive reminders to your phone day-of.


Here are a few sources of personalized planners, designed by women small-business owners!


Transparency with Your Support System


The monthly calendar we discussed above — share it with the household! Hang a whiteboard calendar up in your office or communal space where you, your partner, and/or any other important members of your household can scribe their schedules. Add your daily working hours, BIG assignments, and events to the calendar to share with your loved ones.


My fellow moms will understand the “mom-guilt” that comes with a busy work schedule. This transparency will allow you and your support system to work around each other’s schedules. On this note, make sure you schedule yourself with reasonable working hours. As a businesswoman who works primarily from home and makes her own hours, I understand the struggle of not having a clock-in-clock-out schedule. Don’t forget to prioritize your health and wellbeing!



Embrace saying NO.

This tip may seem the simplest, but this is one of the hardest to truly embrace.


We all know how much we can handle on our plates, but we hesitate to say no in fear of disappointing someone or missing out on an opportunity. However, prioritizing your health and the trajectory of your goals are far more important!


First, identify your core values and goals. When you’re presented with an opportunity, ask yourself:
  • Does this opportunity align with my long-term goals? Could this be a stepping stone in my career?
  • Does this opportunity align with my values?
  • Will saying yes to this opportunity take valuable time and focus away from another important project or client?
  • Will saying yes to this opportunity take precious time away from family and loved ones?


When I was pregnant with Camila I knew my time would be precious in the early months.  Before pregnancy I was on two local board of directors, one state board of directors and a number of committees. I loved being heavily involved with the groups close to my heart and business, but I realized that I would not be able to continue to serve with the attention necessary.  I wound down my involvement slowly and I was grateful I did.  Almost one year after Camila was born I was ready to get more involved again.  At that time my company, Living Room Realty, asked if I would like to join our Broker Advisory Committee and it was at just the right time. I have been serving for almost a year now and I really enjoy the interaction and commitment.


Rewind and Review Your Week


Ironically, one of the best time management hacks is setting aside time to simply reflect. Open your planner (digitally or physically), take the calendar off the wall, and look back on the past week:
  • Look for any “loose ends” — are there any projects, meetings with clients, or tasks that need to be addressed further?
  • Did you run into anything unexpected this week? If so, can you avoid a repeat occurrence by planning ahead of time?
  • Review your long term goals (for the month and year). Did you move towards your goals this week? Make plans to actively work towards those goals in the coming week.
  • Was any day significantly stressful? Did you run into any stressful situations? Reflect on why that day or situation was stressful. Can you manage your time or plan ahead to avoid a repeat situation?



As a full-time business woman, with or without children, establishing a clear routine and self awareness of your productivity is so important! I can’t stress enough that your mental health and time with loved ones reigns over everything else. Planning your month, week, and day-to-day schedule is the best way to ensure you are able to prioritize you and your family.


Be sure to follow me on Instagram if you aren’t already for more of a look into my life as a real estate agent and mom to Camila, I’m always looking to connect with like-minded women in business.


Let me know if this was helpful and drop a suggestion in the comments for a topic you’d like me to cover on the next blog!