Buying & Selling 2022: Prepare NOW!

Has buying, selling, or investing in a home been on the brain? The upcoming new year usually brings excitement for new opportunities and milestones. If you are considering a real estate venture in 2022… prepare now!



I know it’s tempting to wait to call your agent until a week in advance of when you’d like to start, but calling EARLY gives us so much more opportunity to set you up for success! December to January is the perfect time to evaluate market changes and reflect on the past calendar year. If selling your home, we will determine the optimal time to list based on current market trends. If you are looking to buy or invest in a new home, we will allow ample time for preapproval and address any financial roadblocks (credit, budgeting, and debt-to-income rate).


In Portland especially, there isn’t a ton of inventory in the winter months, but there will be in the spring! Get a jump on the home buying and selling process by preparing during these “slower” months.
No more last minute scrambling! Let’s chat and formulate a plan to prepare for a successful and smooooth process. Reach out and we’ll master the market together!

6 Skills You Need to Build a Successful Real Estate Business

The last 13 years in real estate (RE), I have dabbled in residential, commercial, industrial, and special-use real estate. When I lived in Austin, Texas I worked with a national commercial RE firm that specialized in tenant leasing and management for office and industrial buildings. When I eventually moved to Portland in 2011 I began working for a firm dedicated to distressed property acquisition. Finally in 2012, I transitioned to residential real estate and dove into local philanthropy, working with a few Latinx and women’s organizations, which shaped me as an agent and PDX community member.

Today, I’m reflecting on the past 13 years in real estate—everything I’ve learned along the way, and condensing it into the top 6 skills needed to build a successful real estate business!


1. Carve Out Time For Your Passions

Discover and embrace what you are truly passionate about. When I moved to Portland, in addition to continuing my real estate career with Living Room Realty, I got involved with the Women in Insurance and Financial Services & Women’s Council of Realtors. I discovered my passion for supporting business women and Latinx people in my community. As a busy agent, I strived to find a way to incorporate community involvement and philanthropy into and around my work.


For example, I attend classes and conferences through local organizations whenever I have the opportunity. I always come home with great new ideas and a refreshed passion for my community. During the busiest RE seasons when work takes up most of my time, I listen to a lot of podcasts! Some of my favorites are NPRLatino USA, and Next Portland


2. Address YOUR Communication Preferences

With every client, I aim to connect on a personal level and provide communication in the best way possible. However, the first step to effective communication is addressing your own communication needs. My end goal as a real estate agent is not the sale, it’s client relationships. I am not a “sales-ey” type person and I find that I connect well with folks looking for a more personal experience.


Based on this, I’ve learned I prefer talking on the phone or face-to-face during the beginning stages of working with a client. Hearing their voice and tonal changes allows me to tune into their non-verbal cues! What are they excited about? What… not so much? Sometimes tone and expression say far more than words alone!


3. Address YOUR CLIENTS’ Communication Preferences

Once your personal communication needs are addressed, you can adjust to your clients’ needs. The most important element between real estate agents and clients is open, clear, and efficient communication. Discuss communication preferences first thing during the client [onboarding] process. Does your client prefer email, phone calls, casual texts? In line with their preferences, make sure you continue to advocate for yourself and set healthy boundaries. Some agents strictly do not communicate via text to allow healthy space and the ability to actually turn off after the work day is done!


4. Become an Expert in Real Estate Rules & Regulations

A successful agent is not just a guide, they are real estate experts —  on the local and federal level. This means continuously educating yourself on real estate laws and regulations. Make it a priority to stay updated and well educated with these resources:


  • National Association of Realtors — Offering online courses, certification training, newsletters, podcasts, and membership opportunities.
  • — Keep updated on Oregon’s revises statuses for property and agency regulations
  • — Provides countless resources, filtered by roles and topics!


5. Embrace Your Niche!

There’s a reason why many real estate agents are well known in a particular community. For example, if an agent represents multiple clients in the Pearl District, not only are they establishing themselves as market experts of the area, but they are benefiting from local word-of-mouth referrals. The more trust you gain in a community, the more fortuitous your business will be as you branch out into the wider community!

6. Nurture Your Clients: Current and Former

This year, one of my largest successes has been nurturing client relationships! I’ve had the opportunity to work with repeat clients, selling a home we previously purchased together, buying a new property, or helping them build their investment empire! Not only have I gained loyal clients and formed family-like relationships, but these clients are responsible for so many of my referrals.
Are you considering a career in Real Estate? Or, has business lulled and you’re looking for advice from a fellow agent? I would love to chat with you. As I said, supporting the Portland community and my fellow peers is one of my top passions. Let’s support one another!
Reach out here and follow my Instagram for more RE tips — I look forward to connecting with you!

Annual Business Preparations: Reflecting on 2021 and Planning for a Successful 2022

The time has come to reflect on the past year and prepare for business in 2022. Annual planning is one of my favorite ways to get excited about the coming year! I always appreciate the chance to sit down and reflect on what worked for my business, what didn’t, and what opportunities I have to make next year even better. Since we are traveling to Mexico this month, it feels good to get ahead of the game and prep now!.

Every year around this time, Living Room Realty hosts a business planning class. This year, I’m bringing my takeaways from the course and meeting with one of my colleagues to begin 2022 planning. It’s so nice to brainstorm with someone you trust who can keep you accountable and on track with your goals! Plus… I consider myself to be a “left-brained” gal and this colleague is always full of creative ideas.



Outside of business and income goals, my central 2022 goal is to concentrate on the client experience. The past two years have proven just how important it is to stay motivated and passionate about every individual client. Here are a few ways I intend to connect further with every client in 2022!


  1. Client holiday gifts!
    Going forward I am getting ahead of the game in preparation for holidays. I learned the hard way how difficult it is to design the presentation and manage delivery myself. From now on, I will be outsourcing to a local business. This year I was reminded of the importance of asking for help and keeping it local, whenever possible!

  3. Revamping my buyer and seller kickoff meeting. 
    Any opportunity to improve efficiency, I’ll take it! Next year, I am to be more creative with client onboarding and address buyer/seller questions up front. As the market changes, these questions change too! And, boy has the market been crazy lately.

  5. Planning client events
    I’ve been looking at outdoor venues in the Portland Metro area and fun (distanced) activities to host for those comfortable. When the spring rolls around, I am looking forward to having my clients connect and form friendships. I adore each of my clients and I’m sure they will all adore each other!

  7. Troubleshooting my Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program.
    2022 is going to be the year of organization. My first major task of the year will be reorganizing client information in a new CRM program to make communication easier and more efficient.
To my fellow agents, reach out with your 2022 goals! Let’s collaborate and bounce ideas off each other. 2021 was a fantastic year of growth — I gained wonderful new clients, I watched my business grow before my eyes, and I watched my hard work pay off! I’m looking forward to seeing everything the upcoming year has to offer. Happy holidays everyone!

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!