Congratulations to Khoi and Whitney, the very first Flyhomes clients in Portland! To celebrate their new home and our start in the City of Roses, we’re sharing their homebuying story.
Khoi and Whitney are a UX designer and a teacher who moved to Portland from San Francisco with their three-year-old daughter Ivy in June. The family was renting with the hopes of buying their first home by the end of winter.
One fall evening, Khoi came home from his day at a WeWork work space with a PowerPoint presentation he was excited to show Whitney. Flyhomes had just launched our Portland business in the same WeWork and had hosted a lunch-and-learn that afternoon.
“When Khoi came home with this presentation, I wasn’t sure about using a new company,” Whitney says. “But he convinced me to learn more.”
They soon met with Portland client advisor Sophia. “Meeting the team took the anxiety right out of it,” Whitney says. “I have very random questions at random times, and Sophia was very patient and open with me. That made me trust her a lot more.”
Whitney and Khoi also gained confidence when they learned that Flyhomes agents are paid on salary instead of commission. “That made us feel like we weren’t getting pushed into something. There was no incentive to push a bad deal,” they say.
And so the hunt was on.
“Both of us grew up in homes that our folks owned and we felt really grounded. I want Ivy to have that feeling of home,” Whitney says.
Painting without permission, installing things on the walls, not relying on a landlord to fix things … These are other reasons Khoi and Whitney chose to buy a home rather than continue to rent.
When it came time to think about their wishlist, craftsman-style homes with covered front porches and big backyards came to mind. Also on the list: a garage with space for bikes, a modern laundry set-up that’s not in the basement, and a kitchen that’s open to the main living space so they can cook and see Ivy play at the same time.
At first, they found homes they loved but soon realized a catch: the reason these homes were in their budget was that they weren’t in the best school districts.
“So our priorities ended up shifting,” Khoi says. “We basically realized that our budget could be better spent on a house in a great school district versus spending money on private school.”
Now, the trick was to find that amazing neighborhood.
Before choosing a neighborhood, Whitney and Khoi had to choose a city. They’d been living in San Francisco but wanted to put down roots somewhere more budget-friendly.
“Portland merged the best of all the worlds. A small city with tech for Khoi to get a job and the public school system’s on the rise, so I could get a job,” Whitney says.
Whitney’s sister also lives in Portland, so they’d visited over the years they lived in San Francisco, but they didn’t consider themselves experts on the city’s neighborhoods.
“We spent the entire summer in different neighborhoods ‘shopping,’” Whitney says. “We’d go to lunch and parks.”
Those “shopping trips” helped the couple narrow down the areas they liked but they decided to let the home guide their final decision.
Once they started working with Sophia and the local Flyhomes team, they toured about 20 homes. Whitney says, “We felt like we were taking too long or being too picky, but the team was very reassuring. They did a really good job of laughing with us when we were being neurotic!”
“We had a Google spreadsheet running together, and we would put notes and rank things,” Khoi says. “Then we’d have a game plan when the weekend came.”
Using little moments of logic to find home
Deep into their search, Khoi and Whitney’s idea of what they needed versus what they wanted continued to evolve. They transitioned from looking at old builds with lots of charm and character to new construction.
Portland’s Home Energy Score was helpful in making decisions.
“The one kind of agonizing decision we made to walk away was when we found an old house that had been renovated enough that we could’ve done the rest, but the energy score was a one. We could’ve spent $100,000 or more to fix that,” Khoi says. “Sophia helped us understand what it would entail to renovate and replace windows.”
New construction would already be energy efficient. Plus, it would be built for modern life. “We’d find old homes with a good balance of charm and renovations, but they’d be missing something essential to us such as a secure place to put a car or bike,” Whitney says.
Additionally, the couple learned that new construction would be up to code. “We were going to newly renovated homes and Sophia would ask if things were permitted and explain that you needed to know or the renovation might not even be legal. We learned about that big red flag to look for,” Whitney says.
A home in Woodstock caught Khoi and Whitney’s attention and they started forming an offer. “It was $60,000 over budget,” Khoi says. “Part of us wanted to overextend. Sophia gave us the pros and cons, and wasn’t afraid to give us her personal opinion. She’d gone through the experience of homebuying as well. She gave us little moments of logic in this crazy process.”
Finally, after walking away from the over-budget home, Khoi and Whitney toured and fell in love with a new-construction home in Mt. Tabor. While newly built, the house is charming with detailed finishes, wood floors, high ceilings, a fenced yard, and the open kitchen they wanted.
“Every room has a porch,” Khoi says. “We’re going to have to get a coffee pot for our room because in the summertime, I’m just going to want to make a cup of coffee and walk out on our porch.”
“What honestly sold us was that the street has eight kids around Ivy’s age,” Whitney says. “We walked the neighborhood and everyone raved. Everyone knows everybody’s name. It’s the strong community we were looking for.”
Sophia helped the family make a Flyhomes Cash Offer and they won. “I don’t think we would’ve gotten the home without the cash option,” Whitney says. “We became competitive because of that.”
All that was left was to move in.
Welcome home, Khoi, Whitney, and Ivy!
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