Stankavich Saga

Stories of the Stankavich family of Hillsboro, Oregon, USA


The housing bubble hits home for the Stankavich family

Our home 2004Our story begins just before the peak of the housing boom.  I had dollar signs in my eyes just like everybody else, and I had some equity in the house I was (and still am) living in. So I refinanced, took cash out, and bought a duplex. Sure, it needed a little work, and the rents were really low, but I was confident I could quickly turn it around.

West side of the duplex East side of the duplex

The infamous oak treeThree weeks after I closed on the duplex, the giant oak tree in the yard fell right across the front of the building.  Fortunately the tenants heard the tree splitting down the middle and got out before it fell, so nobody was hurt.  And I had planned to remodel, so not having to work around tenants was a plus.  I just hadn’t planned to remodel in such dramatic fashion.Tree down on the duplexTree covers entire structure

Damage after tree removedFortunately, I had insurance on the property.  The insurance settlement was fairly hassle free.  But then when I started investigating my options on rebuilding the damaged unit to have more bedrooms, I found that the property was not actually zoned multi-family. According to the city my only option was to rebuild the structure as it was before it was damaged.

As we dealt with the tree fall, we got to know the neighbors and the neighborhood and liked what we saw.  And I studied the zoning ordinances for the duplex property and found that an Accessory Dwelling Unit, or what most people call an in-law apartment was allowed.

DemolitionRemaining structure

FramingSo we hit on the idea of keeping the undamaged duplex unit as an in-law apartment for my parents and rebuilding the damaged unit to be our primary residence.  I moved my parents in with me a couple of years ago, and our situation was less than ideal for them – their bedroom and living room are in a converted garage, and they are using Exteriorthe laundry room for their kitchen. Rebuilding with an in-law apartment for them would provide them with much nicer living quarters.

It seems like every step of the construction process has involved some sort of struggle.  Design took a while because we had to meet zoning requirements and accommodate the existing structure.  Then when we got all that New interiordone, it took nearly three months to get a construction loan.  At least we got it done before the credit crisis really hit.

Then when we were done with framing, the inspectors found several issues that required rework.  15 months of delays and challenges later, we’re almost there.

Moving will be bittersweet – we have a wonderful view and nice surroundings where we’re at now.  And selling has proved to be particularly challenging.  We started getting ready to sell in early 2007.  Everything was finally ready to go in July.   We listed for top Existing home 2007dollar figuring we weren’t in a hurry to move as the other house wasn’t done yet.  We have ended up chasing the market down from 569,000 to 459,900, and it still hasn’t sold.  The problem is that we owe 456,000, so we can’t really afford to lower the price any more.  I think that after we move into the new house I’ll just drop the price anyway and pursue a short sale. If by The viewany chance you know somebody looking for a nice rural property west of Portland, Oregon, please please send them to 🙂

This has definitely been a learning experience, and it has been a tough financial hit.  I had hoped to come out with no debt other than the first mortgage on the new property, but now A sunrisewe’ll be at least 100,000 away from that.  I’ll definitely be working hard to pay debt for the next few years.  But I know that I’m not the only one.  This economy is hurting nearly everyone.  I am confident that with some  hard work and willingness to avoid excess spending we’ll be able to recover before too long.

7 Responses to “The housing bubble hits home for the Stankavich family”

  1. November 27th, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Andrew says:

    The morning vs evening view on the mountain (Mount Hood?) is really breathtaking! Seems like it’s been quite an adventure with both mother nature and the financial markets dropping their calling cards 🙂 Given the noble intentions for your parents, I’m pretty confident whatever challenges that come will be removed one way or the other.

  2. November 28th, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Mike's mom says:

    Not that it matters, but both views of Hood were morning. Well one is probably mid to late morning.

  3. November 28th, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Jeff Tice says:

    Amazing pics of the property. I sent your URL to one of my friends up in Portland. Who knows what may come, eh? Best of luck with this.

  4. November 29th, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Mike A says:

    Good things come to those who wait. You guys have gone through a rough season, but sure does look like things are coming along real nice now.

    Merry Christmas to the Stankavich’s !!

    mike and viv a
    see you next year….

  5. December 5th, 2008 at 12:31 am

    Carla says:

    Beautiful photos! We are moving to Portland next year (in the city) and though I love the SF Bay Area where I was born and raised, the mountains in OR is noting to sneeze at either.

  6. December 7th, 2008 at 9:57 am

    Guy says:

    Hi Mike & Marissa,

    Jime & I wish to see you both again sometime in the future.

    Merry Christmas to your family.

    Guy & Jim
    Oregon City

  7. July 13th, 2009 at 11:10 am

    My Short Sale Finally Closed says:

    […] last week.If you’re interested in the whole story, I wrote about it on my family blog at The housing bubble hits home for the Stankavich family and Short Sale Auction for my Previous Home. Then I got an email from my real estate agent late […]