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Firm recognized for its community involvment finds more space for its presence in Southwest Portland

PHOTO BY 22PAGES - Living Room Realty founder Jenelle Isaacson wields the scissors for the ceremonial ribbon cutting at the firm's new Multnomah Village location on Friday, Feb. 1.  To her right is Anika Stephen Wilbur, assistant  managing principal broker.Living Room Realty is doubling down on its Southwest Portland presence by relocating its Multnomah Village offices from SW Capitol Highway up the hill from Otto and Anita's to Southwest 35th, right across the street from The Ship.

The new offices at 7830 SW 35th are in a structure built in 1908. It most recently housed the offices of Jeff Parker Realty. Local historian Patti Ingebretsen said it's fairly certain that Living Room Realty just moved into "probably the oldest business structure in Multnomah Village."

Founded during the early days of the recession in November 2008 by Wilson High School alumna Jenelle Isaacson, Living Room Realty now employs 128 real estate professionals at four offices in Portland and one in Manzanita.

Marking its 10th year in business in 2019, Living Room is now listed as the tenth largest residential real estate firm in the Portland Area. It reported sales last year of $753 million, according to the Real Estate Multiple Listing Service.

Employees and friends feted the opening of the new offices on the first Friday of February. 

"We're really excited about the changes in the Village.  It's just a charming location and now to see some new businesses opening up makes it more exciting," said Veronica Powell, membership director and principal broker with Living Room Realty.

The former offices were on the corner of Southwest Capitol Highway and Canby Street and featured a conference room in full view of passersby.

PHOTO BY BILL GALLAGHER - Principal broker Veronica Powell in fornt of the new offices on SW 35th."That was a small, tighter space," said Powell, "and as our business is growing on the west side and as we have more agents wanting to work on the west side we just needed a little more room.  And we loved this location and the chance to be closer to the hub of The Village."

Thirteen agents will work out of the new offices but there's not a cubicle or conventional desk in sight.

Powell says that's part of the culture of the company and it's been that way since the first offices were opened on Northeast Alberta at 14th. "That attracts the agents that we're looking for and the clients.  It's the same vibe at all our offices.  That same living room feel.  You're supposed to walk in the door and feel relaxed and calm.  You make everybody feel at home with open work spaces in a building that has some architectural interest to it."

As New Seasons is to the local grocery business and Umpqua Bank is to local banking, that's what Living Room Realty aspires to be to the local real estate industry,Powell said.

Living Room Realty is Gold Certified for Sustainability at Work by the City of Portland and was the first West Coast brokerage to earn B Corp Certification, which is given to firms by a non-profit organization based on "social and environemntal performance."

"Our communities need more business involvement to sustain services and the environment. That B Corp Certification means we've gone above and beyond. Charities alone cannot provide the services that we all need as a community," said Powell.

The company has been cited three years in a row for providing a top workplace and in 2014 was honored with the Oregon Ethics in Business award. Last year Living Room Realty donated $70,000 to three designated charities through its Loving Room program.  At closing, agents make a contribution to the fund and give clients the option to do so as well.  Those three charities are Oregon Wild, Urban Gleaners and Roseaven Shelter.

Sitting in a third floor side room one flight up from the building's original kitchen, Powell discussed some of the real estate questions on people's minds these days.

Does she get many calls from older homeowners wondering if it's time to sell?

"Yes.  The market is starting to turn and they're concerned. I wonder if some of that concern is based on what happened last time in 2008.  I wonder if they feel like the value of their home is going to take a dive or their house is going to be on the market forever when they do sell.  I don't see signs of that.  I see a leveling off of prices.  I see a normalcy.  We had it good for so long I think people forget that this is what a normal market looks like.  Just be calm.  I don't have big concerns and when clients come to me and say 'Should I sell?'  I think the answer is more about what works for their personal situation than it is about the market."

What does she think of the City of Portland's proposed Residential Infill Program?

"I think it's really going to benefit everybody.  I think it's really going to make for some progress over here. I would love to see the charm still be here but I would also like to see some growth because that would attract buyers which would ultimately mean higher prices for homes in the neighborhood. There's  some benefit to that and not just benefit to (those providing) the services that would be offered."

What does Southwest Portland need?

"We could use some more breakfast places over here on the west side.  On the east side they can't get enough cafes and restaurants.  I think it's about the food but I also think it's about the opportunity to be out in the community. That's what I'm liking about what I'm seeing with the changes in Multnomah Village.  We're seeing the types of businesses that will draw people out into the neighborhood."

Bill Gallagher

Editor

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