Seeking Help Finding Portland, Oregon House Hack

8 Replies

I‘m slowly making my way back to PDX over the next 12-18 months after a 4 year tour of duty in NYC and am looking for a house hack, teardown and rebuild, or small multifamily that I can live in alongside 2-4 other residents.  The goal is to find a property within 2 miles of the water front (NW, NE, or SE PDX) with value add opportunity and zoned for 2-4 families.  Walkability is critical.

Investment returns are not my primary driver and I’m familiar with the reality of low rent-to-price ratios as I used to live in NW PDX in 2010-2012.  

I’m looking for something with hair on it that can be repositioned and turned into a decent cash flowing asset that will subsidize my cost of living.  While “living for free” would be wonderful, I recognize this is unlikely.  

Im seeking referrals to agents/brokers in the area who work with investors and can help me navigate the multi-dwelling zoning / land use labyrinth.  I seek to honor existing zoning guidelines but need help understanding what can/cannot be done on an existing lot as it relates to adding units/dwellings.

I have a property listed for sale at 1817 SW Cable Ave Portland OR 97201.

It’s zoned r1, so you could build up to 5 units on it.  Currently it makes about 3k in income per month.  The basement is convertible to a 3rd unit.

There is the ability to upgrade kitchens and baths in both units to garner higher rents.  I think it’s a great opportunity. 

Parking is bad and it’s a couple flights of stairs up to the property though. 

If you’re interested, it’s rented out right now so you could buy it now and then plan to move into whenever you’re ready.  Let me know if you are interested.  Anyone else reading this feel free to Pm me as well. 


Hey John, 

Welcome back (almost) to Portland! Your understanding of the realities of house hacking here will help make that transition a lot easier on you. There are plenty of brokers here who have helped folks house hack their way to success, of which I'm one. I'd be happy to get you some recommendations from those who have worked with me in the past. 

That being said, you're wise to look ahead to changing zoning and land-use requirements. Some big changes are coming that will, potentially, increase the ability to develop certain lots down the line. If you want to do some pre-research now, the city Bureau of Planning and Sustainability has a website with more information (see below)

and here is a link to an overview of the proposed changes that is likely easier to skim over:

Welcome back!


@John Jacobus Another strategy you may want to consider is buying a property with a large enough lot to build an ADU on. Permit fees with the City of Portland are currently waived indefinitely so that will save you about $30k. You could build the ADU to your design taste and live in that while renting out the main house.

@Caleb Webster This is definitely an approach that appeals to me. Are there particular neighborhoods where ADU's are more widespread or is it case-by-case depending on lot size and zoning?

Hi @John Jacobus I think @Caleb Webster is on the right track. There is a company out there called Dweller that will put a prefabricated ADU on your property and will cover a large majority, if not all, of the costs. It's something to look into as well. Additionally, we are a realty company and property management company so if you would ever like to chat just send me a message!

@Caleb Webster people can buy a prefab ADU from them for I believe $125K or they can lease their land to dweller. The cliff notes for leasing the land to dweller are 1) they need a large enough flat space to put the unit with proper setbacks (about 26x45 I believe... typically in our area that requires a 5,000 square foot lot), 2) dweller will pay for the install including permitting and bringing in utilities but the owner has to remove any landscaping etc to prepare the site, 3) dweller has a land lease with the property owner that allows them to rent out the ADU (of which the property owner gets 30 percent of the monthly income (gross I believe)). The lease is in 5 year increments. After every 5 years one of 3 things happens; the property owner can buy the ADU, Dweller can renew the lease, Dweller can not renew the lease and take the ADU back. At any point the property owner can purchase the ADU. Every year the purchase price decreases by $5K until after 25 years the property owner owns the ADU. Dweller will also pay any increase in property taxes.

They will also come out and look at a piece of property and give you a yes or no whether it will work.

Check out their website; it's got a lot of great info.

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