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Guiding North Star

LO property management company appeals to elite renters between homes
by: Vern Uyetake Quinn Nieland from Lake Oswego’s North Star Property Management visits a lakefront property available for rent.

'We're not just 'finding renters,'' real estate professional Quinn Nieland said, 'we're renting the lifestyle. These homeowners just need a house.'

Nieland, a long-time Lake Oswego resident and real estate agent, started North Star Property Management in 2009 to cater to executives and professional athletes in a bind. With a sudden job relocation, should a homeowner move and let their home sit vacant, sell it at a possible price reduction or try to find renters?

Nieland found an untapped niche in the marketplace to benefit homeowners and renters - both in hot water.

And to date, his five-member Lake Oswego firm has transformed more than 100 luxury homes into exclusive rental properties, allowing homeowners to wait until market conditions improve before selling their homes and allowing renters the opportunity to live comfortably before making their own home purchase.

'Our clients are not renters, really,' Nieland said of his upscale clientele. 'They're homeowners in between homes.'

His company is for the family man from Ohio who was hired by Nike but can't sell his house before moving to the Portland area. It's for the incoming Trail Blazers draft pick whose lifestyle - and furniture collection - is as big as his shoe size. Or, for the doctor who will spend a year in Portland conducting research at Oregon Health and Sciences University before returning home to the East Coast.

And, as Nieland puts it, his company is for the tenant who pays rent on time, understands the importance of caring for a home and can handle the responsibility - not the college kids hoping to reenact scenes from 'Animal House.' That's why all renters are thoroughly screened and receive quarterly visits to protect the homeowner and keep up with necessary repairs.

'The breadwinner never hurts the house, but the kids do,' Nieland said, 'so we really look to see the whole package and who will be living there.'

When it's a good match, North Star profits by charging half of the first month's rent as a deposit and by collecting a management fee equal to 8 percent of the rent income on the property.

'What's the average price drop on a million-dollar house now? $100,000?' Nieland said. 'It may be worth (a homeowner feeding the property) $50,000 for the year to keep renters in there and wait for the market to come back.'

The majority of the homes North Star leases are former dwellings - a few belong to investors who plan to flip the properties when the market strengthens. The rent prices are typically lower than what the mortgage payment is; currently, a 4,000-square-foot four bedroom home on Lakefront Road with a guest house, boat garage and panoramic views rents out for $6,500 a month, Nieland said.

And those Realtors in place before tenants move in will remain in place after the lease expires.

North Star's service essentially puts a halt on the property, appealing to homeowners who want respectful house-sitters and Realtors who may earn a larger commission - and better odds of a sale - by waiting until the market strengthens.

'We'll never take a client away from a Realtor. We want the Realtors to always refer us,' Nieland said. 'Game off if they don't refer us.'

'At Harnish Properties, we pride ourselves on outstanding service. I expect the same from our strategic partners,' said Principal Broker Justin Harnish with Realty Trust Group in Lake Oswego. 'I know that our clients will receive a high level of service from North Star and that is why I recommend them.'

Valerie Hart Ross, a principal broker with Windermere Cronin and Caplin Realty Group in Lake Oswego, said that North Star has allowed her to offer clients options to selling their homes.

'I know my clients will be well-served and returned to me when they are ready to sell,' Ross said.

Terry Sprague with Christie's International Real Estate in Lake Oswego said he has worked with North Star and referred others to its program.

'I look for third-party professionals that I may refer business to that reflect the experience my clients have come to appreciate,' Sprague said. 'Quinn works as an extension of my own real estate advice to clients.'

'It's all about offering the best choices and advice for the client in the moment.'

Hasson Company Realtors Principal Broker Marcia Kies agreed, saying that there is a niche for this type of business locally to aid homeowners and high-end renters.

'A lot of times there is very little tax consequence,' Kies said, 'and it does work (for the homeowner) to wait through the market (and) have a first-class client who's normally a homeowner.'

Nieland - and his brother, John Nieland with The Hasson Company Realtors - grew up on Oswego Lake and with parents in the home industry. Their mom, Erin Nieland, is also a Hasson Realtor and their father, Kirk Nieland - 'who can fix anything' - currently serves as North Star's contractor coordinator. John Nieland's wife, Kim, is in charge of North Star's sales.

The family-owned North Star business should process $3 million in rental payments this year, Nieland said, and will manage more than $100 million worth of property.

Jeff Jetton, a credit card transaction processing veteran, said that 'North Star has quickly turned into the premier provider and manager of quality homes and reasonable prices, and his market timing could not have been better.'

Nieland added that his company utilizes electronic fund transferring and online portals for both renters and homeowners to view received payments, photos and videos of repairs and other notes.

'We are helping people get on with their lives by pushing a stagnant housing market to get moving again,' Nieland said. 'This is a first very big step to getting our community back on track.'

For more information, visit www.northstarproperties.com.



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