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Lake Oswego Resembles a Resort Town Minus the Tourists, in Portland’s Backyard

Lake Oswego Resembles a Resort Town Minus the Tourists, in Portland’s Backyard

The Oregon enclave caters to active lifestyles and lake activities

Filled with mostly single-family homes, Lake Oswego is centered on a picturesque and private 405-acre lake surrounded by Oregon’s forest.

Standing in a line that wraps around Salt and Straw, a Portland-based ice cream shop with a location in Lake Oswego, it’s hard to sense that we’re only eight miles south of downtown. Whereas Portland has had a long streak of bad press, Lake Oswego resembles a resort town complete with cottage architecture and abundant hanging flower baskets.

Filled with mostly single-family homes, Lake Oswego is centered on a picturesque and private 405-acre lake surrounded by Oregon’s forest. Residents enjoy a small-town ambiance and a charming downtown area with shops, restaurants and wellness amenities.

“The town has a sense of liveliness and beauty to it because it’s clean and you feel safe,” said Lee Davies, owner and principal broker of Eleete Real Estate. “Much of the downtown development is new, so it’s fresh.”

Known for being a health-centric and social community, Lake Oswego offers watersports to those with access to the lake and nearby river. Golf courses and miles of multi-use trails get good use. Its residents take pride in excellent environmental stewardship of the private lake and high-performing schools.

“If we continue to have that mindset, the town will continue to look the way it is,” said Justin Harinsh, broker and owner/partner of Harnish Properties. “Things will always progress and things will always change. But here, it’s been a slower change, which has been nice.”


Just eight miles south of Portland, Lake Oswego includes 11.35 square miles and all the homes and businesses surrounding the lake. Essentially, it covers the area between Highway 5 on the west and Highway 43 on the east, and extends north to Tryon Creek State Natural Area. Its jagged southern border almost extends to the Tualatin River.

Price Range

“For $2.5 million to $3 million, you can get a brand-new spec home,” said Michael Zhang, principal broker with Cascade Hasson Sotheby’s International Realty. “It’ll be 3,000 to 4,000 square feet and not on the lake. Even at $3 million to $3.5 million, you get high-end appliances, but that’s it. I’d consider luxury to start at $3.5 million, and that would include some of the homes near the golf course.”

Lakefront homes typically sell between $4 million and $8 million. To be sure, outliers pop up in the $10 million to $20 million range.

“When you see what $2 million gets you, it’s rather disappointing,” Mr. Davies said. “You start to have fun and the houses are really nice starting at around $4 million.”

Housing Stock

Inventory is gradually increasing as interest rates rise, and houses sell at a slower clip.

Mr. Harnish represents the sellers of one of only 12 lakefront houses on the market. The house, listed for $5.85 million, spans 5,957 square feet, includes five bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms and a five-car garage.

Mr. Zhang works with the seller of one of the other coveted houses on the lake, which spans 5,554 square feet with four bedrooms, five bathrooms and an outdoor pool. The property was offered in August for $8 million.

Another house on the private lake, represented by Mr. Davies, is for sale for $6.5 million. The 8,170-square-foot house has four bedrooms, six bathrooms and an indoor pool.

Each house was built between 1998 and 2006 and sits on 0.23 to 0.27 acre lots.

What Makes It Unique

Unique architectural features can be found on every house on the lake. “If you take a boat on the lake, you can see custom homes that you can’t see from the road,” Mr. Zhang said. Once a year, a boat tour is given to the public. Otherwise, the lake is closed to non-residents.

Oswego Lake contains Jantzen Island, a historic and private island that’s said to have sold off market last year for $20 million, said Mr. Harnish.

Living on the lake affords a rare lifestyle above most: the ability to move around by boat. “People on the lake can take their boats from their house and dock up at Stickmen’s [Lakeside Smokehouse and Brewery],” Mr. Davies said.

Luxury Amenities

Historic Lake Oswego Hunt is a horseback riding club near the lake, with a riding academy for children and adults. Students can take scenic rides along a trail to Iron Mountain.

The town is built on plentiful hills, which are popular among cyclists and runners. Additionally, residents can enjoy 600 acres of parks and open space. Oswego Lake Country Club is home to a par 71 championship course.

Favorite local restaurants include Tasty, Breakside Brewery, Ricardo’s, Baird’s on B and Beso wine bar. Speaking of, wine country is 30 minutes from town, and Portland International Airport is 25 minutes away. “We have everything at our fingertips without having to go into Portland,” Mr. Harnish said.


Who Lives There

Since Nike’s global headquarters is 10 miles away in Beaverton, Oregon, many executives and retired executives live in Lake Oswego. Howard Slusher called Lake Oswego home.

That said, plenty of out-of-state buyers have infiltrated the town. “When I have an open house, I see all the license plates are from California,” Mr. Zhang said.

Professional athletes often buy and sell property there. “The listing I have is an NBA basketball player who was traded to another team. It’s that kind of a destination,” Mr. Davies said.

This 8,170-square-foot lakefront house has four bedrooms, six bathrooms and an indoor pool. The luxury residence is for sale for $6.5 million.

ELEETE Real Estate

Notable Residents

Rumor had it that Lady Gaga moved to the Pacific Northwest enclave. “Lady Gaga never bought a house on the lake,” Mr. Harnish said. “She was renting a house right up the street from me.” Aside from the occasional professional athlete and business executive, Lake Oswego tends to be a quiet community.


Lake Oswego’s luxury sector remains a seller’s market, but like most places, changes with greater economic forces. “We are still in a low-inventory environment. The difference is, the rates have doubled,” Mr. Harnish said. “It’s feeling more like a buyer’s market because there’s less demand and less competition and less urgency to jump in and buy something. In the last two years, there’s been so much absorption, so many purchases, and more importantly, so many refinances.”

Mr. Zhang said that while the local market is slowing down, buyers are still ready to pounce on the right opportunity. “People are still looking. Every time I have an open house, large groups of people come,” he said. “During the last couple of years, people have realized how important the house and the home are to life.”

Mr. Davies said the 12 lakefront houses have been on the market for an average of 80 days, with a median of 75 days. That’s up from last year, when similar houses sat on the market for an average of 60 days and a median of 22 days.

Californians, for their part, move to Lake Oswego “to live in a beautiful, stunningly gorgeous setting for $4 million when their $4 million home in Palo Alto wasn’t that exciting,” Mr. Davies said. “To be on a lake with a dock and a boat, and to be a part of an incredibly cool little community that’s got vibrance with restaurants and shopping—it’s a destination. It’s kind of like going on vacation.”

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Jessica is simply the best! I have owned homes previously but being widowed and starting this process by myself initially was daunting. Jessica immediately helped me feel at ease with the whole process of getting my home ready to sell and finding the perfect new home we are now in. She walked me through every step, was patient with me when we had to put things on hold a few times due to the market, and answered every silly question I had. Jessica knows the Portland Metro area well! She is forthright, works hard, and knows how to negotiate to get the best sale for her clients. And she just has the best positive and pleasant way of working with every person who is a part of your home selling/buying process. Again, Jessica is simply the best!

Cyndi C. - Portland, Oregon

Not only does Jessica possess superb negotiation skills and bargaining tactics, she is an absolute delight to work with. She is always on top of things, and she knows how to pull together contractors and workers to get your home in tiptop shape for selling. She really goes above and beyond to make sure that you are happy, that you are getting the best possible price for your home, and that the work being done on your home will provide a return on investment. Jessica is low pressure and sharp as a tack, I’ve seen her hold contractors and other realtors she is negotiating with accountable in a way that remind those she is talking to what their responsibilities are without alienating in any part of the process. I cannot say enough positive about my experience working with Jessica and my gratitude for selling our home at the highest possible price and getting into our beautiful dream home.

K.Hoffman - Portland, Oregon

I cannot express how fortunate we are to have Jessica in our lives. Searching for the right house, especially in this competitive market, is overwhelming, stressful, and nerve-wracking; without Jessica, we would have been lost. She patiently navigated us through the market for nearly a year with her expert knowledge of the community and real estate. Her mind is a database of the local market’s development. If she didn’t know how to answer our question, she always tracked down the answer through her many contacts and resources. She helped us to know what to look for in touring a house. But, most importantly, she is just a wonderfully down-to-earth, generous, and genuine person. She was reassuring when the search was hard, and an open and honest sounding board when we had to make decisions. She helped us buy our current house and sell our old townhouse, and our friends we recommended her to share our enthusiasm. We’re so thankful to have gone through the process with her in our corner– and just so thankful in general to know her!

M.Lee - Portland, Oregon

I have worked with Lee Davies on a few real estate sell/purchases over the years. He/His team is always focused on the clients needs. They have a true understanding of the market as a whole and understand every client, even a returning client needs individual and unique industry advise. A sell/purchase during this pandemic gives a new meaning to customer service and Lee and his team did not disappoint once again. Jennifer Holland was my go to realtor and I can count hundreds of text messages and emails between us through out the process. She never sleeps, is so professional and knows what you need before you do. Thank you to team Lee Davies and Jennifer Holland

Barbara F. - Portland, Oregon

It had been over 25 years since we had bought or sold a home and Lee Davies/Jen Holland helped us do both , in a very competitive market. We found a home that we liked in a neighborhood we have always been interested in and contacted lee for help in the buying process. He and his associate Jen Holland helped us to write a winning offer and then helped us navigate the inspection period. We also hired them to list our existing home which , at over 100 years old, was a special property that required a buyer who understood the special properties of a historic home. Jen’s attention to detail through the marketing process and Lee’s strategic advice on fielding the many offers we received in a short time were invaluable in securing a successful sale at an excellent price. This is an experienced team who has no doubt seen it all!

tuchmanns - Portland, Oregon

We came to work with Victoria Marchese via a recommendation and we couldn’t be happier. She was a consummate professional. Her communication skills meant we never felt out of the loop, and as first-time home buyers, the way she talked us through our questions was vital for us during the process. In the beginning, Victoria truly took the time to get a deeper understanding of what we were looking for in a home; we never felt like just another client. When negotiating repairs, even up against deadlines, she always had our best interest front and center. All of the challenges that you would think come with buying a home during a pandemic were virtually non-existent for us, and I put that down to Victoria’s excellent work ethic and guidance. I would definitely recommend her to friends and family.

Ben M. - Portland, Oregon

Tony Apa and Courtney Clarke were a fantastic team.  They literally came to our house for the first time in the middle of a remodel and within 2.5 weeks of meeting them, our house was pending.  From the staging to the brochures to the house video, they knew how to do it all. They are a fantastic team that complement each other well in terms of IT expertise, communication with clients and potential buyers, as well as friendliness and trustworthiness.  I 100% recommend them and you will be in great hands with them.

anu b. - Portland, Oregon

We have been so impressed by the responsiveness and resourcefulness of Tony Apa and Courtney Clarke. From the start of the process and understanding our needs all the way to post-close. What an amazing team! Thank you, thank you, thank YOU!

David N. - Portland, Oregon

Sarah Pitzman is extremely knowledgeable, prompt and responsive. She provide excellent customer service and went above and beyond expectations. Sarah also had great negotiation skills and knowledgeable about the selling and purchasing process.

elizwhite - Portland, Oregon

We started working with Lauren Sinha in 2017 looking to buy are first home.  Our experience then was amazing and Lauren took so much of the stress of being a first time home buyer off of our shoulders.  As we started to look at our buy our next home we immediately thought of Lauren.  We spent several months looking at dozens of homes this year in a crazy market.  After multiple offers and being out bid, we finally found a home we absolutely love.  Lauren knows the market and how to close a deal.  When it comes time to selling our home Lauren will be our first call and she is the only agent we refer people too.

Max T. - Portland, Oregon

Josh Gainer is an awesome realtor and we feel so lucky to have worked with him!  He is extremely knowledgeable about the buying process and helped guide us every step of the way.  His patience, kindness and expertise will have us using him as a realtor in the future!!

Chastity E. - Portland, Oregon

This was our first time buying a home and Jon Ziegler was phenomenal throughout the entire process. He walked us through every step so we knew what to expect throughout every step so we knew what to expect. He was available at any time to answer any questions or concerns. He always had our best interests and was able to negotiate a great offer for our home. We wouldn’t want to go through this process without such an experienced and personable agent. We would recommend him to any family and friends that are seeking to buy or sell their home.

Caleb S. - Portland, Oregon