Doorways to Luxury tour touts high-end local homes

Residences on display Sunday range in price from $600K to $5.6M

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter



If you go

What: Doorways to Luxury, a tour of 21 high-end houses in Southwest Washington priced between $600,000 and $5.6 million.

When: Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Throughout Clark County.

Cost: Free.

Information: Doorways to Luxury.

Well-appointed and luxurious living is the overarching theme of an annual tour of homes set for noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The self-guided Doorways to Luxury tour will showcase 21 high-end homes in Clark, Cowlitz and Skamania counties. Priced from $600,000 to $5.6 million, the houses illustrate the variety of upscale living options in Southwest Washington, ranging from condominiums to penthouses, from sprawling country estates to homes with sweeping waterfront views.

The historic Biddle mansion and property are sure to be one of the must-sees of this year's tour, said Connie McDowell, listing agent for the property and a principal broker with The Hasson Co. Realtors. She described the 1930s-era home as "meticulously maintained and updated." The listing includes 5 acres of land that share a 350-foot border with the Columbia River.

"The person who developed the site was an engineer from Pennsylvania and an amateur botanist," McDowell said of Henry Jonathan Biddle, known for protecting and purchasing Beacon Rock in 1915 for $1 from Charles Ladd, a Portland developer.

Biddle collected, identified and planted native flora and fauna all over his waterfront estate, according to McDowell.

"It's now so private and luscious, you feel like you're surrounded by nature," she said.

The kitchen has been remodeled, but the home features original woodwork, chrome faucets and leaded glass windows.

High-end materials, finishes and design differentiate luxury homes from typical listings, said Linda Horowitz, a broker with Windermere Real Estate/Stellar Group in Vancouver.

"Nice appointments -- granite, hardwood floors, high-end appliances and hardware, travertine floors," she said. "They have the things you would find in your Street of Dreams (home showings)."

Between 65 and 70 real estate brokers are involved in the Doorways to Luxury tour, said Horowitz, one of the founders of the event, now in its fourth year.

She said prices on upscale homes have softened since the start of the housing slump. In Clark County, the median price of all homes -- half sold for more, half for less -- was $190,000 in April, down 28.3 percent from five years ago, when the county's median price was $265,000, according to Portland-based listing service RMLS. However, some real estate professionals foresee home prices stabilizing this year. April's median home price increased by $100 over the median in the same period last year, representing the month's first increase in four years.

Realtors last year said the luxury tour would focus on attracting homebuyers from Portland. But this year's organizers say potential buyers could come from any part of the globe, a function of today's changing real estate market.

Although very few potential Clark County buyers are looking for homes priced at a half million dollars or more, buyers from all over the world may be interested in the tour houses that stretch from Woodland to Camas to a perch above Stevenson in the Columbia River Gorge.

"It could be someone from Hollywood, but it also could be someone from Taiwan or Kuwait," McDowell said. "Our buyer may not be in this region."