Portland Metro/Tigard Real Estate News

In this forum we will offer discussions on a wide variety of subjects, but focus on Portland Metro and real estate. Hopefully our insights and experiences will inform, educate, challenge and entertain our readers week after week.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Why Visit Portland?

PORTLAND, Oregon (CNN) -- is known for it's gray, bleak weather that spans the whole of winter. You might be surprised to find that even in the drizzle, according to CNN, Portland is a great place to visit. Of course the sun does come out on occasion and that just gives you even more options for things to do. In fact, from the 4th of July through Halloween you can almost count on it.

What is nice about being a tourist in Portland is the transit system. A visitor can easily and reliably get around to all the hot spots on their list. http://trimet.org/ Places like downtown Pioneer Square for an outdoor movie.

If your intent is to stray from the typical there are certainly some hotel options for you. The Ace Hotel which originates in Seattle, Washington takes up a city block near the swanky Pearl District and has a deferent decor in each room. (http://www.acehotel.com/portland/ 1022 SW Stark Street)

One way the locals enjoy the rain is to stroll over to their hundreds coffee shop, without an umbrella. A Portland favorite is Stumptown Coffee. (http://www.stumptowncoffee.com/) They have five locations and are known for their commitment to quality and the earth. Also they feature a local artist each month, a different one for each location, on the walls for their shops which are available for purchase.

Many say you haven't been to Portland till you've been to Voodoo Doughnut. (http://voodoodoughnut.com/ 22 SW 3rd Ave) The most unusual menu you have ever seen including a maple bar with bacon, which are available when you get done at one of the downtown nightclubs. Yes, this is a late-night doughnut shop which used to open around 8pm but now is open nearly all the time. And for just $175 you can get married there, that will make your day in Portland complete.

The next morning you will want to check out Mother's Bistro for breakfast. (http://www.mothersbistro.com/ 212 SW Stark Street). This is some wonderful comfort food with a dab of gourmet. Think Pork Apple Sausage and Cheddar scramble, Crunchy French Toast with Cornflakes and the Mother's Macaroni and Cheese Du Jour is always a good choice if you are there after 11:30am. It also has a wonderful bar and dinner menu so don't be afraid to check it out in the evening as well, but reservations are recommended on the weekends.

Another rainy day? Our most famous bookstore is Powell's Books. (http://www.powells.com/ 1005 W. Burnside Street) The main location, out of five, taking up an entire city block, it is very difficult to find something they don't carry.

To get the whole experience you need to check out a local band. Try Doug Fir Restaurant, Bar and Lounge. (http://www.dougfirlounge.com/ 830 E. Burnside Street). Naturally there is a lot of wood and a very funky crowd. You can come for dinner, just a drink or check out a live show downstairs. Northwest bands like The Dimes, Southerly or not so local, like Minnie Driver (really!). Like most places in Portland, the dress code is pretty much anything. You'll see jeans with Converse or heels with a mini skirt.

When the sun does come out there are plenty of parks sprinkled around the city for picnics, Frisbee or reading under a tree. Ducks live in the pond at Laurelhurst Park. (Stark and SE 39th) They even have activities like basketball and horseshoe pits. If you're a golfer there's also plenty of that around including Eastmoreland Golf Course ( http://www.eastmorelandgolfcourse.com/ 2425 SE Bybee Blvd) which is boardered by the beautiful Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. (6001 SE 28th Ave)

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Just blocks away from Laurelhurst Park is Pastaworks. (http://www.pastaworks.com/ 3735 SE Hawthorne) This European-style market/deli sells pastas, sauces, olive oil, salami, cheeses, everything you need to throw together a great pasta dish. Or you can just visit the deli and try their delicious calzones. You can also stop by on Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. they host a free wine tasting from their selection of mostly Italian bottles.

If it's cold out and you're feeling like a cold beer and a cheap movie you'll want to try the Bagdad Theater. (http://kennedyschool.com/index.php?loc=9&id=177 3702 SE Hawthorne Blvd.) In fact, if you like beer even a little bit and would like to sample a local brewery you have to visit any one of the McMenamins locations, quite a few of them featuring a movie theater, restaurant and/or hotel. (http://kennedyschool.com/) Many locations are converts that used to be churches, a ballroom, a poorhouse or even a grade school. (http://www.mcmenamins.com/index.php?loc=57&category=Location%20Homepage)

No matter the weather, Portland has plenty of fun to offer visitors willing to explore and be adventurous.



Monday, July 16, 2007

Top 100 Suburbs in the U.S.

When you're young you think there is nothing that could get you to move out of the city. Being away from the shopping, museums, nightclubs and food is unthinkable. But then one day you find yourself an adult with kids and your priorities suddenly change. Now you're looking at schools, yards and safety.
But there are suburb options that are not the cliche Leave it to Beaver neighborhood. This list takes cities with 7,500 to 50,000 people and rates them by looking at economic opportunity, good schools, safe streets, things to do and a real sense of community. Also added into the equation is racial diversity, home prices and property taxes. Because real estate prices have gone up some much recently it has been given extra attention causing some cities to do better than in the past and some to do worse.
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1. Middleton, Wisconsin; 2. Hanover, New Hampshire; 3. Louisville, Colorado; 4. Lake Mary, Florida; 5. Claremont, California 6. Papillion, Nebraska; 7. Milton, Massachusetts; 8. Chaska, Minnesota; 9. Nether Providence (Wallingford) , Pennsylvania; 10. Suwanee, Georgia.

18. Sherwood, Ore.

Population: 14,800
Median home price (2006): $303,126
Average property taxes (2006): $2,889

Like much of the Northwest, Sherwood is home to an array of beautiful parks and natural beauty. But the quickly growing commercial sites of Sherwood offer true insight into the town's character: a juxtaposition of old and new, with reverence toward both the city's historic past and its bright, expanding future. The community events calendar is always full and the town's location makes for a fairly easy commute to nearby Portland. -A.B.

32. Lake Oswego, Ore.

Population: 38,600
Median home price (2006): $533,103
Average property taxes (2006): $3,173

One of the major attractions of this Portland suburb is the 405-acre artificial lake whose banks it sits on. Waterfront properties are highly sought, and many residents take advantage of the lake, either by boating on the weekends or hanging out at one of the parks on its shores. Another big appeal is shopping and dining. Lake Oswego is full of many one-of-a-kind boutiques and unique restaurants. And for arts lovers, the Lakewood Center offers top-notch instruction at its dance studio along with fantastic shows put on by its theater company. -B.N.

63. Camas, Wash.

Population: 17,400
Median home price (2006): $390,016
Average property taxes (2006): $2,602

Situated on the northern bank of the Columbia River, Camas is a waterfront community that prides itself on its impressive outdoors. The city boasts extensive forested open spaces and you can walk to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Its true gem is the predominately residential Prune Hill - a dormant volcanic hill which affords panoramic views of both the urban (downtown Portland) and the suburban (Mount Hood). As for downtown Camas, the city has worked extensively to revitalize its economy and attract businesses. -I.T.




Market Report

June Residential Highlights Outside, the temperature continues to rise but the market is cooling when comparing June 2007 to June 2006. New listings continued to grow at 12.7%. However, closed sales and pending sales dropped 18.5% and 10.4%, respectively. As a result, there were 13,752 active listings at the end of June 2007. Given the month’s rate of sales they would last 5 months.

Year-To-Date Trends Similarly, when comparing market activity for January-June 2007 to the same time period in 2006, new listings increased 14.4%. On the other hand, the number of pending and closed sales decreased 8.8% and 8%, respectively.

Appreciation Using the average and median sale prices for the twelve months that ended with June 2007 compared to the twelve months ending in June 2006, the average sale price appreciated 8.9% ($333,200 v. $306,100). Using the same formula, the median sale price appreciated 8.7% ($280,000 v. $257,500).

Second Quarter Report Comparing the second quarters of 2007 and 2006, new listings are up 10.3% (17,386 v. 15,769). However, pending sales decreased 11.9% (8,652 v. 9,819) and closed sales dropped 9.8% (8,361 v. 9,271).


Friday, July 13, 2007

Portland, 12th Yuppie-Friendly City

If you are, or are soon to be a college graduate ready to become a Young Urban Professional keep in mind that not all cities are created equal. Things like opportunity, salary vs. cost of living and nightlife vary widely across the U.S.

Shocking as it may be (sarcasm) New York is the No. 1 best city for young professionals. Not only is it home to some of the biggest companies in the world but the bar and club scene is out of control. The rest of the top ten is finished off by San Francisco, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Boston, Seattle, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Denver. Go Seattle!

The top universities in the country; Harvard, Princeton, Duke, Stanford, Northwestern and Rice handed over their alumni list from 1997 (ten years ago). These graduates were located today to see where across the country they have spread to. Those who stayed in town were thrown out of the data pool because the idea is to see which cities are alluring enough to get these professionals to move.

Also taken into consideration, where the business opportunities are, which had the best starting pay and where the most never-married young people were living. Naturally the size of the city had to be taken into consideration so the transfered alumni were compared to overall population size.

As far as the opportunities available, some companies are better than others, so to include this aspect the Forbes 400 best big businesses and the 200 best small businesses were factored in.


12. Portland, Ore.

"Portland may be growing, but it still has a ways to go. Ranked eighth in 1997 graduate data, and better than the mean for salary to cost of living, Portland was hampered by a rank of 27th for best big and small businesses and a rank of 25th for its young never-married population."

Tigard Real Estate


Can Portland Be Even MORE Bike Friendly?

Portland State University researcher Jennifer Dill is conducting a new study detailing where, why and how often Portlanders ride their bikes. The city is thinking it may be a useful planning tool in plotting the future of bike infrastructure in the city. So far 500 adults have been surveyed by phone and 56 percent of the riders said they wanted to bike more but didn’t because of “too much traffic.” Thirty-seven percent cited a lack of nearby bike lanes and trails as their barrier. Those with a network of quiet streets near their home were more likely to ride regularly.

Next Jennifer will have volunteers put GPS (Global Positioning System) units on their bicycles to track what routes are being used. Portland is already considered a bike friendly city but Dill thinks we can do even more.

Also on board is Roger Geller, the city’s bicycle coordinator for the Portland Office of Transportation. He is arguing to widen the city’s existing bike lanes from 5 feet to 6 1/2 feet for a bigger buffer zone or so that people can ride side by side. Secondly, he wants to incorporate cycle tracks, which is a curb or other device that separates the cyclist from traffic, commonly used in Europe.

There are obvious reasons why bicyclists would want to push for this, it's helpful to the environment, traffic and oil dependency. A bike infrastructure plan was started in 1996 but efforts were focused on bike lanes on major streets. The thought was that people wanted direct routes for things like commuting. As the recent survey shows, it turns out people want to ride on low-traffic residential roads. Very few riders are accomplished in a way that makes them comfortable riding in regular traffic. How many tragic biker stories have you heard on the news.

The idea now is to push for more cycle tracks and "bike boulevards" that feel safe for the average rider and to encourage more new bike riders. This will also move us toward a more integrated cycling infrastructure so that people have more options as far as places to go by bike.

According to Geller, the city’s spending on bike projects is rising but still accounts for less than 2 percent of PDOT’s capital budget. Even with this small percentage there are those who see this as a waste of time and money saying that the priorities should be in keeping the roads maintained. It seems some feel that widening the bike lanes with narrow the traffic lanes and that will just cause more congestion. But if those bike lanes are being used, won't there be less cars to contend with, and less road damage?


Tigard Real Estate


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Old House Gets New Purpose

On the corner of Southeast Washington Street and Fifth Avenue in Hillsboro stands an old house with a brand new makeover. 100 years old actually and until recently was known as Wehrung. But its dramatic makeover called for a new name Garrett Lee Smith Safe Haven House, after Republican Sen. Gordon Smith's son, who committed suicide in 2003 from depression.

Washington County isn't the farming community it once was. We are urban now and have to deal with urban issues, namely homelessness. Every night, 10 men and women with mental illnesses and a history of homelessness bed down at Safe Haven. The facility, run by Luke-Dorf Inc., a Tigard-based organization with treatment centers throughout Washington County, is the county's first facility geared toward chronically homeless individuals.

This facility is not meeting the current demand. Next door to the Garrett Lee Smith Safe Haven House they are building a 15-bed facility called The Hillsboro Graduated Independent Living Program. This one will be geared toward homeless people with mental illnesses and drug and alcohol addictions and is scheduled to open Oct. 31. This is a positive trend that includes A Safe Place for Youth which is a shelter for homeless teens, opened in April, at 454 S.E. Washington St. It's a good thing to offer services outside of downtown Portland where it can be more dangerous.

Tigard Real Estate



Tuesday, July 10, 2007

National Night Out 2007

Tigard Police are trying to get neighborhoods out to this year's National Night Out. Target, the national sponsor for the crime prevention event, is also taking the opportunity to join in with the community's celebrations. This year 33 million people are expected in more than 10,000 communities across America will show their support on Tuesday, August 7th to promote police-community teamwork. Only through these types of partnerships can we create awareness, bring safety and reduced crime.

The Target store located at 9009 SW Hall Blvd., with the Tigard Police, are encouraging the community to work together by hosting a National Night Out kick-off celebration at the store on Saturday, August 4th from 11AM until 1PM. Tigard area residents will be offered tips, handouts, giveaways, product sampling and prizes that promote safety. Tigard residents can also register for National Night Out during the event. Additional information about registration, including forms and ideas can be found on the National Night Out page of http://www.ci.tigard.or.us. Information can also be obtained by calling 503-718-2561.

Registration deadline for National Night Out is August 1st.


Jim Wolf, Public Information Officer
Tigard Police Department
Pager: 503-795-2391

Tigard Real Estate


Monday, July 9, 2007

Staying Informed on Crime in Your Area

CRIME Spotter is a visual representation of where crime has occurred. Going back 12 months, a database of crimes that gets turned into a map showing you what crimes are being committed where and how often. This database is updated with new crime data each month. You can enter in your address and see what's happening a mile in each direction from your home.


Tigard is known for being a low crime area, safe for families. It's citizens and police are proactive and informed creating a team determined to keep Tigard's crime below average, especially "stranger on stranger" crime. This is another tool used to aid in the effort.

Step 1:
The first page of CRIME Spotter opens with an Address Query box. Type in an Address Number and/or Street Name and then click Search.

Address Query
Step 2:
If CRIME Spotter detects multiple candidates it will display a Candidate List. Click on the desired address using the radio buttons on the left and then click Show Report.

Candidate List
Step 3:
CRIME Spotter then generates a new page starting with a Summary map with a corresponding graph. The first summary map displays a random 1/4 square mile crime density grid based on all of the reported crimes.

Summary map
Step 4:
Below the grid map, CRIME Spotter generates a graph of total reported crime occurring within a one-half mile radius of the entered address. Hover your mouse over the each column to see individual totals.

Step 5:
Click on any of the individual crime tabs along the top to see specific crimes along with corresponding descriptive information. The descriptive information displayed represents only those crimes that are within a half-mile radius of the queried address. To start a new search, click the Search tab located at the top.

Crime Tabs

Rape is included but the location is not shown to protect the victims.

Other Crime Information

Click on any of the links below for additional crime-related information.

Washington County
City of Beaverton
City of Portland
City of Lake Oswego
Sex Offender Inquiry System

Contact Information
For more information regarding crime statistics within the City of Tigard, please contact the City's Police Department Public Information Officer at 503.718.2561 or e-mail jim@tigard-or.gov.




Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The New Retirement Centers

The Forest Grove Senior Center is a typical type senior center where older adults spend time socializing, quilting or volunteering at tasks such as washing breakfast dishes for the Lions Club. An hour away, in east Vancouver, The Firstenburg Community Center has sewing but down the hall, toddlers romp in the day-care area, mothers bob in a water aerobics class, and teens on summer break scale Sadri's Summit, a rock climbing wall. The two centers could not be more different, or representative, of past and present attitudes about leisure time of those 55 and older. Across the Portland metropolitan area, senior centers are revamping in preparation for the aging baby boomers and their redefinition of retirement.

A major trend in this revamping is the idea of multigenerational centers. In 2006, Vancouver opened a giant $21.1 million multigenerational center that offers recreation and social opportunities for all ages. In Oregon, the Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District and Lake Oswego both want to build similar centers if voters approve funding. The movement parallels concerns of Washington County and city leaders, keenly aware of their aging constituency. The county's Department of Health and Human Services projects the number of residents age 65 and older will more than double, from 42,985, or 8 percent of the population, in 2005 to 101,302, or 14 percent of the population, in 2025.

Some senior centers don't seem to think the varying age groups will tolerate being forced to mingle. Others see the current activities of the baby boomers, which at times are the same as the "youngsters", and are looking to be ready for them. Baby boomers in particular tend to fight the notion of getting older, but depending on budget and community involvement, it can be difficult to get support for these new multigenerational centers. Forest Grove is dragged down by a lack of senior interest and few public dollars while Tualatin Hills' tax-supported Elsie Stuhr Center in Beaverton bursts with so many people and activities that the district long ago acknowledged the need for another center. This new center could be a multigenerational center because of the cost efficiency and social benefits.

Traditional senior centers still carry a certain bridge playing, quilt making, rocking-chair stigma. Some seniors are still very much interested in that type of an environment but as things move forward the new seniors are going to demand more choices and it could only be to everyone's benefit to be ready for that. For now there are going to be those who don't see Pilates as a senior citizen activity. For smaller, struggling centers, such thinking threatens existence and sidelines any thoughts of erecting an expensive multigenerational center. It's hard to argue the need for a new site when the current ones are getting no use. The struggling facilities really need to update the current locations first and it's programs. Once they start getting used the funding will be there, people will see it's need.

Boomers don't necessarily want to hang with teenagers, but many may not want to take a bridge class, either. Conversely teenagers might not necessarily jump at the chance to hang around retirees, on the other hand, you can't deny the convenience for families to have all their activities located in one building. Vancouver's Firstenburg center shows how it works. The sprawling 80,000-square-foot, two-story building provides breathing room to every age group. Every new idea draws resistance at first but eventually you can't deny the social, economical and convenience benefits.


Tigard Real Estate