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.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

$1 - $750 mil

I just thought these two articles were more interesting when put together.

There are some areas of Detroit that are going into forclosure where the banks are just giving up and selling for $300, $100 even $1! The closing costs and broker's fees add up to much more than that! Even the property taxes are around $3,000! If they are lucky those areas will turn around someday in the future and it will be a worth while investment. Otherwise, at least it didn't cost much.


A home in the French Riviera was just sold for $750 million dollars. It has broken a world record (it better have!) and just the commission alone could set someone up for life. The amount of the property taxes would have a family living very comfortably. I cannot even figure out how many foreclosures you could buy in Detroit with the downpayment!



Friday, December 12, 2008

November Market Report

November Residential Highlights

Sales activity continued to slow in the Portland metro area during November. The number of closed sales dropped 39.9% compared to last November. The 1,041 sold properties was the lowest sales total since February 1993. Pending sales also fell 31.7% compared to last November. New listings decreased 20.2%. Comparing November 2008 to October 2008, new listings dropped 25.5% (2,687 v. 3,605). Pending sales declined 12.6% (1,108 v. 1,268) and closed sales were down 28.9% (1,041 v. 1,465). The inventory of homes grew to a record 15 months, assuming that the 15,611 active residential listings are sold at the month’s rate of sales (1,041).


Comparing January-November of 2008 to the same time period in 2007 there have been 31.8% less closed sales and 30.5% fewer pending sales this year. Additionally, there was a 8.3% decrease in the number new listings.

Sale Prices

The average sale price for November 2008 was down 10.5% compared to November 2007, while the median sale price dropped 7%. Month-to-month, the average sale price and median sale price are both down when compared with October levels; the average sale price dropped 4.9% ($308,300 v. $324,300) and the median sale price was down 3.6% ($265,000 v. $275,000).


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The REAL Victims

There are those out there getting hit but the housing crisis even though they pay their bill in full each and every month. These victims are called tenants and are getting blind sighted by sudden evictions all across the country. And in a lot of states they have no recourse.

This isn't just apartment buildings either. There are single-family homes that families with small children have been renting for years with no notion that they should be making other plans.

In the majority of cases the lender dealing with the foreclosure is not putting in too much effort to find out who the tenants are so they can be informed. So when the police arrive at their door to get them out, it is the first they have heard about it. Some cities have even suspended tenant evictions because the numbers of victimized tenants was out of control.

There are actually landlords out there who not only did not bother to inform their tenants, but kept collecting rent money after ownership had been transferred to the bank. One owner even had his tenants sign a brand new lease after the foreclosure was final.

Legally this needs to be looked at. This did not used to be an everyday occurrence but now it really needs attention. I personally think it should be up to the owners to inform the tenants that changes are coming. I don't know how this is not already a legal requirement. The lender, as the new owner also has some responsibility since it is now their property but perhaps more as a back up because it's the owner who got the loan they couldn't pay. These tenants should then be over-informed, first by the landlord, then by the new owner.



Friday, December 5, 2008

Great Rates!

Rate Update 11/26/2008

WOW!! The Federal Reserve and Treasury rolled out an $800 billion dollar plan that includes buying up some $600 billion in debt tied to mortgages. This news obviously carried over into mortgages rates. Interest rates fell about 1 whole point to 5.25% today!! Lets get some buyers!! This is a fantastic opportunity for buyers who have been sitting on the sidelines waiting for a good reason to buy.
Conforming and FHA

5.25% 30 yr fixed
5.0% 15 year fixed
5.75% 5 yr ARM

Jumbo/Conforming Rates $50K to $5 million on Primary and 2nd Homes

5.375 % 5 yr ARM –
IO add .25% to rate
5.875 % 7 yr ARM – IO add .25 to rate
6.375% 10 yr ARM – IO no add to rate

6.25% 30 yr Fixed to 600k!!

Stated Income to $ 2 million on Primary and 2nd Homes
5.75% 3 yr ARM
- Interest Only available with no add to rate
6.0% 5 yr ARM - Interest Only available with no add to rate
6.25% 7 yr ARM - Interest Only available with no add to rate
6.5% 10 yr ARM - Interest Only available with no add to rate

Non Owner Occupied 1-4 Units to $1.5 million

6.0% 3 yr ARM
- Interest Only available with no add to rate
6.25% 5 yr ARM - Interest Only available with no add to rate
6.5% 7 yr ARM - Interest Only available with no add to rate
6.625% 10 yr ARM - Interest Only available with no add to rate

Provided by...

Clint Elliott
NewLine Home Mortgage
1400 NW Irving #108
Portland, Or 97209
888-488-5731 toll free
503-548-4014 local


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Check This Out

I just wanted to share with people a really great Portland blog by Ron Ares. It just has some good stuff on it so I encourage you to check it out. Particularly the sections, NAR Releases Q3 Numbers and Oregon Holds Head Above Water. Both great reads!



Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Vacation Hot Spots

CHECK IT OUT! Someone thinks this is one of the Top 10 Hot Vacation Sites!!! But of course!

6. Willamette Valley, Ore.

Located about an hour’s drive south of Portland and spread out on the banks of the Willamette River, this up-and-coming wine region has been making waves of late in wine glasses across the nation. Billing itself as the "place for pinot,” this slumbering grapevine district is home to more than 200 wineries, most of which beckon visitors with tasting rooms and even eco-wine tours. Visitors can also opt to take in the vineyard-covered landscape from a hot-air balloon ride, trot along farm-dotted trails on horseback, or take home a one-of-a-kind find from one of the many antique shops.

Why Go In 2009: Although enthusiasts forecast that this area will be the next Napa Valley, the less-commercialized Willamette Valley remains — for now — a much more affordable vino-centric destination than its southerly California neighbor. Plus, new developments are on the horizon for those looking for an alternative to the area’s charming B&B circuit — in August, for one, the region’s first luxury inn, The Allison Inn & Spa, will be unveiled, featuring extras like a restaurant dishing out regional cuisine and a working vineyard.



Monday, November 24, 2008

October Market Report

October Residential Highlights

Market Activity continues to be on the decline when compared to 2008. Pending sales fell 39.6% when comparing October 2008 with October 2007. The number of closed sales and new listings also fell, 21.4% and 21.6% respectively. Comparing October to September, we also saw a decline across the board, although not as intense as the comparison above. There were 25.6% (1,268 v. 1,705) fewer accepted offers in October. Additionally, there were 14.2% (3,605 v. 4,200) less new listings added to the inventory. Further, there was a 10.7% (1,465 v. 1,640) drop in closed sales. At the month’s rate of sales, the 16,257 active residential properties would last approximately 11.1 months.


Comparing January-October of 2008 to the same time period in 2007 there have been 31.3% fewer closed sales and 30.2% less accepted offers this year. In addition, there was a 7.5% decrease in the number of homes added to the market.


Due to a decrease in the median home price in the Portland Metro Area ($267,000 in September) and a drop in the average interest rate (6.04% per Freddie Mac) a family earning the median income ($67,500 in 2008, per HUD) can afford 109% of the monthly mortgage payment on a median priced home according to a formula from the National Association of Realtors®. The formula assumes that the buyer has a 20% down payment and a 30 year fixed rate of 5.97% (per Freddie Mac).


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tigard Trends

Real Estate Market Trends in Tigard
According to the latest Zillow Real Estate Market Reports, home values in Tigard decreased -8.05% in the third quarter of 2008, compared to the third quarter of 2007. Nationally, home values decreased -9.7% during this same period.


Thursday, November 13, 2008


The housing market has been in the news quite a bit lately. You would have to have been on another planet to not know that home prices have fallen far and fast. All the resulting foreclosures from the bad market have caused the entire U.S. economy to turn sour, which in turn, has caused more foreclosures and falling prices.

Yet the prices continue to fall and cannot seem to find bottom. One of the reasons it is taking so long is denial. Home owners across the country are well aware of the state of things but refuse to believe that their home is affected along with everyone else's.

No matter how many facts and figures their real estate agent throws at them they are listing their homes at or above the price they paid for it.

The problem is everyone think they are special, unique and therefore immune, and following that logic, their house too is special, unique and immune. Besides, no one wants to buy the most expensive house in the area.

Owners seem to be choosing to ignore the severity of the market. Especially home owners who did upgrades and expect to see that money back. Not only do they not want to loose the investment but they put a lot of work in and see their home as better than the rest, and therefore worth paying for. The problem is they are just plain wrong. Buyers in this market don't care what you paid or what work you put in, the only people buying right now are looking for deals.

The effect is even more pronounced when the owner knows what the neighbor's house sold for, because there's has got to be better than that. Someone telling you that you need to significantly drop your listing price is like someone calling your kids ugly.

The irony is that putting your house on the market for an inflated price could end up costing you more money. The longer you wait the lower prices get and putting your home up for too much extends the time your home will be on the market.



Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What Is My House Worth?

I just wanted to let everyone know that the episode I filmed of My House Is Worth What? will be airing December 21st at 7pm. I'd love for you guys to check it out and tell me what you think. I'll send out a reminder when it gets closer. I'm pretty excited and it gives me the chance to do even more HGTV shows. Stay tuned!


Monday, November 10, 2008

It Is Now Job Loss Forcing Foreclosures

We are now dealing with the aftermath of tons of mortgage loans that should never have been given that are now going bad. These loans not being paid piled on top of each other until the economy collapsed. Now it is not just those with bad mortgages foreclosing. Even those who took out reasonable, responsible loans are in big trouble because the down economy has caused them to be let go at their job, or in some cases, jobs.

In 2006 the percent of delinquencies caused by job loss was 36.3%. In June of this year it was 45.5%. Falling home prices are certainly still a factor but job loss is on the rise and has not yet stopped. Nearly a million Americans lost their jobs this year. It is a vicious cycle. The housing crisis is driving unemployment, which in turn has exacerbated the housing crisis.



Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tight Rental Market

The rental market has felt the squeeze due to all the people who fell victim to foreclosures, laid-off workers and young adults starting out who are all out there searching for affordable lodging. Because of this competition, rents have been on the rise and the number of vacancies is on the decline. For many years the average of available apartments in Portland Metro was 5.6 percent, but last month it was only 3.6 percent.

To make matters even more difficult for those in bad situations, landlords are in a position to be picky, unlike before. So now your bad credit or pet can keep you from a place to live. At the same time, rents have been going up which makes things even harder.

The alternative people have been turning to is roommates. There are plenty of home and condo owners out there that are having trouble with their bills who are looking to rent out a room to supplement their income.

This year, people looking for a roommate on Craigslist, in Portland, has gone up 50 percent. The traditional apartment managers now have to be careful not to raise prices too much because of all the alternatives popping up in the roommate arena. There are also "shadow" rentals out there where unsold homes and condos are being rented out since people aren't buying. This could stabilize the previously predicted rent increases.

The Sunday Oregonian - October 26, 2008 - Front page bottom & A13


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Creative Way to Tour Downtown Portland

Looking for something fun and creative to do rather than the ususal shopping, eating, bowling or biking? Why not trying bringing a classic video game to life?! Trek around downtown Portland avoiding ghosts and collecting pellets in a life sized version of PacMan!

Use a cell phone to get instructions on where to go and how to avoid the ghosts who are chasing you. It's something a little different and gets you out visiting the city.



Thursday, October 16, 2008

September Market Report

September Residential Highlights

While sales activity in the Portland metro area continues to slide, the slope of the decline leveled off a bit in September. From August to September, closed sales have averaged a 12.9% decrease over the last five years. This year, however, closed sales only fell 7.3% (1,640 v. 1,770) from August to September. Pending sales dropped 10.6% (1,705 v. 1,908). New listings also decreased 4.5% (4,200 v. 4,398). Similarly, comparing September this year with September 2007, pending sales are down 11.7% and closed sales dropped 12.1% (see table below). That’s less than half the drop we saw at the same time last year. At the month’s rate of sales, the 17,006 active residential properties would last approximately 10.4 months.

Third Quarter Report

In the third quarter of 2008, there was a 15% decrease in new listings (14,089 v. 16,573) when compared to the same period a year ago. Closed sales fell 26.4% (5,409 v. 7,351), while pending sales dropped 18.5% (5,471 v. 6,711).

Sale Prices

The average sale price for September 2008 was down 5.6% compared to September 2007, while the median sale price dropped 5.8%. Month-to-month, the average sale price and median sale price are both down when compared with August levels; the average sale price dropped 4.8% ($315,300 v. $331,300) and the median sale price was down 4.6% ($267,000 v. $280,000).


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Clackamas County Needs to Know...

Effective Nov. 1, 2008 - Clackamas County will change their work week to four days a week (Mon-Thurs.). This means that any properties in Clackamas CAN NOT and WILL NOT fund/record on a Friday starting next month. They will be working longer days Mon-Thurs do not expect anything to happen on Fridays. I might need to work there!


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

New Bank of America "Bailout" Program

Bank of America announced today that they will be taking the most aggressive foreclosure prevention effort ever in the U.S. Don't be giving them their props just yet, it is court ordered due to a law suit filed by 11 states for predatory lending practices. Luckily all 50 states are eligable. Actually it is Countrywide who done wrong but they were just acquired by BofA.

Starting in December, financially strained borrowers who got their loan between January of '04 and December or '07 can try to get their monthy housing payment cut so that it is no more than 34% of their gross income. This deal could help so many, especially those who shouldn't have been in those loans to begin with.

This is the best program going and I find it so sad that it is forced instead of volunteery. They are going to be proactive about calling and informing those who are eligable. They are targeting subprime adjustable rate mortgage (ARMs), subprime fixed rate loans and option ARMs, but prime and Alt-A borrowers, who did not document their income, will also be considered.

No fees are going to be applied either, but this isn't for everyone. Those who have delinquent loans for normal, legitimate reasons like divorce, job loss or illness are not going to be able to pay a regular payment.

I cannot figure out how banks did not offer to do this themselves, of their own free will, considering the state of our country and it's economy. Sure this program is costing $8.4 billion but it is still less than letting all those homes foreclose and then trying to sell them in a market where no one is buying. It really doesn't take much to figure that out.

Each borrower will be evaluated on a case by case basis and then BofA has some options. They can freeze or lower a loan's interest rate, or even shrink the principal loan balance. The Hope for Homeowners program is also an option now making FHA-insured loans available to the delinquent borrowers.

Ideally, other banks will follow this lead. If it goes well for BofA, well meaning not loosing as much as they would have, then others should follow suit. If not for their own bottom line, then perhaps for their country.



Friday, October 3, 2008

WES Stalled

WES, or Westside Express Service is the commuter railway system that was scheduled to begin service this November but now has been pushed back to February. The manufacturer, Colorado Railcar Manufacturing LLC, seems to be having money problems. Also, more time is needed for saftey testing, especially after that commuter rail crash in Los Angeles.

Apparently CRM has been having financial issues for months and when Tri-Met realised that CRM's suppliers were not being paid, Tri-Met stepped in and paid them directly, putting the project $3 million over budget.

Buying from another manufacturer is not an option because CRM is the only U.S. firm that builds the DMUs that meet federal safety standards, and the purchase complied with the Buy America requirement.

Taking the extra time to do safety tests is a worthwhile reason to not rush. Despite manufacturing slowing things down, Tri-Met is not going to move things along and risk service issues. We've waited 16 years, what is a few more months.



Friday, September 26, 2008

Corvallis Oregon, Most Secure Small City in America

Apparently Corvallis is the place to be if you don't want to have to worry about things like terrorists, extreme weather or job loss. Farmers Insurance has ranked the security of small and large cities by looking at things like crime statistics, extreme weather, risk of natural disasters, environmental hazards, terrorism threats, air quality, life expectancy and job loss. I've been to Corvallis and I most certainly believe it. Local Boyz (Hawaiian food) should actually be your first reason to move there but security is a good second!



Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sustainable Portland

For the fourth year in a row, Portland, Oregon has been topping the list of most sustainable city in the United States. SustainLane.com has ranked the 50 biggest U.S. cities by their sustainability and Portland has been number one since the beginning (2005).

“Sustainable” is of course a term that is notoriously ambiguous, so you may want to check out their criteria on their website. They seem to be taking a wide variety of facets into account. Variables like commuting options, green spaces, local food sources, government innovations and disaster preparedness all add up to Portland being a fabulous place to live now, and in the future.



Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Market Report

August Residential Highlights

Market activity in the Portland metro area appears to have slowed in August, compared to the same period a year ago. Comparing August this year with that of August 2007, new listings dropped 27.1%. Closed sales were off last year’s pace by 30.7%, while pending sales also fell 22%. In a month - to - month comparison (July v. August 2008), new listings dropped 16% (4,398 v. 5,237). Closed sales were down 3.3% (1,770 v. 1,831) and pending sales decreased 4.7% (1,908 v. 2,003). At the month’s rate of sales, the 17,556 active residential properties would last approximately 9.9 months at the month’s rate of sales. This is down slightly from last month (10 months).


Comparing January-August 2008 with the same time in 2007, new listings decreased 5%. Pending sales and closed sales fell 30.8% and 33.9%, respectively.

Sale Prices

The average sale price for August 2008 was down 6.7% compared to August 2007, while the median sale price dropped 7.3%. See table below. Month-to-month, the average sale price and median sale price are both down when compared with July’s levels; the average sale price dropped 2.7% ($331,300 v. $340,500) and the median sale price was down 2.8% ($280,000 v. $288,200).

& OUR NEW PORTLAND METRO BLOG AT http//:www.TonyandLibby.blogspot.com (make sure you leave comments)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Another Top 5 for Portland

Houses in Sunnyvale, Calif. are typically on the market for 66 days, making it the fastest-selling real estate market in the country. Sadly, that is more than double what it was a year ago when it was just 31 days on the market.

Buyers are in a "wait and see" state of mind no matter where they live. They know that houses isn't likely to go any where so they are waiting for prices to drop even more. Obviously some places are doing better than others but no area is exempt from the slow housing market. The cities with the strongest economies have a tendency to have the fastest selling markets. Cities like Portland OR, Seattle WA and Salt Lake City UT are examples of these high ranked selling markets.

Austin, Tex. is another high-tech center that comes in second at 68 days. Then San Diego where listings were typically 70 days old which is a dream compared to the 6 months you are looking at in Miami.

Middle-income neighborhoods are getting hit the worst. The tightening of the credit requirements has ended up turning away many would be buyers in the middle-income category. Those selling expensive homes don't have the same problem because the buyers generally have no problem qualifying. First-time home buyers, who are usually in the lower-income category, are finding deals right now so there is less of an issue there too.

The 10 Fastest-Selling Housing Markets in the U.S.

1. Sunnyvale, Calif. 94087
Days on the Market (DOM): 66 days
Median Price: $1.031 million
Annual Asking Price Change: -0.4%
Annual DOM Change: 46.6%

2. Austin, Tex. 78749
Days on the Market (DOM): 68 days
Median Price: $250,693
Annual Asking Price Change: -0.9%
Annual DOM Change: 19.0%

3. San Diego, Calif. 92131
Days on the Market (DOM): 70 days
Median Price: $771,025
Annual Asking Price Change: -9.7%
Annual DOM Change: 14.7%

4. Plano, Tex. 75075
Days on the Market (DOM): 75 days
Median Price: $185,589
Annual Asking Price Change: -2.8%
Annual DOM Change: 9.9%

5. Portland, Ore. 97202
Days on the Market (DOM): 77 days
Median Price: $395,877
Annual Asking Price Change: -1.1%
Annual DOM Change: 27.7%

6. Houston, Tex. 77094
Days on the Market (DOM): 77 days
Median Price: $351,803
Annual Asking Price Change: 6.7%
Annual DOM Change: 13.7%

7. Wakefield, Mass. 01880
Days on the Market (DOM): 79 days
Median Price: $429,485
Annual Asking Price Change: -7.3%
Annual DOM Change: 3.7%

8. Seattle, Wash. 98117
Days on the Market (DOM): 86 days
Median Price: $535,020
Annual Asking Price Change: -0.9%
Annual DOM Change: 34.2%

9. Littleton, Colo. 80130
Days on the Market (DOM): 90 days
Median Price: $378,420
Annual Asking Price Change: 6.6%
Annual DOM Change: 79.9%

10. Atlanta, Ga. 30340
Days on the Market (DOM): 91 days
Median Price: $217,285
Annual Asking Price Change: 5.5%
Annual DOM Change: 21.9%



Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Top 5 "Green" Cities

Portland Oregon has been listed in the top 5 "greenest" cities. Portland is in the Pacific Northwest and has more than 500,000 people. It has been a model of sustainable living for decades. They are recognized for smartly mixing urban and outdoor spaces.

Portland did not wait for it to become popular to be "green". Since its 1903 Portland has been leading by example to encourage cities to embrace green space in their urban planning. Thirty years ago Portland demolishing a six-lane highway to develop a waterfront park in its place. There are about 92,000 acres of green space, including 74 miles (119 km) of biking, hiking and running trails. Portland is one of the most bike friendly cities around. In fact about one quarter of commuters bike to work. It also has enacted an urban-growth boundary to contain the urban landscape and protect 25 million acres of forest and farms.

They were one of the first in the United States to enact a plan to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and was a founding member of the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign. Being a part of a greenest city list is nothing new for Portland and they plan to keep it that way. The city has 50 buildings that meet or exceed U.S. Green Building Council standards for sustainability. They have also set out to supply 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2010.



Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Buyer's Market

There is no doubt that we are in a buyer's market. A rock-bottom price just isn't enough for buyers these days; they're just getting warmed up. If you have your house on the market, offers are not pouring in and buyers know it. Demanding new furnaces, new carpet or new air conditioners is not out of the questions. In fact, there's a good chance the buyer will get it. Because the thing is, if one seller doesn't give it to them, the next will.

This is all on top of the closing costs that the sellers are forking over. Buyers were getting the short side of the stick a couple years ago where they were over paying and couldn't ask for anything, now it's their turn. Repaved driveways, one year home warranties and trips to Hawaii are practically being handed out.

Back in the days of the seller's market a buyer could not even make the purchase contingent upon the sale of their own home, the was just too much competition. A lot of people gave up their earnest money when they had to fall out of the deal.

Now buyer's are including all kinds of contingencies. Availability and cost of home insurance, availability of high speed internet and other services are some examples of contingencies buyer's would not have dreamed of in 2005. They were barely allowed a home inspection before, now it's radon, lead-based paint, roofs and fireplace inspections.

All this is after being negotiated down to the rock bottom price, sometimes way below what they had paid themselves.

Naturally the seller will be paying all the closing costs as well. Any seller who doesn't believe or doesn't know that it is a buyer's market will find out fast once negotiations start. They may even find out before that when no offers come in at all.



Friday, August 29, 2008


Just wanted to let everyone know how excited I am to have just finished another episode of "House Hunters" for HGTV. I also did an episode of "My House Is Worth What" in July with more HGTV shows to be filmed next year. I'll be keeping you all posted as to when those will air. Any opportunity to tell people how great Portland is, I'll take!


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Want to Buy a Forclosure

Are you hoping to be one of the buyers out there who score a deal during the bad housing market? Taking a look at foreclosures are a good bet for you but there are some things to keep in mind.

There are plenty of foreclosures out there right now and lenders are definitely looking to get rid of them. This isn't exactly the time to be holding on and waiting for a better offer.

Apparently there are different stages of foreclosure and they all have different amounts of risk and reward so you can choose what fits your comfort level.


A home goes into pre-foreclosure when a borrower has fallen behind on his payments, but the house has yet to be auctioned off. If you wanted to go over all the delinquency notices that are filed with the county by the lenders when an owner misses a payment, then you can see if any of the homes meet your criteria.

Then you have to approach the home owners and see if they want to sell. This has potential to go really badly because people often don't want to move and a low ball offer could be insulting. Wording is important. You need to point out that you are offering them a way out of trouble.

You are essentially offering them a short sale, which is a buyer paying less for a house than the mortgage owed. The lender has to agree and then forgive the rest of the debt. Normally this would take some persuasive power but today's market certainly makes it easier.

Sheriffs' Sales

Homes in default are auctioned off on the county courthouse and can be real bargains, but the process is a crap shoot.

There is no inspect the property, so there's no telling how much work it needs. You also don't know what kind of liens there are against the home so you don't know what you end cost will be. Most importantly, you need to come with cash. 10%-20% has to be put down on the spot, and the rest in a matter of days.

Even after all that, you decide to make the purchase and feel it's a good move it can still fall apart. If the current owner can come up with enough cash to repay the buyer the amount of the winning bid then they get to keep it.


When a lender takes a house back from an owner the property goes back on the market. This is called an REO (real estate owned) property. This is a normal listing with a broker and the deal to be had is not as big as the other stages.

These homes are often listed on the lenders websites, including Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. This is a less risky way to go because the title is clear and the home is vacant.

There are also REO auctions. Some auction companies will buy a bunch of these properties from the lender at once and then put them on auction. These can be sold quickly for quite a low price and can start the rebuild of a neighborhood.



Monday, August 4, 2008

Fixed Mortgage Rates

Have you locked in your mortgage rate. Some people simply haven't been paying attention and think the housing market and mortgage rates are the same as 2005. It is no longer the best idea to wait for rates to drop. More than likely you are going to miss out if you don't act now.

Rates are no longer stable like the used to be and people don't seem to realize that. Many people didn't get their rates locked back then when it would have been easier, and at the time there was no need. Things are different now and things can change drastically at anytime.

If good rate presents itself you need to get it locked in, in writing from your lender. The way things are now, even if the rate dips down it won't be by much and it will be very temporary. You've got to take the deal when you have the chance.

Rates are expected to go up in the next six weeks, and even hit 7% by the end of this year. Every half point of an interest rate increase, the monthly payment on a typical $200,000 mortgage jumps about $70.00. That is around $800.00 a year!

Getting a rate locked in is easier than you might think. As long as you have a contract or a binder on a home the lender should be willing to give you a commitment in writing. A lock is good for 60 days at a very low cost.



Friday, August 1, 2008

Last Thursday

Last Thursday has been an event in Northeast Portland for about a decade. The last Thursday of every month the streets, stores and restaurants of Alberta street are flooded with people. It is thought that there are currently around 10,000 people participating in this event each month.

Now it is time to take measures to keep up with growth. Vendors are putting merchandise on the sidewalk, which is already over flowing with pedestrians. There are also some sanitation issues to deal with.

No one wants this to go away so steps need to be taken to ensure safety of participants and those who live in the area. They are even having TriMet re-route some buses. The Northeast Portland area has made great strides in recent years and keeping the community involved will only improve it more.



Friday, July 25, 2008

Bailing Out Sub-prime Borrowers

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 400,000 borrowers with $68 billion in loans may benefit from a rescue bill. This bill is to help homeowners avoid foreclosure by offering at-risk borrowers the chance to refinance their old mortgages into new low-cost fixed-rate loans.

To qualify borrowers must live in their homes and have loans that were accuired between January 2005 and June 2007. Also, they must be spending a minimum 40% of their gross monthly income on all household debt to be eligible for the program. They do not necessarily have to be in default but they do have to prove that they will not be able to continue to make the payments. This is to avoid people defaulting purposely to get a lower payment.

There are more contingencies to this refinance offer. All other home debts like equity loans or lines of credit have to be closed. In fact, they will not be allow another home equity loan for 5 years unless it is an absolutely necessary home improvement.

The original lenders do have to agree to rework a given loan before things can get started. The bill requires lenders to make major concessions, writing down the value of the loan to 90% of the home's current value. In some hard hit areas that will mean a substantial loss for the lender. So the lender is going to have to believe that they would loose more money if they let it go into forclosure in order to go along with the refinance.

Each of these new loans will be underwritten by an FHA lender so banks will do all new appraisals. The income statements, bank accounts, job hisoties and credit scores will all have to be revisited also.

As part of the deal, the old lender writes off any fees and penalties on the original mortgage, including prepayment penalties, and accepts the proceeds from the new loan on a paid-in-full basis. Additionally, it pays the FHA an up-front premium equal to 3% of the mortgage principal.

There will be some fees to consider, including a portion of any profits from future home-price appreciation. They aren't going to just bail everyone out. The FHA will get a 3% exit fee of the mortgage principal when the borrowers resell or refinance. If someone decides to sell or refinance within a year they will be giving 100% of the profits to the FHA. Each year after it will drop 10% till it reaches a minimum of 50%.

Even after all fees considered, it would be a blessing to many people. Not only do they get to stay in their home but they'll finally have a reasonable, fixed interest rate and no forclosure.



Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Helping the Mortgage Market

The next big plan for helping out the mortgage industry is to full inform investors of the types of mortgages they are buying into. The idea is to promote confidence in the investment they are making so that mortgage-backed securities will be bought once again.

A group representing the buyers and sellers of mortgage backed securities unveiled a plan on Wednesday to recharge the moribund mortgage market.

In order for lenders to raise enough money to offer as many loans as they do, they have to bundle their mortgages and sell them to investors as mortgage backed securities. Lenders such as Countrywide, Wells Fargo and Wachovia will package a random assortment of these loans together and sell them to investors with very little information offered to the purchaser.

But then the losses began to add up and naturally people and institutions stopped buying these pools of residential mortgages. Therefore these lenders didn't have the extra cash for home buyers to get loans.

The American Securitization Forum has a plan, Project RESTART. The idea is to increase the supply of mortgage loans available to borrowers and also make them cheaper. Because of course if you jumpstart the mortgage market you jumpstart the housing market.

Part of the plan includes making these packaged loans more transparent. Clearly there is going to be more confidence in your investment if you are presented with all the facts and amount of risk ahead of time. This should also allow for more accurate pricing.

Previously the loans were packaged with a mixture of high and low risk. This makes it more difficult to understand what you're really getting into and makes pricing more vague. Obviously it's not feasable to provide all the information on each individual mortgage borrower but there is certainly more information that can be offered.

Also these loans would be bundled together by type. So that an investor can choose a group of mortgages that all are from prime borrowers with documented income, 720 credit score and a 20% downpayment. If a particular investor is into higher risk and higer payoff they could buy loans with subprime borrowers and low credit scores. The big idea here is that the investor would know which they are getting, and pay accordingly.

I think this sounds like a great idea. My only issue with this is, why is this just happening now?



Tuesday, July 15, 2008

June Market Report

June Residential Highlights

June sales activity was mixed when compared to that of May 2008. On the other hand, activity continues to follow a downward trend compared with 2007. From May to June, there was a 0.8% increase in closed sales (1,877 v. 1,863) - the second straight month of increasing sales. New listings also grew a slight 0.6% (5,213 v. 5,182). Pending sales, however, dropped 6% (1,996 v. 2,124). On the other hand, comparing June 2008 with June 2007, closed sales dropped 31.3% and pending sales decreased 30%. New listings were also down 16.3%. See table below. At the month’s rate of sales, the 17,788 active residential listings would last approximately 9.5 months, up slightly from 9.2 months in May.

Second Quarter

A look at the second quarter of 2008 compared with the same period in 2007 shows a 34.7% decrease in closed sales (5,461 v. 8,361) and 31% drop in pending sales (5,972 v. 8,652). New listings also fell 8.1% (15,973 v. 17,386).

Sale Prices

The average sale price for June 2008 was down 1% compared to June 2007, while the median sale price dropped 2%. See table below. Month-to-month, the average sale price and median sale price are both up over May 2008 levels; the average sale price rose 4.1% ($348,800 v. $335,000) and the median sale price was up 0.5% ($289,000 v. $287,500).


Friday, July 11, 2008

Crawfish of the Caribbean

That is the theme for the 58th annual Crawfish Festival in Tualatin on Friday and Saturday August 8th & 9th. This year there is a Crawfish of the Caribbean Treasure Hunt. Clues will lead participants to various locations with a grand prize of a 42-inch flat-screen TV donated by West Coast Bank.

Also new this year will be the “Teen Scene” activities. Events such as a skate demonstration by members of the official Exit Real World team, an urban dance performance by Hip Hop Handbook and a free basketball clinic for pre-high school students by the Trail Blazer organization.

And just when you thought it wasn't exciting enough, the festival will be incorporating the TualaFest Battle of the Bands on Friday night at the Tualatin Community Park where local teenage bands compete for the TualaFest title.

Then the next night local blues musician Curtis Salgado will perform on the main stage from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

One thing that will never change, the Crawfish Cook-off on Friday night, and Saturday’s food court will feature more crawfish recipes than ever. Not to mention the crawfish eating contest and the parade.

Anyone wanting additional information about the Tualatin Crawfish Festival can visit www.tualatincrawfishfestival.com or call the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce at 503-692-0780. For advertising and further press inquiries contact Amanda Dalton at 503-639-8043.



Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Year of the Investment Buyer

The crazy-low home prices have finally begun to lure real estate investors into the market.

Sharon Restrepo, a broker in South Florida, where home prices have dropped nearly 27% over the past 12 months, recently bought a three-family home from a very motivated seller for a mere $65,000. It listed for $195,000. She can rent the three apartments out for about $1,500 and turn a profit, while she holds on to the property until the market recovers.

If you fancy yourself an investor, the down times are when you truly make your move.

Some places can be rented out while waiting for the market to swing the other way. Others can be bought distressed and then renovated. Either way, you have to wait for the market.

Some of these deals are not obvious. People are not necessarily listing their lowest price and your negotiating skills could come into play. No one wants to sit on inventory that is worth less than they owe. That loan is still outstanding regardless of value.

There are some companies out there flipping homes. They are getting a deal because they buy in bulk and then turn around and sell but sometimes without any improvements at all. The flipper is also buying any liens on the property but still manages to come out ahead.

Some have complained about the lack of renovation but this is how money is made. Not to mention a community full of neighbors is better than an area full of squatters and drug dealers. Home owners simply care more and take care of their community.

Some are still waiting to hit the very bottom. It is thought that there is still some falling to do. This is because there is still a discrepancy between what people are willing to pay and what banks are willing to sell for.

The lenders are holding their prices up as long as they can hoping someone will come along. Eventually they'll have to admit to themselves that buyer's will not pay it, not anymore.

But the end of the year will come, and they will still be sitting on a pile of inventory. Those properties simply cannot stay on the books through to next year. Then, game on.


Tigard Real Estate

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Real Estate Picture

The majority of home searches today start on the internet and buyers today want to see lots of photos! It's true that a picture is worth a thousand words because nothing provides a potential buyer with more information than the photos.

And yet it is still WAY too easy to find examples of bad pictures, or even worse, no pictures on some listed properties. But if you give a little extra attention and focus you can have some eye catching photos that will make them stop and stare.

One common problem is too much light. I know this seems counter intuative but if you have tons of light coming in and you are pointing your camera right at the windows, then the camera thinks you have more than enough light and will leave you underexposed. Try framing up your shot, then point your camera away from the windows to focus (pushing the shutter button half way down). Then while still holding the button half way, turn back towards your original framed shot and push the button the rest of the way to take the actual picture.

Another challenge is white spots, like little UFOs appearing off of reflective surfaces. Try changing the angle of your picture so you aren't pointing directly at that mirror or glass. If that is not an option then turning off the flash should help.

Have you ever found yourself squinting at a picture of a living room or bathroom trying to figure out exactly what your are looking at? Lack of detail is such a common issue and makes the picture just as worthless as not having one at all. Before you take the picture, decide what the most important detail in the room is and hightlight it. Make sure that it is the element that is in focus. lighted and can be seen clearly.

Some photos can be too clear, as in they seem to zoom in on the flaws. Be aware of what the eye is drawn to in your picture and whether that is a good thing or a bad thing. You may need to change your position or do some tidying up first.

Even if you are doing everything right, you've got the formula down and your photos are perfect, they can become a bore. Every picture is the same angle and the same size. Play and get a little creative, it's the digital age and bad photos can easily be deleted. Mix in some vertical shots, get on your knees or bring out the ladder. Use the stairs to your benefit. Also, photo editing software seems to be very much underutilized in this day and age. Some people don't yet realise how influential online photos are to their number of showings.

Realtor Magazine. July 2008. Page 19


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Love The House You're In

When it comes to real estate, we are living in different times than we in 2005. There was all the reason in the world to trade-up back then. Today though, people are either nervous or don't have the option of changing to a new house so what does one do? Learn to love the house you're in.

So if you are able to swing it, now is the perfect time for some home improvements, not necessarily to up your resale but more so that you can love the home you're stuck with. This could be the perfect time to give your home the features you've been pining for.

Realtors from around the country have said that buyers are looking for more space, modern conveniences and luxury touches.

For more space, the way to go could be creating the illusion of size. The future of homes are that getting smaller and smaller. Things you could do are taking unneeded doors off their hinges. This creates a bigger visual space. Or a glass, perhaps french, door to add more light into the room.

Other options could be knocking down a wall. Most people only want half a wall or no wall seperating the kitchen from the family room. That will surely alleviate the claustrophobic feeling.

Another brilliant move would be to convert wasted space. Some people complain about a lack of living space but have an unfinished basement just collecting dust. Maybe it's not even a basement. Plenty of you out there have a room that has become sort of a catch-all or some room that no one even goes into. There is no cheaper way to expand your space than to change your unused guest room into a much used playroom. Or perhaps an out of the way storage room into a much needed home office.

A great idea which is gaining much popularity is an outdoor room. This can be as easy as landscaping or as involved as a new deck, retractable awning or a stone wall. Some are even enclosing their porch for a year round sun room.

Then there are the little modern conveniences that people just put on their list "for the next house". Things like two-sink bathrooms, a laundry room or central air could not only make you more happy and comfortable but can also add a lot of value down the line. A popular decision would be to put the laundry room near the bedrooms. No one likes to lug around laundry bags and people have been paying for poor planning for too long.

When it comes to a touch of luxury there are plenty of little splurges to choose from. You may or may not get that dollar value back, depending how crazy you go, but you'll certainly get value out of it's use. Either way it will be a selling point if you can get yourself to part with your home.

Splurges like a big soaking tub in the master bathroom. People are really digging the idea of a spa like retreat in their own home. If you have the room a seperate shower from the tub can be quite appealing, especially if the shower has multiple heads shooting in numerous directions.

Other popular luxuries are in the kitchen. Although it looks fancy to have really expensive commercial grade appliances, most people simply don't need all that. If you, like a lot of families, use your kitchen for eating, hanging and doing homework in then you'll want to focus your money and efforts into a breakfast bar or center island. Even those who don't cook love a luxury counter surface, just don't go for trends. Concrete and stainless steel tops probably won't be in when you go to sell but things like granite will never count subtract value.

You won't be the only one happy with your improvements, resale value and eye catching features can only help you in the long run. Of course if you give your current home the features you desire in your next home, perhaps you'll end up not wanting to leave after all.


Tigard Real Estate


Friday, June 13, 2008

May Market Report

May Residential Highlights

In May, sales activity in the Portland metro area picked up over last month. Compared with last May, however, activity continues to trend downward. From April to May this year, closed sales were up 17.8% (1,863 v. 1,582) and pending sales grew 2.6% (2,124 v. 2,070). New listings dropped 2.1% (5,182 v. 5,295). Comparing May 2008 with May 2007, new listings were down 12.1%. In addition, pending sales and closed sales were down 30.5% and 33.5%, respectively. See table below. At the month’s rate of sales, the 17,066 active residential listings would last 9.2 months, down from 10.3 months in April.


Comparing January-May 2008 with the same period in 2007, new listings were up 2.1%. Closed sales were down 35.2%, while pending sales were off of the 2007 mark by 33.8%.

Sale Prices

For the second consecutive month, both the average sale price and median sale price declined compared to the same month the year prior. The average sale price for May 2008 was down 4% compared to May 2007, while the median sale price dropped 3.2%. On the other hand, the average sale price and median sale price are both up over their April 2008 marks; the average sale price rose 3.1% ($335,000 v. 325,000) and the median sale price was up 4.5% ($287,500 v. $275,000).


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Foreclosed Homes Bringing Down Prices

Lenders are burdened with unprecedented numbers of foreclosed properties in their inventories. To help unload they are discounting prices which sometimes starts a bidding war. This could be an indication that we are nearing the bottom, or may just be wishful thinking.

This is happening the most in places where the bubble burst was the largest. It's true that the higher you rise the farther you fall so now everyone is looking for the lowest price. This is bad news for the average home seller who has to move for a job relocation or other reasons. All the foreclosures and other distressed properties are going to have to go first because all the buyers on the market right now are bargain hunters and only interested in a deal.

The slashed prices are bringing in multiple offers which is what the banks are looking for. This causes the price back up to normal levels but people think it's a deal just because it is a foreclosure. Often times there is so much paperwork and a lengthy bank approval process that the chosen deal ends up falling through anyway. Not to mention the risk that this "deal" isn't a deal at all because we may not have hit bottom yet.

Some lenders go the auction route just because it is faster and more convenient, but you do run the risk of getting less money than you could have on the market. There is just so much inventory that banks just have to get these homes moving. But not only does this get the bank less money but brings values down in that neighborhood. Of course it's debatable whether it's worse to have a low priced home or a vacant home on your block.

The upside is that the bargain hunters are stimulating the economy because without them, nothing would be selling. It helps make others feel more comfortable with the idea of going out and looking to buy again.


Tigard Real Estate


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

A report released yesterday stated that the number of homes that went pending in April this year were higher than anyone expected.

The Pending Home Sales Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) rose to 88.2 in April, up 6.3% from March's reading of 83 and the highest level since October. This is good news since economists had thought there would be a small decrease in sales. This is still down from last year but obviously we are in a whole other situation this year.

This has caused NAR to revised its existing home price outlook for 2008. They are still predicting falling prices but not quite as far. The same goes for the number of sales, where they had predicted a 4.7% decline, they are now saying it will be more like a 4.5% dip. Of course this is only one month and there are different opinions everywhere you look, but it is a tiny ray of hope.

The positive report may mean that the price decline could be starting to slow. There is a chance that we are at, or approaching the bottom.

I believe this positive April number comes from bargain hunters who want to take advantage of the situation. This is a great idea because prices are so low and mortgages so affordable, not to mention that sold homes improves the economy so everyone wins.


Tigard Real Estate


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pending Home Sales on the Rise in April

As most people have heard, one of the hardest hit housing markets is Florida so to hear that things could be turning around is very good news.

It seems that lower prices might finally be luring back buyers, who had previously been waiting for the dust to settle.

In the Naples area of Florida, Realtors had their busiest month of the year. Home sales rose 6 percent to last year while pending home sales increased 25 percent. Some Naples Realtors even think they may have hit bottom. That is just the kind of positivity the housing market could use right now.

In a year the median home price fell from $390,000 to $300,000. All the homes that went into foreclosure on now on the market making it very competitive and driving down prices. Prices that had been inflated to begin with. Buyers have their pick and are pretty much guaranteed a deal which is a far different situation from a few years ago when people were camping out just to overbid on a house.

While homes under $300,000 still are seeing the most activity, listings priced $300,000 to $500,000 are experiencing an increase as well.

Although every neighborhood is different, as well as city, state and region, this is certainly a good sign.



Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fannie Mae No Longer Requires Larger Downpayment

In response to the housing market taking a nose dive mortgage companies and been making many changes that I would call... reactionary. Because it would be crazy to prevent these sort of situations at expense of loosing the quick buck.

One of these changes was to up the downpayment percentage required of a Fannie Mae guaranteed loans. This was back in December and now that people are concerned about the lack of home sales, not just defaulting loans, the percentage requirement has been brought back down to 3 to 5 percent.



Thursday, May 15, 2008

April Market Report

April Residential Highlights
Comparing April 2008 to April 2007, market activity remains slow. On the other hand, month-to-month activity (March v. April) showed growth in some categories. One area of growth from March to April was pending sales, which grew 6.8% (2,070 v. 1,938). This is the first increase in pending sales from March to April since 2005. New listings also grew 2.7% (5,295 v. 5,155). Closed sales dropped 6.4% (1,582 v. 1,691). This drop is on par with the last three years, though, as closed sales have dropped an average of 6.7% from March to April. On the other hand, when comparing April 2008 with the same month in 2007, transactions were down across the board. New listings fell 2.9%. Closed sales and pending sales decreased 39% and 31%, respectively. At the month’s rate of sales, the 16,370 active residential listings would last 10.3 months, up from 9.1 months in March.

Comparing January-April 2008 with the same period a year ago, new listings were up 5.8%. Closed sales and pending sales were down 35.1% and 34.6%, respectively (see table below).

Sale Prices
Also of note was the first decline in average sale price since August 2002 and in median sale price since May 2001 when comparing April of the current year to the same month the year prior. Average sale price dropped 3.9% and the median fell 3.5% (see table below). One factor in this price decline may be a 51.2% (21 v. 43) decrease in the number of homes sold for $1 million or more, when comparing April 2008 with April 2007. Year-to-date, sales in this price range are down 31.9% compared with the same time last year.


Friday, May 9, 2008

West Bull Mountain Planning

A West Bull Mountain advisory committee met last week and decided on the concept plan for a community to be made from the ground up, and concluded that it needs to include language about job creation and more diverse housing than some had previously expressed.

Also studied was the disparity between what people now living in the areas inside the West Bull Mountain perimeter envision for the community which include parks, walkways and lots of trees and grass, versus the realities of the marketplace.

At the first of a series of community forums held in April had expressed a desire for neighborhoods that were similar to Lake Oswego or Sherwood. This basically solidified the goals already set. All the discussion and planning is helping to create a community that truly reflects it's citizens instead of the citizens adjusting to the community. For as most people know, but usually don't practice, proactive is better than reactive.

Workgroups and committees will forward recommendations to the Washington County commissioners for all policy-level decisions, including a concept plan that will have worked its way through a series of public hearings by next spring, with final plan adoptions occurring by summer 2009.

Of course these community forums and committees will inevitably run into the issue of funding when trying to achieve what they want. These reality checks that will repeatedly pop up might cause jobs and less-expensive housing to be factors in the planning department.

The current market just does not support the full weight of these goals, but a truly great community can still be realized with compromise.



Shrinking Homes

Americans have always considered bigger to be better, but in today's housing market times seem to be changing.

In previous years it had been predicted that there would be a mass downsizing of the American home. Yet the average size of a new home continued to rise from just over 1,600 square feet in the late 1970s to nearly 2,300 now.

But a number of trends suggest that this time Americans really might be ready to downsize. For instance, baby boomers are increasingly becoming empty-nesters and naturally they need less space. Also, between 1970 and 2000, the percentage of nuclear families went from 40% of households to 24%, according to the Census Bureau. Childless families are expected to increase. These types of families tend to spend more time away from home and simply do not have time required to maintain a large home. An example of these childless homes are the Generations X and Yers who want to reside downtown where all the restaurants and entertainment live and offer a minimal commute and smaller, easier-to-care-for living spaces.

In a February survey of potential home buyers by the National Association of Home Builders, 60% said they would rather have a smaller house with more amenities than the other way around. Online house-pricing service Zillow.com found that less expensive houses appreciate more than costlier and presumably larger homes.

New, smaller places will have to pay extra attention to design and features rather than plain space. Dying off are the rooms that, it turns out, are not actually being used. Grand muli-level foyers are impressive but are also a massive waste of space. Rooms that have more than one use will become selling points. Formal living rooms will not be needed as everyone will be in the family room. Formal dining rooms will disappear as well because the slightly larger eating area in the kitchen will already serve that purpose. Built in storage will be a must, just because they are living small does not mean they want to live in clutter.



Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Are Some Housing Markets Bulletproof?

Some of the best housing markets, the ones who kept on appreciating while the rest of the country plummeted have actually started to see some bad times of their own.

Charlotte, NC, Salt Lake City, Seattle and Portland Ore. all posted home price gains during 2007, even as more than half of the 150 markets tracked by the National Association of Realtors registered declines. But now it's looking bad for everyone.

The markets that were first and hardest were the ones who had seen the biggest boom prior, whose prices were unbelievably inflated and therefore had nowhere to go but down. The solid markets who caught the tail end of the boom but much less severe are feeling the downturn effects but for the normal economic reasons.

In Charlotte, prices have fallen about 3.4%, through February, from their August, 2007 peak, according to the S&P Case/Shiller Home Price Index.

Seattle recorded a loss of 6.5% from its July peak ,and Portland prices dropped about 5% during the same period. Salt Lake City saw a decline of about 7% in the fourth quarter of 2007, compared to the third quarter.

These areas actually remained affordable for most residents despite years of price appreciation. For example, the median home price in Seattle was $370,000 in February. And about a quarter of all homes sold there during the last three months of 2007 were affordable to families earning the area's median household income of nearly $76,000, according to the Housing Opportunity Index from Wells Fargo and the National Association of Home Builders.

In Portland 28.8% of homes sold were affordable in the last quarter of last year; in Salt Lake City the figure was 35.4% and in Charlotte it was 62.9%. Compare that with Miami, where only 13% of homes sold were affordable for most people, or San Francisco where only 7.9% of homes fell into that category.

It is not just because our prices never reach crazy, high levels but individual economies play a huge role too. In Seattle, software and aerospace jobs have kept things humming, while high-tech and telecom have done the same for Portland, and banking and tech companies have boosted Charlotte.

Geography is on their side as well. Charlotte, which is home to the headquarters of Bank of America and Wachovia has also seen an influx of retirees from the north who moved to Florida and then left after property taxes and insurance soared in the wake of severe hurricanes.

Similarly, Californians escaping the high cost of living headed up to the Pacific Northwest. Seattle has massive numbers of people moving there daily for it's vibrant downtown. Lots of creative artist, writers and web developer types moving north. Portland is experiencing a similar situation on a smaller scale. We show up on a lot of livable city surveys.

Both towns have also pursued policies of managed growth, limiting the land that can be developed, which has also helped housing prices hold up.

Salt Lake City has fewer such restrictions, but steep growth in its population, which is up about 14% since the 2000 census, has kept housing demand high.

Now the credit crunch that has made getting a mortgage harder for everyone is hitting even the strongest markets.

It is very discouraging news to hear that we will have to suffer like the rest, but the upside is that we are likely to recover more quickly than others so comparatively, it won't last too long.



Wednesday, April 16, 2008

March Market Report

March Residential Highlights
Market activity in March showed forward progress for month-to-month comparisons, but remains slow compared with the level of activity a year ago.
When comparing March to February 2008, closed sales were up 22.2% (1,691 v. 1,384) while pending sales also increased 5.5% (1,938 v. 1,837).
On the other hand, comparing March 2008 with March 2007, closed sales were down 39.1% and pending sales decreased 36.9%. New listings also dropped a slight 1.8%.
Also notable in March was a decrease in the level of inventory from February. At the March rate of sales, the 15,412 active residential properties would last 9.1 months.

First Quarter/Year-to-Date
Comparing market activity through March 2008 to the same period in 2007, the first quarter also shows slowing in the number of transactions. New listings grew 7.3% (14,695 v. 13,697).
However, closed sales dropped 32.6% (4,285 v. 6,359) and pending sales were down 35.6% (5,282 v. 8,204).

A comparison of the 12 months ending in March 2008 with the 12 prior shows that the average sale price appreciated 4.9% ($344,700 v. $328,700). Using the same formula, the median sale price appreciated 5.1% ($290,000 v. $276,000).

& OUR NEW PORTLAND METRO BLOG AT www.TonyandLibby.blogspot.com (make sure you leave comments)

*The information above is from the monthly market action report produced by RMLS and used by permission of RMLS. This information is copyrighted by RMLS, All Rights Reserved.

How to Improve Your Listings Appeal

1. Increase curb appeal. It's nothing new. HGTV has a whole show devoted to curb appeal. It is quite easy to over look the outside of the house but you can't forget that not only is it the first impression but you need people to want to come in. Perhaps try driving around and take note of what attracts you to other homes and try to include that in your own listing. Look at the landscaping, paint, roof, shutters, front door, knocker, windows, house number, and even how window treatments look from the outside. You need your listing to stand out from those around it.

2. Punch up color. Paint is the biggest bang for your buck when trying to alter a rooms atmosphere. People are moving away from the boring white and you should too. That doesn't mean suggesting to your sellers anything like fuchsia or bright turquoise but neutral based colors are very attractive. Recommend to them soft colors that say “welcome,” and flatter skin tones. Think soft yellows and pale greens. Ceilings should be a lighter shade to make the room feel open.

3. Upgrades in the kitchen and bathroom. These make-or-break rooms can spur a sale. But besides making each squeaky clean and clutter-free, update the pulls, sinks, and faucets. In a kitchen, add one cool appliance, such as an espresso maker. In the bathroom, hang a flat-screen TV to mimic a hotel. Room service, anyone?

4. Bring back the detail. Try some crown molding which is proportional to the room’s size, and architecturally compatible. Try keeping in mind the year the home was built if it is an older home. As long as it's visually interesting and not overwhelming, buyers are really coming back to architectural detail.

5. Touch up hardwood floors. Buyers favor wood over carpet, but refinishing is not always an option and also not necessary. Screening is a light sanding, not a full stripping of color or polyurethane, then a coat of finish. This simple effort can have a big impact.

6. Organize closets. Get sorting—organize your piles into “don’t need,” “haven’t worn,” and “keep.” Buyers are discouraged by closets that are stuffed full because they think it won't hold all their stuff either. You want the closet to be about half full for showings. This really helps buyers visualize.

7. New window treatments. Buyers don't want fancy-schmancy drapes that darken. You might use your window treatments to keep light out in order to sleep in or watch movies but buyers like light and bright. Consider energy-efficient shades and blinds or just some fabric that is more sheer and light diffusing instead of light blocking while showing the home.

8. Get a home inspection. Be proactive. Any buyer that isn't looking for a fixer-upper is going to want a move in ready situation. If you get the minor issues taken care of ahead of time and have the receipts to prove it, buyers should be impressed.



Thursday, April 10, 2008

Floor Plan Trends

Builders now-a-days are trying their hardest to appeal to what they believe truly attracts today's buyer. There are different ideas of what people want which gives the consumer a nice variety of home types that fit their personal needs. Here are four builders and a look at each of their strategies.

Arbor Custom Homes. Arbor's latest and greatest creation is the bungalow style that has been interpreted rather broadly that appeals to first-time buyers and borrows from multiple architectural styles. Although they have a variety of floor plans to choose from, there are some common elements that Arbor feels are key. First they have their master bedroom on the main floor, either that or a den on the main that could be a bedroom. This is very popular right now because buyers either like the convenience for themselves or elderly members of their family. The den option is also important because of the number of people who work out of their homes today. Computers have become a part of everyday life and every member of the family uses one so Arbor includes at least three areas in every floor plan that is suitable for a computer setup.

Centex Homes. It used to be that every room had its specific function and they were all closed off from each other. It is now desirable for everyone to be able to hang out together, even if they are not all doing the same thing. That is why Centex focus is on open floor plans and traffic flow. Also included are formal dining rooms which, like formal living rooms, had been falling out of favor for quite sometime.

Renaissance Homes. The favorite of all the Renaissance floor plans has become Belissimo. What makes Belissimo so special is what they call a "brain space". This is a little pocket or miniature office on the stairway landing which is open and available to all family members, makes it easy to keep an eye on kids while the parent is on the computer and makes it easy to keep an eye on kids while they are on the computer. This home also features a master suite with an adorable seating area and separate sink areas in the master bathroom.

Pacific Lifestyle Homes. Master suite, or any bedroom on the main floor seems to be a huge draw for buyers today. Pacific Lifestyle Homes has their Rainier floor plan which includes just that and it sold like crazy. It was so popular that they introduced four more plans with main floor bedrooms. Some of the other plans might not have a "bedroom" on the main but will have a bonus room or den that are large enough to be a bedroom and have an adjacent half-bath. These plans offer a full bath conversion is the purchaser knows it is going to be used as a bedroom.

The big idea here is that what the buyer wants, the buyer gets!

New Home Monthly (a special publication of the advertising department of the Oregonian) - Saturday Feburary 16th, 2008 - Volume 6, Issue 12, Page 6


Thursday, March 27, 2008

How We Will Know The Market Is Moving Back Up

Some say a recession is coming, depending on who you ask, it is already upon us. Some day the economy will improve again and it will be time to act accordingly, but how will we know when that is? Here are some key indicators from the housing market.

New Jobs vs. New Housing. In the past there was about one new home owner for every two new job openings. If your market has builders scaling back, like we do, but new jobs are still being created then at some point the builders will have to pick it back up to meet the new demand. That is a good sign that we are on our way back.

Fewer Builder Concessions. Times like these it is easy to get all kinds of free stuff and offers from home builders just trying to get rid of their abundance of inventory. Concessions like free mortgage payments and toasters are taken off the table once the economy picks up because people are going to buy anyway.

Months' Supply. A normal housing inventory in months is usually around six. This means that it takes about 6 months to sell all the houses that are currently on the market. At the end of '07 the nation was at 10 months and some areas of the country were much higher than that. When the inventory in your area starts coming down to more normal levels, good things are on the horizon.

Visitors Per Listing. It's Spring time and showings for home listings are naturally on the rise, but for this time of year it can still be considered pretty low on number of views. If showings, and length of showings, increase a noticeable amount we could be making a turn for the better. More showings means people are actually considering buying a new home, which usually indicates a general confidence in the economy.

Rising Apartment Rents. It is a great time to own an apartment building right now, or so I've been told. No one is buying and they seem to be able to charge anything they want for rent. Eventually it will go on too long or they will raise the rent too high and renters will start checking out some of those home listings.

Realtor Magazine - April 2008 - Page 21 - 5 Signs of a Housing Market Pickup


Friday, March 14, 2008

February Market Report

February Residential Highlights

Activity in the Portland metro area picked up over the last month, but remained slow when compared to February of 2007. The level of inventory also fell 2.4 months from its record high in January (12.8 months) despite an increase in the number of active listings. The decrease can be attributed to increased sales volume in February compared to January. The 14,407 active residential listings at the end of February would last approximately 10.4 months at February’s rate of sales. Compared with January 2008, closed sales were up 27.6% (1,384 v. 1,085) and pending sales rose 9.9% (1,837 v. 1,671). On the other hand, compared with February 2007, the number of new listings grew 4%, while closed sales declined 27.1% and pending sales fell 35.2% (see table below).


When comparing market activity for January-February 2008 to the same time in 2007, statistics show that the number of new listings was up 10.4%. On the other hand, closed sales decreased 29.5%. Pending sales also fell 34.7%.


When comparing prices for the 12 months ending with February 2008 with the prices for the 12 months ending in February 2007, the average sale price appreciated 5.8% ($344,700 v. $325,800). Using the same formula, the median sale price in the Portland metro area has appreciated 5.5% ($290,000 v. $275,000).


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Real Estate and Technology

Lead Capture Technology: First the Internet Now Cell Phones

The Internet and now mobile…Will the real estate industry adopt mobile marketing applications in the same sluggish way that internet eventually became the norm? It has only been 10 years since www.realtor.com became the starting place for anyone looking to buy, sell, rent, and list properties; in those years the same people began carrying a cell phone with them eighty-plus percent of the time. Now with text messaging growing faster than any other form of communication in the world, the opportunity to capitalize has presented itself.

XAP Realty, a Los Angeles based real estate marketing company has created a lead capture solution to utilize the fact that cell phones are now carried by all buyers. The concept is extremely simple, www.xaprealty.com provides real estate agents, individual sellers, and property management companies with interactive yard and rider signs. The signs allow prospects to request the listing information of a particular property by sending a text message. The prospect is immediately sent the listing details including: address, price, beds, baths, acreage, MLS#, agent’s contact information, and more. Simultaneously, the agent or property manager is sent an email that includes the prospects phone number and the listing that he/she is interested in viewing. The service acts like an on-site assistant, reporting full property details and taking down new lead information 24 hours a day 7 days per week.

XAP Realty benefits realtors by capturing more leads using the non-invasive communication medium of text messaging. XAP Realty saves realtors time and money by providing prospects with the relevant information they need, and reducing materials. Last of all XAP Realty simplifies the process by providing prospects with an effective means of saving the listing information they require, thus making the job easier the realtor.

The question of whether realtors will stay on the cutting edge of technology remains unknown, however, with regards to cell phones XAP Realty interactive signs are already being used in a city near you.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Making a Comeback

A classic home style in the Portland area is enjoying a renaissance. Tudor-style homes can be anything from three-bedroom bungalows to huge mansions but builders haven't been going with the Tudor design since the 60's, that is until now.

They've previously been found in some of the older neighborhoods like Alameda and Grant Park and some of these have been renovated, but you can also find brand new construction with the same elements. Half-timbered stucco, diamond-pane windows, oak floors, French doors, wrought iron railings and dark wood built-ins are some of the details that help define a Tudor home, and the appeal seems to be a perfect blending of modern and classic.

The variety is wonderful too because there is truly something to be found for almost every need. You can find an 80 year old home that you can fix up yourself or has already been done for you. There are brand new detached homes with all the accents and even condos and town homes are getting in on the act. Take a look and you'll quickly find something to your liking.

The Sunday Oregonian - February 17, 2008 - Homes & Rentals H1-H2

Tigard Real Estate