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, 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