Oregon Ranks Low in State Taxes Survey

Sometimes, it’s nice to be in the bottom 20 percent.

The US Census Bureau released its annual state tax survey and found that Oregon ranked 41st in taxes paid per capita (per resident). Oregon ranked 30th in total tax revenue, raising $6.5 billion.

Oregonians paid $1,791.45 per person in state taxes last year. Individual income tax accounted for 72% of the total tax bill, totaling $4.6 billion or $1,290 per capita.

The Portland Business Journal noted an interesting fact that Oregon hunting and fishing license fees totaled $41 million, while property taxes accounted for just $24 million in state revenue.

A few comparisons: Washington ranked No. 17 in taxes per capita, with residents paying $2,359.99 per person in taxes. California ranked number 9 at $2,724 per resident. Total state tax per capita was highest in Vermont, with residents paying $3,600.16. It was lowest in South Dakota, where residents paid state taxes of $1,430.46.


Complete US Census state tax stats

State Tax Breakdown for Oregon

[tags] Oregon, state, taxes, ranking, property[/tags]

Portland Monthly Neighborhoods of Choice

The April 2006 issue of Portland Monthly is out with their annual Best Places to Live real estate issue.

They select the top 10 neighborhoods, plus 5 hot suburban areas as their most livable locales. It is heavily weighted by the City of Portland’s annual Service Efforts & Accomplishments survey, which I covered in January.

Neighborhood winners were basically selected by residents’ highest satisfaction of physical condition of housing, on-street parking, pedestrian safety, congestion, walking distance to public transportation, access to shopping and services, nighttime safety, and availability of parks or open spaces.

Their results for top livable neighborhoods in Portland:

  • Eastmoreland/Ardenwald
  • Alameda
  • Irvington
  • Bridlemile
  • Laurelhurst
  • Hillsdale
  • Grant Park
  • Hillside/Arlington Heights
  • Collins View/South Burlingame
  • Forest Park/NW Heights/Sylvan

And, the top suburban neighborhoods for livability:

  • Camas (WA)
  • Canby
  • Newberg
  • Tualatin
  • Lake Oswego

Portland Monthly also publishes a section called Neighborhoods By The Numbers, a nice summary of the neighborhoods’ and suburbs’ real estate values, education ratings, population, crime, parks, commute times, services, and other demographics.

Portland Monthly is on newsstands now, but does not publish much of their content online. Please contact me directly to get a copy of the article and neighborhood report cards.

[tags] Portland, Monthly, livability, neighborhoods, survey [/tags]

Avoid Property Pix Faux Pas

By eqqman I was recently quoted in the West Linn Tidings real estate feature section in which local brokers were asked to share their top tips for improving the prospects of a quick and profitable house sale.

While most brokers offered good, tried-and-true staging advice, my tip touched on one of my pet peeves–poor property photos (or none altogether).

Online photos have replaced the ‘drive-by’ as the most common first impression. Studies show that nearly 75% of home buyers start their shopping by viewing properties on the Internet. And nothing inspires clicking the “NEXT” button faster than a listing that includes poorly lit or composed photos.

So, don’t let your remodeling, curb appeal, and staging efforts go to waste due to sub-par photos.

A few thoughts on taking property pictures:


  • Take note of your home’s most attractive rooms and features. At a minimum, take a picture of the front, the kitchen, the main living areas (living/family room), master bedroom, and if applicable, the valley or mountain view or maybe shots of deck, patio or other yard feature.
  • Remove the breakfast dishes and any other clutter from your countertops before shooting the kitchen.
  • For exterior shots, minimize shadows by shooting at midday or under flat lighting conditions.
  • Turning on lamps and spot lighting can add nice glows to pictures, particularly from the outside if light is waning.
  • Stand on a small ladder and shoot pictures from up high. It adds some interesting perspective and can make the room look bigger.
  • Unless you are good with cropping and resizing pictures, take tightly composed shots. Don’t use the zoom function on the camera. Move in as close as you can so the camera can take in as many details as possible.
  • Take plenty of pictures to choose from. Digital photography is so inexpensive, there’s no excuse for not having a bunch of choices to pick your top 8 or so that will make up your online portfolio.


  • Don’t shoot toward a bright window and expect to see any detail in the foreground.
  • Don’t take your pictures in vertical or upright orientation. I’ve yet to see a multiple listing service that doesn’t show photos in horizontal (or landscape) orientation.
  • Don’t take a picture of the bathroom where the focal point is the toilet.
  • Don’t shoot pictures of the inside of your garage unless you are showing off a workspace or garage organization system. No one wants to see your car or clutter.
  • Don’t upload your pictures to the multiple listing service (or whatever you might use to sell by owner) in the wrong order. Nothing like paging through 3 or 4 pictures of the interior before getting to the 1st exterior shot.
  • Don’t use a camera phone to grab images.

* Listings featuring these poor marketing efforts are too common in my opinion.

Image by eqqman.

[tags]home, selling, staging, advice, pictures, photography[/tags]

Average and Median Sale Prices through February 2006

According to February 2006 results, the 12-month average price for a home in the Portland metro area sold for $288,500, up 16.9% from the 12 months ending in February 2005.

Year-To-Date Average / Median Sale Prices (sorted by average sale price)

Area YTD Average Sale Price YTD Median Sale Price
Lake Oswego / West Linn $514,100 $455,000
West Portland $432,700 $358,000
NW Washington County $346,800 $307,500
Tigard / Tualatin / Sherwood / Wilsonville $336,800 $310,000
Milwaukie / Clackamas $327,300 $290,500
Oregon City / Canby $311,200 $282,000
Northeast Portland $285,800 $245,000
Hillsboro / Forest Grove $269,100 $234,800
Beaverton / Aloha $268,400 $247,500
Southeast Portland $248,800 $220,000
Gresham / Troutdale $245,700 $235,000
Yamhill County $242,300 $206,000
North Portland $233,500 $225,500
Columbia County $228,100 $205,500

Source: RMLS, March 2006.

[tags]average, median, sale, prices, Portland, communities[/tags]

Credit Reporting Bureaus Adopt New Scoring System

In an effort to simplify loan application criteria for all forms of consumer credit, including mortgages, the three major credit bureaus are disposing of their proprietary formulas, and have bonded to roll out a new credit scoring system this year.

Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion announced the launch of VantageScore, a more user-friendly, A through F scoring system designed to be more consistently evaluated by lenders.

VantageScore ratings will range from 501 to 990 with A and B being the best potential borrowers and D and F being the weakest.

    A — 901-990
    B — 801-900
    C — 701-800
    D — 601-700
    F — 501-600

The reporting bureaus expect to start using the scores soon, although your VantageScore won’t be available to you later in the year.

Although the new scores will be consistently calculated between the three companies, differences in scores may still occur due to the amount of reporting information each company gathers.

And, this doesn’t mean that credit reporting errors will magically disappear. Critics are quick to point out that underlying errors in credit reports are more troublesome to consumers than interpreting competing credit scores.

It will be interesting to see how this affects mortgage lenders, many of which use their own creditworthiness scoring system, called FICO.

VantageScore has created an an informational Web site at www.vantagescore.com.

Additional reporting at MSNBC.

[tags]credit, reporting, scores, FICO, bureaus, mortgages, VantageScore[/tags]

12-Month Portland Appreciation (February)

Portland homebuyers get some tough news based on February’s results–fewer available properties and higher prices.

Portland’s metro housing inventory slipped down to 2.7% from 3.2% last month. New listings are down slightly from last year and active listings are staying on the market on average only 47 days, down from 58 this time last year.

Sale prices continue to rise–an average of 16% over the same time last year throughout the region. The average sale price in Portland is now $288,500.

Here are the 12-month appreciation rates comparing average sale prices between February 2004 and February 2005.

    25.6% – Tigard / Tualatin / Sherwood / Wilsonville
    20.0% – North Portland
    19.6% – Oregon City / Canby
    18.7% – Hillsboro / Forest Grove
    17.9% – Milwaukie / Clackamas
    17.2% – Columbia County
    17.1% – Northeast Portland
    15.9% – West Portland
    15.4% – Southeast Portland
    15.2% – Lake Oswego / West Linn
    15.1% – Yamhill County
    14.1% – NW Washington County
    13.6% – Beaverton / Aloha
    13.1% – Gresham / Troutdale

Source: RMLS, March 2006.

[tags]Portland, market, activity, appreciation, sale, prices[/tags]

Downtown Condo Living Under $200K?

Harrison image by samgroverThere may be hope for those looking live close to Portland’s urban vibe, but have been priced out of the Pearl and South Waterfront.

Developers announced that the first phase of the Harrison (formerly the Portland Center apartments) will be released at the end of April. This is the largest apartment conversion in Portland, totaling 560 units and taking 3+ years to complete. The first phase includes 190 condos.

Starting prices for a one-bedroom are reportedly $175,000, which is about $100K less than garden-view, lower-level condos were at the John Ross. Two-bedroom units start at $225,000, and townhomes and penthouses will run $350,000 and above.

The Harrison is made up of 3 separate towers in the southwest section of downtown and is located near Portland State University and in close proximity to the future South Waterfront campus of the Oregon Health & Sciences University. The Portland Streetcar runs alongside, and the towers are located in a leafy, park-like corridor. Views from many of the mid to upper floors are spectacular.

In the renovation, all surfaces are getting treatments, including cabinets, counters, floors, fixtures, and lighting. The developers are also allowing up to 25% of the units to be purchased as non-owner occupied, i.e. investment properties.

Contact me if you are interested in viewing or inquiring further about the Harrison.

Harrison website
Article about the Harrison from the Portland Business Journal
Picture by samgrover
[tags]Portland, condos, affordable, Pearl District, South Waterfront, apartment, conversion[/tags]

Casting Call – Flipper Wanted

SlateNo, not the dolphin.

I received a note from the casting company for A&E’s popular Flip This House reality lifestyle show, looking to restock its 2nd season with an engaging host–perhaps from the Portland area.

If you haven’t seen it, the first season of Flip This House featured a hard-driving South Carolina real estate developer/investor/broker group that worked to find distressed, under market-value properties, buy them at auction, and in their words, ‘Get in. Get out. And go home.’ In other words, turn a big profit.

I found it very entertaining. Some problems the flippers experienced were more endemic to the South (i.e. termites). Other issues, like contractor reliability, were universal themes.

According to the casting director, the series is conducting a national search for a real estate company (or person or group) that . . .

“buys rundown homes, quickly renovates them, and sells them for a profit. The chosen company will be one that has a team of characters who can ‘walk & talk’ the cameras through their daily adventures in “flipping”. Companies should flip at least 10 homes per year.”

If you are interested, give me a shout and I’ll put you in touch with the casting company. Could be your big break…..

Photo by pilgrlIMAGE.

[tags]flipping, remodeling, Hollywood, A&E, casting[/tags]

Past Projects without Permits in Portland?

Toolbelt by Mr. GreenjeansIf you are a homeowner in the City of Portland and are considering putting your home on the market, save yourself some headaches and be sure to research the permits pulled on your property.

If you’ve done some of your own work, or inherited remodeled features from the previous owner, your sale could be put at risk if a real estate broker, lender, or buyer asks if the work was done under permit. Much of that information is public, found at the city’s PortlandMaps resource.

Here’s a list of projects that require permits in Portland (requires Adobe Acrobat).

In cases where permits were not secured in advance, the City of Portland has extended a program, Get Legal, to help homeowners get their property straight with city and state permit requirements.

The Get Legal application fee is $350 and it covers:

  • Consultation inspection performed at your property.
  • An in-person meeting with the Get Legal Team to discuss plans and options for legalizing the work done at the property.
  • A customized work plan developed and mailed to the applicant after the team meeting.
  • A team specialist to assist the applicant to prepare and submit an appeal application. If an appeal is not necessary, $100 of the initial application fee will be refunded.
  • A team specialist to assist the applicant in the Development Services Center with obtaining all necessary permits needed to legalize work.

This is not a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card. Note the fee does not include any of the permit fees themselves, but gains you access to city employees and information to get your property legal. You also have to complete permitted work within 1 year.

You could plead ignorance. But the prospects of a stalled home sale and the potential liabilities due to faulty work are not worth the risk.

Image by Mr. Greenjeans