Week Links – October 29, 2006

Chain by shootheadA collection of recent news and editorial items about the Portland area.

Froth fading from condo boomThe Oregonian
The frenetic pace of sales and price appreciation that catapulted Portland’s urban condo market the past two years has calmed

Risky ‘flipping’ grows with area’s surge of recent projectsThe Oregonian
Recent condo openings spur immediate resales, with markups

All grown up with places to goThe Oregonian
Washington County, once a sleepy suburb dependent on Portland, is blossoming into self-sufficient urban areas

In century-old building, architects see futurePortland Tribune
Opsis Architecture already sees payoff from sustainable showroom

Pole PositionWillamette Week
An up-and-down story of power lines under the tram.

[tags] Portland, Oregon, real, estate, links, news, editorial, homes, houses [/tags]

Photo by: shoothead. Used under Creative Commons license.

Portland Area Market Activity – October 2006

As many markets around the U.S. have already experienced, the housing market over the past few months in Portland has wound down to historical activity levels. At present, the market appears to have reached a balance between a ‘buyer’s’ market and a ‘sellers’ market.

I’ve provided a more complete analysis on my Market Activity page. But here is a quick synopsis of what’s happening by community area.

Area YTD Average Sale Price YTD Median Sale Price 12-Month Appreciation
Lake Oswego / West Linn $539,400 $450,500 18.3%
West Portland $450,500 $378,600 12.1%
NW Washington County $404,200 $365,000 12.2%
Tigard/Tualatin/ Sherwood/Wilsonville $355,200 $319,900 15.4%
Milwaukie / Clackamas $350,500 $305,000 20.0%
Oregon City / Canby $321,100 $281,000 16.3%
Northeast Portland $304,000 $265,300 16.8%
Beaverton / Aloha $279,900 $250,000 15.1%
Hillsboro / Forest Grove $278,000 $255,000 16.7%
Southeast Portland $264,700 $232,000 15.8%
Gresham / Troutdale $262,200 $245,900 14.2%
Yamhill County $261,500 $229,000 22.2%
North Portland $244,900 $235,000 21.3%
Columbia County $226,300 $215,000 15.1%

[tags] Portland, Oregon, real, estate, market, activity, sales, appreciation, inventory, homes, housing [/tags]

A First-Time Homebuyer’s Tale

KeysA personal finance blog I enjoy, Get Rich Slowly, has been following the travails of a first-time homebuyer in the state of Washington. I’ve followed along, hoping someday to inspire one of my clients to document their own experience for re:PDX.

It is a wry, unfiltered commentary–emotional, angry at times, stressed-out–all the normal stuff surrounding a purchase decision of that magnitude.Their story provided many lessons for other buyers, as well as those of us in the real estate service industry, whether a real estate agent, mortgage lender, or escrow officer.

Today’s post highlights the culmination of their house hunt….taking title and receiving keys, plus discovering some of the ‘joys’ of home ownership. Here’s the running narrative, from property search through closing:

[tags] first time, homebuyer, mortgage, finance, home, house, debt [/tags]

Photo by Bright Tal, used under Creative Commons license.

Friday Fun – Neighboroo

Here’s a way to spend an afternoon if you’re looking to relocate, or are just curious about demographic profiles. Pat over at Transparent Real Estate highlights Neighboroo, another web 2.0 map project.

Like Zillow, it’s a map+database combination called a ‘mashup’. In this case, census data (and other sources) is combined with Google Maps to create a ‘heatmap’ showing factors like crime stats, median home price, air quality, and much more. Like a thermal image, higher air pollution or home prices, for example, show as red hotspots. Lower values are typically shown in cooler colors.

You can just explore using the Google map controls to zoom in or out, or you can just type in an area. The maps don’t provide street-by-street detail, but it is interesting to view the state or metropolitan area values. Below is a peek at Oregon median home prices (zoomed out).


You can toggle through school rankings, ethnicity, air quality, apartment rents, cost of living, commutes, crime, household income, and more.

Early users of the site are inquiring about the source of data for the maps, so details are likely to come soon. Nevertheless, it’s a fun way to spend a fall afternoon. Check it out at Neighboroo.com.

[tags] maps, census, demographics, real, estate, web 2.0, heatmap [/tags]

All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up

7305 SW Virginia libraryIt’s been happening less and less, but now the practice (or laziness) of minimizing the visual marketing aspect of listings in the local MLS will be prohibited.

The multiple listing service (RMLS) that covers the Portland metro area is now requiring brokers to submit at least one picture of their listing.

Cool. But here’s the real bonus….

If multiple photos are uploaded, the first picture must be of the exterior.

I love this new rule. Nothing like having to paw through 6 or 7 images of interiors and panoramic views before you get to a shot of the outside. A decent exterior shot helps a potential buyer take in the architectural style and curb appeal, before proceeding with the additional images. If they don’t want a ranch house, they aren’t going to appreciate finding out that detail on photo number 8.

Brokers will have up to 4 business days to add a photo once the listing goes live. Even bare land listings are required to have a picture. The seller can authorize the listing agent to omit the photo, but I cannot think of any instance where that makes any sense. Most brokers have access to a digital camera, so there is no excuse to post at least a few pictures, even if the property isn’t the most photogenic.

I think the visual marketing of real estate is critical, so I am saving my nickels and dimes to buy a solid digital SLR and a wide-angle lens.

In addition to 8 thoughtfully chosen shots for the multiple listing service, my customers get enhanced picture tours showing their listings. Here are a couple examples: West Linn Contemporary and John’s Landing Craftsman.

Your property deserves the best, too.

[tags] photography, real, estate, photos, listings, RMLS, marketing [/tags]

Portland Real Estate Sales Take a Dive

The ScreamLike the nighttime temperatures, Portland’s real estate market has cooled. Did’ja notice?

Perhaps all the directional signs sprouting up on street corners throughout the metro area gave you a clue.

Market activity results through September 2006 are out and at 4.5 months of available inventory, the Portland area has the highest ratio of homes available vs. closed sales since February 2004. Year-to-date sales are down nearly 24% over this time last year.

Panic time?

I don’t think so. Don’t forget that 2005 was the high-water mark for real estate activity, so take that into account. And the rest of the country has gone through their slowdowns earlier in 2006–we’re just lagging behind the national averages, as usual.

The good news (depending on your situation): Average appreciation over 12 months is up 15.4%. Average time on market is 41 days. Other parts of the country would be green with envy. Interest rates are still historically low.

I’ll dive into additional details next week. Stay tuned….

[tags] housing, Portland, results, sales, inventory, RMLS [/tags]

Photo by ClintJCL.

A Feast for Real Estate Gluttons

Eating ContestGotta hankering for real estate fodder? Big fan of smorgasbords and all-you-can-eat joints? Then check out this list of the top 500 blogs covering real estate in the U.S.

The Pittsburgh Homes Daily blog took on the prodigous task of indexing blogs that track real estate issues. Here is the list of links, broken down by state.

Oregon has 5 active real estate blogs:

Portland Real Estate Blog
Portland Oregon Real Estate Blog
Eugene Oregon Real Estate Blog
Someday I Will Build a House

and of course…re:PDX.

Some of the 500+ real estate bloggers are prolific, so be forewarned. I have well over 50 of real estate blogs in my newsreader and I often don’t have time to read each day’s wealth of commentary, debate, and news.

My favorites (although most are real estate industry-oriented, and not targeted toward consumers):

The Future of Real Estate Marketing
Bloodhound Blog
Rain City Guide
The Matrix
BlueRoof Blog
The Real Estate Tomato

Perhaps the longest-running real estate blog, Grow-A-Brain, no longer covers just real estate, but now catalogues a daily laundry list of cultural stream-of-consciousness links. Very entertaining.

Photo by Agent Magenta, used under Creative Commons license.

[tags] blogs, real, estate, 500, Pittsburgh, homes, list, index [/tags]

You Like Me, You Really Like Me!

Katie Harman, Oregon's Miss AmericaOregon does well in another popularity contest.

A recent research index puts Oregon as the nation’s 5th most appealing state to U.S. citizens, and 11th most appealing to international respondents.

The Anholt State Brands Index compiled the responses of 9,000 U.S. citizens and 12,000 foreigners on the question of which state they’d most like to live in. The poll considered the perceptions of tourism, governance, exports, people, culture/heritage, and investment/immigration.

Here are the Top Five most appealing states, as ranked by U.S. citizens:

  1. North Carolina
  2. Virginia
  3. Florida
  4. Colorado
  5. Oregon

Interestingly, neither North Carolina or Virginia made the top 5 in the international responses. California and Florida go 1-2 in the international poll (the DisneyLand/World effect?).

Oh…..New Jersey brings up the rear at number 50.

Contact me if you want a copy of the survey results.

[tags] Oregon, state, brands, index, popularity, livability [/tags]

Squeeze versus Sprawl

The Meriwether in South WaterfrontIf you hadn’t heard, the U.S. is quickly gaining on the 300 million mark in population. So, with the western U.S. experiencing a high rate of inbound moves, our civic leaders have real challenges when considering growth strategies, environmental impact, and livability factors.

In a recent series on population growth, the Christian Science Monitor writes about two cities with divergent paths to handle growth: Gilbert, Arizona and Portland.

Gilbert, southeast of Phoenix, is the nation’s fastest growing city and has embraced the ‘sprawl’ strategy. It’s grown from 2,000 residents in 1970 to over 180,000 today (on it’s way to 300,000). With a wealth of land (but not water), it has grown reasonably unfettered, and is attempting to establish itself as a ‘micropolitan’ city.

Portland, on the other hand, has hemmed it’s growth through self-imposed land use restraints (and it’s geographic limits, like rivers and hills). The result in Portland is urban renewal districts–areas of town redeveloped with the help of public funds and tax incentives. With an emphasis on infill and high-density development, recent examples include the Pearl District, Mississippi Ave., South Waterfront and others.

It’s an approach that flies in the face of convention, though. The article points out that many major U.S. cities are experiencing an exodus to the suburbs.

Public opinion bears this out. Just 13 percent want to live in a city, 51 percent in a suburb, 35 percent in a rural community, according to a 2004 survey by the National Association of Realtors and a group called Smart Growth America.

(By the way, the Portland metro area has plenty of thriving suburbs–Beaverton, Hillsboro, Tigard, Tualatin, Gresham, Lake Oswego, West Linn, Canby to name a few.)

Portland’s ‘new urbanism’ planning may serve as a national model, but it is not without major challenges:

Among these: economic development that creates new jobs in an era of increasing globalization; finding a financially viable way to extend public transit into more neighborhoods to reduce downtown auto traffic; and dealing with a rapidly aging infrastructure. Portland has a 600-mile backlog in street maintenance as well as many bridges needing repair.

One major challenge in the ‘sprawl’ model–community identity:

“I have a theory that if they dropped you at eye level into any of these towns, you couldn’t tell the difference,” says Jay Butler, director of the Arizona Real Estate Center at Arizona State University. “Gilbert really is no different from [the nearby towns of] Chandler and Mesa. The homes look alike, the SUVs look alike, they all have a Costco.”

It’s an interesting article, touching on issues such as birthrate, environmental impact, and more

Side-note: If you’re thinking about buying real estate in the Phoenix area, check out fellow blogger Greg Swann at Bloodhound Realty, whose blog tipped me off to this article.

[tags] growth, U.S., cities, suburbs, population, urbanism, Portland, Oregon, Gilbert, Arizona [/tags]