Estately Chooses Portland for 2nd Market Release

Another home search vendor has landed in Portland, migrating this time from Seattle with a bulging portfolio of online house-hunting features.

Mashing up RMLS (Portland’s multiple listing service) data with Google maps and a first-rate search interface, joins the ranks of Roost and a very small handful of local brokers with truly Web 2.0 house-shopping experiences using actual MLS-derived listings. map search

Users may be disappointed not to find addresses, but the map interface does a good job of visually placing the location in the Google map. If address is critical to your search, you will need to register yourself with a local agent to establish what is construed to be a legitimate broker/client relationship. For example, I use the HomeQuest service to provide the neighborhood search + maps + addresses, etc. information to clients.

But without involving an agent, the Estately service can give you a leg up in your learning experience. Then, if you wish to engage the services of a local agent, Estately is partnering with local brokers to give you a handful of pre-vetted agent selections to anonymously research and interview at your discretion.

Estately has other handy search features — search by neighborhood, proximity to transportation, and by keyword (i.e. fixer, short sale, hardwoods, etc) to name a few. You can tap into local market conditions, neighborhood, school, parks, and other attractions from their tabbed menus. Registering with Estately will get you access to a Saved Searches and Properties feature, plus email updates on pricing of specific listings.

Estately (originally was co-founded by Galen Ward, a regular contributor to Seattle’s Rain City Guide real estate blog (and my inspiration to start my own). Galen bootstrapped the fledgling company on an initial $20,000 investment, and recently raised $450,000 in new capital. Estately’s development has been closely watched by many in the real estate technology community, and Portland is fortunate to be the second stop in Estately’s growth plan.

It’s early in their Portland release, so I ran into a few hiccups in the map search, primarily when it came to clicking on a property for further details (although it could be my choice of operating system and browser–Mac/Firefox). It was sometimes a little poky in refreshing the maps, and the neighborhoods and days on market information needs some refinement, too.

Nevertheless, suddenly in Portland, there is a wealth of real estate shopping options with multi-mode search features to keep any property junkie occupied.

Read more at the Estately blog.

Google Street View Face-Off

Invisible ManAs a research tool for Portland-area neighborhoods, Google’s Street View is pretty cool. Let’s say you want to know what the properties look like to each side and across the street from that Old PDX you’ve seen on a property search site.

Fire up Google Maps, click on Street View (where available), and ‘drive’ up and down the street — all without spending 4 bucks a gallon or flying out from Chicago in the process.

And maybe as a bonus, you’ll run into street scenes like this gent on the park bench (dig deep!):

Caught on Google Street View

And here’s a guy caught saving a cat…or perhaps running from a meth deal gone wrong. Who knows?

Google Street View - Caught!

So Street View is pretty cool for neighborhood research, but privacy concerns have caused Google to begin testing ‘blurring’ technology on their photos to render identities, um, unidentifiable. (A Pittsburg couple recently filed suit for reckless privacy invasion when their faces showed up in a Street View.)

Here’s an example of Google’s face detection and blurring work in Manhattan:
Google Street View blurs faces

So, while most people have gotten over the initial shock of pictures of their house being published on the internet, Google will likely refine their facial detection algorithms and turn us all into freakish sci-fi characters in future releases of Street View.

More coverage from WebWare. Other fun Street View discoveries here and here. UPDATE: and here (courtesy of Joel Burslem on Twitter.)

Portland Real Estate Market Activity – April 2008

Like the rest of the nation, Portland is feeling the effects of the housing hangover and we may be taking our medicine over the next several months in the form of sliding prices and lingering inventory.

Portland Realtors are getting their market update from RMLS and the results mirror my early reporting.

When compared to April 2007, closed sales are down 39% and the average sale price is down nearly 4 percent to $325,000. The average sale price in March was $336,700 and $342,800 in February, so the month-over-month declines continue.

If there was a plus side to April results, it was pending sales — up almost 7% over April of 2007 March 2008.

One change in reporting from RMLS is their abandonment of the methodology for measuring overall Portland appreciation as a 12-month rollup of sale prices compared to the previous 12 months. You’ll start seeing year-over-year monthly comparisons as the ‘new’ appreciation measure.

At the current pace of sales, the housing inventory (16,370 listings) nudged back above 10 months (10.3). Homes are taking, on average, 82 days on market to sell, year-to-date.

Here are year-to-date sales results by market area, sorted by average sale price:

Area YTD Avg. Sale Price YTD Median Sale Price 12-Mo. Appreciation* DOM**
Lake Oswego / West Linn $552,800 $449,000 7.0% 105
West Portland $491,500 $397,000 4.0% 93
NW Washington County $394,800 $367,500 4.4% 72
Tigard / Tualatin / Sherwood / Wilsonville $362,700 $337,000 2.5% 85
Milwaukie / Clackamas $339,500 $294,500 -5.9% 70
Oregon City / Canby $326,300 $286,000 2.5% 96
Northeast Portland $316,400 $274,000 6.7% 59
Hillsboro / Forest Grove $286,000 $259,900 1.3% 82
Yamhill County $279,000 $227,000 1.6% 88
Beaverton / Aloha $277,100 $250,600 1.9% 77
Southeast Portland $276,600 $245,000 4.5% 60
North Portland $274,800 $255,000 7.7% 56
Gresham / Troutdale $257,900 $246,000 0.4% 59
Columbia County $228,400 $214,400 5.7% 88

Source: RMLS, May 2008.

*12-month appreciation is calculated by comparing the most recent 12 months’ average sales prices to the previous 12 months’ results.
**DOM or days on market may exhibit reporting inconsistencies and should be used to analyze trends only.

Portland Condo Market Update – May 2008

Portland townhomeA recent reader prompted me for a condo update for Portland and it’s time to oblige.

Interestingly, the inventory of condos and townhomes has not ballooned with the slower sales market. In fact, since my last update in August 2007, the market contains just a couple hundred additional units. It’s not an insignificant number, but clearly, developers have cooled their jets, even converting some projects to luxury apartments while existing inventory is absorbed.

On the other hand, it’s not likely that all units available are marketed in RMLS. From a developer’s standpoint, there is little value in listing a multitude of identical units — thereby showing a surplus in supply and a weak bargaining position. So, consider this report a high-volume sample, just like the other reports I’ve done.

As of May 12, there were 3,896 active condo/attached home listings throughout the Portland metro area. The average list price is $329,000 for 1,344 square feet. In the August 2007 snapshot, the area had 3,675 listings at an average 1,336 sq. ft. and list price of $333,300.

In the past six months, the average list price is down just 2%–bringing the average price per square foot down to $245.

Like last time, I first rolled up condos and attached homes in the same analysis, then broke them out separately. The tables below show 1) Condos and Attached Homes together; 2) Condos only; and 3) Attached Homes only. All sorted by average list price:

Table 1: Condos & Attached Homes

Area Listings Avg. List Price Avg. Sq. Ft. $ per sq. ft.
West Portland (Downtown)
North Portland
Lake Oswego / West Linn
NW Washington County
Columbia County
Northeast Portland
Milwaukie / Clackamas
Tigard / Tualatin / Sherwood / Wilsonville
Oregon City / Canby
Southeast Portland
Hillsboro / Forest Grove
Beaverton / Aloha
Gresham / Troutdale
Yamhill County

Table 2: Condos only

Avg. List Price Avg. Sq. Ft. $ per sq. ft.
West Portland (Downtown)
North Portland
Columbia County
Lake Oswego / West Linn
Northeast Portland
Southeast Portland
Milwaukie / Clackamas
Oregon City / Canby
Hillsboro / Forest Grove
Tigard / Tualatin / Sherwood / Wilsonville
Beaverton / Aloha
NW Washington County
Yamhill County
Gresham / Troutdale

Table 3: Attached Homes only

Avg. List Price Avg. Sq. Ft. $ per sq. ft.
West Portland (Downtown)
Lake Oswego / West Linn
NW Washington County
North Portland
Milwaukie / Clackamas
Northeast Portland
Tigard / Tualatin / Sherwood / Wilsonville
Southeast Portland
Oregon City / Canby
Hillsboro / Forest Grove
Columbia County
Beaverton / Aloha
Gresham / Troutdale
Yamhill County

Please note, this is just a snapshot as of May 12, 2008 of the active listings in the local multiple listing service. It may not include inventory sold by owner or through developer sales groups. Every effort has been taken to ensure accuracy, but is not guaranteed.

With a quarter of the active listings located in the City Center, I’ll be back later in the week with and update on downtown sales and active listings.

Week Links – May 9, 2008

Week LinksA random collection of recent real estate news notes, articles, and updates:

Bad MLS Photo of the Day
A jaw-droppingly horrifying, actual MLS photo found on a listing in Southern California. You just have to see it.

Sell your house by owner, by auction, or…by writing contest
A $1.25M Florida plantation to be given to the winner of a writing contest. For a $200 entry fee. Oh, and just 6,250 entries needed. (Found by AgentGenius)

Why Did the Mortgage Crisis Happen?
Local economist and writer Bill Conerly starts a 5-part series at his Businomics blog. Interesting reading and brief, so not too overwhelming. His topics:

  • The Great Moderation and the benign housing cycle of the 2001 recession, which made real estate appear to be safe
  • Securitization, which changed the funders from lenders to investors, while making the products too complex for most anyone to understand.
  • With these two factors in place, the mortgage crisis evolved from the last recession.
  • What to expect next time round.

He’s a little more bullish on forecasts than many, as written here and here.

CNN/Money highlights real estate slowing in Portland and other ‘bulletproof’ cities
Seattle, Charlotte are not immune, either

The Party’s Over
So says a sobering report by the Oregon Business Magazine.

Phone book deliveries must cease
I say AMEN, brother! One copy per year, ok, but does anyone else think eight phone books a year is a waste?

Portland Monthly Real Estate Issue & Neighborhood Reference

2008 Portland Monthly Magazine real estate articleIt’s May, and I’m a little remiss in mentioning the April 2008 issue of Portland Monthly and their annual real estate issue.

This year, the issue seems a little lighter, but they report on the general market health, identify seven housing trends, rate a few top neighborhoods based on price (low and high), short-term and long-term appreciation, and pace of sales. The article concludes with their Neighborhoods by the Numbers section — measuring real estate factors, school performance, population mix, crime stats, parks, and commute times.

Trends they note:

  • Fewer Californian immigrants
  • Homes as personal brands
  • The attraction of living in the suburbs/exurbs
  • Opportunities in a soft condo market
  • A growing, aging population in Portland
  • Rising rents — 10 to 15%
  • Remodeling ‘green’

Last year, they posted the ‘Neighborhoods by the Numbers’ section on their website, but I don’t find it yet this year.

Out of respect for their copyright, I won’t post a copy of the articles here, but since it’s off the newsstand, you can email me and I’ll send it along.

PSU Real Estate and Urban Studies Report – Q2 2008

Portland State Unversity Center for Real Estate ReportPortland State University released its 2nd quarter Real Estate and Urban Studies Report.

And it weighs in at a beefy 79 pages.

The residential real estate section is consistent with what you’ve read here and in other local outlets — sales down, pricing flat for Q1.

As for the rest, I haven’t absorbed it yet, but you may find interest in the weighty sections by PSU faculty and consultants about Portland’s crossings (bridges), “center” vs. “corridor” growth strategies, Streetcar research, and other land use, urban development and commercial real estate topics.

Full report here

April Showers Bring…More Showers

UmbrellasAnyone hoping for a spring bounce to the Portland area real estate market will likely be disappointed when ‘official’ numbers are released around the 15th.

Except, perhaps, active buyers looking to time the market to their advantage.

As of this afternoon, April 2008 unit sales were running at about 57% of April 2007′s result. By the time all the April lingering data gets entered over the next few days, the result will likely just reach the 60% mark. (Pending sales for April 2008 are down 38% from last years monthly total, so May’s sales result will look familiar.)

And it seems the doldrums are starting to have their effect on sales pricing (finally). The average sale price for the current results is $324,300 (vs. $336,700 last month and $338,200 last April). The median will come in around $275,000 (vs. $286,500 last month and $285,000 last April).

Inventory is growing, with active listings up 1,000 from the beginning of April to start May with 16,400 homes.

The numbers will likely change a little once RMLS scrubs the data, but you get the idea.

Photo by jekkyl, used under Creative Commons license.