The Crisis of Credit Visualized

In case your head is swimming by trying to follow the sordid tale of our economic calamity, with all of its jargon like CDOs, credit swaps, and securitized debt obligations, this 11.5-minute video might help you follow the money, or rather, absence of it now.

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

This is a thesis project by Jonathan Jarvis. Watch it in HD. As seen on Blown Mortgage and Seattle Bubble.

Looks Like I’m Paying off Your Mortgage. So Where Do I Put My Stuff?

A little cynical humor for late on a Friday:

From Calculated Risk today:

I think this captures the sentiment of many renters and prudent homeowners.

I have no problem with the first and third parts of the Obama housing plan, but I think part 2 does reward some borrowers who used excessive leverage, and the banks that irresponsibly loaned them money. It would have been nice to exclude all borrowers with stated income / Alt-A loans, and any loan were the original fully amortized payment was greater than 38% or so of gross income. Those buyers were speculating on appreciation.

Modern Home Enthusiasts, Don’t Despair

The Street of Eames modern home tour scheduled for April sold out in less than a day (once again), but you have an opportunity this weekend to view 11 other modern design homes in Portland.

For FREE, no less.

The 11xDesign tour features 11 contemporary design projects by a variety of architects. The tour is self-guided and runs from 10am to 5pm, Saturday February 21. Get details at the 11X Design site.

As usual, Brian Libby has this well covered over at Portland Architecture and on the Dwell Magazine blog.

Portland Real Estate Market Results – January 2009

A couple weeks ago, I reported on Portland’s paltry real estate market activity, and the RMLS Market Action report confirms it.

From the peak market of July / August 2007, median and average sale prices have fallen 16 and 17% respectively. Home values across the Portland metro area have returned to January 2006 levels on average.

Year-over-year average sale prices are down 13.3% from 1 year ago, and the median value is off by 10.7%. At January’s pace of sales, it would take a whopping 19.2 months to clear available inventories.

The 732 closed sales in January were the lowest ever recorded by RMLS going back to 1992. On the bright(er) side, pending sales rebounded somewhat in January, and the word on the street is that buyer activity is up and more homes are being shown.

  January 2009 December 2008 January 2008
Median Sale Price $250,000 $252,900 $280,000
Average Sale Price $297,200 $300,300 $342,900
Closed Sales 732 987 1,085
Pending Sales 1,235 810 1,671
New Listings 4,196 1,880 4,937
Active Listings 14,076 13,882 13,904
Total Market Time * 152 days 138 days n/a
Inventory (in months) 19.2 14.1 12.8


Area YTD Avg. Sale Price YTD Median Sale Price 12-Mo. Appreciation Total Mkt Time*
Lake Oswego / West Linn $472,400 $429,500 -5.8% 268
West Portland $458,500 $347,300 0.3% 169
NW Washington County $433,700 $407,500 -4.2% 123
Tigard / Tualatin / Sherwood / Wilsonville $326,200 $325,000 -6.5% 180
Oregon City / Canby $312,900 $264,200 -5.1% 199
Northeast Portland $303,900 $261,900 -1.8% 126
Milwaukie / Clackamas $303,500 $263,000 -5.0% 158
Yamhill County $253,500 $230,000 -5.4% 162
Beaverton / Aloha $250,100 $234,800 -4.2% 132
Hillsboro / Forest Grove $238,600 $218,000 -6.9% 165
North Portland $232,100 $232,300 -0.7% 132
Southeast Portland $220,800 $206,500 -4.7% 131
Gresham / Troutdale $215,100 $214,500 -7.8% 123
Columbia County $179,800 $160,500 -9.2% 124

Data courtesy of RMLS, February 2009.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way Back from the Conference

I spent a couple days in Seattle at REBarCamp Seattle, a real estate technology/social media conference hosted at the headquarters. Delightful time, great people, and a beautiful city.

Anyway, on the way home, I came upon an unnerving sight along Interstate 5:

YouTube Preview Image

If the audio narrative is confusing, it’s because I was chatting with my wife on the phone and I interrupted her to explain while I was fishing my Flip video camera out of my bag.

Forgive the expletive at the end, but as I went by, but I had my window open and the heat was a little intense.

Street of Eames Tix Go On Sale

Highly coveted tickets for the 2009 Street of Eames modern home tour go on sale Monday February 16 at 10am. If past years are any indication, you want to be ready with a twitchy mouse finger because tickets are usually gone in under an hour.

From the organizers’ email:

From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 18, ticket holders will tour a collection of seven mid-century and contemporary modern homes that would not otherwise be open to the public.

This annual self-guided tour raises money for after-school enrichment programs serving homeless elementary school students at two public schools in Portland. The event is run by volunteers with all proceeds going directly to the programs.

More information is available at the Street of Eames site. And Brian Libby provides an excellent preview at

Oregon joins top 10 in U.S. foreclosures

The rate of foreclosure in Oregon is increasing. RealtyTrac reports that Oregon had the fifth-highest foreclosure rate in January with a 218% increase in activity over December.

They estimate 1 out of 357 homes has had some notice of foreclosure filing. Oregon joins Nevada, California, Arizona and Florida in the top 5 as a percentage of households.  Not a surprise considering the anemic sales results in November through January.

As seen on The Real Estate Bloggers.

$15K tax incentive ends up on cutting room floor

Tax credit stimulus for 2009 home buyers dies in compromise. Maybe. Probably. Details covered ably by The Phoenix Real Estate Guy.

Is 4.5% and $15,000 Stimulating Enough?

Shocking by sbluerockIt appears the Federal government is pulling out all the stops on resuscitating the U.S. housing market.

As of Wednesday, February 11, the economic stimulus package considered by the Senate included an up-to-$15,000 tax credit for all homebuyers in a yet-to-be-determined time frame.

At the same time, theories that Government action that could drive mortgage rates down to 4.5% sometime this year continue to linger.

So, potential buyers, is a sizable tax credit combined with a screaming low interest rate enough for you to consider buying a house this year? Or are you motivated to wait, believing that the market has not yet bottomed?

The effects of this artificial stimulus could come at an interesting time. Home prices generically across the Portland metro area are down 17% from the peak. Sales are stagnant.

I certainly think these incentives could spur a renewal of activity by those that are qualified, but I could argue that the Portland market has not had enough time to correct for its irrational, artificially fueled price run-up (I can hear home sellers screaming at me from the distance).

Another data point: Since Portland’s market has paralleled Seattle’s performance over the past several years, it’s interesting to compare. One respected agent believes Seattle is at the bottom, noting that non-distressed homes are moving when priced at 80% of their peak price. Distressed properties are selling closer to 40% off the peak. Is Portland far behind?

UPDATE (02/11/2009):

It appears the $15K tax credit incentive is off the table, discarded as a bargaining chip in the larger stimulus package negotiation.

Photo by sbluerock, used under Creative Commons license.

A Wintry PDX Poem

A Question for Portland, from PAgent at

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