Case-Shiller Shows Portland Prices Off 14%

Standard and Poor’s Case-Shiller index released this morning shows Portland’s home values slipped 14 percent when comparing January 2009 to January 2008. The Portland index is down 3 percent from December alone, and the trend appears to be accelerating.

Remember, the Case-Shiller index reports data from two months back, and it will be interesting to see if the index flattens out in a month or two as the RMLS date did for the month of February. Portland home prices in the index are 17.5% lower than the peak prices of the summer of 2007.

By comparison, Portland is in the middle of the the pack for the 20-city index, and despite the record monthly decline, moved up in the index compared to others. Seattle is down 15 percent annualized and -3.6% for December to January. Overall, the index has declined 19.4% in the 12-month period.

Case-Shiller Report (January 2009)

Metro Area      Jan-09  Dec08-Jan09   Jan08-Jan09    Jan07-Jan09
Phoenix         117.11     -5.5%        -35.0%          -46.8%
Los Angeles     166.54     -2.8%        -25.8%          -38.0%
San Diego       148.25     -2.6%        -24.9%          -37.5%
San Francisco   124.33     -4.4%        -32.4%          -41.3%
Denver          122.33     -2.7%        -05.1%          -10.0%
Washington      171.97     -2.0%        -19.3%          -28.0%
Miami           159.04     -3.6%        -29.4%          -43.1%
Tampa           149.21     -4.4%        -23.3%          -34.8%
Atlanta         109.44     -3.2%        -14.3%          -18.0%
Chicago         130.80     -4.6%        -16.4%          -21.9%
Boston          150.73     -1.5%        -07.3%          -10.4%
Detroit          77.56     -4.2%        -22.6%          -34.2%
Minneapolis     120.18     -4.7%        -20.4%          -28.4%
Charlotte       120.91     -1.2%        -08.2%          -06.6%
Las Vegas       125.64     -4.4%        -32.5%          -45.5%
New York        181.28     -1.2%        -09.6%          -14.8%
Cleveland       102.89     -2.2%        -05.2%          -13.3%
Portland        153.80     -3.0%        -14.0%          -14.5%
Dallas          112.75     -2.4%        -04.9%          -08.1%
Seattle         154.37     -3.6%        -15.0%          -16.1%
Composite-10    158.04     -2.3%        -19.2%          -28.6%
Composite-20    146.40     -2.5%        -19.4%          -27.6%

The Case-Shiller report can be read here.

Buyers Disappointed in this “Buyer’s Market”

In today’s Morning Edition on NPR, Portland is named by as one of the national housing markets whose prices are ‘sticky’ (i.e. not in freefall) by Karl Case of the famous Case Shiller/Standard & Poors housing index.

House prices are falling in most places, but for some buyers in Boston and other cities, they’re not falling far enough. Meantime, many who want to sell their houses are pulling back, waiting for a better market. This has buyers asking, “Where’s my bargain?”

I wholeheartedly agree that Portland falls into this category, and so do some of my buyer clients right now.

Listen to NPR’s Falling Prices Leave Home Buyers, Sellers in Limbo. (length 3:56)

2009 Portland Monthly Real Estate Issue Arrives

Portland Monthly magazine’s annual real estate issue is out, offering tips on buying, renting, selling, remodeling, refinancing — in short, a treatise on how to adapt to a fundamentally volatile housing market.

I’ve highlighted this issue each year on re:PDX, and it continues to generate interest long after the magazine is off the newsstand, particularly with those interested in moving to the state.

Portland Monthly‘s coverage also includes Neighborhoods by the Numbers, a breakdown of 95 urban neighborhoods and 25 suburban areas. You’ll find stats on real estate market dynamics, crime, schools, population, and other demographics.

On a personal note, the real estate market data this year was provided by the agency I’m affiliated with, MRealty.

Feature Article: Buy, Sell Rent, Keep?

Comparison Article: Neighborhoods by the Numbers

Get your copy today at local newsstands, or visit online. If you are interested in past issues, I have them on-hand. Just drop me a note.

Some Sellers Are More Desperate Than Others

Things are rough for some home sellers right now and the incentives are getting more creative as seen in this New Yorker cartoon.

Originally published in The New Yorker April 7, 2008 by Michael Shaw.

Street(car) of Dreams Show Changes Locale

An annual Portland institution, The Street of Dreams, will take a new tack this year, eschewing its tour of sprawling million dollar manses in favor of highlighting newly completed condos in the Pearl District instead.

It’s not by choice, however.

The Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland reports that the show canceled its Lake Oswego site due to lack of construction financing.

No wonder, the Portland area already has 537 detached homes and 77 condos for sale priced at $1 million plus (as of March 23, 2009).

So, for the first time in its 34-year history, the home tour will not feature single-family detached homes, but instead approximately 10 condos in the $1M to $4M range.

I think the SOD concept is ready for a makeover anyway. Million dollar inventory has been on the rise for some time, and the choice of sites has been iffy at best. Here’s a couple shots from last year’s show, featuring the enormous radio towers looming over one of the sample homes on Mt. Scott.

Help for Troubled Homeowners

If you’re struggling to keep up with mortgage payments or have had events pushing you toward foreclosure, the federal government has released a website intended to help determine if you are eligible for a loan modification or refinance plan.

The site,, provides some initial screening tools and advice for borrowers at risk of default. The site also provides links to FreddieMac and FannieMae loan look-up services, since only loans guaranteed by those organizations are eligible for the Making Home Affordable program.

The Fannie Mae form is at or borrowers can call (800) 732-6643. Freddie Mac’s information can be found at or by phone at (800) 373-3343.

You can also apply for help from your mortgage company by filling out an online application detailing your financial situation at, a site sponsored by a consortium of mortgage servicers and nonprofit counselors.

What you DON’T want to do, is take an unsolicited telephone offer to help you with your mortage situation, as evidenced by this interesting exchange shared by Rhonda Porter at Seattle’s Rain City Guide.

Investigate options directly with your lender or through the federal government programs first. Scams abound.

Portland population to double in 50 years?

Given the current economic contraction, it’s a little weird to hear Metro prophesying a doubling of the local population by 2060, but that’s what they’re telling us. And it’s actually a little higher than what they said last year.

From the Portland Business Journal:

In 50 years, the population in the Portland area will likely be between 3.61 and 4.38 million people. As of the 2000 Census, the region’s population was about 1.93 million.

The Metro Council on Thursday released updated forecasts that estimate a range of possible population and employment growth for the seven-county metropolitan region by the years 2030 and 2060. Metro’s projections indicate slower rates of growth in the short term due to current economic conditions with sustained population and employment growth over the long term.

In May 2008, Metro projected a 90-percent likelihood that the population of the region would be between 3.46 and 4.25 million in 2060. That forecast also projected the total employment of the region to be between 1.7 and 3.3 million in 2060.

So, the real estate ramifications are clear, but where are all these people going to work?

Today’s forecasts also indicate a 90 percent chance that the total number of jobs in the region will be between 1.25 and 1.7 million in 2030, and a 90 percent chance that there will be between 1.65 and 2.42 million jobs in 2060.

Here’s the link to Metro’s report.

NPR: Oregon Foreclosures Tied to Unemployment

NPR Morning Edition today picks up a local Oregon Public Broadcasting story about foreclosure in unexpected markets:

Some new states have moved into the top ten in the latest housing foreclosure figures: Illinois, Idaho and Oregon. They are states that had not suffered significantly in the subprime mortgage crisis until now. Growing unemployment may be forcing more and more people to give up on paying their mortgages.

Listen to the 3+ minute story here.

The story asserts the same view that I’ve held that the recent acceleration in distress sales in Oregon is due more to economic contraction, and not so much on speculative ownership or toxic loans.

Hat tip to Patrick Emerson at The Oregon Economics Blog.

Portland Real Estate Market Results – February 2009

As reported earlier, Portland’s real estate market stabilized somewhat in February 2009, improving slightly on January’s unit sales figures and average and median prices.

On a year-over-year basis, however, results were less encouraging. Compared to February 2008 the average and median sale prices were down 12.9% and 7.5% respectively, while the number of home sales fell 38.1%.

Interestingly, there were 20% fewer listings added in February compared to the previous year. March 2009 starts with 14,188 listings on the market — 16.6 months of inventory based on the rate of sales. Pending sales for February, just 1,276, foreshadow another sub-par month in March for closed sales.

Market Summary

February 2009 January 2009 February 2008
Median Sale Price $259,000 $250,000 $280,000
Average Sale Price $298,500 $297,200 $342,600
Closed Sales 857 732 1,384
Pending Sales 1,276 1,235 1,837
New Listings 3,471 4,196 4,320
Active Listings 14,188 14,076 14,407
Total Market Time * 153 days 152 days n/a
Inventory (in months) 16.6 19.2 10.4

Market Report by Area

Area YTD Avg. Sale Price YTD Median Sale Price 12-Mo. Appreciation Total Mkt Time*
Lake Oswego / West Linn $499,500 $399,000 -7.2% 195
West Portland & Downtown $428,200 $339,300 -1.3% 208
NW Washington County $401,400 $377,600 -4.7% 134
Tigard / Tualatin / Sherwood / Wilsonville $310,400 $308,000 -7.7% 181
Northeast Portland $299,800 $260,200 -1.2% 129
Milwaukie / Clackamas $293,900 $269,000 -7.3% 140
Oregon City / Canby $284,500 $249,900 -5.5% 145
Beaverton / Aloha $264,900 $248,600 -5.2% 138
Yamhill County $261,800 $229,500 -6.5% 182
North Portland $248,300 $237,500 -1.2% 88
Hillsboro / Forest Grove $246,400 $227,000 -8.5% 121
Southeast Portland $238,800 $211,000 -5.9% 142
Gresham / Troutdale $218,300 $213,000 -8.3% 184
Columbia County $181,800 $175,000 -9.6% 166

Data courtesy of RMLS, March 2009.

Tour of Remodeled Homes This Weekend

The year has started with a very slow pace of home sales, meaning more than ever, people are staying put — both by choice and by necessity.

Perhaps the remodeling industry will see some benefit during the housing downturn.

This weekend, the Home Builder’s Association of Metropolitan Portland sponsors the Tour of Remodeled Homes –a collection of projects 18 scattered across the metro area. Tickets for the event run $17.50 and can be used both Saturday and Sunday, March 14-15, 2009.

More information at the Tour of Remodeled Homes. Please come back and comment at re:PDX about the tour if you venture out. Thanks!

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