In Which I Call B.S. on a Recent HousingWire Story

Did you see the headline from last week? “It costs more to own a home than to rent one in every U.S. state.” For a link to the article, click here.

The story talks about how using US Census Bureau data, CNBC was able to compare the median cost of renting a home to the median cost of owning a home.

Remember what a median is? A median is “the value or quantity lying at the midpoint of a frequency distribution of observed values or quantities.” In other words, if you have 1,001 houses, exactly 500 will cost more and 500 will cost less.

And this is where the methodology is screwed up. RentCafe took the same data that CNBC used and figured out that in the US, there are 73% more apartments rented than houses. And the Terner Center at Berkley took that same data and determined that “Today, single-family detached homes make up more than 62 percent of the housing stock in the United States…” .

So the median rental is way more likely to be an apartment, while the median home that’s owned is way more likely to be a house.

Here’s another way to think of it. Jennifer Lopez has a $28 million home. So she and all the other millionaires who own mansions skew the median cost of home ownership up. But unless
there are a lot of millionaires out there renting apartments for like $2 million a month, it’s a pretty safe bet that median rental doesn’t skew as far north.

If all those numbers make your eyes glaze over, let me frame it one more way. The common
sense way.

The CNBC story implies that in every single state, people who rent out their homes are, on
average, losing money. In other words, we have a country full of generous landlords.

Sorry, that just doesn’t fly.

As a realtor®, it’s important to stay informed. But it’s way more important to think.

Portland Fixer Dreams

I recently had the pleasure of helping my wonderful client, Dave through the home buying process. Like any savvy buyer, Dave was looking for the best possible house for the best price. What set Dave’s experience apart, however, was that he planned to fix up whatever home he ended up purchasing, so the aesthetics of the home itself weren’t of much importance. 

He went into the process thinking that he might need to see dozens of homes before finding one that he would be happy with. To ensure that his time was well spent, I took his wishlist and translated that into a highly curated list of properties for him to see – as a result, Dave found his perfect home after seeing just three properties! 

The first two were fixer-uppers. One ticked most of the boxes and needed mostly cosmetic updates, but it didn’t quite feel right to Dave. 

The second one felt as though we had walked onto the set of a horror film and was way more work than Dave wanted to take on. 

Then we found the “Glass Slipper”, a perfect fit. While the location was a tad further out than what Dave had originally wanted, it was only 10 blocks from some of his closest friends and offered a short trek to the airport that perfectly suited him with his frequent travel for work. While the design and fixtures in the house were dated, the house itself came back with a clean inspection and the updates could all be completed without too much work. 

I’m so happy for Dave and so excited to see how he takes his new home to the next level! 

Dreaming of a Vacation Property?

If I told you that you could own a peaceful vacation retreat at an affordable price within a half hour of downtown Portland would you believe me? Believe it or not, it’s true. Within minutes of downtown Portland  (and in some cases a stone’s throw), there are hundreds of FLOATING HOMES right in front of our eyes. These unique homes come in all shapes, sizes and prices and deliver a truly peaceful, fun retreat from the day-to-day grind of life.

Whether it’s on the Willamette, Columbia or Multnomah Channel, there are moorages of all different styles and flavors with a myriad of floating homes enjoying a convenient, peaceful existence right on the water.

With Portland’s explosive growth, dense housing landscape, affordability concerns and emphasis on lifestyle,  it’s surprising that these homes aren’t wildly more popular. The cat is certainly out of the bag in our “sister” cities like Seattle and San Francisco where floating homes are often just as much a consideration as land homes for primary residences or second homes.

As brokers, we hear quite often from our clients the desire to purchase a second property whether it’s at Mt. Hood, Bend or other destinations which could take hours to get to. One of the most important factors when purchasing a second home is convenient access. Taken from first-hand experience, once the honeymoon period is over after purchasing a vacation property, it’s all too easy to talk yourself out of a long drive on a Friday after work to retreat to your vacation home. However, with dozens of floating home moorages within a half hour of Portland, the much-needed escape is only a short drive away.

On top of relaxation, these properties afford fun and entertainment such as swimming, boating, fishing, wildlife observation, kayaking, and unlimited access to waterways, islands, and much more.

We realize that floating homes may not be for everyone, but we want to bring light to these special properties….especially given the abundance of them within a short drive from Portland. As our town continues to bust at the seams, we predict more buyers will begin to consider them as an option for their primary residence or as an escape from city life.

Currently, during the off-season, there are 36 floating homes for sale on the Portland area waterways ranging in price from $80k – $1.1M (with the median price of $266K).  Suprised? I was too when my family and I started looking and decided to buy one on Sauvie Island 2 ½ years ago. It was the best decision we ever made. Our summers and weekends are filled with memories that will last a lifetime.  Why wait for a vacation when you can live like you’re on one all the time!