Why 2019 Could be a Great Year to Sell Your Home

With the Feds increasing interest rates already 3 times the last 12 months (and a possible 4th predicted); it’s understandable that people could be hesitant to make any real estate moves. Mortgage rates tend to mirror interest rates, but with some caveats. Mortgage rates are based on the current market, your financial status and the property you are trying to purchase. Mortgage rates hit a 7-year high in November, 2018 at just under 5% as reported by Freddy Mac, but as of February the rates have lowered to the mid to low 4% range. These rates are still incredible if you consider the historic high of 18% in 1981.


Housing markets and volatility will vary depending on where you live. Thankfully, Portland is still a growing and sought after destination which helps keep our market volatility more steady. So why would selling in 2019 be better than 2020 or 2021? Our housing market has a cycle of its own that is influenced by the economy. Typically the cycle is somewhere between 10-16 years. Some experts are predicting the next recession happening in 2020 or 2021. That prediction would be in line with our typical cycle length since the last housing “crash” was in 2008.


If you are unsure what to do, here are some compelling things to think about…

Reasons to Sell in 2019:

  1. Do you have plans to make a move in the next 3 years?
  2. Do you have considerable equity in your home? The higher your down payment on a new home, the better your interest rate.
  3. Interest rates are predicted to rise again in the next year
  4. New home buyers are entering the market. Based on a recent Trulia survey, millennials are the largest buying group with 1 out of 5 reporting they will buy a home in the next 12 months.
  5. If you are getting close to retirement and the equity in your home is a big part of your financial picture, then waiting out the next economic cycle might not be the best plan.

Reasons not to Sell in 2019:

  1. You haven’t owned your current home for long enough to build up enough equity. If you’ve owned for less than 2 years, then paying capital gains on your profit is a deterrent as well.
  2. You are happy with your home and believe it can meet your needs for the next 5 years or more, then staying put and waiting until the next cycle is probably in your best interest.


I created Inhabit to be a trusted resource for guiding people on how to get the most out of their largest and most important asset. Our overarching goal is to be a trusted advisor and build relationships that withstand all the market ups and downs.

If you want help assessing what you should do to get the most out of your real estate investment, I’m just a phone call away.


What to Expect When You’re Inspecting

Your Guide to the Home Inspection Process


There’s often a feeling of uncertainty when deciding if you want to “pull the trigger” and make an offer on a home. So many unknowns!

“What’s the deal with the foundation?” “Is that crack in the ceiling a bad sign?”  “Is the electrical in this room up to code?”

A good Realtor can help with many of these questions, but you won’t know everything about the house until you have it professionally inspected.  This step only happens once you make an offer and it’s accepted by the seller.

A certified home inspector really takes a close look at the house and, for many home purchasers; it’s often the most stressful time in the home buying process. – But it doesn’t have to be!

If you have clear expectations, you can get through it easily and be on your way to moving day.


The first thing you need to know about your home inspection:

You’ll feel a myriad of emotions.

First there’s excitement. The inspection could be the longest time you’ve been in the house, after the showings.
Then there’s anxiety. What if the inspector finds something wrong? So wrong you can’t buy the house?
Finally, there’s impatience. Seriously, is this whole home-buying process over yet?

Not yet. But you’re close!

You will typically have up to ten business days to complete inspections and present the seller with any requested repairs. In the Portland area, it’s common to have a general home inspection, as well as, a sewer scope, radon test, and underground oil tank search.


Let’s review all 4 inspection types:

General Home Inspection

  • Typically takes 2-3 hours depending on home size. The cost varies, but plan to budget between $400-$500 for it. (Yes, you have to pay for ALL inspections yourself…congrats; it’s your first homeowner expense!)
  • Once finished, the inspector will share initial results with you, highlighting any areas of concern. There will be a formal report later that you and your Realtor can review in more detail to determine the next steps.
  • Keep in mind that the report will highlight only the negatives of the home. At first glance, it can feel like there’s so much wrong (and maybe there is!), but it’s important to remember there’s plenty right with it, it’s just not in the report.
  • When sifting through the report details, don’t sweat the small stuff and focus on “The Big 3”:
    • Structural (siding, foundation, roof, chimney, etc.) 
    • Safety/Health (loose/missing railings or stairs, bad wiring, pests)
    • Systems (furnace, water heater, plumbing)
  • Remember, items large and small that are not completely perfect will be in the report.  It will cover everything from serious stuff to a loose handle on a drawer. While everyone wants to move in with as little to fix as possible, stay focused on the “big ticket” items such as a new roof, sewer line, or foundation work.  Save the inexpensive stuff for later.
  • Your Inspector Won’t Check Everything – Generally, inspectors only examine houses for problems that can be seen with the naked eye. They won’t be tearing down walls or using magical X-ray vision to find hidden faults. Also, your general inspection does not include:
    • fireplaces
    • garages, shops or out-buildings
    • pools

Sewer Scope

This inspection takes an hour or less in most cases and costs about $150. This involves a small camera attached to a pipe that snakes its way into the sewer line. The inspector is looking to see if there is a clean line from your house to the street and if there is any damage along the way. The most common issue that can be found here is root intrusion (like it sounds; tree roots have started growing into the line), and a party sewer (not as fun as it sounds; your line meets with the neighbors’ line before it goes to the street). If either of these is found, your Realtor will likely recommend asking the seller to repair them.

Sewer issues are more common in older homes, but you never know! 


Radon Testing

Testing radon may be unfamiliar to some, but it’s serious stuff! In a nutshell, radon is an odorless, naturally occurring radioactive gas found in granite rich soil and is common here in our lovely Portland rain forest. Radon is in the air all around us. There’s nothing to fear if it’s not in an enclosed space, but exposure to elevated levels in a confined area has been shown to cause lung cancer over time. You can learn more here

Testing costs about $100 and involves simply placing a small monitoring device in the lowest livable area of the home.  Results are measured after 3 days. The EPA suggests a reading over 4pCi/L should be corrected. Typically the seller will fix the issue by installing a ventilation fan (often in the basement) that vents out along the side of the home keeping levels low and steady.

Underground Oil Tank Search

This is not always necessary, but if you or your Realtor sees that there may have been oil heat in the past and you don’t find a record of decommissioning, you should get it done! Most old homes around Portland were heated with oil back in the day (many still are), and while oil heat can be just fine, an old neglected tank is not! Old tanks can corrode over time, leaking oil and sludge into the soil that can seriously mess up your gardening plans. 

The search costs about $100. If a tank is found, a Soil Test is recommended to determine if there has been any contamination. As with radon, the seller generally expects to pay for decommissioning. 

Your Next Steps

At this point, if you have concerns over any of the inspection results, you have 3 options:

  1. Ask the seller to repair specific items at their expense
    • You don’t want to send them a laundry list of a million things, but anything from “The Big 3” should be considered.
  2. Request a credit to pay for those repairs
    • I’m a big fan of requesting credits. That way you can determine for yourself who will do the work, plus those credits will go towards paying off your closing costs.
  3. Walk away and find another house
    • Every situation is unique and while most homes are in good enough shape so that a credit or a few fixes make both the seller and buyer happy, sometimes it’s best to cut your losses and move on.

That’s It!

There’s more to it, but that’s the basics. If you or someone you know is considering buying a home, let’s chat about the specifics and make a plan together.

Keeping Portland Weird

If you’ve spent any time driving in Portland, you’ve seen it; that ubiquitous bumper sticker saying Keep Portland Weird.

It’s a slogan originally promoted by the owner of Music Millennium to promote the support of small business, but was quickly embraced by the city’s residents as a motto to live by.  What is it that makes Portland so unique and… well, weird? Many think it’s the creativity of those who live here, and you can find it expressed in our hobbies and events happening all year long.  

Want to experience Portland’s weird vibe? Here are 10 of the strangest events we could find around town. Everyone knows about the Rose Festival, beer fests, and Voodoo Doughnut, but add these to your 2019 calendar and you’ll know what makes our town so Portlandesque.


10 Minute Play Festival – Coming up quickly, March 7th through 10th, Clinton Street Theater hosts a plethora of plays at the 10-minute play festival. As you might guess by the name, the 10MPF stages a series of short plays each night. It’s a great way for local playwrights to produce shows and audiences to enjoy works from local artists. More info here.

B-Movie Bingo – The Hollywood Theater is a beautifully restored movie venue which hosts both culturally significant and culturally insignificant events throughout the year. It’s worth a visit to their website to check out their calendar. Or, you could plan regular visits on the first Tuesday evening of every month to play B-Movie Bingo, where bad movie clichés can earn you prizes and talk during the show is expected. The March 2019 show is a screening of 1994’s Guardian Angel, which easily slots this in the culturally insignificant (but fun!) category. More info here.

Rose City Rollers (RCR) – If you’ve never watched roller derby, you’re missing one of the most entertaining sports around. Strong, competitive women battle to victory – sometimes backward – on skates. The RCR All-Stars are good, too, having brought home the World Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) Championship in 2018. They skate at Oaks Park, and the season runs from March through June. More info here.

Doll heads at Crafty Wonderland by Tim Brock

Crafty Wonderland – This is the event that puts Portland-makers on display. You’ll find specialty food, clothing, handcrafted jewelry, and even upcycled doll heads. Their main event is in December, but the smaller spring market is happening May 4th at the Convention Center. Stock up on unusual birthday gifts here. More info here

Filmed by Bike – We don’t mean to put too much focus on Hollywood Theater, but I did say they host some great events. One not to miss is the 17th annual Filmed by Bike festival. The event draws filmmakers from far and wide, and is an opportunity to see some unique cinematography that gives a new meaning to “rolling.” Festivities run May 17-19. More info here

Muppet Movie Singalong Bike Ride – The Muppet Movie, arguably the best kids’ movie of all time, was released 40 years ago on June 22nd. What did those adorable characters love nearly as much as chasing their Hollywood dreams? Singing and riding bikes. You can make like Kermit and ride your Schwinn starting at Irving park while the songs from the movie play along. More info here

Weird Homes Tour – This one is right up our alley. We’re all about homes, and Portland is all about weird, so why not join the two? On June 29th, 8-10 unusual Portland homes will be on tour to ticket holders, and home addresses will be released just before the self-guided event. More info here

Portlandia Mermaid Parade – Who doesn’t like mermaids? I mean, as long as they aren’t the traditional kind that lures sailors to their deaths. These are the ones that sparkle and shine on parade along the Portland Waterfront. Dress up and join the fun or be a spectator and watch the red hair flow on Saturday, July 27th. More info here

Adult Soap Box Derby – If your boy scout pinewood derby car came to life, you’d race it here. Grown adults build gravity-powered racers and send them down the swooping turns on Mt. Tabor. Builders either go for speed or creativity, but rarely both. The races, plus the lovely setting with views of downtown and food carts providing refreshments, make this a favorite summer tradition. August 17th at Mt. Tabor Park. More info here

Vaux Swifts at Chapman School – This phenomenon is not organized by humans, but is still a marvel of organization and coordination. Every September, a colony of Vaux Swifts has nested in the chimney of Chapman school in NW Portland. About an hour before sunset every evening, the birds gather, swoop and swirl in captivating patterns before diving into the chimney for the night. Bring a picnic dinner and sit on the school grounds for the display.

Of course, these are just a few of the hundreds of events around town. If you’re thinking of moving here and want to learn more, contact me and I’ll be happy to help you find the events, neighborhood and house that makes you feel at home in wonderful Portland.