Why Embracing the Motto “Don’t Do it Yourself” Can be a Good Thing

Thanks to home improvements shows like This Old House, the HGTV network and YouTube how to videos, an entire generation of homeowners have grown up believing that they might be able to to DIY many home projects. And in fact they may be able to. But even if you have the skill to pull off a home project that may work, is it worth it? Here are some reasons why you may want to embrace DDIY—Don’t Do it Yourself!—if not all the time, at least for some of your projects.

Your Time is Valuable

The number one reason why folks choose to DIY is the cost of labor. And, I get it, hiring licensed professionals can be expensive. But your time is also worth something. If you aren’t loving spending your nights and weekends building that fence that would have taken a contractor a day and a half to knock out, perhaps you should evaluate what your time is worth to you and calculate it at an hourly rate. Also, think about the time you would be enjoying the finished product if a professional had completed it in a timely manner. Particularly, when you take on a large renovation like a kitchen or bath remodel, a crew is often at your house all day during the work hours. Ask yourself, if you really want to perform someone else’s full time job (or several people’s) in your free time before you dive in. Additionally, do you want to live in a construction zone for much longer than you have to? I’ve heard countless stories of DIY-ers who have lived without a kitchen, cooking on a hot plate for two years while they painstakingly learned how to tile a backsplash. If the idea of that sends shivers up your spine, think twice about taking on a major remodel without hiring a pro.

You are Paying for Experience

When you hire a landscape designer or a kitchen contractor or a plumber, you are paying for much more for than their time and labor—you are paying for their experience. Think about it: how good were you the first time you did something challenging at your job? What about the 30th time? or the 300th? Hiring a professional who can anticipate the pitfalls of a project and navigate any potential headaches is worth a lot. When I decided to completely overhaul my backyard with a big landscaping project, I could have probably come up with a lot of the ideas myself and even executed a lot of the planting. I could have hired the concrete sub contractors on my own and cut out the designer. But, I wanted someone to advise me on how to direct drainage water off of the new pergola so that my foundation isn’t impacted by rain, someone who would anticipate where the light was falling on various parts of the yard, someone who would know exactly which plants will thrive in this climate in a particular space in my yard. All of that guidance and know-how is invaluable. But that also means that when you hire a licensed professional to do a home project or repair for you, you need to spend some time vetting them. Ask for professional referrals, speak with past clients, ask how they might anticipate problems and if they see any unknowns right now that could be planned for.

Mistakes are not cheap

While we are on the subject of experience, if you are motivated by the possible savings that a DIY project may offer, consider the cost of mistakes. General contractors and designers are also often serving as project manager on your renovation—they know the order in which to execute each step, when to order certain parts and materials (something that has become even more important during our current reality of material shortages and inflation), and how to pivot when things don’t go well. When I remodeled my kitchen, my general contractor anticipated that after unearthing the original Doug Fir wood floors from the orange marmoleum that lay on top, they may not be salvageable. He had a plan B to keep me within budget, should this be the case. And when, as he suspected, the original floors were ruined by decades old tar, he proposed two options: one that would keep me within budget and one that would accomplish the look I really desired. But, most importantly, he had sub contractors in place to complete that work. And there were countless other steps along the way, that had they been done incorrectly, could have cost me big time: what if the counter top space had been measured incorrectly and then the slab was cut to the wrong measurements? Would I have eventually chosen the intricately patterned and hard to install mosaic tile floor if I had had to learn a highly skilled trade on the fly in order to install it? Experienced contractors and design professionals anticipate the WHAT IFs because they know that there will be many and that they need to have a solution or back up plan in place. Don’t underestimate the financial value in that.

Buyers like to see receipts and permits

I can’t tell you how many times I hear a home inspector say “This looks like a homeowner repair” and they don’t mean it in a good way. Womp womp. If you intend to sell any time in the reasonably near future, think about how beneficial it may be to be able to show buyers, all of the work you have had done professionally by licensed contractors along with the permit records. Buyers are also often impressed by the dollar amount that you may have spent. Save the receipts. Track the permits and city records. Especially for the unsexy things: plumbing, electrical, sewer line, foundation work, roof, siding, windows. A lot of buyers do not appreciate these system upgrades until the inspector comes back saying that they are not in great condition. If you are selling and you can show that the home has a brand new electrical panel that is permitted with the city or all new plumbing lines done by a reputable company, that can show the buyer up front that there is a lot of “hidden” value in your home. It also can communicate that you took great care of the home and did not cut corners. It may also influence a buyer who is choosing between your home and another that weekend: Imagine if you had a receipt for the $45,000 of new windows that you installed a few years ago but the competition still has aluminum single paned. Maybe the buyers would not have even recognized the cost of that potential replacement until seeing your records. Save the receipts. I like to advise clients to do so in a Google Drive folder.

*****

Have I convinced you to join me and become at least a partial DDIYer? If you are swayed a bit but still feel the pangs of guilt created by those Home Depot “Doer” commercials, I’ll leave you with one final point: When you hire local tradespeople, contractors, and designers, you are also creating a job and pumping money directly back into your local economy. Maybe that will help you rest well during all the naps you’ll be taking instead of putting that darn fence up.

Inspired to hire a professional and need a referral? I have a whole list of diverse folks who are good at what they do and am happy to connect you. Please contact me and I’ll put you in touch. Coming soon: a more complete directory of my favorite, vetted contractors, designers, and more!

Portland Housing Market Forecast: What’s ahead for 2022?

After meeting with lenders, title companies, and, just this week, The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, I have a few important takeaways that all buyers, sellers, homeowners, and investors should know about what is likely to come in 2022 in the Portland housing market. So, what should we expect?

Buyer demand will continue as home loan interest rates rise

If you are looking to purchase a home in the Portland Metro area in 2022, expect that you will still be competing against a lot of other qualified buyers in order to get in contract on a home. Now, you may be thinking: “But I heard rates are going up? Won’t that slow down the market?” Yes, rates are already ticking up and are currently averaging about 3.5% this week. However, the housing shortage is what is really leading to the demand. So, while rates are not as favorable as they have been for the last few years, they are right around where they were pre-pandemic (and we thought those were great rates then!). If you can buy your next home before 2023, you may still get a loan with a rate under 4% but if inflation increases and the Federal Reserve does not return to buying mortgage backed securities—something they did during the pandemic for the first time ever—expect interest rates to continue to slowly creep up year after year for a bit of time. Historically speaking, we have all become used to these rockbottom rates but it isn’t the norm and it likely won’t continue indefinitely.

Sale prices will increase but not as fast as in 2021

Do not interpret that to mean sales will be flat or decline. Oregon Economists are predicting an 8-11% annual increase in home prices over the next year and then 3-4% in 2023. However, with the raise in rates, buyers will have less purchasing power which may result in a slowing of price hikes. It’s also really hard—not to mention unsustainable—to see 17% growth year over year. 11% more next year is probably still more than you want to pay but it may make the market a little more tolerable for first time buyers. Sellers: your home will still see a lot of equity gains this year but be reasonable when you list. Listen to a pricing expert and do not overprice your home when you go to market.

Fewer vacation properties will be bought and sold after April

Effective April 1, the interest rates on second homes will be comparable to non-owner occupied (investment) properties, meaning they will be significantly higher. However, down payment requirements will remain the same. We saw a lot of homes being purchased and sold in secondary markets on the coast and at lakes during the height of the pandemic due to the perfect storm of work from home realities, a rise in American wealth, and low interest rates. But as we approach spring, expect that that buying appetite may begin to slow as folks contemplating a beach condo or lake side cottage think twice when considering the increased monthly payment.

Rents will also rise and keep pace or exceed mortgages

When folks ask “are we in a bubble?” there are a lot of factors that I explain which essentially lead tot he answer “Not likely.” But one big one is that rents are outpacing or staying on par with mortgages. At the end of the day a roof over your head is just that, which means potential homebuyers who can qualify for a loan are willing to pay in a mortgage what they will pay in rental income. After all, with few exceptions, owning a home is generally more advantageous than renting.

Condos and townhomes will become more of a seller’s market than in recent years

Many well qualified buyers who are tired of being outbid on a single family home, may begin to consider the townhome or condo market. After all, there is 2.5 months inventory of condos as opposed to less than half of a month in single family homes. And, sellers take note: condo inventory has shrunk in recent months as well which is making it a much better time to sell if you are thinking of moving on. Additionally, buying a single family under $500,000 in many Portland neighborhoods is becoming nearly impossible but is very approachable when considering attached or condo style homes, making them a solid investment and home for someone who values location and condition over lot, size, and independent walls.

Big takeaways

It’s not getting cheaper for buyers here in Portland and our housing stock is limited. We need to build more—likely increasing density and building upward—if we want to decrease the housing shortage. Rock bottom interest rates are probably a thing of the recent past but they are not so high yet that it should prevent buyers from purchasing a home. Sellers: it is still a great time to sell to unlock all the equity in your home by selling but be sure to price aggressively rather than overshoot the market—a hot market does not mean buyers will pay anything if they don’t perceive that your home deserves it. Overall, 2022 looks to be another busy year in real estate!

If you have questions about what is to come, please reach out; I am always happy to help!

 

Market Optimism

Do you fancy yourself an electrician? Perhaps a plumber? Certainly a painter? If you are anything like me, you may think that the easiest, quickest and most inexpensive solution to your home improvement needs is you, your trusty hammer and a reliable YouTube tutorial. Over the past year the DIY industry has been in full swing as more homeowners have been tackling their own house projects. From the bathroom to the garage and everywhere in between, the yearning to correct that wonky cabinet door, replace a loose shower tile or build a backyard fence is evident and the solution clearly in your hands. Yet, homeowners have reported spending an average of $184.13 to fix their failed DIY house projects, according to a new survey from Cinch Home Services, a home warranty company.

These are the most common DIY fails, according to the survey:

 

If you are all right in handing over the hammer to a professional, from roofers and landscapers, to chimney and foundation specialists, I’ve amassed an extensive list of reputable (local) vendors for your every home need. Just say the word and I will happily share a contact, or several. It’s always a good practice to consult more than one vendor for ideas and pricing and never hurts to get a second opinion, aside from that of your loyal pet or significant other.

Market Update: May 2021

The strong sellers market continues to loom large. Interest rates remain at historic lows, multiple offers are the norm on well positioned homes and the average sales price ($557,900 in Portland Metro) is still on the rise. For those considering a home sale, it behooves you to take advantage of exceedingly high buyer demand and before you have any added competition in your neighborhood, with all the competition out there it is best to remain positive. Be patient and try to keep emotional decisions to a minimum – we want you to enjoy your home and your investment for years to come.

There is still a ways to go before we see an abundance of homes on the market but there are some promising signs as of late. As the economy continues to improve (along with those flush with newfound equity and aiming for new horizons), and people get vaccinated and feel more comfortable getting out, more inventory is certain to appear.

Fannie Mae reports consumer positivity regarding home-selling conditions matching an all-time high. And a realtor.com survey concluded that one-in-ten homeowners plan on selling this year, with 63% of those looking to list in the next six months.

Please feel free to reach out if you’d like a custom home analysis or have any questions.

Local Artist Spotlight: Me!

For the past twenty years, I’ve been designing program logos and communication collateral for corporate events. These were created largely for business meetings and incentive campaigns that took savvy travelers to destinations around the globe. Sadly, these elaborate events came to a screeching halt at the onset of the pandemic. As a result, hundreds of thousands of livelihoods have been upturned, including my own; it will be some time before they return in full.

In the spirit of Beeple, the digital artist who recently created and sold the most expensive piece of NFT (non-fungible token) art, I’ve compiled dozens of my own creations, favorite logos from over the years. From Bora Bora to Prague, Japan to South Africa, my aim was to capture the essence of these dreamy locations within a single brand. And now for your armchair-travel-viewing pleasure. If you’ve been looking to jump into the crypto-currency arena and are in the market for an NFT, perhaps I can put my screen-savvy sons to task in getting this onto the EPH blockchain.

I understand most of you are relatively settled in your current homes. But if your friends, family members, neighbors and work colleagues have expressed any interest in seeking greener pastures, your referrals would mean the world to me.

Seasonal Real Estate

Growing up in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Tulsa, Oklahoma, I developed an affinity for the seasons. Delightfully, here in Portland, we get a wonderful taste of all four seasons, from the *generous* rainy season to some gorgeous spring days, a handful of summer scorchers and even some blustery snow days. The variety is as welcomed as it is vital, to my mental state anyway. Even the recent ice storm was something to behold. While entertaining in its drama, it was certainly disconcerting for many of us. And yet another reminder of how dear it is …our place called home.

As with the weather, the real estate market typically follows a seasonal pattern. With COVID dramatically altering that pattern in the spring of 2020, and confidence now growing with the rollout of vaccines, we suspect that inventory will start to increase as people feel more confident to sell. Sales in 2021 may not follow traditional seasonal patterns and hopefully, buyer demand and consumer confidence will remain aloft.

Even during the financial crisis of 2008 there was still demand for properties that had the right look, the right price, and were in the right location. In 2021, sellers should follow similar behavior, fixing up their property and pricing appropriately to attract the widest range of buyers. Buyers should be prepared to move quickly, possibly use pre-emptive offers (which are becoming more common), and keep an open mind when looking for their home: all purchases require some compromise (yes, even for multi-million dollar properties), so you might need a little more creativity and patience to take a diamond in the rough and make it yours.

Reach out if you want to know how to best prepare for 2021.

Market Update: January 2021

What a year already. Median home prices in the Portland Metro area reached a new high: $460,000, an eye-opening 13.3% increase over the previous year. Homes sold an average of 11.2% over list price in January, in an average of 44 days on market.

There are a large number of sellers getting ready to list sooner than the typical spring selling market, so buyers should be ready to move quickly, and sellers should be ready for a higher level of competition.

Mortgage Update

Interest rates remain at near record lows, with purchase rates in the mid to upper 2’s and refinance rates only marginally higher.  We are seeing day to day volatility the past few weeks resulting in a slight upward trend in rates.  Among economists there is much disagreement, with President Biden’s proposed $1.9 Trillion Relief Plan of greatest concern. The concern is that this plan may overheat the economy, leading to a stock market bubble and increased inflation, this in turn would cause mortgage interest rates to rise.  The general consensus for 2021 is that we will see more rates in the 3’s and less in the 2’s, which is still low enough to continue to support the strong demand for housing.

For now, rates are at record lows and it’s still a great time to refinance or get pre-approved for a mortgage. If you have any questions, please contact Martin Matsumura at Academy Mortgage via martin.matsumura@academymortgage.com or 503.536.9385.

 

How We are Handling the Second Wave of COVID-19

November 16, 2020 Update

As we all know, COVID-19 is on the rise in Oregon and Governor Brown has instituted a statewide freeze.  At Inhabit, we are committed to keeping the health and safety of our clients and agents at the forefront of everything we do.  Strict office policies are in place to ensure a safe work environment.  We also updated all of our client engagement protocols so the health and safety of our clients come first.  Last March, we launched our Couch Concierge service that brings the entire home buying and selling process to our clients.  Everything from virtual open houses, live video showings with our agents, to virtual contracts and closings.

Here is a recap of how we continue to tailor and improve our services during COVID-19:

Our sellers shouldn’t worry about canceled open houses.  We will create a digital marketing campaign that brings your house to potential buyers all without risking anyone’s health or safety.  Our agents will tailor a showing plan that you feel the most comfortable with.

We have a lot of active buyers right now.  To short-list property options, we offer live video tours.  Your agent will walk you through the property showing you every nook and cranny with honest feedback on quality or construction issues they see– all from the safety of your home.   

In-person tours of your “must-see” homes are still an option in most cases when necessary, but with precautions we take very seriously.  Our agents are following the recommended 6 ft of social distancing, mask-wearing, and strict hand-washing and disinfecting policies.  We will not show homes to anyone that has cold or flu symptoms or has had any exposure to COVID-19 within 2 weeks of the showing.  As your agent, we promise you the same courtesy and will pair you with another Inhabit team member to safely show you the home if we are under the weather or are concerned about personal exposure.  Your agent will provide our COVID-19 Safe Showing Policies for your review prior to visiting any property in-person so you can make the best decision for your health and safety.

As a small business, we put the care of our clients and agents first.  We are all in this together. We promise to use integrity and knowledge as our guiding force.

Here’s to peace, health, and prosperity for all of us in the coming months.

Eric 

Listing Your Home From Afar: The Beauty of the Internet and a Hard Working Agent!

Have you pondered selling your investment property but are not sure how to make it happen since you live outside of Portland, and do not plan to travel during the pandemic? My client was in this exact situation. Having recently finished school, and returning to her home out of state during the “stay home” order, she thought that it might be time to sell her Portland condo of 5 years. 

Living Room (Before)

Over our initial phone call, we discussed the processes of Facetime, Docusign, and the importance of very regular phone calls to make sure we were on the same page and schedule. I agreed that I would make myself available to assist in organizing the cleaning and repairs necessary for tidying up and listing, since it would not be possible for her to be here for the majority of the transaction. My client called in the house and carpet cleaners, and I met them to give them access and check them out. We also decided that the interior would look much better with a fresh coat of paint. This turned out to be the biggest expense and the piece of the equation that took the most time, so if you are planning to sell, please factor this into your schedule and budget if necessary. The results were tangible and attractive!

Bedroom (Before)

You may be wondering about staging also. The entry price for a simple staging of a smaller space starts at around $1500. Since my client was not working, and was gearing up to pay back student loans starting in September, I wanted to help ease the burden of any extra expense. This way, if any repairs were to arise during inspection, she would still have room to breathe. It just so happened that a friend had some extra furniture right next door, and some lovely folks volunteered their time to help stage one bedroom and a living room. This will not be an option for most people. However, we often find that good things happen once we make a decision and have faith that we will make it to the finish line.

Bedroom (After)

Due to our excellent two-way communication, and my organization of the parties involved, the condo was actually cleaned, painted, staged, and photographed in a week. Yes, there were some very long, eventful days. The end result was a home that received 4 offers in less than a week, 3 above listing price! The final logistics included my client and her co-seller needing separate appointments to sign the closing paperwork, as my client was busy taking her boards, and not in her hometown. No worries here. A few days of pre-planning were necessary. The title company worked with my folks to arrange separate signing appointments, when and where convenient for them at the time. 

If you have special circumstances that surround a purchase or sale, we can brainstorm together. With a little bit of technology and strategy, we can work together to free you from something you no longer need, or get you into your dream home.

Need to Sell During a Pandemic? Learn How We Did it With This Home.

Many people wonder if it is a good time to sell during this pandemic. Is it safe? Are houses still selling? How does it work?

The latest statistics show that although there are fewer homes listed for sale, Portland’s real estate market is still robust. The great news is, home inventory and interest rates are still quite low, and depending on motivation, people either desire or need to change their living situations.

So how is it different now? As real estate brokers we are seeing an increased need for comprehensive marketing strategies that include agent only video tour, 3-D video, and floor plans. We are all using a no touch policy, safe practices such as wearing masks and gloves, wiping down surfaces and physical distancing.

Here is a recap of my currently pending listing:

  • When it came time for these sellers to move, I walked through the home and made notes regarding what to do to prepare for sale. This was done while the seller was working outside in his oversized yard. 
  • I reached out to my team of contractors and coordinated, interior paint throughout, carpet to be installed, power washing, gutters to be cleaned, professional yard maintenance and a deep cleaning. Everyone did their jobs on different days. Then I wiped down high touch areas after interior work was done.
  • When the home was ready, I lightly staged the home, and last but not lease my cleaning team made the home safe for potential buyers to take a look.
  • The photographer used protective gear while taking photos and video.
  • Instead of an open house, I offered 3-D walk through tour (Matterport Tour) and the home’s very own website for easy online viewing.
  • When buyers wanted to see the home in person, appointments were booked with ample time between to allow everyone space.
  • When the right offer came along, all paperwork was filed electronically. This is a service we have been using for years and are quite familiar with.

All this work has been done during the “shelter in place” order! Real estate is considered essential, and people need to sell or purchase for many different reasons during Covid-19.

Are you looking to invest in a home? Whether you are a first- time home buyer or adding to your real estate portfolio, I will provide exceptional professionalism, well-informed service and guidance through your sale or purchase. 

COVID-19 Update from Inhabit’s Owner

March 31, 2020

The coronavirus is impacting everyone and every business in some way and the real estate industry is no exception.  In many ways we are lucky because our shift to doing things virtually isn’t as big a leap as some businesses are facing.  As a matter of fact, for many years we’ve been able to handle most of the home buying and selling transactions electronically.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, Inhabit is committed to keeping the health and safety of our clients and agents at the forefront of everything we do.  Even before Governor Brown initiated Oregon’s shelter-in-place order, Inhabit launched our Couch Concierge service that brings the entire home buying and selling process to our clients.  Everything from virtual open houses, live video showings with our agents, to virtual contracts and closings.

Our listing clients shouldn’t worry about canceled open houses.  We will create a digital marketing campaign that brings your house to potential buyers all without risking anyone’s health or safety.  Our agents will tailor a showing plan that you feel the most comfortable with.

For our buyers, we are hosting live video tours.  Our agents will walk you through the property showing you every nook and cranny with honest feedback on quality or construction issues they see.  

In-person tours are still an option in many cases when necessary, but with precautions we take very seriously.  We recommend live video tours for anyone that has cold or flu symptoms or concerned about a possible COVID-19 exposure.  This goes for clients, as well as, agents.  Our agents are following the recommended 6 ft of social distancing and strict hand-washing and disinfecting policies.  Our agents provide our COVID-19 Safe Showing policies to clients for review prior to visiting any property in-person so you can make the best decision for your health and safety.

We are a small business that puts the care of our clients and agents first.  I started this company six years ago because I knew there was a better, more innovative way to serve clients.  This is an industry that one-size definitely does not fit all.  Inhabit has always been forward-looking and our size allows us to be nimble in creating services that address changing needs and goals.  We are here to give you the best real estate advice possible, now and into the future.

Yours in health and prosperity!

Eric

2020 PDX Real Estate Outlook from Inhabit’s Owner Eric Hagstette

Settle in as Eric Pulls Back the Curtain on 2020 Portland Real Estate

And just like that, it’s February 2020. If someone asked you when you were a kid what you thought 2020 would look like, did you picture this? I visualized space travel, robots, flying cars, lasers and futuristic stuff…not this everyday adulty life gig.

So where the heck did January go? To be honest, the reason my annual market outlook is so delayed is because this January was super busy for the Portland market. Now that I think about it, we were even selling houses right through the holidays as well. Portland may be experiencing growing pains, but the real estate market is alive and flourishing.

Last Year’s Prediction: Nailed it! 

A year ago, I was calling for our buyers and investor clients to get into the market. It was a year of opportunity for our buyer clients after many years of seller-favored, tight inventory conditions. For the first time in a long while, buyers enjoyed shopping the market without urgency & pressure, having more than one house to choose from, price drops, seller incentives, and contingent offers. How sweet it was! Instead of calling it a buyer’s market or a seller’s market, we called it a “broker’s market” as we could make both sides happy by creating win/win transactions for our clients. We could place our buyers in homes without real estate “whiplash” and our sellers were walking away from the closing table with a smile on their face excited to move on in the market. It was a unique time. Everyone was pretty happy. I hope that you or someone you know took advantage of it. 

2020 Current Conditions

The Portland market has always been nimble and this year is no exception. It changed quickly! Midway through  Q4 of 2019, Portland inventory started to dwindle down. Furthermore, most sellers don’t list during the winter and holiday months, so market inventory continued to fall. Despite the BRUTAL Portland weather this winter, the buyers came out of the holidays with a big appetite and gobbled up what was left on the market. The close in Portland neighborhoods currently sit at 1.3 months of housing inventory (in the 450k-700k range).  So the 2020 cycle begins with a fiery combination of low housing inventory, great interest rates, a seemingly healthy economy (with many new jobs coming to Portland) and a rapid erosion of affordability (this pushes buyers further from town to seek more affordable options). The market is behaving accordingly in response to high demand. Demand is being driven to Portland by a combination of reasons: jobs/economy, lifestyle, climate & natural resources, and an affordable option for many West Coast transplants. 

2020 Outlook

Welp….it’s an election year which has a tendency to slow the market. Buyers and sellers that aren’t being pushed into the market tend to sit tight through election times out of fear of the unknown. However, the upcoming election doesn’t seem to be having an impact on the market…yet.  Portland shows resilience when other markets slow. When things have slowed for us in the past, we bounce back quickly (including the recession). Thanks to our urban growth boundary and natural geographic barriers, we don’t have sprawl which has been a saving grace for our unique market. Portland offers jobs plus lifestyle and attracts a wide demographic spectrum of folks looking to call Portland home.  Pair this with a mild climate and abundant natural resources and you have a winner. Therefore, I predict 2020 will continue its low-inventory trend which favor sellers, drives prices and frustrates buyers. We have to be careful with the “drives prices” part though.  Affordability is a major concern. The chasm between the cost of Portland real estate and our median household income seems to be growing. Jobs are coming but wages haven’t caught up and the cost of living keeps climbing. This pushes buyers to outlier markets (Vancouver, Milwaukie, Beaverton, Oregon City, etc). For the urbanites that don’t want to pay for the high priced houses but want to stay in town, they’ll drive demand in the ‘attached’ market (townhouses/condos) which had a slow 2019. This will stabilize pricing in the attached market. Properly priced, well-presented, detached houses from the $200k to $1m range will continue to fly off the shelf. The $1m-$1.5m market is a ‘move up’ market for many wanting to upgrade from their existing home .  This market presents opportunities for buyers to make a great purchase; however, tapping their “trapped equity” from their existing home in order to make this purchase can present challenges (certainly not insurmountable but can be daunting to the client). In surprising fashion, Portland’s upper end market ($1.5m +) is moving at a pace you may find interesting (fast). Of course, these properties need to deliver the full package to fetch the price, but this market segment seems very confident in Portland as a place to make these big purchases. I find these big numbers surprising as I clearly remember how freaked out I was when I bought my first house in Mt. Tabor for $185k. However, like many other places, we are bursting at the seams. The numbers for incoming population growth are staggering which in real estate economics translates to demand. Portland is in high demand which has all but diminished the lower end of the market and made it feel normal to buy and sell very expensive real estate. 

Natural disaster or other non-natural market forces aside, Portland real estate has a very promising future and has always been well-insulated. With all this said, if our local government doesn’t figure out a way to better manage our addiction/mental health/homelessness crisis, Portland may lose its reputation as the “darling” of the Pacific Northwest and no matter how great this city is, many people will choose different markets to call home. Rainy weather is tolerable but corruption and greed are inexcusable especially with what it costs to live here. 

2020 Buzz Words & New Concepts 

iBuyer: Also known as institutional buyers or residential REIT (real estate investment trust): Have you heard the OpenDoor commercials on the radio? iBuyer or ‘instant offer’ is easily the biggest new disruptor in real estate and Inhabit is all over it. iBuyers have come into the market backed by billions of venture capital funds and are buying up real estate that fits in their “buy box”. Homeowners that qualify for an instant offer (and choose to take it), are typically taking a discounted price for the convenience and avoiding the traditional selling route.  As a student of change, I became very intrigued with iBuyer and became certified as an iRep Professional. Our philosophy with iBuyer is “pro-consumer choice”…what works best for our clients. iBuyers are real in today’s market and we want to share all of the options with our clients so they get the most out of their real estate assets. It works for some clients and we can show you how. 

Trapped equity: Many homeowners who have owned their real estate for 5 + years are sitting on a decent amount of equity that is trapped in their real estate. In a tight market, trapped equity can add challenges to a buyer that wants to move up or move down within the market. We’ve found that many people will simply opt out of moving around in the market simply because of the perceived risks and challenges with using the equity in your home to help achieve the daunting buy/sell or sell/buy. There are more layers, but we manage these all the time. In the end, our clients say that it’s worth the effort. 

Concierge real estate services: It is more important than ever for real estate professionals to be a trusted advisor not only throughout the sale, but on an ongoing basis after the sale. Realtors are on the front line of clients’ needs as a sale closes. Concierge real estate service continues after closing where Realtors continue to provide useful resources, information and advice on an ongoing basis. In today’s demanding and competitive market, we are reinforcing our value by continuing to support our clients on all things real estate. 

Final Words

Even though we’re not living in the Jetson-like society that I envisioned as a kid, 2020 is chock full of new and exciting stuff: self-parking, electric cars, virtual reality, and an impressive (and concerning) amount of technology & connectivity. At the push of a button, you can have almost anything you want delivered to your doorstep within hours.  Heck, you can push a button and order up a random Realtor to open up a house for you (but how dare you do that!). Real estate is no exception to the expectation of today’s “now society”. As professionals, our response time must be faster, our knowledge deeper and our ability to navigate this market must be sharp and focused. One thing that technology can’t change, is the human factor that is necessary to create happy buyers and happy sellers in real estate transactions. This is our wheelhouse. We embrace today’s disruptions & technology and use them as tools to enhance our clients’ position and experience; however, we feel more strongly than ever that real estate is a people business and we are here to stay. 

Thank you for your continued support and trust. Here’s to a prosperous 2020!

Eric

Boom or Doom?

I’m sending a quick update on the Portland housing market to dispel a couple of myths. See below for what this could mean for you.

First, two of the most frequent questions people ask me are; can this crazy housing market last, and what about the impending bust? Well, in the most recent market report gathered by RMLS, the data doesn’t support either one of those assumptions. First, the “boom.” The median sales price in Portland rose 2.2% over the past year. That’s a pretty steady, sustainable, un-boomish rate. Next, the “doom.” The market may crash at any moment, right? Nope. The demand in Portland remains steady with 2.3 months of inventory on the market. In addition, the increase in Portland population paired with an unmatched rate of new building permits (apartments aside) means that demand is projected to remain high.

So what does this mean? It’s a BALANCED market. This is great news! Buyers now have time to actually think about a home before writing an offer, and we’re not seeing nearly as many competitive offer situations. Sellers are still getting offers, but may have to negotiate more on pricing or repairs (little secret: this is normal!). And since most sellers are going to turn around and purchase a new home, this is great for sellers as well. It keeps them from being in a situation where everyone wants their home, but there isn’t anything to purchase. So if you or someone you know is ready to move up to their next house or downsize to something different, now is a great time to do it.

The Numbers

Median 12 month increase in sale price is 2.2%

Pending sales are down 1.1% compared to 2018

Homes average 48 days on the market before an accepted offer

If you’re interested, you can find the full report here.