Watch the video here or read the transcription below (with some edits for clarity)
What’s up everybody and thanks for joining me for this week’s market minute. Now, somehow we found ourselves in 2023 and how we got here I have no idea, but the market is just cruising right along. I’m here to bring clarification to the number one question we’ve been getting from our buyers, our sellers, and those sitting on the sidelines — what in the world is going on in the market out there? We’re getting tons of varying market information ranging from multiple offers, bidding wars, hot market activity, and conversely, price reductions and no market activity. So I can totally imagine how this conflicting information would be confusing to the layperson who’s trying to make sense of the market.
So here’s my rundown. The market is changing on a week-to-week basis. It’s very important to pay close attention and rely on a professional to navigate these waters for you. The feds are manipulating interest rates, not mortgage interest rates, but the federal interest rates have a lot of the people watching the news concerned about what’s going on out there. Now, while mortgage interest rates are volatile, we’re still creating wins every week for our buyers and sellers. How? you ask. Well number one, our buyers are showing fortitude and sometimes patience as they navigate the market and trust us to use buying tools such as rate buy downs, closing cost credits, concessions, and other negotiations that we haven’t seen others using. And for our sellers, it gets even easier because we still have a low inventory market and so we’re focusing on the basics of listing real estate based on price, condition, and access. If you give us those three or as many of those three as you can, we’re going to create great results for you in the market.
So my lesson to you today is that sidelining can actually cost you money. How? Well, if we all waited for a “hot market” we would all be stymied and frustrated with tight market conditions once again. So if you’re taking yourself off the sidelines in an opportunistic market like today, you may be narrowing your chances of homeownership or making the move that you want in a market that can afford you to move up or down. Now I realize that many of you have low-interest rates locked in. Actually, 65% of homeowners in America are locked in under 3% so we realize the bottleneck that this creates. However, once we move through that and once the market starts easing up we’re all going to be able to move around a little bit better and take advantage of these conditions. So please don’t wait until the market is good because when it’s good for someone it’s usually not good for this other person. Your unique real estate goals and needs are specific to you, not the market. In general, I promise we have a solution just for you. It’s never too early just to call and talk shop. Thanks for reading or listening and I’ll see you on the next one.
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!
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.
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!
And just like that, we’re mid-July, already half a year gone by. Not sure if it’s my old age, a pandemic haze or simply busy days that has swept the time away, but I’m left reeling from the fact that life keeps moving by. In stepping aside and observing the constant flow, I’m reminded how much we can learn, build and grow each day and how much that can accumulate over time. Planting seeds, nourishing roots and tending to stems along the way can result in untold bounties.
I hope this finds you healthy, hopeful and thriving!
Impressions of Home: Oklahoma to California
When I was a junior in high school (circa 1987), my parents decided it was an opportune time for a move. The oil-dependent economy in Tulsa was suffering and the opportunity to get closer to family in southern California came-a-callin’. So, just like the Joad family in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, we pulled up our bootstraps (err leg-warmers), loaded up the mini-van with plants and animals, and embarked upon an uncertain yet wildly adventurous drive westward.
After kicks and laughs along Route 66, we settled in Rancho Peñasquitos, a suburban community in northeast San Diego. Like any wise and discerning parent, my mom sought out the best school district in the area. My father, who had moved out ahead of us, found a rental home to better acquaint us with the new city. Turns out that no matter how good a school is, an unrealistic work commute or a job change will often outshine any academic standards, and we ended up moving yet again just seven months later. Landing this time in the bustling beach town of Encinitas in North County San Diego, I was able to finish out high school in surfing bliss.
While family moves can be incredibly daunting and disruptive, especially for young children, I like to think our parents were resolute in their decision to build a better life for me and my siblings. As challenging as it was to leave our childhood home (of ten years) and dear friends behind, the opportunity to experience new places and nurture new friendships has helped instill an adaptability and openness that I carry with me to this day. If anything, I look upon our family moves as a widening of our greater circle(s). We still keep in touch with many of those we’ve met along the way and have impressionable memories of every dwelling. All of which helps to inform the people we have become.
Woulda, shoulda, coulda. Had my parents purchased either of these first two homes back in the late 1980’s, they would have made a killing. Estimated cost to purchase in 1990: $125-150,000.00
If you’re looking to avoid a case of the woulda, shoulda, coulda’s and start investing in your future now, I’m ready and willing to walk the walk with you.
Market Update: July 2021
Historically, summer real estate tends to mellow out as people take off for vacations and all-around downtime. 2021 is anything but a typical summer. As we emerge from our pandemic cocoons and the economy begins to churn in full, the real estate market continues to stir. Buyers remain persistent to finally stake ground, and sellers still have sway.
But there are promising signs of some leveling-off from the prolonged imbalance. While inventory is still considerably lower than previous summers, from the graph below we can see a distinct rebound. More homes on the market equates to more options for buyers and more competition for sellers. Experts agree that interest rates will increase in the coming months, which will influence purchasing power. All of which means there may not be a better time to sell than right now. Sellers can be assured that a well-positioned, accurately priced home will sell quickly, on average within 17 days (nationally); there will be qualified buyers willing to compete for your home, an average of five offers (nationally); and new found equity allows for larger or more adequately fitting purchases.
The above graph represents the average and median sale price for all homes sold in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area (courtesy of the RMLS). Clearly prices are still on the rise. Any murmurs of a potential bubble have been curbed, and the desire for a home continues to drive prices upwards.
All said, there simply isn’t enough inventory of available homes to meet the demand of today’s buyers. This has been the case for many years and is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
Do you agree? Disagree? Reach out to discuss or if you would like to see custom reports that affect your real estate goals.
June is National Homeowners Month, and homeowners have much to celebrate. Not only is real estate one of the best investments you can make in your lifetime, owning your home helps strengthen your connection to neighbors and community. It acts as a private safe haven, and, if managed correctly, can provide personal and financial stability.
Today, 65.6% of Americans own their own homes, and as a result of the most recent real estate boom, owners are now sitting on record amounts of home equity. What can you do with that equity? Some of the best ways to leverage your home equity include: financing large home improvement projects that may help raise the overall value; consolidating or paying off high-interest debts like student loans or credit cards; purchasing long-term investments like vacation property; funding college-bound children, a wedding, or even a new business venture.
It is always a good idea to consult with your lender and/or financial advisor to ensure the best course of action. Tapping your home equity in a proper and constructive manner can be a highly effective way to further build your personal wealth.
Market Update: June 2021
It’s hard to believe but the average sales price of Portland homes just keeps spiraling higher and higher, up an astonishing 18.9% from last June. The insatiable buyer appetite is gobbling up well-positioned inventory whenever it appears, in shorter amounts of time, and often for over the asking price which continues to be terrific news for sellers. With historically low interest rates, it’s actually more affordable to buy a home today than at any time in the past eight years. Rates are still above the record lows we saw at the end of 2020, but they are better than the slight spike in February and March of this year. Buying while mortgage rates are this low many help save you money over the course of your home loan.
Local Getaway: Beavercreek
My wife and I recently celebrated our wedding anniversary with a weekend in nearby wine country. Located just 20 miles south of Portland in Beavercreek, we found one gem of an AirBnB on a small family farm and vineyard bordering an old growth forest. We were hosted by a very kind family in a beautiful and thoughtfully designed passive solar home complete with a magical garden, cedar hot tub, in-house massages, home-cooked meals, and of course, some fantastic pinot noir. Anyone looking for a tranquil getaway in a gorgeous setting, let me know and I’ll spill the beans on the listing.
If you’re looking for a little more data, reach out for a custom analysis to support your personal real estate goals. I am always available to help answer any home related questions you may have.
In surfing, a “hold-down” is a term for when you’re caught in a succession of breaking waves. Three, four, sometimes more waves breaking over you with little room to outmaneuver, much less take a breath. While the glistening surf may be tempting, the cost of admission can sometimes be heavy. Yet the rewards for braving the elements can be life changing.
The relentless real estate market is having a similar effect on many. Rising home prices, low interest rates and the yearning for home have created a whirlpool of anxious buyers. Nominal inventory is being met with multiple offers, cut-throat offer strategies, and over-asking sales prices, making the waters challenging to navigate. Buyers are being led to expect the multiple wave – or in this case – the multiple offer hold-down.
Yet the current swell can’t last forever. As the economy continues to improve, so too will consumer confidence. With pent-up savings and record amounts of equity, the temptation to list current homes in order to purchase larger or more attractive homes increases. It is hoped this will release new inventory, and perhaps even to catch a breath.
Market Update: March 2021
If you are itching to test the proverbial waters and need some feedback and guidance, I’ve got the surf mobile gassed-up and ready! Average sales prices, total market time and shortage of inventory continue to amaze. In comparing 2021 to 2020 through the month of March, the average sale price in the Portland metro area increased 16.6%, from $461,600 to $538,200. Inventory in months (active listings at the end of the month divided by the number of closed sales for that month) decreased to 0.8 months. And total market time (active days on market) decreased from 61 days to 37. In other words, the limited inventory is being swallowed up in less time and for ever-increasing amounts.
Low interest rates, i.e. purchasing power, continue to drive many to the market. But as rates begin to rise, price appreciation should begin to cool, somewhat. Still, it’s good to keep in mind that relative to a year ago, mortgage rates remain at historic lows which is helping to keep housing relatively affordable.
Impressions of Home
When I was seven, my family moved from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Tulsa, Oklahoma. My father got a job as an art director at an advertising agency so we packed up and braved new territory. We rented a townhome for about a year while my parents purchased a vacant lot, designed and built a custom home. As kids, my sisters and I were thrilled with having our own rooms, but were clueless as to what such a process involves. My father added a typographical address mural on the garage door, hand-built the mail box and designed a moving announcement (photos below). Lots of love and creativity that went into the home.
Years later, we added an indoor swimming pool. What sold my parents on the pool project, aside from the obvious (!), was the purported offset of utilities with a south-facing passive solar “insulator” of space, meaning the room would insulate the home with warm air in the winter and cool air in the summer. I’m sure the water bills negated any savings, but it sure was awesome!
Tragically, after we sold the home in 1987, the entire house burnt to the ground due to an unattended wood-burning stove. What’s left to this day is the same empty lot that my parents started with.
Tulsa, Oklahoma • Gilcrease Hills • 4 bed 2 bath 2250 sq ft.
Empty lot and custom home bought, designed and built for $70,000 in 1978.
Lot only currently valued at $106,000.
Did you know that your home can be an excellent source of funds? Tapping your home equity can be a low-cost way to borrow large sums at favorable interest rates in order to pay for home projects or debt consolidation. Home equity debt is not a good way to fund recreational expenses or routine monthly bills.
You’ll want to choose wisely how you utilize these funds, but given the incredibly low interest rates, now would be a perfect time to consider this option. Here are some of the most common ways to access the equity in your home: a Second Mortgage or Home Equity Loan, a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC), and a Cash-Out Refinance. Here’s a link to the differences between these options. The best option for you will depend on your financial situation and future plans.
The smartest strategy for accessing your home equity really depends on what you want to do with the money. Some examples are: lump-sum expenses or debt consolidation; home improvements or starting a business; pay-off high interest loans or credit cards. These options can be extremely helpful for anyone saddled with unexpected financial challenges. Home equity debt can also be a good way to invest in the future. The key is to make sure that you are borrowing at the lowest possible interest rate. Rates are now at historic lows.
A Cash-Out Refinance was a personal option for my wife and myself. As interest rates started to decline, we opted to refinance our first home, which we still own. We were able to pay off some credit card debt, and more importantly, we were able to use some as a down payment toward the purchase of a second home.
If you’d like to learn more about what your current home value is and how to make it work for you, I’d love to be a resource for information or to connect you with a mortgage advisor to help you unlock some of the equity in your home.
Impressions of Home
Perhaps some of my fondest childhood memories are from our family home in La Cienega, a rural community just outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The home itself was a traditional adobe with a maze-like floor plan, flag-stone floors, creative built-ins and seven fireplaces! None of the fireplaces had dampers (= bad energy score!) and there was a cracked viga (traditional wooden beam) that worried us all … gotta tend to those home repairs! But what captured me most was the surrounding 2.5 acres and beyond. Running alongside the home was an irrigation canal filled with pollywogs and wild spearmint. Next to the canal an enormous cottonwood tree and treehouse with a perilous entry over a cliff. We had endless dirt hills for forts and Big Wheels and a creek where we’d build dams and go fishing. It was a truly magical place to grow up.
La Cienega, New Mexico • 3 bed 2 bath 7 fireplaces 3658 sq. ft. 2.5 acres.
This house was purchased for $43,500 in 1975. Now valued at $471,000.
The purported interest rate back then was near 9%.
My father once arranged for my sister and I to play Zoolander and model some clothes for a Japanese children’s fashion magazine called SESAME. The photographers chose our home as a backdrop for many of the photos. Below you can see the sketchy treehouse above the cliff and irrigation canal and an old claw-foot bathtub my parents eventually installed in another home. I don’t recall receiving any dough or threads for my hard work, and I can guarantee you I haven’t dressed this well since. Just glad they captured my happy mug!
Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions about what your home equity can do for you.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Silence is Violence. That statement on a protester’s sign really hit home. By sitting on the sidelines and not voicing our collective outrage, we are perpetuating racism. Our greatest tool is our voices — not quietly commiserating, while keeping our mouths shut. We have the power to vote for the right leaders, raise children that celebrate differences, hire the right people and support our community’s Black and minority run businesses (to name just a few).
I have compiled some of the many resources shared with me. Here are a few of the things we can do right now in our fight for social justice-
Educate yourself on what challenges our Black family members face on a daily basis. Here are a few resources worth exploring:
Sign a Petition (DontShootPDX.org has also put together a list of other petitions and useful resources):
The Color of Change petition that asks Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey to block the involved police officers in the George Floyd case from receiving their pensions and from becoming police officers again. You can also text “Floyd” to the number 55156.
Donate to organizations like your local Black Lives Matter chapter. Other great organizations are:
Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of color to deal with it. It’s up to all of us — Black, white, everyone — no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out.
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.
One of the things I loved most about Portland when I first came here in 2006 was that there were no crowds. I mean anywhere.
You could park right in front of a movie theater five minutes before the show started and by the way, you didn’t have to feed a meter or anything.
So I moved here. Along with, like, 47,000 other people.
And like most of them –– and all of the people who were here before I got here –– I like to complain about how crowded it’s become.
Which it has, but let’s be honest, it’s still nothing like LA or New York. With a few notable exceptions, one of them being Peacock Lane the week before Christmas.
Peacock Lane is Southeast 40th Avenue between Belmont and Stark, which makes it about four blocks long, but since there are no cross streets on SE 40th between Belmont and Stark, it’s really just a lonnnnnnnnng block.
48 weeks out of the year, there’s nothing particularly remarkable about Peacock Lane. It’s just another street with really pretty houses, walking distance to Belmont, Hawthorne, Laurelhurst Park, Mt. Tabor, and Division.
What makes this block special is that the houses on that block go all out with their Christmas decorations. And I mean all out. It’s a tradition that started back to the 1920s and there are a couple of things that make it so very Portland.
In real estate, we deal with Covenants, which are things you’re required to do if you buy a place. And you would think, especially since Peacock Lane is on the US National Register of Historic Places, that there’d be a covenant that makes you decorate your house for Christmas if you live there. But no. People move there because they want to decorate. Nobody tells you that you have to.
Another thing that makes it totally Portland is that a lot of times, when someone buys a home there, the people selling the home will pass their decorations along to the new buyers. But like I said, one of the things that makes it so very not like Portland is holy crap, it’s crowded! At least for the second half of December. The cops block off the street to car traffic now, which I guess makes it even more Portland. If you live on Peacock Lane and you have an emergency at 5:30 on a December evening –– like you’ve run out of kombucha or something –– you’re sure as heck not getting in your car to get more. I mean, not like you have to. There’s a Walgreen’s right down at the end of the block where, yes, last time I checked they sell kombucha. There’s also a weed dispensary around the corner which used to be this place called Immortal Piano –– broke my heart when it closed because, with a name like Immortal Piano…
If it’s a cocktail emergency, you’re staggering distance from several good spots, including the Aalto Lounge, where their happy hour is the stuff of legend. From 5:00 to 7:00 you can get a grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of tomato soup for $3! On the way there, you’ll pass a Stumptown Coffee and a Tao of Tea, so pretty much, it’s a neighborhood with everything.
Best of all is Movie Madness, the neighborhood video store. And yes, there’s still a neighborhood with a neighborhood video store, but calling Movie Madness a video store is like calling the Louvre a building with some nice paintings inside.
Movie Madness has a more extensive collection of arcane cinema than any of the places I used to frequent when I was working as a director in New York or LA. They break things down not just by genre and director, but also country and style. You want to binge French caper films from the 1970s? They can totally hook you up.
So I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Well, Brian, that’s all super interesting. Do houses on Peacock Lane cost more than equivalent houses a block or so away?”
It’s a tough comparison to make because in the past three years, only four houses on Peacock Lane were sold. Those sales took six times as long to close, but the houses went for about 15% more per square foot than houses in the immediately surrounding area.
What that says to me is that Peacock Lane is a neighborhood for a special kind of person. But that person is willing to pay more in order to get to live there.
Got any other real estate (or film) questions? I’m at 310-854-2458.
You know me. I love pizza. So it should come as no surprise that I love Foster-Powell.
I mean, just look at it on a map. It looks like a slice of pizza!
Yeah. I know. Tenuous. But check this out! Two of the finest pizzerias in all of Portland are in the neighborhood –Char and Pizzeria Otto (which just opened its second location at SE 72nd and Foster). Char is awesome not just because the pizza is amazeballs, but also because the people are super nice and they name the pizzas on the menu after their cats. How Portland is that? And Otto is awesome because the pizzas are wood-fired deliciousness! It’s going to be fun to see these two duke it out.
(I should probably also mention Assembly Brewing, where they make a damn fine pizza in the Detroit style. The only reason I didn’t put it up there with those other two is because honestly, I’ve only had Detroit style pizza at Assembly Brewing and who knows? Maybe you people who actually know what a Detroit pizza is supposed to taste like would consider it an abomination.)
Two — maybe three —awesome pizzerias would make a neighborhood special in just about any other city that’s not in Italy. Let’s be honest, in Portland, it’s barely notable. Portland has more amazing pizza places than anywhere I’ve ever been.
So let’s forget about pizza. Let’s talk about what makes FoPo special.
FoPo is unusual in a Portland neighborhood way in that there’s no central village. It’s bordered on the south by SE Foster and on the north by sE Powell. You’re super smart so you probably already figured out that that’s how it got its name. The border on the east is SE 82nd, or as I like to think of it, The Crust, because let’s be honest, that’s kind what it is.
They keep trying to turn SE 82nd into something it isn’t, meaning to draw your attention away from the auto parts stores and motels and to get you to notice the …um …what? Carpet stores and fast food chains?
The most recent effort was to rebrand SE 82nd as The Jade District, which sort of makes sense. There’s a disproportionate number of Asian businesses on 82nd, places where you can get fantastic dim sum, pho, bahn mi, even groceries they don’t carry at Freddy’s or Safeway. In amongst them you’ll find a fish market, hispanic restaurants, fast food places, and other stuff. But it’s a busy street — a highway, even — so it gets no charm points like Woodstock or Gladstone.
Foster and Powell are slightly less busy than 82nd, but they’re still busy thoroughfares, which make FoPo kind of an island in a swirling sea of commuters. And appropriate to its island-in-the-swirling-sea metaphor, it just might be the best place in Portland to buy fish and seafood. You can get better live lobster cheaper at the no-frills Asian seafood places on Powell than at the fancy-schmancy grocery stores. And unlike the fish markets where they splay dead fish on ice, how awesome is it to make eye contact with your dinner as it swims around in its tank?
On the other hand, at the very tip of the pizza slice, where Foster and Powell intersect, is a Burger King. That feels meaningful, somehow.
There’s a strip of Foster that’s starting to develop a cool vibe, between SE 60th and SE 72nd. You’ve got a tango hall (not making this up — this is Portland) the requisite tattoo parlor, a vegan burger place, a neighborhood grocery, a bagel place where they actually boil their bagels the old fashioned way, and some neat bars.
That having been said, there’s an “elegant” furniture store that I swear, I’ve driven by at least once a day for years and I’ve never seen a single person come in our out, plus no shortage of strip clubs, plumbing supply stores, pot dispensaries, places to buy granite countertops, and body shops. You can even buy gravel and mulch by the truckload and satisfy all your taxidermy needs almost right across the street from a gun shop.
So %$#*! Portland, right?
The neighborhood is unusual in another way. It’s mostly houses. You’d be hard pressed to find a fancy-schmancy condo development in Foster Powell and that gives the neighborhood (or let the neighborhood retain a cozy, family-oriented vibe.
Of course, there are families and there are families. The houses in that pizza slice-shaped triangle are kind of cottage-y. They were built for the most part in the 1920’s. 1930’s, and 1940’s as housing for lower middle class workers. Compared to the classic Portland four-squares that dominate (or used to dominate), say, Clinton and Division, here you’ll find houses that are smaller and less photogenic.
I happen to think that’s a good thing. Sticking with that island thing I set up way back in the 10th paragraph, the houses here are like Mary Ann to Gilligan’s Ginger, if you’re old enough to get that reference. They’re pretty, approachable, sensible homes and as a result, the families that make up the population have a tendency to feel kind of the same. Well, I don’t know about pretty. But definitely approachable and sensible. In a city famous for not showing off, foster Powell makes other neighborhoods look like they’re elbowing each other out to hop the spotlight.
What’s ironic is that FoPo has become kind of a darling of Portland real estate. The recently discovered undiscovered gem, so home prices there have gone up a lot and people are moving in because it’s the place to be a little more than because it’s the place they want to be. According to The Portland Business Journal, the median home price is not $399,000 and what’s even more impressive, the average home sold in the past year was on the market for 12 days.
As I mentioned in another post, in Portland we have 20 blocks to a mile so even if you’re out by 82nd, you’re within biking distance of downtown. And it’s a nice ride, too, through Clinton, Ladd’s Addition, and over the Hawthorne bride. You can’t even get lost. Just follow the thousands of other bike commuters making the same trip. It’s a good ride back home. Short enough to do it every day. Strenuous enough that you can justify …you know where I’m going with this …
This is the time of year that many of us slow down, spend more time with family and friends, reflect on our year and start setting our intentions for the New Year. The holiday season, for many, prompts a feeling of gratitude. Maybe it’s because we slow down, take time off, reflect on the year as it winds down and what it has meant. But, did you know that the act of feeling and expressing gratitude has extreme benefits for our physical health, psychological well-being and relationships with others? Scientific studies have been going on for decades trying to understand the full benefits of simply expressing gratitude. Robert Emmons Ph.D. is a leading scientific expert on gratitude. Here are just a few of his findings:
• Stronger immune systems
• Less bothered by aches and pains
• Lower blood pressure
• Exercise more and take better care of their health
• Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More alert, alive, and awake
• More joy and pleasure
• More optimism and happiness
• More helpful, generous, and compassionate
• More forgiving
• More outgoing
• Feel less lonely and isolated.
Dr. Emmons explains that gratitude has two components. First, it helps us affirm goodness in this world and recognize the gifts and benefits we’ve received. Even though life isn’t perfect, gratitude helps us identify some amount of goodness in our lives. The second part of gratitude is realizing the source is outside of us. True gratitude goes against a self-serving bias. When we are grateful, we understand that it’s other people that help us achieve the goodness in our lives.
Research has shown that gratitude helps us celebrate the present and participate more in life. It helps block negative and toxic emotions like envy, resentment and regret that can destroy happiness. Grateful people are more stress resistant and have a higher sense of self-worth.
So how do we get away from the “season” of gratitude and truly live it year-round? If you want to move past just feeling occasionally grateful to becoming a more grateful person, here are some daily practices you can incorporate:
Keep a gratitude journal. This can be as simple as listing 3 things you are grateful for every day, or you can use something more formal like The Five-Minute Journal that has morning question prompts and evening reflection questions. It was given to me as a gift at a very pivotal time in my life and it has been invaluable to me ever since.
If you don’t want to write things down, pick a time (first thing in the morning or at bedtime) to simply count your blessings. If you eat dinner with your partner, children, friend, etc. get in the habit of going around the table and each listing something you are grateful for today. It was our tradition at Thanksgiving, but now we do it all the time. It’s really fun to hear the simplest things that people are grateful for.
If you have children and want to help instill the importance of gratitude, you can do a variety of things. Volunteer as a family at a non-profit that makes you feel good. We serve dinner together as a family every month at one of the Transition Projects shelters dedicated to helping people transition off the streets. You can also start a gratitude jar at home that you put your spare change into every day. The idea is that the act prompts you to talk about what you are grateful for. When the jar is full you can donate it to a needy person or cause.
Personally, I have so much to be grateful for: a warm home, supportive and loving family, a reliable car, access to good food and healthcare, a thriving business, friends, clients and colleagues that infuse so much joy in my life… the list goes on and on. As we enter this season of Thanksgiving, let it be a great time to remind us the importance of practicing gratitude daily.
There was a time (okay fine, until a few weeks ago) when I thought that narwhals were fictional creatures. As a busy mom, I felt like I hit the jackpot when I stumbled into a garage sale and found a basically brand new baby Halloween costume for my son. It was perfect, warm, and sized just right. Done deal. My son will be a narwhal for Halloween.
It wasn’t until I started telling friends that he will be “ya know, one of those pretend unicorn whales,” that I realized I know nothing about narwhals and was stunned when I googled that narwhals are not only real, but apparently it’s a very common misconception that narwhals are fictional!
You know what else is a total misconception? The idea that you must wait until spring to sell your home. Baffled? Trust me, I know how you feel and you are going to be okay…read on.
When more homes are on the market in the springtime, it means buyers may get to be choosier. In turn, fewer homes for buyers to choose from in the winter plays in your favor.
Decorating a house for the holidays can be an incredibly cost-effective way to improve curb appeal and home staging. It can also instigate daydreams about being settled into a new home in time to host holiday get togethers.
Buyers are also understanding that winter holidays may mean they need to be a bit flexible on when they can view your home. Not to mention that if you head out of town for the holidays, your agent can be trusted to keep showing your house in your absence.
Winter buyers are serious.
Portland gets chilly in the winter, so buyers who are out on the hunt are motivated about purchasing a home.
Winter home buyers may also be motivated to capture the tax benefits of buying a home before the year-end. If you are selling your home to buy another, these tax breaks apply to you too! Think: mortgage interest, private mortgage insurance (PMI) premiums and real estate taxes. Check with your local tax expert to learn more.
January is also known as one of the most popular months for corporate transfers. Buyers who transfer for work are on a set timeframe and motivated to find their home quickly.
Yes, homes in the spring are on the market for fewer days and have more curb appeal. Realtor.com reports the median days on the market for houses that sold last February was 83 days, while May saw a median of just 55 days on market (both with a decrease in days compared to the same time periods in 2017).
However, if you do decide to list your home this winter, it’s important that you keep your driveway clear, keep outside porch lights on, and take care of any roofing issues or potential leaks asap (nothing freaks a buyer out more than walking up to a house with ice dams).
Let some light in by keeping blinds and curtains open and keep it warm inside. Highlight rooms and features that make potential buyers wanna hang out. A lil’ festive wreath on the door and comfortable-looking blanket on the couch never hurt anybody either. Crank up the cozy!
And with that, I will leave you with a narwhal fact. The prominent horn is actually an ivory tooth that grows into a swordlike, spiral tusk up to 8.8 feet long.
Let me start by saying we’re not curing cancer here. I know that. What we do is help people do something they’re going to do anyway.
That having been said, it’s tremendously rewarding (and I don’t mean financially) to help people navigate a confusing, stressful process. What’s interesting is that the times that people rely on me are generally either extremely happy or extremely sad.
The happy ones are fun. A couple is getting married and wants to settle into their first home. A professional just got a job opportunity that requires her to move to Portland. Parents decide to give their kids four acres of backyard wilderness to play in.
But it’s the sad ones that make you feel the best about what you do.
Last year I sold a house for a neighbor and friend who was (and is) experiencing early onset dementia. Another listing I had was for the family of another neighbor who had passed away. A third was for a friend of a friend who, already confined to a wheelchair, had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Trying times. The pain that comes with these transitions is only amplified by fickle buyers, home values that don’t jibe with the optimistic projections of Zillow and Redfin, repairs that need to be made, and the myriad documents that need to be understood and signed.
It’s not enough to protect my clients. I need to make sure my clients feel protected.
I used to work for multinational corporations, creating marketing and advertising on a global scale. I did some really good work. I solved complex problems in (if I say so myself) some extraordinary ways.
After one particularly difficult project that resulted in a huge victory for a global financial services company, I had a realization: Corporations can’t be happy. They can only be profitable.
People, though. People can be happy.
That’s what got me into real estate. I like making people happy.
My client in the wheelchair repeatedly called me a lifesaver. I wasn’t. She passed away anyway, much too early. And my friend and neighbor with dementia, when I call her now to check in, often can’t remember who I am.
I’m at peace with that. Like I said, what we do is help people do something they’re going to do anyway. And that other thing they’re going to do anyway? Well, it’s a lot bigger than just buying or selling a house.
Whenever I work with clients moving to Portland from LA, the first place I take them is NW 23rd. It’s Portland’s version of San Vicente or Larchmont –– a strip of mostly fancy schmancy stores and restaurants that was the main draw back before there were other main draws like Division, Mississippi, Alberta, Lake Oswego, and other neighborhood villages.
As you can tell from the address, NW 23rd is 23 blocks from the Willamette River, which is just over a mile (blocks in Portland are shorter than they are in a lot of other cities). In between, you have non-stop interesting stuff: NW 21st is kind of the Clinton to 23rd’s Division (see my post on Division here, and on Clinton here). They’re super close, but different enough that people who live there tend to identify with one or the other.
Then there’s the Alphabet District, where you can’t get lost because the avenues are numbered and the streets are alphabetical. (Cool Portland fact: the streets are named after city founders. Other cool Portland fact: If you watch or watched The Simpsons, a lot of those names will look familiar. Matt Groening is from Portland.)
Where was I? Oh yeah. Interesting stuff between NW 23rd and the river. After the Alphabet District, you have Slabtown, the Pearl District, Chinatown, and Old Town. I’ll be writing posts on each of these sections down the road.
Right around NW 23rd, you’ll find a lot of condos, but head west a bit and you get into houses. Amazing old houses, built mostly in the early 1900s.
The street is kind of ideally located. The Portland Streetcar moseys through, connecting the neighborhood to the rest of the city. But it’s actually walking distance to downtown in one direction, the Pearl District in sort-of another, and Forest Park in the another.
NW 23rd used to be distinctive in that it was the only cosmopolitan area of the city. It has a Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Lush, Gap, Ben & Jerry’s, and some other big name stores. “Real” Portlanders like to cop an attitude about that because the city likes to defiantly support local businesses, but with Salt and Straw, Blue Star Donuts, Stumptown, Ace Hotels, and a lot of other local businesses going national and even International, it’s harder to draw the distinction anymore.
And other neighborhoods of the city have let some of those big name national brands leak in.
But there are some things along NW 23rd that you can’t find elsewhere in Portland. One is St. Jack, a French Bistro where they make two things that are worth the hike all the way from my house: the chicken liver mousse which is, I’m serious, a $%&*!! revelation and a drink called The French Pearl that I swear tastes like sipping springtime. Another is Kornblatt’s Deli, the only (unless you count newcomer Kenny and Zuke’s) Jewish deli in Portland.
Just off NW 23rd at the north end you have St. Honore, a bakery that looks like something out of an old French movie and Kenny and Zuke’s Bagelworks, where the bagels are actually good. Really good. Better than most of the bagels I had when I lived in New York good.
Oh, and this is cool! Every September, the Vaux’s Swifts stop off on their annual migration to spend the night in a chimney at Chapman Elementary School (1445 NW 26th Ave). Head over there any day of the month just before dusk and join thousands of Portlanders who think sitting on a blanket on the grass and watching birds fly into a chimney is more exciting than any Miley Cyrus concert.
I’ll be there. Look for me. Afterward, we can head over to St. Jack.
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.
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.
Remember Manhattan back in the 40’s and 50’s, when you could walk a block and go from one neighborhood to another one that was totally distinct?
But I’ve heard stories. And when I used to live there, you could still find vestiges – little reminders that the German neighborhood you were in butted right up against the Italian neighborhood a couple of streets over.
Portland has a lot of that. More subtle than in New York, but places where there’s a real difference in the personalities between two areas. Colonial Heights is different from Ladd’s Addition. NW 21st is different from NW 23rd. Hawthorne is different from Belmont, which is different from Stark, which is different from Burnside. And Clinton is different from Division.
I’ve already gone on about Division (click here to reread my extremely informative and even vaguely accurate post), but to recap: 1) Freeway, 2) no freeway, 3) hippies, 4) fancy restaurants, 5) hipsters.
Clinton is a block away, but where Division was originally kind of an industrial cut through, Clinton began life totally residential. So even though the same hippies bought houses in both Clinton and Division for pennies on the dollar when the government abandoned its plan to build a freeway into downtown, neighborhood stuff got (and gets) emphasized on Clinton a lot more. To the point that today, cars get to drive on division; bikes own Clinton.
Clinton is what the city calls a Designated Bike Boulevard, which is defined as “low-volume and low-speed streets that have been optimized for bicycle travel through treatments such as traffic calming and traffic reduction, signage and pavement markings, and intersection crossing treatment.” Clinton has speed bumps, signs, DUI catchers (little roundabouts in intersections), even special street signs with cute little bikes on top – all that and more. In fact, just try to drive a car down the street. You can’t. There are spot where cars are actually forced to turn off.
When old homes are torn down in Clinton, they’re usually replaced by new homes. On Division – and did I mention that Division is seriously only a block away? – when old homes get torn down they’re usually replaced by multi unit housing.
Like most of the neighborhoods in Portland, Clinton is its own little village. In and just off of the stretch between SE 20th and SE 26th you’ve got your pizza place (Hammy’s), a breakfast place (Off the Waffle), a diner (Dots, which is surprisingly good), an artsy brasserie (La Moule), another artsy brasserie (Jacqueline), and a kajillion other places to eat and drink and watch the parade of bike commuters on their way to and from work. There’s a fancy grocery store (New Seasons, which is really on Division, but like I said, a block away, and actually more connected to Clinton), and a food co-op (People’s Food Co-Op on SE 21st and Tibbetts).
You also have two optometrists, a boutique that sells kid stuff …even two real estate offices.
Which you really don’t need to bother with. I mean, you have me, right?