Low Real Estate Inventory in the Portland Metro

The March 2015 RMLS Market Action report released Monday shows the Portland Metro housing inventory at 1.9 months!  It hasn’t been that low since September 2005. The number of homes listed has been rising over recent months but that is counter balanced by even more rapid sales which pushes the inventory ratio down.


The Portland metro for this report includes five counties – from Yamhill to Clark. While some areas saw a very low inventory – including 1.1 months in the Beaverton/Aloha area, 1.3 months in NE Portland, and 1.5 in SE Portland, other areas such as Mt. Hood and Yamhill County were considerably higher at 5.8 and 4.1, respectively. Below is a heat map showing the region’s inventory level by zip code.

If you’re curious about previous high and low real estate inventory and RMLS market data for the Portland metro, search our blog.

Listing Photography – the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

You may have seen our Facebook post about real estate photography gone horribly wrong. That link gave many people a good chuckle, but can you imagine if it was your own home? Sadly, many real estate agents, for one reason or another, choose not to use professional photography.  Beyond the studies that show that listings with professional photographs sell faster and for more money, we want buyers make an appointment see your home to be verifying what they see online, not walking through listings that don’t meet their criteria.  Better photos result in better qualified showings.

DSC_0009Putting a home on the market involves more than just snapping a few pictures, putting a sign in the yard, and posting to the MLS. It’s entirely likely that the day the photographer arrives at your home it will be the best your home has ever looked.  The landscaping will be fresh, everything will be put away in it’s place, the clutter gone or packed away (you’re moving anyways so you might was well get an early start), you may have had staging done with your possessions or rented furniture.  All the things that put your home in the best light.  We’ve heard more than once, “We should have done this years ago.” Read More

Competing with Multiple Offers

What does it take to purchase a home in today’s market? More than you might think. In addition to the effort to find a home with such low inventory, multiple offers are the new norm in certain areas of Portland.  This means buyers have to put their best foot forward when writing their offer.  If there are terms or pricing issues, it’s unlikely we’ll see a counter offer; they’ll select another offer.  We won’t win them all but we can raise the odds.

2015-04-03_17-37-42The highest dollar offer may be the most appealing on first blush but it doesn’t necessarily make it the best offer.  If you’re writing an offer and expect to be competing, ask yourself, “What is the most amount of money I am willing to pay for the property and will be okay with it if someone else gets their offer accepted by offering a dollar more?”

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February Residential Review from the RMLS – 2015

Our latest infographic featuring the February Residential Review for the Portland Metro can be found below. As the data shows, the sales price saw a slight draft – though not significant for this time of year. The number of new listings hitting the market has increased, but there is still a high demand, as seen in the continued low inventory and increase in closed sales.



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10 Must-Have Home Organization Tips

Whether you’re spring cleaning or just want to make life easier, here are ten home organization tips to make your life easier. These were originally provided through our monthly newsletter (subscribe here to get great tips monthly). With ideas for every room, getting started is easier than ever before.

For the Entire Home:
Tip #1 – Pile Preparation: Start by setting up 4 boxes instead of 3 piles for organizing. Boxes keep things out of the way and aid in keeping your mind focused on organizing. In addition to the traditional three (keep, donate, trash), add a box for things to go through later. This will reduce the urge to get lost in nostalgia or get stuck not knowing where an item should go.

Tip #2 – Vertical Victory: Whether it’s hanging pans from above an island or installing bins for foil, spices, or lids on the inside of cupboard doors, this trick isn’t new. However, consider other areas where vertical space can be utilized such as the inside of a closet door or back of the bathroom door. There are tons of tasteful storage units and shelves that allow unused vertical space to become vital storage spots. Read More


Construction on the N Williams Corridor

n williams corridorSince mid-September, the N Williams Corridor has been a haven for this construction activity, as the city improves the safety for this bicycle byway – a project three years in the making. The expected benefits should benefit those who travel through this area soon.

This $1.5 million grant-funded project is intended to create a safer place to travel for everyone. According to the City of Portland’s transportation department website, construction is expected to be completed within the next three months. This project was intended as a safety action for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists in the area.

So far, left side bike stripping, shared use pavement markings, speed bumps, and test diverters Read More

Calculating a Good Investment Property

investment propertyIf you’ve decided that purchasing an investment property is right for you, the next step is to figure out what constitutes a good investment. You can check what we look for in an investment property here – the post is older, but the idea is the same. Once you know what type of property you want, and in what condition, you need to figure out if a particular property is worth the money – after all, it is an “investment.” There are various formulas to calculate whether an investment is “good” for you. The simplest is the ROI – return on investment. It’s simple because you just need to compare what you’ll get out of it to what you’re going to have to put into it. However, it’s perhaps a little too simple. The three calculations below will provide you with a more strategic outlook on such an investment.

Cash on Cash: Calculating a Good Investment Property

ATAR-Calculator1Cash on Cash Return = Annual Before Tax Cash Flow/Total Cash Invested A higher cash on cash return is typically a better investment (“typically” because it doesn’t account for appreciation/depreciation). This calculation is overly simplistic, but a quick way to determine if further examination is warranted. Let’s say an investor puts $150,000 down on a $600,000 property and expects to generate a $4,000/mo. return on that property, after expenses. The before tax income would be $6,000 x 12 = $72,000. So, Read More

Jan 2015 RMLS Portland Market Action Shows Increased Inventory, Decreased Average Price

The latest RMLS Portland Market Action data was released last week, and our latest infographic is below. Two notable points in this data are the inventory level and the average sales price change.

As the infographic notes, there was an increase in new listings and a decrease of closed sales compared to December 2014, which pushed inventory up to a recent high. Looking back at the RMLS Portland Market Action data covering 2012, 2013, and 2014, there has been a trend of increased inventory early in the year. This has been followed by a decline as home sales increase in the spring, With an inventory higher than recent months, but lower than previous years’ January data, it will be interesting to see what inventory does in the coming year.

The second notable feature of the RMLS Portland Market Action data is the shift in average sales price. Although January 2015 shows an increase from January 2014 and the 12 month rolling average sales price also shows an increase, there is a decrease from last month. Home value projections shown an expected increase of about 4% nationwide for 2015. So, it will be interesting to see what happens in the local market in the coming months.

Our Latest RMLS Portland Market Action Infographic:

Jan 2015 RMLS Market Update


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Turned Down for a Mortgage? What to Do Next

One reason it is recommended to get pre-approved for a mortgage early in the home buying process is to reduce barriers once you find a turned down for a mortgageproperty. However, the pre-approval process is not a guarantee. While it is not common, there are occasions when a client has their home selected and is ready and willing to sign, only to have the mortgage denied. The good news is that there may be options available; getting turned down for a mortgage isn’t necessarily the end for every buyer.

What causes one to get turned down for a mortgage?

The first thing to understand about the mortgage process is that a pre-approval is completed by a mortgage professional, not an underwriter. This means that a buyer’s loan is likely to be approved, based on the information the mortgage professional has been provided. An underwriter may have more specific requirements that a buyer may not meet.

optionsAccording to a recent post in the Wall Street Journal, the primary reason reported for denials, for both purchases and refinances, was applicant credit history. Other major reasons may include a high debt-to-income ratio and borrowers with insufficient funds in reserve. These issues may cause problems for some lenders while other lenders may allow some blemishes. If you are denied, you may not be completely out of luck. For many buyers, there are options available.

What to do next:

Step 1: Find out why your mortgage was rejected. Lenders are required by law to issue a written “adverse action notice” within 30 days when rejecting a mortgage. This notice must include the reason for the rejection. Once you know why the mortgage was rejected, you can work to correct any errors on your credit or work with your mortgage professional to see what other options are available.

Step 2: In certain cases, the reason for rejection can be argued to your favor. If that is your situation, you can request a second opinion, just like you might ask a second opinion for a medical diagnosis. Some lenders have a second tier of review that will allow you to present your case – including discussing any issues that are currently marring your credit history. Some buyers have been successful in implementing this step to receive approval.

Step 3: If you are still without a mortgage after the second opinion, or if your lender does not allow it, the next option is to shop around. The underwriter’s job is to assess risk and different lenders have different assessment criteria. One lender may reject your application for a reason that another lender will allow. These three steps are not a failsafe, but they can assist some buyers.


OSASuBX1SGu4kb3ozvne_IMG_1088No matter why you were turned down for a mortgage, if there are blemishes on your credit that you know about now, it’s best to take care of these sooner rather than later. And, if you have questions about the mortgage process or about your specific mortgage application, it’s best to discuss them with a mortgage professional who can present options that match your situation.


* some photos from freedigitalphotos.net | Stuart Miles

5 Things To Consider When Buying a Home

Is Buying a Home Right for me?

Buying a home used to be the default American Dream. The real estate market crash/bursting of the bubble changed the market to some extent. Whereas buyers that could afford $300,000 wanted to spend $350,000, and often could, today’s buyer might be able for afford $300,000 and only be comfortable with a $250,000 purchase. For some, the best decision may be to rent, bucking the “Now is a great time to buy” hoopla. The selection of a real estate agent, a mortgage broker, the inspections you have and understanding the process is more important that ever before. I hope you find these Five Things To Consider When Buying a Home helpful:

1) Selecting an Agent

ID-100244647Your real estate agent should be your trusted advisor. Our role is to give the best advice possible and execute and negotiate your decisions. Your role is to listen to the advice and make the best educated decisions based on the information available. It has to be a mutual, trusted relationship. No two agents are going to be the same. You can look at online reviews, ask for referrals, and interview until you find the right match. A team may have different points of contact that specialize in certain areas of the transaction whereas an individual agent will be your single point of contact from beginning to end. There are pros and cons to both models.

2) Selecting a Lender

Most buyers need a loan to purchase a home. Some are blessed with enough cash to skip this step. Talking to a lender should always be the first or second step in a real estate purchase. If you’ve selected a Realtor®, ask them for their referrals. The working relationship Earnest Moneybetween the lender and the Realtor® is critical to your transaction. “Going local” is also important. There is nothing more
frustrating than trying to get a critical piece of information from a lender that closed at 2PM because they are on Eastern Time. I’ve been told by a mortgage manager that, “we really can’t help with that as we are a call center, not an actual office of lenders.” Read More