The RMLS Portland Market Action report recently released for December 2014 offers insight not just to last month, but as a year-in-review. Our most recent infographic (shown below) provides a visualization of the trends of the last three years. The main theme? It’s a seller’s market so buyers need to position themselves to compete.

RMLS Portland Market ActionOne of the figures that points towards this is the notable 2.3 month inventory level. That level shows that if no other homes were to enter the market, it would take 2.3 months to sell all of the current inventory. The infographic below reveals that it is the lowest in recent years. To give some context, a quick view of our past RMLS Market Action posts reveals that it goes beyond the three years shown. The last time we saw such a low inventory count was back in March of 2006 – over 8 years ago! Low inventory means added value for (more…)

NBC Nightly News just aired a segment on mortgage interest rates and a renewed refi craze. 30 year rates are down from 4.5% this time last year to 3.81%. The experts crystal ball is that rate will remain low but now is the time to act if you are thinking about a refi. Does a refi make sense to you with these interest rates? Talk to a lender and see what your break-even point is. Thinking about buying a home?  I used this mortgage calculator to run these comparisons:

A $300,000 house with 10% down at 4.0% for 30 years has a monthly principle & interest payment of $1289.

A $300,000 house with 10% down at 4.5% for 30 years has a monthly principle & interest payment of $1368

A $300,000 house with 10% down at 5.0% for 30 years has a monthly principle & interest payment of $1449.

A $325,000 house with 10% down at 4.0% for 30 years has a monthly principle & interest payment of $1396.

A $325,000 house with 10% down at 4.5% for 30 years has a monthly principle & interest payment of $1482

A point increase has a bigger impact on the payment than a $25,000 price increase.

Here’s the full segment:

house sky fhaBefore the year even started, 2015 was deemed the “Year of the First-Time Homebuyer.” If the latest changes to the FHA Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) is any predictor, this moniker is likely to ring true. The FHA mortgage insurance changes coming into effect on January 26, 2015 will save first time homebuyers entering into an FHA loan a lot of money on their MIP.

What is mortgage insurance?

This type of insurance protects lenders against default by the borrower and is required on mortgages with less than a 20% downpayment. It is paid by the borrower, often in monthly installments though sometimes as a lump sum, with the lender as the beneficiary. With new programs allowing a lower percentage down, many first time homebuyers are encountering their first exposure to this requirement.

What do the FHA mortgage insurance changes mean for you?


If you’re considering purchasing a home, you’re likely to be asked “have you been pre-approved?” For some, the answer is an easy “yes.” However, for others, it may leave you wondering what the fuss is about – especially if you’re in the “looking” phase. So, why would you want to get a pre-approval letter for mortgage?

First, let’s clear up the misconceptions about what pre-approval is, and isn’t, by looking at the differences between these pre-qualification, pre-approval, and approval:

Pre-Qualified vs. Pre-Approved vs. Approved

Steps to Pre-ApprovalThink of these three as steps towards home ownership, each with an increasing level of weight to your home purchasing power.

The first step is to say “if these things are accurate,” you could get approved for a certain amount; this is the pre-qualification. The second step is to verify the accuracy of your documentation and get official documentation that “these are accurate” and “you are likely to get approved” for a certain amount; this is the pre-approval.

Where the rubber hits the road (or in this case, the stairwell) is when (more…)

Source: Oregon Health Authority

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated January as National Radon Action Month. If your home tested positive and you haven’t begun mitigation, or you have made recent changes to your home that may warrant re-testing, we encourage you to take this opportunity to take action. Portland radon issues are real. Recent news posts have covered radon issues in the area including Portland Metro and the Vancouver area. So what is this mysterious gas and what can be done about it?

What is radon?

Simply put, radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and radioactive gas. What this means for homeowners is that it is undetectable through our natural senses, so outside testing must be done, and it is a known carcinogen. It is the second the leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. According to the EPA, an estimated 20,000 lung cancer deaths, each year in the U.S., are radon-related.

How does radon enter the home?


The latest Portland Case Shiller Index report is out. As always, it covers the data from 60 days ago, meaning this report centers on data from October.

Both the National Index and the Composite Index were down slightly. In addition, the City Composites also showed a decrease of -0.1% for October. It’s notable that San Francisco and Tampa led in gains for the cities at 0.8% while Chicago saw a decrease of -1.0% and Cleveland had a decrease of -0.7%. The Portland market kept with the National and Composite Indices with a decrease of -0.31%.

Portland Case Shiller Specific:

As the graph below shows, although the home price indices are down slightly from the previous month in Portland, we remain on a slow trend upward for the year, closing out October at 170.35. Based on these numbers, we are expected to close out 2014 in the positive, though not with quite as much vigor as 2013 presented. However, we’ll have to wait until February for the full determination. As it stands now, the current movement points to a continued strong market.  Interest rates are expected to remain low throughout 2015. The number of “underwater” homes (those with negative equity) is also decreasing.  We’re still shy of the August 2007 peak but not by much.

If you’re curious to know what this Portland Case Shiller Index report means for you as a potential home seller, we invite you to call us directly at 503-406-5232 or visit our home valuation site at And, if you’re curious to know more about the Portland Case Shiller, check out a quick view of our previous blog posts on the subject.

Portland Case Shiller 2014

Once discounted as a failed experiment, the South Waterfront in Portland is a growing area, now being labeled as “Portland’s Newest Neighborhood.” Originally tailored to an older generation, this booming area of Portland is expanding into a diverse community. A once industrial area is now an ever-expanding high-density residential area with an interesting penchant towards a more natural habitat on the waterfront.

Businesses and Residents Benefit Alike

OPB’s Think Out Loud recently replayed “The Past, Present, and Future of the South Waterfront” with Dave Miller. In this interview with local residents and business owners, the shift towards a vibrant community is evident.

Daniel Nguyen, owner of Bambuza Vietnamese Bistro (where the show was aired) in South Waterfront Portland, noted that he saw the potential for this area in 2007, as he looked at mockups of what the area was to become. Upon opening in 2008, when the recession hit the area hard, business was slow. However, as the condo builders began to rent and people began to move into the area, he saw the potential he had envisioned slowly come to life in this area.

It was the kind of beginning of that sense of community where I’m dependent on my customers – the residents who live here – but then the residents want to see the business succeed so that it will attract other businesses, as well.

- Daniel Nguyen

Positive Changes Moving Forward

Now, over 6 years after the plummet of the recession, the area is starting to take shape of the potential Mr. Nguyen and others like him saw in those original plans. Area homeowners are seeing an increase in home value, (more…)

Happy HolidaysJust in time for the holidays, a bill is heading to President Obama’s desk to allow tax relief for those with short sale mortgage forgiveness in 2014.

In short (no pun intended), a short sale is a real estate transaction in which the amount paid for a property falls short of the balance and fees owed and this amount is forgiven. For example, a home may have an accepted offer of $300,000, but with outstanding loan amount of $350,000. The short sale allows for the lender to “forgive” the remaining $50,000.

Debt ReliefIn years past, this forgiven amount would have been taxable by the IRS as “income.” This typically resulted in a double burden on those with this type of transaction, as they had to pay taxes on this amount after losing their home to a short sale.

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 assisted these home sellers by giving them a tax (more…)

IMG_1555“Honey, let’s bundle the kids up and go look at houses in this cold, wet, miserable weather.  It will be fun,” said no one.  The winter months see a slow down in the number of new listings and the number of active buyers.  But, those that come to market and continue to look at homes are doing it for a reason.

Buyers are looking for a reason.  There is a myriad of possibilities as to why but enjoying taking your shoes off in a house that has the heating turned off after tromping through a mountain of wet leaves in rapidly fading daylight isn’t one of them.  For all intensive purposes showing have to end before five o’clock because viewing homes in the dark is somewhat pointless- you can’t see the exterior.

Another advantage of buying in winter is that you typically get a true understanding of where water is versus where it might be in summer.  It doesn’t mean a lot if the basement is dry when it hasn’t rained more than a trace in 90 days but if we’ve just experienced record rains and the basement is dry, that’s a pretty good sign.

For the seller, much of the benefit lies in the above.  You’re less likely to have to make accommodations for a dinner-time showings.  The showings you have should have serious buyers.

In the spring, we expect the yard to be in showroom condition.  In the winter, that expectation lessens.

The downside of listing in the winter is that holiday planning and decorating may be interrupted.  There’s nothing like having a holiday cookie production line in progress when you get the request to show your home in an hour.  The buyer’s agent is likely to be understanding but your house might get skipped over.  If your house is anything like ours, someone in your household may think someone else in the household goes a little overboard with the decorations… that means it is likely a buyer may too (bah humbug).

No matter how carefully everyone removes their shoes and puts on the booties, stuff is going to get trekked into the house or it is going to blow in.



RMLS Market Action for September is hot off the presses and here’s our monthly info graphic we produce monthly in-house.  Want to know the amount of equity in your home?  We offer a no cost/no obligation custom report of your property.

RMLS Market Action September 2014 Info Graphic