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


The Case Shiller has a 60 day lag so this morning’s monthly report reflects June 2014. Portland has climbed to 168.97, just 9.5% lower than July 2007 high of 186.51. That’s significant as the increase from this time last year is 9.1%.

case shiller june 2014

The graph above shows Portland’s Case Shiller Index and a 4% average increase since 2000, when the Index was set at 100.  Historically the housing market’s long-term increase has been about 4% so we can see that we still have some room for “normal.”  Following the 4% line, we’d reach an all time Portland high in December of 2015.

Had the Index followed the 4% line, at July 2007 peak, the Index would have been 134.2 instead of 186.51.  Today, the Index would be 176.02 following the 4% trend instead of the actual 168.97.   On a historical basis, we can say the market is 4% below what history tells us to expect.

It seems fair to expect the market to slow down.  We’ve seen very tight inventory which has created a seller’s market.  Interest rates have dropped to where we expect they can only go up.  We’re not far from reaching expected historical market values.  We can’t factor global and national political situations in here but neither can they be ignored.  All of this leads to the assumption that we’re not going to continue to see annual increases at the rate we have seen recently- that’s a good thing as we want to ease back onto the 4% line.


RMLS Market Action for July 2014 was released on Friday and our custom info graphic distilling the information from the report is hot off the presses today. Available listings in the Portland Metro area remains under three months for the 4th month in a row. Inventory, the ratio of active listings to closed sales shows how long it would take for the existing inventory to sell if no new listings were added. Six months was the typical length of time assigned to indicate the equilibrium between a buyer and seller market but I think in our post-bubble era, that number is closer to 4.5 – 5 months. Buyers are more likely to walk away from a transaction if they feel something is “off.”

Low inventory and a seller’s market continues to drive prices up. The average sales price is $344,700. That’s only about $10,000 less than the August 2007 peak! That’s a 7.9% increase over this time last year. We probably don’t want to continue at that pace but it’s a lot healthier than the 12% increase we saw in 2013. 5% is probably healthy and sustainable and historically the national housing market has seen a long-term return of about 4%.

July 2014 RMLS Market Action Infographic

We’re often asked for walkable neighborhoods.  We’ve got the ability to search by Walk Score right here.  Scroll down below text here to see the homes and condos that rate 95 and higher.  You can adjust the search to your needs.  Walk Score says:

Walk Score Methodology

Walk Score measures the walkability of any address, Transit Score measures access to public transit, and Bike Score measures whether a location is good for biking.

The Walk Score methodology was developed with the Walk Score advisory board and has been validated by leading academic researchers.

Planners and Analysts: Learn about using Walk Score data in your research.

Walk Score

Walk Score

Walk Score measures the walkability of any address using a patented system. For each address, Walk Score analyzes hundreds of walking routes to nearby amenities. Points are awarded based on the distance to amenities in each category. Amenities within a 5 minute walk (.25 miles) are given maximum points. A decay function is used to give points to more distant amenities, with no points given after a 30 minute walk.

Walk Score also measures pedestrian friendliness by analyzing population density and road metrics such as block length and intersection density. Data sources include Google, Education.com, Open Street Map, the U.S. Census, Localeze, and places added by the Walk Score user community.

Walk Score®



Walker’s Paradise Daily errands do not require a car.


Very Walkable Most errands can be accomplished on foot.


Somewhat WalkableSome errands can be accomplished on foot.


Car-DependentMost errands require a car.


Car-DependentAlmost all errands require a car.

Is it better to rent or buy in Portland?  We see lots of static graphics with various scenarios that try to answer the question.  This morning, I posted a link to the New York Times’ interactive rent versus buy calculator on our Facebook Page but decided that it would make a good post here too.  Obviously the graphic below is static but clicking on the image (or here) will launch the calculator.  There are more sliders that you can adjust on the site than are shown here.

Rent versus buy

Beaverton zip codes are bursting at the seams.  Beginning July 1st, two new zip codes will be instigated.  According to KOIN 6, the streets listed below will retain their zip codes.

How will this impact real estate searches? We’ve seen changes in street names (Portland BLVD to Rosa Parks and 39th Ave. to Caesar Chavez) but never the addition of new zip codes.  It will probably take a few days and some research to get a clearer picture.  Zip codes are a popular way to define searches so we’re going to have to figure out if client searches are affected.

Description of boundaries for new zip code 97003:

Northern Boundary: SW Jenkins Road running east to west from SW Murray Boulevard, converges into west Baseline Road and ending at SW Cornelius Pass Road.

Western Boundary: SW Cornelius Pass Road from west Baseline Road to SW Tualatin Valley Highway.

Southern Boundary: SW Tualatin Valley Highway running west to east from SW Cornelius Pass Boulevard to SW Murray Boulevard.

Eastern Boundary: SW Murray Boulevard from SW Tualatin Valley Highway to SW Jenkins Road.

Description of boundaries for new ZIP Code 97078:

Northern Boundary: SW Tualatin Valley Highway running east to west from SW Murray Boulevard to SW 229th Avenue.

Western Boundary: SW 229th Ave. from SW Tualatin Valley Highway to SW Rosedale Road then west to SW River Road then south to SW Farmington Road.

Southern Boundary: SW Farmington Road running west to east from SW River Road to SW Murray Boulevard.

Eastern Boundary: SW Murray Boulevard from SW Farmington Road to SW Tualatin Valley Highway.


Toilet in living roomThere is often confusion about counting bathrooms in RMLS.  Standard convention says that two full and one half bath would be 2.5 baths.  That’s pretty clear until you have two full and two half baths.  Now we have a problem.  .5 + .5 = 1 added two two full equals 3 baths.  But we just established there are two full baths and two half baths, not three full.  What now?

Realtor-speak says we have 2.2 baths.  The number before the decimal is the number of full baths and the number after is the number of half baths.  When you’re looking at RMLS listings, the vast majority will follow this system.  Some agents will still call 2 and a half baths 2.5 but it’s usually pretty easy to pick up on since we don’t see five half baths very often if there are only two full.

I know at least one of you out there is thinking, “what about the house with 11 half baths?”  I have no idea whether RMLS will let us go to .11 but it’s a problem I’ll be more than happy to report back on when I have first hand experience taking that listing!

March 2013′s 3.1 months of housing inventory ties the lowest levels we’ve seen in the last two years according to the latest RMLS Market Action report.  We saw the same level in April and August last year.  Actual closed sales are down slightly compared to March of 2013 but the drop in listings is what is really driving the low inventory levels.  Inventory is the ration of active listings to closed sales.

RMLS March Listings

3.1 months represents the five county area that defines “Portland Metro” for RMLS.  If you dig a little further, North Portland has a 1.7 month inventory!  NE Portland has 2.0 months of inventory, 2.4 months in Southeast and 2.6 months.

Here’s our monthly info graphic compiling the RMLS Market Action report: