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What Makes Portland Special, etc.

I put this under the “Because I Can” category instead of “Real Estate General” mostly because I can.

1) The Portland Trail Blazers- who would have thought? I could attempt to weave some comparison to our real estate market but the Blazers should get to stand alone on this one. Both could hit a wall.
2) Andy Rooney does his 60 Minutes segment on Sunday on how great of an invention the umbrella is. I don’t know where my umbrella is and most Portlanders would agree.
3) For the 37th MSA market, Portland is still is getting national attention and it isn’t even the New York Times this time. Bon Appetit does Portland in the travel section on page 30 of the Feb 2008 print version. I can’t find it online. Some of the mentioned are the Ace Hotel, Lovely Hula Hands, Toro Bravo and Rocket.

On a different note, this is interesting: Win a $2.1M house in a raffle or take $1.7M cash. Unless I am unclear on the concept, you’d have to finance about 50% to pay off the IRS.

If Portland is so green, why don’t we see more hybrid cars? When I went to visit my dad in the hospital (doing fine and home now after 7hrs of elective back surgery) in Marin on Friday, I drove his Prius. At the traffic light there were two other Pri-i in front of me and one behind me- four in a row. Anybody seen that in Portland? I was surprised that our neighbors hadn’t realized that the TurnerRealtor vehicles are Lexus hybrids.

I’m showing the one LEED Certified single family residence listed in RMLS on Saturday. That should be interesting. Its unfortunate (or fortunate depending on how you look at it) that the Earth Advantage program is so busy that they can’t certify remodels, only new construction. We tried with our current project.

So there you have it. Some real estate crept in there: occupational hazard.

14 Comments on “What Makes Portland Special, etc.

  1. Somehow I don’t think Portlanders associate 28 mpg highway and 24 city (actually number being reported are around 24 and 20) with being green…but sure hell of a lot better than the Hummer!

  2. Greenie, I think you missed the point entirely. The Lexus hybrid, in my opinion, is the best real estate car out there. It is why we have two of them. Sedans, until you get into the largest of their class, are too small to put clients in comfortably. Our previous SUV, the V6 Touareg struggled to do 16mpg. The 400h is the best and possibly greenest vehicle that can do the required job. The Prius and other hybrids out there are greener but not the right cars for real estate.

  3. Here are some green Realtor thoughts… forget the car. I’m gonna be:
    * The Bicycle Realtor- I’ll meet you the first property on my bike. Hope you don’t mind the wait at the second property while I ride up SW Broadway to our second showing. I may have to limit the number of showings! Want to travel together? No problem, we’ll reduce our carbon footprint and take the tandem.
    * The TRIMET Realtor- I’ll show you anything on the bus route. See properties with us and we’ll even pay for your daily TriMet pass good on the bus, MAX, streetcar and aerial tram.
    * The Hitch Hiking Realtor- I’ll head down to the nearest intersection with my whiteboard: “Green Realtor (and clients)needs ride to ____.” I’m well dressed and usually don’t look to scary.
    * The Internet Realtor- Looking at homes in person is so last century and personal. With the Internet you can buy anything in your underwear from the comfort of home. Just let me know and I’ll write it up. Technology is cool.
    * The Psychic Realtor (aka The House Whisperer)- Again, no need to see the house. I can tell you everything you need to know based on the vibes the house gives off from the listing.
    Okay, maybe these are the best/worst Realtor ideas that will never happen. Point is we do what we can with the tools that are available.
    (This comment just for fun)

  4. Wow, I am happy to see that you drive your clients around. I guess I have seen too many times where the realtor meets the client at the various homes. I know that sounds unprofessional but it happens, a lot. Yeah, poor customer service though I thought it was the norm. So I take my comment back!

  5. We always try to drive our clients around. We can explain the process, bond, discuss the last house, etc. in the car. We don’t worry about losing you at the red light. Our cars have navigation. The only time we don’t do that is if we are meeting just to see one property.

  6. “Unless I am unclear on the concept, you’d have to finance about 50% to pay off the IRS.”

    I think you have made an assumption about my financial condition. Not quite right, but close. Remember when Oprah gave away all the cars to the teachers? Some of the teachers simply wrote a check to the IRS, yet others took out loans against the cars (i.e. financed the car to pay the IRS), but then there were a few that could not come up with the money. The IRS was going to confiscate the cars in order to satisfy the tax liability.

    The bank for most people would not be too amused when a $1M check was presented. Pocket change if you are among the Gates of the world.

    In the end the IRS really doesn’t care how you get the money, if you can get it. The bigger question is, can you get it? For the average person $1M in debt is too much, at just about any interest rate and duration. (This gets back to the cash flow discussion of BVH–it really does not matter how much the asset is worth if you don’t have the cash to support it.)

  7. Did the Portland Visitor’s Bureau fly in the Bon Appetit writer? I had read that they often put them up in the Ace.

    As for sustainability: I actually work in that industry and was a strong devotee until I saw people building 7000 sf “sustainable” houses. Sustainability is simply a way for an affluent society to assuage the guilt brought on by over-consumption. All one has to do is walk into a Walgreen’s, a Bed Bath and Beyond, or any number of stores filled with useless items produced by children chained to tables in third world countries to get an idea of what a joke talk of sustainability is.

  8. California put lots of incentives in place to encourage people to buy hybrids, including the coveted carpool sticker. In gawdawful Marin traffic, those stickers are like gold and probably led more than a few to spring for a Prius sooner than they would have otherwise. In other places without those incentives, like Oregon, people will probably consider hybrids on their next natural buy-a-new-car cycle.

  9. California put lots of incentives in place to encourage people to buy hybrids, including the coveted carpool sticker.

    They are all gone now. You can get 3-4k more for your used hybrid now if it has a sticker I am told. The federal government ceased the tax credit last year for the Toyota Prius.

  10. I never have understood why people will go out and spend $20,000 to $40,000, or more, to save $5 per week in gas. There’s probably some irrational reasoning behind their logic, such as the desire to buy a new car “on payments” to save that $5 per week.

    Reminds me of the consumer behavior behind some home purchases. There is a claim that rent is “throwing money away,” yet maybe the owner might consider the property taxes and maintenance as “throwing money away.”

    Yes, I will happily continue to pump those extra gallons of gas into my automobile, and I won’t flinch unless the price per gallon is in excess of $5 within the next year. And if that happens, I hope to have less-congested roads to drive my gas guzzler on. My operational costs may be in excess of owning one of those capital-intensive efficient cars, but my capital outlay is so low that I end up ahead on a NPV basis, even with a low discount rate.

    Cathy brings up an interesting twist: how valuable is your time. In the Portland area there are very few HOV lanes. There is one on Northbound I-5, but that has limited hours, and there is one on the Eastbound US-26 entrance at Cornell, but it’s only good when the traffic is metered. There may be others, as I have not surveyed every street in Portland for HOV lanes.

    In some other areas being able to use the HOV lanes can reduce travel times by a significant amount. So now I need to ask the question as to how much is my time worth. It’s relatively easy to pay more for gas, but time is difficult to obtain. I am going to watch the HOT (High Occupancy Toll) lanes on WA-167. The idea is that when the high occupancy lane does not have much traffic in it, you will be offered to pay a toll to enter the high occupancy lane as a single passenger vehicle. From what I understand this has increased efficiency in other parts of the country, and so I’ll probably be paying a toll in my gas guzzler.

  11. My dad has the stickers. Number I heard was $5k additional for a used car with v. without stickers.

    The premium on the Lexus RH400h v. the RH350 gas only model is about $5k. There was a credit/rebate and I don’t know if that still exists. I don’t know what the break even point is tax incentive/gas expense cost is. Another factor is what is it worth the the environment? Then you can easily argue that Lexus should have put a 4 cylinder in it with the electric engines and got even better gas mileage and still had plenty of power. But now were talking cars not real estate.

  12. Cars versus Homes

    It has been my observation that the consumer behavior behind cars is very similar to that of homes. I don’t have any good research to cite, nor have I done any scientific research myself. But the reasoning to buy a new car or a home is often similar.

    But for some reason people assume that cars generally go down in value, but homes are expected to increase in value. The difference in assumptions is interesting to analyze.

    I also find it interesting that car repairs are often like home repairs. Fixing a sewer system is similar to fixing the emission system. Putting in a new stereo is like a new kitchen. New wheels might be likened to a new set of windows…

    A famous person once suggest that “real estate is personal,” and I will suggest that “cars are just as personal, if not more so, than real estate.”

    I would guess that a person who buys one of those cheap cars, also purchases a different quality of home construction.

  13. Why buy electric/hybrid? Any of you guys have asthma? Know any kids that have asthma? Ever see an asthma attack? Ever notice how many days the “experts” say you should stay indoors if you are elderly or have breathing problems? Makes you think twice about cleaning up our air.

    Portland is in a valley, next sunset go check our pretty purple skies thanks to pollution.

    Everyone breathe deeply now….

  14. Actually, I theorize people buy fancy cars cuz that is what they are seen in. How many of your coworkers have seen your living arrangements? Not many, but they all see you pull up at the bar-b-que in that new Toyota/Lexis, etc!

    My current apartment complex (Forest Creek in FH) is full of Lexi, BMW’s, an H2, Mercedes. Many driven by young adults. No big house payment so therefore they can afford the big car payment?!?!

    I am eye-ing the Ford Escape hybrid for my next purchase. Maybe the Prius depending on space issues.

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