Oregonian Interviews Realtors (but not me)

Front page story of today’s Oregonian business section.

The Portland-area housing market started to soften in spring 2007 and has bottomed out or is at least close to the bottom, some of the region’s top real estate brokers said Wednesday.

At a housing industry lunch forum, the brokers said they started noticing fewer potential buyers visiting their listings about last April.

The evidence that the bottom is near?

Brokers point to the fact sellers are finally willing to give up a bit on their price to sell faster. They also point out that real estate insiders themselves are now snapping up investment properties.

Through early this year, two key surveys — the Regional Multiple Listing Service and Case-Shiller — show Portland-area home prices were basically flat, compared with early 2007. From 2004 to 2006, by comparison, percentage growth ran in double digits for 22 straight months. [Charles notes that Case-Shiller has shown a decline every month since July of 2007. Looking at Year on Year reveals a “flat market” but that is not the case monthly.]

Sixteen brokers attended the lunch organized by Cornerstone Mortgage Corp. of Lake Oswego. Here’s the exchange over two issues raised in e-mails to The Oregonian from readers.

If you have a listing that’s on the market for a long time, do you re-list it in RMLS to get a new RMLS number?

“Here’s the reality,” said Brian Bellairs of the Meadows Group Inc. in Tigard. “Somebody has a listing that starts with 7,000. The current listing number is 803-something. I’m pulling 50 listings. We have an hour to show property. It’s a pretty fair assumption to say that something with a listing number of 7-something, might be a dog. . . . [Charles notes that it might be a house that is a great oppertunity. The seller has been on the market a minium of four months and may be getting much more eager to sell than someone that listed yesterday. You need to look at the history of older listings. What have they been doing to make the house sell? If it was listed at $X and four months later is still at $X, it might be a dog.]

“I would always change it at a milestone so that right now a home that was listed in 2007 looks fresh.”

Craig M. Reger of The Hasson Co. Realtors said brokers don’t generally change the listing number just to change it. “Hopefully there’s either a change of condition or a change in price.” [Charles agrees more with Craig. An agent can’t unilatterly “renew” an RMLS number. The paper trail requires canceling the first listing in writing with a signature and relisting the property with NEW paperwork and signatures, not a note or an email from the seller saying it is ok.]

Lee Davies of Lee Davies Real Estate in Washington County said “the real cumulative days on market could truly be maybe 20 to 30 percent higher than what we’re all seeing when we look at that aggregate number.”

Why are Realtors afraid to admit the market is softening and will likely decline over the next few months?

“It has,” one broker said.

“It’s all past tense,” another said. [Charles wonders why they aren’t cited.]

“It has declined,” Davies said. “It has softened. But actually the last 60, 90 days have been just like they were last year. It’s very active.” [Charles notes that we are busier too (though I would say more in the last 30 days). The Realtors in the article are mostly “big names” in our market. Maybe we’re seeing a thinning of the Realtor herd? Fewer agents doing more transactions?]

Becky Jackson at Realty Trust Group Inc. in the Pearl District said: “When you’re speaking to a buyer today you may not be able to say perfectly that it has passed. You might still see something for the next few months but you’re not going to know what is the last day of the low market.”

Kathy MacNaughton of Realty Trust Group said: “What you say privately and publicly is different.”

“How so?” I asked.

“I don’t think it does you any good to say the market is tanking. And it’s not. We know that. You’ve heard that today. But I will tell you that probably six months ago I talked to my buyers privately and said, ‘You know what, we have to be very careful. I see signs in this market of settling.’ And I think all of us did the same thing.”

18 Comments on “Oregonian Interviews Realtors (but not me)

  1. Charles, I too read the article in the Oregonian. Found it a little amusing. I’m looking forward to the next few months and hearing that the bottom is just around the corner, only to be followed the next month with the same thing.

    But even with that being said, people are still going to buy and sell properties. It’s happened during past recessions and it will happen in today’s market. So keep at it and don’t let the real estate haters get to you.

  2. Silly chuckles. We don’t hate real estate. We hate over priced real estate.

  3. You guys crack me up. Two regular commenters using aliases to mask their aliases. And, to answer the namesake above, apparently all the buyers are trying to buy the same house; our buyer is competing with two other offers on the property.

  4. Buyers all want the same house? The pickings are pretty slim in this predominantly overpriced market.

  5. It’s pretty simple, really. As soon as prices decline to a level where people can buy them without taking out nutjob loans they don’t plan on paying back, the market will recover. Until then, prices will keep going down.

    Isn’t that what they taught us in Econ 101?

  6. And given the stats for resetting loans over the next 12 months I’d say we are just starting to slide.

  7. I am the guy who is “the other buyer.” It’s my friend’s property and we are trying to bid it up and split the difference. Old trick I learned in Realtor Class 101.

  8. Everyone, congratulate Wang as the new owner of a home. $100 over asking with more than 20% down didn’t result in an accepted offer.

  9. Darn you Wang! With so much inventory, why is it we both fought over this one place!

  10. In your opinion, is 8549 NW Ryan properly priced?

  11. “Everyone, congratulate Wang as the new owner of a home. $100 over asking with more than 20% down didn’t result in an accepted offer.”

    So what caused the sale to fall through? Sounds like a slam dunk to me, unless they couldn’t get the timing right.

  12. Of the three offers on the property ours was the lowest even though it was $100 over asking.

  13. Interesting comments- PMAR renewals are down 40%; I am not 100% sure which group of agents are bailing, but a bunch have. There are a pretty good sized group of agents that are still doing really well; they price things right, market very well, and are systematic at running their business. I am tired of hearing people using the market as a crutch; I bet plent of agents in Detroit or Phoenix would swap locales with the PDX agents that don’t understand that it isn’t 2005 any more. Good blog Charles

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