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March 13, 2008 17:22 - Portland, Oregon Real Estate-- The Skinny

What's Happening?

As of this writing, there are only 3 cities in the US that still have a very healthy real estate market and appreciating prices. They are: Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, and Charlotte NC. Yes, ladies and gents, we are in the lucky few. There are a myriad of reasons why Portland is somewhat insulated from the major downturn that other cities have seen but I won't go into those reasons in this post.

What we can see from the data is that it is a wonderful time to be a buyer in Portland and, although not as easy as it was in 2003 or so, it is getting much better to be a seller. My feeling is that, although things have slowed down and, essentially normalized (however painfully), Portland will ride out this national downturn in the real estate market and do just fine. It is still a buyer's market with inventory based on pended sales at 5.6 months. I consider anything over 4 months to be a buyer's market. What this essentially means is that if not a single home were to come on the market from this moment, it would take 5.6 months for all of the available inventory to sell. You can also see this from the fact that sellers are, on average, accepting offers that are 97% of the asking price. This, however, is much better than other parts of the country. I expect this spring and summer to see an upswing in activity for both buyers and sellers.

Average home prices have appreciated by around 8% year to date, with the average sold price in January 2007 being $316,000 ,and in January 2008, $344,000.

The median home price in January 2007 was $275,000 and, one year later, is $280,000 but this can be misleading because it means that an equal number of homes sold above and below this price. It is more effective to look at the average home price above. Think about itÂ… if one $6 Million home sells, it significantly changes the number.

If you look at the percentage of asking price that was paid in January 2007, it was 98%, meaning that houses were selling, on average, for 2% less than asking price. In January 2008, it has dropped 1% to 97%.

How about home sales? In December 2007, 512 homes sold with 359 pending sales, and 3114 on the market. In January 2008, 353 homes sold with 578 pending, and 3211 listed for sale. Basically, this indicates the normal slowdown over the holiday season in December. People are thinking about buying gifts etc. instead of buying a new home and moving. You can see that, in January, although few homes closed (less people buy in December), many people made offers that were accepted to close in Feb. We will see in a few weeks when this data comes out how many close.

A note about my statistics:

They are a comparison of January 2007 - January 2008 for all of Multnomah County and are taken directly from the RMLS. What follows is my own analysis of these statistics. For our purposes, I thought it best to analyze Multnomah County as a whole. Each neighborhood, however, is a little micro-universe and has its own market. Changing the parameters of the zip codes, price variables, or time periods can lead to very different results. This analysis is of all homes sold in all price ranges in Multnomah County. If you have any questions about specific zip codes, please reply to this forum with those questions or feel free to contact me at: http://www.rossseligman.com

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March 17, 2008 17:44 - St Paddy's in Portopia

Happy St. Pats, Portland....

We're home here at our stead on Mississippi Ave in North Portland cooking up a fine Irish meal (you guessed it): corned beef and cabbage...With some slight tweaks and variations on an old and trusted recipe, I think we have a winner!  I'm only a smidge Irish myself and rarely actually 'celebrate' St. Patrick's Day, but this year I was (happily) duped into it by my favorite meat guy at New Seasons. 

As always, Mike and I made some small talk when I approached the counter and then he said:  "I've got a great dinner for you tomorrow night!"  As I cook 4-5 nights a week, I'm a regular...sometimes he sees me once a day.  "Tell me more."  I was inspired as he described in dripping detail the amazing corned beef his wife made.  So, here I am. And, we've got two Bassets here who are doing their utmost to convince me that they are Irish, too!  (Yeah right)

In other news, I posted a request on our forum a few months ago looking for a 'landscape magician' and am happy to report that I found one. Pistils Nursery is now doing consulting and landscape design.  I have an exciting project starting in April and plan to keep those interested apprised via the forum.  I'll make a note on this blog to let you know when to check back.  And, if you haven't been to Pistils, allow me to highly recommend them to you!  They have a wonderful city nursery, complete with chickens and some highly coveted worms!  There is something incredible happening in the world of city-dwellers with chickens.  Apparently Pistils struggles to meet the demand...I know this first hand as both my neighbor to the side and the back both have clucking henhouses.

Have a safe and fun St. Pats...designate a driver if you're heading out!

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March 17, 2008 17:51 - Real estate forum on fire

PS- make sure to stop by and read up on Ross's forum...He's been bloggin' his heart out the last few days!

A few snippets with links:

What's Happening? The Fed is scrambling to save the credit market and will most likely lower interest rates again after Tuesday's meeting. For a discussion of what this is all about, look at my previous post about the mortgage market. Overall, more homes sold this month than last month as I expected. Things are picking up. It is in the data and I can see it in my own office. People who were waiting before making an offer on a home are once again often losing it to someone who was quicker on the draw...

Read more here

Here is an easily digestible update of what is going on with the overall economy and mortgage market.

The Federal Reserve, in an effort to prevent a major seizure of the credit market, made available $200 billion of Treasury notes to lend to banks and investment firms that trade with the central bank. In return, they would take on unsellable mortgage-backed securities. It is implied that they did this to save Bear Stearns, an enormous investment bank that is on the edge of collapse.

What are these securities? They provide the funding for the mortgage market. To stop a cycle of of losses on mortgage investments, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is doing all he can to repair the damage. With such huge losses, banks are cutting their lending which will send the economy into recession, if we're not there already.

Although foreclosures are up, inflation has stopped....

Keep reading here

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