What are the top most desired features for buyers looking to invest in a home? According to a new study released by the National Association of Home Builders, the top four all center around saving energy.
Many Portland home sellers are making improvements to reduce energy use and otherwise make their homes more environmentally friendly. But how can you make sure these green features will pay off by adding to the value of your home, and not leave you in the red?
According to the US Green Building Council, “Generally, green homes are healthier, more comfortable, more durable, and more energy efficient and have a much smaller environmental footprint than conventional homes.” And, let’s face it – the house with the green roof is going to be the most talked-about one on the block.
The numbers from the National Association of Home Builders show that home buyers are definitely looking for green home features. Many Portland home owners have already added or plan to add these features, so that when buyers come to their door, they won’t have to wonder whether the good deal they’re getting on the home will turn into a bad one when the electric bill comes in. Green home features like passive solar heating, native plant landscaping and ecologically responsible building materials can also add to the beauty and unique quality of a home.
The real estate industry is changing to help buyers, sellers, real estate agents and home appraisers understand environmentally friendly and energy efficient home improvements, from bamboo flooring to skylights. And as usual, Portland real estate agents are leading the way by using new codes and fields in the MLS system that reflect information about green home features. Many home appraisers also have specialized training to be able to calculate the efficiency of solar panels or the capacity of the rainwater catchment system.
Some home features might fit neatly into the MLS form, which is why choosing a good real estate agent is essential to making your home’s green improvements stand out to buyers. Your Portland real estate agent should provide all of the relevant information the listing and work with the appraiser to ensure that these features are given proper value. Personally I hold certifications as a Earth Advantage Broker and an Energy Trust Trade Ally.
Not sure if your home could benefit from green improvements? The Carbon Footprint Calculator from the National Association of Realtors’ Green Resource Council will give you an idea of how energy efficient your home is. Talk to your real estate agent about what makes sense for your home and will translate into a better resale value and make your home stand out in the listings page.
Portland Real Estate Blog
A Portland Real Estate Blog written from the perspective of a top Portland Real Estate Agent, Stephen FitzMaurice, REALTOR®. Visit these categories: Home Selling Tips in Portland, Home Buying Tips in Portland, Portland Short Sale and Foreclosure News, Portland Real Estate Market News, and Articles on Portland Realtors. I think you’ll find this to be one of the very best Portland real estate blogs.
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Whether you’re decorating your new home, need to add a few eye-catching touches to the home you’re selling, or looking for a place to donate your unneeded goods, Portland thrift shops are the place to go. Your purchase or donation supports a small business or local causes ranging from animal welfare to housing for the homeless, and with over fifty thrift shops in the city, there are plenty to choose from.
Thrift shopping is practically an unofficial sport in Portland, Oregon. Where else are our primal hunting instincts so well rewarded with kitschy and beautiful finds for great prices? Thrift shops are also a great reflection of the neighborhood’s character – a sneak peek into the lives led behind the front doors along your street.
Here are some of Portland’s popular spots and undiscovered gems of the thrift shopping universe, listed by neighborhood so you can find one close by.
Selling “everything from the practical to the beautiful”, Village Merchants in Richmond is an all-time favorite. This neighborhood as well as the nearby Hawthorne district are the place to go for bargain antiques, collectibles and clothing. If you are on the get-rid-of-it side of things, many of these stores will sell items on consignment or accept trade-ins on clothing.
Farther south, the Sellwood neighborhood is the home of the infamous Goodwill Outlet. Also known simply as “The Bins”, the place is a mecca for those who love junk. Everything that doesn’t sell in Goodwill Stores is taken here and given one last chance to sell at super-cheap prices. You might not find a treasure, but the camaraderie of sorting and snatching is what makes the experience unique.
The neighborhoods here each hold their own thrifting gems. ReRun, in the King neighborhood on Fremont, attracts thrifters from around the metro area. The extensive selection offers something of everything – clothes, collectibles, furniture and household necessities.
Just around the corner in Beaumont-Wilshire, you’ll find Patti Smith West, where you can find unique art made from repurposed items. For vintage bling and one-of-a-kind clothing, head to Concordia neighborhood’s Red Fox Vintage, another Portland favorite.
Hazelwood home owners are lucky to have Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in their neighborhood. Buy or donate hardware and paint to while doing the earth a favor and keeping it out of the landfill. They accept and sell household items as well.
Nearby Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood is home to a similar used-housewares shop, Tool Shed Ted’s, as well as Finder’s Keepers Thrift Shop – both worth checking out.
These are just some of the many Portland neighborhoods that thrift shoppers love – and you will too. If you are selling or buying a home in Portland, don’t hesitate to contact me. Just like thrift shopping, handling real estate transactions requires a discerning eye and persistent attitude. Your Portland real estate agent will walk you through the entire home buying or selling process. Now that’s priceless!
Can’t find a home? You’re not alone. Believe it or not, there are half as many (about 6,000) homes for sale in Portland this spring of 2013 verses the Portland housing inventory in spring 2011 (about 12,000 homes for sale).
Multiple offers are becoming the norm in hot areas for any home that is priced at previous market prices. Across the board, homes are selling faster and for more in Portland. Now more than ever, you need a great Portland listing agent that can maximize the multiple offer situation or a Portland buyer’s agent who knows how to win in a multiple offer situation.
Why are we seeing record low inventory in Portland?
1. Home builders in Portland have been shutting their doors since 2008. Very few new homes have hit the market in the last 5 years. Only now is building getting back into full swing.
2. Foreclosures and short sales are slowing down. Overall “shadow” inventory in Portland real estate is significantly down. The banks have worked through the bulk of the inventory from homes that started foreclosing in 2008.
3. Portland home owners are still underwater. For those Portland home owners who bought or refinanced in 2005-2010, they may still be underwater today. Generally speaking those who bought or refinanced in Portland before 2005 or after 2010 can sell today.
4. For those who have enough equity to sell, they may be waiting until they can earn enough equity to trade up and not simply escape their homes. Portland home sellers know now that the market is rising and if they don’t need to sell, it may be a good idea to hold onto their homes until prices rise higher.
Need more help? Talk with your local Portland real estate agent.
Spring is a great time to get your on the market and sold with the help of your Portland real estate agent. Buyers are emerging from their winter hibernation and are motivated to buy before the inevitable summer price hikes. Getting your home sale over with in the next couple of months will free up the rest of your summer for relaxation – so what are you waiting for? Use our quick checklist to make sure your home is in shape to sell this spring.
Home exterior spic and span. Portland’s northwest winters can be hard on the outside of your home. The gutters may be full of pine needles and leaves and cobwebs are sure to be tangled around light fixtures and windows. Some home siding materials may be susceptible to mold and mildew. Don’t assume that a pressure washer will take care of all these issues for you – some elbow grease and cleaning products might be needed.
Yard tidy and eye-catching. Most Portland home sellers will settle for a mown lawn and moss-free driveway. Go the extra mile by doing a little “front yard staging” to give your home some serious curb appeal. Plant beds with bright spring flowers or graze-able and pretty salad greens, and create inviting paths for buyers to step into your garden and let their imaginations go wild.
Clean interior. Nothing says “spring” like the fresh, clean slate buyers should see when they walk into your home. The key to great home staging is to make your home feel move-in ready by eliminating unnecessary furnishings and clutter, but leaving enough personal touches to make it comfortable. After you’ve cleaned your house from top to bottom, a bunch or two of fresh flowers will add that homey, spring touch that just might make buyers fall in love.
Light and bright. In any season – especially in a place like Portland where the weather can get a bit, well, dark – it’s a good idea to be sure you’re letting as much light into your home as possible. After you shine up those windows, make sure all your lightbulbs are working. Place lamps strategically to light up dark corners and use full-spectrum bulbs for a daylight effect.
Out with the old, hold off on the new. Buyers can’t picture themselves in your home if it’s full of your stuff. That doesn’t mean you have to move out, but you can get a head start on packing by spending a couple of weekends going through items you haven’t used in a while. If the task is too daunting, enlist a professional organizer to get you going. Then get ready to show off those empty closets and drawers!
For more advice on preparing your home for sale this spring, contact your Portland real estate agent.
March 26th, 2013
U.S. home sales are at three-year high, according an Associated Press story this week. Are Portland home sales following the nationwide trend?
Judging from the February RMLS Report on the Portland real estate market that also came out this week, it looks like we’re on track to have a very fast-past year, indeed. Market inventory stands at 4.5 months, lower than the February inventory for the previous two years. Pending Portland real estate sales in February increased by 11.8% over last month. The RMLS reports that this is the best February for Portland pending sales since 2007.
What does all this mean? Portland real estate agents are busy, and it’s a good time to be a home buyer or a home seller in the area. Although prices are high, mortgage rates remain low as the economy is still getting back on its feet.
The AP credits steady hiring and near-record-low mortgage rates for the boost in both sales and prices in real estate markets across the country. The median price for a Portland home was $238,500 this February.
On the other hand, in Portland and across the country, we are still seeing a high number of underwater home owners. They are unable to sell their home because they owe more than it is worth. Short sales and foreclosures are slowly bringing these homes to the market, and as home values continue to rise, more homeowners will be able to sell.
Meanwhile, new home construction is attempting to fill the gap. According to the Oregonian, there were 45% more building permits for single family homes issued this month than in February 2012.
Whether you’re looking to sell, relocate, invest in a second home, buy a new home or find a good deal on an existing home, you don’t want to enter the tight Portland real estate market without a good buyer’s or seller’s agent on your side. Your Portland real estate agent can help you understand the numbers and avoid some of the pitfalls.
If you haven’t yet, sign up for the monthly RMLS market action report for Portland home prices, market inventory and other useful data. It’s the only way to get specific, accurate information on how our local Portland real estate market is doing. Then call me to join on the action!
March 21, 2013
As a Portland real estate agent I’ve noticed that Radon testing is a growing trend, it has become more and more popular to test every home for Radon levels in the greater Portland Metro Area. It seems these days you can hardly find a home inspector that does not also include a Radon test option (for more money of course). I do not expect this trend to go away.
If you are selling a Portland home you can expect the buyer will most likely test your home for Radon levels! It is to your advantage to be prepared and perhaps conduct the test ahead of time so you know what you’re dealing with. (Surprises are never good for real estate transactions.) Radon mitigation (reducing the amount to a safe level) can run as low as 1500 but as high as 5 or 6 thousand dollars. Check the Portland Radon Map below to see the chances your home will fail the test.
If you are buying a Portland home you may be advised to test the home for dangerous levels of Radon before purchasing. To help you with that end, check the Portland Radon Map below.
Now I’ll share my insider information as a local Portland real estate agent. Please keep in mind I am not a Radon expert or a home inspector and you should visit the EPA website and educate yourself on the dangers of Radon. That being said, if the home does not have a basement, nearly 100% of the time the home will not fail the Radon test. The only time I’ve seen homes with crawlspaces fail a Radon test is when the home owner stops up his crawlspace vents. I highly – highly recommend everyone in Portland to stop insulating (covering up) their crawlspace vents. This may cause your utilities bills to rise a tiny amount, but it is worth it. A trapped crawlspace allows dangerous gases like Radon to build up and seep into the house (because they have no where else to go). If your home has a crawlspace, make sure the vents are clean and open (especially if you fall in a dangerous area on the Portland Radon Map). If you have a basement, test for Radon, simple as that. You need to test for the safety of whoever lives in the home.
If you are really curious about what Radon is and how it can be dangerous visit the EPA website (www.epa.gov). Here is a direct link to their Radon page.
Portland home buyers are looking for a home that is unique and stylish while being functional and user-friendly. Nowhere do these qualities stand out more than in the kitchen. If you’re considering selling your home and thinking that the space where the average American family does everything from homework to entertaining could use an upgrade, you’re probably right. How much of an upgrade, though? It helps to have an action plan.
Step 1: Prioritize and set a budget. Sure, it would be fun to tear everything out and build a new kitchen, and it would certainly set your home apart from the crowd, but keep cost versus value in mind. If you spend $5,000 remodeling your kitchen, you won’t necessarily be able to raise the asking price of your Portland home by $5,000 to recuperate those funds. The best plan of attack is to first figure out how much you can spend. Then use your dollars wisely to address glaring problems and generally make the space appear brighter and cleaner. Unless they are in a state of disrepair that will immediately raise red flags, let the new buyer do things like replace the flooring or countertops.
Step 2: Update appliances. If your appliances bring to mind the words “quaint” or “retro”, it would probably be wise to buy new ones before listing it with a real estate agent. Appliances tend to draw the eye more than any other feature of the kitchen, so they will be the first to make it look old and dingy. Go for energy-efficient appliances in stainless steel, which tends to look newer and more appealing than other finishes. On the other hand, if your appliances are still under warrantee, run well and don’t look either new or old, it’s not worth laying down a bunch of money on new ones because your buyer won’t think twice about them.
Step 3: Creative cabinetry. Your cabinets are the next kitchen feature that might stand between your Portland home and a quick sale, so the key is to update them without blowing your entire budget. If the cabinets themselves are of poor quality or have damage that new paint won’t cover up, you may be able to find good replacement cabinets at a local Portland building materials recycler like the Rebuilding Center. http://rebuildingcenter.org/ Want to upgrade your existing cabinets? New knobs and a fresh coat of paint can do wonders. Or you can creatively alter them by removing the doors for the trendy “open shelving” look.
Step 4: Finishing touches. What features have you always wanted in the kitchen but never gotten around to adding? If you’re not someone who cooks a lot, bring in a friend who does and ask them. Things as simple as hooks, shelves for small items, work lights under cabinets, or a rack for hanging pots above the stove or island can add convenience and charm that will make buyers say “this is my dream kitchen”. Shelves, lights and even the pot rack can be as simple as a quick trip to the hardware or recycled materials center and some internet DIY help.
With a little time and some forethought, you can convert a “blah” kitchen into a “you’ve gotta see this” home highlight. Not sure how your kitchen remodel will affect your Portland home sale? Ask your Portland real estate agent.
You just found the perfect home and it is priced at $300,000. Now what? Do you offer 275, 300, or even 310,000? The number one factor for making a great offer on a Portland home is knowing the DOM (days on market). If the sellers are asking fair market value and there are no other offers on the table you can follow this rule of thumb.
1-3 DOM (Days on Market)
You will need to offer full price or extremely close to it. Make sure your Portland buyers agent calls the listing agent to check if there are already multiple offers submitted.
4-14 DOM (Days on Market)
You will need to offer within 1% to 3% of asking price. At this point the home is still pretty new on the market and the sellers aren’t going to consider much less than they want. The sellers will generally wait at this point for something better.
15-31 DOM (Days on Market)
With this time frame you can consider 3% to 5% off asking price. The sellers are probably starting to worry they won’t sell their home, but it is still recent enough on the market they aren’t going to consider low ball offers.
32-60 DOM (Days on Market)
At this point you can consider asking 4% to 7% off the listing price. Feel free to get a little aggressive with what you are asking for. It doesn’t hurt at this stage to try for a significant reduction.
60+ DOM (Days on Market)
Be reasonable but at the same time feel free to ask 5% to 10% off the listing price or more, depending on the home and situation. Make sure your Portland buyers agent has checked in with the listing agent before making an offer. At this point the sellers may have already had a price drop or two and you can’t take another 10% off their latest price drop.
Keep in mind every house and every market is a little different, make sure to rely on the advice of a top Portland real estate agent. Also keep in mind that higher priced (luxury) properties tend to stay on the market longer and you typically won’t be able to ask as much off the top. However, these DOM numbers are a good rule of thumb. Always have your Portland buyers agent check the home’s value, see if there are other offers on the table, and find out if the sellers have made any price drops since they started the listing. With these items and the DOM in mind you will be able to make a good offer on a home in Portland.
Five Star Professional 2013 for Excellence in Portland Real Estate
Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor
Top 10% Agent in the U.S.
Five Star Professional conducts market specific research throughout the U.S. and Canada to identify service professionals who provide quality services to their clients. Now entering its tenth year, the Five Star Real Estate Agent program is the largest and most widely published real estate award program in North America, covering more than 40 major markets. The list of Five Star Real Estate Agents for each market is published in the leading city and regional magazine and on fivestarprofessional.com. Five Star award winners do not pay a fee to be included in the research or the final list of award winners.
The research objective is to develop a list of real estate agents in a given market who satisfy objective criteria that are associated with providing quality services to clients. To receive the Five Star Real Estate Agent award, a real estate agent must satisfy five objective eligibility and evaluation criteria that are associated with real estate agents who provide quality services to their clients. The award process is conducted annually in each market. Less than 7% of the real estate agents in a market are included on the published list.
Five Star Professional administers a survey, by mail and phone, to recent clients. Clients of real estate agents may also submit evaluations online. Each respondent is asked to evaluate only real estate agents with whom they have worked and evaluate them based upon ten criteria: customer service, integrity, market knowledge, communication, negotiation, closing preparation, sale service, finds the right home, marketing of home, and overall satisfaction. Additionally, respondents are asked whether they would recommend the agent to a friend. This information is incorporated into a client scoring algorithm as a cross check against their average rating.
February, 21st, 2013. Why should you use a Portland buyer’s agent? Let’s compare lawyers with real estate agents. It’s safe to say that the majority of us are not lawyers. But we probably know or have heard of someone who is. If you had some sort of legal trouble, it would be in your best interest to get in touch with one, and a good one at that. Their expertise at looking out for your interests and having your legal back is worth a lot when you need representation. They can really protect your rights, time, negotiate on your behalf, save you trouble down the road, and sometimes they can even save you a lot of money.
So it is with a Portland buyer’s agent. When buying a home, in addition to those services mentioned above, they can also help you find the home or property of your dreams. Unlike a lawyer’s services, a (good) Portland buyers agent’s services never cost you a dime!
So, aside from representation that costs you nothing, being an advocate for your interests, helping with negotiations, and supporting you through offers and contracts, what does a Portland buyers agent do and what’s in it for you?
Well, in addition to the aforementioned, a (good) Portland buyers agent will have an extensive knowledge of the local area you’re looking in, as well as tools for searching out the exact home you’re looking for that are only available to Licensed Real Estate Professionals. The Regional Multiple Listings Service or RMLS is a regional database that Portland real estate agents use to both find and list homes for sale. It contains some proprietary information that is only available to agents. (We call it the “private field” in RMLS.) The ability of buyer’s agents to access this information is important to most people because according to the National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers 2011, 55% most buyers wanted Buyers Agents to help them find the right home. Additionally, 61% most often noted that the benefit of having a buyers agent is to help walk through and explain the home buying process to them. If buyers agents have exclusive information – well that will obviously help out a lot!
So in short, what is a Portland buyers agent and what’s in it for you? He or she is a professional who is committed to making sure you find the right property, for the right price, in the right area who walks you through the buying process but charges you nothing.
Your home is valued at less than what you owe on your mortgage. You’re experiencing financial hardship and need to downsize to a new home but can’t sell your underwater home until the market changes. You don’t want to ruin your credit or be in a situation where you have to wait for months to buy again. Sound familiar?
With the help of a Portland real estate agent experienced in short sales, your headaches could be over. Short sales have helped thousands of underwater homeowners in Portland sell their home and get out of mortgage debt.
What is a short sale? A short sale allows the homeowner to sell his or her home for less than is owed on the mortgage. Banks often prefer to negotiate a short sale over letting the home go into foreclosure, and many fees and costs (if not all) are waived. You get to walk away and start over.
How long do short sales normally take? Anywhere from a three to nine months typically. Short sales were designed to prevent foreclosures, which can hurt your credit badly, and give buyers and sellers an avenue to find a mutually agreeable price based on the home’s real value. The bank accepts what the buyer is willing to pay.
Unfortunately, short sales are not as common as they could be because of the long and fragile series of negotiations involved. Often, multiple lenders are involved, or the buyer may find something better and pull out. It takes an experienced Portland short sale agent to stay on top of the communications and paperwork to move the deal along.
Here’s the good news – the Mortgage Debt Relief Act has been extended until 2014, meaning Portland homeowners who choose to short sell won’t owe tax money on the amount of debt that is essentially forgiven by the bank in a short sale.
There’s no reason to sit in an underwater home, wondering how you’re going to make the next mortgage payment, and wishing you could start over. The great thing about short sales is they do give homeowners that second chance.
If you think a short sale might be for you, the first step is to find a Portland short sale agent who is a Certified (C.S.S.A). I can walk you through the steps to a successful short sale and help you avoid the pitfalls. Freedom is just a phone call away (503-975-6853)! My team has closed on 100+ Short Sales in Portland with an over 90% success rate. Plus, I won’t charge you a dime!
As a homeowner, the toughest real estate question is always “When should I list my home for sale?” Depending on who you ask, the answer might depend on global economic factors or something as simple as the time of year.
Professional real estate agents rely on the Market Action Report published by the Regional Multiple Listing Service, and you should too. By looking at 2012, it’s clear that 2013 will outshine the past few years as the ideal time to list a property or home for sale in Portland. Here are three quick reasons why:
1. Home prices are up, but leveling off. The Market Action Report for December gives a picture of the whole year’s activity on home prices. We can see that last year, the median home sale price went from $216,000 in December 2011 to $247,000 in December 2012. That’s a 14.5% increase. Zillow also reports that Portland-area home values went up more this year than they have since 2007.
Will this growth last forever? Don’t count on it. The real estate market is definitely in recovery, but those who wait around might end up kicking themselves later when the market takes one of its cyclical downturns.
2. Inventory is low. As we explained last month, inventory – or the number of months it would take to run out of homes at the current rate of sales – is a good indicator of where the market is going. In 2012, the Portland real estate market saw a big drop in inventory – from 7.0 in January to 3.6 in December. Low year-end inventory is normal, but overall the numbers this year have been lower than in the last two years. That’s a good thing for home sellers. With inventory low, your home is more likely to get noticed, and buyers are aware that lowball offers are less likely to be accepted.
3. Time spent on market is down. Another useful metric that the RMLS Market Action Report keeps track of is the average amount of time in days that a Portland home spends on the market before being sold. In 2011, homes were taking an average of 143 days to sell. Last year, that number was down to 112, a 21.5% decrease. Lower average total market time is not only convenient for the seller, it also indicates that buyers are motivated and that homes are less likely to sit around getting moldy. On the other hand, sellers should be prepared for things to start happening quickly once they call their local Portland real estate agent and put their home on the market! Check out our incredible marketing package here.
There you have it, numerical evidence that 2013 could be the best year to come around in a long time for you to sell your Portland home. Check out our Portland RMLS Market Action Report to see for yourself.
Jan. 20th 2013 Need to relocate to Portland, Oregon?
Good news! Portland city hall is very progressive. Before you rent or buy a home in Portland various websites can help you easily discover vital information about Portland neighborhoods: the best schools, lowest crime areas, and lots of helpful demographic information.
Here are the top five Portland relocation websites:
PortlandMaps.com – This website is updated by the government and contains the latest information on crime, zoning, utilities and more, great information specific to any inputted address.
Oregon School Ratings – The department of education in Oregon has a very progressive and in depth rating system for every single public school in the state! The entire list is searchable alphabetically on this site.
Portland School District Website – Not sure what Portland school is assigned to a Portland address?
Oregon Votes – You can also track your voter registration online. Register to Vote in Portland!
RealEstateAgentPDX (Find Page) – My website has tremendous demographic information searchable by neighborhood. By clicking on the blue line that surrounds the border of each Portland Neighborhood you can quickly find out education, income, weather and even social demographics specific to each individual Portland Neighborhood. This is targeted local search at its best!
Need more help? Please contact your local Portland Real Estate Agent. I’d be happy to take your call.
Jan. 17th, 2013 The National Association of Realtors® puts out a “member profile report” every year. In the member profile report it goes over how much money REALTORS® spend and how much they make. I’m pleased to report that in 2012 I found myself in the top 10% of real estate agents in the United States. You can see my success rate in previous years here. With the Portland real estate market expected in increase dramatically in 2013 (see our article here) I’m confident I will remain a top Portland real estate agent in 2013. Real estate and Portland are my two loves (besides my family)! We live in a fantastic city full of business and culture. Let me put my experience to work for you.