It’s November, which means it’s time for Oregon residents to get their property tax bills for the year. When I assist buyers in finding a house, they often notice property tax discrepancies in otherwise-comparable properties, which can sometimes be the differentiating factor in making a decision on a home. Since it’s the season for property taxes, I thought it might be helpful to pull back the curtain a little on how the tax assessor calculates property taxes.
If you are in Multnomah County, these two articles – delving into how the tax bill is calculated (HERE) and frequently asked questions (HERE) – have been illuminating for me in terms of parsing through some of the idiosyncrasies of the Multnomah County tax code. Clackamas County has this online PDF as a useful resource (HERE), while Washington County’s main site is HERE.
For all three counties, Oregon’s Measure 5 (passed in 1990) and Measure 50 (passed in 1997) have been the two main legislative apparatuses that have influenced the state tax code. Measure 5 caps property tax calculation for real market value by $15 for every $1000 the home is worth. Measure 50 established “maximum assessed value” by setting its baseline of a home’s 1995 real market value less 10% (for every home built before 1995) and capping increases for maximum assessed value at 3% per year. Homes newer than 1995 have their value calculated by the city assessor, using their formula, but retain the 3% increase. Please keep in mind the 3% cap does not include local bonds and initiatives that may be passed by voters.
There are exceptions for that 3% increase, and some of these are especially germane to buyers and sellers. These exceptions include:
- New construction or additions of more than $10,000 in a year or $25,000 over five years.
- Remodeling or rehabilitation for the same amounts as the above item.
- Partitions or rezoning.
- Discovery of omitted property (this is especially notable for buyers who may be thinking of purchasing a home with unpermitted work, as an appraisal can turn up omitted property).
- Disqualification from past exemptions.
I tried to streamline this as best I could, but the tax code does remain extremely hard to parse. If you have any questions or input, let me know, and hopefully we can discover the answers together!
The end of October is already ushering in winter temperatures, with overnight lows forecasted to fall at or below freezing for several evenings this week. To combat freezing temperatures, preemptively winterizing external plumbing can help avoid frozen pipes.
Hose bibs are the most universal outdoor plumbing element and can be winterized by disconnecting hoses, turning off water supply to the individual hose bibs, and draining the remaining water in the pipes by running the faucets until the water flow ceases. Insulation sleeves can also be placed over the hose bibs to provide additional protection.
Sprinkler systems also require winterization. Conceptually, this is a similar process to the hose bibs, as the first step is to shut off the water supply to the irrigation system and drain and water left over in the pipes. It’s also worth noting what sort of automatic controls the sprinkler system has set up so you can temporarily disable them while the sprinklers are winterized.
If you’re leaving your home vacant for an extended period of time during the winter, it’s important in that instance to perform winterization on interior plumbing by shutting off water to the home, emptying out existing water in the pipes, and adding antifreeze to any water that is unable to be fully drained, e.g in a toilet bowl/tank.
We hope these tips help avoid any burst or frozen pipes as we move into the holidays!
With rates staying low and propping up purchasing power and affordability, we are seeing a lot of first time homebuyers entering the marketplace. As real estate agents, we’ve made a concerted effort to walk first time buyers through the purchasing process, but it’s also important for those new homeowners to be prepared for the actual ownership portion of the process. With that in mind, we’ve included a few tips below for new homeowners.
- Know where all your utility shut-offs are. If there’s a leak in the plumbing system or gas appliances, it’s important to know where the utility can be shut off the offending system and get a professional technician to address the issue.
- Make sure all utilities are in your name as of the closing date and auto-pay has been set up wherever possible. If you are curious as to your utility providers, the escrow company you used should know that information. Portlandmaps.com, if you are in the City of Portland, also has said info.
- Find the periodic maintenance projects specific to your home and make sure those are addressed regularly. Some homes have gutters that need recurrent cleaning to prevent water from building up and potentially entering the crawlspace or basement. Others have siding joints that require occasional caulking to ensure they are secured against the weather. Usually, your home inspection report will have made note of these items, but inspectors can also come to a house and provide a “punch list” of items.
There are a myriad of responsibilities involved in home ownership, but this is a good start and we hope it’s helpful!
As of Tuesday 10/1, Multnomah County’s seasonal wood smoke restrictions have taken effect. These restrictions forbid homes and businesses from burning wood on days with already-poor air quality, and these limitations will last for the next six months.
The ordinance was passed in February 2018 and is meant to counteract the deleterious effects wood-burning particles can have on air quality. There are exemptions for low-income families, households whose only heat source is a wood-burning stove/fireplace, and homes and restaurants that use wood to cook.
Last year had two no-burn days on the schedule and no fines were issued to offending households – although warning letters were dispensed by the county – but this year Multnomah County seems more intent on leveraging these prescribed fines.
The entire article on this subject can be found HERE, while the county’s website for daily air quality is located HERE. I love a good fire during the colder months, so I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on their updates!
Every month the RMLS publishes its Market Action, which highlight’s the previous month’s real estate trends and compares them with year-over-year trends. The full report can be found HERE. For March 2019, the trends display a cooler market than in March 2018, but a warmer market when compared to the previous months. While months inventory has risen since March 2018, it has fallen to start the new year, indicating homes still moving rapidly. Appreciation over the last 12 months has seen a 3.9% increase in median sales price.
This data seems to reinforce the anecdotal impression that we are hitting more of a “plateau” in the market following the last five years of torrid growth. That being said, with rates still low and people still moving to Portland, there is little expectation of the market declining; rather, appreciation is instead forecasted to continue at a slower rate.
Feel free to ask any for any additional info or data if you have questions!
Matthew Gardner, Windermere’s Chief Economist, has published his report reviewing market conditions and trends from the fourth quarter of 2018. The full report can be found HERE; in it, Matt mentions that job growth has continued, if at a slightly slower rate. Similarly, home prices have also continued to appreciate, albeit at a slower rate than over the past few years, and fourth quarter activity waned in comparison to the fourth quarter of 2017. These marginal slowdowns represent what is being termed a “rebalancing” of the market, as the Portland Metro area resets a little following the explosive growth of the last few years. Matt still has faith in the strength of the region’s housing market and is still terming it a “seller’s market”, although not as strong of one as it has been in the previous years.
As an anecdotal addendum to this report, the first month and a half of 2019 has been, if anything, hotter than we expected it to be based on the 2018 trends. We are still seeing multiple offers on well-priced listings, and rates have stayed low. It’s been a fun start to the year for us!
After the real estate market’s 2018 stats have been fully processed, the Portland Business Journal publishes a pair of slideshows. The first is the hottest neighborhoods in the Portland Metro area, which identifies the top 25 zip codes that had the most home sales in 2018. The other slideshow ranks the top 25 zip codes in terms of median sales price. Feel free to take a look at the links below and let me know what you think! There are some interesting results in both slideshows, and the relative lack of overlap between the two slideshows seems to be a reflection of how a lot of buyers are coping with the affordability issues we see in some of the Metro Area’s more established neighborhoods.
Matthew Gardner, Windermere’s chief economist and someone we trust to provide an unvarnished look at upcoming market expectations, has published his 2019 forecast in the Seattle Business Magazine. You can read the full version HERE, and we’d encourage you to do so. That being said, we’d also like to specifically highlight his thoughts on the real estate market.
While Matt sees some strong market fundamentals, including a strong labor market and continued free trade agreements, he is forecasting an upcoming recession in late 2019 or 2020 due to a flattening treasury yield curve and the expectation of the Federal Reserve raising short-term rates multiple times this year.
However, unlike the 2007/2008 recession that was spearheaded by a decline in the housing market, his expectation is for continued – if decelerated – growth. Rising rates will impact affordability and appreciation will slow as housing supply is predicted to swell, but a strong labor market, continued migration into the Pacific Northwest, and rates that are still historically low will keep the overall housing market strong. Matt does caution that the frantic growth of the last half-decade may not continue, and expectations will have to be recalibrated accordingly, but demand will remand strong even as supply continues and we move towards a more balanced market.
As fall turns to winter and school and work slows down, the holiday season can be a time to brave the cold and have some fun with friends and family. I’ve compiled a little list below of some relaxing winter fun, with links included!
- The Oregon Ballet Theater’s production of The Nutcracker is always fun!
- I’ve found the Grotto’s Festival of Lights to be truly beautiful.
- The Christmas Ships Parade down the Willamette River happens 15 nights this season!
- Viewing the lights on Peacock Lane is an easy drive through a beautiful Portland neighborhood.
- The Winter Wonderland lights show at the Portland International Raceway is high on my list this winter!
- And finally, Zoo Lights is a classic Portland holiday tradition that is fun for everyone.
I hope you have a lovely holiday season!
Autumn has kicked into full gear, which means everything is flavored with pumpkin, belts need to be preemptively loosened for the holiday feasts to come, and the rain has begun to fall in earnest. While the precipitation provides a welcome change to the summer heat, it is accompanied by a renewed need for yard maintenance and attention to landscaping. But what if you want a less seasonal and more permanent respite from landscaping chores? If having a low-maintenance yard sounds really appealing, then hardscaping may be for you. Hardscaping involves using manmade landscaping materials, as opposed to organic vegetation and plant life, to decorate your yard. I’ve summarized a few great hardscaping strategies below!
- Consider replacing your lawn with gravel by trimming or removing the grass, laying down landscaping fabric, and spreading the gravel.
- Think about a focal point for your yard, whether its a statue, a water feature, a fire pit, or even something more inventive like a gazebo!
- Treat your hardscaped yard as a continuation of your indoor living space by installing patios or decks, along with maintaining a stylistic connection between the yard and the home’s interior.
- While hardscaped yards are typically associated with modern homes due to the prevalence of materials like concrete, older homes can also utilize materials such as treated wood or river rocks to provide an aesthetic match.
- Although “hardscaping vs. softscaping” may be presented as an either-or choice, the two can work in tandem! Feel free to blend any existing foliage or vegetation with some hardscaped features.
I also wanted to include this link to Gardenista’s “Hardscape 101” page, which contained a lot of information I found informative and inspiring!
In addition, please feel free to run any ideas by me. I would be happy to chime in with both landscaper suggestions and input on how proposed changes may affect your home’s value.