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.
Going to home inspections is one of the most interesting and favorite parts of my job. I’ve learned a tremendous amount about homes, how they are constructed, and how they function. However, for many of my fist time homebuyers, it can be one of the most worrisome times of the home buying process.
Here is a great short article that helps to alleviate those fears by know what questions to ask your home inspector. 5 Crucial Questions to Ask a Home Inspector
The RMLS Market Action provides a monthly update of the Portland Metro Area’s market activity, and its June 2018 report was just published. Anecdotally, it feels like we are starting to see a more substantial “leveling off” in the market place, and the latest data seems to support that feeling. Among other statistics, we’re seeing:
- An inventory level that’s above 2 months in June for the first time since at least 2015
- Less new, pending, and closed sales in June 2018 than in June 2017; indeed, June closings were at their lowest since 2014.
- A rise in year-over-year median sales prices of 6.7% from June 2017, which is below the double digit appreciation we’ve been seeing over the past few years.
See HERE for the full report. Of course, the question on everyone’s mind is if this signals another bursting bubble in the real estate market. Right now, it feels more like a return to normalcy after several years of unsustainable growth. It will certainly be worth monitoring if these trends indicate a longer-term plateau, the start of a downturn, or nothing more than the annual summer mini-swoon we see in the Portland market.
Feel free to get in touch with any questions or comments!
As the summer solstice and 90+ degree weather both mark our transition from spring to summer, we have a few exciting news items to share:
- Windermere Realty Trust ranked number one in 2017 sales volume in the Portland Metro area! While it is great to work with a company that has so many tools and resources available, what I truly value about Windermere is its commitment to service and how it empowers its agents to best serve their clients. For them to maintain such a high level of service, even while growing in size, is a true accomplishment. I’m happy to have my name next to the Windermere logo!
- Windermere will again be sponsoring July’s “Concerts in the Park” at the Sellwood Riverfront Park. July 16th will feature Lloyd Jones, while July 30th will feature Sabroso. The format has changed from the last few years, so none of our agents (including myself) will have tents, food, or a guest area. However, if you want to enjoy some great live music right by the Willamette, these can be great events!
- PSA to my sphere: the Springwater Corridor Trail will be CLOSED at the Oaks Bottom Habitat Enhancement project site from July 1st to October 31st. Get those bike rides in now! See HERE for more information and alternate bike route options.
Thanks as always, and please don’t hesitate to reach out if there’s anything I can do to help with your real estate needs!
My favorite local real estate economist, Mathew Gardner, just released his 1st quarter report for Oregon and SW Washington. I truly appreciate how he can take a complex picture and present it in an understandable and tidy format.
Some of his highlights:
- Oregon added 43,700 new jobs over the past 12 months.
- First quarter home sales dropped 0.8% compared to the same period last year.
- Average home prices in the region rose 9.9% year-over year.
- Washington County led the region with the shortest average days on market of 36. Clatsop and Tillamook Counties were last averaging 159 days on market.
Click on the following link to read this informative piece and see how the real estate economy is impacting your specific area.
As Alex and I continue to help buyers navigate the current market, we get a lot of questions on why the market is so skewed towards sellers. Inventory has been historically low in Portland for almost three years. “Months of inventory” is a statistic that divides active listings at the end of a given month by the number of home sales in that month, effectively showing how long it would take for that month’s inventory to sell. 4-6 months of inventory is considered balanced, with anything above that being slanted towards buyers and anything below that slanted towards sellers. The Portland Metro area has been below two months since March of 2015. Home buyers during this time period have experienced the results of this firsthand: multiple offers, homes selling above list price, needing to tour homes the same day they go on the market. While we are seeing these pressures alleviate a little – July through October 2017 were a shade above 2 months inventory before the numbers dipped below 2 in November – inventory is still remarkably low. Why? The following factors are responsible for these conditions:
- The “chicken and egg” problem of prospective sellers also wanting to buy in the Portland market but being loathe to enter the competitive fray of homebuying.
- Long-time homeowners have enjoyed the market’s recent appreciation and have no interest in cashing out. In addition, the Baby Boomer generation is working later into their lives, removing the traditional warm-weather relocation sales.
- Many homeowners have remodeled to fit their needs rather than sell outright and purchase a new home.
- The lack of new construction, stemming from an increase in material costs and the difficulty in procuring buildable land in Portland, means the inventory is dependent on the resale market.
- Increased life expectancy and the aforementioned remodels mean sellers are living in their homes longer.
- Sellers who have purchased at record low interest rates over the last decade are reluctant to give that up.
- Portland’s buyer demand remains extremely high.
Will we see these conditions alleviate any time soon? Inventory is expected to loosen, but only slightly. As prices begin to level off, sellers who are looking for the “right time” to sell may think 2018 is the right time, particularly as rising interest rates begin to shrink their available buyer pool. Other factors may be more difficult to ameliorate. If you do have any questions on how this impacts your specific situation, please don’t hesitate to give us a call or email. We’d be happy to discuss!
We wanted to share living503.com, a relocation service from WFG National Title that delineates the Portland and Vancouver metro areas into neighborhood and suburb parcels and provides information about each segment of the cities. For example, there is a dedicated webpage for each of Portland’s 5 quadrants, and each page has subsections covering neighborhoods, amenities, and schools.
Beyond the area and neighborhood information, the website also contains tourism guides for the Pacific Northwest’s various amenities – such as wine country and the coast – along with helpful links to Portland market stats, Trimet info, and even weather reports.
If you have any friends or family that are considering relocating to the Portland area, feel free to pass this along! We think it’s a helpful supplement for anyone eyeing the area.
As we move further away from the holiday season, the real estate market has started to grind back into full gear. We have already received several calls from buyers and sellers looking to capitalize on this momentum. If the new year has prompted thoughts of buying our selling, we thought this Washington Post aggregation of real estate forecasts for 2018 would be of use. The full article can be found HERE, and we’ve summarized the main points below:
- Most real estate economists are still expecting appreciation, but at a slowed rate from the rapid price increases of the last several years. Continued low inventory will drive prices upward. That being said, there is an anticipation (see HERE) that the new tax bill may slow the increase in housing costs; however, this may only occur in certain price brackets.
- Part of the reason for a potential slowdown in the market appreciation is the looming increase in mortgage rates. The Mortgage Bankers Association is predicting increased volatility in rates, with 2018 rates increasing to 4.5% from 4.0% in 2017. There is an expectation that rates may eventually plateau around 5.0%. That being said, the prediction of a rate increase has been bandied around for several years, so this is far from set in stone.
If you have any questions on how these potential changes impact your buying or selling power, give us a call! We’d be happy to treat you to coffee and answer any questions you may have.
I often work with clients who, at least in passing, consider purchasing a “fixer” as their home. The advantages are obvious ones: cheaper entry price and a chance to make the home their own. However, fixing up a home can be a costly and time-consuming process without proper preparation. I’ve found a great article I wanted to share with you that highlights important steps to take as you fix up a home. Click HERE for the article; I’ve also summarized the points below:
- Be realistic about the project’s scope. Know your own limits, both in terms of finances and patience.
- Set a budget (and stick to it!).
- Make sure the communication channels between architects, contractors, subcontractors, and yourself remain open, and use them frequently. There are seldom pleasant surprises during a rehab project.
- Find the right contractors and architects. I’m certainly happy to provide recommendations!
- Know the building association and neighbors.
- Know the permitting process. Again, I am happy to provide recommendations here!
- Even though you’re building your dream house, understand the process itself may not always be a dream.
Remember, I’m here to help! Don’t hesitate to contact me if you need recommendations, value analysis, or other input!
The Oregonian’s real estate section (see HERE for article) has noted what agents are seeing at the ground level: market times are rising while the housing inventory remains low. Market conditions are still beneficial for sellers, as the low housing supply and rising prices make for a strong sellers’ market. However, the apex of the buying frenzy may already be over; as the article observes, “where two years ago a home might have…attracted 7 or 8 offers, it might now get 2 or 3.”
This decreased competitiveness on the buying side may encourage certain sellers to list their homes. Sellers who also want to purchase in the Portland area may have been hesitant to put their homes on the market, fearing a quick sale on their home but no available houses to purchase upon their closing. While the low inventory and high prices still provide great conditions for these sellers, the reduced competition of the Portland market gives their purchase a softer landing.
In the last few months I’ve successfully helped several clients with this exact situation: selling their home and then immediately purchasing a new one in the Portland Metro Area. If you have any question on how these shifting market conditions impact your real estate situation, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I would love to assist!