Market update – April 27, 2020

The bottom line is- sales are still healthy.
This downturn hasn’t affected housing like the crash of 2007-8, which is the major event that most of us have to measure this against. There has been upheaval with individual buyers- if your income depended on restaurants, or entertainment, then lenders have rescinded approvals.  I’m personally just as busy as I was in February, which was very busy.  The first 3 months of 2020 had 10.5% more closings than the same period in 2019.

When Oregon Stay Home-Stay Safe order went into effect, prices were in the middle of a typical Spring price bump. Since showing got much more difficult, that cut out the frenzy around the nicest listings, for the most part. (I heard about a home that received 6 offers in the last couple weeks, but that is rare now where in Jan- early March it was becoming typical.)  In February, one of my buyer clients had to beat 15 other offers to get his home under contract.  Now it’s much more common that only a few buyers will be ready to offer.

The market is a much more mild seller’s market now.  There’s still not enough sitting inventory to call it a buyer’s market BUT you’re much more likely to find a seller willing to be flexible on price or closing costs, now that they can’t count on a line of other buyers waiting for a chance at the same place.

Many sellers had heard about the market acceleration/tight supply/seller’s market we had going and we’ve got more homes coming on the market, at the same time I see buyers are more comfortable about going out to tour.  I think things are going to stay balanced for the near future.

Lenders have had a tough time, but that hasn’t translated to difficulty for buyers.  The bond market, which is generally the source for the money for mortgages, has seen massive upheavals, rapid rate changes and limited availability.  Loan products like Jumbo loans that were widely available a couple months ago are very hard to access now.  A couple lenders have even gone out of business. If you haven’t checked with a loan company for a while, it’s a good time to get an update. Title company staff are largely working from home, which can make transactions take longer.

Long term, house prices are going to depend on the economy.  If things tank and people stay laid off, I expect prices to drop eventually.  As long as people are doing alright, we should see prices continue to rise as people continue to move to Portland faster than they leave. Contact me for updates!

House hunting and COVID-19: safety precautions and social distancing.

I wanted to inform all my interested clients about what we’re doing to keep buyers and the rest of our community safe.

• I bring single-use nitrile gloves and hand sanitizer out when showing, and I encourage everyone to use the gloves while in any high-traffic area.

• Travel should be in separate vehicles when possible.

• Private showings are preferable to going out to open house events.  Many open houses have been canceled or are only allowing limited parties to view at once, and I’m always happy to set up showings.

• For buyers at elevated risk from COVID-19, I am happy to provide a narrated video walkthrough instead of an in-person tour.  I am leaving it up to my clients to request this, but it’s something I already do for long-distance buyers.

Thank you for your support, and stay healthy!  We really are all in this together.

New Year Predictions and update

Hello to all my clients and friends!

2019 was a year that saw some serious changes. For me, that included: moving brokerages (and joining The Bungalow Guy team); working together with friends and partners to start a coffee roaster (; volunteering as Treasurer of the Cottonwood School Board and on the committee tasked with finding a new building; serving a great many new clients; and finding new strategies to handle everything. To keep up with everything, I have been profoundly lucky to have the support of family, friends, and my new team to keep up with everything. Thanks to all of you!

The past year in Portland real estate

The year started off fairly slow all over, but we ended with a ton of transactions. Mortgage rates declined steadily from November 2018 (the highest peak for 7 years, at the time) to September of 2018, and they have stayed low. At the same time, there have been more houses for sale in Portland than in recent years- this has driven a mild surge of activity in sales, and a large number of mortgage refinances. Business has been steady almost through the holiday, without nearly as much of a seasonal slow-down as we have seen in past years. It has kept me happily busy over the last 5 months, thanks to my fantastic clients! I have had the privilege to work with dozens of buyers and sellers from five states this year.
The market right now is fairly competitive, with attractive houses seeing buyer competition in the first week, and multiple bids. Even “fixers” and the more dated homes are selling for healthy prices. I have seen (more than once) buyers offer on a home that has been on the market for months, only to have another party lurking to put in a competitive bid at the last minute. That said, we have a fair amount of inventory on the market right now, but much of it is overpriced or unattractive to buyers.


In the short term, I am expecting a lot of sellers to jump in and list their homes in the next couple of months. Buyers and sellers both seem to be full of optimism, and people aren’t waiting around for prices to go up. I expect lower-priced homes to see more competition, and the prices of these smaller places to accelerate more than mid-range homes from $400,000-$650,000.
Many industry forecasts, including Freddie Mac, the Mortgage Bankers Association, First American and Redfin are forecasting 30-year fixed mortgage rates to stay low, in the 3.5% to 3.9% range for 2020. This should allow homebuyers to continue to drive more sales and keep prices up, especially in the lower end of the market.
Zillow’s price forecast for Portland, as an example, changed a few months ago. They had been predicting a 1-3% drop in prices in several close in N and NE ZIP codes, from St. John’s to Rose City Park. Currently, their price predictions for one year from now stand in the plus 2%-4% range.

It could be a great time to downsize into a less expensive home, if you’ve been considering that option, as smaller and more affordable homes are gaining value much more steadily than those that are larger or in more expensive neighborhoods.

I hope you all have a fantastic 2020 and that the new decade brings great things to you and your loved ones!

Portland Market Update for June

It feels like everyone has been busy, and more buyers have been deciding that this is the time to jump in. Let’s look at the numbers.

There are more listings on the market AND more being sold, with the effect that there is slightly less inventory for May than April. Last monthe was the busiest May since 2006- one of the drivers of the uptick in buying activity has been less competition for homes. More places on the market leads to fewer multiple offer situations, and sellers who are more receptive to repairs and closing credits. Buyers noticed, and due to the increased confidence, we’re seeing a swing the other direction, towards a seller’s market.

The major reason for the increase in buyer activity seems to be falling mortgage rates, a trend that looks to continue now that the Fed has signaled a rate cut and financial markets are unsettled from the push for war with Iran and the trade war situation.

Mortgage rates have fallen rapidly since November 2018

I’m anticipating a longer buying season this summer, and staying busy through until November. For the full monthly report, click here to download it from RMLS. If you have specific questions, text me any time.

Portland Market Update for May

The number of houses shown to buyers in Portland jumped 10.2% last weekend, according to the RMLS. 4,210 homes came on the market last month, more than any April since 2010. The surge in inventory (see the Active Listings graph) and our recent drop in mortgage rates have inspired plenty of buyers to get serious.

Talking to buyers and sellers, it’s evident that the public is overcoming some of the uncertainty that people were feeling last year. Competitive offers are making a comeback among the best remodeled and nicest homes, as well as aggressively priced property that is in good condition. A case study- one of my recent buyers found themselves in competition with another buyer for a home, listed at $275,000. We offered $12,000 over asking and included a commitment to honor the purchase price in the event of a low appraisal. We came out ahead, and after the inspections, we negotiated $4,500 credit to the buyer back at closing. Including the credit, the purchase price was less than 3% over asking. They’re settled in now, and making the back yard into a beautiful place to hang out.

Here are the numbers for April 2019, by area.

Please consider referring me to your friends if they are thinking about buying or selling- and give me a call any time if you want to talk about what’s going on with the market, or just want to catch up.

Portland’s Backyard Nurseries

I love Portland’s local independent spirit, and the ways in which that pops up. Neighborhood plant sellers are always great to talk with, and their prices can be surprisingly affordable. You tend to find them when you’re not looking- if you know of one that I missed, please contact me so I can ask if they want to be included here.

NE Portland

Mary’s Garden – 4415 NE Wygant – (503) 287-9198

Entrance to Mary’s Garden, once you get through the greenery.

Open seasonally and by appointment. A wide-ranging selection of stock from floral shrubs and bamboos, to edible landscaping, native plants, ground cover, herbs and trees. It can be a bit hard to find, as the street doesn’t go through and the entrance is nearly obscured by vigorously growing flora. Worth the effort!

N Portland

Livingscape 3926 N. Vancouver – (503) 248-0104

With house plants, vegetable starts, trees, shrubs, Mason Bees, and urban farm supplies like tools, feed and baby chicks, this is a full garden center tucked in among the new construction on Vancouver Avenue. They can even help with Backyard Habitat certification. In this neighborhood, you’d expect prices to be on the higher end, but for a store so near to a New Seasons, they’re very reasonable. They definitely have the widest range of flora available in any of the nurseries I found- tiny potted succulents all the way to espaliered fruit trees. The staff is wonderful, too. It’s easy to miss this place when traffic is heavy, so be on the lookout or use your GPS.

SE Portland

• PLANTS – 4203 SE 25TH AVE

It’s impossible to mistake this Brooklyn institution- the sign in the front yard says PLANTS and there they are, half a block from the Fred Meyer headquarters. Incredibly affordable, small selection of vegetable starts, flowers and bushy plants. Wayne, the proprietor, is as friendly and helpful as you could ask for.

Outside Portland

Mini Farm – Hazel Dell, WA (Near NW 78th exit on I-5, call or text 360-786-1009 for directions)

This small organic farm sells produce, grapevine starts, trees, and berry plants as well as organic eggs. Wonderful couple making a go of semi-urban farming.

Open Hours: Mon, Tue, Thurs, Fri, 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, Wed 4:00 to 7:00 PM Weekends 1:00 to 4:00 PM

Barn Owl Nursery – 22999 SW Newland Rd.Wilsonville, OR. 97070

Open until July 28, Friday, Sat, Sun, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

A wide range of herbs, lavender varietals and geraniums in 4” to gallon size pots.

from their website – “We started our small, home based retail nursery in 1982.  For over 36 years we have offered a variety of locally grown herb plants. About 25 years ago we started specializing in lavender plants and hosted our first, small lavender event in 1996.  Now we offer nearly 100 different cultivars of Oregon grown lavender plants, along with a nice selection of our favorite culinary herbs.”

See their site for an extensive list of available plants.

Portland Market Update for April

The March 2019 housing statistics for Portland metro (the stats come out a few weeks behind) show that our buying season has been headed towards full swing. Inventory is down for the second month straight, at 2.2 months of supply. People have picked up many of the homes that were sitting on the market over the winter lull. The combined value of homes sold just in our office from April 15-22 is 62% higher than last year- that’s not as statistically significant as the city numbers but it reinforces what I’m seeing, that buyers are getting more positive and aggressive again. It makes sense, now that mortgage rates have dropped like a stone.

Mortgage Rates – 30 year fixed. Jan 2017 – Apr. 2019

Prices are fairly flat and it’s cheaper to borrow- a recipe for a reinvigorated seller’s market. With rates at around 4.125% for the moment, sales are expected to stay strong through June.