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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Appraisal FAQ – Need to know info. for Portland Home Appraisals

April 22nd, 2014.

A home appraisal is part of nearly 95% of Portland real estate home sales. It is not 100% because around 5% of sales in Portland, Oregon are cash and do not require an appraisal. (Pro Tip: A cash buyer can hire an independent appraiser to evaluate the home and make their offer contingent on their satisfaction of that independent appraisal. This is not common, but also not a bad idea.) Also appraisals are used for home refinances, but in this article we will focus on an appraisal for a real estate transaction in Portland.

Here is what you need to know about Portland home appraisals:

Who pays for the appraisal? The buyer pays for it and it is not included in their down payment, nor in their closing costs for the loan. Typically this is an out-of-pocket expense for the buyer, similar to the buyer’s home inspection cost.

What happens if the appraiser gives a lower value than the offer? All bets are off. The default offer contract in Portland specifies that the whole offer is contingent on an appraised value meeting the sales price. If the buyer wants to walk away at this point they can and get their earnest money back. There are a few possible solutions to move forward if the buyer still wants to. The buyer can make up the difference in cash at closing. The seller can reduce the price. Or the buyer and seller can work out a compromise between the two options.

How long does an appraisal take? An appraisal in Portland for a regular single family home (under 4,000 SF) takes between 15 min. to one hour, in my experience.

Should I stay home while the appraisal is taking place? You can if you’d like, but it is best to take a walk or let the appraisal visit themselves. They often have access to the same lock box your Portland real estate agent hung on your door. If they don’t have access to that lock box, one of the real estate agents in the transaction can let them in.

What is an appraisal? I’ll let the Appraisal Foundation answer this one. They have created a nice and informative info-graphic. Click below to enlarge the picture.

Portland Appraisal Questions

Portland Home Buyer Tests: Lead Based Paint, Lead in Pipes

Portland Lead Based Paint Lead Pipes

April 15th, 2014

Many home buyers come to their Portland real estate agent with concerns about potential hazards and unseen risks in the Portland home they have their eye on.

And well they should! Just because a home looks perfect on the surface doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dig a little deeper, especially if it’s an older home.

Based on the experience of a Portland real estate agent, I’ll be doing a series of blog posts on home buyer tests – simple ways for you, the home buyer, to know if materials like lead, asbestos and radon are a problem for a given Portland home.

Let’s start with lead. Once considered a great base for paints and water pipes because of its corrosion-resisting properties, lead has been found to cause abdominal pain, headaches, cognitive difficulty, and a variety of other health issues in humans and animals. Although lead was banned from use in paints and pipes in the United States in the 1970’s, many older homes still contain lead, and it’s important for home buyers in Portland and anywhere to know whether they could be exposed.

Recently, lead in the water pipes of Portland homes made the news when the Portland Water Bureau noticed a spike in lead levels in some homes. Although Portland has some of the tastiest and best drinking water in the country, when it sits in lead pipes, it can pose a danger. This February, the Bureau issued a warning after a round of tests of drinking water in Portland homes found more than 15 parts per billion of lead. It also published a list of steps to reduce lead exposure from water. This is most worrisome with infants who are drinking formula, it is a high water ratio, high level of potential lead exposure in relation to their tiny body mass.

Lead-based paint is a more visible concern to Portland home owners and buyers – unless, of course, it’s buried under years of new paint coats. Still, home remodeling projects could exposed contaminated paint, sending dust into the air and into your lungs. If the paint on an older home is chipping and it contains lead, the paint chips can pose a hazard to children and pets, and you definitely don’t want to be eating any plants grown in soil near the house!

How do you know if the Portland home you’re considering buying contains lead? First, check on the year it was built by looking at the title or checking in with the home appraiser if you’re to that point in the home-buying process. (A good home appraisal will also red-flag potential lead exposure.) If it was built 1978, the EPA recommends testing house paint and soil for lead contamination from lead-based paint. The EPA has a list of approved lead testing kits. Your Portland real estate agent can also provide you with the official EPA pamphlet on Lead Based Paint for new homeowners.

If your home was built between 1970 and 1985, the Portland Water Bureau does free drinking water testing to test for lead contamination from pipes. To find out more, see their website.

I hope this blog post will help Portland home buyers and owners feel safer and more knowledgable about one of the most common risks with older homes! When it’s all said and done, most sources of lead around Portland homes and buildings have been identified, and there are easy ways to protect yourself once you know. Don’t let fear of lead keep you from buying the Portland home you’ve always wanted – contact me today to get started!

Best time to sell a house in the Portland real estate market.

Best time to sell home Portland

There is a lot of debate in the Portland real estate industry surrounding the best time of the year to sell a Portland home. What I’ve found listening to the debate is that most Portland real estate agents are talking about it based on their experience. Experience can be useful, but when you’re considering broad questions, a bigger data picture is much more useful than one agent’s experience. So I will share my experience as a top Portland real estate agent, but I will also use the official Portland real estate market data as obtained from RMLS. (You can also sign up here to get it for free.)

Big data picture for the Portland real estate market.

Take a look at the above photo. You’ll notice the big trend in every year is the small numbers cluster around the summer months and the big numbers cluster around the Portland winter months. (Jan. and Feb. 2014 numbers are also out and are in the 4′s. – fitting the trend from 2013 summer and fall.) The numbers represented are simply this: the number of months it would take to sell through the current active listing inventory. Bottom line, Portland homes sell faster in the summer months – a lot faster, regardless of what your Portland real estate agent might say. The argument for listing in the fall or winter months usually goes along the lines of reduced inventory, but the facts are clear – even though the inventory is much lower in the fall and winter months, it STILL takes a whole lot longer to sell through that lower inventory. Can you sell a home in the Portland fall or winter successfully and at a great price? Yes, you can with the right Portland real estate agent to help you. However, if you are not in a hurry and can pick and choose when you would list your home, I would always recommend April or May (read on to find out why).

Top Portland real estate agent experience for the Portland real estate market.

Portland folk love the sun shine. Give me any sunny weekend and I’ll probably end up getting offers on some of my active listings. Give me a weekend filled with rain and the foot traffic to my listings decreases by half or more. This is true in any part of the year, but as we all know, the summer months have the most sun filled weekends available. Also, there is a huge amount of activity the first and second week of June. The reason for this is simple, school is out. June is most often the best month of the year to have your home on the market. Funny enough, August is most often the second best month of the year to have your home on the market (with July coming in 3rd place). This is because all of those families who were searching for a Portland home all summer know they need to make a decision in August before school starts back up again. So why did I say (above) that April or May is the best time of year to list your home? It is because you want time to work for you and not against you. It helps to plan to list your home for 90 days or more. Let’s say you live in a hot Portland neighborhood where all the home sell in a couple days, that is a great thing. But you have to keep in mind that for any number of random reasons you could have a sale fail. Maybe the buyer got cold feet, maybe the inspections turned up a surprise, anything can happen. Now you have to find a buyer all over again weeks into the listing process. So it helps if the Portland real estate market is trending in your favor, getting better each month you are listed. This protect you and keeps you from having to drop the price, especially if prices (and activity level) is rising up to meet you where you started. So there you have it, the answer might be expected, the best time to sell a home in Portland is in the spring and summer months. Now if that is not an option for you, just make sure that you are working with an agent that can leverage the market conditions to fit your situation. You can try a higher price in the spring and summer, but a (slightly) lower price in the fall or winter can still bring buyers knocking down your door in a hurry to purchase your home. Let me know if you have any other questions, or would like a top real estate agent in town to give a free price analysis on your Portland home.

Six Strategies for First-Time Portland Homebuyers

Portland, Oregon Home

March 30th, 2014

Once in a while I try to stop, take a step back and ask myself: If I were a first-time homebuyer, how would I dive into the complex and exciting task of buying real estate in Portland, Oregon?

Portland home buyers today are inundated with choices and information, from the ubiquitous real-estate-agent-ad-on-a-bench, to 3D tours that launch from craigslist ads. With so much at your fingertips, here’s a quick rundown on what to do – and who to listen to – first.

1. Nail down your price range. It’s not just about getting pre-approved for a mortgage, although you’ll want to do that, too. But banks and lenders are good at luring home buyers into spending more than they intended. Being able to borrow $400,000 doesn’t mean you need a $400,000 home.

2. Get the scoop on the Portland real estate market. Savvy real estate investors watch the numbers — time on market, months of inventory, median sales price, and more — for the Portland market and a specific neighborhoods before they buy. Portland took a hit in 2008 when the housing market crashed, but we’ve been recovering ever since. That’s the big picture – the smaller picture is available through the monthly RMLS report, which you can subscribe to here.

3. Know your Portland neighborhoods. A condo in Northeast Portland may not be as swanky as that one in the Pearl District, but have you look at the neighborhoods’ walkability scores? Where’s the nearest hospital? The internet can tell you a lot, but the best way to get to know the neighborhood where you’re thinking of buying a home is to drive and walk around yourself.

4. Ask questions. There are no stupid questions when it comes to making a commitment to buy your first home. Real estate agents are great because we don’t mind being bothered by your phone calls and emails, whether you’re confused about the escrow process or have a question about the house you looked at last week. You should also ask as many questions as possible of the sellers’ agent, your mortgage lender, and the home inspector!

5. Be realistic about home improvement. You might be talked into buying a home (either by yourself or by the do-it-yourself-er in the family) that needs some repair to be perfect. Ask yourselves: Do you have experience completing the needed tasks? Does your schedule allow time for these projects? I’m not saying that fixer-uppers can’t offer great deals that allow you to put your own personal touches on your home. Just think it through first. If you need sobering up, bring a contractor you trust through the Portland home with you.

6. Use a Portland real estate agent. When you buy a home in Portland or anywhere, you want an experienced professional on your side. While there are plenty of online tools to help you find everything from home values to aerial photographs, you can’t beat the friendly, knowledgable support of a Portland real estate agent when it comes to finding the right home and negotiating the deal. Contact me if you’re ready to get started!

Portland Real Estate Market News: Busy, Snowy February 2014

February Portland Real Estate Market

March 14th, 2014

RLMS Market Action report for the Portland Metro Area, released this week, focused on February’ highlighted the number of closed sales in February, a whopping 1,467. According to the report, this was the best February in the Portland real estate market for closed sales since 2007.

What does that mean? The average time on the Portland real estate market right now is 100 days, so it’s safe to say that it was a good winter for Portland home sales. Deals that were made in January, December, even November, closed last month and 1,467 happy home buyers and sellers went their separate ways.

Following these leading numbers was the news that new transactions didn’t happen as prodigiously in February as they did the months before. There were fewer accepted offers and new listings for Portland homes in February as compared to the previous month and a year prior. Inventory remained low at 3.9, compared to 4.5 a year ago and 6.5 the year before that.

Are these reasons to worry about the health of the Portland real estate market? Not at all. Here’s another number: 8. That’s how many inches of snow we received from February 6th – 9th in the Portland area! While everyone focused on digging themselves out, Portland real estate activity dropped. It’s true: The RMLS noted a 36% drop in the number of times real estate agents accessed lockboxes on Portland homes that week!

No doubt, spring weather will bring buyers, sellers and Realtors out again to give the market a boost. More inventory certainly wouldn’t hurt, though, according to the Oregonian.
With 5,752 homes on the market at the end of February, inventory is at 3.9 months, meaning that if no new homes came on the real estate market, Portland would be sold out of its inventory of homes in just under four months. The Oregonian put the ideal inventory level at 6 months. Anything less, and high demand for homes drives up prices.

That’s good news for sellers. In February, the median sale price in the Portland real estate market was $279,000, 15.3 percent more than a year ago and up 5.3 percent from January. Underwater homeowners may be able to take advantage of the higher prices to avoid foreclosure and get their home on the market.

Meanwhile, many buyers are waiting for more homes to enter the market and bring prices back down. That’s likely to happen as the Portland area thaws and homes are listed for the summer sales season.

Meanwhile, congratulations to the 1,467 home buyers who closed a sale in Portland this month! Portland home sellers, get your home on the market soon to retain the maximum value. Not sure where to start? Contact your Portland real estate agent for friendly advice.

Boost Portland Home Values with Smart Bathroom Remodels

Portland Bathroom Remodel

February 26, 2014

Before listing your home with a Portland real estate agent, you may be looking around at what you can fix up to improve your home’s market value.

In my experience, home buyers in Portland are always attracted first to the kitchen and the bathrooms, and these rooms can really be the deciding factors in whether or not they love a home.

We blogged about remodeling your kitchen in four easy and budget-friendly steps, so now let’s cover bathrooms.

The most important thing to remember in any resale-focused home remodel is to be sure you’ll get a return on your investment. It seems basic but it is the easiest thing to forget in the throes of fixture shopping and bathroom-gutting. By planning ahead with a budget and an idea of what your bathroom will look like when it’s all done, you can avoid a situation where you start by replacing the shower and end up tearing down a wall to expand the space.

The second rule is to appeal to a wide audience with your bathroom remodel. Anyone who has shopped for a home in Portland or anywhere else has noticed that houses are as unique as the individuals who occupy them, and nowhere is this more true than the bathroom. The way around this is to focus on improvements that everyone will appreciate – but that doesn’t mean you can’t make some upgrades that will appeal to a more specific category of home buyer.

Talk to your Portland real estate agent about who is likely to be interested in your home – young families, retired folks, or another group?

According to Realtor.com, 25% of home buyers in the US are over the age of 58, and Portland sees a similar demographic, with certain neighborhoods attracting a higher volume of retirees. This group of home buyers typically want to stay in the home through the end of their lives, so they’ll be looking at accessibility. To incorporate accessibility into your bathroom redesign, think about opening up the space as much as possible. You’ll definitely want to replace the tub with a walk-in shower and install brighter lighting if the room is dim. If you’re replacing the sink and cabinetry, lower them to wheelchair-accessible height. For ADA-approved setups, see http://www.adabathroom.com/

If your Portland home is more suited to a growing family, the first thing you’ll want to look at in your bathroom is adding more storage. If there’s a way to separate the toilet and shower area from the sink so family members could share the bathroom, do it!

You can’t go wrong with a few simple fixes that will appeal to any buyer looking for a home in Portland. To make the space look larger, brighten it with light colors and additional lighting options and remove unnecessary furnishings. Update the fixtures as needed, and remove problematic flooring/tiles/counters. Carpeting, broken tiles and peeling linoleum are out!

Remember, when remodeling your bathroom to prepare your Portland home for sale, start by making a plan, and prioritize aesthetic appeal over personal wants. Keep costs in mind for every component of the project plan. And, if you’re unsure of what potential buyers will be looking for, ask your Portland real estate agent!

Sell your Home Fast in Portland, A How To Guide

Portland sell your home fast

February 17th, 2014

Need to sell a home fast in Portland? As a top Portland real estate agent I’ve listed all the main tips I’ve learned over time, so that you can get your Portland home sold fast.

Avoid quick cash for your house schemes. Yes this is a way to sell your home fast. It is also a good way to get scammed. Fast cash for your house is a scam advertised all over the Portland area, online and on cheesy yard signs by many different outfits. One thing you can be sure of, you will get less than market value. In fact, if you’re lucky the cash investor will offer you 80% of the value of the Portland home in its current (even rough) condition. Truth is, the investors need to buy your home on the cheap because they are looking to make a small fortune by “flipping” the property, fixing it up some and then re-listing it on the Portland real estate market. Even if you can’t fix up your home, no matter the shape it is in, you’ll still get more money for your home and still sell fast if you list it with a Portland real estate agent on the regular market.

Clean and declutter your Portland home. In order for your Portland home to sell fast, it must be in move-in-ready condition. This does not mean that you have to make expensive upgrades or spend a lot of money on your property. What is does mean is that you might have to host a garage sale, donate items, or get a storage unit. You’ll also need expert advice on what goes and what stays. That advice is part of my services as a top real estate agent in Portland. I enjoy helping a seller prepare their home for the market. The truth of the matter is, messy and cluttered homes do sell, but they tend to take longer to do so. Many buyers need to move in right away and will be worried about the property’s immediate availability, unless the Portland home is clean and decluttered.

Fix your Portland Home. For many of the same reasons listed above, if your property is in need of repair it will not sell fast unless you list it at below market value. There is a great big Portland buyer market pool, but that pool shrinks considerably if your home needs repair. Not everyone is willing to take on a property that needs help. Many loans that the Portland buyer can obtain will be hindered by a home in need of repairs. Portland real estate agents will keep their buyers from visiting the home unless they believe their buyer can handle a project. Again, if you can fix the property up and present it clean and decluttered, you can sell it fast for market value. If you can’t present the home in that fashion, be prepared to sell for less than Portland real estate market value to get it to sell fast.

Get the best marketing package available. These days the internet dominates Portland real estate home sales. According to an NAR (National Association of Realtors) report, 92% of buyers are using the internet to find the home they are going to purchase. I often tell my clients, there are three types of Portland real estate agents. There are the agents that work with a few select websites. Then there are the agents that get the home listed on ALL the valid real estate websites out there that buyers are using to look at homes, thousands of sites. Finally, a third type of Portland real estate agent (myself and few others) will list the Portland home on all the applicable real estate sites and PAY money to promote the listing above the rest of the listings on those main sites. For instance, I pay to promote my listings on the top five real estate websites in the U.S. (according to our real estate news source Inman news) and more.

That’s it. Truthfully if you follow these steps you’ll have great success. You’ll need to rely on your local knowledge and the expert advice of your Portland real estate agent to determine the true market value of your home. The Portland real estate market is in great shape in 2014 and looks like it will be solid for years to come. This means as long as you present the home right and have the best marketing package and price it right – it will sell and it will sell fast!
Let me know if I can help further. Good luck out there.

Portland Real Estate Agents: The Original Sharing Economy

Portland real estate agent commission

February 15, 2014

The hottest trend of 2014 is sharing. We’re not talking social media or group therapy – we’re referring to the trend of allowing friends and strangers to borrow what you have in return for money or just the opportunity to borrow from them in the future.
From cars to homes to kitchenware, people are coming up with ways to use these resources more efficiently through sharing. In what’s being called the “sharing economy”, websites make it easier for anyone to see what others have and to post requests for what they need.
In Portland, the sharing opportunities are myriad. For starters, grassroots organizations have created ways for neighbors to share things like tools and equipment. Portland entrepreneurs have extended the sharing economy to for-profit enterprises, including a car sharing company that that was a predecessor to Zipcar. Alta Bicycle Share of Portland has now gone national and was recently named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in Local. Dozens of other Portland groups have capitalized on the concept of facilitating the exchange of goods that everybody needs but not everyone wants to own.

If you live in Portland already, you probably at least know of a resource-sharing service in your neighborhood – you might even use one! In fact, if you work with a Portland real estate agent, you definitely do. Real estate agents are the embodiment of the sharing economy. How, you ask? Here are three ways.

1. Portland real estate agents share information. If you’ve looked at my website, you know that it’s chock-full of information on commissions and marketing strategies, tools to help you find the right neighborhood, and up-to-date reports on the state of the Portland real estate market. You can think of this real estate blog like a free library on buying or selling a home in the Portland area. Real estate agents – unlike doctors, lawyers or other professionals – are not only legally empowered to share what we know, it’s in our job description to help buyers and sellers understand what they’re getting into. We know we’ll win your business by being open and honest, so it just makes sense.

2. Portland real estate agents share resources. Imagine how difficult it would be to buy or sell a home if you had to pay your real estate agent by the hour. By working strictly on a commission basis, we can give every sale the attention it deserves, whether we’re working on behalf of the buyer or the seller. Just like when you borrow a tool from a Portland tool library, both parties share the costs of our services, which is already calculated into the cost of the home. (Most Portland real estate agents charge a 6% commission, but I am proud to keep that figure between 2 and 4.5% – click here for a full commission breakdown.)

3. Portland real estate agents share connections. When you use Zipcar, you find a car near you using your computer or smartphone. You can then reserve it, drive it, park it and walk away when you’re done. Real estate agents work a bit like this service, too – when you need to buy or sell a home, we connect you with a trusted mortgage lender, escrow agency, home inspector, and, most importantly, the right buyer or home to buy. When the transaction is complete, you don’t have to deal with us anymore (although we appreciate the occasional hello).

Share and share alike, but when you’re ready to buy or sell a home, make sure you have your own Portland real estate agent to represent you.

Wood Stove Removal in Portland Oregon

Portland Wood Stove Removal

Many Portland home sellers are not aware of the wood stove removal laws in Oregon. The law began in August 2010 and was put in place to protect citizens from uncontrolled wood smoke pollution. The Oregon Senate Bill 102 created a uniform standard for the entire state of Oregon that requires the removal of any uncertified wood stove or fireplace in Oregon at the point of sale. Since this is a “point of sale” law, it directly impacts Portland residential home sales and your Portland real estate agent should be able to guide you through the process.

How does this affect Portland Home Sellers?

When you are selling a home in Portland with a wood stove, you should first check to see if your wood stove or fireplace insert is certified by DEQ. Lists have been created that you can check your make and model against. Your local Portland real estate agent should have a copy of this list! If it is certified, you don’t have to do anything. In general any wood stove manufactured prior to 1986 and without a DEQ or EPA certification label is uncertified. If your wood stove or fireplace insert is not certified you will need to remove it. The law puts this burden of wood stove removal on the homeowner. Additionally, the homeowner cannot simply unhook the wood stove and place it outside or in a garage. The Portland homeowner must have it completely removed from the property and destroyed! In fact, Oregon will want you to obtain a receipt of destruction for the wood stove or fireplace insert. So the wood stove removal task is not a simple one for the Portland home owner.

Who can help me?

Your Portland real estate agent can direct you to companies that will come out to your property and remove the wood stove and provide you with the proper destruction receipt. They do charge for this service, but it is the simplest way to make this problem go away. If the Portland home owner doesn’t want to pay someone to remove it they can take it to an approved recycling site (again your Portland real estate agent can provide you with a list of locations). The nice thing about the wood stove recycling locations in Portland, Oregon is that they will either recycle it for free or some will even pay you! Be sure to obtain a destruction receipt from the wood stove recycle location. Remember, this is the law. Be sure to follow your Portland real estate agent’s advice and property remove that uncertified wood stove!

Hot Real Estate Market, Hotter Portland Neighborhoods!

Portland Real Estate market spring 2014

January 30th, 2014
The new year is off to a good start for Portland real estate buyers, sellers and agents, according to the RMLS Report for the Portland Metro area for December 2013.

The figure that stands out in this month’s real estate market report is that median and average home sale prices in the Portland area are up by nearly 13% compared to last year. Although the number of closed sales and new listings are down from November, the month of December overall pulled in ahead overall compared to the same month last year. And, the number of pending sales reached 1,484, the most for any December since 2006!

What’s causing all of this positive Portland real estate market action? Portland always has been and still is a great place to live, and we know it will remain that way through 2014. But here’s a little tidbit to back us up, from data collected by the real estate site Redfin.

Redfin announced last week that Concordia neighborhood in Northeast Portland is one of the “hottest” neighborhoods in the country right now! It comes in at number 8 on the website’s list of neighborhoods that had the greatest growth in popularity over the past four months. Its list of “Hottest Neighborhoods” spans cities from Las Vegas to Seattle and LA to Austin.

According to Redfin: “Highly ranked schools and scenic community parks look like the obvious common thread among the top neighborhoods.” With Concordia University as well as the Alberta Arts District lying within Concordia’s desirable blocks, it’s no wonder this Portland neighborhood made the list. However, the story continues, “the real trend in 2014 neighborhood popularity is a short commute at an affordable price. The trending neighborhoods offer a short drive to or easy access to a commuter rail line at prices that are not the most expensive in the city.”

One again, that’s Northeast Portland to a T! In fact, looking at the top five “trending” neighborhoods on Redfin for Portland, Eliot – also a Northeast ‘hood – comes in at #2.

With that 13% rise in home prices, not to mention the low 3.2-month inventory, it’s no wonder that Portland home buyers are looking out to these “locals’ secret” neighborhoods for more affordable homes that still offer all of the great features of our city.

Are you ready to take advantage of the mid-winter lull to buy or sell your Portland home? Inventory is low right now in the Portland real estate market, and you need an agent who is on top of things. Contact your Portland real estate agent today. Remember, your neighborhood doesn’t have to be on any “hottest” list to be a great fit for you or your potential buyer – the right home will be the one that meets their needs above any other!

Premiere Property Group is Now #3 In Oregon

Premiere Property Group Number 3

Premiere Property Group, LLC has risen to new heights in 2014. A locally owned and operated Realty company in Oregon and Washington, Premiere Property Group now ranks as the third largest (with 269 active real estate agents) Realty company in Oregon!

In 2013, I was the #1 top producing real estate agent at Premiere Property Group. Honestly, I’ve never been happier at a Realty company than here at Premiere Property Group. There is a reason why we are one of the fastest growing Realty companies in the Northwest. Premiere Property Group provides first class office space, and an excellent secretarial staff. Currently, my main office is located at 3636 NE Broadway St, Portland, OR, but there are a number of other offices spread throughout the Portland area that Premiere Property Group staffs.

You can see all Portland, OR Premiere Property Group listings here.

We hope you will give us a chance to earn your business, as the number one locally owned and operated Realty company in Portland, OR.

Average Days on Market in Portland Real Estate by Area 2014

average days on market Portland

Entering into the 2014 Portland Real Estate Market it is crucial to consider the average days on market in 2013. At the end of 2013 North Portland had the fastest average days on market at a speedy 45. Average days on market is a strong indicator of what part of town is truly up-and-coming and what part of town is starting to decline. Right behind North Portland was Northwest Portland (up in the Forest Heights area), coming in at 48 average days on market. Third place was a close fight between Lake Oswego / West Linn at 91 days and Northeast Portland at 92 average days on market. This will be a surprise to some, but West Portland came in the slowest, crawling at 157 average days on market.

When your thinking about average days on market you also have to consider foreclosures and especially “short sales” which are anything but short. These distressed properties tend to linger and raise the average of the entire area. However, distress properties are on a sharp decline in the Portland market and are not having the impact they did just a few short years ago. (The Portland real estate market officially went from depreciation overall to appreciation in 2012 and that is continuing into the foreseeable future.)

For a full breakdown of the entire Portland real estate market and detailed average days on market per Portland real estate area, sign up for the official monthly market statistics here. These are “un-branded” official results used by all news sources and you can get them direct, for free.

Any other questions about the Portland real estate market, don’t be afraid to contact your top local Portland real estate agent.

Buying a Home For Sale By Owner in Portland

Portland FSBO house

January 15th, 2014

If you’re a Portland home shopper, you probably keep your eyes peeled for yard signs when you’re cruising around the city, and you may occasionally notice one that says For Sale By Owner.

Well… who else can sell the home except the owner?
Of course, you probably already know that a For Sale By Owner, or FSBO (say it: “fizz-bo”), is a home or property being listed without a Portland real estate agent working on behalf of the seller. According to the National Association of Realtors, the number of home sellers listing without the benefit of a real estate agent has actually declined over the past two decades, but those stubborn DIY-ers still represent about a small portion of home sales.

Are FSBOs something to look for, or to look out for? Neither, really. However, there are some special issues to consider if you want to make on offer on a Portland home that’s for sale by owner.

People typically list a home without a real estate agent for two reasons: To save money on commissions or to avoid disclosing information about the home or property.

The first reason sounds innocuous, but if the seller is unwilling to adjust their price to accommodate their agent’s fees, it probably means that they’re going to be just as inflexible with potential buyers. Also, without a real estate agent to help them “manage expectations” based on actual market conditions in their Portland neighborhood, many sellers will have inflated prices to begin with.

The second reason for FSBOs is the one that keeps real estate agents up at night. Any number of details could be kept out of sight of potential buyers, from unusual liens placed on the property to asbestos in the walls. Buyers must tread very carefully, ask for sellers disclosures, and make sure they have a solid home inspection.

Thankfully, using a buyer’s agent is a great way mitigate both of these issues, and most for sale by owner sellers will agree to pay the buyer’s agent requested commission, which is typically 2.5% in the Portland area. This will also be a good indication that the seller is willing to negotiate on the price. Your buyer’s agent will do a comparative market analysis to ensure that the price the seller is asking is fair.

A buyer’s agent can also recommend appropriate home tests and help you find the best home inspector to unearth any potential problems. Finally, they’ll help you through the paperwork involved in actually purchasing the home, ensuring that everything goes down legally and that the deal closes without any unpleasant surprises.

So please, save the DIY projects for after you’ve moved in, and use a buyer’s agent whether you’re buying a home represented by another Realtor in Portland or by the seller. You’ll be glad you did.

Should the Seller pay the Buyer’s Closing Costs?

Portland buyers closing costs

With over ten years of Portland real estate agent experience, I have heard this question at least a hundred times. Many sellers are surprised to get an offer from a buyer that explicitly asks the seller to pay their closing costs. A lot of sellers don’t know that it is a possibility, much less a common element of a real estate offer in Portland. It is a trend that continues and grows because the buyer’s closing costs keep increasing. I have seen buyers put in their offers for the seller to pay over $10,000 in buyer’s closing costs. That is an extreme example, but most buyers experience a sticker shock of at least $5,000 in closing costs on top of their own down payment and their out-of-pocket expenses for the home inspection and appraisal. So it is no wonder many buyers turn to the sellers for help.

Here are some common questions.

Don’t the buyer and seller split the closing costs?
The seller and buyer split the escrow fee, but most items are not split 50/50. The seller pays a large portion of the title insurance. In Oregon, this is simply the law – set, regulated, unmovable. The seller will pay this every time. The seller will have a lot of prorated items on their closing statement: their taxes, HOA fees (if any), and mortgage payoff amount. The buyer will have (massive) loan origination costs. In other words, the buyers and sellers closing costs won’t look alike. The seller can generally expect their closing costs to run a little less than 1% of the selling price. The buyer can expect their closing costs to run around 3% of the selling price. So – no – the buyer and seller do not split closing costs.

Will paying the buyer’s closing costs hurt the transaction?

Not usually. When you get an offer where the seller is paying closing costs, you must do simple math. Let’s say you list your Portland home for $295,000. You get an offer for $300,000 and the buyer wants you to pay $5,000 in buyer’s closing costs. In reality, that offer is full price $295,000 for your home. Yet at the same time, the offer is $300,000. Now the offer must appraise at $300,000 and the buyer’s offer is contingent on it appraising “at value”. The value per the bank is $300,000 – not the $295,000 you’re getting. In most cases, the few thousand that the seller would pay in buyer’s closing costs isn’t enough to cause any problems with an appraisal. However, if you or your Portland real estate agent feels like your asking price is high and there might be concern with an appraisal anyway, you may not want to accept the $300,000 offer.

Secondly, if the buyer is asking for seller paid closing costs, it does not mean the buyer isn’t well qualified for the loan. Again, this is most common in the real estate industry. However, a buyer who is putting 20% down and paying all of their own closing costs is more financially sound and less likely to fail to finance their offer. Buyer’s offers are contingent on them obtaining the loan (and their pre-approval letter doesn’t hold a lot of weight) so it does matter, to a degree, whether or not they need the seller to pay buyer’s closing costs. In other words, paying buyer’s closing costs isn’t likely to hurt the transaction, but it does carry a little bit more risk for the seller than an offer where the buyer pays their own closing costs.

Portland Home Buyers Shop Online, Buy With a Real Estate Agent

Portland Technology and Real Estate Agents

December 30th, 2013

Forget Silicon Valley – did you know the city of Portland, Oregon is the tech hub of the Pacific Northwest? HP, Intel, Yahoo! and hundreds of other web and tech businesses have major operations in the Portland area. Portland residents are known for being wired, and not just on coffee. We pride ourselves in being able to access information with the touch of a screen or click of the mouse.

What does all of this have to do with real estate? Well, besides the technology industry providing thousands of jobs, making Portland a great place to relocate, it’s interesting to note how technology has changed the real estate industry itself. Stop for a moment and consider how you would go about shopping for a home if the world wide web had never been invented. In the days before the internet, a key part of a real estate agent’s job was helping home buyers just find homes that were for sale. After all, who else could they ask?

Flash forward to 2003, and 70% of home buyers are using the internet to research homes for sale, according to the National Association of Realtors. That number has been growing over the past decade, and in 2013, 92% of home buyers were going online to learn about what’s available in on the real estate market. That percentage is pretty consistent across all age groups – even 75% of the 65+ crowd is employing the internet to find the home they want to buy.

In 2014, Portland home shoppers will be more wired than ever. Mobile apps make it possible for you to walk down the street and pull up data on any homes for sale, then look up home values across the neighborhood and find related information like school rankings and transit options.

With all of this speed and convenience at your fingertips, you may be wondering where your Portland real estate agent fits into the picture. Are we to go the way of the telegraph and the horse and buggy?

Actually, the National Association of Realtors’ data shows that the opposite is true. In this age of unlimited information, home buyers are more, not less likely to contact a real estate agent once they get serious about buying a home. Of those who used the internet to look for a home to buy, 90% went on to buy that home with a real estate agent. (88% of non-internet users also went through a real estate agent).

Why? The answer is simple: For all the bells and whistles on a smartphone or computer, they can’t represent you in a Portland real estate transaction, negotiate for your best interests or ensure that all your bases are covered when it comes to mortgage lenders, home inspectors and the tricky closing process. Only a licensed Portland real estate agent can.

I reached the top 2% for sales in the Portland, Oregon market because I embrace the power of information and technology (see my listing agent services). I know that more buyers will find your home for sale through the internet than any other medium, so I pay to promote my listings on the top five real estate websites among others. For home buyers, I offer a weekly emailed Portland Market Action Report, my comprehensive website with detailed information and tools to help you understand the Portland real estate market, and the option to go paperless when it comes to real estate contracts and paperwork.

Technology aside, I feel that the best service a Portland real estate agent can offer is to be available both on and offline to answer your questions in a friendly and professional manner. So contact me today if you’re ready to buy or sell your Portland home!

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Stephen FitzMaurice, REALTOR in Portland
Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a Top 5% Real Estate Agent in the U.S. and Portland. Since 2003, he has worked in residential real estate in the Portland Oregon metro area. Currently he hangs his hat at Premiere Property Group, a top locally owned and operated Portland Real Estate Company. Call him direct: 503-975-6853.