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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Proud Member of Portland’s Masters Circle of Realtors

Masters Circle Realtors in Portland

PMAR (Portland Metro Association of Realtors) is the largest Realtor association in Oregon (as you might imagine). They give out awards to Realtors in good standing with PMAR corresponding to home sales. In 2014 I earned the highest award the Masters Circle gives out, Diamond-Platinum. I’ve asked them when I should expect to receive my diamonds in the mail, but haven’t gotten a response yet. : ) Either way, I’m proud to accept this designation from the Portland Metro Association of Realtors and appreciate their focus on ethics and consumer relationships.

Here are the purposes of the Masters Circle of Realtors in Portland:

To foster closer relationships among members of the Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors®.
To foster professionalism and ethics in the real estate industry.
To enhance public relations in the community.
To provide informative programs for the membership.
To share views and knowledge.
To maintain a committee through which salesperson members of the Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors® may receive recognition for achievement in the areas of listing and selling real property.

According to the Masters Circle, it is important to choose a Masters Circle member for these reasons, “Your Realtor® should be a member of the PMAR Masters Circle. The Masters Circle is a benchmark organization
formed to recognize Realtors® distinguished by their sales accomplishments and dedicated to the highest degree of professional quality service. Membership is earned by Realtors® who annually demonstrate outstanding achievements in the listing and selling of property. For most people, buying real property is their largest single investment. You benefit from working with a Realtor® who has an established record of success.”

Receiving the highest level of Portland’s Masters Circle award means, “Diamond-Platinum members have attained $5 million or more in closed dollar volume during the preceding year and have sold $20 million or more in closed dollar volume during the immediate past four consecutive years.” For many years, I have exceeded their sales standards. Let me know if I can put my experience to work for you.

Find the Perfect Home in Portland

perfect portland home

Portland, Oregon, is one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. as of 2014. The city is also one of the largest in the Pacific Northwest area. With over 2 million people living in the Portland Metropolitan Area (which includes Portland itself and the surrounding suburbs) and more moving to the area on a regular basis, there’s a lot of Portland real estate being bought and sold. Finding that perfect home isn’t necessarily going to be easy, but it can be done. Here are a few tips that can help you find your dream house.

Make a List of Must-Haves and Wants. No house is going to be perfect. Portland has some gorgeous homes, but even the ones that check off all of your must-have boxes are going to have a few things you don’t like. That’s why it’s important to make a list of those things your new home absolutely must have and those that you really want. You can give this list to a Realtor in Portland to give them an idea of which homes might be a good fit for you. Just keep your must-have list reasonable—if you want a large home with a fireplace, large backyard, three car garage, and a mortgage under $500 a month and is located in the expensive Raleigh Hills neighborhood, you’re probably not going to find a house.

Make a List of Don’t-Wants. This is something most Portland real estate agents don’t consider, but it can actually be very helpful. Make a reasonable list of things that would simply make you reject a house without even seeing it. Maybe you don’t want to live downtown or in the Maplewood neighborhood for whatever reason. If you’ve got bad knees, a two-story home might be out of the question. This and your Must-Have list will help you cut out homes that you don’t even need to waste time seeing. After using your Must-Have and Don’t-Wants to cut the list, you can use your Want list to narrow down the field even more.

Find a Great Realtor in Portland

There are a lot of different real estate agents in Portland, but some will be able to help you more than others. A good Realtor will be able to connect you with local real estate sites (like Portlandmaps.com) and may know of properties about to hit the market before they do. They will be able to recommend fantastic mortgage lenders, the right home inspectors, a good home warranty company, and more. You can see my home search program here or contact me with your questions.

Avoid First-Time Homebuyer Mistakes. First-time homebuyers make a number of mistakes, and you certainly don’t want to do that. For most people, buying a house is something they’ll only do a few times in their lives, so the idea of practicing to get good at it doesn’t really apply. Even those who have bought several homes may still make basic mistakes. Reading articles on buying Portland real estate such as those on this blog can help. Like with anything, you need to do some research and ask questions before you sign your mortgage papers.

Plan for the Future. After getting married, many young couples set out to buy a house. That’s great! They can start earning equity and start mapping out their lives together. Many look at their mortgage timetable and figure they’ll be mortgage-free before retirement. And then they decide to start a family. Suddenly, that perfect home is much too crowded, and in less than five years, it’s back on the market. If you don’t like the idea of a starter home, make sure you plan for the future. No one can take into account everything, of course, but if you’re planning on starting or expanding your family within the next five or even ten years, take that into consideration and buy a larger home now if you can.

What is my Portland Home Value?

Portland Zillow Zestimate
December 10th, 2014

Admit it. You, like many people — whether or not they’re actually interested in buying or selling a home — have typed your address into Zillow to see what homes in your neighborhood are worth. You might have even seen a “Zestimate” on your own home. How accurate is that number? Actually, according to the company itself, Zillow’s Zestimates are accurate to within 5% of the actual value of the home no more than half of the time. If you’d rather not flip a coin when it comes to this life-altering decision, there’s a better way to find out what your Portland home is really worth. And it’s easy — just talk to your Portland real estate agent.

Real estate agents are the home value experts. When I hear from a potential client who wants to know what their home might sell for, the first thing I do is dig into the numbers. Some of these numbers are publicly available, such as the active listings you find on Realtor.com, Zillow or Trulia. Others, like closed sales and withdrawn listings, are only available through Portland’s Regional Multiple Listing Service (RMLS), which REALTORs who are part of the National Association of Realtors have access to.

Data on active, pending and sold listings in your home’s neighborhood give us an idea of what comparable homes are selling for right now on the Portland real estate market. For example, if your home has two bedrooms and one bathroom and a helipad (unlikely, but let’s just pretend), it’s going to be worth more than a home with one bedroom, one bathroom and no helipad, but less than a four-bed, three-bath home, with or without a place to park your airborne vehicle.

A report that compares your home to homes similar to it is called a Comparative Market Analysis, or a Comparative Valuation Report. It’s more than just a number — it’s a treasure trove of information about what your home is worth to the buyers who are looking for homes in Portland right now, and will point you toward the best way to improve your home’s value. If, for example, the only difference between your home and one that’s valued $20,000 more is an upgraded kitchen, you might look into what it would cost to upgrade your own kitchen before putting your home on the Portland real estate market.

The goal of a Comparative Market Analysis is to find the magic price that will both meet your needs as a seller and also make your home attractive to buyers. There’s a difference between the home’s value and the listing price – you’ll want to leave room for negotiation, and your Portland real estate agent can help you figure out how much. If a potential buyer puts in an offer, they will get a third-party appraisal of your home’s value. Usually, it will come in pretty close to what your real estate agent valued it in the first place, as appraisers and real estate agents (for the most part) use the exact same tools to obtain your home’s value. (Keep in mind, an appraiser’s value is official, while a real estate agent’s is an educated opinion of value.)

Whether or not it will match that Zillow Zestimate you looked up late at night when you first considered selling your home – well, that’s a coin toss! Request a real home value estimate here.

Wedding Crowdfunding for Portland Real Estate Downpayments!

crowdfunding portland real estate

Yes, wedding crowdfunding for a home downpayment amount is a real thing. Times can be tough. How is a young couple to save for the down payment on their first home or piece of real estate? Well, if a wedding is in the works, crowdfunding could be an option.

What is crowdfunding? You’ve heard of sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, where people with ideas run funding campaigns to get the cash they need to make them happen — whether it’s a documentary, engineering project, humanitarian effort, or other worthwhile cause. They pitch their ideas and set fundraising goals, sometimes even making it an all-or-nothing proposition (if they don’t meet the funding goal, all the money goes back to donors). Some campaigns offer creative rewards to donors, like a batch of homemade cookies or their name on the final product.

The latest trend in crowdfunding is to make it all about raising cash for the new couple’s house – either a down payment or money towards renovations. New websites have cropped up just for this purpose – wedding-registry platforms with the ability to accept payments directly and show everyone how close the couple is to reaching their goal. Popular among them are Feather the Nest and Hatch my House. One site, DownPaymentDreams.com, has even figured out a way to partner with real estate agents, offering freebies to couples who use the cash they raise to purchase a home through an agent affiliated with the site.

All of these websites hinge on the tradition of giving a moderately expensive gift to a couple at their wedding. Instead buying of another toaster oven, the gift-giver can contribute to the new couple’s future in a long-lasting way by seeding the equity they’ll have in their new Portland home. And in today’s up and down economy, every dollar counts toward that down payment.

Will the idea catch on? It remains to be seen. There are no current campaigns on Feather the Nest or Hatch my House for Portland homes, although there are nearly 3,0000 crowdfunding campaigns based in Portland on Kickstarter. It could be that local couples are raising funds the old-fashioned way, without online crowdfunding registries, which have the disadvantage of soaking up a percentage of the money. Or maybe crowdfunding for Portland real estate just hasn’t caught on here yet!

Want to try it? Crowdfunding experts say that the most successful campaigns are run by people with an existing online presence (lots of Facebook friends, Twitter followers, etc.) with a good “hook” that can help the campaign go viral. Videos help a lot – even though your friends and family know you, they want to hear what you’re saving for in your own words! Keep your goal reasonable. Hatch my House claims that the average couple has the potential to raise $9,000 (assuming 70 guests who would otherwise offer gifts valuing an average of $125 each), but you know your guests best!

If you’re going this route, be sure to include a Portland real estate agent in your plans (no obligation to add one to your guest list). A good Portland real estate agent can help you figure out what your fundraising target should be for a down payment and help you make the most out of every dollar.

Best of luck and congratulations!

Can Portland Real Estate Market keep up with Population Growth?

portland urban growth boundary

It’s hard to say whether Portland’s population is growing because of jobs, the “hip” factor or because this city is really one of the best in the country for people of all generations and backgrounds. In any case, in June of this year Metro planners were estimating that Portland, Oregon will add 750,000 people to its metro area in the next 20 years. And a recent report in Portland Business Journal showed that Portland’s population growth is on track, adding more than 9,000 residents to the city in 2014 alone.
Nearly three-quarters of this growth came from new residents surging to the area, with the rest coming from “natural” population growth — the number of births minus the number of deaths. To accommodate this growth, Portland will need more roads, schools, parks, airports, office space, and much more. First and foremost, however, Portland’s new residents will need housing! Is this good news for the Portland real estate market? You bet.

This month’s RMLS report showed that October was the strongest month for closed sales in Portland since 2006! Are Portland real estate agents simply going out there and closing more deals? Well, perhaps so, but the more likely answer is that these new Portland residents are becoming homeowners.

With only so many homes already in the Portland metro area, the city is also looking at expanding its Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). Urban Growth Boundarys are a concept unique to Oregon, where our strict zoning laws attempt to stop urban sprawl by drawing a line between urban and rural areas. Every few years, the UGB comes up for expansion so that cities can accommodate growing populations. 2015 is the year for Portland’s UGB, and the Metro agency will be using its population growth estimates to negotiate a new boundary for the city. A big part of its plan will also be to encourage infill, or the process of adding more live, work and play space within the already existing boundary.

Portland developers have already jumped on that bandwagon, with several building projects announced just this month. REACH Community Development is releasing $18 million in funds to add low-income housing in downtown Portland and Hillsboro, and a developer is building $15 million of office space in the suburbs of Wilsonville and Tualatin.

Yet another sign that Portland’s real estate market is booming? The Portland Bureau of Development Services, which handles permitting of new construction, is adding 29 new jobs this month.

It’s a great time to buy or sell real estate in Portland, Oregon. To learn more about my listing package or buyer’s agent services, give me a call!

Five Questions to Ask a Portland Buyers’ Agent

Buyers Agent Questions

Are you in the market to buy a home or property in the Portland, Oregon metro area? Before you start making the list of homes you want to check out, make sure you check out the real estate agent who will be helping you make this life-altering decision.
A buyers’ agent acts on your behalf through the entire home sale process, from the initial search to the handing over of your new keys. I’ve compiled five questions you should ask your Portland real estate agent before you start working with them. Let your expectations be known!

1. What kind of experience does the Portland real estate agent have? How long have they been licensed, and how many sales have they closed on the buyer side and listing side? Are they a member of their local REALTOR association (PMAR, Portland Metro Association of Realtors)? Depending on what area of Portland or the metro area you are looking at, be sure to ask whether your potential buyers’ agent has experience working in that locality or neighborhood.

2. What kind of online services does this real estate agent offer? Portland home buyers need not be limited to Zillow and Trulia to do their home buying research. I offer my clients the best Portland real estate map search tool available anywhere online, which includes neighborhood, crime and school data. I also provide free subscriptions to the digital RMLS market action report, and break it down every other month on this blog.

3. Ask your potential real estate agent how they plan on communicating with you, and how quickly they typically respond to questions. Get on the same page about what works best – whether it’s phone, email, texting, chat, or some other form of communication. Real estate transactions happen quickly. If the real estate agent says “Only call me at my office between 9 and 5”, you might want to move along because there are plenty of us who stay in touch pretty much all of the time! Mostly importantly, ask the buyer’s agent if they have a backup co-worker (or a full blown team) who can help you get into that property asap. Lots of homes in Portland sell fast and you often need a backup agent to open the doors for you.

4. What kind of commission does the real estate agent expect as a buyer’s agent? As I wrote about recently on this blog, the standard Portland-area agent commission is between 5-6%, with 2.5% typically going to the buyers’ agent. You should never pay your buyers’ agent direct. They get their fee from the seller.

5. What does this real estate agent love most about Portland? It’s not critical that your real estate agent be passionate about this city, but it certainly helps. They are your portal to your new neighborhood and your insider’s edge to finding the perfect home before someone else does. Your real estate agent should be someone you don’t mind spending some time with, and feel comfortable asking tough questions of. You’re putting all of your energy into making this move – shouldn’t your real estate agent be right there with you?

I’d be happy to answer these questions for you – and more. Contact me at your convenience.
Check out the rest of my Portland buyers’ agent services here.

Record-setting September for Pending Sales in Portland 2014

Portland Fall real estate market

September brought cooler weather to the Portland area but it didn’t cool down the real estate market! Yes, this is a time of seasonal quieting for home buyers and sellers, but the year overall is proving to be a bright one for Portland real estate agents and their clients. A look at the latest RMLS Market Action Report shows why.

Pending sales were the highlight of the report this month, rising a whopping 15% over last year’s. A pending sale is just that – pending. So what percentage of those sales make it to closing? When you compare the number of pending sales in September 2014, 2,551, to the number of closed sales that month, 2,378, you find that 93% of home buyers were able to successfully make it to closing.

When does a sale become “pending”? As you probably know already, there are many steps to get through from the buyer’s reaching out to their Portland real estate agent, deciding to buy a home, and then actually making the transaction final. Once an offer has been accepted, the buyer must secure financing and draw up a contract with their real estate agent. The buyer’s agent must then present that contract to the seller’s agent and negotiate over the various terms it entails – what is included with the property, what kind of inspections will be performed, and so on. When the contract is accepted, the sale is “pending” until all of the inspections are over and the money is in the seller’s hands.

As you can imagine, there’s a lot that can go wrong here, which is why deals occasionally “fall through” or fail to transition from “pending” to “sold”. So what’s average? Last September (2013) saw fewer pending sales overall (2,219), but 97% of them turned into closed sales. In August this year, we had 2,704 pending sales in Portland, and 95% made it to closing.
It seems that the success rate for Portland real estate agents (and all of the other parties involved) to move a home from “pending” to “sold” is variable, but I think as long as we’re over 90%, we’re doing pretty well.

What can you, the home buyer or seller, do to help encourage the process? Pick a reliable lender who won’t change the terms of the loan at the last minute – your real estate agent can make a few recommendations. Likewise, the title company, home inspectors, etc. you use should be trusted, reliable, and experienced. The most important thing is probably to work with a real estate agent who can help you navigate all of these terms, one who has already closed hundreds of deals in the Portland area. I’d love to help. Call me anytime: 503-975-6853.

Five Little Known Facts About Real Estate Agent Commission

Real Estate Commission Portland

October 16th, 2014

Real estate agent commissions – an unavoidable, fixed cost of buying or selling a home, valuable only as incentive to real estate agents. Right? Wrong. Here are five little known facts about real estate agent commissions.

1. Real estate agent commissions come out of the actual cost of the home. Some people think of their real estate agent’s commission as a fee. It’s not. Because most homes in the Portland real estate market and around the world are bought and sold using a real estate agent, market prices reflect the value of the home, real estate agent commission included. It’s not tacked on above and beyond the price the home eventually sells for.

2. Real estate agent commissions keep the market moving. The agent commission system is set up the way it is — in Portland, Oregon, the US and most developed countries — because it works. Real estate agents are motivated to sell homes because otherwise they don’t get paid (no bimonthly paychecks!) This keeps market inventory at a reasonable level, and in a sense keeps homes values high. Real estate agent competition creates powerful marketing platforms and systems to get the job done.

3. Real estate agent commissions are a good deal. Some real estate agents work as “limited representation” agents, charging a flat fee or hourly rate instead of a commission. This arrangement might work for some home buyers or sellers, but because limited representation agents don’t do everything a traditional agent does, they can end up costing more or working less efficiently than an agent earning a commission. Limited representation does not provide legal protection in case of a buyer seller dispute and provides very “limited” marketing opportunities. Also buyers agents tend to avoid “limited representation” listings because they know it is more liability and work for them.

4. Real estate agent commissions are not fixed by anything but tradition. Typically, 2.5% of the sales price of the home goes to the buyer’s agent, and 3.3 – 3.5% goes to the seller’s agent. In Portland, the average total commission is 5-6% (agents who represent both the buyer and the seller reduce their commission slightly). But there’s no law that says commissions have to total 6%! In fact, I offer my services to Portland home sellers for a 2% commission (and offer the standard 2.5% to the buyer’s agent). If I represent both the home seller and the buyer, my total commission never exceeds 3%.

5. Real estate agent commissions pay for themselves. Yes, it’s technically possible to pocket more of your home’s sales price by listing it yourself. On average, however, homes that are sold by their owners don’t fetch their full market worth (See NAR research stats), or they take so long to sell that the homeowner negated any potential savings by continuing to pay out on the mortgage for those additional months. Real estate agents do their work (namely, marketing your home) in order to generate a greater number of offers, which translates to a better sales price for your home. We typically get over 100,000 online views per listing! This often translates into as many as 2,000 online buyer views a day. That is STRONG marketing you can’t obtain by yourself. Once that offer is in, your real estate agent will continue to work on your behalf to insure the deal doesn’t fall through.

Still have questions about Portland real estate agent commissions? Feel free to contact me. For 4.5% to 2% commission, I offer one of the best listing packages (if not the very best) in Portland, and work fast to put your home in the hands of a 100% satisfied buyer for a fantastic price!

Sell Your Portland Home Fast – Stage it!

Portland Home Staging

October 7th, 2014

Maybe you’re just putting your Portland home on the market and can’t wait to get it sold, or maybe your home has been sitting on the Portland real estate market too long. Hopefully, your Portland listing is in the hands of a good real estate agent with a great marketing plan (see ours here). But even then, there are things you can be doing to help move it along into the waiting hands of the right buyer.

You might read a lot of things online about how to get your home sold, but they all boil down to two things: Lower the price or improve the value. If your home is priced fairly for your market (and your Portland real estate agent should be honest with you about whether it is), improving the value is what you should focus on.

Value has a lot to do with the buyer’s perception of the home. Look at it this way: You could have all new appliances, a new roof, good floor plan and beautiful landscaping, but if your potential home buyer can’t see all that because they’re distracted by what’s going on inside your home, they’re missing all of that value.

Yes, I’m talking about home staging, and it really works. Some sellers like to do their own staging, but I usually recommend a professional home staging service that can really help your home looks its best through the buyer’s eyes. You don’t have to spend thousands to have your home staged right. The best stagers in the North West typically only charge around $200 for a full consultation on how to use your own furniture and decorations to create tremendous buyer appeal. The Portland stagers (I have great recommendations) can tell you what should go and what should stay, and if you are painting or remodeling for the market, what colors and materials you should pick.

The next strategy is to get professional photographs to capture your home’s makeover for buyers anywhere to admire. These days, buyers don’t find homes by driving around neighborhoods or going to open houses – they search Zillow or the RMLS! And if the photos of your home are poorly lit, blurry, or just too few, they might pass right on by. On the other hand, great photos will have them emailing their Portland real estate agent to set up a time to view your home!

The evidence is in that home staging and professional photography really work. According to the Real Estate Staging Association, homes that are staged sell seven times faster in Oregon, and homes on average spend 80 – 90% less time on market when they are well staged. The real estate website Redfin published a report last year about the advantages of professional photography when it comes to selling your home. Homes that were photographed using a high-quality DSLR camera (that doesn’t even factor in the eye and skill of a professional photographer!) sold for between $3,400 to $11,200 more relative to their list prices.

If you’re thinking of selling your Portland home, you’ve come to the right place because as a Full Service REALTOR, my listing package comes with professional home staging recommendations, professional photography, and more. I believe in showing off your home’s best qualities to get it sold faster, for the price you want! Contact me to get started today.

Portland Real Estate and the RMLS

September 29th, 2014

RMLS Portland Book

You hear us mention the RMLS every other month on this blog, when we cover the Portland Market Action report. But what is RMLS, and what can they do for you, the Portland area real estate buyer or seller?

RMLS stands for Regional Multiple Listing Service. Every region across the US has one, but RMLS is specific to Oregon and Southern Washington – and it’s the largest REALTOR®-owned multiple listing service in the Pacific Northwest.

Multiple listing services were created so that real estate agents could quickly look up properties for sale in their area. Before Zillow, Craigslist and even the internet, the MLS was the original source for accurate information on listed homes. Before RMLS in Portland, this information was only available through individual brokerages, and there was nowhere to go for a complete directory of all the homes on the Portland market.

Then came “The Book”, which replaced word-of-mouth and newspaper ads as the primary way that real estate buyers and sellers heard about homes for sale. It listed every home being sold in the state of Oregon and Southern Washington. In the 1990s, these books came out twice a week – that’s a lot of paper!

Today, the RMLS™ database is all digital. It archives over 1.4 million listings – around 26,000 of which are active listings. 10,200 REALTORs have access to the RMLS, and most of the information listed there is also available to the public through the RMLS website as well as agent-developed tools such as PortlandRealEstateMapSearch.com. This data is what is given exclusively to REALTORs by home sellers and appraisers, and it is not necessarily available through Zillow, Trulia, or other real estate search tools. The data starts here, starts with RMLS, before someone sees a home for sale on any number of third party real estate websites.

RMLS used to be a REALTOR-only service, but it’s getting more and more geared toward the DIY-homebuyer or seller. In my opinion, the more informed about the market you are, the better. That’s why I write about the RMLS’ monthly Market Action Report every other month on this blog. The report talks about everything from how many months of housing inventory we have to what the average sales prices was for homes in various Portland neighborhoods.

For those who want to dig a little deeper, the RMLS publishes weekly data on lockbox activity, which is an interesting way to keep tabs on the market. Lockboxes are the little devices Portland real estate agents use to access homes without a key. Every time one is unlocked, it means the home was shown to a potential buyer. You can watch lockbox activity fluctuate with the seasons on the RMLS blog.

Don’t forget to talk to someone with real-world expertise and insight that gets beyond the data – contact your Portland Real Estate Agent today (and consider yourself lucky that “The Book” will not be making an appearance).

REALTOR® – A Title You Can Trust

REALTOR Portland

September 17th, 2014

A few weeks ago, this blog covered the often-asked question, “How many real estate agents are there in Portland, Oregon”? The answer came from our local REALTOR® associations, whose memberships total nearly 7,000 – real estate agents as well as affiliates who work for title companies, home inspection agencies, banks, etc.

But what is a REALTOR® association, and why is the term capitalized and used with the register symbol? The best definition is that REALTOR® associations create the difference between a licensed real estate agent and a REALTOR®. According to the Oregon Association of REALTORS® (OAR) website, “The Association is the REALTORS®’ real estate business advocate, a force for education, and a legislative advocate for free enterprise and private property rights in Oregon.”

A REALTOR® is a real estate agent who has become a member of their local REALTOR® association, which not only requires adherence to a Code of Ethics, but also offers additional training and legal protection to members.

REALTORS® don’t join the Oregon Association of REALTORS directly – they join a local real estate association which gives them the benefit of membership in both their state and national realtor associations. In Portland, real estate agents are a part of either the Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors (PMAR) or the East Metro Association of Realtors (EMAR).

Membership in one of these two local Portland REALTOR® association also gives your real estate agent the benefits of membership in the Oregon Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The NAR is no small organization. It calls itself “The Voice for Real Estate,” and with 1 million members, it is America’s largest trade association! The NAR takes on a political role and advocates for homeownership at a national level. The NAR is the reason that the term REALTOR® is actually trademarked, and can only be used to refer to a member of the National Association of REALTORS®.

What’s the bottom line for the Portland real estate buyer or seller? REALTOR® associations add another layer of protection for you, the consumer. Professionalism is of ultimate importance in the real estate business – after all, this is your home we’re talking about! The REALTOR® symbol on your real estate agent’s business card, website and yard signs says that this person can be trusted, is experienced, and is backed by a well established national organization.

As the Portland Metropolitan Association of REALTORS® states on its website, “The more than 6,000 members of PMAR are committed to protecting and promoting homeownership, establishing and maintaining high professional standards of practice, and creating unity in the real estate profession.”

Looking for a REALTOR® with reasonable commission rates in Portland, hundreds of successfully closed sales, an amazing marketing strategy, and the knowledge to help you navigate the Portland real estate market, call me, Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor at 503-975-6853. Customer service is my top priority!

The Best Real Estate Map Search for Portland Homes

Portland Real Estate Map

September 9th, 2014

When you go for a road trip, you always bring a map, whether on paper or on your smartphone. You want a map that’s both easy to use and accurate, so that you arrive at your destination without getting lost or driving into a lake.

Setting off on a journey to buy or sell a home in Portland? Maps are becoming a key online tool to not only find homes for sale but also to learn about market trends and neighborhood statistics. They display information visually and in layers, instead of as a list or block of text, so that it’s fast and easy to understand. Good maps make it easy to click-through to learn more information about a given home for sale, get an idea of how reasonably it’s priced for the area, and get in touch with a Portland real estate agent to schedule a tour. And, just like you wouldn’t use a road map that shows non-existent roads, a good real estate map search should give you the most recent information available.

Which is the best real estate map search tool for Portland real estate? To find out, I took off my Portland Real Estate Agent hat and went into home-buyer mode to do a little testing. Read on to learn how the top online real estate maps compare.

Zillow, the most popular real estate search website, has by far the least useful real estate map. You can search for homes for sale by basic parameters such as listing price and the number of bedrooms. There is a “layer” you can add to the map that shows where schools are. (Layers are map features that can be turned on and off to show different information.) Data for this map could be anywhere from a few days to a few MONTHS old.

Recently acquired by Zillow, Trulia remains a distinct website with a mapping feature that is more comprehensive than Zillow’s. In addition to schools, you can add businesses to the map (to find, for example, homes that are near both a top-rated elementary school and a grocery store). Other useful layers include demographic information and hazards (did you know that Vancouver, WA has a higher tornado risk than Portland?) Trulia makes an app for you to take the map with you on your smartphone. Like Zillow Trulia’s data is old, at least a few days if not longer. This makes it tough on Portland home buyers who need to “jump” on homes in fast moving markets. You’d miss out entirely!

Portland Real Estate Map Search
Not to toot my own horn too loudly, but this is the best Portland real estate map, hands down. It gives users a one-stop shop for Portland real estate and neighborhood data in an easy-to-use format. There is a wealth of information in the layers – choose from the “lifestyle” menu to make Portland hospitals, shops, schools and custom locations appear on the map. You can also view real estate market trends for any given address, useful for home buyers and sellers to see what similar homes have sold for in the area and where prices are going. You can search for Portland homes by neighborhood (very important feature in Portland!) and / or by school! You can see a ton of demographic information in each distinct Portland neighborhood and even weather differences! Of course you can also save your favorite searches and get automatic updates. It is also automatically refreshed multiple times a day for near perfect accuracy. For more detailed home value information, you can request a custom valuation report from a local Portland real estate agent (much more accurate than Zillow’s “Zestimates”).

The most important factor that makes Portland Real Estate Map Search the best overall mapping tool is that its data comes live from the local Multiple Listing Service. That means, for example, that you won’t miss getting a home in your search results because it was out of your price range, but the seller just lowered the price yesterday. So try out my Portland real estate map, or at least try to find another local source with more update information. Realtor.com is the best “national” real estate site in terms of data accuracy if you can’t find a local website you like.

The bottom line is, online Portland real estate maps make it easier to find and organize information about the Portland housing market and find a home to buy. Find one that works for you, or use multiple – just make sure that when it’s time to close the deal, you have an experienced, local Portland real estate agent on your side. No map can replace that!

Premiere Property Group is now #2 – Oregon Realty Company!

Premiere Property Group Realty

In 2014 Premiere Property Group has risen to the second largest Realty company in Oregon with 5 offices in Oregon (4 in Portland) and over 350 real estate agents. It is the largest locally owned and operated Realty company in Oregon. If you look closely at the chart you’ll notice that some of the franchise model Realty companies are on there more than once, but they have separate ownership, branding, and levels of cooperation. Premiere Property Group is one company with one set of owners and 100% cooperation! Premiere Property Group is locally owned and operated by Portland real estate agents from its inception. We have first class office space, a fantastic support system, with full use of the office space across the state as needed. In house marketing of our listings reaches every agent at Premiere Property Group. In 11 years as a licensed real estate agent in Oregon, this has been the best Realty company experience I have had so far.

If you are looking for a Portland Oregon Realty company to help you buy or sell a home, look no further. If you are a real estate agent looking for a new home, give me a call and let me share my testimony with you. See a list of the Premiere Property Group Portland, OR office locations here.

In 2013 I was the number one selling real estate agent at Premiere Property Group (looking good to repeat that in 2014). Take a look at my home selling package here. Let me know if I can help today.

5 Steps to Get Cash for Making your Portland Home Green

Portland Green HomeAugust 29th, 2014

Are you putting your home up for sale on the Portland real estate market this fall? You may be looking around for low-cost improvements you can make to boost your home’s value. Or maybe you’re a new Portland home owner who felt the cold air seeping through your single-pane windows last winter and thought “Ouch, this is definitely hurting my heating bill.”

You’re not alone. Ninety percent of home buyers these days are looking for energy-efficient homes, with features like good insulation and efficient appliances. Even in Portland’s relatively temperate climate, energy costs can be high. 

Unfortunately, measures to reduce the amount of energy it takes to run your home can often be costly. Don’t let that stop you, though. Tax credits and rebates allow homeowners to make energy-efficient improvements for a lot less. Follow these steps to learn how to get cash back for greening your home:

    1. Do an energy audit to get an idea of where your home needs the most help. It’s free through Energy Trust of Oregon and you can do it online or over the phone. You can also start watching your electric bill through Portland General Electric’s Energy Tracker to monitor your energy use over the year.
    2. Let’s say that the energy audit confirms your suspicions about those windows and recommends replacing them with double-paned glass. The next place to go is to PMAR’s (Portland Metro Association of Realtors) client resource page for a list of cash incentives and state and federal tax credits for energy efficiency home improvements. They also link to assistance opportunities for those with low to moderate incomes.
    3. State and federal tax credits are always changing, so it wouldn’t hurt to check these lists also to see if your windows (or other improvements) are eligible: Oregon residential energy tax credits and federal tax credits for consumer energy efficiency.
    4. Find a licensed independent contractor to install your new windows through Energy Trust of Oregon’s database.
    5. See Portland General Electric’s list of low-cost improvements you can do yourself to see if there is anything else you can do to make your home more efficient. Don’t forget to check for tax credits and rebates for any of these (you can even get money back for planting trees!)

Don’t forget, you can not only get money back for greening your home through cash incentives and tax credits, your home’s value will reflect energy efficient improvements as well. Talk to your  Portland real estate agent to find out more!

How many real estate agents are there in Portland, Oregon?

Portland Realtors

Ever wondered how many real estate agents there are in the fine city of Portland, Oregon?

When you type “real estate agent Portland” into Google, you get over 9 million results. Although it may seem like there are 9 million real estate agents’ faces popping out from Portland’s bus stops, billboards and newspapers, in a metro area of only 2 million, there really can’t be that many.

So how many, then? The short answer is – not as interesting as the long answer, so here it goes.

One way to figure out how many real estate agents there are in Portland is to figure out how many licenses there are. Real estate license? Yes. To be a real estate agent in Portland, one must first take classes and pass an exam to obtain an official license from the state of Oregon. This says you are allowed to act as an agent on the behalf of clients buying and selling real estate, and guide them through the process.

When it comes to counting the number of licensed real estate agents in Portland, it’s not as easy as it seems. The Oregon Real Estate Agency doesn’t keep track of where a person hangs their license and conducts business, they just have a list of names and addresses of license holders. Technically, someone living outside the Portland metro area could work as a real estate agent in Portland, as long as they have that Oregon license. However, if we look at that list, we do learn that there are just over 5,800 individuals with active real estate licenses in Washington and Multnomah counties (the two major counties that Portland inhabits).

A better way to know how many real estate agents consider themselves Portland agents is to ask the Realtors. A REALTOR® is a member of a professional trade association governed by the Oregon Association of Realtors (OAR). We’ll cover the OAR in a future post, as well as its local incarnations, Portland Metro Association of Realtors and East Metro Association of Realtors.

Drumroll, please: There are around 6,400 members of the Portland Metro Association of Realtors, and 500 in the East Metro Association of Realtors. Roughly 10% of these members are “affiliate” members – those who are in real estate-related industries and services but are not real estate licensed (title companies, inspectors, banks, etc.) That brings the total number to 6,800 Realtors in Portland.

With so many agents in the Portland Metro area, it’s a competitive environment for those Realtors who want to succeed. Although mobile technologies and fewer job options are making it easier and more tempting for new agents to enter this field, successful agents must do more than show properties and accept listings.

In July 2014 there were only 1,127 closed sales in Portland proper and only 2,457 closed sales from Hillsboro to Oregon City to Gresham. So for the 6,400 Realtors working the Portland metro area, each one would get less than a half of a sale for the month of July! So a good Portland real estate agent really has to differentiate themselves in order to be successful.

Give me a call and you’ll find out why, out of all 6,800 real estate agents in Portland, I’m one of the best. Top 1% listing agent in Portland, Top 5% of all real estate agents in the United States. I do more to sell your home, for less. See my listing package here.

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