Earthquake Preparedness for Portland Home Buyers and Sellers

portland preparing for earthquake

Home buyers and sellers in Portland let out a big “gulp” last month when they read the New Yorker article about “The Really Big One” or any of the follow-up stories in the local media. Those who study earthquakes are saying that there is a 30% chance of a magnitude 8.0–8.6 earthquake and a 10% chance of a magnitude 8.7–9.2 earthquake hitting Oregon in the next fifty years.

To put it in perspective, the earthquake that hit Japan in 2011, causing the meltdown of the Fukushima power plant, was a 9.0. The possible 8.7-9.2 earthquake that the New Yorker article was talking about will hit all along the Cascadia subduction zone fault line, which runs underneath the Cascade mountains – the eastern border of the Willamette Valley in which Portland lies.

Fortunately, the author of the article wrote a follow-up story to help calm everyone’s nerves, with more information and some tips on keeping you and your home safe when the earthquake eventually hits.

1. Learn more about your home to determine whether or not it is earthquake-safe. Homes built after 1993 are most likely to survive a severe earthquake because that’s the year Oregon adopted seismic standards into the building code.

For older homes, there are upgrades that can be done to improve earthquake durability, such as reinforcing the connection between the home and its foundation. In fact, just last month, the City of Portland announced that it will be applying for FEMA funds to help homeowners pay for these upgrades. If the funding is approved, FEMA will pay for up to half the cost for qualified homeowners.

2. Portland homeowners should definitely look into buying some earthquake insurance. Homeowners insurance does not cover earthquakes, and according to’s Insurance Division, only 20% of Oregonians have an earthquake insurance policy! There are many types of earthquake insurance, but no matter what you decide, be sure your policy covers the cost of living expenses should you have to move out of your home while repairs are being done.

Now that potential earthquakes in Oregon are in the news, home buyers will want to know if your home is seismically prepared. If you live in an older home, find out what the options are for upgrades and have it ready for them or their real estate agent to read about! Point them toward this real estate blog and other resources that can help calm the hype. The only thing more dangerous than a major earthquake is not being prepared for one! Home buyers, sellers and real estate agents can all play a role in helping Portland beef up for the shake down.

September 1, 2015

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. A Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington, he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales. Call his team in Oregon at 503-714-1111 or in Washington at 360-345-3833.

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