Tuesday, May 15, 2012

How's the market?

This is this market report from RMLS we've been expecting.  Pending sales are up both from April 2012 ( 4.1%) and from April 2011, a whopping 18%!  Closed sales are up 7.6% from March 2012, and 13.1% from March 2011.  Portland area real estate agents have been busy as heck the last several weeks.  It is nice to see the numbers bear out what we've been seeing and thinking.

For the past several years we've been telling our seller clients it might not be the best time to sell.  You listened.   We don't have enough houses to sell!  New listings are down and sales are up, leaving us with only 4.7 months of inventory to sell at our current rate of sales.  This is the lowest # since June 2007.  No wonder most houses new to the market bring several offers in their first week.

Prices?  When comparing home prices year to date this year and last, there is less than a 1% difference in both median and average sales price.  The Portland area median price , year to date, is $216,200.  The average price for the same time period was $254,600.  Our market time for homes sold in April 2012 was 123 days, compared to 153 days for April 2011.

So, shorter market time, fewer houses to sell, more houses pending and more houses sold.  Minuscule price fluctuation.  Um.  If you have been thinking about selling, this would be a good time. hint hint.

Full RMLS report.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Buying Small?

Often clients ask me what might seem an odd question.  How big, or small, of a house should we buy?  In these days of mindful living, being aware of ones carbon footprint and all, many of us don't want to buy too much house.  Or, sometimes, folks fall love with a house that is really on the small side.  These folks want help thinking through the pitfalls of buying small.

First, buying too big.  The downsides are obvious; more utilities, more cleaning, higher taxes and perhaps a bit of eco-guilt.  Houses that are too big can also rob a home of a "center";  a family may be a bit too spread out and sacrifice some beneficial interaction.  The pluses of buying big are an amount of comfort, room for guests, project space and room for life changes.  As we age, and our kids age, we'll use space differently.  A larger house will give us more options.

Smaller houses.  Three or four years ago I sold some gals a cute as heck, 550 square foot house.  It was perfect for them.  They were used to apartment life and were adept at living small.

Living small also fit with their values.  When asked the downside,  I reminded them that almost any life change for them, short of breaking up, would make the house untenable.  Life changes come in many forms, and often unexpectedly; babies, working from home, taking in a roommate or family member that needs some help and so on.  Earlier this year I was glad to hear from my clients.  They're looking toward having a baby next year and will be needing to buy up.  They don't regret the small house, but had they bought bigger, they might be staying in their first home a bit longer.

In general, my advice is to buy a house that not only works for you now, but will allow for some changes.  Moving costs money, no doubt. Balance buying something small enough that it doesn't cost too much over time, with a house big enough to grow with your lifestyle a bit.
We bought up in 2003, and had a bit of eco-guilt about buying something too big.  It was important to me that we not have any of those rooms no one really uses. That would feel wasteful.  I thought we should use every room every day. Okay, so nine years later, with lots of entertainment now viewed on our computers, the television/guest room/cat room is not used by humans everyday.  But the cats, they love that room!