Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Gentrifying as fast as we can

So I had never heard of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute until the Oregonian published an article using their statistics regarding rapidly changing neighborhoods.  While we may often think of gentrification as the growth of middle class, or even wealthier, into previously distressed neighborhoods, Michael Pertilli's June 11, 2012 article for the Fordham Institute's Flypaper, looks at increases in the white population as a sign of gentrification.  That assumption could certainly be debated, but not here.

Petrilli looked at zip codes; while gentrifictaion doesn't go by zip code, census data does.  Portland had two zip codes in the top fifty rapidly "gentrifying" zip codes in the country; 97227 at # 20 and 97211 at # 35. You'll notice, little 97227 is barely visible above the I-405 sign.   

Think of 97227 as the neighborhood of N. Mississippi and that secret residential neighborhood jewel, Overlook.  The Regional Multiple Listing Service reports 10 sales in this zip code so far in 2012, with a median sales price  of $384,950.  That certainly is "gentrification" compared to the city wide year to date median sales price of $220,000.

Think of 97211 as the neighborhood of N.E. Alberta. The Regional Multiple Listing Service reports 212 sales in this zip code so far this year, with a median sales price of $288,700; almost $100,00 lower than 97227, and still well above the citywide year to date median price.  A note, 97227 is a tiny area, so the low # of sales is not surprising.

Interestingly, 92113 in San Diego, is the only other west coast city in the top twenty-five, with three other California cities in the top fifty.  Our neighbor to the north, Seattle is a no show in the top fifty.  

As a real estate broker, and one who sells in Portland's urban core, I don't always love gentrifictaion.  On the face of it, I suppose one might think of gentrifcation as improvement, and an increase in prices.  But I don't always love that either.  What has been great about Portland, but for the crazy mid-2000's, is that normal people, with normal jobs could afford to live in a variety of neighborhoods.   Stable neighborhoods are in my opinion healthy for a community.  Stable doesn't mean rapidly gentrifying, stable doesn't mean a Starbuck's on every corner, and stable doesn't mean outpricing and displacing long time residents.  Pride of ownership is stable, taking care of property is stable. Knowing your neighbors and connecting with them is stable.

Curious what is going on in your zip code?  Give me a call!  503-312-8038.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

On tea, not "the" tea party

Forgive me this uncharacheristic whine.

I switched from coffee to tea, black tea, about four years ago.  This blog is not about the switch. It is about how tea drinkers are discriminated against in restaurants.

This is not a whine about the quality of the tea.  I like simple, black tea.  I don't need, or want, silk tea bags hand tied from Ceylon.  I'd LOVE Twinings Irish Breakfast (staying true to my heritage), but good old Lipton's will do just fine.  I do want black tea.  Please don't assume that because I ordered tea, I want some flowery, non-caffinated drivel.

Order coffee and, in general, your cup/mug is kept refilled.  Heck, sometimes you don't even have to order it. When seated in a restaurant, they fill your cup automatically.

Order tea?  Your server disappears, and comes back however many minutes later with some version of this: one tea bag, one small cup, one small metal container with hot water that is quickly cooling as metal conducts heat quite well.

I slip the tea bag in the small metal container of now luke warm water, where it slowly steeps, kind of, and eventually, once I've gotten whatever tea I can from the bag, pour my cup.  I now have something like 8 ounces of tea.   However much later, I am offerred, maybe, "more hot water".  Really?  Meanwhile, my dining companion will have consumed three cups of steaming hot coffee from a nice sized mug.  So I'll put that same tea bag, in another pot of cooling water and get what?  Some restaurants have coffee mugs and tea cups.  Really? Tea drinkers want less? 

In an effort to take control of some of this process, I have started dragging my own tea bags around with me.  So now I've become that middle aged woman pulling a baggie out of her purse.  Ugh.  This at least gives me a fresh bag to submerge in my small cooling container of water.

Now,  I suppose some might argue that us tea drinkers are just too finicky and persnickety to please; bag in, bag out, lemon, no lemon, milk, no milk, never put the tea bag in the cup etc.  That may well be true, though I'd wager we don't even begin to approach rampant coffee snobs.

How about this?  A reasonable sized (16+ oz.) ceramic/porcelain container of hot water, two tea bags and a mug.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I'm making a move!

I'm so excited!  I'm moving down the street and affiliating with RE/MAX Equity Group.   Over the years I have gotten to know lots of the folks at Equity Group through RE/MAX meetings and events, and have been impressed with the company.  Always a RE/MAX gal, I'm looking forward to working with Rod Renwick, the managing broker at the Broadway office, doing training, accountability groups and other agent support, in addition to continuing to work with my client base.  I'm glad Rod gets to worry about transaction review and risk management :)

 In addition to the RE/MAX tools and support I have had available at Signature Properties, RE/MAX Equity Group has tons of resources with which I'm looking forward to becoming acquainted. Equity Group is a multi-office company, serving much of Oregon and the Vancouver, Washington area.

 I'll still be on Broadway; 237 NE Broadway, just east of Broadway Toyota.  The building is a cool warehousey thing with huge old exposed beams and the like. For those of you who, over the years, have gotten loans through Julee Felsman, I'll be in the same building. And, I'm glad some of my colleagues from Signature Properties are also making the move.

Look for me at the new office at the beginning of July.  Until then, as always, I can be reached through my cell phone at 503-312-8038 and

Sunday, June 17, 2012

How's the Market?

The Portland real estate market continues to show improvement, according to the recently released RMLS statistics.  We've been seeing pretty big increases in activity; the amount of pending and closed sales.  There were 16.4% more accepted offers in May 2012 than in May 2011, and 6.65% more than in April 2012.  Similarly, closed sales were up 20.4% in May 2012 when compared to May 2011, and up 15.1% higher in May 2012 than in April 2012.

Prices are showing slighter and slower gains, but are showing gains, nonetheless.  The median sales price rose 6.6% when comparing May 2012 to May 2011, with the median price in the Portland area being $234,500 as compared to $220,000 in May 2011.

Inventory, the number of homes available on the market, continues to decline such that we now have only 4.2 months of inventory.  That is, at our current rate of sales, it would take 4.2 months to sell all available properties.  This is the lowest our inventory has been since March, 2007.  Slowed foreclosures may in part be responsible for this dearth of houses.  In addition, there are many folks who would like to sell, but can't or don't want to sell short.  They are reluctant landlords, while waiting for the market to recover. Depending on when they bought, there could be a bit of a wait.

In the coming months, I expect we'll see some normal seasonal slowing in August and early September, followed by some healthy sales activity from mid-September to Thanksgiving.  There are often  pretty good deals to be had in the fall; folks who tried to sell in the spring, but somehow missed out.  Getting a sale closed before the holiday can be sort of a last ditch effort.  Many investors make a habit of buying in the fall.  Similarly, buyers who REALLY want to be in their new homes by Christmas can be pretty motivated buyers.  

I'd be glad to talk with you about what is happening in your neighborhood.  Give me a call at 503-312-8038 or email me at

Read the full RMLS Market Action.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

My New Energy Friend?

Every since we had Imagine Energy do that energy audit last year I have lusted after a smart thermostat.  Or maybe I have lusted after heating that can be controlled zonally (cooler in the bedroom, warmer in the dining room at night, cooler in the dining room in the morning and so on).  Indeed, there are many products out there that can achieve these goals.  Just bring money.  But I am intrigued by the  Nest.  No, it won't do zonal easily,  but it sure looks like it does a heck of a lot more than my circa 1990 programmable thermostat.

I didn't even know I needed a new energy friend!  I already have Sonny Boy, who tells me all about the solar energy production.  But Sonny has a bit of a one track mind, where as Nest seems to be a bit more worldly.

Nest looks so cool, I wanted to own one before I learned anything about it!  I like how easy it appears to   control Nest both manually and from afar via an iPhone. I like that Nest can learn from previous usage and gives feedback about energy efficiency and savings.  Nest seems to be positioning themselves a bit like their Palo Alto neighbor, Apple.  It appears Nest customers don't just get a thermostat, they get an energy consultant, a monthly energy report; new energy friend.  Even their packaging has that je ne sais pas, understated coolness.  Heck folks might even pay the $249 price just for the look, and the new friend.