Saturday, February 16, 2013

Those new market stats

The RMLS just released statistics for the month of January.  It is nice to see a few more houses coming on the market, as buyers are out in force.  We also see a consistent trend in slow, steady price increases.

 The median sales price over the previous twelve months increased  7.3%  to $236,000 up from $219,000.  In January, pending sales rose a whopping 37.7% over the previous month.  Closed sales, reflecting seasonal slowing of selling activity over the holidays, dipped to 1344 in January 2013 when compared with 1760 in December 2012

Housing inventory rose to 4.7 months, up from 3.6 months in December 2012.  That is, at the current rate of sales, it will take 4.7 months to sell out the inventory.

If you've been thinking about selling, get in touch and we'll see where the value is on your home.  There are plenty of buyers out there looking to make a move.  If you've been waiting to buy, don't wait too much longer. We don't want you priced out by increasing prices and interest rates - unless your income is also going up.

Leslie Jones 503-312-8038.

Read the full RMLS report.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

That popular FHA financing

For years, FHA (Federal Housing Administration) have long been a staple of first time and lower income home buyers.  In general, FHA loans allow a buyer to have lower credit scores and a bit more debt, along with lower down payments, than conventional loans.

As you might imagine, the housing crisis was especially hard on the Federal Housing Administration.  The National Association of Realtors reports that an independent audit shows the  FHA has an economic value of negative $13.48 billion.  Over the past few years FHA has been making a variety of slight adjustments; increases in their mortgage insurance and funding fees.  This spring brings another wave of changes in an effort to stem the tide.

The two most notable changes are:

 1) Raising the annual mortgage insurance premium by 10 basis points, or about $13 per month on the average loan.

2) Making the mortgage insurance permanent; meaning MIP can no longer be removed once an owner achieves 20% equity.   Keep in mind though, the average FHA loan turns over quicker than conventional loans as they are often used to buy that first, starter house.

These changes to FHA are a balancing act; address FHA's financial strength (or lack of it) without putting a damper on the now recovering housing market.

Read the FHA report here.

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Cautionary Sidewalk Tale

A friend of mine has a rental property in a nice, close-in, walkable Portland neighborhood.  She got a letter from an attorney this week.The attorney is representing a woman who tripped on my friend's sidewalk in August and broke her wrist. In February, this is the first my friend had heard of  it.  Would my friend please provide her insurance company contact information so the claim could be made and processed.  Really?!  Just like that?

Over the years, my husband and I have done, or paid for, LOTS of sidewalk repairs and replacement, as mandated by the City of Portland.,  We always groan, and get snippy about all the more egregious sidewalk issues we see in walking our neighborhood.  And yes, we give a nod to the safety aspects of good sidewalks.

Back to my friend.  Her insurance agent had been out to the property in the last few years and they had looked at a bump, or separation in the sidewalk.  He suggested, rather than going to the expense to replace the offending sections, they mix up some concrete and do sort of a patch or small ramp to alleviate the trip hazard.  Tempting... and this is what they did.

So when my friend got the letter,. she didn't even need to go look at the sidewalk.  She new exactly the spot. Ugh.  I'm not sure how it will pan out, but I'm guessing some money will change hands, her insurance will go up, and they'll most likely end up doing a larger sidewalk repair.

Sage advice?  I don't know.  One could spend a fortune defensively replacing sidewalks.  Portland has miles of aging sidewalks, kind of like our miles of aging sewers.  But unlike our miles of aging sewers, the public has an expectation that your sidewalk will be...walkable.  As you start your spring yard clean up, take a look, with a critical eye, at your sidewalks.  See anything that might need attention?

Call me if you need a referral to some good sidewalk contractors.  Don and I  just had sidewalks done this fall and know some decent contractors.  Oh,and if the City of Portland calls out your sidewalk, they don't give you much time to get the project handled before they have it done and charge you.  Just so you know.