Wednesday, March 13, 2013

In Portland, it's a seller's market alright

The Regional Multiple Listing Service released stats for February, showing more of the same. 

More rising prices; median price is up 8.5% to $238,500 in the last twelve months. 

We have more pending and closed sales and inventory remains low with 4.5 months of inventory city wide; pending sales increased 11.8% from January 2013.   Some desirable close-in neighborhoods are seeing inventory as low and 1.5 months.  At the current rate if sales it would only take 1.5 months to sell all the houses on the market.

And our average market time remains low at 116 days city wide.  This is an average, so imagine how quickly the good ones are actually selling.

The real estate conversation is all about inventory.  There are plenty of buyers in the marketplace right now hoping to get in before prices and interest rates rise too much more.  But...there aren't so many houses to choose from, making multiple offers and bidding wars commonplace.    We are even seeing multiple cash offers; in some cases buyers needing to buy using financing  need not even submit offers.

So if you've been thinking of selling, now is a pretty good time.  Interest rates remain reasonably low such that more buyers can afford to buy at a certain price range.  As both interest rates and prices rise, the pool of buyers for any given price range will decrease.

See the full report.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Be a Strong Real Estate Buyer

Resume?  Personal letter?  Pre-approval letter and proof of funds? 

As you may have heard, Portland's housing market is in a bit of a crisis.  No, not that housing bubble crisis.  We have WAY more buyers than houses to sell! Multiple offers are common place, as are sales prices well above asking prices.

Buyers are challenged to differentiate themselves from the competition to get their offers accepted.  Obviously price is a big concern, but many sellers like an emotional connection with a buyer and may forgo a higher offer for a financially well qualified buyer with whom they identify.  Here are a few tips:

1) Get pre-approved through a local mortgage lender or mortgage broker; preferably one with a solid reputation in the real estate community.  If a listing agent has worked with your lender and liked them, they'll most likely pass on that positive report to the seller.  With loan underwriting guidelines as strict as they are, we see plenty of loans fail from loan processors not knowing how to correctly verify and document assets and liabilities.  Get a good lender and do the legwork of pre-approval up front. 

2) Be willing to provide proof of your down payment funds.  This can be in the form of a banking or investment statement, with the account numbers blacked out.  It does need to show at least the amount of money required for your loan and your name(s).  Waiting for a payout from your deceased Aunt Tillie's estate does not a down payment make.

3) Put a few kind gestures in your offer.  If the sellers are going on to buy another property, they are stressed out and challenged about selling and buying and moving in a short period of time.  Offer the sellers a few days in the house after closing, at no cost to them, and then be generous in allowing them to rent back for another week or so.  Yes, this will cost you a bit as you'll have ownership costs, but it may well get you the house you want.  If the house is an estate, consider offering to dispose of unwanted household goods and personal effects. This will cost you a bit of time and money, but may be invaluable to the heirs.

4) Work on a generic letter ahead of time, which you'll customize for each offer you write. This is a letter to the seller about you, complimenting the house and talking about the features that draw you to the house.  Clearly the second part is done specific to each house.  This may well be the sappiest thing you ever write.  " The work you've done to the yard is just wonderful;. My partner is an avid gardener we look forward to summer evenings under the gazebo etc."  Or, "our children, ages 4 and 6 are so excited to live so close to the park and to have their own rooms".  Really tell your story and include pictures.

5) If the seller is an investor or a bank, they may be more interested in the price.  But a clean offer; reasonable close date, ample earnest money, respectable price and a strong pre-approval letter should do the trick.  Don't clutter your offer with small one-off requests such as removing the cat door or re-keying the locks.  Less is more.

Email me for more tips on getting your offer accepted at

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Neon Boneyard

Rusted metal, broken glass and some hazardous chemicals; yet we paid to see it.

I've been in Las Vegas this week for the RE/MAX Convention.  Though Vegas is not my natural habitat (is it anyone's?), this is a great event. I often get quite caught up in the classes and sessions; not taking time to get out a bit.

A few of my pals helped with that "getting out and about" thing, making advance reservations at The Neon Boneyard, or The Neon Museum , located on the north side of town.  Clearly, saving the fabulous old neon signs has long been a concern.  The Young Electric Sign Company has been creating and servicing neon signs in Las Vegas for generations. The company has played an instrumental part in the museum and neon preservation. This actual museum has only recently opened in early 2013.  The welcome center is in the relocated old La Concha Motel.


The museum offers guided tours only, leaving hourly. Advance reservations are advised.  The tour takes about an hour, with tons of great history, information about the neon industry and plenty of photo opportunities.  Who was the first casino owner to comp drinks to gamblers AND put chairs at the slot machines?  How'd that first racially integrated casino work out?  Who knew the four pointed "stars" on the Stardust Hotel sign signified nuclear "dust" from all this desert tests?
 In addition to pieces at the museum site, the organization has restored several iconic neon signs that can be seen along Las Vegas Blvd and Fremont St. in downtown Las Vegas.

Neon Boneyard or taking a self-guided tour of neon in Las Vegas' downtown; either way, take a look.  Oh, and call me if you want more information or pictures.  503-312-8038.