Thursday, June 19, 2014

Those May market stats: when flat means busy

The Portland market continues to suffer from low inventory, with only 2.8 months of houses on the market.  At our current rate of sales, it will take 2.8 months to sell all the properties on the market. We haven't seen lower inventory since May of 2013. This, with listings up 15.5% from April 2014.  As market times have decreased, the increased inventory is absorbed.

Pending sales were up 5.8% from April 2014, and just a 0.4% increase from May of 2013.  Closed sales rose 15.9% from April 2014, but are down 7.4% from  May 2013.  Spring of 2013 was a kickass market, maybe even a bit too kickass.  So being "flat" compared to last year is fine by me.

Our market time got a tad shorter in May; 67 days in April 2014 vs. 77days in May.  May 2013 had a market time of 85 days.

The median year to date sales price is $278,500, up 10.1% from the median year to date sales price in May 2013 of  $253,000.

So, prices continue to increase, we've had a slight increase in the number of houses on the market, but the pace of sales and number of active buyers make for a busy real estate industry.  There is still a lot of cash in the market, making it harder for first time buyers, with low down payments, to compete.

There is still time to get your place on the market if you've been thinking of selling. Give me a call. 503-312-8038.  Buyers, there is hope, with 2483  closed sales in Portland last month, clearly some folks are getting their offers accepted.

read the full Portland area report here

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Earthquake retrofitting 101

I grew up in California,  where earthquakes are reasonably common place; earthquake drills in school de rigeur. California had the reputation for being earthquake country.  And California started addressing earthquake issues in building codes back in my childhood. 

In Oregon, building codes started requiring houses be bolted in foundations in 1976, but it was not until 1994 that Portland adopted a seismic section of the city building code.  Note the difference between bolting foundations and a complete seismic code which addresses  things like sheer walls and securing water heaters.

So here we are in 2014 and not much has changed.  Portland's old houses sit mostly on concrete foundations of varying condition and quality.  Very few, aside from homes constructed after 1976, have been bolted to their foundations.  What has changed is the available knowledge of an impending earthquake; a big one. 

We're also seeing a slowly growing awareness among home inspectors, home owners and home buyers of the value of earthquake retrofitting. 

 This blog is the first in what I'm sure will turn out to be a series of bogs on earthquake retrofitting. Here are a few basics to start you off. 

These are the general requirements for earthquake insurance for single family homes:  1) Bolting of the sill plate and/or floor joists of the structure to the cement foundation.  2) Adding plywood to brace sub-floor wall areas of homes with cripple-wall construction. 3) Attaching the floor joist walls to the first-floor framing of homes with cripple wall construction. and 4) Strapping/anchoring water heaters to resist horizontal displacement.

Given a concrete foundation in reasonable condition can be bolted to the framing for somewhere between $3000 - $7000.  Brick, block, or houses with crumbling foundations can cost much more, between $50,000 to $200,000. Ack!

In the next earthquake blog, I'll talk about precautions one can take, other than retrofitting the structure of the house, to lessen the impact of an earthquake.  Stay tuned.

Oh, and some of the information for this posting came from Steve Gemmell and his company, Earthquake-Tech.