Thursday, June 13, 2019

The suburbs are hopping!

RMLS just released the stats for May 2019,  and boy did we have a busy May.  Our closed sales were up 5.9% over May 2018, and 23.2% over April 2019.  It was our busiest May since 2006. I wonder what that is about.

Pending sales are up a bit, and the year to date median price increased a tad 0.7% over the same time period in 2018.

The most active areas (% increase in pending sales and price increase %) were Southeast Portland (with a lot of that activity in outer Southeast), Gresham/Troutdale, Oregon City/Canby, Beaverton Aloha, Columbia County and Yamhill County.   Notice anything?  These are primarily suburban or rural areas.

We often tell buyers frustrated at prices and competition close-in, to drive until they can afford it.  I think that is what is happening here.  The increased activity, but very slight increase in prices can mean that more buyers are buying reasonably priced properties.

Click here to see the complete RMLS report.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Thinking about an accessory dwelling unit?

ADU's are a big topic these days.  They can be a way to add a rental unit to your property, add a guest house for your own use, or even a unit to be used as a short term rental (Airbnb, Vacasa etc).

Different municipalities have different regulations, so be sure to research your specific location. For instance, in the City of Portland, some system development charges will be waived IF you agree not to use the ADU as a short term rental .

Because, by definition, ADU's are added to an existing property, they are very situational.  The City of Portland has different rules, depending on the existing structure, size,  lot size, orientation on the lot, and so on.   For this reason it is helpful, and important to work with an architect and builder who have experience in designing, permitting and building ADU's.

Kol Petersen wrote Backdoor Revolution, A Definitive Guide to ADU Development, which can be a good place to start.  His website also has a bunch of resources, and he is organizing the upcoming ADU tour, for which you can register here.

And here are a few more resources. Folks who will do consults, plans and such.

Schuler Smith, Polyphon Architecture and Design:  503-208-5678

Aram Irwin  503-544-5971   Their website has a form to fill out, and they’ll schedule a “conversation” with you within three days.

The City of Portland has a nice document about converting attics and basements to living space.  And a bunch of information about ADU's. 

Does an ADU add value to a property?  Yes (unless it eats up the whole yard).  We are seeing lots of multi-generational households, where a separate living space is welcome.  In addition, folks like the ability to supplement their income with either a short or long term rental. 

Adding an ADU should be done mindfully, taking into account the lot, neighborhood and setting.  Projects with site work incorporating the ADU into the property, while giving each dwelling some private outdoor space, are best.

Don and I will be taking the toour on June 22nd.  Are you?  And in the coming months we'll be researching and planning to build an ADU ourselves.  If you've got questions, or ar just ADU curious, get in touch.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Those buried oil tanks...still

It has been years, I mean years, that we've been dealing with the fallout, or seepage, if you will, of buried oil tanks.

At this point, many tanks have been decommissioned, by someone, using some method.  There may, or may not have been some sort of paperwork may have been generated.  And the homeowner may, or may not have kept that paperwork somewhere.

I can't tell you how many houses I have sold (representing the buyer or seller) where the seller is pretty sure the tank was done at some time.  They have no paperwork, but are sure its fine.  Enter the buyer, who wants proof that the tank was decommissioned DEQ standards, and registered with DEQ.

That last step of registration with DEQ can be a lifesaver.  Once its registered with DEQ, even if the paperwork is misplaced, all is good, and proof of decommission can be provided.  Registration is usually done as a part of a decommission, and is handled by the company completing the decommission.  The fee for registering with DEQ has varied over the years, but has generally been below $200. We just did one which was $195.  Don't cheap out!

In the absence of paperwork, the oil tank decommission needs to be verified by searching for the tank and actually looking at it.  This means sampling the soil beneath the tank looking for leakage, digging down and opening the tank to verify the work was done, and done properly.  Allowing for scheduling, lab results, and so on, this process can take a few weeks, adding costs and delays to the transaction. Then the invoice and certification letter (from the company performing the work) will be generated, and the decommission (if it is agreed upon) submitted to DEQ.  It can take weeks to months for DEQ to issue the actual certification.

Not all decommissions involve removal

The cost of such a verification will vary with the conditions.  Where is the tank? Was the soil tested before, or maybe not, in which case there could actually be something to clean up.  Is the tank under a deck, patio or in some other location that will prove challenging?   Who restores the patio, landscape after the work is done?

In a recent transaction, we lucked out, with the tank being under a fairly high deck, so we weren't disturbing the deck. We got clean soil samples, and when they opened the tank, they could see it had been properly decommissioned!  Hooray!  The cost was $1290 to the seller, and we delayed our normal close date by ten days.

If you are thinking of selling, and think you had a tank at one time, but can't find the paperwork,  get in touch,  If I represented you on the purchase, I'll most likely have the information in my files.  If there was an actual leak, and clean up/decommission, I can usually find that information on one of the DEQ databases.  And if the decommission was registered with DEQ I can track that down.  Sometimes I can track down the company that did the work and get paperwork that way.  And maybe you'll have the paperwork in an old email or in the cloud.  If not...its best to get the decommission verification done before marketing the property.  This avoids delays in closing, getting the buyer involved in the process and we'll have that invoice and cost.  In some cases, the cost can be paid from your proceeds at closing, so you don't have to write the big check now.

If you are in the City of Portland, Portland Maps may show a permit for an oil tank; buried in the yard, or in the basement.  The lack of a permit doesn't mean there is no tank, it just means there is no permit.  And yes, plenty of properties had not one, but two buried tanks. Double bonus points for that (not really).

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has some good information for home buyers and sellers.    If I represented you in your purchase, and you have questions, I'm glad to see what I have in my files.  If you bouhgt trough someone else, I'm glad to see what I can find in the various databases.