Thursday, February 26, 2009

Contests Come to Oregon - Dallas Oregon

This poor homeowner has taken to an essay contest to sell their house:

Win the right to buy this Oregon property in the heart of wine country. 1 hour to the beautiful Oregon beaches, and 3 hours to either the Desert or the Mountains. The 1900 sq ft house has 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. It is a 1995 triple wide mfr home. All vinyl flooring. It needs some projects finished, but it does have a new roof with new skylights and fresh paint. The Commercial building in front was stick built in 2007. 1550 sq ft with a single car garage. Skylights and a concrete floor. It is unfinished, ready for your creativeness. This all sits on 1 acre of land that is fenced on 3 sides. It does have a 14gpm well with a 2000 gallon holding tank. If you want city water, then you have to apply to be annexed into the city. The property is the first property outside the city limits, so you have more freedom with this commercial property than you would have if you where in the city. The school district is a really great one, that doesn't seem to be hurting like other districts are because of the economy.

The essay needs to be 25 to 50 words, to make it simple, as to why you would like to own this property. There is a $25.00 nonrefundable processing fee. If your essay is chosen as the winner, then you will be given the opportunity to purchase our property for $1.00. We must receive all essays by March 15, 2009.Look at the photos on f l i c k r, watch the videos on you tube, guess what KEY WORDS we will be looking for in the ESSAY.
Any legal experts out there want to comment on the legality of a $1 entry fee but a $25 processing fee? Let me guess, the $25 fee is non-refundable. So even if the house doesn't sell, they keep the fees.

Some more gems:
"Our Timing goal is 45 DAYS, SO DON'T DELAY"
Ah yes, the calling card of every deseperate seller and/or scammer, ALL CAPS! HURRY! HURRY! HURRY! SEND IN YOUR CHECK BEFORE YOU REALIZE THAT YOU'RE BEING SCAMMED!!!!
"We reserve the right to extend the Contest in order to reach the desired number of entries"
Of course you do. It's no fun to sell your house for $50 is it?

I'll be checking back on March 15 to see if it sold. Given the timing I can't wonder if they need money for taxes.

Thanks Mark for the link!

-Edit, here is a comment from a local Realtor:

"As far as that "auction" is is probably legal - at least it can be. Typically they are either set up as a game of chance or a game of skill and require the seller to team up with a non-profit. In most cases the seller cannot make more than the appraised value of the house. Anything above that goes to the non-profit. If the minimum number of tickets doesn't sell by the final drawing date, the organization is obligated to refund everyone’s money - which is what happens in most cases. There was one not too long ago at the coast that ended up shutting down:

More info on this subject at:

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Portland Existing Home Prices Drop 13.1% in December - Case Shiller

The December Case Shiller data was released this morning and November's median price for an existing home in Portland was down 13.1% year over year. (click on any chart to expand it to readable size)

The monthly change was even worse, down 2.5% from November, the largest drop we've seen to date. Or ever.

Portland is now down 15% from the peak in July 2007.

The chart above shows the price index for the past three years. You can clearly see that prices have now dropped beyond 2005 levels and continue to fall. Pop.

The above chart shows Portland, Seattle, the San Francisco bay area (the other areas I consider as closest to Portland) as well as the 20-city composite index. Portland and Seattle are tracking each other very closely, still about a year behind the rest of the market. The 20 city index started to flatten out a few months ago and it looks like the San Francisco Bay area has also started to slow down. We'll need a few more months of data before calling it a trend, but maybe prices have dropped enough for the scavengers to snap up foreclosures and prop up prices.

For comparison, the San Francisco market is down 30.8% in November, but was down 31.1.% in October. It looks like things might be stabilizing a bit down there.

Seattle also saw a massive drop in November, dropping 2.5% from October, and down 11.2% from last year.

This chart shows the price index for the past 8 years. I also added a line inpink this month that represents Portland's average 6.6% growth starting in September 2000. You can see that the current price index is now well below the historic growth line which tells me that our historic growth rate is not sustainable, given that it's nearly double the rate of inflation. Others will try to use this data to show we've reached the bottom (or passed it) I'm sure.

This chart is more for historical curiosity than anything. It shows the previous bubble in the early 90's, and also shows that Portland prices had never dropped over the past 20 years, until 2008. But as they say, past performance is no guarantee of future performance!

The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices measures the residential housing market, tracking changes in the value of the residential real estate market in 20 metropolitan regions across the United States. These indices use the repeat sales pricing technique to measure housing markets. First developed by Karl Case and Robert Shiller, this methodology collects data on single-family home re-sales, capturing re-sold sale prices to form sale pairs. This index family consists of 20 regional indices and two composite indices as aggregates of the regions.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

$61 per sq ft near Alberta? - 5137 NE 14th Pl.

According to Trulia, this little gem (RMLS # 9014589) is selling for $61 per sq ft in a zip code that averages $215 per sq ft.

Of course that's misleading, because if you calculate the price / sq ft for the finished space (1500 sq ft) you get $98 per sq ft.

Still, it's 50% below recent market activity. There are no photos to judge the condition, which is never a good sign although in the Google Map view you can see the flatbed with an old pickup on it, and even though I'm a car nut that still makes me wonder what's going on there.

The $64 question is how much will it take to bring it up to average condition, and what will it be worth when it's done?

Anybody seen the inside?

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Truth Hurts - 829 NE Beech St.

I've heard of the "buy the smallest house on the block" strategy, but I"m not sure I've heard of the "buy the ugliest house on the block" strategy. But hey, whatever works!

Here's the Realtor's description of this house:

"*More photos Take tour*Large corner lot. Ugliest home in the neighborhood. Hardwood in Dining room. One car garage with room to expand."

Christing gets my "Realtor of the Day" award for honesty. And it's probably not a bad strategy.

For what it's worth, this is the smallest, ugliest house around, as it is surrounded by nice, older homes in an up-and-coming neighborhood. I've walked past it and seen it in person.

RMLS# 9004068, Listed for $169k


It's amazing what a little marketing can do. I didn't even realize the photo above was the same house as posted a few days ago here.

I can only imagine a new Realtor has taken over the listing, as it's improved remarkably.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Portland real estate broker busted

KGW is reporting that at least one local broker has finally been tripped up.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kent Robinson said Tuesday that 45-year-old Lee Howlett worked with others to pull off a series of fraudulent home mortgage deals through falsified loan applications and fake appraisals. The appraisals on some properties were inflated, and the higher value was used to apply for larger loans.
I'm pretty sure I've seen some of these fradulent deals show up as foreclosures with crazy prices, I'm glad to see at least one of these idiots get his due.

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Politicians Wanted - Math Skills Not Required.

Apparently math is not a required subject for politicians. As this post points out, even the most basic back-of-the-lobbyists-cocktail napkin calculation shows a price that's almost 4x higher than the number's being thrown around.

"Somehow, Isakson puts the cost of his tax break at just $19 billion. Let's break the Washington rules and try a little arithmetic. Even with weakness in the housing market, it is still virtually certain that we will sell close to 5 million homes in 2009. The overwhelming majority would qualify for the full credit. So, we get 5 million times $15,000. That sounds a lot like $75 billion."
Even if we assume the average house is only worth $100k, so the average credit will be $10k, that's still $50B not $19B.

Seriously, how do we let these people "represent" us? If the credit will work, fine, but let's put a real price on it not some made up number.

If anyone has any insights into their calculations I'd love to see them.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009


Has anybody else seen the commercials running on TV right now, advertising the HUGE LIQUIDATION SALE for the bankrupt companies, Legend Homes and Pacific Lifestyle Homes?

If you missed them, here's the website:

The house shown above is listing at $468,800, down 17.5% from the original listing price of $586,900. That's a significant discount, but not that much greater than the market drop we've already seen. (click on photo to go to listing)

Clint reported on the bankruptcy a few days ago, and the Portland Business Journal featured an article on it as well stating:
Pacific Lifestyle Homes and Legend Homes, two of four local home builders to file for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in 2008, have formed a joint marketing venture to sell more than 100 completed homes in the Willamette Valley by the end of March.
At first read I didn't understand why they would be forming a joint venture, but it is really just a joint marketing campaign.

Honestly I'd expect something a little more creative. Like reducing the price on each home by $1k until they sell. Use the power of scarcity to drive buyers to buy now, before they're gone. Wait too long? Sorry, they've all sold.

Honestly I bet they'll get cheaper if you're willing to wait.

Only 7 show as sold to date, out of 110. Seems like they have a ways to go if they want to sell them all by the end of March.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hakoya Lofts - Now $274.5k to $325k (16 NE Shaver St)

Back in September the Hakoya Lofts were going for $300k to $325k, or about $290 / sq ft.

The prices on 5 of them (did one sell?) have now been dropped to $274.5 - $300k, or about 8.5%. The price / sq ft drops to $269. (RMLS # 9008947)

The lofts look nice in the photos, althought I think the big garage door faces north. A huge south facing window would be really nice during Portland's dreary winters.

They also face competition from these lofts down the street on MLK.

I believe there are also a number of big loft projects over on Mississippi.

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