Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Portland existing home prices fall again in Septermber - Case Shiller

Wow, I miss one month and everything goes crazy. Back in July we were looking at 3 months of price increases. Prices peaked in August, but fell a bit again in September. I would expect prices to continue to increase through the end of the year, so we'll see where they go in October.

September's median price for an existing home in Portland was down 11.8% from September 2008 at 149.72. (click on any chart to expand it to readable size) This is a significant improvement from the 16.3% decline in May.

The monthly change was down 0.5% from August, reversing the increases we saw through the summer.

The median Portland home price is now down 19.7% from the peak in July 2007.


The above chart shows growth rates for 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 is now doing a little better better than Seattle, but note how the price declines in the Bay Area are really starting to slow. The negative price growth appears to have bottomed out in the Bay Area, but it's too early to tell if prices won't slide again once the tax credit expires and the next wave of foreclosures hit.

The above chart shows how Portland is faring compared to other cities. Our maximum price decline is still below average, and I'm starting to think we'll remain below average.

This chart shows the price index for the past 8 years. This month the pink line represents an average of 4% growth starting in January 2001. That puts us right about where we are today. A year ago we were well above 5% for the past 8 years. Why 4%? Why not.


This chart 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.

Any thoughts on the latest stats? I'm thinking that most first time buyers have taken the plunge, and that prices will hover or drop another 5% over the winter, even with the extended tax credit.


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.

Data presented in the Case Shiller spreadsheets are calculated monthly using a three-month moving average and published with a two month lag.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

How not to build a real estate website

There's a house that's up for sale near me and I wanted to find out when they're holding an open house.

First I went to find the house on Trulia, and struck out.

So I found it on RMLS, then went to the Realtor's website for more details.

The realtor's site immediately asked me to register, without even offering up the same basic information I can get from RMLS.

There is enough competition and information out there that the LAST thing you want to do is make it harder for me, a potential buyer, to find information on your listings. I'll pass on this one.

Bad idea.

"For sellers we market Retail and Short Sale property in a fashion that does one thing....bring more attention to the home. Our online web representation and constant syndication of each listing combined with our unique web 2.0 style marketing is what gets homes sold."

Huh. Not found on Trulia, no photo when I finally did find it. And making me register? Web 2.0? Nope.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

First time home buyer credit extended and expanded

Late last week President Obama signed an extension of the $8,000 first time home buyer credit.

From the Redfin blog:

"...President Obama signed new legislation extending the deadline for the home buyer tax credit into 2010 and expanding it to include current home owners who are looking to buy a primary residence.

The Basic Requirements

You qualify for the tax credit if the:

  • Home you’re buying will be your primary residence
  • Purchase price isn’t more than $800,000

This credit is not a loan; it’s yours, but keep in mind you have to live in your new home for three years. If you sell the home in less than three years, you’ll have to pay back the money.

What’s Changed?

With the new legislation, buyers have more time to find a home and more buyers are eligible for the tax credit:

  • New deadline: To qualify, you need to be in contract with a seller by April 30th & close on the home by June 30th (The previous deadline was November 30, 2009).
  • Not just for first-time buyers anymore: Home buyers who’ve owned and occupied a home for at least five consecutive years during the past eight years are eligible for a credit up to $6,500.
  • Increased income limits: Individuals making less than $125,000 and couples making less than $225,000 are eligible (The limits used to be $75K & $150K).

First-time buyers are eligible for a credit up to $8,000 on homes purchased between January 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010. Qualified homeowners can a credit up to $6,500 on homes purchased between November 7, 2009 and June 30, 2010."

This should help keep sales moving through the winter. But the question is how long will they keep propping up the market before letting it return to "normal".

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Historic Autzen up for Sale - Down to $2.25M

We've been admiring this house ever since we moved to NE Portland and I'e wondered what the story was behind this house, and I recently learned it's the historic Autzen estate. I was surprised to run past it the other day and see it for sale. Apparently it's been on sale for a while.

Since 2003.

The house is stunning. Over 10,000 ft, 6 bedrooms, 5 full bathrooms and 3 half bathrooms. And for you fellow car nuts out there, a 3 car garage (that's about the same size as our house). Of course, I'd hate to see the heating bill.

The Autzen's spared no expense on the house when it was built. There is an alcove for the grand piano, a full ballroom (that is now being used as a game room) and a lot of wood.

The current owners bought it for $895k, spent $500k restoring it, and put it on the market in 2003 for $2.95M. The somehow managed to miss the entire real estate boom, and the house still sits on the market at $2.25M.