Portland Makes History, Again.

Orange Line[1]Tilikum Crossing, the first bridge to span the Willamette River since 1973, opens this week in Portland. Home of Tri-met’s new Orange Line, which connects SE Portland, Milwaukie and Oak Grove with downtown, the bridge is the first of its kind in the United States. It is truly “Portland” in so many ways, including its sleek, cable-stayed design and extra wide pedestrian and bike paths. Tonight, September 10th, a spectacular event associated with the opening takes place, called “First Light.”  The 178 aesthetically placed lights on the bridge will be permanently lit at approximately 9 p.m., and will change based on the Willamette River’s speed, temperature and height. The light program was designed by artists Anna Valentina Murch and Doug Hollis as part of Tri-met’s public art program. For more information about the Orange Line, visit their really lovely website at: www.catchtheorange.com.

Slab town Field Trip

school house interior If you haven’t found a purpose to enjoy the NW area known as Slabtown, here are a few good reasons to spend several delightful hours there.

Once known for its lumber mill on Northrup, where its discarded log remnants were stacked outside the homes of the area’s working class, more recently it’s been the forgotten industrial area north of NW “trendy-third,” and it offers a somewhat grittier and interesting area to explore.

The longtime Bedford Brown is a favorite place to buy arguably the best orchids in town, the perfect alternative to the standard bouquet which wilts in a week. While there, hobnob with decorators and the friendly and stylishly dressed staff and peruse the decorator items. It is also one of the best places to buy indoor plants and has an amazing selection of pots, indoor and out.

Just a mile away, stop into the expanded newer home of Schoolhouse Electric, which adjoins their factory facility.  Admire the home furnishings and well designed light fixtures and partake in caffeine at the attached coffee house.

A little jaunt on a side road under 405 gives some lovely dining choices such as the NW outpost of Olympic Provisions, great for both lunch and dinner. Pick up some tea at the nearby Smith Teas, a calm and tastefully designed oasis. Not far away, slurp noodles at the NW Boke Bowl outpost at the base of the Addy building.

Now that there’s a New Seasons at NW Raleigh and 21st, it won’t be long until the area really starts to develop. Explore now while one still feels like a bit of an explorer.

Market Action April 2010

March, and now April have been extremely hot in our local real estate market. Starting in January we had 12.6 months of inventory, and by April that had been whittled down to 7.3%. Compared with April 2009, closed sales jumped up by 49% and pending sales jumped by 60%. We are still taking into account the first time home buyer's credit which required buyers to have a contract by April 30th and to close on that home by June 30th, 2010. Looking at the May sales will be imperative in judging whether prices have dropped enough to have a substantial pool of buyers long term.

Case in point, one of the slowest markets in the last year has been Lake Oswego and West Lynn, with DOM (days on market) at well over 200. The year to date average sales price has been $461,000. Sales are up in that area over 84% from last year with DOM down to 147. Are these first time home buyers or have we reached a good intersection of more affordable prices combined with low interest rates? At this sales price, it certainly points to a more affordable market.

North Portland has the lowest prices in the close-in Portland area averaging $232,000 for this year with a very respectable 77 days of average market time. North Portland also has much fewer active listings, at 498 compared to over 1,000 in most areas which probably effects the demand.

Although we are connected as a whole, every area of town has it's own eco-system of sorts- an important factor when pricing a home.

Presenting an Offer

Many buyers and sellers are unaware of a quaint custom in real estate known as "presenting an offer."

More often than not, in today's world when a buyer's agent writes an offer with their client to purchase a property, the offer is then faxed or emailed rather than presenting the offer in person to the listing agent. Our industry has changed with the prevalence electronic communications just like so many other professions have. And why would one present an offer in person- doesn't the offer speak for itself?

I would say- absolutely not. Many opportunities are lost when not presenting in person. Ideally the buyer's agent should present to both the seller and their agent. If this isn't possible, than many times the listing agent is willing to meet with the buyer's agent. In either case, this a great time to build a relationship, and allow both parties to ask pertinent questions as they come up in real time.

Case in point- I recently took some clients to see a house that I found out was going to be listed and put on the MLS that very day. The listing agent agreed that I could show my clients through the home before that, in fact- right when he was meeting with the seller getting final signatures. My clients loved the mid-century home and shared with me immediately that they wanted to write an offer.

What could be better news to a buyers agent? Except that my buyers were selling their home to get into this home- and they had just experienced a fail sale two days before.  This meant that now their offer would be completely contingent on the sale of their home- a home that wasn't even pending and in need of a buyer in a tough market. My buyers needed to know that to have an offer accepted with this contingency was a long shot- a very long shot.

The seller agreed to let me present the offer with her broker present, and I went through the terms with her page by page. My clients had decided to write an contract with very generous terms and the seller expressed a lot of enthusiasm for the offer. The seller and I struck up a friendly repoire. When I shared the contingency, she asked me how saleable my buyer's home was. I had the photos at the ready, and luckily the home was picture perfect. The listing agent was impressed that the home had been pre-inspected. The seller verbally accepted my client's offer that evening and we got the formal acceptance the following day.

I am positive this would not have been the outcome had I faxed the offer over. The listing agent would have been prudent to advise his client against a contingent offer and would probably have advised his client to put the house on the open market. As my principal broker shared with me once- "Why hitch your wagon to a slower moving wagon?"

With a good presentation, and a relationship built between all the parties, the personal touch can make all the difference. It allowed all concerned to ask questions and share information- a benefit to the seller as well.

The truly happy ending? My buyers got another offer on their home within two weeks and now they are living in their long shot.