Return on Investment – Home Energy Upgrades

 As an accredited Earth Advantage Broker, I am always learning about energy upgrades and new energy efficiency projects.  Earth Advantage has created this super handy tier guide to show how quickly different energy efficiency investments will pay off.  This guide will be very helpful when the Portland home energy score mandate goes into effect on January 1st, 2018.  All sellers will be required to have a home energy audit completed before listing their home (

Portland Landlords to Pay Relocation Costs for No Cause Evictions

Last year city council incumbent Steve Novice was unseated by Portland bookstore owner, Chloe Eudaly.  The change was a surprise especially after low polling numbers in the primary election.  Chloe Eudaly is a long time Portland renter and ran on a platform of protecting tenant’s rights.

In her first month as city commissioner a rule (spearheaded by Eudaly) was voted on February 2nd  and passed unanimously by city council.  The rule requires landlords to pay for tenant’s relocation costs for no cause evictions and rent increases over 10%.  The relocation costs range from $2,900 for a studio to $4,500 for a two bedrooms apartment.  This rule is a emergency response to the housing crisis and will be in effect immediately until October of 2017.  Commissioners noted that the rule is not perfect and Amanda Fritz was quoted saying there will be unintended consequences that are yet to be seen.

The commissioners heard testimony for 5 hours on Thursday from both landlords, tenants and tenant right activists.  In response the Multifamily Northwest will most likely file a lawsuit to battle the 10% cap as Oregon has a ban on rent control.  There are a number of exemptions, including landlords who rent only one dwelling in Portland.

Portland’s Rent Growth and How It’s Changing Home Buying

Last night I had the chance to attend a quarterly real estate presentation hosted by Perkins & Co., a local accounting firm. The topic was Multi-family housing development featuring Clyde Holland with Holland Partner Group.   First off I have to say that Clyde Holland is a very engaging and authentic speaker. He gave a presentation of number based facts that didn’t bore anyone in the room for over an hour. I would say that the room was filled with mostly real estate developers, both large and small. One of the most interesting ideas that Clyde presented is that the millennial generation (people born between 1980 and 2004 approximately) will on average do things 5 years later than their parents did. I can say that I am right on track to be 5 years behind my parents on the whole shebang, marriage, children and most notably home ownership.   I bought my home in 2014 when I was 30 years old while my parents were quite a few years younger.

Looking to more numbers, Clyde noted that the highest rent growth in Portland was in 2015. Normally there is a trend of rental rate increases during the year from January through to October. The last quarter of the year there is normally a reduction in rental rates as less people are moving and vacancies are not likely to change much. Something very notable happened in Portland rental rates in 2014 and 2015, there was not a reduction in rates in the last quarter of either year. The demand was so strong that rates did not need to change. We looked at research that showed a strong correlation between wage growth and rent growth. Then we looked to tech wage growth. In some of the strongest tech cities, Portland, Seattle, Denver and San Francisco the wage growth far surpassed the rent growth. Tech workers are able to pay a lot more in rent and multi-family developers are spending a lot of money to market to them. Clyde stated that in his opinion 2015 to 2020 will have the strongest rent growth in history in Portland and the west coast. He did share his idea that there will be a decline right after the Presidential election in November and an opportunity for better purchasing power for those looking to buy multi-family housing.

Holland Partner group is looking actively around Portland for new areas primed for multi-family development. They are concentrating on new transit stops where there is opportunity to create energy and density. Holland is behind the hugely successful Orenco Station development in Hillsboro. They have found that the number one amenity renters are looking for is social interaction. The developments they work on focus on high density, community gathering areas and retail.

How does this relate to home purchases in Portland? There are a number of ways the rental and multi-family markets effect home purchases. If you aren’t a tech worker or a higher wage earner saving can be an issue when your rental rates are so high and continue to climb. This limits savings for down payments and may make building or repairing credit difficult. There is also a shortage of inventory for single family homes in Portland. Multi-family developers are purchasing detached homes on normal sized lots and building rental buildings with up to 70 units. This practice uses up lots that may have had single family homes built on and lowers single family home inventory.   The catch 22 is that there is a shortage of both single family homes and mulit-family homes in Portland right now. During the recession building all but stopped in both arenas. This has left a huge shortage and builders have not been able to catch up to the demand.  At the end of the evening Clyde left us with a quote that I think is spot on and our local government needs to take note, “Unless you have adequate housing you won’t have affordable housing.”

Why Is My House Worth $500,000?

This past week I had a client email me with a really interesting concern. She said she was looking at one of the websites like Zillow or Redfin and her house was valued at $500,000. She seems shocked at the high value and a little bit concerned about this discovery. Most people would be happy to see their home value rising so much. I will say that her home is in a very popular south east neighborhood, has nice updates and is a very typical 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom, Portland bungalow.

I responded to her email with a conversation that I seem have nonstop with both clients and other Realtors. One of the main factors driving prices is inventory.  Portland has the lowest inventory in months (1.2 months when 6 months is a healthy market) that we have had in the past 20 years.  Our density is increasing, but not at a rate to sustain the number of people moving to Portland.  Builders are having trouble finding areas to build single family homes and all of these issues are pushing prices up.  The past two contracts I wrote with a client had 25 competing offers and 5 competing offers.

On her end, or with any seller, it doesn’t make sense to sell your home even with the high value if you plan to stay in Portland (without downsizing or trading up) because you will have to find your new home in this very difficult inventory situation.  On the other hand, if you are a seller right now you can pull a lot of appreciation out of your home to trade up or downsize and do something else with the value. I do not see the inventory increasing substantially in Portland anytime soon, so the competition will continue to be strong with buyers and home values will continue to push upwards. Interestingly, I just looked at her home value on Zillow and it is $592,000 now. That may not be market value, but it is another indicator of the direction we are headed in Portland prices.