Susan Marthens Real Estate
The Susan & Shelli Newsletter
Portland Metro Area Home Prices for January 2015 
In This Issue
January Highlights
Sales Price Change
Cost by Area/Community
Affordability Index
Portland Mortgage Rates
New Governor Kate Brown
New Rules for Demolitions
Oregon Explorer
Portland Neighborhood Papers
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January 2015

Since many of you enjoy the charts and graphs as well as the summary page of area prices and Average Sales Price Percent Change, we have included these charts in the email and, if you wish to view a larger image, you can just click on the image.

The Market Action reports for the Portland metro area as well as all Oregon areas and Southwest Washington are also available to download (see "Newsletters" on the left).

Oregon's New Governor Kate Brown

The resignation of Governor John Kitzhaber this week had all the news outlets dispatching story after story as John Kitzhaber watched his political career implode in an influence-peddling scandal stemming from his actions and those of first lady (his fiancee) Cylvia Hayes.

Since Oregon does not have a Lieutenant Governor, the constitution calls for the Secretary of State to assume the duties as Governor until the next election which will be in 2016. Next Wednesday Kate Brown will become the second female governor of Oregon. 

Preparation characterizes Brown's political career. Born in Spain, raised in Minnesota and educated as an undergraduate at the University of Colorado, Brown came to Portland for law school at Lewis & Clark College and never left. 

The Willamette Week has this to say about Kate, "Brown, an equestrienne (she stables her Lipizzan, Tazo, in Ridgefield, Wash.) and former competitive diver, knows a thing or two about maintaining her balance in challenging situations. She climbed nearly to the pinnacle of Oregon Democratic politics through a combination of hard work, fundraising prowess and an ability to promote her party's interests and her own at the same time."

Brown, whose term as Secretary of State officially ends after next year, could not seek re-election to that office. She was already a leading candidate for governor in 2018, and has been meeting with supporters and slowly raising money, even before Kitzhaber's troubles grew dire.
January 2015 Real Estate Highlights
Uptick in Inventory Helps Buyers But it's Still a Seller's Market


January brought strong pending sales to the Portland metro area. Pending sales, at 2,294, bested last January's 2,027 accepted offers by 13.2%, and last month's 1,667 accepted offers by 37.6%.


It was the strongest January for pending sales since 2007 when there were 2,544 offers accepted. Similarly, new listings (2,762) bested last January's 2,583 new listings by 6.9% and last month's 1,540 new listings by 79.4%. The last January there were more new listings was in 2011, when 3,128 new listings were posted.

Click on image to enlarge.

Closed sales, at 1,477, were again higher by 5.8% compared to January 2014, but 34.0% cooler than December 2014's 2,239 closings. 

The Portland metro area currently offers 4,996 active residential listings for sale. Inventory increased in January to 3.4 months, and total market time increased to 82 days.

This graph below shows the active residential listings over the past three calendar years in the greater Portland, Oregon metropolitan area.

Click on image to enlarge.
Above based on information from the RMLS™ Market Action report for January 2015.
Average and Median Sales Prices 
Median Sales Price $280,00 in January 2015


The below graph represents the average and median sale price for all homes sold in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area from January 2006 to January 2015.

Click on image to enlarge.
Above based on information from the RMLS™ Market Action report for January 2015.
Sales Price Percent Change 
Average Sales Price Percent Change 7.0%


The Average Sale Price Percent Change is based on a comparison of the rolling average sale price for the last 12 months (2/1/2014 - 1/31/2015) with 12 months before (2/1/2013 - 1/31/2014).
  • Average Sale Price Percent Change: +7.0% ($333,600 v. $311,900)
  • Median Sale Price Percent Change:  +7.5% ($267,000 v. $287,000)

Below are the sales price percent changes in January 2015 from their peak prices in 2007: 

  • Average Sale Price Percent Change from peak in August 2007: -10% ($329,400 v. $366,900)
  • Median Sale Price Percent Change from peak in July 2007: -7% ($280,000 v. $302,000).
Above based on information from the RMLS™ Market Action report for January 2015

Cost of Residential Homes by Area/Community


Below is the chart that displays the January 2015 numbers by area or community. It includes the following:
  • Number of closed sales.
  • Average price of homes sold.
  • Year-to-date average price.
  • Year-to-date median price.
  • Average sales price percent change.

Click on image to enlarge.

Above based on information from the RMLS™ Market Action report for January 2015.

Affordability Index


According to a formula from the National Association of Realtors®, buying a house in the Portland metro area is affordable for a family earning the median income. A family earning the median income ($69,400 in 2014, per HUD) can afford 133% of a monthly mortgage payment on a median priced home ($290,000 in December). The formula assumes that the buyer has a 20% down payment and a 30 year fixed rate of 3.86% (per Freddie Mac). 

Click on image to enlarge.
Above based on information from the RMLS™ Market Action report for January 2015.

30-Year Rate at 3.69 Percent 


Freddie Mac released its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®) on February 12 showing average fixed mortgage rates higher amid a strong employment report. Regardless, fixed-rate mortgages rates still remain near their May 23, 2013 lows.
  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.69 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending February 12, 2015, up from last week when it averaged 3.59 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.28 percent.  
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.99 percent with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.92 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.33 percent.  
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.97 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.82 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.05 percent. 
  • 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.42 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.39 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.55 percent. 
Attributed to Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac, "Mortgage rates rose this week following strong economic data [PDF]. The economy added 257,000 new jobs in January after robust increases of 329,000 in December and 423,000 in November. The unemployment rate edged up to 5.7 percent last month from 5.6 percent in December. Average hourly earnings rose 0.5 percent, following a 0.2 percent decline in December."
Windermere Mortgage Services
Windermere Mortgage 30-Year Fixed Rate 3.750%


Conveniently located in real estate offices throughout the Pacific Northwest, Windermere Mortgage Services (WMS) is a full-service mortgage banker providing home buyers with complete real estate financing expertise over the entire home loan process.

Taking the median home price in the Portland area of $280,000 for January 2015 and with 20 percent down payment ($56,000) and a mortgage of $224,000, the payment for a 30-year fixed loan is $990.30 per month (excluding property taxes and insurance) in Portland, Oregon. 

The interest rate is 3.750%, and the APR is 3.758%. Total closing costs are $11,401.

Estimate closing costs are as follows: 
  • WMS Series LLC's origination charge: $945.00
  • Your charge for this interest rate: $8,960.00
  • Required services we select: $545.00
  • Title services and lender's title insurance: $820.00
  • Owner's title insurance: $900.00
  • Government recording charges: $131.00
  • Fees typically paid by Seller: ($900.00)
This fee estimate does not include advances that may be required at closing, such as interest due at closing or initial deposits for escrow accounts, if applicable.

Thirty days rate lock. Escrow fees are not waived. FICO credit score is 720-739.

Contact Bertha Ferran at 503-464-9215 in the Raleigh Hills Windermere Stellar office for the latest rates. You can also email Bertha at
Portland vs. Seattle Weather


Does it rain more in Seattle than Portland? Which city has more sunshine? The weather rivalry between the two cities has been settled by facts in a recent article in
The Oregonian and available online.

We'll give you the basics, and if you want more data just click on the link below.


The news organization compared precipitation statistics from the National Weather Service stations at Seattle Sea-Tac and the Portland International Airport.


Looking just at the past four years, Portland and Seattle are tied. However, over the long haul Seattle wins, beating Portland 10 years out of the past 14. Seattle averaged 38.34 inches for 2000 through 2014 and Portland 35.09. Is a difference of three inches a year life-changing? That is up to you. We say you probably will need some rain gear in either city. On the other hand, Portland's precipitation does edge past Seattle's in certain months: February, April - June, and December. November is the rainiest month for both cities.


Which city has more blue skies? The weather service defines a "clear" day as one with less than 30 percent of the daytime sky obscured by clouds. Seattle wins this round with an average of 71 clear days versus Portland's 68 days. Portland has more clear days in the summer. Seattle is clearer March through June and in December.


Read more at The Oregonian Website...

Below is the National Weather Service weather data for the month of January 2015. These readings are from the Portland airport.
  • Average Monthly Temperature for January 2015: 43.4 (2.0 degrees above normal of 41.4 degrees).
  • Warmest Day: 60 degrees on January 11. 
  • Coldest Day: 24 degrees on January 5.
  • Most Rainfall in 24 Hours: 1.80 inches on January 17.
  • Rain Days: 0 days with thunderstorms, two days with heavy rain, and 14 days with light rain.
  • Clear/Cloudy Days for January 2015: Three fair days, 10 partly cloudy days, and 18 cloudy days.
  • Average Wind Speed for January 2015: 6.1 mph
Portland's rainfall is measured by the "Water Year" which runs from October 1 - September 30. The average rainfall for the month of January is 4.88 inches, and we added 3.33 inches in January 2015. We are an inch over the normal as of February 14 for the water year.
Ten Things to Know About Oregon's New Governor Kate Brown
Another Reason to Love Living in Oregon

Kate Brown is an Oregonian through and through. When she's not busy at the Capitol in Salem, you'll find her horseback riding, hiking or practicing yoga. 

Below is from the Portland Business Journal article posted on their website on February 13. Written by Andy Giegerich, Digital Managing Editor.
  1. She's believed to be the first openly bisexual statewide elected official in the nation.
  2. Whereas Brown had publicly discussed her sexuality much earlier, much was made of a kiss she shared with entertainer Storm Large at a 2009 candidate forum.
  3. At a late 2010s Hacks and Flacks roast, Brown delivered the line of the night. She remarked that she was glad to be on the dias with such swarthy male politicians as Rep. Earl Blumenauer and former  Metro President David Bragdon, both of whom might be best described as mild-mannered, and even slight. Said Brown, as she shook her head slyly, "No wonder there are so many lesbians in Portland."
  4. Brown, a former Oregon Senate Majority Leader, would appoint her own successor.
  5. She lives in Portland's Woodstock neighborhood.
  6. One of her predecessors as Secretary of State, Phil Keisling, recalls that Brown won her first election to Oregon's House, in 1992 (she'd been appointed to fill an empty seat earlier), by seven votes. "I lived in her district, and we always joked that I was one of those seven," Keisling said.
  7. Keisling and others say Brown is a tireless worker who has the leadership goods. "She's a very experienced and capable secretary of state, and she's worked hard to get through the House and into the Senate leadership position, all the way up to secretary of state," Keisling said.
  8. As a vote-by-mail proponent, she's spread the word nationally about how well the system's worked in Oregon. "She's helped make sure one of the things that put Oregon on the map has worked effectively and keeps getting better," Keisling said. "She talks about it regularly with secretaries of states throughout the nation."
  9. Her main initiative in the 2015 session is getting more people registered to vote. She's doing so by espousing a measure that would automatically register those who obtain Oregon drivers licenses.
  10. Brown has also received notice for advocating state rules that established a "benefit company" designation. Some 200 companies are currently enrolled as Benefit Companies, meaning they subscribe to sustainable and responsible business practices.
City of Portland New Rules for Home Demolitions


Portland city commissioners approved a building code amendment that would refine the way the city deals with home demolitions.


The commissioners took the action after more than 3-1/2 hours of testimony on February 12 from people who said they opposed the amendment, embraced the amendment, or regarded the amendment as a barely acceptable compromise.


The amendment extends an initial 35-day delay to add 60 more days for residents seeking an alternative to a planned demolition. That represents a reduction from an earlier proposal to impose up to a 120-day waiting period before demolition.


The amendments, drawn up following discussions with stakeholders over the last two months, also clarify other points of the code, such as requirements to notify neighbors when a homeowner applies to tear down a house.


The city has seen a wave of such home demolitions, generated by developers and homeowners capitalizing on the rising values of their properties. The demolitions triggered "a cry for help" from concerned neighbors, as a member of the grassroots group United Neighborhoods for Reform called it. Last year the city had applications for 312 home demolitions, up from 281 in 2013.


Tension between developers, homeowners and neighbors was on full display in the City Council chambers Thursday. Developers objected to the amended plan, saying it would promote "frivolous appeals" by people trying to stall demolition. Neighbors and activists said the proposed rules don't go far enough to preserve vintage houses and the fabric of neighborhoods. "The most affordable home is the one already built," said one.


The proposed rules don't address the way houses are demolished. Many residents told the City Council Thursday they want the city to promote "deconstruction," a labor-intensive process intended to salvage reusable materials and reduce the volume of building debris that ends up in landfills. Without such rules, they said, developers may choose cheaper, faster methods, such as a one-day demolition with a backhoe.


Source: "City takes step toward new rules for home demolition notices, waiting periods," by Mike Francis, The Oregonian, February 12, 2015.

The Oregon Explorer


Oregon Explorer, a collaborative effort between Oregon State University Libraries and the Institute for Natural Resources, integrates data and content to inform decision-making. Its development is made possible through a partnership with the Oregon Department of Administrative Services Geospatial Enterprise Office, other state, federal and local agencies and conservation groups. It is a comprehensive digital library of Oregon's natural resources. This state-of-the-art, Web-based resource uses advanced information technology to access and integrate data from state and federal agencies, local governments, university scientists, citizens, and K-12 educators and students. It supports informed decisions and actions by people concerned with Oregon's natural resources and environment.


Through a series of geographic, data and topic-based web portals, Oregon Explorer helps users:

  • Learn about natural resources issues in Oregon and the West
  • Quickly find, retrieve, integrate and synthesize well-organized information
  • Access maps, charts, tables, data collections, photos, videos, reports and publications in highly interactive and visually engaging formats
  • Develop customized data products and tools to support informed decision-making
  • Obtain place-based demographic data
  • Share their information with others, which will create shared understanding about Oregon's natural resource and environmental issues, problems and opportunities and build community networks
There are page after page to keep you occupied for hours if not days. Our favorite was The Willamette Story. This short story, told with voices and images, offers a broad overview of the where we have come from and where we might be going as citizens of the Willamette Valley. From settler descriptions of the fertile valley they found in 1854 to modern dairy farmers trying to protect their farms from urban sprawl, the story offers a wide range of opinions from planners, farmers, scientists, and more. As an introduction to the Willamette River Basin Planning Atlas, it gives examples of how the valley might look in 2050 in terms of urban development, agriculture, forestry, and wildlife. If you think your decisions can make a difference in the quality of life for everyone in the Valley, this story is for you. View The Willamette Story


Susan Marthens, Principal Real Estate Broker, CRS, GRI
Shelli Gowdy, Real Estate Broker