Susan Marthens Real Estate
The Susan & Shelli Newsletter
Portland Metro Area Home Prices for February 2015 
In This Issue
February Highlights
Sales Price Change
Cost by Area/Community
Affordability Index
The Immunization Controversy
Consumer Credit News
Book Review
Portland Neighborhood Papers
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February 2015

With spring right around the corner, Portland's real estate market continues to heat up with an increase in activity.  This has resulted in a slight decrease in new inventory, down from 3.4 months in January to 3.0 months in February.

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).
February 2015 Real Estate Highlights


The Portland metro area saw an increase in real estate activity across the board this February. The 1,648 closed sales posted for the month outpaced last February's 1,467 closings by 12.3% and last month's 1,477 closings by 11.6%. This represented the best February for closed sales since 2007, when there were 1,899.

Similarly, pending sales (2,534) bested last February (1,848) by 37.1%, last month (2,294) by 10.5%, and was the best February for accepted offers since 2007 when there were 2,834.


New listings, at 2,884, represented an increase of 22.5% from February 2014 (2,354) and 4.4% from January 2015 (2,762). February 2015 had the highest number of new listings for the region since 2010, when there were 3,902, although 2011 had virtually the same amount of new listings, at 2,883 for the month.


There are currently 4,947 active residential listings for sale in the Portland metro area. Inventory decreased in February to 3.0 months, and total market time decreased by one day, currently sitting at 81 days.


Average and Median Sale Prices

Comparing the average price of homes over the last 12 months ($333,700) with the average price of homes sold in the 12 months ending February 2014 ($314,100) shows an increase of 6.2%. In the same comparison, the median has increased 6.7% from $269,500 to $287,600.  



Click on image to enlarge.
Above based on information from the RMLS™ Market Action report for February 2015.
Average and Median Sales Prices 
Median Sales Price $287,600 in February, 2015


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

Click on image to enlarge.
Above based on information from the RMLS™ Market Action report for February 2015.
Sales Price Percent Change 
Average Sales Price Percent Change +6.2%


The Average Sale Price Percent Change is based on a comparison of the rolling average sale price for the last 12 months (3/1/2014 - 2/28/2015) with 12 months before (3/1/2013 - 2/28/2014).
  • Average Sale Price Percent Change: +6.2% ($333,700 v. $314,100)
  • Median Sale Price Percent Change:  +6.7% ($287,600 v. $269,500)

Below are the sales price percent changes in February 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 February 2015

Cost of Residential Homes by Area/Community


Below is the chart that displays the February 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 February 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 February 2015.


Freddie Mac came out with an article stating that 2015 will be the best year for home sales in the last eight years!  Here are some of the reasons they provided:


High Affordability

About 80 percent of metro markets in the U.S. are affordable, based on data through the 4th quarter of 2014 on the three primary drivers of affordability: house prices, interest rates and income.


Improving Labor Markets

Over the 12 months ending in February 2015 the U.S. economy added nearly 3.3 million jobs, the fastest pace since 2000. And with labor markets tightening we might be starting to see wages and incomes rise. One key demographic segment--millennials aged 25 to 34--have started to see their job prospects improve recently.


Rising Rents

Many current residents are debating whether the benefits to moving are finally strong enough to purchase a home. And looking at recent study findings, many feel that it could make financial sense to buy today.


Expanded Credit Availability

Freddie said it believes there will be financing available to capture the people exiting the rental market. Broader access to credit will be driven by a confluence of factors, not just the new Freddie Mac Home Possible Advantage initiative. More information by clicking here.  


The above information was provided by Clayton Scott, Windermere Mortgage Services.


For assistance with a home loan or mortgage advice, contact Bertha Ferran, 503-464-9215, her email, or Clayton Scott, 503-497-5060,


The weekend storm that dumped 2.4 inches of rain on Portland left a mess at Mount Hood's ski areas.


Mt. Hood Meadows is closed until Friday, when it plans to reopen for daily skiing for spring break. Timberline Ski Area is down to operating the Norman lift (terrain park only) and the Magic Mile, with the Palmer available when weather stabilizes.

Farther south in the Oregon Cascades and Siskiyous, Mt. Bachelor is holding on the best it can with similar daily operations to what it has been offering, but Mt. Ashland is closed awaiting the return of new snow. Medford had one-third as much rain as Portland during the storm.

 It looks like it could be a long wait for the return of snow.


Hoodoo, Willamette Pass and Mt. Hood Skibowl have already had their ski lifts closed since January, due to lack of snow.


Anthony Lakes out in northeast Oregon, with its 7,100-foot base elevation, looks good going into spring break. While it had a weekend closure due to rain, it plans to reopen Thursday on a 50-inch snow base.


This is what Mt. Hood Meadows' web site said Monday morning after the rains had stopped:

"Lift operations at Mt. Hood Meadows are temporarily interrupted through Thursday this week, as mountain crews work on fortifying the base area snowpack readying for spring break. We will return to daily operations Friday, March 20, and will be open daily for spring break and hopefully beyond. Sorry for the interruption, but our crews need these days to harvest and haul snow to recover from this weekend's snow storm. We don't need any new snow to reopen, just some love and care from our grooming and snow maintenance team to get the lower mountain ready.


"Meanwhile, we're excited to announce we'll be constructing a spring park with Snowpark Technologies on Cascade that will be opening Saturday!"


The report also mentions that the snow is still six feet deep on many of the upper runs.

Clarification: I misinterpreted Meadows' web posting about the depth of the snow, in an earlier version on this post, mistaking it for rain puddled in low spots. Here's the straight skinny from Dave Tragethon: "The depth you referred to is our snowpack not the standing water. It was worded clumsily, but should have said: Frozen and loose granular conditions, with rain-streaked groom and standing water. Actual snow depth varies from shallow to 6 feet. Watch for unmarked obstacles." 


Source:  The Oregonian, TERRY RICHARD, March 17, 2015


Below is the National Weather Service weather data for the month of February 2015. These readings are from the Portland airport.
  • Average Monthly Temperature for February 2015: 56.9 (5.8 degrees above normal of 51.1 degrees).
  • Warmest Day: 65 degrees on February 24. 
  • Coldest Day:  26 degrees on February 7.
  • Most Rainfall in 24 Hours: 1.23 inches on February 7.
  • Rain Days: 0 days with thunderstorms, two days with heavy rain, and 11 days with light rain.
  • Clear/Cloudy Days for February 2015: Five fair days, eight partly cloudy days, and 15 cloudy days.
  • Average Wind Speed for February 2015: 6.5 mph
Portland's rainfall is measured by the "Water Year" which runs from October 1 - September 30. The average rainfall for the month of February is 3.66 inches.  There was 3.71 inches in February 2015.
Health News
Shining Star Waldorf School doesn't look like a potential incubator for an outbreak of disease.

The small private school holds elementary and middle-school classes in a church basement in the tony Irvington neighborhood. It offers outdoor school each Thursday at park lands like Elk Rock Island and Kelley Point Park. Last month, Shining Star celebrated its annual "festival of the bees"--a fundraiser selling beeswax and honey.


Shining Star is also the Portland school with the highest rate of kids whose parents have opted out of state vaccination requirements on philosophical or religious grounds. According to state records, that's 57 of 84 Shining Star students.


Oregon has the highest rate of philosophical exemptions to vaccines in the country. WW's review of state data from 2014 shows this refusal to vaccinate kids is highest in the city's wealthiest neighborhoods. All 10 schools with the highest nonmedical exemptions are private or public charter schools--many with an alternative bent, like Waldorf or Montessori schools.


Shining Star administrators tried unsuccessfully to get parents who object to vaccinations to speak with Willamette Week. "In regard to vaccines, we remain neutral," says school office manager Susie Martin. "We are not part of the decision process."


Parents say fears are overblown. "I'm not worried for my children today, coming to school," says Rose Brooks, a former Oregon Health & Science University nurse whose three kids--all immunized--attend Shining Star. "I'm well aware of the public health implications of not vaccinating. But it feels a little oversimplified to say, 'I know what's best for you.'"


One state official who has struggled to convince parents they should vaccinate their children says unfounded fears about immunization--such as for measles, mumps and rubella-have created a potential public health problem.


"These parents are mostly affluent," says Susan Wickstrom, an Oregon Health Authority spokeswoman who spent six months in 2012 traveling to schools with high exemption rates. "They're white, well-educated people. Some of them think getting the disease is healthier than getting the vaccination."


The state figures reflect the number of children whose parents have exercised the state exemption. Some of those children may have had some vaccinations on a different schedule than the state requires.


An outbreak of measles that started at Disneyland last month has brought new scrutiny on the "anti-vax" movement: parents who choose not to immunize their children because of their personal beliefs. Physicians fear those unvaccinated kids could spark a comeback of fatal childhood diseases long thought to be nearly eradicated.


The schools with the highest rates of kids getting their shots? Many of them are in East Portland neighborhoods that have struggled with poverty.


State Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Portland/Beaverton) introduced legislation last week to end the choice to opt out. She says she's willing to buck her wealthy constituents. 

"They need to be challenged," Steiner Hayward tells WW. "I think people of more affluent lifestyles have been buffered from the effects of poor medical care. I'm a firm supporter of a healthy diet and a natural lifestyle. But none of those things will protect you from the measles."


To view the schools with the highest and lowest rate of vaccination exemptions click here


Editor's Note:  Senator Steiner withdrew her bill and will offer a different version.  



Source:   Willamette Week, AARON MESH, February 11th, 2015

Consumer Credit Bureau Overhaul 


TransUnion, Experian and Equifax Agree to Overhaul Credit Reporting Practices 


The nation's giant credit reporting agencies - which keep records on more than 200 million individuals and influence their ability to obtain credit - have agreed to overhaul their approach to fixing errors and their treatment of medical debts on consumers' reports.


Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York State attorney general, announced Monday that his office had reached a sweeping settlement with the agencies, affecting consumers nationwide, which was prompted by an investigation that began in 2012.


"Credit reports touch every part of our lives," Mr. Schneiderman said in a statement. "They affect whether we can obtain a credit card, take out a college loan, rent an apartment or buy a car - and sometimes even whether we can get jobs."


The credit bureaus have long been criticized for the convoluted process that consumers must endure to get their credit reports fixed, among other things. Under the agreement, they will improve their dispute resolution process, which is largely automated, and instead use specially trained employees.


The three companies will also establish a six-month waiting period before reporting medical debts on consumers' credit reports, providing more time for consumers to resolve issues that might amount only to a delayed insurance payment or another dispute. The credit agencies will also remove medical debts from an individual's report after the debt is paid by insurance.


Additionally, the credit reporting bureaus will take steps to make consumers aware that their credit reports are available free at least once a year from each of the credit agencies through the website The agencies will now have to include links to that website on their home pages, as well as provide another free report to consumers who experience a change in their credit reports after initiating a dispute.


The settlement requires the agencies to introduce the changes, which the bureaus said would be instituted nationwide, over three years. But most changes will be carried out over the next six to 18 months, according to the Consumer Data Industry Association, a trade group that represents the credit bureaus.


"In today's world, the consumer's input is less important than the bank or collector's input," said John Ulzheimer, credit expert at, adding that the credit agencies always take the companies' word over consumers'. "The attorney general's settlement changes that."


To read the entire article in The New York Times click here


Source:  The New York Times, TARA SIEGEL BERNARD, March 9, 2015

  The Oregon Explorer

Book Review:  Roadside Geology of Oregon


Discover Oregon on a Whole New Level


If you have ever driven along the scenic 101 Highway along the Oregon Coast and seen the incredible rocks which look like they have pulled away from the mainland, cruised down Interstate 5 and enjoyed breathtaking views of incredible snow capped mountains, or traveled over the Crooked River Gorge, you have seen one of the states which is so often unrecognized for its beauty. 


Have you not been to Oregon? Roadside Geology of Oregon will make you want to go, or remind you what incredible things you have seen. This book is organized by region and further by the highway that travels through it, giving you ideal access and ability to plan out the destinations which appeal most to your individual taste. The geology information is breathtaking, but the easy format appeals to the humble traveler looking for a new destination as well. The photography is stunning and provides a current view of the state. The references provided to the reader throughout this book create a passion for visiting, learning more and all are readily available through this book.


Each section of the book is laid out for the reader to understand the geology and areas of interest that make Oregon so spectacular. Discover Oregon on a whole new level.


Reviewed by Wendy Stevens, Portland Book Review website


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