Moving to Portland
September 2015 Newsletter


Shelli Gowdy
Real Estate Broker
Windermere Stellar
Susan Marthens
Principal Real Estate Broker
Windermere Stellar

As we head into autumn, the metro area real estate market has cooled a degree or two.  One of our two news articles discusses why Portland remains an affordable place to live, with commentary from Windermere's Brian Allen.   
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Market Action Reports 
The Market Action reports for the Portland metro area as well as all Oregon areas and Southwest Washington are also available to download. It also has the summary page for the September 2015 Portland metro area home prices.
September 2015 Real Estate Highlights
Real estate activity cooled slightly this September compared to August,
but all numbers were ahead of the same measures in September 2014.

Closed sales (3,010) were 26.6% ahead of the 2,378 closings recorded
in September 2014, although the number slipped 2.8% from the
3,098 closings recorded last month in August 2015. It was the best September for closings in the region since 2005, when there were 3,291 closed sales recorded.

The below chart shows the numbers for September and August of this year along with the year-to-date stats.

Click on image  to enlarge.

Activity has been higher in 2015 than in 2014 across the board. Pending sales (27,569) are up 23.56%, closed sales (25,264) are up 22.5%, and new listings (33,836) are up 8.8% for the year thus far.
Above based on information from the RMLS™  Market Action report for September 2015.

Average & Median Sales Prices
Median Price for a Home in the Portland Metro Area $305,000 in September 2015.

Prices continue to rise in 2015 compared to 2014. Comparing each year through September, the average sale price rose 5.9% from $333,000 to $352,500. In the same comparison, the median sale price rose 7.0% from $285,000 to $305,000.

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

Sales Price Percent Change
Average Sales Price Percent Change 6.0% in September 2015

The Average Sale Price Percent Change is based on a comparison of the rolling average sale price for the last 12 months (10/1/2014 - 9/30/2015) with 12 months before (10/1/2013 - 9/30/2014).
  • Average Sales Price Percent Change: 6.0% ($348,000 v. $328,400)
  • Median Sales Price Percent Change:  6.6% ($300,000 v. $281,500)
Above based on information from the RMLS™  Market Action report for September 2015.

 Metro Inventory September 2015
Pending sales (2,971) fared 16.5% better than September 2014 (2,551) but fell 11.2% short of the 3,347 offers accepted last month in August 2015. New listings (3,424) similarly improved 10.4% over September 2014 and slowed 11.8% from August 2015.

Inventory stayed stable at 1.9 months in September. Total market time
increased to 46 days. There are currently a total of 5,657 active residential listings in the Portland metro area.
Above based on information from the RMLS™  Market Action report for September 2015.
Cost of Residential Homes by Community
Below is the chart that displays the September 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 or
click here to view the report (pdf).

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

Sooner or later the Federal Reserve will raise rates (the rates charged to institutional banks). That time cannot come quickly enough for some,but for many it will not happen until the economy can document stronger results. In the meantime, those who are purchasing a home with a mortgage or those refinancing their existing mortgage are likely to see rates remain under 4 percent.

In this week's rate survey published by Freddie Mac, the benchmark 30 year fixed rate mortgage climbed six basis points to 3.82%. Even though it represented an increase, it is within the industry standard of mortgage rate movement.

Some economists and professional investors are perplexed why the Fed did not increase rates at its last FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) meeting which was held September 16th and 17th. The next opportunity to raise rates is October 27th and 28th. Federal Reserve member Jeffrey M. Lacker voiced opposition to not increasing rates which are currently near zero. His dissent was vocalized by stating low interest rates are not appropriate for an economy with persistently strong consumption growth and tightening labor markets. The other members did not share his sentiment and voted to keep the rates at the current level.

Just this past week the Federal Reserve held a conference in Washington, D.C. New York Fed President William Dudley made it clear a rate hike might be likely by the end of the year but not now.
"The Fed has made clear it needs to be more confident that inflation will rise toward its 2 percent target before raising rates. It was reasonable for policymakers to come to different conclusions over where the economy is going. What's unclear is the economy." William Dudley
No doubt even though the public policy debate on rates will continue, it represents a window for consumers to take advantage of low mortgage rates.
Supporting Dudley's comments were those by his colleague, Federal Reserve Governor Daniel Tarullo who stated, "The Fed may not act this year, and Wednesday the 10-year Treasury closed under 2 percent in reaction to economic releases indicating weak consumer demand."

Current mortgage rates*
  • 30 year fixed rate mortgage - 3.82%
  • 15 year fixed rate mortgage - 3.03%
*The rates quoted are from the weekly rate survey published every week by Freddie Mac.

Source:, October 17, 2015.
Penrith Home Loans  (PHL) Penrith was former called Windermere Mortgage Services, and  they changed their name in 2015. PHL is Northwest owned and operated and headquartered in Seattle with offices throughout Washington and Oregon.  PHL is a full service mortgage banker and direct lender - in addition, they have access to numerous other lenders which allows them to meet everyone's individual needs.
  • West Portland Contact:  Bertha Ferran, telephone (503) 464-9215. Address:WMS Series LLC/AT, West Portland Branch, 6400 SW Barnes Road, Suite 305, Portland, OR 97225.
  • East Portland Contact:  Tanya Elder, telephone (503) 497-5367. Address: WMS Series LLC/AT, Lloyd Tower Branch, 825 Northeast Multnomah Street, Suite 120, Portland, OR 97232.
  • Lake Oswego Contact:  Clayton Scott,  telephone (503) 497-5060. Address: WMS Series LLC/AT, Lake Oswego Branch, 220 "A" Avenue, Suite 200, Lake Oswego, OR 97034.
Monthly Weather Summary

Below is the National Weather Service
weather data for the month of September 2015. These readings are from the Portland airport. These readings are from the Portland airport.
  • Average Monthly Temperature for September 2015:  64.0  (0.5 degrees below normal of 64.5 degrees).
  • Warmest Day: 94 degrees on September 20. 
  • Coldest Day:  45 degrees on September 30..
  • Most Rainfall in 24 Hours:  0.66 inches on September 17.
  • Rain Days: 0 days with thunderstorms, one day with heavy rain, and 10 days with light rain.
  • Clear/Cloudy Days for September 2015:  12 fair days, 12 partly cloudy days, and six cloudy days.
  • Average Wind Speed for September 2015:  5.4 mph.
Fall arrived on the calendar; however, Portland hit 94 degrees on the 11th of September.  The lowest temperature was 45 degrees on the last day of the month.

September brought 1.26 inches of precipitation to the metro area, slightly below the norm for the month.  

A water year is defined as the 12-month period beginning October 1 of any year and continuing through September 30 of the following year. The0 2015 water year was short by about four inches -- the normal rainfall is 36.3 inches. All of the deficit has come since April and piled up the months of April, May and June which led in part to the horrible fire season.

Rod Hill at his Portland Weather website:  "This year's up-coming El Nino Winter has an historic track record of producing near normal or above rainfall for Portland and near normal snowfall on Mt. Hood.  However, it is possible that Cascade snow levels will be unusually high again this up-coming season, meaning we would see rain at 6,000 feet not snow."
Portland's a Terrific Value. Will it Last?
Portland has long had a cost advantage over Seattle and San Francisco. Most big-ticket items -- from home prices to office leases to child care -- are more affordable in Portland.

The results of the Business Journal's "How far your money goes" data project backs that up. Over the past three months, the Portland Business Journal and our sister papers nationwide have been collecting local market pricing data on more than 40 products and services.

We ranked No. 78 out of the 106 markets studied for purchasing power, determined by using a market's average salary, adjusted for cost of living. It would be easy to assume from that ranking that our purchasing power is relatively weak, but keep in mind that more than three quarters of the metro areas studied are considerably smaller than Portland, and therefore have lower costs of living.
A couple of high points: Portland ranked No. 23 for average pay, which is in line with our job market rank of No. 24; and our average five-year-growth rate in jobs (1.2 percent) and pay (1.9 percent) exceeded the averages for all 106 cities.

Portland's affordability relative to larger cities likely contributed to that strong performance. Economic development agencies statewide have been using Portland's affordability to aggressively recruit companies from high-dollar markets.

The strategy is working, particularly in the tech sector. California-based Google,, Airbnb and eBay all have Portland outposts and collectively employ well over 1,000 workers. Startups like the targeted email provider and rental management software maker Cozy have relocated their companies from New York and San Francisco, respectively, to take advantage of Portland's lower costs and availablity of talent.
While Portland's affordability and overall livability are fueling a robust economic expansion, the in-migration is creating tension.

Housing prices and rents are both soaring, sidelining many prospective buyers and leaving renters vulnerable to being priced out of the market.
"There's a positive effect of having resources available," said Tim Duy, director of the Oregon Economic Forum at the University of Oregon. "But it also stresses our existing resources."

Thirty percent of all home sales registered by the Regional Multiple Listing Service in Portland in 2014 were all cash, a trend driven by investors and deep-pocketed new arrivals from other West Coast cities. The reality is many low and middle-wage Portlanders can't compete. The good news is relief could be in sight.

"Low interest rates and lingering low home prices following the recession, coupled with rising rents in Portland, created an opportunity for investors," said Brian Allen, president and co-owner of Windermere Stellar Real Estate. "Those investors would make a move when it looks like a sure deal. That sure deal moment is passing."

That should, Allen said, relieve the "fever" pitch created by flippers and others trying to make a quick dollar.

That doesn't necessarily mean that rising home prices will slow anytime soon, which raises the question: Is Portland's affordability advantage at risk?
No, said Joe Cortright, founder of the consulting firm Impresa Economics, which specializes in metropolitan economies.

For one, Portland will continue to be a bargain compared to Seattle, San Francisco, New York and other big cities where costs are rising just like in Portland. And even when compared to cities with similarly sized populations and comparable cultures (Think Austin), Portland's affordabilty and livability hold up.

"These (real estate) comparisons miss the fact that what you're paying for is not what you get when you walk inside the door, it's what you get when you walk outside the door," Cortright said. "As long as Portland can deliver terrific value, it will continue to be a great place to be."

Source:  "Portland's a terrific value. Will it last?" by Suzanne Stevens, Editor, Portland Business Journal, October 16, 2015. 

PSU Collaborates with OSHU and OSU
Before starting classes at Portland State University, Eddie Ramirez learned his financial aid fell through. Still, he was able to attend PSU because one of his high school teachers paid for his first year.
Ramirez went from being high school valedictorian to a PSU senior and now has his sights set on the school of dentistry at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), which he now attends.

Along the way, he's had internships geared toward dentistry, earned a degree in organismal biology, minored in chemistry and took predental studies; he hopes to someday be in private practice and provide dental care to low-income families.

His story is just one example of the growing number of students who are choosing PSU for preprofessional health care education. The number enrolled in such majors has exploded in recent years.

Between the fall of 2011 and fall 2013, PSU had a 28 percent increase in students enrolled in preprofessional health care tracks, according to statistics provided by the university. That is more than twice the growth rate of all student enrollment during that same period.

The number of students who chose biology as a major grew  even more -- nearly 60 percent since fall 2008.

Karen Marrongelle, PSU's dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said perhaps the main reason the campus has seen such a high number of students seeking preprofessional health care education has to do with economics.

"Nearly every major economic report indicates that health care continues to be a top growing industry in Portland and around the country, and our students recognize that," she said. "Students are looking at PSU, and they see opportunities to conduct undergraduate research ... that focuses on solutions to real world problems."

Statistics show that Oregon is on track to add 43,030 health care jobs between 2010 and 2020. That's a 30 percent growth rate over the decade, compared to 17 percent for all other jobs statewide.

Meanwhile, jobs in the health care industry tend to be recession-proof. Numbers show that from the pre-recession peak of the economy in 2007 to the low point of the recession in 2010, health care and social assistance gained employment while job numbers in other professions declined.
In response, the campus has ramped up its offerings for those seeking classes - and ultimately careers - in life sciences in recent years.

Marrongelle said one advantage of studying at PSU is the opportunity that students have to connect with the local professionals and an array of students in different majors.

She pointed to the opening of the Collaborative Life Sciences Building as one example, as well as the college's partnerships with OHSU and Oregon State University that she said "help ensure that we are engaging our students in the preprofessional curriculum that will give ... the foundation they need to succeed in graduate school."

Construction of the Collaborative Life Sciences Building was completed last year on Portland's South Waterfront.

The $295 million building combines facilities - including the most advanced life sciences labs in Oregon - of PSU, OHSU and Oregon State. It has been dubbed the largest educational building in the state and the first on this scale to combine such resources.

Here, preprofessional health care students from PSU receive exposure to the professions they are studying while learning alongside nursing and medical graduate students.

Marrongelle said the facility allows PSU students to participate in undergraduate research collaborations that are "unlike any other in the country." In addition, she said, students are guided by faculty and preprofessional health care advisers who are "dedicated to helping them succeed."

"They see opportunities to learn in flexible, modern classroom spaces that are designed for the way they learn, and access to faculty and advisers that are dedicated to their success in preprofessional health care," she said. 
Additionally, she feels one advantage of studying at PSU is the opportunity to connect with the community, and she said the Collaborative Life Sciences Building offers another way to foster those connections.

"Students are excited to walk into the CLSB and see other undergraduate and graduate students in all phases of their education and health care careers," she said.

However, the new building is not the school's first -- or only -- collaboration with OHSU and Oregon State.  The schools have a long history of partnering with each other. PSU officials said the school has more than 6,000 students in its prehealth partnership with the two other campuses.

This is the result of PSU and OHSU forming a strategic alliance in 2010 to integrate and expand academic and research activities.  In fact, OHSU admits a good number of medical, dental and nursing students from PSU.
Part of that is due to the proximity of the two schools, but some of the collaboration stems from efforts on the part of campus leaders to work together.

For instance, PSU President Wim Wiewel and OHSU President Joe Robertson wanted to formalize the partnership five years ago to see how the schools could do more together.  The result, campus officials said, has been greater collaboration among faculty, the new joint Collaborative Life Sciences Building, a new joint school of public health and a new Viking pavilion and academic center that will break ground in January.

In addition to adding new facilities such as the Collaborative Life Sciences Building, PSU had a $46 million makeover of its largest science building, the Science Research and Teaching Center, in 2011.
The work resulted in big upgrades of the building's lab and lecture spaces to accommodate the school's 4,000-plus preprofessional health care students.
Marrongelle said the Science Teaching and Research Center serves students across the sciences from biology to physics. It also houses research centers such as the Center for Life in Extreme Environments. The renovation created new, modern lab facilities and classrooms and provided students with bigger, brighter and more comfortable study spaces.

And aside from new facilities, the school recently received a $24 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to help underrepresented students pursue careers in the health sciences.

Marrongelle said the grant should help even more students find their way into careers in health care. "We have many students that matriculate into medical, dental, and nursing programs at OHSU," she said.
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