Moving to Portland
December 2015 Newsletter


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

December at a Glance

December 2015 was the strongest December on record for closings in the Portland metro area since 1992.  December 2015's closed sales of 2,710 surged 21.0% past 2,239 closings in December 2014 and 25.9% past closings in November 2015.
December's inventory in the metro area decreased to 1.2 months, the lowest inventory since at least 1999.
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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 December 2015 Portland metro area home prices.
December 2015 Real Estate Highlights
December 2015 saw gains compared to December 2014.  Pending sales of 1,936 were 16.1% higher than December 2014's 1,667 but fell 22.7% from the 2,504 offers accepted in November 2015.

Closed sales of 2,710 were 21.0% ahead December 2014's 2,239 closings. The below chart shows the numbers for November and December 2015 along with the year-to-date stats. This was the strongest December for closings in the Portland metro area on the RMLS™ record, dating to 1992.

Click on image  to enlarge.

Activity was higher in 2015 than in 2014 across the board.  Pending sales (34,568) were up 22.5%, closed sales (33,307) rose 20.0%, and new listings (40,815) were up 8.4% for the year.
Above based on information from the RMLS™  Market Action report for December 2015.

Average & Median Sales Prices
Median Sale Price for a Home in the Portland Metro Area $308,000 in December.

Prices were higher in 2015 compared to 2014. Comparing each year through December, the average sale price rose 6.5% from $333,000 to $354,500.  In the same comparison, the median sale price rose 7.9% from $285,500 to $308,000.

Click on image to enlarge.

The average sales price set a new high in June 2015 from the previous peak in August 2007 by $2.600. The new high was $369,500 whereas the August 2007 average price was $366,900. The median sales price in June 2015 jumped $18,000 to $320,000 from its peak in July 2007 of $302,000. Comparing these numbers with the average sales price for 2015 of $354,00 and the median price of $308,000 you can see that we are back to the housing prices of 2007 in the Portland metro area.
Above based on information from the RMLS™  Market Action report for December 2015.
Sales Price Percent Change
Average Sales Price Percent Change 6.5% in December 2015.

The Average Sale Price Percent Change is based on a comparison of the rolling average sale price for the last 12 months (1/1/2015 - 12/31/2015) with 12 months before (1/1/2014 - 12/31/2014).
  • Average Sales Price Percent Change: 6.5% ($354,500 v. $332,800)
  • Median Sales Price Percent Change:  8.1% ($308,000 v. $285,000)
Above based on information from the RMLS™  Market Action report for December 2015. 
Metro Inventory December 2015
Pending sales (1,936) were 16.1% better than December 2014 (1,667).  New listings (1,538) fell two short (-0.1%) from December 2014 (1,540).

December's inventory decreased to 1.2 months (the lowest since at least 1999) from 2.0 months in November. Total market time increased to 56 days.  There are currently a total of 3,381 active residential listings in the Portland metro area.
Above based on information from the RMLS™  Market Action report for December 2015.
Cost of Residential Homes by Community
Below is the chart that displays the December 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 December 2015.

 Penrith Home Loans 
Penrith Home Loans  (PHL) Penrith was formerly 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 NE 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 December 2015. These readings are from the Portland airport. 
  • Average Monthly Temperature for December 2015:  43.4  (3.0 degrees above normal of 40.4 degrees).
  • Warmest Day: 63 degrees on December 11th. 
  • Coldest Day:  29 degrees on December 31st.
  • Most Rainfall in 24 Hours: 3.22" - 12/06-07/15.
  • Rain Days: 28 days with light rain; 6 days with heavy rain; 0 days with thunderstorms,.
  • Clear/Cloudy Days for December 2015: 2 fair days, 1 partly cloudy day, and 28 cloudy days.
  • Average Wind Speed for December 2015:  10.6 mph.
It was a very wet final month of 2015 in the Portland area. In fact, the airport (PDX) recorded its wettest December of record as 15.24" deluged this location, breaking the previous record of 13.35" set in 1996. This December total was also 38% of the entire 2015 total of 40.40". Precipitation records for the airport go back to 1940. When including the longer-term official downtown precipitation data (back to 1871), the airport's total would rank as the 3rd wettest December, behind 20.14" in 1882 and 17.45" in 1933.

Source:,  December 2015.

Oregon Snowpack Exceeds 100 Percent

"If we didn't get any more snow for the rest of the season, we will have already exceeded last year's peak (snowpack levels). Snowpack levels statewide are 150 percent of the 30-year average; in December 2014, the snowpack was 50 percent of normal, she said. Combining measurements from eight stations on Mount Hood, hydrologists have recorded snowpack levels at 124 percent of the 30-year average. 

Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) is a common snowpack measurement. It is the amount of water contained within the snowpack. It can be thought of as the depth of water that would theoretically result if you melted the entire snowpack instantaneously. 

For example, say there is a swimming pool that is filled with 36 inches of new powdery snow at 10% snow water density. If you could turn all the snow into water magically, you would be left with a pool of water 3.6 inches deep. In this case, the SWE of your snowpack would equal 36" x 0.10 = 3.6 inches.

The NRCS measures SWE at many remote SNOTEL sites and uses the data for streamflow forecasting. However, many scientists and recreationists are interested in snow depth instead of SWE. The relationship between the two values is explained here.

To determine snow depth from SWE you need to know the density of the snow. The density of new snow ranges from about 5% when the air temperature is 14 F, to about 20% when the temperature is 32 F. After the snow falls, its density increases due to gravitational settling, wind packing, melting and recrystallization.
2015 Neighborhood Highlights 
Of the 25 most-expensive neighborhoods, 15 fell inside the city of Portland's boundaries with the rest in surrounding cities and suburbs that are part of Portland's statistical area as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Eight ZIP codes eclipsed the $500,000 mark for average home price, up from just four in 2014.
  • The 25 most-expensive neighborhoods accounted for just over 38 percent of all home sales in 2015 (105 area ZIPs recorded at least one sale in the year).
  • In an impressive showing, five ZIP codes made all three of the top-25 lists for sales volume, speed and price:  97202 (Sellwood/ Eastmoreland), 97229 (Forest Heights/Bethany), 97211 (Piedmont/ Concordia), 97213 (North Tabor/Hollywood) and 97217 (Arbor Lodge/Kenton).
Here are the top five Portland-area neighborhoods (zip codes) that garnered the highest home sale prices in 2015:
  1. 97034 (Lake Oswego): $751,198
  2. 97212 (Irvington/Grant Park are neighborhoods in Northeast Portland):  $632,972
  3. 97210 (Northwest District neighborhood in Portland): $584,641
  4. 97221 (Sylvan-Highlands and Bridlemile neighborhoods in Southwest Portland):  $572,768
  5. 97201 (Downtown neighborhoods in Portland):  $546,970
Click on the link below to view the Zip Code map:
Source:  "Don't blink: Here are Portland's 25 fastest-selling neighborhoods in 2015," by Mason Walker, Portland Business Journal Jan 14, 2016
U.S. Cities Whose Housing Markets Are Likely To Outperform And Underperform In 2016

Nationally, the housing market should be able to muster another gain in 2016 for the simple reason that there is still sizable pent-up demand for home buying, and supply will steadily rise to help meet that demand. The headwinds of rising mortgage rates and shaky global economic conditions exist, but the tailwinds consisting of more jobs and the likelihood of loosening underwriting standards will help propel the housing market forward.  All in all, positive though moderate gains for both home sales and home prices are in the cards on a nationwide basis.

Naturally, some local markets will perform better. Given the many uncertainties and unexpected events that arise throughout the year, one should never presume to know which cities will be in the top tier.
Nonetheless, one can still reasonably project which markets will be among the better performers just based on one important data point: jobs. As common sense would have it, when jobs tank, home prices also buckle. That was the case for home prices on the national level when 8 million jobs were lost in 2009. When in early 1990s Massachusetts suffered nearly half a million job losses (representing 15% of the total jobs in the state), Boston home prices fell for six straight years. Texas also felt the pain during the oil bust in the mid-1980s resulting in a wait of over a decade to fully recover the lost value.

Conversely, when jobs are created, home prices rise. Therefore, the candidates that are among the top performers in regards to both rising home sales and home prices will generally be out West and in the South. Salt Lake City, Portland, and Riverside will likely experience a good year in the West.  Atlanta, Charlotte, and Tampa look solid for gains in the South. One Midwestern city will shine, and that market is Grand Rapids. For the Northeast, Providence could surprise us. Aside from a great job local market, what these markets have in common are relatively affordable home prices.

To look at the larger picture, the national job growth rate over the past 12 months to November was 1.9%. Compared to the national level, the job growth rates for metro markets chosen for out performance were as follows:

There are other markets with similar or even faster job growth rates, but the very high home prices in these areas could deter buyers and thereby dampen home buying. San Jose with a 5.1% job growth rate and Austin with a 3.9% growth rate are prime examples where job gains may not necessarily translate into more home buying activity because of affordability issues.

Source:  "The U.S. Cities Whose Housing Markets Are Likely To Outperform And Underperform In 2016", Lawrence Yun, Contributor, Forbes/Business, January 7, 2016.
Happy New Year!
Susan and Shelli
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