Moving to Portland
 February 2016 Newsletter


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

February 2016 at a Glance

The Portland real estate market has been on a lot of lists lately: the highest home price increases, the best places to be a real estate agent, the highest rental rate increases in the country, to name just a few. Now, the Rose City has cracked the top five of another kind of list, this one from Ten-X, which offered its take on the top single-family housing markets for this winter. The firm released a report that ranked the country's 50 largest housing markets based on present and forecasted housing fundamentals. Portland came in at No. 4 on the list just behind Seattle, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.

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Below information from the RMLS™ Market Action report for February 2016.

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 February 2016 Portland metro area home prices.
February 2016 Real Estate Highlights
February brought more strong activity across the board to the Portland metro area. Closed sales (1,813) cooled slightly (-2.5%) compared to January 2016 (1,859) but were still 10.0% ahead of the 1,648 closings posted in February 2015. It was the strongest February for closings in the area since 2007, when 1,899 were recorded for the month.

 Pending sales (2,786) ended 9.9% ahead of February 2015 (2,534) and 24.2% ahead of January 2016 (2,243). Again, this was the strongest February for accepted offers since 2007, when 2,834 offers were accepted for the month. 

New listings, at 2,896, rose 15.0% above January 2016 (2,519) and fared just slightly better than February 2015 (2,884), rising 0.4%.
Click on image  to enlarge.

Average & Median Sales Prices
Median Sale Price for a Home in the Portland Metro Area $315,000 in February 2016.

Comparing the average price of homes in the twelve months ending February 29th of this year ($357,500) with the average price of homes sold in the twelve months ending February 2015 ($333,700) shows an increase of 7.1%. In the same comparison, the median has increased 7.8% from $287,500 to $310,000.

Click on image to enlarge.

Sales Price Percent Change
Average Sales Price Percent Change 7.1% in February 2016.

The Average Sale Price Percent Change is based on a comparison of the rolling average sale price for the last 12 months (3/1/2015 - 2/29/2016) with 12 months before (3/1/2014 - 2/28/2015).
  • Average Sales Price Percent Change: 7.1% ($357,500 v. $333,700)
  • Median Sales Price Percent Change:  7.8% ($310,000 v. $287,500) 
Inventory February 2016
Inventory in the Portland metro area remained stable in February, sitting at 1.8 months. 

Total market time rose by three days in the same period, landing at 60 days. There are currently a total of 3,226 active residential listings in the Portland metro area.

In February 2014 the home supply was 3.9 months and in February 2015 it was 3.0 months. The sharp decline began in March 2015 when it dropped to 1.9 and since that time with one exception (November 2015) it has stayed below 2.0 months.
Cost of Residential Homes by Community
Below is the chart that displays the February 2016 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).
Freddie Mac released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®) on March 10, showing mortgage rates moving higher for the second week in a row, while also only posting the second increase this year making mortgage rates very attractive for the upcoming spring home buying season.
  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.68 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending March 10, 2016, up from last week when it averaged 3.64 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.86 percent. 
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.96 percent with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.94 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.10 percent. 
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.92 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.84 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.01 percent.
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 February 2016. These readings are from the Portland airport. 
  • Average Monthly Temperature for February 2016:  49.3 (5.5 degrees above normal of 43.8 degrees).
  • Warmest Day: 64 degrees on February 15th. 
  • Coldest Day:  32 degrees on February 24th.
  • Most Rainfall in 24 Hours: 0.65 inches on 02/03-02/04.
  • Rain Days: 21 days with light rain and one day with heavy rain.
  • Clear/Cloudy Days for February 2016: 3 fair days, 12 partly cloudy days, and 14 cloudy days.
  • Average Wind Speed for February 2016:  7.8 mph.
The cherry trees at Tom McCall Waterfront Park are now in full bloom. They were a gift in 1990 from The Japanese Grain Importers Association of Tokyo.
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. The water year is designated by the calendar year in which it ends and which includes 9 of the 12 months. Thus, the water year ending September 30, 2016 is called the 2016 water year.

The normal precipitation for a water year in downtown Portland is just under 44 inches and at the airport it is 37.04 inches. The official measurement is taken at the Portland International Airport (PDX) which is one of the driest places in the metro area.

The HYDRA rainfall network is operated and maintained by the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, and there are 38 gauges throughout Portland where rainfall is measured - the water year average for these 38 gauges is 42.77 inches.
  • February 2016: Normal precipitation at the airport is 3.66 inches, and we had 4.10 inches in February.
  • Airport Water Year:  As of March 10 we have had 24.03 inches of rain so we are right on target to reach 37.04 inches by the end of September.

What Weather Is the Fault of Climate Change?

Like politics, weather can be a contentious subject, especially when you throw climate change into the mix.

One view holds that no single storm or drought can be linked to climate change. The other argues that all such things are, in some sense, "caused" by climate change, because we have fundamentally altered the global climate and all the weather in it.

While true, this "all in" philosophy doesn't adequately emphasize the fact that not all of the extreme weather we experience today has changed significantly. Some of it is just, well, the weather.

Portland Street Names
Did you ever wonder where the names for Portland street names came from? Or why the the downtown blocks are only 200 feet in length? We have some answers for you. We used two parts for this article because the subject matter is different in each part. Part I covers the history of street naming and the address systems. In Part II we show readers some neighborhoods in the city with distinct themes to their street names.

Part I

In early 2013 Joe Streckert, a writer for the Portland Mercury weekly newspaper, did an interview with Portland State University's Carl Abbott, author of Portland in Three Centuries, about the history of Portland's streets, address system, and why there are occasionally maddening exceptions like Sandy Boulevard that screw up what is otherwise a very nice grid. Below are some excerpts from the article as well as a link to the entire article.

In the central Westside area, they measure a mere 200 by 200 feet. Portland lacks the long, hulking bl
ocks of East Coast cities, and that's generally a good thing. No less than Jan
e Jacobs, one of the most well-known figures in modern urban planning, devoted a whole chapter to them in her classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities.
The small blocks allow 
for a great deal of flow for pedestrians, bikes, and other traffic. However, this feature didn't come about because Portland's founders were forward-thinking citymakers. No, the smallness of the blocks happened because of good old-fashioned real estate speculation.

When Portland was originally settled in the 1840s, city founders like Francis Pettygrove and Asa Lovejoy weren't necessarily looking to create a well-functioning urban center. They wanted to make a big pile of cash. Lots with the potential for higher foot traffic sold for more, and corner lots experienced more traffic than areas in the middle of the block. Portland's early speculators divvied up land into small blocks so it would contain more high-priced corner lots. The present system is great for getting around, but its origins lie in avarice, not altruism.

Great Renaming of 1891 and Even Greater Renumbering of 1931

Before 1891, the area east of the Willamette River was not Portland. It was a separate town, creatively called East Portland. Where the Albina neighborhood is today, there was another town called Albina. Bent on becoming a Big Important City, Portland decided to instantly increase in size by eating the nearby municipalities. "Portland wanted to count the East Portland and Albina population," says Abbott, "so that when people compared its population to Seattle's, Portland's would still be higher. It was very much a promotion and image-making reason." Albina and East Portland saw some service upgrades when they became part of the big city, but it was mostly all about size mattering.

The newly huge Portland had a number of redundancies. For instance, there were multiple streets named after letters or trees. It would not do to have more than one Pine Street in Portland, especially if those streets were on different sides of the river. In 1891, Portland renamed several streets, mostly to eliminate duplicate names.

Curiously, it doesn't seem like many people complained about this. Abbott's assessment of the renaming was that people thought it was a fairly logical thing to do, and when I asked the city archives if they could find any angry letters to the mayor or city council about the project, they came up empty. It seems that hardly anyone in 1891 got too worked up about several streets changing names all at once.

That wasn't the end of it, though. Even though the street names were all in order, the newly coagulated Portland still had a mess of an address system. The addresses (as well as any street suffixes or prefixes that said "NE" or "SE") reflected the systems set up by three different municipalities-Portland, East Portland, and Albina. Starting in the 1920s, city planners embarked on a comprehensive plan to bring some sense to the city's addresses. In 1931, Portland was split into the five "quadrants" we have today, with address numbers counting up from either the Willamette River or Burnside. The city provided complimentary address numbers to everyone in Portland who had to switch out the numerals on their buildings, and we still use that system of X/Y coordinates today. (This has led to some curious numbering, though. Go to the John's Landing area, and you'll see addresses that start with zero. Their location is in a kind of negative space, outside the boundaries of the 1931 grid.)

Again, this was not too controversial when it happened. At the City Archives, I'd hoped to find angry letters to the city complaining about the change. It seems, though, that everyone went along with it. Abbott couldn't recall any controversy either, and said that the only people who really raised a stink were the postal workers, who'd taken the time to learn the old, convoluted address system.

To this day, though, you can sometimes find old, seemingly erroneous street names and address numbers pressed into concrete, relics of names and numbers that used to be.

Part II

The source for Part II is a book entitled, Portlandness: A Cultural Atlas published by Sasquatch Books in 2015. The book was a project from Portland State University's Department of Geography in which PSU students, alumni, and friends participated in creating the book. It's full of information with countless maps and graphs and enjoyable to read as the humor is priceless.

Neighborhood Street Names

There are a few parts of the city with distinct themes to their street names. Below are some of them.

The most prominent theme to St. Johns's street names is cities. These include Baltimore, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, New York, Syracuse, Charleston, Richmond, Reno, Olympia, and Salem. New York place names, many of Native American origin, are most common, including Oswego, Seneca, Mohawk, Hudson, and Allegheny. 

The University Park neighborhood streets bear the names of prestigious colleges:  Amherst, Berkeley, Bowdoin, Buffalo, Butler, Cambridge, DePauw, Drew, Harvard, Morgan, Oberlin, Princeton, Stanford, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Wabash, Wellesley, and Yale. Another thirty-two streets are named after famous educators, theologians, authors, and important figures in Methodist history

The north-south streets between North Interstate Avenue and North Albina Avenue are named after states that begin with the letter M: Maryland, Montana, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan, and Mississippi. Massachusetts Street is just west of Interstate. 

The Northwest DIstrict neighborhood has been given the official name the "Alphabet District" even though locals don't use the name. It signifies that the streets in Northwest run alphabetically, starting with Burnside, Couch, Davis and up to York Street.  All the streets are named after Portland founders. For example Flanders Street is named after Captain George H. Flanders who along with his brother-in-law, John H. Couch, developed wharves along the Willamette RIver. (Susan and her husband named one of their Wirehaired Vizslas Flanders - the name took as Flanders loves to swim in the Willamette River.) Several characters in Portland native Matt Groening's television show The Simpsons have names based on the alphabetically named streets in the Northwest District:  Ned Flanders, the bully Kearney, Reverend Lovejoy, and Mayor Quimby. 

Portland has two centrally located areas where streets are named after trees. Just south of East Burnside are Ash, Pine, Oak, and Alder. In Ladd's Addition are Birch, Cypress, Hazel, Hemlock, Hickory, Holly, Larch, Lavender, Locust, Maple, Mulberry, Orange, Palm, Poplar, Spruce, and Tamarack

There are ten Southwest streets named after Oregon governors of the mid-1800s, in more or less chronological order from Abernethy at the south end to Woods at the north end. 

Southwest Portland has an area of streets named after states that follows no discernible pattern. To the south a botanical theme emerges with streets named Garden Home, Lobelia, Marigold, Orchid, and Plum. A few streets named after women are scattered through this area, but it's hard to tell which particular women they are named after, as they are first names only

Sellwood's southernmost streets are named after places in Oregon and Washington, most derived from Native American words: Nehalem, Tacoma, Tenino, Umatilla, Clatsop, Ochoco, Marion, and Linn. Nehalem, Tenino, Umatilla, and Clatsop are indigenous peoples of Oregon. Tacoma is the Native American name for Mount Rainier. Ochoco is a Paiute word meaning willow or tall pine.
Portland's Steady Rise of Tech Workers 

You don't have to wade too far into the headlines to learn that Portland's technology industry is growing tremendously. But in case you need some numbers to back up that notion, the latest Cyberstates study by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA for short) gives a more precise picture of the situation.

Older research from commercial real estate firm CBRE shows Portland is seriously boosting its tech cred. The Portland market saw its tech talent pool grow 28 percent between 2010 and 2013, higher than Austin, Texas, at 26.5 percent, Silicon Valley, at 20.8 percent and Los Angeles, at 13.6 percent, according to the report.

The state's tech industry added nearly 4,000 new jobs between 2014 and 2015, rising to 92,109 workers. Since 2009, employment in the industry has grown 14 percent - outpacing all other nonfarm employment in terms of growth. Software companies alone account for 10,200 of those jobs, a jump of 4 percent from the prior year. 

The average salary for a tech worker in Oregon has grown 17 percent since 2009, but it still lags behind California and Washington. Below are the average annual salary for tech workers in the three states (2015 data).
  • California:  $149,335
  • Oregon:  $105,263
  • Washington:  $129,359
An average salary for a private sector worker in Oregon makes $46,487.

Seattle and San Francisco may get all the attention when it comes to West Coast startup hubs, but the entrepreneurial activity in Portland has ramped up in the last few years.

For the past decade or so, there's been an influx of Portland-based startups finding success, whether it be via large acquisitions or substantial funding rounds.

Along with the flurry of new startups, there is also a recent pattern of big tech companies like eBay, Salesforce, Google, AppNexus, Squarespace, Wacom Technology, and more setting up satellite offices in the region.

Read what a CEO and a COO new to Portland have to say about living here in GeekWire.

Source:  "Databank:  "The steady rise of tech jobs, wages," by Erik Siemers, The Portland Business Journal, March 11, 2016.
Enjoy Your Cornbeef and Cabbage
Susan and Shelli
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