Moving to Portland
 March 2016 Newsletter


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

March 2016 at a Glance

The Portland real estate market has been setting new records the last few months as we have more buyers then sellers. A low inventory of homes available for sale along with a large number of buyers drives the market time down and prices up. The strong economy in the area (lower unemployment than the national average) is bringing in new workers which is one of the main factors for driving  the prices up.

Planners and elected officials are struggling to find a solution. The obvious one is to increase the supply of homes but that means either offering incentives to builders or relaxing the rules.

In a reversal, the City Club of Portland has amended its report on housing affordability to include a recommendation to re-zone single-family neighborhoods for increased density. The organization is in favor of re-zoning residential neighborhoods to include more "middle housing" such as duplexes, triplexes and townhomes.

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Below information from the RMLS™  Market Action report for March 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 March 2016 Portland metro area home prices.
March 2016 Real Estate Highlights
The Portland metro area saw some seasonal increases this March, but some numbers are cooler so far for the year to date. Closed sales (2,565) were up 4.4% compared to March 2015 (2,457) and 41.5% compared to February 2016 (1,813). The last March that closings were more numerous was in 2007, when 2,775 closings were posted for the month.

Pending sales, at 3,076, rose 10.4% over the 2,786 offers accepted last month in February 2016-but were 9.1% under the 3,384 offers accepted last year in March 2015. 

Similarly, the 3,409 new listings rose 17.7% above the 2,896 new listings offered last month in February 2016 but were 5.2% cooler than in March 2015 when 3,596 new listings were offered..
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 March 31st of this year ($361,100) with the average price of homes sold in the twelve months ending March 2015 ($334,400) shows an increase of 8.0%. In the same comparison, the median has increased 9.0% from $289,000 to $315,000.

Click on image to enlarge.

Sales Price Percent Change
Average Sales Price Percent Change 8.0% in March 2016.

The Average Sale Price Percent Change is based on a comparison of the rolling average sale price for the last 12 months (4/1/2015 - 3/31/2016) with 12 months before (4/1/2014 - 3/31/2015).
  • Average Sales Price Percent Change: 8.0% ($361,100 v. $334,400)
  • Median Sales Price Percent Change:  9.0% ($315,000 v. $289,000) 
Inventory March 2016
Total market time in the Portland metro area decreased to 51 days in March 2016 and the chart below gives you a picture of why the Portland metro housing market is boiling.

Inventory decreased to 1.3 months. There are currently a total of 3,318 active residential listings in the Portland metro area.
Cost of Residential Homes by Community
In the chart below we have extracted the most important data from the RMLS Market Action report (21 columns) and created this simple chart. Below is the chart that displays the March 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 April 21. Volatility in financial markets subsided over the past week, allowing Treasury yields to stabilize. As a result, the 30-year mortgage rate was mostly flat, up only 1 basis point to 3.59 percent. The release of March's existing-home sales report, which shows monthly growth at 5.1 percent, suggests homebuyers are taking advantage of low mortgage rates as the spring homebuying season gets underway.
  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.59 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending April 21, 2016, up from last week when they averaged 3.58 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.65 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.85 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.86 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.92 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.81 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.84 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.84 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 March 2016. These readings are from the Portland airport. 
  • Average Monthly Temperature for March 2016:  57.6 (0.9 degrees above normal of 56.7 degrees).
  • Warmest Day: 75 degrees on March 26th. 
  • Coldest Day:  33 degrees on March 1st and 4th.
  • Most Rainfall in 24 Hours: 0.71 inches on 03/9-03/10.
  • Rain Days: 25 days with light rain and two days with hail.
  • Clear/Cloudy Days for March 2016: 4 fair days, 7 partly cloudy days, and 20 cloudy days.
  • Average Wind Speed for March 2016:  9.4 mph.
Magnolia trail at the Hoyt Arboretum
Magnolia Trail at the Hoyt Arboretum
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.
  • March 2016: Normal precipitation at the airport is 3.68 inches, and we had 4.73 inches in March.
  • Airport Water Year:  As of March 20 we have had 40.62 inches of rain so we have already exceed our average water year total of 37.04 inches. We will add a few more drops by the end of September when the 2016 water years ends.

Hot Spell Sets Records

The National Weather Service said downtown Portland hit 90 degrees, making April 19 the earliest 90-degree day recorded there.

The heat surpassed downtown Portland's previous April 19 record of 88 degrees, which was set in 1934. And the 89-degree temperature recorded at Portland International Airport eclipsed the airport's previous daily high of 80, which was set in 1956.

The weather service also reported record temperatures at the Portland airport  on April 17 and 18Portland Airport reached 79 degrees on April 17, setting a new record for this day.  The old record was 78, set in 1983.

Oaks Bottom WIldlife Refuge
Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge is a city park of about 141 acres in southeast Portland. Located in a floodplain along the east bank of the Willamette River near the Sellwood neighborhood, the park is known for attracting a wide variety of birds.  

More than 185 bird species have been recorded in the refuge including herons, egrets, hawks, osprey, shorebirds, gulls, terns, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, grebes, falcons, vultures, waterfowl, and many others.

The elongated park, which parallels the river, includes a large shallow lake on the east side of the Springwater Corridor. The Corridor is a hiking and biking path that also runs parallel to the river between Sellwood and downtown Portland.

Between the lake and the Corridor is a Portland Traction rail line on a bermSlightly south of the refuge are Sellwood Park and Sellwood Riverfront Park, and Oaks Amusement Park is to the west, near the river. To the east, the top of a bluff above the lake is mainly residential, though one of the buildings is a mausoleum and crematorium with a huge great blue heron mural overlooking the wetlands.

A one mile (1.6 km) hiking trail wraps around the east side of the lake beneath the bluff. A side trail connects the east trail with Sellwood Park.

To the north are mixed woodlands, shrubs, and a few open fields, and a trail crossing the north section of the refuge links the Corridor to a parking lot at the top of the bluff. West of the north part of the refuge are two islands, East and Hardtack, that belong to the Ross Island group in the Willamette. Ross Island is the site of a heron rookery.

Before the Bottom became a park, the raised bed of the rail line had largely separated the wetlands from the river.

The south part of the wetlands had been altered by a sanitary landfill that the city acquired in 1969 to prevent its development as industrial land. The city later filled the north end of the park with debris from construction of Interstate 405.


The plan in the early 1970s was to fill the rest of the wetlands and to use the space for museums, perhaps a motocross course, and a gondola lift to transport visitors from the top of the bluff to the park.

Public pressure from the Audubon Society of Portland, the Sellwood-Moreland Improvement League, and The Nature Conservancy helped persuade the city to stop filling the wetlands.

Guerrilla Action

According to the book called Portlandness: A Cultural Atlas, by Portland State University professors David Banis and Hunter Shobe the work of a couple of guys changed the Bottom into a wildlife refuge instead of a park. Below is how they did it.

"By Any Means Necessary, a credo born of the 1960s, inspired some guerrilla action in the face of the city's refusal to recognize the Bottoms as a wildlife refuge. In that spirit, Mike Houck, currently director of the Urban Greenspaces Institute, and Jimbo Beckman decided to force the issue in 1985. Houck knew that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has large yellow signs with "Wildlife Refuge" printed in large impossible to miss black text. He obtained forty signs and cut off any markings that could be traced to the agency. He replaced the identifying information with a handmade stencil reading "City Park" and spray-painted that onto the bottom of the signs.

Houck and Beckmann then took a tall ladder, nails, a hammer, and a fifth of Jim Beam and posted all forty signs around the perimeter of the Bottoms, high enough that no one could remove them. Within a couple weeks, The Oregonian began referring to Oaks Bottom WIldlife Refuge related to the Bottoms. It was onlY a matter of time until the general public began referring to Oaks Bottom as a wildlife refuge."

In 1988, after many years of debate, officials designated Oaks Bottom as the first urban wildlife refuge in Portland.

We love this book as it has a touch of humor along with interesting facts and stories about the city we live in. It takes  a fresh look at the city for lovers of Portland's environments. Chapters include everything from the Columbia Slough and Oaks Bottom to urban wildlife, zoning, demographics, lost streams, eco roofs and rain gardens, foodie and biking culture, and transportation.
 April is Dedicated to Honoring all of the
Volunteers in our Communities
Susan and Shelli
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