I have got to take a moment to respond the the front-page headline of the Oregonian on Wednesday, March 26, 2008: “Portland home values take first dip”.
First of all, that headline was put there to sell newspapers. Doom and gloom has always been a spectator sport. Not to down play the severity of our Nation’s current economic situation, but that headline was extremely sensational. Then read further into the story and you’ll find predictions that property values could drop by as much as 15% this year. Amazing!
As a real estate agent it is my business to listen to economists and follow advice of professionals as to what is going on with real estate values. This is the first time that I have heard such a dire prediction about the Portland housing market. In fact, what I am hearing much more commonly is that the Pacific Northwest is bearing up better than the rest of the country, and while it is possible that we will see declining values, the Portland metro area should fair better than the rest of the country. This is because of several unique factors to our area. 1) People continue to move to Oregon in greater numbers than they leave, and 2) we have limited supply of land available to develop with new homes which keeps our inventory low.
But what about in Lake Oswego? How should you consider the current economy as you think about selling your home? What are your property values doing?
According the latest numbers available from the Realtors Multiple Listing Service, for February of 2008, property values in Lake Oswego are still up 8.5% over a year ago. However, the numbers also indicate that there are 46% fewer sales than a year ago. So prices are up, but sales are down. Average market time to sell a home in Lake Oswego is 80 days. That is the time it takes from listing your home for sale to accepting an offer.
What does this mean to you? It means that if you have your home priced according to what other homes in your neighborhood have sold for, and your home is clean and in good repair, you’ll sell your home at 8.5% over what it was worth a year ago and it will happen in about 80 days.
Does that mean you can add 5% to the asking price to have more room to negotiate? No. You need to price your home according to what homes are actually selling for. Because there are more homes for sell today than a year ago, it means that buyers have lots of homes to choose from and will shop for the home that is a good value. It also means it needs to be in good condition. Replace the carpet, pressure wash the exterior, plant flowers in the yard and make your home ready to be show cased.
I am not going to pretend to know what the future holds. Prices could go down. Prices could go up. Who knows? And, really, does even the best economist know? What I can tell you is that values are still excellent. If you have been in your home for two years or longer, you have probably got some equity that you can take with you. Price your home correctly, have it nice and clean, and it will sell.