Lake Oswego Real Estate Activity – October 6-12, 2008

Sellers beware. This week’s SOLD properties averaged nearly 20% price discounts from their original list price and 160 days on market.

Some of them appear to have had hugely inflated seller expectations initially. To be sure, every situation has its own story, but a strong pricing strategy makes a huge difference in buyer perception and ultimately, market time.

Here is the latest market activity for Lake Oswego (see below the tables for additional notes):

NEWLY LISTED (October 5—October 12, 2008)

ADDRESS
LIST PRICE
TOT. BEDS
TOT. BATHS
TOT. SQ FT
PROP TYPE
LIST DATE
65 GALEN ST
$135,000
1
1
689
CONDO
10/7
47 EAGLE CREST DR
$149,900
2
1
932
CONDO
10/7
44 EAGLE CREST DR
$154,900
3
2
1,085
CONDO
10/7
86 KINGSGATE RD
$164,900
2
2
849
CONDO
10/10
12868 BOONES FERRY RD
$349,900
2
2.1
1,136
ATTACHD
10/6
6 SUMMIT RIDGE CT
$375,000
2
2.1
1,750
ATTACHD
10/5
12251 ORCHARD HILL RD
$389,500
3
2
1,868
DETACHD
10/5
4051 VIRGINIA WAY
$445,000
4
2.1
1,658
DETACHD
10/7
5869 RIDGETOP CT
$580,000
3
2.1
3,080
DETACHD
10/10
1921 PARK FOREST CT
$624,900
4
2.1
2,531
DETACHD
10/11
13581 GOODALL RD
$650,000
3
2
1,220
DETACHD
10/9
5441 DENTON DR
$650,000
4
2.1
3,335
DETACHD
10/5
3886 TAMARACK LN
$699,900
4
3.1
4,010
DETACHD
10/5
15939 TWIN FIR RD
$799,000
3
2
2,480
DETACHD
10/9
840 Evergreen RD
$875,000
4
2.1
2,765
DETACHD
10/5
17644 WOODHURST PL
$880,000
4
2.1
4,539
DETACHD
10/8
15847 SPRINGBROOK CT
$938,000
3
3
2,705
DETACHD
10/5
610 9TH ST
$1,225,000
4
3.1
3,690
DETACHD
10/6
657 OAK MEADOW DR.
$1,395,000
4
3.1
4,371
DETACHD
10/7

PENDING SALES (October 6—October 12, 2008)

ADDRESS
LIST PRICE
TOT. BEDS
TOT. BATHS
TOT. SQ FT
PROP TYPE
DOM
4644 LOWER DR
$129,900
2
1.1
1,170
CONDO
30
44 EAGLE CREST DR
$150,000
2
1
908
CONDO
266
3836 BOTTICELLI ST
$175,000
2
2
1,055
CONDO
344
4087 JEFFERSON PKWY
$225,000
2
2.1
1,851
ATTACHD
176
18951 ARROWWOOD AVE
$339,000
3
1.1
1,384
DETACHD
3
5456 Willow Court
$429,000
3
2.1
2,400
ATTACHD
17845 HILLSIDE WAY
$579,500
5
3
2,820
DETACHD
263
801 NORTHSHORE RD
$879,900
4
3
2,144
DETACHD
6

SOLD (September 29—October 5, 2008)

ADDRESS ORIG. PRICE SALE PRICE
TOT. BEDS
TOT. BATHS
TOT. SQ FT
PROP TYPE
DOM
6882 MONTAUK CIR
$157,000
$157,000
2
1
924
CONDO
23
200 BURNHAM RD
$369,850
$250,000
2
2
1,334
CONDO
28
5829 SW BENFIELD CT
$347,800
$289,750
5
2.1
1,744
DETACHD
115
820 BOCA RATAN DR
$464,900
$321,000
3
3.1
2,220
DETACHD
10
5207 ROSEWOOD ST
$399,900
$347,000
3
2
1,438
DETACHD
119
17239 REBECCA LN
$414,900
$389,100
4
2.1
1,970
DETACHD
292
1790 YARMOUTH CIR
$499,000
$400,000
2
2
1,551
DETACHD
135
18281 WOOD THRUSH CIR
$448,500
$439,900
4
2.1
2,296
DETACHD
102
4729 CAMBRIDGE CT
$648,000
$500,000
2
2.1
3,056
ATTACHD
140
13300 FOX RUN
$700,000
$665,000
4
2.1
2,954
DETACHD
38
5413 LANGFORD LN
$879,000
$715,000
3
2.1
2,891
DETACHD
520
17257 BRYANT RD
$1,550,000
$1,125,000
5
3.2
4,789
DETACHD
381

Criteria: Homes in the 97034 and 97035 zip code, listed, pending or sold between the dates listed above as reported by the Regional Multiple Listing Service (RMLS). DETACHD refers to Single Family Detached Residence, MFG refers to manufactured housing, and ATTACHD refers to single-family residences with some portion of the structure attached to another property, but not constituting CONDO ownership. DOM stands for days on market, or the number of days from when the listing became active and when it received an acceptable offer.

Cost vs. Value for Your Remodeling Dollar

You may have noticed that the market has been changing for awhile now. Many buyers are out this fall scouting for great deals (they are not hard to find!), and many sellers who are pricing and marketing appropriately are benefiting from the uptick in activity in Lake Oswego (see Ron’s blog post of Monday 9/29). It is also true that some decided in the spring and summer to spruce up their homes in anticipation of changing market conditions, and the expectation of reaping some profit from their efforts when the time comes to sell.

I thought you might find it interesting to note some of the trends in the 2007 “cost vs. value” report for the Portland area according to www.costvsvalue.com. The data for Portland is “Pacific” data as compared to national averages. Here are some tidbits to hopefully give you an idea of what you might expect as a return for your remodeling investment according to this report:

Midrange Projects: Pacific / National Average

Deck Addition/Wood / 108% / 85.4%

Minor Kitchen Remodel / 103.5% / 83%

Window Replacement/Wood / 102.9% / 81.2%

Window Replacement/Vinyl / 98.5% / 79.3%

Basement Remodel / 96.8% / 75.1%

Bathroom Remodel / 96.6% / 78.3%

Major Kitchen Remodel / 96.6% / 78.1%

Two-Story Addition / 90.9% / 73.9%

Garage Addition / 88% / 69.5%

Master Suite Addition / 87.2% / 69%

Roofing Replacement / 85.1% / 67.4%

Family Room Addition / 84.8% / 68.6%

Bathroom Addition / 83.5% / 66%

Upscale Projects:

Window Replacement/Wood / 103.4% / 79.3%

Window Replacement/Vinyl / 100.7% / 81%

Deck Addition/Composite / 98.4% / 77.6%

Major Kitchen Remodel / 88.9% / 74.1%

Bathroom Remodel / 84.7% / 68.4%

Bathroom Addition / 84.1% / 69%

Roofing Replacement (Steel) / 79.9% / 65.7%

Garage Addition / 78.1% / 64.6%

Master Suite Addition / 77.3% / 64.1%

Musings on Pricing Your Home

Many wonder how to price their home in our current market.With the twists and turns the market has been making, many believe that special tactics are needed to secure the amount of money they desire from the sale of their home. Two stick out in my mind. Simply put, they are “over-pricing” and “under-pricing”.

I have seen everything from what seems like extreme overpricing ($100,000 or more above what seems like a reasonable asking price) to modest positioning above apparent market value.

The truth is that this can be a successful pricing method if used conservatively… that is: determine the reasonable asking price for your home, and then price slightly above in the expectation of creating negotiation room. I do have to say however, that in the current market climate, even moderate overpricing can be a tricky and dangerous route if you would like to sell, instead of watch your property sit. The longer a property stays on the market, the more you risk losing momentum and appeal. There is a quote from Tom Ferry, a well-known real estate authority that says it all- “The most important decision we’ll make is around price. We have two choices: The Seller price and the Sold price. Which one is higher? …The Seller price.” The dangers of overpricing include:

  • Attracts “lookers”, not legitimate Buyers,
  • Implies that you are not motivated to sell,
  • Reduces the number of showings,
  • Helps the competition, and
  • Invites potential appraisal problems.

The other method, under-pricing, is an effective technique in many cases. This technique does not need to be used extravagantly either… a little can do the trick. It can stimulate interest right off the bat. Instead of your property being one of many that are priced comparably with their property “kin”, yours creates excitement as in “Honey, look at this one… This looks like a really good deal!” When used effectively, this tactic can even trigger bidding wars. I’ve represented at least one Buyer recently where this technique was apparently being employed by two Sellers of properties my client wanted to pursue. We secured the home in the second offer (phew!) but negotiated through two competitive offer situations in one week to accomplish that! (Yes… in this market.)

Note that several factors affecting the appeal of your property are not in your Realtor’s control… Your Realtor cannot control: location, property condition, market conditions, timing… or price. Your Realtor can control marketing, exposure, and the advice they give you. I often remark to my clients that pricing is really not so mysterious, and more a matter of just looking at the facts- We survey comparable properties and what they have SOLD for… then make a decision as to how the subject property measures up, and price accordingly. Most importantly, remember that the ASKING price is your decision, whereas the SOLD price is ultimately the Buyer’s decision, and is what really determines ‘market value’. That said, though a Buyer may offer less than you wish (or they may not!) it is still your decision as to whether you will accept an offer, negotiate, or simply refuse. Listen to your Realtor and then make a decision based on the data presented by him or her. They want to help you sell!

As much as you would like them to, the following conditions do NOT affect your home’s market value/price:

  • The profit you wish to make from the sale,
  • The amount of money you’ve spent on improvements,
  • What friends and trusted associates have told you it is worth, and
  • What you originally paid for the home.

So, bottom line, the price you decide upon should be based on related SOLD data, and then tempered to your home’s specifics, and your desired timetable. Summer is here and homes are selling! Enjoy the ride, and accomplish those changes you want in your life through the sale of your home. Pricing appropriately can really help speed you to your goal.

Call Before You Dig

Well, it pays to stay on top of rules and regulations… and often that means avoiding liability by understanding your obligations as a property owner. Did you know that digging in your own yard could be hazardous to your pocket book? If you should dig into a utility line (gas, electric, etc.) you will most likely be held financially responsible if you did not call to have utilities “marked” prior to doing so… not to mention the possibility of bodily injury.

“Call Before You Dig” is a mandate in Oregon and other states requiring that utilities be located by the utility company prior to digging in your yard, garden, etc. This, of course, includes digging to install a real estate “for sale” sign too, and so is something to be aware of if you are putting your home on the market. If your agent uses a sign and post company, arrangements may be made with them for utilities to be marked in the general area where your sign will be placed. As the responsible homeowner, it would be a good idea for you to check with your agent regarding whether you or the sign company will be making these arrangements. The utility company will visit your property and actually spray the ground where you’d like the sign placed indicating the “OK” (or not) for digging. This will take an extra couple of days, so be sure to allow time in addition to the notice the sign company or installer will need prior to post & sign placement. More information may be found at: http://www.callbeforeyoudig.org/

Recently the process has been streamlined, and a number to call has been activated to make things easier (and safer) for everyone. Before digging, simply call “811” and you will be connected with the Utility Notification Center which administers the “One Call” system. The Utility Notification Center is open 24 hours a day, everyday. Homeowners, contractors, and anyone planning to dig may call.

Currently there is no charge for this service in most locations. The only areas under the authority of the Utility Notification Center that do have fees are Spokane and Stevens counties in Washington state… so here in Lake Oswego, it’s free!

Enjoy your summer… relish working in your garden, or proceed full steam ahead with the marketing of your home… just do it safely, and protect your health as well as your pocketbook.

Go West Young Man!

I think a good question to ask is why our values are remaining relatively high compared to other parts of the United States. In one word: migration.

United Van Lines has tracked shipment patterns for people relocating within the United States since 1977. Their most recent study, which tracks migration patterns that occured in 2007, shows some interesting patterns.

2007-united-van-lines-migration-study-a.jpg

The area of the country that lost the greatest number of people was the Great Lakes Region with Michigan leading the pack as the top out-bound location. Other states with high out-bound migration were North Dakota and New Jersey. When looking at the out-bound trends, one that caught my eye was that the migration out of California slowed down last year to the smallest percentage seen in five years.

So where were migration trends of states that had more people moving in than moving out? In the South and in the West. North Carolina was the #1 destination state with Alabama and South Carolina not too far behind. In the West, the states that lead the pack for in-bound migration were Nevada, Oregon, and Arizona.

The economics of real estate value has a whole lot to do with demand. In Michigan, where the auto industry is a huge employer and has had to lay off many of its workers, it would make sense that there would be people moving away, less demand for housing, and lowering prices. In states like Oregon, where there are more people moving in than are moving out, it would have the reverse of the same logic. People moving in creates more demand for housing which could help to keep home prices stable.

Having said all of that, I found the statistic about California really interesting. People moving to Oregon from California is a big part of the real estate market. If that source of buyers in declining, I do think that it will have an impact on our market. In addition, if those people who do move to Oregon from California are getting less for the homes that they are selling, then they will have less purchasing power when they arrive in Oregon.

It will be very, very interesting to see how this plays out over the course of the next year or two.

Lake Oswego Flood Zone Changes

Lakefront property owners in Lake Oswego are pretty comfortable overall with the knowledge that the lake is managed and dammed, and so concerns regarding rising water during heavy rains etc are not prevalent. The lake is owned and managed by the Lake Oswego Corporation (LOC), a local entity to which lakefront residents establish membership and pay dues. Every few years the lake is drained for a few months to allow residents to clean and repair boat docks along the lake and canals, and generally speaking, it is understood that the lake is a controlled body of water. Even so, in the flood of 1996, water did spill over in some areas because it was not able to be released quickly enough at the dam to compensate for the heavy inflow.

FEMA recently completed a study of the Lake Oswego area and has determined that it will change the flood zone designation for properties on the lake, as well as properties surrounding the canals, Tualatin River, and Spring Creek. The maps for the 100-year flood zone have been altered, and are available for viewing at www.ci.oswego.or.us/plan. The city’s website states: “Text amendments are intended to comply with FEMA’s regulations so that the City can retain eligibility for participation in the National Flood Insurance Program.”

Lake Oswego must be compliant with FEMA’s requirements in order for Lake Oswego residents to be able to take advantage of their flood insurance policies in the event of a natural disaster. Lake Oswego property owners, especially those near the lake, would be well advised to double-check their property’s location on these new maps and its relation to the new flood zones, as they may be required to carry flood insurance now, even though that was not the case when the property was purchased.

According to Kelley Woodwick at Chicago Title, there is good news for sellers, in that flood insurance contracts may be transferred to new buyers at grandfathered rates and zones. Again, check the city’s new maps before June 18th to acquire information on the grandfathered areas… after the 18th, I am told that the information will most likely be removed from the website.

There are also new regulations resulting, including elevation requirements for remodeling and new construction. Significant remodeling jobs now require that the structure be at 104.5 ft elevation as compared to the old standard of 103.5 ft. New construction after June 18, 2008 will also be required to meet a 104.5 ft elevation requirement.

Checking with the City of Lake Oswego is always a good idea, and much information can be found at their website (above). Stay informed, stay protected, and stay dry!

In-Ground Oil Tanks

Oil Tank Decommissioning For most of the 20th century, oil heat was the primary method of heating homes. If you own or are considering purchasing a home that was built before 1965, chances are pretty good that the house had oil heat. And chances are also pretty good that the oil tank was buried in the ground.

Should you be afraid to buy a home with an in-ground tank? No.

Should you be afraid of selling your home if it has an in-ground tank? No.

In both instances the necessary steps that you should take are clearly outlined by the Department of Environmental Quality. As a seller, you want to minimize your liability and be certain that once the house is sold, you will never have the old oil tank come back to haunt you. To do this, you must obtain soil samples to prove that the tank has not contaminated the surrounding soil. If the tank is still in use, the soil samples will prove that the tank had not contaminated the surrounding soil at the time that the house was sold. If tank is no longer in use, you are encouraged to have the tank decommissioned.

Decommissioning the tank involves emptying it of oil, cleaning it out, and filling it with concrete slurry that will harden into a big cement rock in the ground. While decommissioning the tank is voluntary, many lenders and most buyers will make this a condition of the sale. If you do not take the necessary steps to prove that the soil was clean at the time the house was sold, and soil samples taken later show that a contamination has occurred, you can be liable for the cost to clean up the soil even after the house has transferred to a new owner. So, take the proper steps now to assure that you will not have a problem in the future.

Whenever work is done on an in-ground tank, it should be performed by a licensed and bonded contractor who is certified with the DEQ. After the work is completed, a certificated of compliance will be issued. This is paperwork that needs to be saved and transfered with the property to every subsequent owner. Cost to do soil testing will run about $200-$400. Cost of decommissioning will run about $800 to $1,200. Can it cost more, yes, but that is a minority of the cases.

If you are wanting to buy a house with an in-ground oil tank, should you be afraid to purchase? No. Simply make the soil testing and the decommissioning of the tank a condition of the purchase. You are strongly advised to get this taken care of before you buy the house. If you buy the house with an in-ground tank, and you discover later that the tank has leaked, you have now taken ownership of the problem.

How bad can it get? There certainly are horror stories of soil clean up costs running into the thousands and thousands of dollars. In my 20 years of selling real estate, the most costly clean-up I have encountered involved bringing in a backhoe to remove a tank and dig a hole about 15 feet in diameter. It cost the seller $8,000.

Information on oil tanks are surprisingly undocumented. There are not good resources for looking up records about in-ground tanks. The DEQ does not regulate in-ground tanks beyond requiring that they be reported if they have leaked. Then, the DEQ does open a file on them and there is a process to clean up the contamination and get the file closed. However, if no leak has been reported to the DEQ, they will not have a record of the tank. And do not rely on city records or fire department knowledge of in-ground tanks. This means that even if a seller has no knowledge of an in-ground tank, you may want to consider having the yard of an older home scanned with a metal detector to confirm that no tank exists in the yard.

In all cases, it is best to take every precaution to be in compliance with soil testing and tank decommissioning when you buy or sell a home. Taking the proper steps now will save both buyers and sellers heartache later.

Links: Oregon DEQ Tank Decommissioning FAQ

Searching… Searching…

Magnifying GlassOn a recent Broker’s Tour in Lake Oswego, my cohorts and I were discussing how important it is to include accurate information in listings, and we noted how easy it is to inadvertently choose the wrong “field” when entering data etc. I thought it might help the prospective home seller or buyer to know a little about how agents search for houses, specifically in using the basic search fields provided to them on the MLS.

Agents are able to search on the MLS for properties on behalf of a client using several methods, including:

  1. Address Searches – Agents can search a specific area defined by their clients using street addresses and number ranges on specified streets, or a particular house using a specific address.
  2. Area Searches – The MLS now allows agents to search a geographic area by providing a map on which an agent can “draw” boundaries of a search range defined by a client.
    MLS# Searches- Agents can search MLS #’s provided by a client, and generate addresses for either drive-by viewing (prior to a client deciding to take a look inside), or for agent pre-viewing on behalf of a client.
  3. Advanced Searches – This is where I want to focus today, as this is the most common search method utilized in order to find properties that most specifically meet a client’s stated preferences. There are a large number of available search criteria that can be utilized by a listing agent when inputting data in order to present a home in the best light possible, which is of course a good thing… as long as it is accurate information.

When using an Advanced Search, available options include, of course, bedrooms, and the # of baths, but also whether a property has a fireplace (gas or wood?), what the map grid location is, total square footage of the home, approximate square footage of the lot, neighborhood, zip code, year built, style of home, levels, where master bedroom is located (on which level), and many, many more categories including garage description (attached? 2-car?), square footage of bedrooms, accessibility, exterior features, elementary school, etc. The more defined and narrow the search parameters, the fewer homes will appear as options… so, many times only the most important specifics to the client are used in order to provide a variety of choices.

“Property Type” is one important category- options are: Attached (meaning a townhome), Condo, Detached (meaning a separate residence/house), Houseboat, In-Park (meaning a manufactured home in a park), Part-owned, and Residence/Manufactured. A few months back these options were changed and made more detailed so that, for instance, a manufactured home would not appear in a search wherein the client had specified a separate residence/house was what they wanted.

A common example of a simple error is the mistake of referring to a home in the “Style” field as a “Tri-Level” as opposed to the actual appropriate category of “Split-Level”. A tri-level actually has three levels to the home… a split has an entry area, one level down, and one level up.

Bottom line, if you are the Seller, your agent is describing your home in the listing in ways that accentuate its great points while reflecting it accurately. If you are the Buyer, your agent is doing their best to provide you with choices that match your needs, and using the information provided by the listing agents in good faith.

So, if you show up at a property and it was described in the listing in a fashion that makes you feel as if you’ve just wasted your time… you may want to ask your agent to speak to the listing agent about any mistaken data about the home. They will most likely be grateful, and of course, other agents and buyers will benefit from any needed correction.

If you are the Seller, encourage your listing agent to be as creative as possible in selling your home (this is, of course, their job!), but do check for accuracy when reviewing the data to be provided to prospective buyers in your listing.

Happy buying and selling!

Main Property Photos – The Good, Bad & Ugly

Let me start by saying that I am not perfect by any means, and all real estate professionals have had their share of difficult photo situations when it comes to showing a house to its fullest potential. That being said, I have a few tips regarding photos for those who wish to sell their homes… specifically for the Main Photo which will show first on the MLS, and usually all flyers etc.

Looking through the MLS for examples of “do’s and don’ts”, I was frankly surprised to find so many “don’ts” from which to choose.

I find that the most common mistakes fall into four categories:

darkness.JPG‘Shady’ Homes…

If you want potential buyers to be attracted to your home, they must at minimum be able to see it. If the time of day is just wrong, as far as shade goes, ask your agent to come later that day, or the next day to make sure that the home is looking bright and shiny in that all-important Main Photo. And if it is evening when you sign that listing agreement, ask your agent to come back when the sun is out to photograph your home! Photo editing tools, and house lighting can also help to lighten a dark photo.

lost-again-again.jpG‘Lost in the Woods’ Homes…

Here in Lake Oswego, we are blessed with an overabundance of gorgeous greenery, and trees are revered and protected by the city and citizens alike. When you are taking a photo of your home, you want that potential buyer (who will give it a maximum of two seconds worth of attention before moving on to the next home in their Internet search) to say “Wow! Let’s look at this one honey.” So… work with every angle.

lostfront.JPGIf you have to, take a shot closer-in to the front of the property that actually shows the house, and feature more photos showing the larger area in subsequent photos (you now have the option of including 16 photos on the MLS). In the most difficult cases, short of drastically trimming the trees, another option is to give your agent a photo of the home that has been taken in winter or fall when the trees were bare of leaves so that the house is visible… and attractive to a buyer!

garage_1.jpGThe ‘Star Garage’ Home…

Now, I don’t need to tell you that there is probably a better angle for each of these homes (and no, garbage cans are not an attractant). Yes, some of our beautiful homes have garages that are prominent to the street.

garage_2.jpGThere are ways to shoot these homes that really show off the beauty of their entirety. This usually involves taking the photo from the non-garage-prominent side of the house at an angle.

And though there are several more “dont’s” categories we could go over, one more that I found prevalent is the…

“Look At My Entry or Driveway” Home

entry_drive.JPG entry_2.JPGentry_1.JPG entry_3.jpG

Bottom line, the Main Photo needs to be your “Showcase”. It should show off your real estate and really be a beautiful shot representing the front of your home in the best way possible. Circular driveway shots and other yard features can be highlighted after you come up with that one great, frontal shot of the house itself.

mthood.jpgAnd, last but not least, remember that your Main Photo needs to be of your house on the MLS…
Although you may have an incredible view of Mt. Hood, or treetops, or the valley, that Main Photo actually needs to be of your house. Please add gorgeous feature shots like this one after the Main Shot.

kilkennydrawing_a.jpg

So…. Show off architecture ~ Present more than one shot to highlight that big, beautiful porch, etc. Or have a drawing commissioned if the season (or available angle) is just not right.

If your home is up above street level, consider climbing a ladder leaned on a streetlight pole (be careful!) to get that impossible shot of your home

But use your Main Photo wisely… it is the first (and can easily be the last) impression you make.

high-up.JPG

Property Values

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.

canal.jpgWhat 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.