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Rob Levy's Portland Real Estate Blog

Rob Levy


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Here is a great article from USA Today with a solid 50 things that a home buyer (and also seller who is selling to buy) can and should do to prepare for the exercise.  I can honestly say in my almost 30 years as one of Portland's top selling Realtors that every one of these can trip someone up.  Check out the list on the USA Today site.....

Search Portland Homes from Your Smartphone!

by Rob Levy

At the Rob Levy team we are proud of our new iPhone and Android APP, and have had many clients download and use the APP.  Surveys show people love the fact they can pull up in front of any house and it shows most of the MLS stats on any house around them.  On the app you can also search homes and save the search, as well as contact us directly.

You can download the iPhone version here.... CLICK HERE

You can download the Android version here....  CLICK HERE

Note, read this newsletter on your phone to download directly onto your phone.  The address 

January 2017 Portland Real Estate Update

by Rob Levy

Average and Median Sale Prices: Comparing 2016 to 2015 through December, the average sale price rose 11.4% from $354,500 to $395,000. In the same comparison, the median sale price rose 12.7% from $308,000 to $347,000.

The Portland metro area ended the year with cooler activity on the whole. Closed sales (2,621) ended 3.3% under the 2,710 closings posted last year in December 2015 despite a 7.7% increase compared to the  2,434 closings recorded last month in November 2016.    New listings, at 1,421, fell 7.6%  short of the 1,538 new listings offered last year in December 2015 and 31.7% under the 2,080 new listings offered last month in November 2016.  Pending sales (1,757) decreased 9.2% from December 2015, when 1,936 offers were accepted; and 22.5% from November 2016, when 2,266 offers were accepted.  Inventory decreased slightly in December, landing at 1.3 months.  During the same time, total market time increased by four days, ending at 49 days. There were 3,511 active residential listings in the region in December.

Year to Date Summary: Activity was cooler in 2016 than in 2015. Comparing all of 2016 to 2015, new listings (41,121) increased 0.7. Closed sales (32,798) decreased 1.5% and pending sales (33,234) decreased 3.9%.  

Our home of the month is a complete redo on a close in SE Portland home.  This place is stunning!  3 bedrooms, 2 full baths, new floors, paint in and out, complete new kitchen with granite counters, new cabinets, backsplash, lighting.  All new bathrooms, a fully finished basement and an upper level.  Check it out at

25 Hottest Neighborhoods in Portland!

by Rob Levy

This article from the Portland Business Journal talks about our hottest neigbhorhood, and in particular how 11 Portland metro neighborhood's average sales prices now are over $500,000 which is up from only five last year.  Interestingly, of the 25 most expensive neighborhoods in the area, 14 of those fall into the city limits of Portland.  And talk about expensive homes getting more expensive, 97034 a zip code in Lake Oswego rose 28.4% over the first quarter of 2015 to $833,454.  You can see the entire article here.

Thinking Smart about Home Improvements

by Rob Levy

It's no secret that home improvements, no matter how big or how small, cost money. So, it is only prudent to consider if the renovation will be financially worth the time and money it will require. So, instead of a full-blown remodel, consider a simple facelift on what's already there.

Some other bank-account friendly home improvement alternatives that still boost your home's overall value and appeal include, but are not limited to, the following:

Polish the shell

The exterior of your home is what will make the all-important first impression on potential buyers and anyone else approaching your home. Make sure to stay on top of seasonal maintenance, replace or repair siding and windows, and keep your yard free of clutter, such as toys, bikes and refuse.

It's easy being green

Energy efficiency is easily achieved and can reduce your monthly utility bills. Replace old appliances with energy-efficient models, and consider adding low-flow faucets and toilets.

Stick to your current layout

If you know from the planning stages of the process that you're going to utilize the current blueprint of your home, you can minimize your costs. Typically, the most expensive part of a renovation project is major undertakings, such as removing existing doors, ceilings or walls and replacing them with new ones in the newly made areas of the house.

Furniture: re-imagine before replacement

Replacing furniture can cost several thousand dollars, and the fact is you probably don't need that new loveseat (for example). Maybe it just needs a new cover. So, prior to selling your furniture, take the time and effort to determine if reupholstering would have an equally pleasing result.

Look for new item discounts

If you've determined you need new granite countertops but are naturally concerned about the expense, just ask the manufacturer for the cheapest pattern. Also, ask about stone pieces that may have small imperfections.

Winning a Bidding War

by Rob Levy

In a seller's market - less inventory available than interested buyers, like most areas of the country are experiencing now - potential home buyers should be ready to make an informed, realistic offer that will stand above the others. There is more to it than simply offering the highest dollar amount. The following suggestions are just a few things to consider on your next house hunting adventure.

Be flexible

Money is often not the sole incentive for a seller to accept your offer. If a seller sees that you are willing to bend compromise on things like the closing date or willingness to overlook relatively minor repairs following the home inspection, he or she will remember you when it comes time to decide on an offer. Other things you can do to show you're serious include offering a sizeable amount of up-front earnest money or have the cash on hand to make a large down payment.

Be ready to buy immediately

Get yourself pre-approved for a home loan before you start actively looking for homes. Bring your preapproval letter with you when you go to open houses or showings. In today's mostly uncertain real estate market, it can take a long time to get approval on a home loan. If you are already approved when you make an offer on a home - even one on which there are multiple offers - yours will immediately jump to the head of the line.

Expect counter offers

If you have a well-informed, thorough knowledge of your financial means when you make an offer on a home, you will know what your limits are when it comes to deciding what concessions you can afford to make if the seller bounces a counter offer back at you. You will be able to quickly determine to what degree you are willing to meet the seller's counter offer terms, such as a higher monthly payment or flexibility when negotiating the myriad contingencies on the closing contract.

Your real estate agent is your best resource when it comes to negotiating with a seller. Before making an offer, talk with a real estate agent. Get the inside scoop on your local market so that you are fully armed and ready to win a bidding war.

Four Summer Projects to Boost Your Home's Curb Appeal

by Rob Levy

Curb appeal is more than just what your home looks like from the curb. It incorporates everything from the landscaping and the exterior color scheme, to the driveway, sidewalks and entryways. Here are four springtime projects that can make your home sparkle like dew in the early morning sunshine.


Impressive landscaping can be as easy as mowing your lawn on a regular basis, watering it, and keeping it clear of sticks, twigs and other organic material. You can also put an attractive face on your home by pruning your shrubbery, planting flowers and keeping it as clutter-free as possible.


Over time, paint chips and peels; and siding starts to warp, mold and rot. It's inevitable; however, it can be dealt with easily and, in most cases, inexpensively, with just a small amount of preventative maintenance.

Sandpaper and some elbow grease are typically all that's needed to smooth over peeling paint and paint chips. Once this is accomplished, apply primer and paint for a brand spanking-new exterior.

Roofs and Gutters

Unless they leak, sag, break or fall down, roofs and gutters are easy to overlook or even ignore entirely. Do this at your own peril, homeowner! Truly awesome curb appeal is attained through meticulous attention to just these types of details.

Water is lazy; it will always take the path of least resistance. Instead of trying to flow through a rock, it will simply go around it. Gravity forces water to exploit imperfections in your home, such as cracks, holes and gaps, which can lead it to invade your living quarters.

It might be worth your time (and money) to have a roofing expert take a look and give you some directions repairs and improvements you can make yourself.


A fence does more than just protect your lawn from the neighbor's dog's leavings. It impacts your home's curb appeal as much as your landscaping or exterior color scheme.

Unless you plan to replace or remove your entire fence, doing some simple stuff, like adding a fresh coat of paint or blasting it clean with a pressure washer, can yield significant results in a relatively short period of time.

Finally, take a moment and look at your home from the curb. That's right, actually go outside and try to see it with the critical eye of a potential homebuyer. Brave the questioning stares from your neighbors and take your time; examine everything. This should open your eyes to at least some of the obvious places to start your spring home improvements. A little time, effort and, let's be honest, money can save you some of each of these headache-inducing issues in the long run.

Pending Homes Sales Tick Up in March

by Rob Levy

After nine months without a positive gain, the Pending Home Sales Index - a forward-looking contract signing indicator - rose 3.4 percent in March, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). This gain, however, must be tempered with the fact that it remains nearly 8 percent lower than the 105.7 it was in March 2013.

NAR's chief economist, Lawrence Yun, attributed much of the increase to the seasonal change in the weather, from winter to spring. Prospective buyers had more of an opportunity to physically go out and look at homes, which has led to more contracts being offered, Yun said. He also indicated that he expects sales activity to continue to rise as more available homes reach the market and more jobs become available to pump more life into the overall economy.

Sales of homes are predicted to trend upward during the months of the forthcoming year, as well as into 2015; however, this year came in on a sour note, meaning the 2014 sales totals will probably not match the 2013 level.

The expectation for 2014's existing-home sales is slightly more than 4.9 million this year, which would fall close to the 5.1 million in 2013. With the available homes for sale continuing to fall short of expectations in much of the United States, however, the national median existing-home price is predicted to rise about 6 or 7 percent in 2014.

Energy-Efficient Mortgages

by Rob Levy

As the mortgage industry reinvents itself, you might expect new loan products to arise. However, the energy-efficient mortgage, or EEM, is not a new concept. Although the EEM is an option that has been available through all federal mortgage programs since 1980, that option is seldom used. Industry executives estimate that less than one percent of home loans in America are EEMs.

The purpose of the instrument is to roll the cost of energy-saving home improvements into the cost of the home loan, whether for initial purchase or refinance. The projected amount of savings created by the improvements increases the borrower's debt-to-income ratio used to calculate his loan worthiness. For example, if the energy-efficient improvements were to add $50 monthly to the loan, but the projected savings was $60 per month, the lender would approve the loan.

EEMs are available as conventional, Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Administration loans. Each has slightly different parameters:

  1. Conventional mortgages add the annual projected savings to the annual income for calculation purposes, allowing the borrower to qualify for a more expensive home than they would otherwise. The process includes a home-energy rating prior to approval.
  2. FHA loans are a bit more complex. The buyer must first meet the general requirements for an FHA loan. Then the loan can be increased by the lesser of the total cost of the improvements plus related report fees, or 115 percent of the median home cost in the area. The total amount saved over the life of the improvements must be greater than their total cost. Funds for the improvements are placed in escrow until after the loan closes.
  3. VA loans are available for new and refinancing to qualified veterans with a cap of $3,000 to $6,000.

Unfortunately, calculations of resale price have not historically included energy-saving improvements. This trend is changing as the nation becomes more concerned with global warming. Environmentalists are hoping that green mortgages will attract more borrowers in the future.

Whereas once homeowners had to make a choice between the good looks of natural materials and the easy maintenance of fabricated alternatives, the quality of such materials has improved to the point that the smart shopper can have both looks and convenience. Some of the new products are initially more expensive than their natural counterparts are, but when you factor in their longevity, they actually save you money. Here are six imitations that may make you happier than the originals:

Fiber-cement siding

Made from flexible cement mixed with wood fibers, clapboards and shingles are impervious to rotting and warping. The factory paint has a projected life span of 15 years. The initial cost is about 10 percent less than wood.

Cellular PVC trim

While the product does not require painting, you can add realism to the trim by doing so, but the paint should last about five times longer than on wood. While only warranted for 25 years, it will actually last indefinitely compared to the 10 to 30 years you can expect from pine. The initial cost is about 10 percent higher than wood.

Quartz countertops

Made from quartz chips and resins, cleaning with a sponge is all quartz requires as opposed to annual sealing for natural stone, and is resistant to stains, chips and acid etching. The cost is roughly equivalent to mid-grade granite.

Solid vinyl fencing

Use a simple power wash to clean it. The surface will not require painting for at least 25 years, as opposed to every five years for wood. The cost is about twice what you would pay for cedar, so this product only makes sense if you plan to stay in the home for many years.

Fiberglass entry doors

Fiberglass skins over insulating foam are more energy-efficient than wood. They carry a lifetime warranty, as opposed to five years for wood, and cost 10 to 20 percent less than wood.

Clad windows

Real wood clad in an aluminum skin, they carry a 20-year warranty on the factory paint. They cost about 15 to 20 percent more than plain wood, but do not require the initial paint wood requires, so the cost is almost the same.

As you consider upgrades to your home, consider these exciting alternatives. You may find that you do not have to trade great looks for easy care and you may save money, too.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 264